Thursday, April 30, 2009

Morons in Manhattan

Not long ago while on my last visit to The City, Tricky Dick and I ditched his high-maintenance diva of a girlfriend and walked a few blocks to Playwright’s Pub on 35th Street.

After a few hearty hours of carousing like we were members of Motley Crue in 1989, we decided to partake in Last Call and closed the place down.

I recall TD and I toasting the last drink triumphantly, as if we’d somehow won some kind of Last Man Standing contest. Judging by the fact that we were the only two dickish drunks still sitting at the bar, I suppose we did.

With severely inhibited judgment and full bladders, we’d forgotten to relieve ourselves before departing on our stroll back to the hotel.

TD couldn’t hold it in, so he decided to release the hounds and open the urinary flood gates on the side of the street while trying to sing the song ‘Islands in the Stream.’

“Islands in the stream…that is what we are…nah nuh nah nuh nuh…hm huh hm huh huh…”

Meanwhile, it occurs to me that it’s not too late for the cops to be patrolling.

I’m not sure why it is that I always end up being the sole voice of reason among the drunks I know, but that's my job. I suppose someone has to do it, but I sure as hell wish it wasn't me.

“Dude, go piss over in there, by that wall. If the cops see you, you’re going to jail!”

“Er, okay.”

Meanwhile, I turn my head and what do I see...an NYPD patrol car at the red light at the end of the block.

“Oh shit dude, Five-O!”

I thought for sure we were going to jail.

As if he’d done it a million times before, he somehow cut off his pee-flow in mid-stream and calmly started walking. As if everything was normal!

Once the squad car had passed, he whipped out the old tally-whacker again and finishes.

I was astounded.

In fact, I was in such amazement at this feat that I almost high-fived him. But, then I quickly remembered where his hands had just been, so I simply fist-bumped him and praised him heartily on his talented prostate and bladder control abilities.


As for me, I didn’t feel my bladder act up until we stumbled to about 33rd and 5th, but it was still manageable enough to avoid the pee-pee dance that holding it in too long sometimes induces.

By the time we got to the hotel around 3AM, however, I was damn near close to pissing myself!

Now, the Latham Hotel is old and was designed with Old-world European style shared bathrooms and an elevator that’s so damn slow it must still work on an old hand-crank and ropes or something. I didn’t realize this fact until after I’d screamed a gaggle of obscenities in two languages while slowly ascending in the elevator.

To make matters worse, TD decides to rip a continual, twenty second, putrid fart that was so bad it made my eyes water. The kind that smells so bad, you'd think something crawled up his ass and died.

This is the stuff of nightmares. Oh, the misery.

After what felt like an eternity on the non-air conditioned, hot box of an elevator, I scurried toward the room, terrorizing the halls on the way there, and nearly ripping the door off its hinges.

I frantically put the key in the lock and open the door, when it finally hits me.

"There’s no fucking bathroom in here!"

In a panic, I tear out of the room and locate what looks like it might be a restroom door. I try to open it.

To my horror, it’s locked.

In complete disgust I shout at the top of my lungs, “Are you fucking shitting me!”

Of course, it’s TD’s goddam girlfriend in there. Did I mention she literally takes at least 20 minutes every time she uses the bathroom?

Well, she does.

Every time we make plans to go somewhere, we have to plan in an extra 20-40 minutes for bathroom breaks. I shit you not. I don’t know what the hell she does in there, but if it weren’t for the fact she does it even when it's just her and TD, I’d think she does it just to piss me off.


Anyway, after nearly kicking the door in, I run back toward the room loosening my belt.

“Motherfucker!” I scream as I hurry back toward the room. I’ve had it, and I’m about to piss in the nearest garbage bucket or drawer I find.

The door is open in the room and as I’m frantically scurrying towards it, TD shouts, “Dude, there’s a sink in here!”

With the unmitigated glee of a sea-sick landlubber who just set foot back on dry land, I scurry into the room and relieve myself in the sink.

