28 December 2006

the great white north

i seem to remember another blog of sorts with the same title, one of the dispatches from my trip, adjusting to the blonde, blue-eyed, scandanavian whiteness of minnesota after africa

but this time it's a different sort of whiteness, the quiet white solitude of standing in the middle of a frozen lake. frozen lakes make the most amazing sounds! frightening, like when the ice cracks and crumbles underneath your feet, and even if you're looking at a car driving across the foot-thick ice, your breath stops. mysterious, like the timpanic shudders of shifting ice plates, deep low rumbling sounds, whale-like and primordial.

it's true, i prefer the lake in summer and the calls of loons and herons, the silent majesty of the northern lights. but let me tell you, dear readers (actually only bret -- i have no illusions about my readership), i *needed* this break, badly. i didn't realize how much the city was getting to me. the late nights, the constant cycle of drunk/hungover/drunk/hungover -- and that's when i'm working! -- the noise, the people, the noise made by people, the dirt and grime and stinkiness of it all. in a few short months, brooklyn has earned a special place in my heart. but that doesn't mean i always love it, or it's always fun. i have a whole slate of new year's resolutions and they all relate to finding time for contemplation, art, self-maintenance and quiet.

and tomorrow i will be right back in it. dates and bartending and parties and bartending and a busy couple of weeks. but i will also be back, and i am ready.

did you know that 200 million people have stopped writing in their blogs? Experts say the number of bloggers in the world will plateau in 2oo7 at around 100 million. C'mon bloggers! Now there's a good resolution:


24 December 2006

happy holidays!

back in minnesota. we're heading up to the lake tomorrow -- looking forward to the quiet solitude of the frozen north. and no internet. next entry should be just before the new year.

it's strange, i've been so busy that i haven't had time to get in the christmas spirit (santacon excluded, naturally). can you believe that jc's bday is already here? i can't. it's a weird one here, since my folks are leaving the country from january to august, or something like that. i'm hoping to meet them in spain. anyone going to be in europe in april?

i was planning on making it to five of the six xmas services, but only made it to three. still, more church than in a long time. i miss it. but now it's time for a bath instead of the late service.

merry chrismukah!

19 December 2006

best christmas ever?

finally i start working on this thing again and our internet goes out. awesome.

so here i am in an internet cafe. is it bad that i'm still recovering from the weekend on tuesday? i can't believe the past week.

it was a big one.

have you ever heard of santacon? it's pretty much the best thing ever. imagine a thousand santas rampaging through manhattan. "WHOSE STREETS? SANTA'S STREETS!" it's not just in new york, so check your local listings next year. and anyone who lives in new york *has* to come next year. we filled up one bar so full with santas that santas were actually crowd surfing on other santas.

here we are taking over the essex street stop:

i have much bigger news though. much bigger.

i seem to have met someone. someone who's pretty amazing. i like her. i mean i really like her. she's from minnesota, so we'll get to spend some time together over the holiday. did i mention i leave on thursday morning? well i do.

i think it might scare you all if i told you how much i like her.

we'll leave it at that for now.

time to shop!

15 December 2006

the week in review


1.all day session working on listening station for january exhibit on media and hiv at columbia college in chicago.
2.magnetic field free show. close at 2 am.


1.all day at red hot.
2.up late finishing listening station booklet.


1.all day at red hot.
2.training at monkeytown. slammed beyond belief. close at 4 am.


1.all day at red hot.
2.live band karaoke at magnetic field. sing springsteen's born to run in santa costume. close at 4 am.


2.late shift at magnetic field.


1.10 am: santacon.
2.magnetic field 4th anniversary party. not working. but partying.


3.holiday potluck at jessie's.

goddamn i'm exhausted.

what time is it?

it is most certainly not time to get ill. it is 5:30 am. the bar is closed, but my god, it's hard to get to sleep straight out of work. i don't have a whole lot of time for writing these days (thus the unforgivable three month gap), so i guess i'll take it when i can. i'd forgotten how much fun it is to tell all my readers whatever i feel like.

so today (tonight? this morning? i'm so confused) i'd like to talk about thumbs.

i never knew how important the tip of my left thumb was to me. and then i cut a nice chunk of it off while making sour mix. it's not the worst ever and i don't feel the need for specific details, but using the tip of the thumb in any way is pretty much impossible at the moment. i've had to readjust everything, and since i work with my hands all day, it's been a little strange. every time i start to get frustrated, i think back to a photo exhibit i saw once in kampala, scarred and battered victims of the lord's resistance army. black and whites of people with one hand, no hands, one arm, no ears, no nose. those suspected of revealing the lra's location had their lips removed. truly gruesome and horrifying.

those pictures make it hard to complain about my little thumb.

14 December 2006

three jobs??

at the end of this year, red hot is cutting my hours back to just a day a week. not really so tragic -- things are slow these days and there's not much more than a day a week worth of work for me.

so i found a new job. i've been bartending since july and getting more and more comfortable behind the bar, so i thought i'd take a shot and applied for a job at a high volume boutique bar in williamsburg. and they hired me! i started last night and it was trial by fire -- we had a private party and were absolutely slammed. plus we make all these complicated cocktails like tamarind margaritas, grapefruit caipirinhas, lavender cilantro mojitos, etc etc etc. i managed to hold my own and the staff seemed to be impressed. didn't get home til 4:30 last night. and since i'm closing at the field tonight and friday night, it's looking like another long week. but at least i'm having fun, right?

don't know my shifts yet -- i'll let everyone know soon. in the meantime, check out monkeytown.

13 December 2006

and three months later....

this blog is officially back.
starting with some late night rilke, courtesy of a new friend.

god speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

these are the words we dimly hear:

you, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
just keep going. No feeling is final.
don't let yourself lose me.

nearby is a country they call life.
you will know it by its seriousness.

give me your hand

22 September 2006

dreams, and lost songs

blogging at work again. badbadbad.

this morning i awoke from a short post-bar sleep with the most amazing song coming from dreamland (no, that's not the bar downstairs). in my dream, i'd been weeping as i wrote the song because it was so goddamn good. immediately upon waking i grabbed my phone and recorded the lyrics that i could remember, amazed at the incredible quality of this magnificent piece of music.

and then i woke up again. bleary, exhausted and utterly disappointed that i hadn't drawn this song in waiting out of my subconscious. looking on the bright side a few hours later, at least i'm dreaming again -- i guess i've adjusted to the noise of atlantic avenue.

in this chaotic rollercoaster that is new york, it's hard to make space for creativity. every time i leave the house it feels like skydiving, the city screaming by like the whistling wind.

how do we find time in our lives for that which sustains us and drives us forward? when i was living in minnesota i went to church twice a week, almost without fail. and since moving to the city, i've been twice, and was disappointed both times.

but what of the spirit? have i lost touch with that elemental part of me? is yoga three times a week enough to satisfy the needs of the soul?

i only wish i knew some ministers i could ask....

