Live, From New York

December 30, 2009

On vacation in Brooklyn with the fam. Here are some pictures:

Sophie at a playground, Brooklyn

Here’s a picture of Max’s friend Sophie at a playground. If you click on the picture, you can see a larger version that should more or less fit on your screen. The original is nice, although too big for computers. You can look at it here.

Sophie & Max

Sophie and Max.

Trees, Brooklyn

Trying too hard with the artsyness? Maybe, but I like this picture anyway.

We went to see a puppet show. Here’s a picture from the puppet theater, where puppets from other shows were hanging on all the walls.

African Street Merchants, Broadway near Canal

For reasons not clear to me, Canal Street was crawling with Africans purveying counterfeit watches and wallets. Their number seemed to exceed any conceivable demand for their wares, let alone space on the sidewalk to transact business, so they were milling about with their bundles all over the place.

Reading Shakespeare aloud

This woman was sitting across from me on the C train, reading aloud very quietly from the complete works of Shakespeare.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

I went to the Met to check out the Robert Frank exhibit. It was cool. (This is not it. This is just a different part of the Met.)

14th and 8th

14th Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.

We went to one of my favorite museums of all time, the Transit Museum. I took many many pictures there, but most of them are boring unless you’re a subway nerd like me. This one, however, must surely be of universal appeal, as it contains the lovely Anna and the delightful Reuben.

That’s all, folks.

Happy New Year


True Crime, Part 2

December 28, 2009

Read Part 1.

"You wanted to see me, Sergeant?"

"Truth be told, I wish I never had to see you again. Twice in one day you let our most wanted suspect get away, and the second time, you end up cuffed to a lightpost in the worst neighborhood in the city? And don't get me started on what he did to your cruiser - when a perp subdues an officer and steals his vehicle, and then has that vehicle professionally made into a convertible, it's a black eye for this whole department!"

"I know I made a mistake, sir."

"You're lucky to be alive! Everybody knows you did a good job when you broke up the Pteranodon gang and somebody downtown has taken a shine to you. But believe me, if you mess up like that again, you'll be riding a desk in the property room for the rest of your career!"

"I'm truly sorry, sir."

"Well, sorry doesn't cover my ass, kid. I need some assurance that you're not going to get yourself in another situation like that. So meet your new partner. Now I want the two of you to get out there and turn this city inside out, and don't come back till you have that creep in cuffs!"

"What?! I work alone!

"Look, kid, I don't like this either. If I hadn't ruffled some feathers downtown, I'd still be working homicides in the East End. Let's just try to make the best of it, OK?"

"Tell you what: I got some cases of my own to work, and I need a cup of coffee. Drop me at the diner on Fifth and Elm, and you can go look for your guy. If anything comes up, you can give me a call - I want to nail that jerk just as much as you do."

"I gotta give the guy credit, though: the convertible looks ridiculous."

"Alright, here's my stop. Good luck, kid."

True Crime

December 25, 2009

"Stop! In the name of the law!"

"Ha ha! See you in hell, copper!"

"This isn't over!"

~kshht~ suspect sighted in center city ~kshht~ "OK, I'll check it out."

"Unit MWP-3, reporting from city center. I don't see the suspect, but the cruiser's making a funny noise. I'm going to have a look under the hood."

"Hmm, let's see . . ."

"Don't move a muscle, piggy."

“No! You are a herbivore!”

December 24, 2009

Man vs. Town

December 23, 2009

West Hartford is particular about its recycling pick-up rules. How do I know this? Well, it started right when I moved here, lo those many (2.5) years ago. I went to Town Hall to get an official blue town recycling bin and they were all out and awaiting a shipment of more. The lady there told me to hold onto my recyclables for a week until I could get a bin, but I had a better idea: I took an old blue plastic storage bin, carefully stencilled the little three-arrowed recycling symbol on it, and put my recyclables out by the kerb in it. And it worked! They took the recycling. Unfortunately, they also took the bootleg bin. Trife, right? So trife.