It was utterly euphoric.

“Ahhh!” I muttered in relief.

Shortly after that, the drama faded away along with our consciousness, and we all fell asleep.

The next day, I woke up to the sounds of Big Bertha, a single A/C unit that sounded like an old Buick with a broken muffler, with Tricky Dick’s beastly snores in the background. I closed my eyes to try and go back to sleep, but the symphony of noise pollution proved too distracting.

Wondering if she were going to explode at any moment, I laid there for a few moments listening to Big B’s loud, vibrating, low-pitched lament as she labored intensely trying to keep the air in the room cool.

As I lay there next to Big B, trying to find my happy place, The Diva, Miss Wonderful herself, wakes up. She proceeds to brush her teeth and wash her face in the sink that I had showered with yellow joy the night before.

Granted, I rinsed it off and all – but still, the satisfaction of knowing what had transpired in that very spot the night before was enough to make me smile with contentment.

In fact, it seemed so right that I felt all warm and fuzzy inside; it was as if justice had somehow been administered on my behalf, and I was more than satisfied about the karmic irony of the situation.

And so, at the hands of this reckoning, I drifted back into the type of deep, hard sleep that a narcoleptic xanax addict would have after a three course meal.

The price of having to hold the urge to urinate to the point of discomfort: a few minutes of torture with a side of temporary insanity.

Seeing the miserable, judgmental girl who is trying to break apart your friendship with your buddy use the sink you relieved yourself in the night before: Priceless.

Once again, sometimes it’s the little things in life you appreciate the most.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How to Down a Pint...

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

My Imaginary Tree

Going into a Barnes & Noble or Borders is a very bad idea for me if I'm trying to stick to a budget. I just cannot go in there without buying shitload of crap.

I'm walking around picking out stuff that I can't seem to leave without buying. I must've said, "I gotta get the fuck outta here!" like twenty times while I was in there.

Two hours and triple espresso later, I walk out $60 bucks poorer and working out the details of how to eat on the cheap for a week.

I spend money like it grows on a tree in my back yard -- and considering I neither own a tree like that, nor a back yard, that's not so good.

To state the obvious, there is something very, very wrong with me. Seriously!

But that's nothing a bottle of vino and a few stogies can't fix.
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Friday, April 24, 2009

The Weather is Great, but...

I read a post today from NY Times' City Room blog, which I thoroughly enjoyed. As a man who lives in the suburbs of South Florida but dreams of living in NYC, it's so hard to find people who truly get the reasons why I love that city so much.

In fact, it's such a rarity to find someone down here that feels the same way, that I can't remember meeting or speaking to even one person who understands my unwavering passion for the place.

It sometimes makes me wonder if there's simply something very wrong with me for loving it like I do!

Until of course, I read my favorite NYC-based blogs. I love to read comments like these, from the City Room blog:


“Ray, who moved to New York in 2007 after living in California for 20 years, suggested people try living elsewhere first: Yes, he said, in some other places ‘government costs less but it also does a lot less. Yes, homes cost less, but you have way less around you. Sure the people are nice, but they’re not really as interesting. Sure the weather is great, but even 250 days of continual sunshine can be a bore.’”

“And listen to Hychkok, who’s moving back to the city this summer from the suburbs: ‘I hate having to drive everywhere … I hate cashiers putting my few purchases in 20 bags at the supermarket … I hate not being able to walk anywhere because oncoming traffic will kill you. I’ve gained 25 pounds. Keep paradise. I’ll pay to live where I can walk and run into a dozen friends and acquaintances on the street instead of having to hole up in my house with the windows closed because the neighbor’s idiotic adolescent son is blasting hip-hop music and screaming obscenities at the top of his voice while playing video games.’”

