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Saturday, June 16, 2018

SHOWTIME ON THE BROOKLYN-BOUND Q TRAIN

(photo cribbed from the New York Times)

With the advent of summer, the subways once more become infested with "performers" who wander from crowded car to crowded car, subjecting innocent commuters to whatever acts they choose to foist upon us. Perhaps the most common and genuinely irritating of these born-too-late-for-THE GONG SHOW "entertainers" are the ones who fancy themselves acrobatic "street dancers" and crank ultra-loud (and usually awful) hip-hip out of cheap portable boom-boxes while they turn the available poles and other hand-holds into their personal jungle gym. They do back flips and twirl around the poles, their flailing limbs coming dangerously close to nailing their captive audience in the face — and sometimes they mis-time their moves and do indeed kick people in the head — and once their seemingly-interminable "act" is over, they demand money for their efforts, usually employing some sort of would-be-clever, poorly-rhymed come-on. Only those who are tourists or who have never been held hostage between train stops by these assholes find them even remotely entertaining, and there's an immediate air of resigned dread whenever they boisterously enter your car. When they are present, whatever modicum of mental peace or quality reading time you had achieved is dashed like an ice cream cone falling in fresh Rottweiler diarrhea on a filthy sidewalk.

Today's extra-special example of this obnoxious aspect of NYC living opened with a middle-aged homeless woman walking onto the packed Brooklyn-bound Q train at Union Square and loudly asking if anyone could spare her some change or something to eat or drink. Harmless enough, and she made her way down the car politely, so she engendered no ill will. Then the train stopped at Canal Street and two thugged-out B-boys in doo-rags boarded, bearing the dreaded boom-box. As they began to set up, a pretty young woman asked them, semi-jokingly, if she was about to get kicked in the head, to which one of those fine young men instantly responded with "YES!" Not being a fool, the woman immediately made her way to a far end of the car, after which the performers cranked their shitty music and launched into their uninspired routine. Less an example of choreography and more a display of grand mal seizure as pole-dancing, their moves of course came close to taking out a few of the passengers, but the one most offended by their efforts was the aforementioned homeless chick.

Annoyed at the two performers horning in on her panhandling action, the woman scathingly jeered at the young men, calling them every name in the book, noting that no one wanted to see "their weak-assed shit," and generally calling them out for being the unwanted disturbance that they were. Rather than just ignore her jibes, the lads instead chose to fire back at her, but they had not counted on encountering a rare homeless black woman who was lucid, witty, and vicious with her words. One of the men tried to save face by calling her out for "bringing negativity," but she shot back with a withering "what-EVUH" that registered like a hard punch to the mouth. The other, more thuggish of the pair got in her face with a torrent of profanity, calling her a "bitch" and a dumb-ass cunt," to which she shot back with some choice comments about his mother. 

The  thuggish performer rushed up to her and challenged her to say another word about his mother, threatening to "slap the fuck" out of the homeless chick. Showing not one iota of fear, the woman again talked smack about his mother, which prompted him to get close to her and lunge in that ages-old intimidation move, complete with upraised hand ready to deliver a backhand, hoping that she would crumble and flinch. All that his threat did was activate her "crazy angry black woman mode," and she hurled herself at him with a vengeance, cursing like a maniac while battering him with solid punches and knee strikes to the body. " I DARE YOU, MUTHAFUKKA!!! I FUCKIN' DARE YOU!!!" filled the air.

He absolutely was not expecting that response — more fool, he — and his raised backhand immediately morphed into a feeble, ineffective shield against her kicking of his ass. As the standing passengers moved out of the way — with no one offering to help the woman, as she clearly did not require assistance — the train pulled into the DeKalb Avenue station. When the doors opened, the thug under attack swiftly moved to leave the train, taking his partner with him and stating, with the last shred of his impotent bravado/dignity spiraling down the proverbial bowl, "Fuck you, bitch! I don't hit women!" (You may not hit women, but you sure as hell didn't hesitate to feign being ready to do so, you fucking pussy.) As they fled, the pair were followed out of the train by the woman, who was still in full-on attack mode.

Once the dust settled and the train once more got underway, the tension in the atmosphere dissipated and the passengers all exchanged glances as we tried not to laugh our asses off at the idiotic display we had just been privy to. And the saddest thing about this is that that was merely the first such incident of the summer, a season which technically has not even started yet...