I have learned, too, that items not placed in or atop the recycling bin will not be collected. How have I learned this? The way I learn most things: by doing. Instead of just taking the extra stuff that I put in a paper bag beside the overstuffed bin, they left it, along with a note, informing me that they don’t take stuff if it’s not in the bin. Seriously.

So these rules present a problem for me and my family, because we are forgetful. Every now and then, we neglect to put our recycling out and have to double up the next week. That is the case right now, but the situation is extremely serious because Hannukah was last week, and our children received many toys in cardboard packages. (From relatives. We prefer to be traditional and give them shekels.) Further complicating matters, we hosted my office holiday party, which produced many empty beer and wine bottles. Now we have about six times as much recycling as will fit in the blue bin.

Some men, when faced with this dilemma, might purchase a second bin (a move the town allows and probably encourages). Others might endeavor to parcel out the surplusage over coming weeks, being sure never to miss a week. BUT NOT THIS MAN! No, I see West Hartford’s oppressive recycling rules for what they are: a challenge, and a chance to express my freedom-loving, American individualism and ingenuuity. So to the Town of West Hartford, I say, GAME ON:

(Do you need a soundtrack to go along with my defiant attitude? Here it is. (NSFW))


December 20, 2009

A mistake people make when they grow up is to stop doing the things that are really fun just because those were things they did when they were kids. I mean, to be sure, some things that were fun in childhood lose their charm (freeze tag comes to mind), but some things should clearly be kept up into old age for maximum happiness.

One such thing is sledding down snowy hills. Today, I am glad to say that I did a lot of that. First, with my two boys, I went to the modest hill behind our local middle school for an hour. Then, with friends Chris, Rich, Kerry, Brett, and Fiona, I went to the dikes at the north end of Riverside Park for more serious sledding.

I didn’t get any pictures of our hill-tackling, which involved an inflatable tube and some improvised sleds made from local junk, but it was fun. Chris rode his bike down, which looked great, but discovered the thing I had surmised, which kept me from riding my bike down: it’s hard to schlep your bike up a long, steep hill with snow.

Afterward, we walked out on the ol’ railroad bridge and looked at the big chunks of ice that were caught in the Connecticut’s strong swirling current (see above), grinding and crackling loudly against each other. It was very nice. Next time, more people should come, and we should bring more sleds.

Here’s ice, drifting past the railroad bridge. It was startlingly vertiginous to watch in real life, because it felt like the bridge was moving, and then your head would start swimming, and then before you know it you’d be on the verge of pitching yourself into the river, all Jimmy Stewart-in-It’s-A-Wonderful-Life style.

Filibusters and Snowstorms

December 20, 2009

A real-life blizzard, Boston, 2005

In New York, where I grew up, the winters are wintry but, by and large, manageable. We might get a big blizzard every few years, one or two snow days every winter, and enough modest snowfalls to remind us we were in the north, but not more than that. I always supposed that this relative moderation of climate was the reason the TV weather forecasters would always get so exercised about every predicted snowstorm. Then I moved to Boston, where the winters are more fierce, and it was the same silly hysteria, and now I am in Hartford, which gets more snow than Boston, and still it’s the same craziness. Yesterday, for example, I couldn’t listen or watch the news without hearing about the promised “winter wallop” that was careening up the east coast at about the speed of an Amtrak train (that is, slowly). And this morning, I am looking out the back window at about four inches of snow.

Also this morning, I read in the papers that Senate Democrats had to settle for a healthcare plan without a public option because otherwise they wouldn’t get the needed 60 votes to avoid a filibuster. But honestly, what is the big deal about filibusters? I feel like they are the predicted blizzards of the legislative world.