11 September 2006

my friend the undertaker

i took a picnic out to the promenade on labor day, with my grandfather's copy of rilke:
already the ripening barberries are red,
and the old asters hardly breathe in their beds.
the man who is not rich now as summer goes
will wait and wait and never be himself.
nothing like some german existentialism to prepare one for fall.

the long stretch of benches looking out over the harbor were full with holiday revelers. an old man pulled in next to me and we struck up a conversation as i prepared my pastrami on rye. his eyes glowed with the arc of history as we talked of mayors, freeways, wars and love lost. as i gathered my things to head to work, i asked if we could exchange numbers. yeah, i got those digits.

and today we went out to lunch. i met 80 year old joe boyle at his office, the funeral home on my block. his cousin used to own the business years ago, and although he's retired, he still helps out around the place. we walked through the neighborhood, him pointing out a piece of quality iron work here, a new fountain there.

over burgers at an old diner, we exchanged stories, as he explained the art of embalming, explained that he owned 15 black suits, and told of another brooklyn, when everything was fine and the irish and the poles lived together, but then "the others" came and ruined this fair city.

guess i'll have to sit through a bit of old fashioned racism if want to be friends with the undertaker.

21 August 2006

it's life and life only

i am reveling in a few spare moments for writing.

i am in love with this sticky city. it has wrapped itself around me and it's hard to take even a single breath.

i watch the metropolitans play and read the pure aching joy and mystery of shoeless joe, wp kinsella. they made a movie from it called field of dreams, one of my all time favorites. guess what? the book is better.

baseball as a metaphor for life, or something like that.

the jackhammer started at 7 am this morning. i kinda liked it. the noise from outside has started to feel like a rapturous urban embrace. it lulls me to sleep even as it shakes my room.

late night in washington square park, a wide-eyed junkie approached me with a crack pipe.

he said

"man, don't start with this stuff. i been on it for years."

"you want some?"

no thanks, i just came to piss in the bushes.

08 August 2006

a blog in two parts

part one:

minnesota, the land of lakes. there are so many lakes. one in particular is important to me and to part one of the story, and it is pike bay.

when my parents decided to buy the cabin on pike bay, i was against it. having a lake house meant we were finally real minnesotans and that didn't sit right. when i tell people i moved to new york from minnesota, i'm quick to mention my west coast roots. the more i thought about the cabin thing though, it seemed to be a great idea. and now i am oh so glad that we have that marvelous house, with its old, worn timbers and trees. i went up there as many times as i could when i still lived in st paul -- i even managed, from the end of our dock, to catch the perseid summer meteor shower falling across a sky lit green by the northern lights.

it was such a great break, getting out of the sweltering city, and special enough to see my family, but having time with my grandparents was just incredible. they don't read my blog, but luckily they know how much i love them. it was hard to see my grandmother struggling with her failing eyes, but she's still sharp and game for about anything.

the cabin has had some significant upgrades since i left -- a new paint job that makes it look like a new house, but even more important: we have kayaks. i was out on the water as much as i could be, watching herons cross the wide open sky and listening to the calls of loons. bald eagles were an everyday sight.

i was at the cabin for my 27th birthday. the last couple of years have raised the bar for birthdays: 25, chewing qat around a bonfire in the shadow of a tanzanian volcano; 26, naked at sykes hot springs in big sur.

this one held its own. up pre-sunrise and into the kayaks with dad for the six mile round trip to cass lake (see linked map above). then a ride around the 20-mile lake loop with mom. then breakfast: blueberry walnut pancakes with bacon. now that's how to start a new year of life. of course, the sashimi nicoise on the rented pontoon for lunch and the grilled duck breast for dinner helped move the day along.

and that was, more or less, minnesota. my family seems to be doing well, although they're all exhausted by the same thing that has prevented me from writing since i got home last week, and that brings us to part two.

part two:

friends. not the sitcom, but the actual people on whom we depend. i got home just in time to have a potluck birthday dinner with my friends here and was surprised by bret, one of my best friends who lives in santa monica. he's in town for a couple weeks, which is just marvelous, especially since we've played music together for years. his presence, combined with a gaggle of california friends in town for a party, have made it so this hour that i'm spending at the computer is one of about three that i've had to myself since coming home.

but you know what? it's good to be back. the day i got home, i got a new prescription for my contacts. the world came to life. the brownstones shine brighter in the western light, the curved golden tower of the williamsburg savings bank is clearer than ever before. i've come back from minnesota with new eyes with which to see this incredible place i now call home.

yes, last week the heat index was 115. it was awful. but these tremendous temperatures have only fed the fire inside me, a fire to live a good and full life, a fire to stay dedicated to that in which i believe, and a fire to greet each day with a sun salutation and a smile.

22 July 2006

green-ness in the middle west

when i left this city, it was march; cold, gray, spirit-crushing march. and oh, how i was ready to go, broken hearts notwithstanding. it was time, after a year and a half of living at home with my family, through two minnesota winters, one brutal and harsh, one less so, dampened by the soft pedal that is love. still, the long cold took its toll on me, and when life exploded in new york springtime bliss, it was a great relief.

now the sunlight is soft and reaches the ground mottled and stirred by the rich leaves. i am surrounded by my family again, although tonight there's even more family than before. my grandparents are asleep next door, in minnesota for what may prove to be their final visit. it was my birthday present to myself to come and see them here, and it was especially exciting because i decided not to tell them. seeing my grandmother's jaw drop and tears begin to flow at the airport was so wonderful. my aunt and uncle are asleep across the hall, my folks are in the basement and my sister is still up doing the i.m. thing. i don't have much left in me today after a day of badminton and wrestling my cousins on the trambopoline, so i'll be joining my family in a long, quiet night of sleep.

goddamn it's quiet here!

19 July 2006

hot hot heat

i've always wondered what it would be like to be cooked alive. after the past few days, i've got some inkling.

yesterday it closed in on triple digits with a heat index of 105. for some reason, i decided to spend the afternoon running errands for work, which damn near killed me.


that is the lesson i learned. and now i am basking in the freon glaze of my a/c and getting ready to pack.

did i forget to tell you? i am going to minnesota tomorrow!

yes to summer vacation. yes to lakes and kayaks. no to blackflies and mosquitos.

yes to family!

i have a counter now. scroll down to the very bottom of the page and you can see how many people have read my blog.

current status: zero.

yes to blogs that no one reads!

to non-existent local readers: party at my house july 29th for my birthday. potluck!

to non-existent far-off readers: sorry you're missing out.

17 July 2006


what in the hell is going on over there? it came out of nowhere, didn't it, this all-out war? it's so sad, they've finally rebuilt beirut after decades of civil war and now it's ravaged again. i'm just keeping my fingers crossed that israel doesn't bomb any further than the syrian border. it's all so jumbled -- hezbollah isn't really lebanese, they're mostly syrian, but their weapons are iranian, probably some old soviet gear too. syria might have been pressed out of front and center political power in lebanon for the assassination of hariri, but they still control the bekaa valley in southern lebanon, a region with the second most lucrative opium yield in the world next to afghanistan. so israel isn't just bombing lebanon to attack hezbollah, they're attacking syria and forcing the lebanese people to confront hezbollah, which is hard considering they're integrated into the fragile national pact lebanese government, in which governance is based on population percentages and supposedly balanced between christians and muslims.

obviously israel has to defend herself, that's not unreasonable, but the scale of their retaliation shocked me. if they continue their assault into syria, there's a good chance that iran will get involved in more than just back-end supply and start lobbing missles.

let's hope that doesn't happen. i'm going on vacation this week and a nuclear war would be such a downer.