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

WHEN THE WIND BLOWS

My neighborhood, just after the storm that briefly passed through a little less than an hour ago. (photos courtesy of the Wagnerian, my down-the-hall neighbor)



Sunday, May 06, 2018

WHITE TRASH ON THE B63 BUS

I'd just had dinner over on Flatbush Avenue and boarded the B63 local bus to head home, as it conveniently drops me off right around the corner from my building. I took my seat and settled in for the short ride, but then a pair of white guys got on and made their way toward the bus' rear door, directly next to where I was seated.

The taller of the pair sported a baseball cap with the bill turned toward the back of his head, and his dark hair and beard lent him a resemblance to filmmaker Kevin Smith. His companion was a stocky guy with five o'clock shadow, a proudly-displayed Mets cap — a dead giveaway — and a thick, stereotypical "'ey-OH!!!" NY accent. They surveyed the bus, one of the recently-rolled-out new models, and checked out their fellow riders. The shorter one loudly proclaimed "WOW. Dis is NOICE. Dis definitely ain't a black people bus! It's nice an' quiet! Fuckin' black people never shut the fuck up!" His friend smiled and agreed, adding "Yeah! This ain't like when ya take a bus over on Church Avenue! Fuckin' 'blahblahblahblah blah...' So fuckin' annoyin'!" The short guy shot back with "I know! But DIS...DIS is a bus fit for white people!" They then made their way to the front of the bus, where they took seats and continued to expound on how happy they were to be on a bus not full of black people.

Bear in mind that they started this exchange while standing right next to me, a 5'10" big black dude who is pretty hard to miss, plus to say nothing of the handful of other people of color on the bus. The other dusky types, as well as several of the previously-seated white people, exchanged looks that fairly screamed "Can you believe these fucking guys?" but no one said anything. Seriously, what would have been the point. If people are going to be that stupid with such brazen openness, there's probably no way to have a rational, grownup discussion of their attitudes with them. And they were lucky they didn't say that shit on the bus when it was packed with more "highly-rhythmic individuals." They definitely would have ended up in the ER, but then again they may just have been left alone after receiving a profanity-laden dressing down from an irate black person who decided against outright murdering them because they looked like a couple of lowlife pussies.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

THE WEARYING OF THE GREEN


NOTE TO NEW READERS: this is a rerun from previous years (with minor updates), but it's apropos for today so please enjoy.

So it's Saint Patrick's Day 2018 and I'm going to stay off the streets of New York tonight while the populace at large gets Viking-level destroyed on their fermented beverages of choice. During the bygone days of my misspent youth I gladly joined in the revelry, happy that this one day of the year was more or less given over to everybody getting completely fucked up and shedding the burden of being human, but Saint Patrick's Day has long since lost its allure for me thanks to growing up (sort of) and having worked two St. Patrick's Days at the barbecue joint. The joint — now defunct — opened nine years ago today and St. Paddy's is as good a day as any for the anniversary of that fine dining establishment, but it became a bit overwhelming and the altered behavior of most of the crowd in attendance got rather David Lynchian in its crawly strangeness.

I don't know about the rest of the nation but New York City in the throes of intoxicated Irish pride is an untamable green-clad beast that yowls and screeches random Pogues hits in tones even more unintelligible than those found in a live performance by the band's toothless wreck of a front man, Shane McGowan. Seriously, it took me years to decipher McGowan's wasted warbling during his infamous Saint Patrick's Day performance of "Body of An American" on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE back in 1990.

The might and Majesty that is Shane McGowan.

There's a strange blend of good feelings and ready-to-erupt primal savagery that permeates the air on this day, a palpable buzz of expectation and yearning that mutates into the full gamut of human emotion once strong drink is introduced into the mix. Fucking and fighting are practically guaranteed, occasionally at the same time, and every bar in the city is sure to be packed to the rafters with folks decked out in cheap plastic Leprechaun hats and "Kiss Me I'm Irish" t-shirts, merrily gobbling up free and fatty corned beef and cabbage while swilling down foul-tasting beer tinted with green food coloring, a libation barely a step up from McDonald's odious seasonal horror, the Shamrock Shake.

The Shamrock Shake: minty taste treat, or mass-marketed bio-hazard sludge?

But the worst thing to come from all of this is the day-after remains of hardcore partying, namely broken bottles everywhere, carelessly discarded party cups, rivers of reeking piss provided by both men and women and, worst of all, sidewalks copiously adorned with spewed beer and partially-digested food, making the streets look like they've been carpeted with day-old corned beef hash. I shit you not, in some years the pavement was so puked-out that one could easily have skated on the vomit, this phenomenon being especially bad near the Park Avenue offices of Marvel Comics during the early-1990's.