Let’s imagine what would happen if Republicans (among whom I include our charming Senator Lieberman) decided that the prospect of providing affordable basic healthcare to most Americans were just to socialistic to endure. They would start talking. Jeff Sessions would fill the august chamber with his lugubrious drawl, wrapped expertly around disingenuous arguments, and then after a few hours, he’d pass it to the more nasal yet slightly more stentorian Mitch McConnell, and so on and so forth, for days. Fox News pundits would go bananas with that particular kind of excitement people feel in the face of an event that is supposed to inspire not excitement but grim determination mixed with fear – pretty much the same contained giddiness we feel before a big snowstorm hits. Fox News producers would dust off their best billowing American flag graphics to frame the fearless patriots of the Senate who were bravely risking their vocal cords and putting off long-scheduled family plans and mistress trysts to stand up to those bolsheviks in the White House. And within a day or two, most Americans would totally tune out.

If and when the public ever tuned in to national politics again, it would only be when the filibuster had dragged on so long that the Senate was unable to pass spending bills to keep the government running. At that point, with just a little bit of pointed commentary from the Democrats and the White House, the Republicans, who by then would be reading the phone book into the record to keep their filibuster going, would look like huge assholes. Eventually, they would give up, the Democrats would win, and that would be that.

Remember the Civil Rights Act? It’s kind of a big deal. Everyone’s favorite intern-fondling racist, Strom Thurmond, filibustered it by himself for over 24 hours, and it still got enacted. And if somehow Republicans were to succeed in defeating a bill that 58% of the Senate (and more of the public) supports, well, it would just make them look bad.

So come on, Democrats! Put on your snow boots and your winter coats and weather the storm! It won’t be nearly as bad as predicted. School probably won’t even be cancelled. But you might need a good shovel, if you catch my meaning.

In Praise of Modesty

December 19, 2009

A friend lately commented that Trey Songz’s recent song, “I Invented Sex,” was not to her liking because, (a) she does not care for that level of bragging and (b) seeing Mr. Songz grind against a model in demonstration of his claimed coital innovation is not her speed. To the former complaint I (jokingly) suggested that perhaps she would have preferred a more modest title, such as “My Research Has Vastly Contributed to the Improved Quality of Sex.”

For the latter grievance I had no answer, and in fact, it got me thinking about the current state of hip-hop (and yeah, I know that Trey Songz is R&B, but his aesthetic can surely be judged and discussed under the hip-hop rubric) and the general sense that sex songs have to be over-the-top raunchy and have raunchy videos with scantily-clad ladies, just as all other videos must have absurd displays of wealth (and scantily-clad ladies, because, well, why not?).

I understand that rap and, to a lesser degree, R&B, have always been about making bold, egotistical claims (see, e.g., Special Ed’s “I Got It Made,” or the Temptations’ “Can’t Get Next To You“). But why do videos have to be about clownishly demonstrating those claims? I mean sure, “I invented sex” is a fairly potent assertion of prowess. But is it this bold?

(Sorry, can’t find an embeddable version of the whole video, so make do with this charming still.)

At the risk of falling into the tired my-childhood-hip-hop-is-better-than-today’s-hip-hop rut, I have to say, there is another way. You can do a hot song about sex, and you can do a video for it, and it can be done with class:

(Also, while I’m on the topic of relatively recent R&B songs about sex, “Birthday Sex” by Jeremih is the dumbest song ever. That is all.)

Prime Minister

December 19, 2009

Glen, my best friend in the whole world, whom I have known for 26 years, is to be wed to Carolyn, his lovely and delightful fiance. This is a very nice thing, because Glen is probably the kindest person I know, and much deserving of the happiness that Carolyn brings him. Having watched many of my close friends weather some less-than-optimal relationships, it is especially nice to see my very best friend engaged to someone so clearly right for him, who matches his wit and warmth and seems just right for his disposition.

Yesterday, to add to my joy about the whole thing, Glen told me that he and Carolyn would like me to officiate, which is possibly the most amazing and exciting honor anyone could bestow on me. Of course, my goal will be to do whatever I can to make their wedding perfect for them in the way they envision. (Also, depending on what state they elect to marry in, I may have to take up the cloth.) But until they tell me what they have in mind, my plan is to go with this:

You on point, Dinosaur?

December 18, 2009

All the time, Zebraman.