15 July 2006

oops i did it again

i've been so damn busy that i've forgotten all about this blog thing. and to leave it on such a dark, depressing note, that's just not right. i haven't felt like that since that day, which is good.

something exciting: i've upgraded from barback to bartender and switched bars. now i work at magnetic field, the bar below my apartment. monday nights, which, so far, have not been the best of nights. but i'm taking over from a girl who was mean and a terrible bartender, so i have some rebuilding to do. hopefully once everyone in the neighborhood finds out there's a cute boy working behind the bar, they'll come in all the time. i'm considering making one monday a month a vassar night -- there are enough of us in the hood to fill the place. barbacking was a great test of physical endurance, but i'm glad i've upgraded. and the commute is a whole lot better. now i just have to watch myself -- free drinks at the bar below my apartment is a dangerous game.

so much has happened since my last entry that i can't even keep track.

i spent all day at the met, communing with the tiffany windows. when i walked out onto the pavillion, i realized that i hadn't seen any of the banner exhibits. damn that's a big museum.

then 24 hours later i joined MoMA and saw the dada exhibit and now i can go to MoMA whenever i want. new york readers, you're welcome to join me.

july 4th i had a huge barbeque on my patio and it was SO much fun. jessie came with a load of friends and there were two things that made the party stand out -- one, there was almost noone from vassar, and two, all the folks from the bar and the tattoo parlor downstairs came to hang out. they're all excellent people and it was such a validation of this being my new home, this brooklyn, this atlantic avenue, this block between henry and hicks. no stalkers, please.

last weekend my friend elizabeth invited us up to her parents' house in the hudson valley for the best party ever. there was a whole roast pig (too bad president bush wasn't there, i hear he loves it). i made drinks for everyone. we played badminton. we played croquet. we played ping pong. we had an epic four square tournament. we swam in the pool, we got naked in the hot tub. the quakers danced. i got to see friends who i love SO MUCH. who could ask for anything more?

today i am headed back to coney island for the siren music festival after a bbq in prospect park. as long as i can beat the cold that has gripped me the past few days, it will be lots of fun!



life at the field:

26 June 2006

sometimes i feel lonely

even with the excitement of the crosstown ride and the parade, i came home and things went downhill. i've been struggling with how to interact with such a huge city. with so many things to do, where do i start? and this weekend, what i guess i'd call depression got the best of me.

this morning i started reading the 1937 polish novel "ferdydurke" by witold gombrowicz -- nothing like an eastern european black comedy to lift my spirits.

even page one seems appropriate after a rough patch:

i lay in the murky light while my body, unbearably frightened, crushed my spirit with fear, and my spirit crushed my body, whose tiniest fibers cringed in apprehension that nothing would ever happen, nothing ever change, that nothing would ever come to pass, and whatever i undertook, nothing, but nothing, would ever come of it. it was the dread of nonexistence , the terror of extinction, it was the angst of nonlife, the fear of unreality, a biological scream of all my cells in the face of an inner disintegration when all would be blown to pieces and scattered to the winds. it was the fear of unseemly pettiness and mediocrity, the fright of distraction, panic at fragmentation, the dread of rape from within and of rape that was threatening me from without -- but most important, there was something on my heels at all times, something that i would call a sense of inner, intermolecular mockery and derision, an inbred superlaugh of my bodily parts and the analogous parts of my spirit, all running wild.

24 June 2006

fears and shenanigans

we all have our fears. sometimes we let our fears control our lives, we let them take hold of us with a crushing grip.

i was nine years old. i flew head-first over the handlebars and when i hit the asphalt,
i absorbed the blow with my face. it wasn't pretty. they made sure my nostril and lips would stay attached to each other. i couldn't look at myself in the mirror.

it took me a few years to get back on the bike. when i did, i crashed again. years later in st paul i found some confidence. i started mountain biking. i came to new york.

today i got on a bike for the first time since last fall.

don't worry i wore a helmet.

so i walked through the rain and i borrowed ameet's bike and went to prospect park, where i met my sister and some of my friends but mostly her friends primarily, anyway,we rode through the park and onto ocean parkway, which is a parkway that goes to the ocean. and coney island.

i have never been to coney island.

there were about ten of us. our gang was called the shenanigans. our rallying cry was
YIP yipyipyipyipyip UH HUNH, UH HUNH.
you know, like those aliens on sesame street.

we rode a long way. we fixed flat tires and ate apples.

today was the mermaid parade, which is a parade of mermaids. it's for neptune. there were egyptian zombies dancing to thriller. and pixies. and sexy tattooed sailors.

when was the last time you swam in the atlantic ocean? we did. the waves pulled off my boxers. luckily i grabbed them just in time. even though a little kid was shouting TAKE IT OFF. i think he was talking to my friends who were girls and not me. but i showed him my ass anyway. was that illegal?

it was wet. it was raining, just a little, so even the parts of us that were out of the ocean were wet. strange apocalpytic clouds crept from the sea, a low moist air surrounded us.
an embrace from neptune.

we had french fries. we spun around in circles.
we got back on our bikes, and we left coney island.

the rain picked up. it went from the soft hands, to the snapping and the clapping.
then the pounding, the stomping, lightning and thunder and new oceans of rain.

Avenue Z. Boom!
Y. X. flashBoom!
W. V. U. boom!

we parted at grand army plaza with a final YIP yipyipyipyipyip Uh HUNH!

i rode alone, soaked to the bone, to a hot shower, pajamas and my guitar.

19 June 2006

that is how they play in england.

the solstice is fast approaching and the summer is taking hold. the street clocks said 95 yesterday, tho' i think they were exaggerating. still, it was damn hot.

but tonight things are cooling down and a soft rain is falling. i'm sure it's making that wonderful hushed, palms-together sound which i love. but i can't hear it because a truck is idling right outside my window.

seriously, people, never live across the street from a hospital.

i've been sick the past week with an intense fever:


it's a terrible sickness, to be trapped in front a tv screen in dark, cool living rooms and bars while the world bakes outside. i'm trying to stop it from taking over my life.

the best match i've seen so far was ghana v. czech republic, but watching us v. italy in a bar packed past standing room was amazing. the us is not very good but i think i have to support them, if only that a us advancement would get more americans tied into this global game.

the global game as i've caught it:

kampala, uganda -- a match between manchester united and arsenal, and man u. ended arsenal's 49 (!) game win streak. the streets that night, my god, you'd think it was a national holiday, fireworks in the street, gunshots late into the blackness that is night without electricity. all this for a game 10,000 miles away.

nkhata bay, malawi -- a local league is playing on a rock-hewn, grass-bereft pitch. it's not even summer yet, and already the equatorial heat is punishing. there, on the hands of the players, what are they wearing, i ask my friend. they are gloves, of course, he explains. but it's so hot, why are they wearing gloves, and he replies, that is how they play in england.

but no crumpets?

i can't wait

there's a longer entry in the works, but for now, this is exciting. From the NYT Sunday Magazine interview with Jack Black:

NYT: Your next film, which comes out this fall, is called "Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny" and sounds like a documentary about your band.

JB: No. It's not a rock-you, mock-you-mentary. It is the story of how we came to be, and our first epic journey to become the greatest band on earth.

14 June 2006

turns out feeling old runs in the family

from hannah, my youngest sibling's blog -- here

i don't want to grow up. i don't want my parents to get old. i don't want my grandparents to get older. i dont' want to outlive all my loved ones. i don't want to not have friends for the rest of my life.


modest mouse:

"i'm the same as i was when i was six years old/and oh my god i feel so damn old/i don't really feel anything."