The morning after also sees the subways smelling of fetid beer and drunks who have voided themselves in all possible ways without the benefit of having a restroom close at hand. The floors are glazed with spilled drinks and your feet stick to the linoleum like flypaper. Just plain revolting.

Please don't get me wrong. I totally understand the need to let off steam and get buck-wild but St. Patrick's Day is rightfully termed "amateur night" by those of us who know how to properly get our drink on and not inflict out-of-control, sloppy assholism on the innocent citizenry, so we tend to sit this day out. Have you ever been out on St. Patrick's Day and had some boozed-up Staten Island chick with big tits and green hair chat you up, only to get close to you and bark up her dinner and last six shots of Jameson all over your chest? Well I have, and I can assure you that it completely harshed my evening and forced me to shell out ten bucks for one of those "I Heart NY" t-shirts to replace the vomit-sponge that the shirt I'd worn had become. Sorry, but stark white with a touristy slogan simply is not my aesthetic.

And why is it that a day that supposedly celebrates all things Irish invariably degenerates into a reinforcement of the drunken Mick stereotype? The Irish have contributed so much worthwhile literature, music, and who knows what else to the world, but other than being thrown a bone in any one of a gazillion St. Patrick's Day parades little, if any, mention is made of that. As far as the public at large seems to be concerned, on St. Patrick's Day the greatest contribution made by the Irish is whiskey. That's a damned shame when one takes into account what a genuinely wonderful people the Irish are, a group overflowing with a no-bullshit humanity and honesty of expression that's just plain endearing. My buddies Cat, Hughes, Amanda, Declan, Garth, and Tracey are prime examples of this and many of my other friends and acquaintances whose ancestry hails from Ireland are equally as awesome.

Garth and Hughes, two of my favorite people.

So maybe that's what should be concentrated upon on Saint Patrick's Day, namely the oft-ignored excellence of our society's Irish component. And while we're at it, how about a marathon of flicks like THE QUIET MAN, DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE, and THE LUCK OF THE IRISH? So even though the drunken idiots of all ethnicities out there may unintentionally be a rampaging annoyance, show some love to any of the Irish who may be in your life. And be careful when walking on those barf-splattered sidewalks 'cause falling down and breaking your ass on concrete is bad enough, but having that happen with the added accent of having your body coated with slimy, half-digested bar food is simply horrendous.


"Sliante, ye cunt ye! BLEEEEAAAAARGGGH!!!

Monday, February 12, 2018

DUBAI COMES TO PARK SLOPE

I just went around the corner to pick up groceries at the Associated supermarket, and as I was heading back to my building with my purchases, a black SUV slowly matched  my pace as I walked. The window rolled down and a woman smiled at me as she said "Hey!" and beckoned me over. I figured she probably wanted directions, so I walked over to the car. Inside were the woman, two children in the back seat, and her husband behind the wheel. The husband leaned toward me and said "Hello, my friend," in a thick Middle-Eastern accent. "I from Dubai! Need go to gas station, get gasoline, but have no money, credit card. You help us out?"

Not buying it at all but remaining polite, I told him I was sorry I could not help him because I had just spent all of my money on groceries. (I of course had money, but like I was going to just give away my cash to some rando...) He cranked up the begging a notch or two, repeating his initial pitch, and I again stated that I had no money, adding "Dude, that was it. I have nothing to give you. I am poor." The man would not take no for an answer and slipped a chunky gold-looking ring off of his finger, which he proffered to me and stated "This worth fifty dollars! Please take! Trade me money!" Fed up, I simply said "I'm sorry" and headed up my building's front steps. 

As I watched them drive away, I wondered if any local would actually give them cash. Ah, Park Slope...   

Saturday, January 20, 2018

BARONG, AND OH SO RIGHT

Meet the gorgeous Barong that Samurai House Pup brought back for me from his recent training foray overseas. It's crafted from Kamagong, one of the hardest woods native to the Phillipines, and is perfectly suited to my tastes in weaponry as it does not possess a sharp blade. It can, however, if properly wielded, deliver a considerable amount of punishment to an opponent, probably even a lethal ass-whupping, so I intend to rain with it on the roof once the weather gets warmer. Yeah, I know I'll never carry it anywhere outside of my building, but it will be fun to become self-taught fluent with it.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

MORE FUN WITH MILDRED

My mother's latest run-in with a Westport moron:

Though still ill, mom's off the ruinous chemo drug and is feeling well enough to hang out at Westport's senior center. While spending time there last week, some ancient white lady whom she had not met before looked her up and down and said "You must live in Norwalk." (For those not in the know in regard to Fairfield County's racial assumptions, it used to be common for all black people to be assumed as residents of either Norwalk or Bridgeport, both of which featured higher concentrations of us boogies than Westport/Weston/Fairfield. During my earliest years in Westport, I was often asked if I had been bussed in from Bridgeport or Norwalk, and often asked by white kids who would pose the question in what I later learned was Amos 'n' Andy-style dialect, which their parents had apparently taught them was how the majority of black people spoke. No, I am NOT joking.) My mother, irritated at having been asked that question for the umpteenth time over the course of 4.5 decades, simply answered with, "No. I live in Westport. I've lived here since 1972. Are you asking me that because I'm black? Because that's the message I'm getting," and left it at that.

Skip ahead to today, and mom was once more at the senior center, when the same dusty old twat approached her and flatly stated, with no preamble whatsoever, "You MUST be from Africa."

Let us pause to consider the staggering ludicrousness of that pronouncement for a moment, shall we? First of all, my mother originally hails from deep, rural Alabama, and is the spawn of a highly-mixed gene pool that includes black, white, and Native American, and she bears a reddish/orange complexion, so she looks NOTHING like a native African, by any stretch of the imagination. Nor does she speak with anything resembling what is considered an African accent. Her original accent was very southern, though her diction and such were quite precise (as enforced by her domineering mother's rigid matriarchy's standards), but once outside of her home state she worked hard to divest herself of the accent that she felt sounded "ignorant." She now rocks a sharp Connecticut manner of precise speech, with her southern twang only re-emerging when she's majorly upset. In short, there is NOT ONE THING about her that would lead any sane person to conclude that my mother was from straight-up Africa.

After forty-five years of being barraged with the stupidity of the privileged in Westport, my mom's heard it all and is damned near impossible to shock, but that one momentarily stopped her dead, and she said she nearly laughed in the obnoxious coffin-dodging axe-wound's Boris Karloff-as-the-Mummy-like face. Collecting herself, mom fired back with, "No. I was born in this country. My parents were born here, and my grandparents before them were born here. Prior to that, I can't tell you, because that's as far back as I know regarding my family's history."

That was where the conversation left off, so I'm waiting to see if mom encounters that woman next week and if the woman asks my mother if she hails from the city of Helium on the planet Barsoom.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

A LOVELY MEAL AND A D TRAIN GROSS-OUT

I had my first Jing Fong dim sum meal of the new year, and it was great, with me being one of perhaps ten non-Chinese in the whole place. This time around, all of my favorite items were to be had within five minutes of being seated, and the lo mai gai made me glad to be alive. Just what I needed during my ongoing recovery from the blast of negative vibes that was this Christmas holiday.
That said, on the train back to Brooklyn, I found myself in a car with a small number of commuters, and at the otherwise empty far end of the car there stood a wild-eyed black guy who was balancing himself carefully as he slowly expectorated a long, thick bolus of phlegm onto an empty seat. He defiantly glared at all who dared to look at him while he did that, and when the glob had cleared his mouth, he laughed long and loud with a Joker-like cackle, and proceeded to merrily distribute his lung-butter upon more empty seats. I always wondered how random patches of dried phlegm ended up on subway seats instead of the floor, and now I have a pretty good idea...

Sunday, December 24, 2017

END OF AN ERA

You guys know what's been going on, so with that in mind I share what may end up being the final Christmas card I draw for my mother. I hope she enjoys it.

I came home to find that most of my markers were dead or missing (some borrowed by mom, who has a thing for pens, and not properly cared for), so I had to make do with only five colors, two black brush pens (one with a chisel nib), no blenders, and a dying brush pen left over from the Marvel Bullpen days. That last one acted as a quasi blender.

Friday, December 22, 2017

HAPPY MUD & STICKS DAY 2017!!!

Here's wishing all of you a very happy Mud and Sticks Day! 

Pictured above is the traditional ceremony wherein the natives invite the local jungle man and his family over to share in the ritual cannibalism of white missionaries. Festive times for all! (For those not in on it, "Mud and Sticks Day" is a tradition I instigated during my happy days as a staffer at my hometown's Fine Arts 1&2 movie theater, a holiday cribbed from a National Lampoon piece that explained how Africans were too heathen to celebrate Christmas and instead "worshipped mud and sticks or something.")