Wet Daddies for Everybody

The thing about ranting (albeit poignantly) about the weather is that the thought’s relevance expires quickly. As in, it was a lovely weekend, considering the shit we’ve been putting up with so far. My incredibly foul-mouthed spew did get me a link from Gawker, which to me is kind of like winning the blog lottery. But most people I bragged to were like, “Uh, what’s that?” But what do I care, because I happen to read the thing rather religiously. Today it lead me to Liz Phair’s letter to the Times editor in response to being trashed on the front page of last Sunday’s Arts & Leisure. The letter is a fairly painful read, but in an amusing train-wreck sort of way.

In any case, let’s segue into actual writers. Last night I went to the Wet Daddy Manifesto (festival?) which was chockfull of good writing and good reading. I’ll be frank. No I didn’t know what a wet daddy was. For the benefit of my fellow squares, it’s a cigarette or joint dipped in formaldehyde and apparently anyone who’s ever done any drugs knows this, or maybe it’s a ghetto celebrity thing.

What do I know? It only strikes me that getting formaldehyde seems hard. I’ve never seen it sold anywhere. Is it a specialty item behind the bodega counter that only the ins know about? And is it cheap? And jeez – formaldehyde? Yuck.

Forgetting for a moment, my troubles with the title, the readings were all quite good. I liked that the first guy up, Rich Byers, cursed his publisher under is breath while reading from his book. Really. The whole publishing experience must have been traumatic since he’s given it up completely (he claims) for bike messengering, which as a rule I’m in favor of. Those cats are hot. All that sweaty biking.. yum. After that Paula Bomer read an erotic short story about this guy’s consuming lust for his 4-months-pregnant wife. This isn’t really that weird, except the part about hearing erotica read out loud in a room full of strangers. That was weird. I felt like it might be a cleaner version of how it was when people went to theaters to see porn. I really didn’t know about this pregnancy turn-on thing, although I’ve had my suspicions.

Donnell Alexander’s excerpt from Ghetto Celebrity was also quite good and I almost bought the book outside. I didn’t because it was around $30 if I remember correctly, and I was counting out my nickels so I could buy a slice on the way home. I’m glad I waited since I now see it on Amazon for about half that. Shit, if you don’t watch out those literary types will screw you ten ways into Tuesday. From the passages Donnell read, I gathered it was nicely paced memoir of sorts. I liked the way he wrote about his father. I’d describe it as generous maybe, which I admire because I often feel the opposite of generous towards my own family. So I respect that. But I haven’t read the whole thing, so I won’t talk any more of it.

I also quite liked Victor LeValle who read a short monster (really he was a troll) story which was really an essay on his trip to Iceland. It was sweet as monster stories go, but maybe that was just the way he read it. I kept thinking the monster and him would end up as friends, until, I think, he got eaten at the end.

Anyway it was a good night except that it ended with a really tortured reading/play/performance art thing about growing up as Angela Davis’ niece, which apparently consisted exclusively of one-liners about socialism and near constant name dropping. The writer played herself as an excited and wide-eyed child with a whiny little-girl voice for most of the piece. I couldn’t tell if the entire thing was a long exercise in sarcasm, or if she was really that bad. I won’t even mention the writing. It’s a bad sign when the best relief of dramatic tension is when one of the actresses stumbled over a line.

The Mexican Hound

Yes it has been 2 weeks since you heard from me, and no I don’t really have anything to say yet, but I must bump off that post about the shit-fuck freezing rain, because it is now officially a hundred fucking degrees.

Someone finally turned to me and said “Hot enough for ya?” to me. In fact I heard the whole city scream it in a collective spasm of frustration.

No longer is the weather a backdrop to my emotional wobbles. It’s not a topic to bring up when there’s nothing left to say. It’s the horseman of the fucking apocalypse. If I were Christian I’d go to Church. If I were a Muslim I’d get on a plane to Mecca, if I were a better Jew I might feel guilty about not being a better Jew. Instead of all that, I will just look back on this year as the time when even the weather decided to choose sides. And of course, he chose evil. I guess you can’t blame him, that’s where all the money and glamour is. The good side just has a bunch of broke, ignored, frustrated do-gooders. Evil has the top shelf gin and those nice thick ice cubes that keep the drink cold for as long as it takes. Fuckers.

But forget the good ice cubes and the smooth gin, we can still get sauced up on the crap stuff. Following is the recipe for my latest drink concoction. Made expressly for the park on summer nights, especially when listening to live music.

