Sunday, September 30, 2007

One Hour 52 Minutes....

....until the start of the new season of Dexter!!!!!!


Into the Wild

I saw Into the Wild a couple of days ago. It's the true story of a rich kid who graduated from college, abandoned society, and starved to death in the wilderness. The movie's pretty good, if a bit self-conscious. Director Sean Penn just can't seem to let the story tell itself, and an otherwise compelling narrative is repeatedly interrupted by split screens, floating words, faux-seventies home videos and, most horribly of all, Eddie Vedder's ego-driven wailing.

But still, I liked it. Mostly because I related to it. Adventurer Christopher McCandless reminded me of my brother. And Carine, his younger sister, reminded me of me. Its not an exact match. Chris hated his parents and shunned his family in a fit of adolescent self-righteousness, while Kyle had a comparatively good relationship with mom and dad. Chris formed meaningful friendships only to abandon them in service of some perceived greater good, while my brother formed friendships as if that were what he were put on this earth to do. But one thing the movie did well was show us that there was something magical about Chris, some element in his speech and smile that put people in awe, and everyone who knew Kyle saw the same thing in him.

Chris spends a lot of the movie meeting strangers and making them love him. Moms, grandpas, drunks, they all fall for Chris. They're surprised by their love, they don't understand how such a young punk could have hooked them so thoroughly, and when he goes they cry because they will miss him so much. Wherever he is, Chris doesn't want for things. People give him jobs and rides and food, and he seems to know they will before they do, so that he sets out on baking tarmac into the dessert, confident he will be picked up and driven to the other side. Chris was a revolutionary. At the start of his journey, he donates his savings and cuts up his credit cards. He wants to live free of things and tested by his capabilities. He abandons his car. He burns his money.

Kyle was not this drastic. Maybe because he didn't have the time. He was still in college when he died. He had just began to wander the world, taking trips with a backpack and one pair of pants, flying without a plan and trusting that he would find a couch. But who knows who he would have become if he had had more time. He read old books, he broke the law, he had surprising wisdom. He saw life's opportunities not in career or status, but in people and places. He was capable of being loved wherever he went. His email address for years was

Carine and I aren't a perfect match, either. I'm older than Kyle and didn't spend much time with Carine's fawn-eyed look on my face. But I recognized in her narration a sadness and longing and deep, deep respect for who her brother was. She saw that her brother a better person than the rest of us. A braver, wiser, freer person, and she knew that people like that must be allowed their wildness and refusal and seemingly foolish decisions. You have to trust them, because they're going for something different, something you can't even conceive of, and even if they fail, that they tried is a better thing than you will ever do.

Carine figured it out early, while her brother was still alive. Me, it took Kyle's death. But I don't mind. As I learned from brother, timetables don't matter. What matters is that I finally came to see what the rest of you knew about Kyle all along.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Kyle, Annoyed, with Bag

Memories have started coming in. Here's a pic my friend Kate S sent me. I sent it to her years ago to show her what my brother looked like, and then completely forgot about it. Thanks Kate!

And thanks to everyone else who's contributed. Keep them coming!

Frank Mulatto UPDATE

Here's the full speech, with both better production and the ending. You may have to sit through a short but brightly-colored, choreographed commercial at the beginning, though.

Fire it UP!

And here's my choice for Obama's new theme song. I know he's under a lot of pressure to black himself up and everything, so his show is very hiphop heavy, but if you listen to the speech you'll see why Modest Mouse is an obvious choice:

Support Barack Obama for president! I've given money and I don't have any, so you should to.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Refreshingly Frank Mulatto to Save World

Barack Obama had a rally in Washington Square Park last night. I found out about it a couple of weeks ago, registered online for a "rapid pass," and then went so far as to show up on time. I was excited.

When I got to the park, there was the biggest line I'd ever seen. 25,000 people filed in two columns towards four laughably inadequate metal detectors. Bags were checked. Security wanded people with anal precision. The line moved forward at a rate of three steps per ten minutes. No joke, I was timing it.

The crowd started getting impatient. It was 5, then 5:30, then 6. We were no closer to getting in. We couldn't even see the stage. We all had these useless "rapid passes," which we stared at and showed to each other while grumbling that we wouldn't even be able to hear what was going on. Music started in the distance. Someone mumbled into a mike. People started leaving. It was very frustrating.

But then the Obama organizers did something amazing. They realized they had 25,000 unhappy people who had stood in line for an hour and a half. They walked through the crowd, assuring us that we were in the right line and that we would get in. They brought in cases of water and passed them through the crowd. They treated us like we were...well, people. It was nice.

Then the MC started getting everyone riled up. We could hear cheering and distant snippets of Obama this and Obama that. The rally was about to start and we were going to miss it. Off to my left, someone started shouting. Let us in! It grew, as catchy, insistent chants do, and soon the whole crowd was chanting. Let us in! Let us in! Let us in! The skeptics among us began to leave in greater numbers.

And then something absolutely unheard of happened. They stopped the metal detectors, they stopped the bag check, and just started letting everyone in. I'd never seen anything like it. The campaign organizers saw that their security regimen was inadequately slow, weighed the risk, and just decided to let people hear what Obama had to say. It was amazing. Here was a political bureaucracy that assessed an unsatisfactory situation and chose to do something much more reasonable. I'm telling you, it filled my heart with hope.

We all rushed forward, filled the space around the stage, and Obama began to speak.

I'm in love with that man. Here he is, blurry, distant, and with his back to me, but by God, this is an actual real life photo of Obama himself - mulatto powerhouse, savior of the world, one of very few Americans who can claim to be both a politician and a human being - taken with my own two hands:

And here is a shot of someone else getting a shot of him. I think you can actually see him clearer on this guy's screen than you could on mine:

Part of the crowd. I couldn't get up high enough to capture everyone that was there - I needed a press pass, of all things, to climb the scaffolding - but here's the outer edge:

Here we are dispersing after. I know you can't tell, but we all have these dreamy looks on our faces.

I'm not going to go into the details of the speech, other than to say that he is an excellent speaker. I had the shivers about 60% of the time. Out of Iraq by March. Health care for all. Student loan forgiveness!! Folks, Obama is going to save us. Please please please let him.

Here's his speech, in three parts. It's just riveting. You should watch it. For some ridiculous reason, the last part doesn't actually go to the very end of his speech, which is just a shame, because the end is amazing, but I'll try to find it and post it as an update.

Call For Memories

I'm worried that I'm forgetting my brother. Whenever I try to find a memory of him, my mind goes mute, like I'm back in 7th grade, staring at a quiz question I know I know but can't for the life of me answer. So I'm sending out an open call for any and all Kyle stories. Things he did, things you heard, even stories about him I might have told you in the past. Pictures, too. I want it all.

