Tag Archives: snafu

Lame Adventure 399: Snow Pricks

Norman Rockwell was not here.

It’s beginning to look a lot like porn Christmas.

When I woke Tuesday morning I looked out the window and witnessed the first softly falling snow of the season. Ultimately, less than two inches fell in the city and most of it had melted by day’s end, but apparently it still set a record for a December 10th snowfall. Over the course of the months ahead I imagine that there will be plenty more of it to come. Unlike rain, snow does not make a racket, aside from the familiar sound of shovels scraping it off the sidewalk and maybe the occasional thud of some unlucky sap keeling over from a heart attack. Snow falls gracefully even in New York City. Then, it hardens and gets covered in soot and dog pee. The process of Big Apple snow losing its virginity generally happens at warp speed.

This particular Tuesday morning I realized that this month is the 31st anniversary between snow and me. Back in December 1982, I experienced my first snowfall in New York City. Coming from San Francisco, where the weather is usually moderate, I was thrilled to savor my first taste of East Coast-style winter. Maybe it was even a little magical. 31 years later I can honestly say the magic of snow for me is dead, buried and thoroughly decomposed. In fact, my relationship with snow instantly shed its luster on February 11, 1983 when New York got smacked with the Megalopolitan Snowstorm and was buried under 17.6” of it. Even though snow can be very pretty to look at it, it can be a hassle getting around in it.

My first winter out here I was such a cold weather novice. I did not have an adequate coat or boots. So I froze my ass off. The next winter I wised up, and invested in appropriate footwear. I also purchased an enormous down coat that could have served double duty as a sleeping bag or a shelter in the Arctic.

About twenty years ago, on a frigid winter’s day, I was trudging up the slushy Upper Broadway sidewalk in the midst of a crowd. Shoveled mounds of frozen snow were piled three feet high at the curb. An Irritating Hotdog riding a low rider bike, that type of bike with the big handlebars and banana seat, was behind the pedestrians impatiently barking:

Irritating Hotdog: Beep, beep! C’mon, people, get outta the way! Comin’ through!

The throng was thick and the going was slow. It was pure idiocy trying to ride a bike on the sidewalk, especially in those conditions. Fed up with being trapped behind the wall of foot traffic, Irritating Hotdog had a light bulb. He accessed his inner Evel Knievel and decided to jump his bike over the hills of ice looming large at the curb. Unfortunately for him he failed to clear the hurdle. He went flying off his bike. Its once round front wheel was unnaturally twisted at about a 45-degree angle rendering it impossible to ride. The frame might have been banged up, too. Possibly, he totaled his bike. Back to the star attraction, I can still see him airborne. I had stopped, as did others, allowing him space to smack down hard on the pavement in front of us. A fountain of compassion, I gushed:

Me: Good one, asshole.

Even though his clock was cleaned, he got back up on his feet looking looking a tad sheepish. It seemed that his biggest bruise was to his ego and if his bike was indeed a goner, his wallet. An elderly woman walking next to me chuckled.

Elderly Woman: You’ve made my day, Buttercup.

Lame Adventure 275: Depressing Sight

One night this week I was waiting for an uptown local subway train to take me to my destination, a movie theater where I was going to meet my friend, Felipe.  I was standing on the platform with fellow members of the beaten-down-after-work-heading-to-the-land-of-gin-and-tonic crowd.  Most of the herd was looking in the direction of the dark hole of a tunnel for an oncoming train’s headlights that were nowhere in sight.  I was focused on the tracks fixated on this depressing sight.

"Is that what I think it is?"

The curled green cover made me think that this little book, whether it held addresses, notes, or the answers to all of the important secrets of life (where do all my lost socks go?), had probably belonged to a woman.  Yet, maybe it belonged to a guy who is colorblind or indifferent to color or simply a fan of green and has a leprechaun fetish.  Whoever this notebook belonged to, he or she probably had no idea what happened to it.  As pessimistic as I am by nature, I like to think that it was not the owner that tossed this little book into the tracks.

Little green notebook meeting its depressing end.

I imagine its owner probably just thought it disappeared and entered the void, as lost things often seem to do.  Then, after realizing our loss we think:

We (thinking):  Where the hell did [whatever that is] go?

