I’ll Be on TV in Two Countries

Union Square is an interesting place. It’s apparently the epicenter for TV crews looking for man-on-the-street footage. Walking to Quizno’s this afternoon I was asked by a Japanese TV crew to tell me about movies I would watch for Valentine’s Day. I said The Apartment, because it is romantic even though it’s not your traditional romantic comedy. Then they asked for something more recent, so I just said Almost Famous, because it’s a movie that has some things to say about love, and it’s a movie I always have to make sure gets seen by those who haven’t seen it.

Just after that, I turn around, and there’s Rob Riggle from The Daily Show, asking people who they’re voting for and then shooting them free t-shirts from his t-shirt cannon. I wasn’t sure if they were staging something so I just stayed out of the way and took a picture. I went on to Quizno’s still impressed by my contribution to Japanese televsion.

On the way back, Riggle was still there, this time asking for volunteers so I stepped up and said I was voting for Obama. Truthfully I hadn’t actually decided between him and Hillary, but it was the first thing that popped into my head so it must be my preference, right? It’s not like I’m actually voting in the primaries anyway.

So it looks like I’m going to be on The Daily Show! I don’t know when; I’m not sure what the turnaround time is on the correspondent segments, but I’ll post the link as soon as I see it on www.thedailyshow.com.

Oh, and the shirt? It’s grey and says “Will Work for Freedom.”

A Revelatory Walk to the Grocery Store

It’s cold out, and I need to save money, so I only left the house once this weekend, and that was to go to the grocery store. It’s only a few blocks away, and yet I kept finding things worth photographing. The sky was clear, the light was perfect, and the dreary neighborhood just seemed to come alive. I started to notice the subtle differences between my neighbors’ doors; each one told a different story: one classy, one grumpy, one…trying too hard? I even noticed the peculiar remainders of windows past above the dentist’s office. Even the overbearing condos seemed pretty.

My neighbors are a widely varied bunch. Elephant figurine collectors live alongside people with unfortunate dietary habits. And of course, the recently departed eccentric Vinnie Russo, with his Styrofoam crosses, I Love Hawaii stickers and peculiar taste in yard ornaments.

Down Smith Street, even the scrapyard held my interest. I found a happy fire hydrant and an unhappy phone cradle living along the Gowanus Canal, in the shadow of the mighty green Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

I have to say that I was quite proud of my work that day.

Attention New York Musicians

Stop using the word “bear” in your bands’ names. I was just perusing a recent issue of The Deli, and there were two features right next to each other of the young bands Bearclaws and Bear Hands. A few pages later a two-page spread on Lucinda Black Bear. And there’s a band from New England called Big Bear, in addition to Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear, who I think can safely be credited with starting this thing. Stop the madness!

Interestingly enough it took an Arkansas band to make me sensitive to this trend. Bear Colony, whom I’ve written about for Localist, chose their name after their previous moniker, Brothers + Sisters, was already taken.

Thanks, Mute Math

Sometimes a song helps build your resolve, reminds you that there is more than your daily life, and coaxes you out of your comfort zone. One song in particular that has recently helped me in times of nervous retreat is Mute Math’s “Typical.” I would play it while driving around Little Rock, I played it when I drove across the Verrazano-Narrows bridge into Brooklyn, and it came up on my iPod the other day as I walked up the final flight of steps to my local train platform overlooking the city. It made me realize…I did it. I’m here.

I’m sure this will sound corny, but here are the lyrics:

Come on, can’t I dream for one day
There’s nothing that can’t be done
But how long should it take somebody
Before they can be someone?

‘Cause I know there’s
got to be another level
Somewhere closer to the other side
And I’m feeling like it’s now or never
Can I break the spell of the typical?

I’ve lived through my share of misfortune
And I’ve worked in the blazing sun
But how long should it take somebody
Before they can be someone?

And here’s the video:

Potential Energy

Secret message to those I’ve told this to: I’ve said before that a particular task that took me several years to accomplish only 2-3 times in Little Rock took one week to accomplish in New York. Well, I’ve been in New York just over two weeks now and that task has been accomplished AGAIN.

The Job

Two days on the job now. Yesterday was mainly acclimation and getting set up. Today was a meeting all day in New Jersey with a big client. I’ve been hired to head up the website portion of a larger marketing account. Tomorrow I get some more orientation in the office. Here are a few things that make this job awesome:

  • Company laptop and Blackberry
  • Great benefits package and 401k
  • 2 weeks paid vacation
  • 10 sick days
  • 3 Floating Holidays
  • 5 “Summer” days off (can’t be appended to other days)
  • Thanksgiving + days before and after off
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas off
  • Half days before Memorial Day and Labor Day
  • Bagels every Friday

Currently I work on the top floor of a 12-story building, occupying a corner office with two other guys, but I’m sure they’ll move me to a cube soon. The view and the neighborhood are great. Union Square is a block away – including a Whole Foods, Circuit City, Virgin Megastore, and across the street is The Fillmore at Irving Plaza. DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist are playing two nights there this weekend, but it’s sold out, naturally. Oh and there’s a Farmer’s Market most days during the summer. It’s only a few blocks from my F train, but I need to find a good transfer to the Union Square stop. Speaking of which, since I had to meet my group this morning at 8 a.m. for the trip to New Jersey, I thought I would get to work early, but I ate up the time by accidentally taking the G train from my stop, which meant I had to make my way back to the F line. I made it to the rendezvous point right at 8. Phew.

Saturday in the Cemetary

I walked around Green-Wood Cemetary yesterday. I wish I had made a better effort to find famous graves, because they don’t give you much of a directory at the gate. Naturally I wanted to find people like Bill “the Butcher” Poole and Edward R. Murrow, neither of whom I found on the map. It was still a nice walk, and a nice view, given that it’s the highest point in Brooklyn.

What’s sadder than a cemetary? A cemetary dumpster.

Afterward I stopped by Arika and Chu’s to visit.

Friday I walked around Red Hook, and between the fishing bait, defunct moonshine operations, abandoned cars, it felt like Arkansas isn’t so far away anymore. And at Fairway Market I found Frank Zappa beer, and while I did not it find very tasty, it nevertheless seemed appropriate for Frank. It was bitter and a little prickly.

And I made tea with my old-school carton of milk. That made me happy. I was going to go out again today but the wind chill is 11 degrees. I made it as far as the subway before I just turned around and went home.

Wisdom Via Wolrab

I’m almost done digging through all of Atticus’s images on Flickr. Sometimes his image titles are more revealing than their pictures. This one sent me to Google and I found this excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams:

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

It’s good to be reminded of what is Real.