You can share them here with everyone, or you can send them to me directly.

Nothing's too big or too small. Really.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

It's entirely too early to be thinking about this, but the price of airline travel has forced my family to start talking about Christmas. In September.


Usually, Ky and I fly in from our respective schools and do Christmas Eve at my mom's and Christmas Day at my dad's. It's a casual affair - we're not a religious family and only slightly interested in ceremony. We usually end up trimming a tree, we stuff stockings that we may not hang, we exchange presents geared much more to necessity than luxury. Nothing spectacular. We may dress up to go to my dad's, but only because mom insists each year that she doesn't have any pictures of us, and with a photographer for a father, for chrissake. It's pretty laid back. We like it that way.

Which makes it a little surprising that, when I think about Christmas this year, I get shaky. Now, here, sitting at work in September, thinking about a holiday that I'm at best indifferent to and at worst annoyed by (I challenge you to come up with a setting more nauseating than a Christmastime mall), I want to cry. The reasons are obvious, I guess. In LA, we stay with my mom in her two bedroom condo and having no one to fight with over the second bedroom, no one to fight with over the car, no one to gossip with about my parents, no one to drive with to my dad's Christmas Day is more lonely a feeling than I knew existed.

So I told my parents this, and they agreed that it sounded horrible, and now they're going to fly back east so we can all do Christmas in New York. My dad's wife Leann has kids and grandkids here. My mom has friends here. It makes sense. Crisis averted.

But I'm still a bit worried. New York is not entirely Kyle-free. He visited me here. He was supposed to come again this past summer. Christmas may come and I may find myself walking past the shell of CBGB's, remembering how I promised to take him there and never did. Christmas may come and I may find myself outside of Amsterdam Cafe, remembering how patiently he read at the bar, drinking every flavor of milkshake we had and waiting for my shift to end. Christmas may come and I may find myself hurrying through the streets and remembering how slow he walked, even with those legs of his, his LA pace absolutely inappropriate for Broadway. New York has its own dangers.

So mom, dad, Leann, I propose that next year, we go even further. Let's do Christmas in Tahiti or Tuscany. Let's do the strangest Christmas we can think of. Let's abandon stockings and Evergreens and expensive wrapping paper and go someplace where they boil sheep heads to celebrate Christ's birth. Or make candy with cardamon. Or dance for three days in feathers and cow parts. Let's have our Christmas in exile and when we find ourselves tight-lipped and staring and very, very tired it will just look like homesickness. Or jet lag. And everyone will understand.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Politics in Black and White

Have you read this? Go read it. It's short.

A Personnel Suggestion for Mr. Ahmadinejad

Did you watch all the Ahmadinejad coverage yesterday? Doesn't his personal translator have the most sarcastic, infuriating voice in the entire world? It drove me crazy. I was actually more bothered by her voice than by the lunatic things coming out of Ahmadinejad's mouth. She combines the angry insistence of an eighty year old Middle Eastern woman cutting in line at the grocery store with the haughty quaver of a British school librarian. Mr. Ahmadinejad, I suggest you reconsider your staff.

I had trouble finding the perfect audio of her insane voice, but start listening to this about a minute in and you'll get the idea:

Monday, September 24, 2007

I Could Teach Tom Cruise a Thing or Two About War

It's on.

Two mosquitoes infiltrated my room last night. The New York front must've heard about my DC victory, because I was barely home before I had two fresh bites. Luckily, I spotted the bastards early, while the lights were still on, and was able to kill one before bedtime. But the other still lurked and reinforcements were likely on their way, so I doused myself in Off before I went to sleep. My bed smells like a campsite, but at least I woke up swell-free.

There's been some confusion about Kenny Loggins, so here's an explanation:

Last summer, J bought a 1992 GMC Vandura in Jacksboro, Texas. He used to be in this band, The Golden Falcons, and they took the as-yet-unnamed-van on the road. They left out of Dallas, chose the unluckiest of routes, and were plagued the entire trip by transmission trouble and an overheating engine. They were pulled over just outside of Emporia, Kansas, towed by the sadistic parents of NASCAR racer Clint Bower, and one of them was arrested, requiring the rest of them to scrounge enough money to release not only the van, but their bandmate as well. It was a complete disaster, and somehow most of the responsibility was heaped onto the poor Vandura.

Hence, the name. Have you ever heard Highway to the Danger Zone from Top Gun? It's got a great music video. Kenny can't writhe on the bed hard enough.

Happy Birthday J!!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Well, We Made It Home

DC was great. We saw J's mom and Aunt Sue and the American Indian Museum and a bit of the West Building of the National Archives. We slept in and food was cooked for us and Aunt Sue let me do a load of laundry. It was a lovely weekend.

Except for the mosquito.

Yup. Apparently my last post really pissed off the East Coast mosquito community, because we arrived at Aunt Sue's on Friday night and one of the little fuckers got me three times. Twice on the face. I itched through the night and woke up sore, red, and lumpy. And pissed.

Saturday night I read a little before going to bed (Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. Both Kidder and Paul Farmer, the book's subject, are really something else). I was about to turn off the light when I glanced over and there he was, a mosquito as big and black and bold as they come, sucking from my bicep like he had all night. I swatted at him but he buzzed off to a dark corner to twirl his diabolical little mosquito moustache and wait to strike again.

I was tired, I wanted to turn out the light, but there was no way I was letting the bastard win. I went back to reading, keeping one eye on the page and the other on the soft, exposed skin of my arm.

I began to itch - he'd already gotten me three times that night - but I tried not to fidget. Mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide of your breath (though some breath more than others, apparently. The mosquito flew right over J each time he attacked me). I breathed deeply and slowly. He was coming back. I just had to outwait him.

Can you see that? That's the beautiful bloody smear of a dead mosquito caught unawares by a seemingly sleeping Miranda McLeod.

I won. Ha.

But the thing that's going to stay with me is the road trip. The last time we drove down to DC in Kenny Loggins was when I was on my way to the Hurston/Wright Writers' Week. It was July 15th. Kyle's funeral had been two days before. We arrived back in New York on Saturday and woke up early on Sunday to drive down.

I'd already been accepted and paid money, but I really didn't want to go. My submission wasn't ready. I was tired. I wasn't sure yet how things were going to be, after the call and the flight and the hospital and the California coast and LA and the funeral.

But I went. It was something to do, a series of steps, a meditation on logistics. Packing and driving and registering and finding rooms were all possible victories. I cried on the way down. Not the whole way, but songs kept coming on my iPod that had played during the death week. I felt a little like a crazy person.

The Writers' Week was amazing. Life-changing. It sounds trite, but just when I lost my brother, my other biracial person, the only other member of our demographic of two, I went to DC and met a bunch of other black writers, biracial writers, writers like me. I had conversations I'd only had with my brother. It was awesome.