12 June 2006

we will become silhouettes

yesterday i returned from my five year college reunion. yes, we revisited the drunken haze, the riotous four am screaming laughter, the instant social groups (just add liquor). it was a joy to have the crew back together.

but as i walked through the seemingly unchanged landscape, what struck me most was looking at the classes of 96, 91, 86. are these fat balding men my future? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! now granted they didn't all look like shit, but it was a terrifying confrontation with my own mortality, which, closing in on 27, i have still not confronted.

still, i love my friends, and it's always special to see the ones from far away.

on the way home from work today, i walked down to the promenade with a freshly purchased copy of the new yorker, where i sat and watched the boats while i read about the security of new york harbor and wished more paper was as soft silky smooth as that mag. seriously, i'd subscribe just to feel the pages.

so i'm journaling, detoxing, and listening to the polyphonic spree. i plan on writing far more regularly, for those of who have joined the adventures recently. so keep one eye on the lengthening solstician (solstical?) days and the other in brooklyn.

09 June 2006

a quickie at work

i probably shouldn't be doing this, blogging at work. it's gotten some people in trouble.

tonight i head up to vassar for my FIVE year college reunion. i told my grandmother it made me feel old. she laughed.

running red hot errands today, walking down margaret sanger to joey ramone place, i passed a wall of graffiti. one banner read

if you can make it in new york, you made it!

that felt good.

30 May 2006

recognition is due

last night, i sent out the email which may well have drawn you here. as soon as i sent it, i read it over and started to feel awful. on this day of mourning, a day which recognizes the terrible sacrifice made by so many, here i go sending out a cheery email, celebrating myself in the self-aggrandizing way which i seem to love. i know so many people all over the world who do amazing things and they don't seem to email all their friends to share. i don't think i'll ever send another mass email.

also, i should have mentioned that the piece some of you might listen to today was overseen by marco werman at the world. marco gave me the opportunity to share this story with a national audience and was instrumental in putting it all together, along with his co-producer helen barrington. their guidance was essential and i can't wait to hear the mix that helen has put together.

i've struggled my whole life with my own self-obsession, and sometimes it gets the better of me. i hope you don't mind putting up with it from time to time. please tell me when i cross the line, won't you?

26 May 2006

the tourists

i live on the second floor above atlantic avenue, just a block off the brooklyn-queens expressway. atlantic is a major thruway and the neighborhood is historic. the bank a couple blocks down has a huge plaque to mark the spot where washington watched the battle of long island. and so the tourists come.

from my second story window, i'm even with their open-air seats on the double-decker buses. they pause from time to time in front of my apartment. they're outside when i watch tv, when i stretch up into mountain pose, when i'm writing.

i don't know why it strikes me as funny every time i see them. once, a family was standing up in the stopped bus, filming the brownstones and downtown highrises. they pointed the camera in my window, and i waved. they waved back and were gone.

22 May 2006

the uu world

i should be happy. i should be proud. the article i started a year ago is finally done and published. i received my pre-release copies this afternoon. it's available at uuworld.org, if you're interested.

so why do i feel bad? well, for one, they requested that i write a cover story, which i did, 4000 words of it. and then they took me off of the cover for flower art by andy goldsworthy. a little disappointing, but whatever, it's still in the magazine.

more importantly, i don't think it's good. maybe i spent too much time with it, maybe it's been edited into the ground, but reading my own words, i don't care about them at all. i don't know, i think it just percolated for too long.

coming home today, catching the four at brooklyn bridge/city hall, i stood close to the incoming and watched my shadowed reflection pass in a blur. life can feel like that sometimes, like a fleeting reflection on a moving train, a sense of presence but devoid of any real substance beyond metal and flourescent light.

21 May 2006

home sweet home!

i feel a little anti-social, having spent nearly the entire weekend at home. but let me tell you, i just unpacked the last box and am all moved in, and that's worth sacrificing a weekend. it's so wonderful to have my life all set up here, a routine that i'm thoroughly enjoying in a place that i love. the noise is still challenging, but i'm adjusting to it.

no crazy stories this time around, unless you count installing drywall anchors as crazy and exciting.

it's not, but i couldn't have mounted a bookcase without them.

oh i just can't hold back any more:


18 May 2006

to my five or so dedicated readers:

i most humbly apologize for the long hiatus. it’s been a hectic move and my writing has fallen off the table. i promise to those brave five who type adventuresinbrooklyn or click on their bookmark (those are the true heroes) that the adventures will soon return in force.

for now, let me just say that i love:

my apartment, my neighborhood.

the sunsets down atlantic avenue and across the water, through the rising steel haze at the port.

the mets. i have a hat that has a funny mixed up N and Y.

the slate sidewalks, the avenues of stone, brown and blue and grey, the green of ginkgo plane tree chestnut cradling the firm earth.

i don’t love the trucks, the hospital loading zone across the street and the late night drunks from the bar downstairs. i try not to sleep with earplugs, but i do sometimes. i’m getting used to it.

but i love my job and so much else and every time a truck downshifts or a car rides by with the boomin system, i think wait, this city has embraced me, welcomed me with a little luck and put me exactly where i want to be.

over the next weekend the development of my room will make some real progress. i already managed to find a small desk that fits into a corner, an AC and a set of mounted wall shelves. the final piece of my bed and a new mattress arrive tomorrow morning. i only wish i could take the day off and put everything together. soon enough.

like. blogging i hope so – blogging
– oh my god is it okay to mention know if any of you really care about what my room looks is

blogging in a blog? i don’t

good night.

04 May 2006

pack it up pack it in let me begin

just finished packing and i move tomorrow. i decided instead of borrowing a car to just make a half dozen or so walking trips to my new apartment about six blocks away. i really don’t have a whole lot of stuff, so it shouldn’t be too bad. the paint is dry and looks fantastic, so much better than before (two dark brown walls facing each other, the others sky blue and bright orange – what they hell was this guy thinking?). i plan on sleeping in my new place for the first time tomorrow night, as long as the paint fumes aren’t too bad.

i found out a couple things about my neighbors over the weekend. there’s a tattoo parlor moving in next door and the bar downstairs is doing a major soundproofing renovation. how nice is that?

speaking of bars, i’m officially hired on at the black door, the bar in chelsea (even though a local informed me that 26th street is more like south midtown). i’ll be working every tuesday night from 4 to 4, but since i only work at red hot on monday, thursday and friday, i’ll have some time to recuperate. hopefully i’ll still be able to fit in volunteering at the yoga studio, but since i’ve taken a break to move it’s been nice to not be there. the trade is a great deal, but there’s really not a lot to do there and i don’t feel like spending five hours a week just sitting around.

i never had a chance to mention that last week i went to the final night of the marriage of figaro at the met. we were in the last row of the top section, so high that we could touch the magnificent gold ceiling above us, and it was still magical. it might be a crowd-pleaser, but it’s still my favorite opera. mostly i just got a ticket to hear the sextet in the third act. and it was worth every penny.

upcoming: cinco de mayo, a return to the red hook farm, and jonathan lethem’s fortress of solitude!

