Friday, October 31, 2008

god, for a man who solicits insurance

I am not a writer. I don't get paid to do it, I've never been published, and quite frankly, I don't spend much time writing, which, after all, is most typically employed as a verb. Therefore, I don't go about town proclaiming to anyone who'll listen, in a self congratulatory tone, that "I'm a writer." Because I am not. I hope maybe someday I will be, but I hope that will require more from me than drinking lattes in wifi cafes and wearing a scarf.

Half the time, these posers can't manage to form a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight, which is fine, really... who am I to judge? But if and when they insist on leading off a conversation with this cockamamie crap about their "work," I am filled with rage. Where is that screenplay they say they've been paid 100,000 dollars to pen? Or, more aptly, where's the check?

In this Internet age of self-branding and omphaloskepticism, it is so easy to pretend you matter. A few minutes logged into facebook and you can thrust whatever version of your self you wish onto hundreds of people you've never met. You can be anyone you want. You can make a liar's first impression. Online you can claim credit for the books you never read and the friends you never made, but you can't fool me.

If one more person I know to be a fool says in my presence, "I'm a writer," with that cheeky little nod that goes along with such salacious assertions, I swear I'll deck 'em.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

strange how it rains here

New York sucks in the rain.

And I love the rain. No matter where you grow up there ought to be a soft spot in your heart for a good rainy day. You put on your rubbers and a raincoat and splash around in the deluge until you retire to the safety of the great indoors for cocoa and Law & Order. Or you can lay limply in your bed—or on your couch—and stare at the wetness of the world. Rainy days are a great boon to the depressed. On no other day can you be so self-indulgently sad and still get away with it. You can loll, you can languish, you can make lasagne and eat it straight out of the pan.

In New York City, rain ruins your whole week. The subways are damp and delayed, cabs are impossible to land, and walking is downright perilous. To get anywhere on foot, you usually have to cross a street or two, but the way our intersections are crafted, the crosswalks become little lakes you have to ford, but cannot do so without soaking yourself to the shins.

If you carry an umbrella, you are an asshole. Sorry, but you are. I've been swiped at and stabbed in the head by your umbrella and it really hurt. It ruined my day even worse. I had to stop carrying an umbrella of my own just so I wouldn't decide to beat you with it.

People with umbrellas are bullies. In the miniature game of chicken any two pedestrians play on any given NYC sidewalk, the one with the umbrella will always assume the right of way. And they will make no effort to raise it to avoid whacking you. They will actually run you into the gutter to get past, with little to no consideration for the fact that you're already way more miserable than they are and you look like a drowned cat.

Rainy days in New York are also a vehicle for predatory opportunists vending rain gear. These crooks come out of the sewers as if on call and start shouting at passersby that they have UMBRELLAS FIVE DOLLARS or—if you're on 5th Avenue or near a museum—UMBRELLAS FIFTEEN DOLLARS. They also have ponchos, which must be their scheme to make tourists stand out even more than they normally do: that way their portrait-painting, pedi-cabbing, useless-crap-peddling brethren know who to target. Of course, these umbrellas are useless. They break within minutes and blow out backwards, but they sell. They sell because those jerks stand there and laugh at you as you pass, holding your purse over your head for dear life.

By the end of the day, the city is a graveyard, the ravaged carcasses of cheapie black umbrellas everywhere, trampled and forgotten.

Also, chivalry is dead.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

why I hate new york

Proof that the subway is not an equalizing force in the class system:

Men who sit straddling two or more subway seats with their knees spread wide, their overcoats puddling around them, and newspaper elbows jutting out in a threatening way to any approaching pancreas. I actually called one of them an asshole under my breath this morning because he wouldn't move to let anyone sit. Because he was a two-seat kind of guy. Because no one else would like to stretch out on their morning commute, to make rush hour a bit more bearable. Honestly, we're a step away from selling metro cards for a First Class car. And shooting the proletariat if they are found trespassing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

why I love new york

I walked home tonight and it was winter. Fall lasted for approximately one week and now the wind has set in between the buildings and people have started walking with their heads down again. So I walked home with my head down too and I saw a scattering of keys, brass keys on little rings, strewn across the blacktop on Broadway. As if a key truck had crashed hours earlier and no one had bothered to sweep up the debris.

It reminded me of the first time I tried to park in Chinatown, when we saw those dozen pig corpses, hanging from hooks in a delivery truck. Pure New York.