This time around, I didn't think the drive would bother me. So we were in the same car, on the same road, with the same soundtrack, going to stay at the same house. I'd be fine.

And for the most part, I was. But I cried again. Both going down and coming back. It was sudden and unexpected and a little embarrassing, as if I should be over these non sequitur crying jags. It's been more than two months. Most days, I'm OK. How long does it take? Will I ever have control of myself again? Or for the rest of my life will I just tear abruptly and inappropriately at any slow guitar? And what happens when I stop? Is it alright to stop crying for your brother? Or does that mean something about you is more self-preserving than feeling? I feel like I'm in danger of losing my feeling.

We saw this on the way back:

Hear hear.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I Torture Bugs, Horses Aren't Scary, and Some Vans Have Names

First of all, as you already may know, I hate mosquitoes. I hate everything about them. They're cruel and unnecessary. Sure, birds and spiders have to eat, but there's a gazillion bugs in this world, so what the hell do we need mosquitoes for? They suck blood. They spread disease. They kill babies. But worst of all, they make me itch like crazy. I'm allergic. When I get bitten by a mosquito, the whole area swells up to the size of a golf ball. Once, I got bitten right by my eye and it puffed up so huge that I woke up not being able to see and not knowing what the hell was going on and went to the emergency room and it took them forever to figure out that it was a bug bite. They'd never seen anything like it. We have screens on every single one of our windows - I even found a baby screen for the bathroom - and still I am plagued by mosquitoes. One snuck in last night and I stayed up until 3 AM scratching and having unbelievably detailed fantasies about dismembering the little fucker, slowly pulling off each of its limbs before slicing its nasty belly open to free my blood from its miserable little body. I mean, if you have to have my blood, fine, you're welcome to it. As long as you save me some, I'm sleeping, I don't care. But whywhywhy must you make me itch? That's just hard-hearted.

Second of all, Vicente Fox came out with a lovely little detail in his new book: George Bush is afraid of horses. I love that so much. Remember Will Ferrell's brilliant Bush impression in that ACT commercial a couple of years ago? Talk about prescience.

Third of all, J and I are headed down to DC today. His mom is up from Texas visiting his Aunt Sue and we're going to take Kenny Loggins down there for the weekend. I don't know what the internet situation will be, so I may not be able to post anything new until Sunday.

Devastating, I know.

Nepal is Like a Home to Me!

If you liked Yoga Thong, you'll love Inappropriate Yoga Guy:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

We're Not as Poor as We Think We Are

I live with two other people and between the three of us, we have eleven Apple products (though only ten are pictured roommate lent his colossal iMac to his girlfriend without my knowledge, dashing my dreams of a complete family portrait and seriously straining our relationship).

I mean, just look at all those Apple products. Think about how much money that is. We're graduate students. We live in a railroad apartment. We survive off funds borrowed against the promise of not turning out to be total losers. We don't have any money. We don't have jobs, not real ones anyway. How is it possible that we have upwards of $10,000 worth of unessential goods from an expensive, name brand company?

I'll tell you how.

John Hodgman.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm Craving My Brother's Grave

I've always liked cemeteries. It's easy when you don't know the people buried in them. My grandparents passed when I was still young and, before this summer, no one close to me had ever died. Cemeteries to me were just quiet greens and interesting headstones, pretty and peaceful but not much different than churches or history books or some ancient relative's portrait.

Then my brother Kyle died and we buried him. It's a beautiful spot, under a tree on a hill, and I can't get it out of my mind. The way the grass feels. How surprisingly narrow the plot is. The sun is hot in Los Angeles and when you stretch out next to my brother and put your hand where his chest would be, you can feel all the heat that the ground holds.

I fantasize about Kyle's grave. I want to be there so badly. I want to lie down on top of my brother and look up into the sky and think about his body disintegrating beneath me. I want to pull up blades of grass and see the dirt in their roots and guess how many of his atoms are in my hand. I want to eat that grass. I want to rub it in my pores. It feels wrong to want my brother inside of me, but I do. I want to dig down to the pale pine of his coffin and open it up and see all the nastiness of the earth writhing in his body. I wonder how far along he is now. If there's still any skin. If his eyes are still there. I want to pry a tooth loose from his skull and put it under my tongue.

I'm sorry mom, I'm sorry dad. This must be horrible to read. I don't mean to be hurtful, I just want to touch him again. If he has to be gone, fine, but give me something. I will let him go, I promise, but let me have something. A fingernail. A toe bone. I would walk all the way back to Los Angeles for just a pinch of the pathetic stubble he called a beard.

But I can't dig my brother up. That would be wrong, and weird, and possibly illegal. I can't visit his grave. I'm in New York and it's a long flight home. I have one of his shirts and a pair of his pants and, until I'm back in LA, I will hold his clothing, maybe I'll put it on, and I'll try my best to feel through the fabric the ghost of my brother.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Baboons Put Me to Shame

I came into work today and there was a bird trapped in the office. For reasons never quite explained to me, we leave the windows open and the lights on around here, but until today the only wildlife we attracted was a sizable variety of moths (and let me tell you, Chelsea has some crazy moths. Orange and purple and rainbow. I even found the carcass of a dragon fly once). So when I unlocked the office door this morning, my first instinct was to duck and cover. Something large was flapping around, something not at all small or dry or insect-like, something filled with blood and muscle. I braced myself for a rabid vampire bat. Or a freakish New York City mutant mammal never seen before. But it was just a bird.

A pretty bird, too. Not the usual pigeon or sparrow or even one of the red-headed house thrushes we're used to seeing around our bird feeder at home. This bird had a long, skinny beak and a white throat. It was decent-sized, maybe as big as my palm, and it was utterly terrified. I tried not to alarm it with any sudden movements or direct eye contact, but it was having none of me. It battered itself back and forth against the ceiling with such force that I stepped back out into the hall to give it a break.

I didn't know what to do. I'd never dealt with a bird inside before. I have a long-ago, fuzzy memory of a bird flying into our Eagle Rock house once when a babysitter was watching Kyle and me. I don't remember what happened, just that it involved brooms and towels and neighbor boys whooping through the living room, and that Ky screamed every time the bird swooped down to his level.

I considered calling the building's super. Surely he'd dealt with this problem before. It's a tall building. Hard for birds to miss, I imagine. He might even have a net of some sort. But I hesitated. I've noticed that the average New Yorker is not overly appreciative of the native wildlife. You should hear the way they talk about pigeons. I worried that if I told anyone about my dilemma, they would get the bird out by any means necessary. And it's not the bird's fault we leave the windows open.