02 May 2006

today what i wrote in my gernal

may. day. mayday. protests everywhere. a day of illumination, and everything being in that state, illuminated, and finishing a book about everything being illuminated and crying on the subway, tears on joralemon street. a new week, new challenges. may. day. another day of painting, nearly the last. this incredible feeling of ownership; my place, my city, my home. my friends, my new life, new days. it feels so right and yet still so unreal, with no routine set, no established norms of eggs-and-bacon-and-go-to-work. i don't even eat bacon any more. but i can feel it, not bacon but normalcy, (bah bah, bah bah) i can hear the sound of settling (bah bah, bah bah) breathing down the hall, scrambling down delancey, crawling alongside the brooklyn-bound four train, exiting at borough hall and heading west down atlantic avenue to the room with one blue wall.

and there i am, waiting. i never wanted a ninetofive, or even a parttime tentosix. i even thought i'd never want it. somehow, there i am, waiting. i smile when i notice the sign "EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS" -- oh, wait, that means me. i get giddy when my hands touch the long brushed metal cylinder attached to the tall glass door between lafayette and broadway. i grasp the handle, i open the door, i press the silver button. the elevator is slow and unruly and stops randomly on floors with no one waiting there and everyone just lets the door stand open in silence. but eventually, that elevator will come down to the first floor. the doors will open. i will take it to the sixth floor. and my new life.

27 April 2006

sailing the concrete rivers

my friend hernan came over this afternoon because i felt helpless and knew that if i made these color decisions on my own i would totally fuck it up. so we measured, and discussed, and went to the paint store, and got color samples, and cut and taped and applied. and looked, and discussed. and threw some out. and discussed further. this is an absurdly roundabout way of saying that i have decided the following.

my new room will have three white walls ("mountain snow") and one accent wall in a medium deep blue ("lagoon blue"). the accent wall will frame the window that looks out towards brick and blue sky. with the old maps i've got and the captain's bed, i think it'll have a nautical feel. maybe later i'll put in some sailor wallpaper. a giant oar might look nice.

tomorrow is the final day of priming and then sunday i paint.

in other news, it was hernan's birthday today. and ameet's. and damien's. and i spent time with all three. i don't think i've ever done that, three in one day. happy birthday.

26 April 2006

i need your advice

as i said in the last post, i'm designing my new apartment. it's a tiny little room and i want to be sure and do it right.

here's the bed i'm thinking about:

the bed is part of a set, so i can get matching pieces. the question is, what color best matches the wood?

i'm thinking about a gray green but haven't firmly decided on anything. i'd like to do some sort of interesting trim, but the room has baseboard heating running the length of every wall, and my roommates advised that dark colors don't work for painting on the metal baseboards. would a light wall color work with a light trim? if i left the trim white with green walls, i'm worried that i'd have a minty sort of effect which sounds awful.


25 April 2006


remember the guy who was 86ed from carnegie hall?


24 April 2006

what i did today

it's late, so i won't say much. but today was my first day as the administrator of red hot. i am overjoyed to be back at work after so long, especially since i get to work with something that means so much to me.

today i read all the applications for african grant recipients in the past year -- we've got some money to give away and we want to continue to work with some of the organizations we already support. so they told me, given my on-the-ground experience that they'd appreciate my opinion of which organizations seemed to have effective models for education and outreach. we also had a long meeting about being a media organization in the age of free downloads, and talked about creative ways to both keep people interested and maintain our revenue stream.

for those of you who have a solid internet connection, go to redhot.org and watch the video for david byrne's cover of cole porter's don't fence me in. it's amazing.

in other news, last week i got a manicure/pedicure with my sister. it totally ruled.

also, i'm painting my new apartment. i'm thinking pale green with gray trim and rosewood furniture.

20 April 2006

a room of one's own

it’s just after midnight. the humble click of my keyboard is no match for the snap and ping of the typewriter across the way. some studious author perhaps hard at work on the next great american novel, or maybe he’s writing scripts for wrestling pictures to make ends meet and dreaming of better times, hard to say. if his apartment were any closer to mine, i might be able to read it, but for now i’ll take his click and clack to be of the utmost importance, regardless of content.

unfortunately it looks like i’ll be trading his graceful mechanical rhythm for something a little less delicate. this afternoon i accepted an offer to move into a new apartment on atlantic avenue, a central artery coming off the brooklyn-queens expressway and definitely not as quiet as my present sheltered block of brownstones. the place has some significant pros – it’s the southernmost street of brooklyn heights and i’ll be two blocks away from the gorgeous brooklyn promenade, not to mention sahadi’s, a marvelous middle eastern market. although my bedroom is on the small side and faces the street (and is above a bar), the apartment as a whole is huge and has a washer/dryer and an enormous porch that could comfortably seat eight for brunch. most importantly, the two people already living there seem to be totally relaxed, down to earth and friendly. they both work for XXL, a pretty important hip-hop culture magazine (http://xxlmag.com/), and i think we’ll get along splendidly. and i’ll still be a few short blocks from my friends here on baltic avenue. the noise makes me a little nervous, but i talked to the guy vacating my room after living there for the past five (!) years, and he said it wasn’t too bad and didn’t even bother his light-sleeping girlfriend. so all in all i am excited to have found a good place with good people.

one month in new york city and i have my dream job and an apartment in brooklyn heights. now that ain’t too bad.

18 April 2006

your choice: good morning, god or good god, morning.

this week is the end of a long vacation. i haven’t worked a steady job since the spring of ought-four, and all of a sudden i begin again on monday. red hot has given me final confirmation and i’m heading in for a big meeting to get things started. they’ve agreed to a three month part-time contract, at the end of which we’ll reevaluate. if we get along and i’ve proven myself, then we’ll start to talk bigger things. like full time. and benefits. it seems like forever that i’ve lived my life like most of the twenty-somethings i know, holding my breath with my fingers crossed and making friends with health professionals in case anything goes wrong. did you know that if you go to a hospital without id and say you can’t remember who you are that they are required to treat you? i hope it never comes to that, but it’s good to know.

i’m a little shocked that i have time to write again. things have just been so busy! but this week is nice and open, so today i slept in and went to a wonderful yoga class. after a month of regular classes, i really noticed for the first time how much my strength and focus have increased. i held crow today longer than ever before and was able to hold sideways variations on both sides. i couldn’t even do it six months ago.

what’s even crazier is that after the class, i was feeling so good that i came home, got my new ipod (did i mention i lost my last one? thank god for studio liability!) and ran from my house to the end of the brooklyn heights promenade. when i have some more time, i’ll put up some pictures, it’s a pretty special place. since i haven’t run in a while, i took it easy and walked over to the foot of the brooklyn bridge and started running again, all the way across. it is long. and now i am tired. but god, today is a beautiful day. why is it that every winter i can’t figure out why i am so moody or depressed or both or worse? and then suddenly everything comes back to life and people show their skin and the sun warms us all and turns those of us who are pale into happy pink angels of springtime. and i realize, oh right, that’s why i felt like shit. to borrow from the gift of gab, in winter i wake up and say, good god, morning, but now it’s good morning, god.

jeez, and that’s just today. i’m still so behind on stories.

last week there were huge protests all over the country against immigration legislation, and here in new york my sister invited me to join the group from her school. it was awesome. and not just being a part of this incredible cadre of kids chanting (to luda’s rhythm) MOVE, BUSH, GET OUT THE WAY! GET OUT THE WAY BUSH, GET OUT THE WAY! what was even more exciting was being a part of a protest that was so unified and so diverse. back in san francisco, it seemed like the protests tended to overreach, so an anti-war protest would become anti-israel, anti-nuclear, anti-capitalist, pro-whale protest. of course so much of what is wrong with the world is interconnected, but when you’re trying to convince the greater public of a particular point, it helps to stay focused. in the three hours we spent marching, we moved three blocks towards city hall and every step of the way, we were surrounded by people from all over the world simply trying to prove that they were just that – people. not three-fifths of a person, or leeches, or felons, but real people with real lives that make a difference in this country. which, i might add, they love passionately, and most flag-wavers held their own national colors right alongside the stars and stripes. instead of a band of white, educated liberals, these were people taking risks to make their voices heard – and some of them even ended up losing their jobs for it. but for those three hours, herded like cattle by the stunningly well-organized new york city police department, we marched together, waving flags of a million colors and making sure the thiefs in washington don’t steal absolutely everything that makes the united states of america, with all its flaws, a place which i am proud to call home.