The Mexican Hound™

- Family Size Plastic Bottle of Pink Grapefruit Juice (or 2)

- Half a bottle of leftover tequila chilled (or the whole bottle, or 2)

- Limes (one, six, however you like it muchacho)

- Ice (lots, in fact buy a bag and one of those little coolers – but don’t take it to Summerstage)

1. Pour a third to one half of the juice into a pitcher. Set aside.

2. Pour tequila into remainder of Grapefruit juice in orginal packaging.

3. Slice up limes. Sqeeze and toss ‘em in to Graprfruit juice bottle.

4. Toss in some ice if you are serving immediately.

5. Screw back cap. Shake vigorously. Fucking vigorously, you know you want to you dirty bastard.

6. Taste. Adjust juice, licker, limes, ice as needed.

6. Go to park with friends. Pour over ice and proceed to come up with religious subtexts for the weather, while intermittently commenting on how refreshing your drink is.

Serves 2-4 (make two bottles – you won’t be sorry).

Rain All Day (Part 36)

This morning E-dawg asked if I’d ever again be in a good mood which I found rather offensive considering all I had said so far was that it was miz outside. This is a practical concrete fact, not a glass-half-empty kind of thing. It’s impossible not to be irritable when it’s mid June and sleeting outside. If some dude were to set up a folding table and some socks scarves and sweaters on 2nd avenue today he’d be sold out in an hour. Two cups of hot tea and a coffee later, my nose is still cold. Dan came by and said he was so cold he felt like a girl. Huh? Oh that’s right we’re always the cold ones. Not today sucker, as we browsed through the racks of unredeemable tacky short sleeved printed shirts in Daffy’s. He asked about long underwear. Of course there’s no long underwear in mid-June. It’s supposed to be all hot and shit. You’re supposed be wandering down steamy city streets, pausing to cool off when a stranger chuckles and says, “Hot enough for ya?” You laugh with him and secretly roll your eyes ’cause he’s the tenth person today who’s said that. “Will that sentence ever get old?”, you wonder to yourself while discreetly checking your shirt for sweat stains.

But not this year. This year you look like a weirdo with your Duane Reed socks pocking out of last year’s sandals. Tomorrow I am looking forward to my first summer concert, Blackalicious in Prospect Park. But will the weather be friend or foe? Enemy or ally? Flowers and butterflies or mud and slime? Weather.com keeps changing its prediction from intermittent thunderstorms, to PM thunderstorms, to up-your-ass thunderstorms.

And anyway I’ve been pretending to be in a good mood for like 3 weeks now. I can’t believe this isn’t obvious, if anything nominations should be flooding the Academy.

Soon Summer Soon

Summer summer summer. I think it started today. Was it a mere coincidence that just three days ago I made a playlist entitled “Soon Summer Soon”? It was grey and cold and rainy, but I rebelled and filled it with roots rock reggae anyway. I think it made summer come. That’s okay you needn’t thank me. I did it as much for myself as all of you.

I was in a marvelous mood yesterday. I attributed it to finding the perfect light corduroy jacket at Cheap Jacks (the most flagrant retail misnomer ever). It was not cheap, but it was perfect so I had to have it. And then I went to see a speaker related to my writing class, and the teacher said she liked my first assignment. I think it was the assignment part that really made my day. But Les pointed out that it also could be the roots rock reggae. Good point. In the face of the gloomiest and doomiest gloom and doom, reggae is always uplifting. I wonder if there have been any neurological studies on this. If not, I suggest some of the brainiacs that I keep running into consider it.

If you haven’t checked out the excellent acts that are part of BAM’s Rhythm & Blues Festival, you should get to it right now. Personally, I am holding my breath for the July 3 Steel Pulse show. Who knows what they look like now, but I love this rolled up jeans, leg-warmers, sneakers, tie + vest look. Hubba hubba. The music: I let that rock for itself.

In other weather related news, I’ve been taking advantage of the clear skies and unlimited music options to do some exploring of my new professional abode. I think it’s referred to as midtown east. It’s a neat little part of the city. I get to interact with a segment of New York I usually never encounter – the absurdly wealthy. I especially get a kick out of the middle aged ladies in their durable loafers and gilded sunglasses, a Dunhill Light delicately perched in their fingers. For some reason I imagine them as being superbly in control of their lives. Yes, it’s called envy.