“Chris couldn’t wait to return from low-tax Florida. New York’s state and city taxes, Chris wrote, ‘are a small price to pay for the culture, amenities, services, public transit, all of which the rest of the country sorely lacks. A bad day in the Village, Chelsea, Williamsburg, Park Slope, the Upper West Side, Gramercy, Carroll Gardens and a zillion other parts of New York City is better than the best day I ever had living in Miami.’”
Bravo! Those comments sum it up perfectly for me.

I generally don't have any real addictions, no obsessions or compulsions...but when it comes to NYC...well, I suppose I have all three.
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Scenes from a Weekend Paradise


This past weekend was everything I thought it could be. I took this photo around 10ish in the AM (probably closer to 11 AM, but who keeps track of these things). Beautiful blue, sunny skies, white sands, palm trees, a Tiki Bar, and lots of friends.

And best of all, I didn't have to pay a penny.

Yessssss!
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's a Schadenfreude World

I think I'm going to start incorporating these terms into my vocabulary.

I actually have been using schadenfreude for a while. I always tell people (partly in jest, but I kind of mean it too), "It's a schadenfreude world, I tell ya."

Of course, after I say that, I experience nothing but support, kindness, encouragement, and assistance for about two weeks or so.

Ahhh, the irony of it all.
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Montone Sunset


Sunset on hills
Originally uploaded by R.o.b.e.r.t.o.

Thought I'd share this dreamy shot from Montone, Italy. It can be seen in a bigger size here.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Tranquility Bay

Well, there actually is *something* I really like about Florida: The Keys!

I'm texting this as I'm driving there. Staying at the Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort in Marathon Key with about 12 friends.

Check out the website, looks awesome!

tranquilitybay.com

Can someone say Rum Runner and Tiki Bar?!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Tobacco Incident

I have such a diverse circle of friends and acquaintances that I rarely even pay much attention to the things that make us different. I simply accept people for who they are, regardless of how different, strange, or eclectic they may be.

If you ask me, diversity is part of the spice of life.

However, as accepting of people as I am, I really have a difficult time with abnormally stupid people.

Take for example a co-worker of mine named Jim.

I went to have sushi for lunch today with a few people from work. It’s usually just my friend Anton and I, but apparently he invited one of his peers, who in turn invited another peer—that person being Jim.

Now, I like Jim, I really do. He’s a nice kid—probably 24 or 25 years-old, physically speaking. Mentally, I’d say he’s more like 14-15 years-old. I kid you not.

He does have his moments though. He’s actually fairly amusing, in a Lloyd Christmas kind of way—for about 30 minutes. After that, he really wears on your patience. And for anyone to test my patience is quite a feat, as I usually have an abundance of it.

Usually.

The problem is that the more he speaks, the more painful it becomes to listen. I can literally feel my IQ dropping like Lehman Brothers’ stock with every word that comes out of his mouth.

Take for example the conversation he initiated on the way back to work.

Anton and I get in the car, both of us in front. We grab an Arturo Fuente Cubanito, light up, and lean back in our seats as we pull out.

“I didn’t know you guys smoked cigars. At least you don’t have to worry about nicotine like you would if you smoked cigarettes.”

Anton and I look at each other simultaneously, wide-eyed with disbelief and holding back our laughter.

“Someone slap him!” said Anton.

I take mercy on Jim and advise him that, “Cigars have nicotine too, Jim.”

“Really! I thought only cigarettes had nicotine.”

I hold up the cigar as a teaching prop.

“Um, well you see how it’s basically dried tobacco wrapped in a tobacco leaf? Yeah, there’s nicotine in pretty much anything that’s derived from tobacco.”

Jim smiles, and says, “Oh, well aren’t you guys worried about lung cancer?”

Anton takes a puff, and replies, “Dude, most people don’t inhale cigars, including us.”

“Someone slap him now!” he says.

Jim replies, “I dunno man, I’m worried. I don’t want to become addicted to nicotine.”

“Why? How often do you have cigars?” I ask.

“Um, like once a year.”

At this point, the cute novelty that was Jimbo's ignorance has worn off, and the car became completely silent.