The problem was that the bird refused to come down far enough to get back out the way he'd come in. Our windows open from the bottom and the top, so I let myself back into the office, slid the lower panes closed, and opened the upper ones. This seemed like an obvious solution, the bird only had to come down a foot or so now to get out, but its terror only increased as I balanced gracelessly on a rolling office chair and reached up to the top panes. I tried calm the bird down. I spoke in low tones and explained what it had to do. I attempted to translate English into birdsong. I mimicked the desired flight path with my hands, fluttering them in panic across the room before swooping them, victorious, out the window. The bird was not a quick learner.

Finally, I just left it alone. I had editing to do. If the goddamn bird wanted to kill itself against the ceiling, fine. As long as it didn't shit on me, I didn't care what it did anymore.

I started working on an analysis of Gazprom's post-2008 strategic possibilities, which is just as titillating as it sounds. It seems that much depends on how Putin transitions out of his presidency and whether or not his oligarchs strip the company of its assets on their way out the door. And then, just as I turned the page, eager to see what other international energy company secrets I would be privy to, I noticed the quiet. The bird had stopped beating the ceiling. I stood up, expecting to startle it from its perch, but there was nothing, no sudden flutter, no burst of wings. The bird was gone.

I have to say, I felt a little disappointed. Here I had spent a half an hour trying to save the damn thing, and I'd missed the moment of glory when it realized it was free, had been free all along, and burst out the window into the high morning sky. That's small-minded, isn't it? To resent a bird finding its freedom just because I couldn't watch? I'm like one of those people who donates a bunch of money to a cancer ward, on the condition that my name is printed on the building in five-foot-high letters. I want to do good, but by god I better get something out of it, too. Apparently, the altruism gene doesn't ping quite as strongly in me as it does in others.

Monday, September 17, 2007

42 Down, 150 To Go

So I went to lunch with my Aunt Di today (she had on this really cute leather jacket that she got half price) and when I came home I checked my blog stats. I'm always checking my blog stats. A friend told me about Statcounter, and ever since I've been addicted to line graphs and colored maps.

Anyway, I logged on today only to discover that my pageviews were three times what they were yesterday! And it was only 6 pm! Anyone who blogs, or has a website for that matter, knows the joy of watching your hits slowly tick up as you carefully woo and hold readers by any means necessary. So to see my numbers triple, and in a day? Well, you can imagine my excitement.

My first thought, of course, was of my blogfight with my mom. Creative writing teachers have been telling me for years that conflict is the center of narrative, but I never would have guessed that filial snipping in the blogosphere would have generated such a flood of interest. So I looked into it, already thinking of some fresh way to publicly attack my poor mother, and found that the real cause of my awesome new stats is

Apparently, it's a site designed to help you discover new sites. I'd never heard of it before, but David, J's dad and talented blogger in his own right, gave stumbleupon my URL and now I've had hits from 42 states and 42 countries! Can you believe it?? I can't!

So hello and welcome to the UK, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, France, Norway, Finland, Germany, India, Argentina, the Philippines, Spain, Sweden, Romania, Turkey, Latvia, Italy, Serbia and Montenegro, Ireland, Portugal, Taiwan, Poland, Netherlands Antilles, Macedonia, Peru, Singapore, the Dominican Republic, Hungary, Malaysia, Australia, Colombia, Iran, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Greece, Mexico, Brazil, Oman, and Slovenia! Thank you for reading!

And thank you, of course, to those of you who started reading before today. I lured you to this site because my brother died, and you've put up with my TV reviews and melancholy for going on two months. Thanks for helping me feel like I'm writing, even if it's not the novel I'm paying for.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Me vs My Mom: Cage Battle Update

So my mom and I spoke and, after she disowned me twice and I questioned her rights to a womb, we have made our peace. I have agreed to send her one pound of nonessential flesh as penance, and she has agreed that I am not a teacup Chihuahua (though she reserves her right to treat me like one when necessary).

And to those of you who participated in the Ungrateful Daughter Debate, you'll be pleased to know your words were not in vain. Nothing will recalibrate a sense of humor more quickly than being group-scolded after publicly attempting to assert your independence from your grieving mom.

Well Folks

I pissed my mom off on a blog about her dead son. Classy, I know.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

There's No Way to Say This Without Sounding Like an Asshole

But mom, you've got to stop using phrases like "my precious" or "dearest baby girl" when posting your comments. I love you and everything? But having your mom babytalk you on your blog is like standing on the steps of your high school while she licks her thumb and wipes the schmootz off your face.

Johnny Mars Knows Jack About Chick Flicks

Why do I love westerns so much? I'm hardly their target audience. Women and black people are sideline characters at best in most westerns, often only serving as a visual respite from shot after shot of dirty, weatherbeaten, white skin. And yet, I can't get enough. Something about all the leather and horses and guns that have to be reloaded. Wooden barrels and bootcut jeans and every little thing meaning the difference between life and death.

I just got back from seeing 3:10 to Yuma and let me tell you, if you like westerns, you're going to love this movie. As one NPR reviewer put it, 3:10 to Yuma doesn't do anything you haven't seen a hundred times, and never once do you resent it. It's just one of those fantastic, good guy bad guy flicks, sweeping vistas and dramatic guitars galore.

Which makes me wonder what the hell J's friend Johnny Mars was thinking when he authoritatively claimed that 3:10 to Yuma is a chick flick. Sure Johnny, I'm a chick and I loved it, so maybe I'm just proving your point, but just because Russell Crowe palms a woman's neck and her clothes fall off doesn't mean that this film is a two-hour exploration of some pathetic Cinderella trying her best to find everlasting love in the most unexpected of places. Things explode in this movie. Blood sprays. And Christian Bale gets so badass on the bad guys that any red-blooded, heterosexual man won't even notice his wife swooning in the seat next to him.

Besides, it's a movie about a guy who's not nearly as pathetic as everyone thinks he is. What man can't relate to that?

Friday, September 14, 2007

I'm Sick

I threw up last night. Gross, right? I had a fever, and I was sweating and shaking and kept kicking the blankets off and yanking them back on and wanting the AC on and wanting it off. Poor Joshua had to get up at 4 am to get me medicine and a pot and my cats kept staring at me with alarm.

And then I had to go to work today. I know, I know, I should've called in. But this mailing had to be done and everyone else was in Tokyo. I woke up feeling better, my fever was down and my stomach settled, so I picked up some soup from this weird little Korean deli in the lobby of any otherwise entirely residential building and went to work.

But I kept thinking of my dreams. I had hot, nightmarish dreams last night. A murderer was chasing me and my friend Katie B through La Canada backyards. I sailed in a stinking and unreliable boat through a choppy ocean. I kept waking up, and each time in that self-pitying, half-consciousness way of the sick I wondered if I was dying. If some crazy Meningitis was wringing the sweat out of me and baking my brain. If I would die in the early morning, while it was still dark. If J would have to call my parents to tell them they'd run out kids. It was so sad, thinking of my parents alone like that. I'm going to have to start taking my vitamins.