as for the post-protest party, well, that will have to wait for later.

the miracle of the season

what an amazing range of experience this incredible city has to offer. i only wish it hadn’t been so long since i last posted anything, so i could focus on the details of every moment, every subway ride, every conversation, every latenightdrunk cabride home, every blossoming pear, cherry, dogwood, tulip.

last time i highlighted a baseball game, of which there have been more (go mets). also the view from my temporary roof of a spectacular sunset, of which there will always be more. i only wish my poached internet connection was reliable enough to post pictures regularly, but i can’t tell you what a struggle it was to even get online those few shots. so bits here and there will have to suffice.

there have been some momentous events in the past week or two, but there's something that trumps it all. maybe in my next entry i'll get to the funny stuff.

my cousin aaron is six years old. he lives in minneapolis with his parents jen and charlie and his sister leah (seen below in the egyptian collection at the brooklyn museum). when aaron was quite small, he developed a cyst near his collarbone that turned out to be cancer. and not just any cancer, this was such a rare form that aaron has been poked and prodded by experts from all over the country wondering, how did such a young child develop nerve sheath cancer? and what can we do about it? i (and many of us) were initally left asking, what the hell is a nerve sheath? after chemo on his tender young body and two years of clean scans, it looked like he’d beaten this extraordinarily rare disease.

and then, a few months ago, it came back. chemo was no longer an option. the doctors in minnesota discussed some horrendously radical surgeries that could leave aaron without the use of his right arm or even without the arm itself. the cancer is tucked under his clavicle in the midst of the brachial plexus, a mass of nerves that run out from the spinal cord into his right shoulder and down his arm. so avoiding lasting damage looked difficult. because of the complex nature of his case, the tumor board at memorial sloan kettering here in new york decided to take his case. aaron and his family arrived two weeks ago, and although i wish they were here under better circumstances, their presence and our time together has been a gift. MSK may well be the most advanced cancer hospital in the world, and right from the start it was a great relief to sense the incredible confidence with which the surgeons were approaching aaron’s surgery.

he went under the knife on the 12th. they cracked his sternum and peeled away his ribcage to get at the cancer. hours and hours after they’d begun, the head doctor came down to talk to aaron’s parents, his grandpa bob and myself. we held our breath until the doctor said the surgery was successful, at which point all four of us immediately wept out of the corners of our eyes until the doctor left, and which point we burst into tears.

i saw him the next day in the pediatric ICU, morphine eyes, immobile, in and out of consciousness. i managed to catch an early moment of lucidity, when he moaned in pain, cried out for his mother, requested that we put on the cartoon network and promptly asked us to go away before he fell back into his drug-induced sleep.

whenever i’ve had the time, i’ve been at the hospital with his family, but this morning, just five days after his surgery, i didn’t go to the pediatric ward -- because he had recovered so effectively that he was discharged. the shirt brought to him by his grandmother says INVINCIBLE, and it seems to be true. you can keep an eye on his progress at http://www.caringbridge.com/page/aaron/index.htm

this year i feel no great need for the story of the passover, no celebration of the resurrection, for this child and his precious life are my miracles of the season.

04 April 2006


and you may find yourself
living in a shotgun shack
and you may find yourself
in another part of the world
and you may find yourself
behind the wheel of a large automobile
and you may find yourself
in a beautiful house
with a beautiful wife
and you may ask yourself

well...how did I get here?

i'm not sure how it's all happened so quickly, but i think i was just hired for my dream job. i'm going to be a sort of administrator for red hot (http://www.redhot.org). not administrator in a secretary sense -- this position is more like director of operations. it'll start part-time, but the opportunity for growth is considerable. basically, the people who started red hot have a million other things going on (including running a huge web production company -- http://www.funnygarbage.com) and they want me to breathe some new life into a well-established organization. this is an incredible chance to make a real difference in hiv/aids education and prevention. i'll be doing a little of everthing -- disbursing grants, web development, promotions and marketing, archival maintenance, music production and even envisioning and securing financing for new projects (how about something focusing on music about hiv in africa? a movie perhaps?).

i'm still in shock that i managed to work things out so quickly. i've been in the city just over two weeks, i have two jobs and a volunteer position, and now all i have to do is find a place to live. and i think as all the students shift around come the month of may some things will be available.

time to head to the bar! hopefully i'll be back by 5 am.

03 April 2006

ain’t nothing to it but to do it.

a cool spring rain is falling today, drop by drop removing from the sidewalks the words and works of my favorite sidewalk chalk artist. ellis has been in the neighborhood ever since i started spending time in cobble hill; his medium, chalk and asphalt, his topic, shadows. throughout the brownstones and budding gardens of cobble hill, ellis’ work appears magically, an outline of a fire hydrant here, a bicycle shadow marked UNFINISHED there. out on the town over the weekend, ameet spotted a yellow halo highlighting the shadow of a stop sign cast by a street lamp onto a brick wall nearby. i’ve always wondered if ellis would mind if i joined in his game of shadows, and this morning i found my answer – ain’t nothing to it but to do it!

it’s been a while since i've had a chance to sit down and write. i’ve been working hard to get myself established here, and my efforts have actually yielded some success. through a friend of a friend, i think i’ve secured a job as a barback near union square. it’s hard, maybe the hardest physical work i’ve done since teaching preschool, but it pays remarkably well for only working a couple nights a week. but what nights – last wednesday i worked from 4 pm to 4 am. i’m still in the training phase, and they seem to like me. i have my third shift coming up this week.

also coming up this week is a major interview. i sat down last week with the founder of red hot, (http://redhot.org/) expecting to have an interesting conversation about the relationship between music and AIDS advocacy – red hot produces cds with musicians from all over the world and the proceeds go to AIDS prevention and education. but since red hot hadn’t come out with anything in a few years, i didn’t have high hopes for employment potential. near the end of our chat, i explained that i had set up the interview to hear about other local organizations that might be a good fit. he said, well, i think we have a job for you. how would you like to work on our newest compilation? we have sufjan stevens signed up already.

i adore sufjan stevens, so much so that elaine refers to him as “my boyfriend.” anyone who’s interested in hearing a most intriguing artist, one whom i consider to be a new bard for america, should go and buy sufjan stevens’ illinois. sit back and be amazed.

so obviously i’m tremendously excited at the prospect of working with red hot, an organization that shares my passion for the intersection of music, health education and African advocacy. i have a second interview tomorrow and i’m nervous and giddy.

this weekend was sunny and beautiful. my god, i can’t remember the last time i wore a t-shirt outside. spring is in effect and i find myself taking long meandering walks to nowhere in particular, standing under blooming magnolias with some unknown tree that blossoms white lining the avenues around me and daffodils and irises at my feet. the brooklyn botanical garden’s cherry blossom festival starts this week, and since i don’t think i’ll make it to dc this year, i’ll have to go marvel at some home town sakura.