With his eyes squinting, his eyebrows raised, and a shit-eating grin on his face, Anton says:

“Jim…”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t talk to me for at least an hour, please. Not for any reason whatsoever.”
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Doldrums at Bay

I don't know how many of you listen to music via Pandora.com or via the Pandora iPhone application, but I think it's the best thing since [insert really awesome thing here].

There are lots of random and strange things about me that you may notice as I contribute more entries, but one of those of things is that I will probably mention something being "the best thing since..." on more than one occasion. This will no doubt happen until something else is also "the best thing since..." whatever it was that was formerly known as "the best thing since..."

Confused yet?

Yeah, me too.

These things happen.

Best to get used to it sooner rather than later, I tend to think.

In any case, the only reason I mention Pandora is because I'm listening to it as I type this.

Music makes me happy. It helps me tune out distractions, helps to alleviate the doldrums that appear at various random moments during the day, and it generally helps me manage through the typical, garden variety boredom issues; at the very least, music helps keep boredom to a tolerable level.

If you work a 9 to 5 office job, or some similar day shift job, perhaps you know what I mean.

Not that I'm complaining, because I'm quite aware that I really don't have it so bad; at least not relative to many other people these days.

But back to awesome things, yes?

Here's something else I think is awesome:



I took this photo close to the fountain in front of The Plaza Hotel in NYC. There's something that I love about capturing all these colorful flowers among the tall buildings in the center of Manhattan's concrete jungle.

In my mind, they balance the boldness and enormity of the city with little glimpses of softness and beauty. I think the trees and flowers add as much life to the city as anything else does.

I hope you like the photo too.
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Three Things...Many Things


It might be that today is payday Friday that I feel compelled to mention how much I love the selection at the Crown Wine & Spirits closest to my apartment.

I'm honestly like a little kid at that M&M store in Times Square (above, a google street view pic BTW) whenever I'm in that store.

I merely stopped in for a new tin of Arturo Fuente Cubanitos and ended up spending $60 on beer, more beer, and what I think may be the Holy Grail of $5 wines. I got to taste it at the counter and it's damn good, for $5 mind you. I might pay $12-$15 for it if I didn't know how much it cost.

In the immortal words of Napoleon Dynamite, "yessssssssss."

I'm such a sucker for impulse items.

At this moment, there are three other things I'm really loving and appreciating (in bold italics below):

Having a really attractive girl check me out and smile at me, as she's pulls up next to my car at the light. Both of our windows are down, I'm smoking a stogie listening to Sinatra's Summerwind, and she's smoking a cig (can do without that, but you can't have everything right...I mean, where would you put it all).

I play it coy for a few moments and pretend I don't notice. I look over again, and she's still staring.

"Nice" I think to myself, as I put on my best bedroom eyes look and smile back.

Being a single man, I have an especially weak-willed disposition when it comes to attractive women that dig me. I can't help it. It's in my genes.

Have I mentioned that one of the surnames in my ancestry happens to be Casanova? Well, there you go. See, it's not my fault!

Plus, I am kind of a big deal and all.

Somehow, I don't think any of those reasons convinced anyone, but hey, I gave it a shot.

Anyway, I get home and pull up my iTunes, hit the iTunes DJ option, and on comes Dave Matthews Band's song Say Goodbye.

I just love it...

So I'm kicking back drinking a really great German beer, Warsteiner, and relaxing to one of my favorite DMB songs.

Payday Fridays are the two best days of every month, I tell ya (Thanksgiving and Christmas being the exception).

I think I'll light up another stogie now.

To anyone who stops by to read my drivel, have a fantastic weekend!
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Monday, April 6, 2009

Lower West Side Adventures

I may have mentioned booking a Champagne and Waterfalls Cruise around Manhattan for my friends and I last fall. When I first booked it, I wasn't sure how much they'd like it. As it turns out, it was one of the highlights of the trip for them. I loved it too, but I'm not so sure I'd say it was the best part.