GTD from 307***0221:
Me haces sentir uno de los hombres mas felices del mundo. So thank you baby!!!!!! & I love you very muchchchchchch.....

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Trouble the Waters

I saw the most amazing documentary yesterday. My dad's friend Joslyn Barnes runs a film production company with Danny Glover called Louverture Films. They make socially-conscious movies about black people, and right now they're working on a documentary about New Orleans called Trouble the Waters. Now, I know what you're thinking, because I was thinking the same thing when Joslyn asked me if I wanted to see a rough cut of the movie: what Katrina story could they possibly tell that the 24-hour news cycle and Spike Lee haven't already covered?

But then I sat down with my dad to watch, and we were absolutely blown away. The film follows 24-year-old Kim Rivers and her husband, Scott. They lived in the 9th Ward and didn't have the money or transportation to evacuate, so they bought a lot of food, checked in with their neighbors, and holed up to ride out the storm. And they did it with a video camera. Kim filmed Katrina as it came, as the streets began to flood, as her house began to fill and they had to climb up to the attic to escape. She filmed her neighbors as they fled their homes and came to hers for food and shelter. She filmed a local drug dealer as he used a punching bag to float children and the infirm to higher ground. She filmed as she tried to save her husband, two dogs, cat, and herself, and kept filming as her group swelled to twenty people and they had to "borrow" a truck to escape. It's the most unbelievable footage of Katrina I've ever seen.

But what really makes the movie so good is that we get to know the Rivers as individuals. In all the Katrina coverage we've been choking on, the most we get are few-minute profiles of people, if that. More often, the camera just pans by black face after black face, barely pausing long enough to see the pain there before moving on. The Katrina coverage we get is obsessed with the forest and oblivious to the trees.

Trouble the Waters does the opposite. It tells the story of two people's unbelievable goodness, resourcefulness, and intelligence without the usual patronizing hypocrisy. Kim and Scott are not college professors or church deacons. They are not pillars of the community. Before the storm, they sold drugs for a living. They are normal, poor, young 9th Ward residents. Which makes their humanity and heroism all the more remarkable, and reminds us that the victims of Katrina deserved our help not because they'd earned it with their tax dollars or Mardis Gras celebrations, but because they're human, for fucks sake. And human beings are capable of the most remarkable things, even the black ones.

Joslyn and Danny are entering Trouble the Waters in Sundance in January. Keep your fingers crossed for a distribution deal. And keep an eye out for Kold Madina, incredible lyricist, my hero, and Kim's hiphop alter ego. That's her in the picture above, on the right.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How to Cook a Pygmy Goat

Baby Pygmy Goats, Bridget & Bobby

I saw my dad last night. He and his wife, Leann, are in New York for a few days and we went to dinner at this French place in the West Village. He looks good, he's lost weight, and he's got some exciting career possibilities working, but all of this pales in comparison to the most important thing I learned last night:

The first woman my dad ever proposed to was Julia Child.

Yes, the Julia Child.

Before I explain, let me tell you that I'm 25, that my father has known me for a quarter of a century, and I'm just learning about this. There I am, sipping cocktails with a man whose biography I assumed I had down, and he starts talking about how, when he was in college, he interned at the TV station where Julia Child filmed her show. I knew this story. I'd heard about how Julia filmed five or six shows in one day, back to back, how the meals she cooked were put out on the craft table for any skinny, long-legged interns who might have happened to stay late that day, conveniently enough. I'd heard about how Julia liked to cook with a glass of wine nearby, so that by the time she got to the third or fourth show, chickens were sliding across the floor, flour was dusting the camera lens, and her trademark if-no-one-saw-it-it-didn't-happen-rule was in full force.

What I didn't know, what I can't believe my dad had left out of past retellings, was that one day Julia prepared duck a l'orange. Apparently it was sublime, because as she bustled boozily by after taping, my dad stopped her and asked her to marry him. Sure, he was twenty and she was fifty. Sure, she was already married. But love doesn't make these distinctions.

Needless to say, she waved him off, and though it would preempt my entire existence, I have to say that part of me kind of wishes my dad had married Julia Child. And my mother? In this bizarro world, she'd have married Bob Dylan.

Anyway, as if that wasn't enough revelation for one evening, Leann told me about a new ecological fad that I only wish I had the startup capital to join: raising pygmy goats. Apparently, pygmy goats are the perfect environmentally-friendly lawnmower. They trim plants without pulling up the roots, so you can rent them out to people who need large areas of land cleared. And they're ridiculously cute. There might be petting zoo possibilities.

Isn't it funny how, when you hear of some brilliant new invention, you're like of course! Of course bread should be sliced! Of course internet should be wireless! Of course pygmy goats are the lawnmowers of the energy efficient future!

The only snag is that, apparently, rain freaks them out. I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with that yet, but I'm working on it. Pygmy barns? Pygmy rain slickers? One of those huge seven people umbrellas people in New York love to use all by themselves on some of the most crowded streets in the word?

Regardless, this is a brilliant idea, it'll just take some planning. I'm not gonna let a little rain stop me. I'm like the postal service.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where I Was

I didn't have a TV on September 11, 2001. I was living in the Bronx and I woke up late for class that morning, so I didn't even turn on the radio before I ran out the door. It took me forever to flag down a cab, and once I did, the guy refused to take me to Manhattan. An airplane had hit the World Trade Center, he said. No one was going into the city.

It was a beautiful blue day. I stood on the corner of Fordham Road, looking up and down the street for signs of panic. I don't know why I didn't go home. Maybe I didn't really believe the cabbie. Maybe I assumed classes at Columbia were still being held. Maybe all I knew was in Manhattan, and I, in the Bronx, felt impossibly far away from everything familiar. But for whatever reason, I tightened the straps on my backpack and started walking west. I flagged down four other cabs before I found one that would try to get me to the island.

By the time we reached the Harlem River, the first tower had already fallen. The cabbie had Howard Stern on the radio. I can't remember what exactly Stern was talking about - no one knew what was happening yet and for hours the only news we could get in New York were DJ guesses - but I know I heard him use the phrase "towel head." I watched the cabbie's brown neck. He didn't move to change the dial.

Harlem was grey and quiet across the river. We started up a small bridge, but by the time we got out over the water the traffic had stopped. We couldn't see what was ahead of us, there was just the faint pulse of emergency lights above the cars. Traffic behind kept us from turning around. We were stuck. Out the window to my left, we could see the last tower burning - a big black tornado of smoke spiraling up from the building and hazing the sky.