I’m flanked to the north by the Queensboro bridge and the Roosevelt Island gondola. Both of which have some prime industrial locales surrounding them. Even up here in the box seats. The anchorage of the Queensboro houses one of those gourmet grocery stores, a nice restaurant, and a design store. Obviously none of this is that memorable. But what is memorable are the designed benches that are perfect for lunch-time lounging. I also like First Avenue which is filled almost entirely with locals. When I ordered an ice coffee from a deli, and didn’t know I was supposed to hand the guy a cup of ice from the freezer behind me, the counter guy said, “Oh you’re new. Welcome to the neighborhood.” Like no one ever just passes through. People come. And they stay.

Don’t be a Menace

Well that was a horrific blog entry from yesterday. It’s disheartening to go back and read something you wrote to find that even as the author, you can’t understand what the hell you were trying to say. Good thing I’m starting my Reading for Beginners class on Wednesday. I think I had several paragraphs of whining I needed to get out about all my college friends being overachievers and getting all sorts of impressive sounding initials behind their names.

But I shouldn’t be whining because I don’t want to go to grad school. Never did really. Though both work and school have annoyances, I prefer those of the working world. Actually I prefer the annoyances of the independently wealthy world, but those seem to be out of my reach at the moment.

What I really want to be whining about is a stupid boy and a stupid breakup which still has me feeling blue, even in spite of the shiny new iPod in my bag, which I named Juicy White Fruit. JWF is a dream, even though at first I felt funny about it. It’s a self-indulgent little bugger. And it’s especially weird since I’ve spent the last year sneering at anyone on the train with the tell-tale white earbuds. I actually don’t use the white earbuds. I prefer my big cushiony Sony headphones that double as earmuffs in the winter and neck accessories year round. I also try to be really inconspicuous about having JWF.

Appropriately, I’ve been ripping all my old CDs. Lots of stuff I haven’t listened to in forever. Lots of shitty embarrassing stuff, but some gems mixed in there too. Popping in each one has a way of transporting me to different cities, apartments, dorm rooms, and personalities. A certain Gladys Knight tune was exactly what I was listening to years and years ago while breaking up with the same person I am currently breaking up with. A shudder when that memory hit me. I rediscovered several terrible compilation albums I bought when I first started buying CDs and picked albums only on the principle of quantity. If it had 20 tracks, I bought it. I forgot I liked girly folk music like Rickie Lee Jones. (Still kinda do). Also I have a whole bunch of funny soundtracks like High School High and Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinkin Your Juice in the Hood.

In the DVD extra of Almost Famous Cameron Crowe says he makes tapes of all the music he listens to by month, and he’s been doing it forever. So he’ll pop in a tape from, say, June 1985. It seems like a neat idea. (And even easier with playlists on iTunes.) But I like the random stumbling upon music. I don’t think it would be as meaningful if you sat down and prepared yourself to have a memory. Besides, I would think there’s a lot of overlap – especially with the timeless stuff that you keep going back to. In any case, lemme just say that I wish EPMD was still making records.

One Rainy Wish

If the constant rain, and higher sales tax wasn’t enough to convince you that yes, evil had conquered good, then the latest news from the FCC should do it. If watching television wasn’t painful enough already, now we can look forward to at least a dozen more versions of The Bachelor, each one a teensy bit more nauseating than the one before. Maybe there will be a magazine devoted to all the goings on of the former reality show stars. Kind of like a college reunion, except of course that it would only go one way. So that when the ridiculous crying brunette’s living with her parents again, you can snicker openly, from your parents’ couch.

Anyway, speaking of reunions, I had a semi five year college reunion on Saturday. I say semi because we didn’t actually make it to any of the reunion events, only ate and drank within a mile radius at several Upper West Side Bars. A mile radius is close enough for me, however. Five years is barely enough to justify a reunion, so it was just hanging out with the kids I see here and there in the city anyway. Note to self: Next time don’t go to school with so many freakin overachievers. Lined up around the circular table were four different graduate degrees (or pending degrees). One year from an MD, 2 years from a PhD, 6 months from an MBA, and a masters. And then there was me: Uhh – taking a class at The New School this summer. Might as well have been reading for beginners.

It laughed to myself when everyone agreed how awful it would be to sit at a desk all day. After a second or two of agreeing nods I chimed in about how, well hey, I sit at a desk all day. There’s a lot of Zen to be found within the 4 ft walls of cube. A lot more than running around saving people’s lives all day anyway. And who wants graduate degrees, and engagement rings, and emotional balance anyway. Not me. Success? Pooh. Achievement? Forget it. The pain of desperation is really where it’s at. Down in the pits of self-loathing and disappointment is where the real fun is. Ask anyone.