Basically, the price of the cruise included all the champagne, wine, beer, or liquor we could consume within the 1.5 to 2 hours we were on the water. Naturally, my friends and I felt it necessary to get more than our money's worth by consuming as much booze as possible in that short timeframe. The amount of alcohol we consumed had to cost 3 times what we paid for our cruise tickets. We did a nice job I'd say. Dean Martin would've been quite proud, I'm sure.

Next up on the itinerary that night was dinner -- which was a few blocks south of Chelsea Piers at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Perry St located at the western-most side of, you guessed it, Perry St. I remember us attempting to walk there from the pier, but we decided about half way there that it would take too long -- and since we were starving, we decided to hail a cab instead.

Some parts of this particular NYC trip were bittersweet for me. I'd originally planned it for me and my former girlfriend. I planned the cruise so she and I could have a romantic evening together. We'd be on the boat drinking champagne while we watched the sunset; then afterwards, I wanted us to go have dinner at a great restaurant.

I don't remember what site said that Perry St was voted the best steak in NYC (might have been nymag.com), but that prompted me to plan dinner there. Despite my mixed emotions about going ahead with that part of the itinerary without her, I went ahead with the plans, sans the former girlfriend.

On the way to the restaurant, it occurred to me that I may have forgotten to make reservations. Normally, this would've bothered me, but since I was treating some very flexible friends to dinner and not my former girlfriend, I wasn't overly concerned.

"This is New York City. We can always find someplace to eat," I thought.

Apparently, our cab driver wasn't sure where he was going, because he started going the wrong way. Feeling way too hungry to wait for the guy to figure out where he was going, I firmly took charge of the situation and told him, "You need to make a right turn here and go south to get back to Perry Street, then take another right."

I ask him to stop about a half a block short, and my friends get out. Feeling quite proud that my navigational skills were on par with that of a native Manhattanite, I mentally pat myself on the back, give the guy his cash, and we walk the cobblestone street the rest of the way.

As we walk, I realize that one of my friends might be too drunk to even behave decently, much less follow fine dining etiquette.

I look to his girlfriend and whisper, "You've gotta babysit him ok??? He's being way too dickish for this place and he's slurring like a wino!"

She nods in agreement. "I'll try."

We locate the place, and just before reaching the door, I start to prep my oafishly drunk friend on what he needs to do.

"Dude, listen to me...keep your mouth shut and don't say one word."

"Why?"

"Because you're fucking shitfaced and you're totally dickish right now! I'm starving and want them to seat us" I replied.

The word 'dickish' is a mutually understood word we use for when we're being drunken idiots.

He begins to mutter in protest before I interrupt him, "Not one fucking word until we sit down...ok???"

"Fine whatever..."

We walk up to the hostess, who was tall and slender, very attractive and young. She smiles, looks me in the eye, then greets us all. Her body language was welcoming and positive, so I got good vibes right away.

It turned out that I didn't make a reservation, but she said it was alright, she'd get us a table. In fact, the table with the wine bottle on the left in this picture is exactly where we sat.

By the time we sat down, dusk was approaching fast, and the colors of the sunset could still be seen through the westward facing window.

Our waiter was a very polite young guy who reminded me of a mix between one of the Jonas Brothers and Mike D from the Beastie Boys. He was young and thin, fashionably dressed, and had a quirky little 'Jew-Fro' going on, which I appreciated, since I thought it gave him a distinctly unique look.

My drunken friend apparently never had a fine-dining experience before, and he was completely uncomfortable and out of his element.

The atmosphere was somewhat quiet, dimly lit for ambiance, and there was a calm, still energy in the air. This did nothing to settle his disposition.

I understood where he was coming from, however; because some people who've never really experienced fine-dining before can find it intimidating their first time around. He's a proud Irishman, very practical and down to earth, and he is most comfortable in an uninhibited, sometimes over-stimulated hearty atmosphere. Pubs and bars are like second homes.