We inched forward until a billboard blocked my view of the tower. The radio was turned up loud. The cabbie and I sat patiently. We felt none of the normal frenzy of New York drivers and passengers. We didn't know what was happening, but we knew it would take time and we both settled back into our seats. We didn't talk. The silence was comfortable, close even. I knew I never would forget that cab ride, or that cabbie, and the few times our eyes met in the rear view mirror, I knew he was thinking the same thing.

Suddenly, Stern began to shout. We inched forward, clearing the billboard. We should've been able to see the tower again. It should've been right there. There were 614 people in that second tower. Even burning, it was the tallest thing in the city. We should've been able to see it, but all that was left was smoke in the sky.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's a Bad Day

And I've got nothing.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Sexy High-Waisted Jeans

A new trend has hit New York - the high-waisted jean. It's awful. Think of the jeans a 1980s mom might run around in. The foot-long zipper. The back pockets as big as paperbacks. The loose thigh tapering to a tight ankle.

I just don't get it.

I see it all the time now, and it's not flattering on anyone. But let me tell you, girls in the New York looove the sexy high-waisted jean. Can't get enough. Just go to any Saturday Brooklyn brunch and it's asymmetrical haircuts and nipple-high waistbands galore.

They say Scarlett Johansson is responsible. She's a good actress and everything? But now the streets of New York are overrun with hippy, corn-fed, transplanted Midwesterners in stomach-swelling, ass-magnifying navy. I hope she's happy.

GTD from 856***0353:
Go eagles hope your doin ok miss u

Heavy Things

I went to a Modest Mouse show in Brooklyn last night. Kyle hated Modest Mouse. There's this one single, Float On, that you've probably heard because they can't play it enough on the radio. Once, when I was home for Christmas in '05, Kyle and I were driving through Eagle Rock and it came on. I turned it up. Kyle turned it off. He was heavy into reggae by then and considered the number of white bands on my iPod to be a sign of my lack of musical maturity. I turned the radio back on. Kyle turned it off again. I screamed at him. He called me a whiny bitch. It went on like this until the song ended. After that, every time I sang along to Float On, even back in New York, I thought of Kyle and how ashamed he would be if only he knew what I was listening to.

The venue last night was outside in this massive 7000 person 1930s swimming pool. The sky was wide above and the night was thick and sticky. Towards the end of the set, the drum beat to Float On started and a breeze picked up. The crowd cheered - it had been waiting for this - the melody started, and I thought of Kyle reaching for the radio dial with his spider fingers. "You can't listen to this pop shit, Mir. This is really bad."

There's this line in Float On that I've always loved:
Don't worry
Even if things end up a bit too heavy
We'll all float on all right.

Last night, I looked up into the gray bowl of the sky and saw that it was empty. It didn't hold my brother's body or soul or the promise of seeing him again. He wasn't up there, smiling down and shaking his big ol' head as I danced in a crowd of white people. He wasn't anywhere at all. That realization was like a great weight on my neck. My brother was dead and buried and the only place he was anymore was with me. On me. Like he was suddenly sitting on my shoulders, his legs hanging to the ground, his fingers wrapped around my forehead, and he was never going to let me put him down.

I smiled then. I felt slow, and lonely, and heavy, but I smiled because even dragged down like that, I was okay. Dragged down like that, my mother was going to be okay. My father was going to be okay. Things had ended up entirely too heavy, we had to carry Kyle with us now, but somehow we were still standing. It was a shock - who knew we could hold that much weight? - but it was also encouraging. If we could still stand, we could still walk. And if we could still walk, someday we might be able to float.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Troll 2

Last night, Sunshine Cinemas on Houston had a special showing of Troll 2, complete with t-shirts and a cast member Q&A.

It was fantastic.

Troll 2
, for those of you who don't know, is not the sequel to the better-known Troll 1, but a film originally entitled Goblin and made by an Italian couple with a questionable grasp of dialogue, plot, character, make up, set design, special effects, casting, mask making, and the English language. The director, Claudio Fragasso, chose his actors in a smoke-filled Utah motel room based solely on their "energy," and the film features two of the worst acting performances I've ever seen and wardrobe by Emmanuel, the porn star.

So why bother watching Troll 2? It's hard to say. J and I saw it by accident for the first time on TV. It wasn't just bad, it was fascinating. We watched it like a train wreck. Who writes dialogue like that? And with such little shame? Who would have such disregard for special effects? Or the basic laws of time and space?

Unfortunately, no synopsis can adequately convey what it's like to watch Troll 2. It's just the sort of thing you have to see to understand why 350 people would show up for a midnight showing of a 1990 film that never made it to theaters. But you should rent it. Really. Trust me on this. And, in case you need further encouragement, I have some pictures.

Here's everybody filing into the theater. Look how excited we all are:
The screen went dark, a heavy drum beat started, and then little people clothed in masks and burlap began running through the forest. The movie title flashed across the screen and you should've heard the cheer:
Here's Michael Stephenson. He plays Joshua and goes with his family on vacation to Nilbog, a suspicious rural town filled with vegetarians (as we learned during the Q&A, Fragasso absolutely despises vegetarians). Joshua keeps this expression on his face the entire movie:
Here's Joshua's sister, Holly. She's a horrible dancer and wears oversized Garfield t-shirts. The actress who plays her, Connie Young, is battling to the death for the title of Worst Community Theater Actress Ever and, according to George Hardy, is a "little bitch":
This is Deborad Reed. She plays the crazy vegetarian witch Creedence Leonore Gielgud and is neck and neck with Connie for Worst Community Theater Actress Ever:
And this, of course, is a goblin...troll...goblin. Fragasso only had seven goblin masks made, so they're repeated over and over throughout the movie:
Here's where Joshua realizes that Nilbog is "goblin" spelled backwards. It's a huge revelation in the film. Joshua, needless to say, flips his shit:
This is George Hardy. He plays Joshua's dad, but in real life is the happiest dentist I've ever seen and owns a pair of what he calls "virtual reality glasses":
And here's the other cast members who came to the Q&A. Joshua, second from right, actually grew up into a normal looking human being:
So go rent Troll 2. Because you can't piss on hospitality. And look out for The Best Worst Movie Ever, a documentary about the whole horrid process coming out in 2008.