man, this weekend! saturday morning, ameet and i went to volunteer at the red hook community farm – a new york miracle, this place. a group of dedicated folks have turned an abandoned asphalt lot in an industrial neighborhood near the port into a raised-bed organic farm with fertilizer provided by the bronx zoo. a cadre of girls from spelman college were along for the ride, and their lunchtime step performance was well worth the hours of leaf-raking and shoveling. caroline loomis, a friend from vassar, helps run the place, and i’m hoping to get involved.

after the farm, to dinner with munish puri in the village. good luck going out to dinner on a saturday night in the village! an hour long wait at our intended destination led us to a walk through the neighborhood, where all the other restaurants had hour-plus waits. we eventually found ourselves back at the original restaurant where we feasted on tagines and fresh pita and stella.

then things got crazy.

jessie, as many of know, is my sister, who has lived in new york for a while now and knows more people than ever (lucky jessie!). one of her friends threw a fundraiser house party in the south bronx, up near yankee stadium. i was about to spare my sheltered readers the details, but i have to say that watching drunk teenagers throw up out of fifth story windows was special. ameet and i got home at 6 am. curse you, daylight savings, robbing us of an extra hour of party!

this coming week? looks like shifts at the bar are a possibility, along with my continued yoga studio volunteer work. then let’s add the big interview. oh, and my college buddy bret is coming into town for a couple days. and let’s not forget the baker-vaneks are in town for the month! baseball season is under way with the a’s opening up against the yankees, so i get to watch the games this week. i haven’t even seen most of the people i already knew here. hopefully i’ll have a chance to see them in may. good god, what a crazy fun chaos is this life!

31 March 2006

R.I.P Nelson

There's a ton going on with me right now, but something has trumped an update about jobs and life here in the city. When I was in East Africa, I was traveling alone, but I was never really alone. I found ways to make friends wherever I went, and in Arusha Tanzania I fell in with some hip hop MCs. We only spent a couple months together, but these kids had a major impact on my research and on my life. I spent my 25th birthday staying up all night with my Tanzanian friends around a bonfire in the shadow of an extinct volcano, chewing miraa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khat) and listening to music from all over the world.

Although my swahili was meagre at best, we still managed to have deep conversations that covered life and love and music and politics and death. Who knew that death was so close?

Yesterday I received an email that one of my closest friends in Tanzania had been murdered by a psychotic knife-wielding neighbor. Nelson, aka Faza Neli, was an amazing man; humble, gracious and an incredible poet and artist who touched my life and so many others around the world. He was a member of XPlastaz, a internationally touring hip hop group that fused Maasai chants with East Coast style beats and rhymes and included Neli's two brothers and sister as members. I know there are so many people in Arusha and across the globe who miss him tremendously, as you can see from the guestbook at http://www.xplastaz.com (be sure to watch their videos, they're amazing). Tanzania has lost a prophet this week.

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

27 March 2006

how to get kicked out of carnegie hall

what a weekend. don't worry folks, i didn't get 86ed from carnegie. but what a crazy time it was.

after the discount ticket debacle (see last week's "i am an idiot"), we ended up having great seats in an intimate performance space. we walked in and sat down to see the kronos quartet perform songs about war. when we opened our programs, we discovered that we'd get much more than that. the host of an alternative radio program based out of colorado was going to be chatting with none other than howard zinn between kronos' performances. howard and the host would chat a bit about the nature of art and its relationship with politics and then kronos would play incredible music from all over the world and then they'd talk some more. there was a bit of an intellectual disconnect -- kronos would play a stunning piece and then the host would ask, so tell me about langston hughes? what? the conversation itself was interesting, there were just some gaps. kronos brought along with them some excellent special guests -- a tanzanian musician who has created a combination turntable and kora that he calls a phonoharp. check out his instruments at http://www.cpcarts.org/kitundu/. incredible sounds, and add to that a totally bizarre inuit throat singer. what a show.

the best slash worst slash best again part of the show started when the radio host introduced howard zinn. someone in the back of the hall shouted HOWARD! HE SHOULD BE READ! we should have known at this point this might be a problem. after every single one of howard's statements, this man in the dark would scream AMEN! the real issue came as kronos finished their first piece and from the back came a thunderous KRONOS! people in the audience started shifting, getting uncomfortable, saying shut up! and shushing him. to no avail. as the stringed vibrations of kronos would fade, the crowd would take the collective sigh that ends all powerful music and right at the apex of the sigh would come KRONOS! YES! ameet later described it as something akin to water torture, holding our breath as the piece wound down, waiting for the inevitable barbaric yawp.

when the lights came up at intermission, the audience demanded that this man leave, and he fought hard, saying he was interacting in a positive way. the alcohol on his breath revealed why he might believe he was working in some sort of creative engagement. the house manager approached him and asked him to leave. he refused. the house manager became more forceful. he got up out of his chair but continued to argue with the frustrated audience. eventually, the house manager wrapped his arms around the drunk man's shoulders and began to carry him out. we could still hear him shouting as he headed towards the exit. I BOUGHT A TICKET! I HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPRESS MYSELF! WEREN'T YOU LISTENING TO HOWARD? WE HAVE FREE SPEECH IN THIS COUNTRY!

in other news, it's been a hell of a first week. i'm continuing to work on job and housing leads, with an interview this afternoon for barbacking in union square and a housing interview on wednesday. we'll see where they go. there's always more leads.

i just took my first yoga class at the studio where i volunteer. it rocked me. i've been practicing for a few years now, but jesus, crow into headstand and back again? no f'ing way that's happening. i was just happy to get into crow. a good workout, no doubt.

other weekend events: walking through the village at 2 in the morning, watching drunk high schoolers from jersey lean on friends, avoiding the vomit on the sidewalk as a pair of mustached medics shake their heads sadly, slowly. free afrobeat in williamsburg, at a bar midnight on a sunday appreciating the fact that there's no monday job on the other side of night. an attempted crossing of the brooklyn bridge thwarted by a not-yet-springtime chill.

the week ahead? highs in the 60s. let it come!

24 March 2006

i am an idiot

it being my first full weekend in this grand metropolis, i thought it'd be nice to splurge and go to carnegie hall to see the kronos quartet. so i took the a train (my first subway ride since moving here) and got tickets for ameet and me to go to the show tonight. they only release a few discounted day-of tickets, and i was so excited to get a pair. so excited that i didn't think to check them out. i took the train all the way back to brooklyn and all the way up to the fourth floor walkup that i call home before i saw that i had bought tickets to the NEW YORK POPS. nothing against the pops, they're fine, but come on, i want to see kronos! so i called the theater and the only thing i could do was to go back to the box office. so i turned around and got back on the train, this time with a copy of starving hysterical naked allen ginsberg to pass the time. tonight's show was already sold out, but they were nice enough to give me tickets to the right show tomorrow night. total travel time: 4 hours. subway cost: 8 dollars. two tickets: 20 dollars. realizing you're an idiot: priceless.

otherwise, things are going well. i've got my first interview on monday as a twice a week barback somewhere near union square. i'm in touch with someone who has lived in town for a while (i.e. has all the stuff i don't want to have to buy to resettle) and is looking to move in with someone come june. we sound compatible, so we'll see where that goes.

my sister didn't get into smith. poor hannah. i hope she figures out a way to get the hell out of minnesota. not that it's a bad place, but han, i'll bet you're reading this and just aching to be somewhere else. getting rejected totally sucks. i'm sorry that you haven't found your place, but a lesson -- if you don't focus at crucial times in your life, it'll come back to bite you in the ass. and i'm afraid spring 2006 is ass-biting season for you. sorry.

for the ride to manhattan today (the first one), i listened to wilco's yankee hotel foxtrot. an amazing album. the first song got me thinking about all that i've left behind. i don't think it's been long enough for it to sink in that i'm not dating elaine any more, but when jeff tweedy sings "i'm hiding out in the big city blinking / what was i thinking when i let go of you?" it starts to feel more real. then again, he also says that distance has a way of making love understandable. things have been so crazy here that i haven't been able to properly process the break-up. even though we both agree it's for the best and are still in touch in positive ways, it's hard to be alone in such a big place and i miss her.

luckily i have a million things to distract me. here comes the weekend!