Now, I love pubs and bars as much as the next guy, and lord knows I love the Irish and Gaelic culture in general. But this experience, more than any other before, brought out a side of him I'd rarely seen before.

Think of a poor potato farmer plucked from the Irish countryside to have dinner with the Queen Mum at Buckingham Palace -- and oh, by the way, the already English-loathing Irishman is drunk, and he's not fond of her royal highness, nor her hoity-toity manners. That's exactly what it was like.

Oh, such good times.

"Dude, I'm totally uncomfortable. I don't know what I'm supposed to act like and I don't know what half this crap on the menu is."

"Why would you be uncomfortable? No one here is any better than us. Relax. Just roll with it" I replied.

"Where's the fucking steak? I just want a steak," he slurs.

I point it out to him.

"I don't know man. It looks weird, what's all this other crap that comes with it" he asks -- his voice a few decibels too loud.

I run my hands over my face in frustration.

"Hey, can you not make a scene please. I'm not in the mood to get kicked out of here."

Granted, I understood he wasn't comfortable in that well-to-do atmosphere, but I was getting annoyed.

"Listen bro, you've never had a problem trying new things and expanding your horizons," I said.

"Just think of this as the growing pains that come with that. I'm paying so just sit back and enjoy it."

The conversation continues along this line for most of the time we waited, and it lasted well into the appetizers. By the time our steaks finally came, things settled down a bit.

Knowing him, I said, "Do not ask for A1!"

"You're not going to need it!"

He looked at me much like a 3 year-old would if I were to try and explain the principles of quantum physics to them.

He always eats steak with A1, no matter how good it is.

"Trust me," I said.

He looked miserable.

He proceeds to grab his utensils, lets out a big sigh, and begins cutting feverishly.

As I cut into my steak, I continued to talk it up saying, "This place was voted the best steak in NYC in one of the online mags I read."

I take a bite and look back up at him. His eyes are rolling into the back of his head as he leans his head back at a 45 degree angle.

"Mmmmm!" he said. His voice giving away his utter delight.

He proceeds to shovel another heaping slab into his mouth as if he hadn't eaten in 2 weeks.

Then he stops, looks at his plate in amazement, and mutters, "Oh my God, this is delicious!"

His girlfriend and I look at him and giggle. Moments later, the three of us in full agreement, simulataneously make "Mmmm" noises, in stereo, as we chew.

"So, you like it then, yes?" I asked.

He replied, "Dude, you were right, this is awesome -- best steak I've ever had."

"See, and you didn't even need A1 either!"

All I can say is thank you Perry St for living up to the hype and making an annoyingly drunk friend tolerable again!

(all pictures taken by me)
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Thursday, April 2, 2009

"Just Memories of Walking..."


I don't know what some people had against Washington Square Park before the current renovation project started, but I've loved it from the moment I first set foot in it. I always think of all the stories I've heard about the many different types of characters who've congregated there over the decades. The place has definitely been romanticized for me, so I may be biased -- but I liked it just fine the way it was pre-Bloomberg.

Anyway, I took this random photo in the park during my Autumn 2008 trip. I remember sitting on this bench, close to the chess tables on the southwest side, taking a break after walking about 10 blocks and noticing this elderly woman to my left.

It's strange how things like this happen to me, but as I was sitting there on this bench, and the song Washington Square by the Counting Crows actually started playing on my iPod.

My eyes lit up when I realized what song was playing. "How strange!" I thought to myself. But that thought was quickly replaced by, "How awesome!" Right after that, I remember a cool breeze hitting my face, as I looked to my left.

And that's the moment this picture reminds me of. It was taken right after the song came on.




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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fanboy

I heart music by Dave Matthews Band. In fact, I find myself becoming more and more of a fanatic each day that passes. Next thing you know, I'll be kind of like a Deadhead, following the band around as they tour.

There are worse things to become obsessed with, right?

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