Friday, September 7, 2007


I've begun to feel guilty. I guess this is normal - I have pamphlets that say so - but it feels weird to confirm them. It's because I haven't cried in three days. Because I'm excited about this weekend's show. Because, when I speak to my dad, his voice is different. He still sounds like my dad, but lower, slower. He sounds so sad. Because most often my grief is just a morose annoyance. Because my favorite outfit is my robe. Because my mother's blog is a memorial to my brother. Because mine is about yoga thongs. Because all I want is to watch Big Love marathons. Because I haven't gone grocery shopping. Because I don't know what I'll do come spring. Because I can even worry about spring when my brother just died. Because it's been eight weeks and I'm still not freelancing. Because I haven't called Cousin Bonnie, and I told her I would. Because the first years in my program are so happy to be here, and I'm happy to have health insurance. Because I've been biting my nails. Because my floor needs mopping. Because my phone will ring and life will seem thrilling and whole minutes will pass before I remember what it is, exactly, we're dealing with here.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Yoga Thong

Have you ever been to a yoga class? If so, have you ever witnessed yoga thong? It's not that it's common or anything. I've only seen it three and a half times in several years but man, is it memorable. These girls come to class in these low cut yoga pants with their thong pulled up all high, and then they set up in front of you and bend over and suddenly their whole ass is in your face. One minute you're breathing into the space between your shoulders, and then next you're wondering if you're gonna be charged extra for the show. It's distracting. And who exactly is the target audience? It's not like there's that many men that come to yoga.

Though one time? A guy came to yoga in a suit, went to change, and then came to the classroom in his boxers. That was it. No shirt, nothing. Just his boxers with the world's smallest button holding that flap thing closed. He did the whole hour like that, including shavasana, where you just lie on your back and relax for ten minutes at the end of class. And then? When we all stood up to leave? He stayed there on his back, eyes closed, seemingly oblivious to the thinly clad erection fighting its way out of that unnerving boxer slit.

So it's obviously not just a girl thing. Yoga, apparently, provides the steamy, spandexed environment exhibitionists thrive in.

How I Get to Work

I live at the end of a hallway on the top floor of a 1920s apartment building. Despite signage to the contrary, the door to the roof is usually open a half flight above me and I can tell what sort of day it is from the light coming in. I pick up the bag of trash sitting by my front door and carry it four flights to the ground floor. Whether walking up or down the stairs to my apartment, the trip always feels one flight too long. I open the door to the trash closet and swing the bag in. It lands with a thud too loud for the morning and I feel brave and a little rebellious.

I walk down the hall, out the double front doors, and stand at the top of my stoop for a minute untangling my iPod headphones. I confirm what sort of day it is. If I'm unprepared - if it's raining and I didn't bring an umbrella, or if I have a sweater on and it's obviously going to be hot - I do not go back upstairs. Instead, I swear and prepare myself for an uncomfortable day.

I turn on my iPod, walk down the steps and open the gate. If I'm on time, the streets are still relatively empty. If I'm late, I have to look both ways before stepping onto the sidewalk. There are suits rushing by and they stop for no one. I walk east towards Astor Place. The streets are still dirty this early, and I step around torn open trash bags and thin vomit stains. On the way, I dig in my purse for a piece of Nicorette. I struggle to open it. It usually takes me about three-quarters of a block to get the gum out of the packaging. Sometimes it gets warm and sticks to the tinfoil and I can't get it out and I curse and throw it away and try a brand new piece.

At 3rd Avenue, I wait in front of Ray's Pizza for the light to change. The trash cans haven't been emptied yet and they overflow onto the sidewalk. The water in the gutter is green and opaque and a smell rises from it that I don't really notice anymore. People around me edge nervously into the street, hoping a break in the cars will allow them to cross the four lanes, but I know that this is one of those rare New York City blocks you can't jaywalk. The traffic's too heavy. You just have to wait.

When the light changes, I cross 3rd, pass Cooper Union, and then step into the Bowery without checking for traffic. The Bowery at Astor Place is one of those blocks you can always jaywalk. I pass the fruit man and the ugly reflective Chase building. The Astor cube is to my right and I see if there's new graffiti on it, or if they've painted over the old graffiti.

At Lafayette, I can usually cross against the light. I pass the coffee cart on the corner with its hand chalked sign. L.A. CAFE HOT BREAKFAST. I pass the big storefront under construction that used to be Astor Wines and is soon to be a Walmart. I think about how disappointing it is that a Walmart's opening up. And right across the street from a Kmart. How many places does one need to buy cheap paper towels?

I hang a left on Broadway. It's dirty, too, usually with McDonald's wrappers and discount tanning fliers. I go down the steps to the N/R train entrance and swipe my metrocard. It's not the main entrance and doesn't have a service booth or a way to buy a new fare, so if my card is out I have to climb back up to the street and walk a block and a half to the main entrance.

Underground, I wait by the pole that has the empty frame sometimes used for service notices. I turn off my iPod and pull out my New Yorker. When the train comes, it's still empty enough for me to get a seat. I ride three stops, which is just long enough to get interested in an article but not long enough to read more than half a page. At 28th street, I turn my iPod back on, put my magazine away and wish, against reason, that my commute was longer.

A lot of people get off at 28th, so even though the doors to my car open up right in front of the exit, I have to wait to go through the turnstile. Once above ground again, it's usually still early enough to cross Broadway against the light. I walk east along 28th to 6th Ave. There, I stop on the northwest corner to get a coffee at the cart. They just opened up a Starbux right next to my work, but I still stop to get my cart coffee, because I like how it isn't too strong and the guy recognizes me, knows that I want a small with milk, no sugar, no bag, and doesn't talk too much. I give him sixty cents, exact change, then cross 6th and head towards 7th.

28th between 6th and 7th is the garden district, so both sides of the sidewalk are lined with ivies, flowers, palms, and grasses. I know nothing about gardens, but the plants are wet and beautiful in the morning and they smell like the earth. The leaves brush my arms and I would slow down if the short Spanish men standing in the doorways didn't hiss like cicadas when I passed.

I talk a left on 7th. The same guy offers me the New York Metro every morning. I refuse. Starbux has a line out the door. The Fashion Institute of Technology is across the street and girls with unusual jeans walk in slow pairs towards the end of the line, where they will wait on their cell phones for lattes. Scaffolding is up in front of my work, so first it feels like I enter a cave, then my building with its blue and gold scrolls and art deco molding.

I say hello to the Barbadosian who mans the desk. I've asked his name four times, but I never understand what he says and now we're past the point I can ask again. I press the button for the elevator. Usually, one of the three isn't working. I watch the numbers on the panels and guess which one will arrive first. I take out my iPod and lower the volume.

My commute is over. It took 20 minutes. The elevator will arrive and I'll get on and pull my keys out of my purse. I will get off on my floor, turn left, and take my headphones out of my ears while I unlock the door. I will spit out my gum and drink my coffee. I will look at the Empire State Building out my window. I will sit in my chair for four hours and, even if it's a bad day, I will feel lucky that I have this job.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Things I'm Sick Of

Justin Timberlake
Overpriced razorblades
People who shit talk pigeons
Brushing my hair
Men in tight pants
Really difficult to open Nicorette packaging
Wide walkers
Blond Asians
Violent, cane-wielding drunks
Dirty bathrooms
Being blessed by strangers
Small dogs
People who are proud of living in New York
Ticketmaster surcharges
Losing at Scrabble
Burning my tongue
Cat litter
High fives
Telling people my brother's dead

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

School Is Starting and We're Not Who We Used To Be

So today is the first day of school. You can tell. The East Village has gone from mildly overcrowded to fucking ridiculous and everywhere are very, very excited, very, very young people. I know you're probably rolling your eyes right now (and this from a 25 year old, you're thinking), but really, these people look young. To me.