Through the years I’ve asked that exact question about the aforementioned lost socks, as well as gloves, umbrellas, tickets, lip balm, packs of gum, pens, keys, photographs, my American Express card, and rather fabulously two crisp twenty dollar bills that had the unmitigated gall to sprout wings before my eyes when I stopped to use a pay phone at least 25 years ago.  How that happened was I unzipped a fanny pack I was wearing strapped across the front of my body.  I dipped my mitt in for change and my wallet-less cash flew out in the summer breeze and sailed gracefully in tandem into the slits in a sewer grate.  I looked helplessly down in the grate at them looking up at me at least ten feet out of my grasp forever.  My half-deaf ears were in better shape in my reckless youth for I seem to recall hearing them snicker.  I vividly remember that sick feeling of loss I suffered as if it happened yesterday.  This was also the last time I  wore one of those tourist-type nerd packs anywhere on my body ever again.  Even though I knew exactly where my cash went, that incident also absconded with one of the many missing pieces of my mind.

My battered Moleskine notebook safe and sound ... for now.

Lame Adventure 104: New York Film Festival SNAFU

It is New York Film Festival season, a favorite time of year to Milton and me.  Although we have ordered tickets in advance to several screenings, when we learn that tickets are still available for certain films we had not planned to see, we occasionally pick up a pair at the box office.  That was how we got tickets to a three o’clock screening of the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.  As I am walking to Lincoln Center to meet Milton to attend this screening, my cell phone rings.  The caller is Milton.

Me:  I’m almost there.  I’m five minutes away.

Milton (eerily calm; always a bad sign):  I just looked at the festival’s calendar.  The three o’clock screening is for Le Quattro Volte.

Required reading: New York Film Festival calendar.

Me:  Le what?

Milton:  The calendar says that Uncle Boonmee screens at nine.

Me (morphing into a parrot):  “Nine”?

Milton:  Yes, nine.

Me:  How is that possible?  We’re seeing Angels in America at 7:30.

The Signature Theatre Company has revived Angels in America.  Milton and I purchased those tickets two months ago.  We purchased our Uncle Boonmee tickets around eight o’clock the night before.  We were surprised that there were any tickets left to such an acclaimed, albeit difficult film, written and directed by soon-not-to-be-a-household-name, Apichatpong Weerasethakul.  Our friend, Judy, had warned us that it is best to be well rested and heavily caffeinated for this one.

Milton:  Look at our tickets.  What time is the screening?

I look at the tickets.  The musical cue is the downbeat.

Me:  Nine.

I proceed to note in language invoking images of the deity, mothers, sexual intercourse and excrement that we are in quite a pickle since this is a no exchange/no returns situation.  I bellow for the entire Upper West Side to hear, as if speaking to the Son of God himself, “Jesus Christ, do you realize that we’ve donated $40 to the Film Society of Lincoln Center?”

My stomach acid soars like a rocket to Mars.  Moments later when I see Milton smiling I open my mouth to greet him, but instead, I singe his face with flames.  In response, he morphs into a Jewish mother and blames himself for this predicament recalling that he was one-and-a-half sheets to the wind when he noticed the sign that said tickets to this alleged three o’clock screening of Uncle Boonmee were still available the night before.  I remind him that I was stone cold sober and standing next to him looking at that exact same sign.  It did not occur to either of us that the announcement was for a three o’clock screening that had happened earlier that day, i.e. a past screening.

I bounce up to the box office window like a featherweight boxer determined to make mincemeat out of my opponent, in this case a sleep-deprived woman somewhere in her forties.  Feigning calm, I explain our situation to her.  I play the humility card and admit that we were boneheads that did not look at the show time on our tickets while standing at the box office window.

Alice Tully Hall box office window; a window we now know well.

Ticket Seller:  There are no refunds or exchanges for tickets purchased for same day screenings.

Me:  This was an honest mistake we made.

Ticket Seller:  Would you like to see what’s screening today at three o’clock?

Me:  No.  It’s not Uncle Boonmee.

Ticket Seller:  Yes, Uncle Boonmee screens at nine.

Me:  We’re seeing Angels in America at nine.  If we knew Uncle Boonmee was screening at the same time as Angels, we would not have bought these tickets.

Ticket Seller:  Would you like to see something else at another time?

Milton (elated):  We can make an exchange?

Ticket Seller (completely worn down):  Yes.

Milton:  I can live with that!

We select The Strange Case of Angelica, a ghost story written and directed by 101-year-old Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira.  De Oliveira directed his first film in 1942, his second in 1963, his third in 1975, three more in the eighties, five in the nineties, and nine in the 2000s.  If he lives another 101 years, at this rate, he’ll be cranking out features weekly.  Before leaving the box office window we double-check the date and show times on our tickets forty-three times.