23 March 2006

running in the shadow of the watchtower

things are looking up today, yes they are. even as dannyrichnet struggled to provide the infotainmentsupernetwork that is my lifeblood, i managed to contact basically everyone i know in new york who's involved with anything slightly related to what i want to do. even though not a single one of them has written back yet, i am optimistic. not that they will necessarily lead to anything, just that a single one of them will be in touch.

meanwhile, a couple good leads. barback in union square and working in a video production house. the second would probably be easier on both my back and my liver, but i'm a little tired of being cooped up with white walls and a computer screen. i think the fast-paced alcohol-fueled environment would be good for me.

my resume continues to develop the satin sheen of professionalism with words like initiatives, strategies, and explanations of how i simultaneously toilet trained ten children. all the parents out there, you can imagine how much shit i cleaned off the floor. folks, i was actually peed on. i apologized though, just like that sweet old man our vice president shot in the face -- i shouldn't have been browsing the lower shelves of the bathroom books. so it was really my fault.

i sat down this evening and read the listings in time out new york. i'm going to have a get a job real quick before i spend all my money on cultural enrichment. corners can be cut, however, and on friday afternoon, i'm heading to carnegie hall to get last minute $10 tix to the kronos quartet playing music about loss. sunday night the lead singer of antibalas afrobeat orchestra is playing for free in williamsburg -- if you live in the city and can go to a 10 pm sunday night show, it will be a danceteria serving up greasy beats and i will see you there. the options are endless, and i'll be keeping a close watch after missing a free appearance yesterday by my favorite san franciscan husband and wife duo mates of state.

this city continues to astound me, as should just about anywhere after only five days. hard to believe it's been such a short time. i went on my first run through brooklyn today, down along columbia through the literal industrial underbelly of brooklyn heights (remember the flying cat? my god that was hilarious). i went down to foot of the brooklyn bridge, which i guess would be called DUBBO for down under the brookyln bridge overpass, as long as we're making up real estate neighborhoods. can we call them falsehoods? oh let's.

so there i was, on the docks in the falsehood of DUBBO, alone on the windswept pier and watching the white chop of the east river. i stood there, marveled at the massive skyline, the tall ships at the piers and the drifting clouds above new jersey. when i headed back home i ran up the hill on the backside of the watchtower building. yes, that watchtower that you find mysteriously under your door or gently placed in your palm as you take a copy not because you're interested but because the person handing them out seems so sweet, so serene and comfortable in their knowledge of the impending apocalypse. or something, i've never read those things, have you?

water taxis crossed the gray expanse at lady liberty's feet. i ran back along the promenade. the forsythia is almost out, and there's this wonderful little and i'm sure multimillion dollar apartment on the promenade that has a yellow roof, and i remember last april when those bright far reaching flowers bloomed they reached up towards the roof as if embracing a family member at a reunion, as if they could extend through the wrought iron fences and climb the brick walls and go up and up and up.

my rhyme for the day: after a two and a half mile run, fourth floor walkups are just no fun!

tomorrow i start my attendant training at the yoga studio. sweet!

21 March 2006

the whiteness, the blackness

i don't think i realized how segregated the twin cities are, how white describes the landscape i've left behind and the pinkish skinned world in which i lived. i live in cobble hill, a pretty, brownstone-filled, mostly white neighborhood. there are old black women rolling bundled white children down the street in strollers. this afternoon i found myself on the other side of things, heading away from the river through the fulton mall to the social security office. and all of a sudden it was like being in africa again, a sea of faces and the feeling of difference. it was incredible, after what seems like forever, to be in the midst of people who wouldn't know the difference between a last name ending in -sen or -son, who don't have blonde hair and blue eyes and people who don't shy away from public activity and interaction. don't get me wrong, i enjoyed myself in new scandinavia, but there's something powerful about seeing the human potential for variety and difference.

i watched the world baseball classic with ariel, my cuban housemate. he was crushed when cuba lost, but that didn't stop him from screaming loud enough to be heard in havana.

there's a yoga studio near my house that will allow me to trade five volunteer hours a week for unlimited free classes -- not too bad a deal, especially since i'm not working yet.

i want to believe it's spring already, but it's a gray day and i'm cold after walking around all day. spring better be here soon.

20 March 2006

be careful when you throw garbage out a third story window

it is a wonderful thing, having a home. the moving is done and the adventures have begun.

the adventures are located here:


our story today is about throwing things out the window. always fun!

i had completed my search for a local bagel shop and was slowly making my way through the industrial warehouses next to the port. the island skyscrapers rose up from the old containers like so many spring flowers reborn. crisscrossing through the neighborhood, i found myself across the street from a pile of trash. a battered poster of an egyptian statue caught my eye, and i do have an apartment to furnish. as i readied to cross the street, someone shouted from a window, are you ready? is it okay? a small crate emerged from the third story window and i noticed someone standing next to the heaped garbage. he shouted, yeah okay go! the old crate made its way the down the three stories onto the sidewalk. there was a crunch and a flash of black. black? a furry black mass bolted from its erstwhile home, terrified but alive. the man on the sidewalk looked up wide-eyed to his partner, DUDE THE CAT WAS IN THERE!

they laughed. i laughed. the flying cat of columbia street, robbed of a quiet crate nap and of one of its nine lives, was not amused.

19 March 2006

welcome, my friends

the sun has smashed its way through my early morning window, and even though the rum-induced haze ended at 4 am, it's time to begin my first day in brooklyn. i'm in my new room. it's oddly shaped, with doors and strange pieces of wall that jut out at various angles. hard to believe that i'm actually here after so much anticipation. did i really spend a year and a half living in minnesota? and now i live in new york? wow.

the empire state building was lit green when we arrived on the evening of st patty's day. this city has a powerful tractor beam -- once we saw that first sign bearing NEW YORK CITY 369 MILES, i don't think we could have changed our destination if we tried. the giddy terror of this new life hit me on the g.w. as coltrane blasted out acknowledgement and we descended into the heaving bosom of city.

so far the city has put on a show for me. it wasn't spring in minnesota, that's for damn sure, but here the crocuses, daffodils and dogwood at the cobble hill park are opening their eyes and reaching out towards the beautiful blue sky. it's a chilly, crisp day. if i stick my head out my window and turn to the right, i can the see beyond the fences of the b.q.e. to the east river. it's a little uncomfortable to sit leaning out the window, so maybe i'll spend some time enjoying the view from the roof.

dannyrich, a neighbor and stranger, has been generous enough to provide me with a wireless connection, although it's not so reliable. props must be relayed nonetheless to dannyrich.

it's good to be here.