And then there are the outfits. No incoming NYU student is just wearing clothes. No, no. They've finally arrived, they're at NYU, in New York Fucking City, and they know that this is it, the chance to redefine themselves as the coolest, most accessorized people they know. They've got the hipster asscrack jeans and the ironic hats, they've got all their rings on and their shirts are carefully torn. They're still figuring out the best way to smoke their cigarettes and line their eyes. I live on a street with a lot of bars and last night, over the rattle of our failing AC, I could hear the howl of NYUUUUU! NYUUUUU! NYUUUUU! from some kid with a fake ID having the best night of his life.

I start class today, too, though with much less forethought and wardrobe preparation. I'm in Paule Marshall's Craft of Short Fiction class, but I have to say I'm a bit ambivalent about beginning what will likely be my last year of formal education. I was hoping to graduate with a novel, but then this summer changed my entire life and I can't even begin to guess where I'll be come May. What before was a clear cut path is now shadowed and weedy and I keep trying to remind myself of July's sharp, shocking lesson: plans, while nice things to have, are not magic spells. The universe brings people to you and takes them away, and it isn't until they're gone that you realize they've taken you with them.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Not Every Character Needs a Soulmate

I just got back from seeing Bourne Ultimatum for the second time. God, that movie's fun. I also saw Superbad recently, and though I normally hate comedies (not all comedies, not Bill Murray comedies), this one had me on the floor. And I realized today that both films are good for the same reason.

Its not that either one reinvents the wheel. Borne is an action movie. There's a muscley hero, shadowy government, young blonde, fight scenes, car chases, yada yada. And it's not like Superbad does anything Adam Sandler, American Pie, or Ben Stiller haven't already tortured us with. They couldn't have fit in any more cum jokes if they tried.

But both movies also avoid the usual pitfalls of action, comedy and, for that matter, most films: sentimentality. Bourne doesn't even kiss anyone this time around, never mind spending the whole ninety minutes rescuing some useless dye-job. And in Superbad, while the duo spends the whole movie in pursuit of sex, it's obvious that the writers were less interested in underaged tail than in awkward adolescent interaction. Most movies these days turn into thinly veiled romantic comedies as soon as the premise is established, so it's refreshing to see how good a movie can be when its plot serves some purpose other than getting the male lead laid.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Chelsea is Weird

I was walking west on 23rd St. the other day and saw seven blind people (two with dogs), three freakishly veiny bodybuilders (two men, one woman), and two people missing a combined total of two hands and thirteen fingers all waiting at the light to cross 6th Ave. They weren't together (well, two of the body builders may have been together, but the third seemed to take pains to distance himself from them).

Now, there is a residence for the blind on the block, as well as one of those super serious muscle gyms, but how do you explain the missing body parts? How do you explain us all waiting at the same light? I wish I could have corralled them into some daytime alcoholics' bar and bought a few beers.

I'm An International Superstar!

I got my first hit from Iran! Isn't that exciting?? They didn't stay long, and apparently they were looking for something called Best of Manga, but still! I'm thrilled! I had my fingers crossed that I'd hear from The Iraq, but Iran is just as good.

Such as.

Food I Eat, Part 2

Do you know about black and white cookies? I didn't, not until I moved to New York. And, like pandas, Obama, Bob Marley and me, they are excellent.

Your first black and white can be sort of surprising because you bite down expecting cookie and end up with cake. When done right, they are lovely, spongy things, almost like madeleines. The icing satisfies not one but two cravings and overlaps down the middle in a thick strip, chocolate and vanilla laid right on top of each other with a why-the-hell-not bravado.

The only problem with black and whites is that they can easily go bad. The homemade, local bakery kind get stale after a day, and the prepackaged bodega kind have the chemically aftertaste of Twinkies. The white icing can get too hard, the black icing can melt too easily. The baker can try to trick up the cake and throw in orange peel or some other impurity. There are just so many ways it can go wrong.

Luckily, I'm not alone in my quest for the perfect black and white. Jordan Cooper, of the Black and White Cookie Review, also struggles against poor black and white quality control. It was through him that I learned about The Black and White Cookie Company, a place in upstate New York that will ship you very delicious and even seasonally-themed black and whites for more money than you'd think.

Big ups Jordan. I can only hope that, someday, your respect and admiration for the mulatto baked good will be shared by all.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Food I Eat, Part 1

I love mac n cheese. You do too, I'm sure. We all do. Because it's delicious. So you can imagine my delight when I heard about an East Village restaurant that serves only mac n cheese. It's a brilliant idea, right? Especially because mac n cheese is often, and cruelly, designated as a side dish.

I stopped by. The place is called S'mac. A cute name, too cute really, but they only serve mac n cheese, so I forgave them. As promised, they had an extensive menu - lots of cheeses and meats and vegetables to choose from, bread crumbs or no, though they don't offer hot dogs, which was a disappointment. And their food was fine, nothing offensive about it or anything, but when I left I was unsatisfied. It wasn't until I went back that I figured out the problem. The reason S'mac is able to offer so many choices is also it's downfall: they have a bunch of prepared sauces that they just ladle over the noodles and mixings when you order. They make the whole thing in a skillet and throw it in the oven for five minutes, so it looks oven baked, but it's not. And I never knew this before, but oven baked is really the secret to good mac n cheese.

Luckily, I found this while wasting my life on the web. It's the top 25 mac n cheeses in New York. Though mac n cheese is a southern black food, and all these restaurants are located in the lily parts of Manhattan or the just-as-white-but-more-proud-of-themselves parts of Brooklyn. Plus, S'mac is #12 on their list, so these people at gridskipper might just be full of shit. But I'm gonna check a few of these places out myself. Those pictures are like porn.

75 Degrees and Breezy

Grief is hard because there's nothing to be done about it. Daily, I mean. It's a huge emotion that always takes precedence and when it comes you know that's what you're doing for the next hour or ten. It soaks the brain and expands. It dampens everything else.

No amount of sacrifice or spending will help. There's no one to call. You can't ask for the manager, you can't file an appeal. You can't even file a complaint. It's a rare thing to encounter something you can't complain about through bureaucratic channels.

It's a beautiful day in New York today and I couldn't care less.