Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Striking Out

Very appropriate that the tale of my last post was set in the subway. I may never be able to ride the rails again. This transit strike may go on indefinitely and force us to car pool forever! Oh the horrors.

Actually, it's not been so bad. I'm one of the lucky few to have a vehicle and some coworkers to ride in with. After a brutal drive in yesterday, I wised up and took the Battery Tunnel today.

My little green Escort got into the city like shit from a duck's ass. Into the office in under an hour.

Of course, all the MTA strike drama simply distracts from the sad fact that I have to work at all, but that's another post.

What else is there to sayabout the strike? Well,it gives self-obsessed New Yorkers yet another opportunity to genuflect to their own toughness and resourcefulness. It gives us all more proof that the world does indeed revolve around New York City, in spite of current astrophysical theory. We are an anomoly. A unique and brilliant people destined to dominate the country's news media with every little adolescent fit we throw.

Can Touissant and Kalikow just have a fistfight and get it over with. Or just lay their manhoods out on the table, have Bloomberg wield the ruler, and declare the longest negotiator the victor. Except first, they'd probably have to agree on the formula that included girth as well as length. Then maybe they could add a category for technique, judged by Pataki. Now this is a negotiating process I could get interested in.

I can just see the headlines in the tabs: "Touissant Tool Trumps TA" "Kalikow Eats Union Meat" "Little Gloomy Bloomy".

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Secret of Nimh

I've got a little box of rodenticide behind a filing cabinet at my desk here at the old office. I didn't put it there. Facilities did, years ago. What is odd is that the mouse that frequents this area of the floor seems to really love the space behind the cabinet with the rodenticide. I see him a few times a day scooting across the way under a different rack of grey metal filing cabinets. It's pretty exciting. Really. It's a fantastic diversion. I'm just glad it's not a glue trap behind my desk. I don't especially want to drown a squealing mouse.

Speaking of rodenticide, though the one time I've told this story, I was disbelieved, two nights ago, as I was waiting on the subway platform, I watched the rats scurry around, as I am wont to do. In the past I've wondered why these things never seem to get hit by trains. The trains are damned fast and the rats show even less fear of the trains than they do of humans. Well, one of the little scurriers that caught my eye seemed to be gnawing on something especially tasty. I looked away, looked back, and realized that he was not hunkering over a discarded cheesesteak but a much larger relative of his. I walked over to get a closer look, and the big rat's head was partially flattened. I can only speculate that it somehow got its pointy face up on the track at a very inopportune moment. I tried to tell myself that maybe the little guy at his side was trying to revive him. But the fact that the living rat was so obsessed with his dead comrade's crushed head was too much to ignore. It was clear. The rat was feasting on the flesh (presumably brain matter) exposed when this monster rat met his maker.

Excuse me while I vomit.

All better.

There are a ton of pests in this city, no doubt. And they're all in this area. Shopping. Then there are the rats. Man, that's a poor excuse for humor. I must still be shaken from the ratibalism I witnessed.

The secret of Nimh? Soylent Green of course.

Monday, December 12, 2005


I love feeling in control. I imagine everyone does. But every once in a while I get the feeling that I am on top. I can do one thing after another with singular focus, and I can do these things well. Because, when all is right, as busy as it gets, I feel very still and calm.

Well, that's not entirely true. Sometimes I am able to focus and achieve one thing after another, the more the better, because I am being driven by a sort of mania-lite. The manic phase of manic depression, which I experience much less severely than the symptoms you might associate with it. I tell you this much. Being manic feels good.

But, it does not feel like clarity. There is a big difference between reacting fluidly, and being pushed, pulled and prodded. In the former case, there is ease; in the latter, tension and a clenched jaw.

I don't feel that super-focus or crystal clarity right now. But it's close enough that it seems within reach. There are times when it seems impossibly unattainable. Like my head is a lead weight, and each application of energy requires supreme effort. Getting out of bed, tearing away from the computer. These can seem like impossible tasks, indefinitely put off for the next moment, and the next and the next.

There is only now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Idiot Ax

Today, I got 50 dollars worth of tickets for the mega ball lottery. It's 390 million dollars. That'd be so grate to win, it's definitely worth the 50 bucks. I'd get mom a new house and one for me, too. But not too close together. Like I'd get her a place in East Egg, and me a place in West Egg. Close, but not too close. And I'd get a new car. I mean, it's not too bad having a Colt, since I can get it fixed at the station for pretty cheap, but it would be really grate to have like a Mustang or a Porsh or something like that.

What's not so grate is that I had to go to another station for the tickets. And since I didn't get off work until 2:00, the only place open was the Exxon over by the Applebee's. It was like an extra twenty minutes before I got home. But It's worth it, like I said, even if Troy over there is a jerk. He kept saying he always knew I was a weiner. Like that's real funny. I wish I coulda bought the tickets from the station, but we can't buy tickets there ever since Lavonne got caught with all those scratch offs. She got caught cause she tried to cash them in bunch of winners, and they found out she worked at the station and figured it out I guess.

I got a good feeling on the numbers. I got all quickpik except for one, which I got 232323, for my lucky number. It'd be grate if I had enough left over from the money to get everyone at the station something nice. I'd get a heater for the hut for sure. Most people would quit, but I don't know what I'd do if I didn't go to work.

Right before I left for the night to go get the tickets, Vijay said I had to go pay my stupid ax or something like that. I never figured out what he was talking about. I don't think it was positive.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Many people would call raking sand stupid, pointless, crazy, even.

Most people think to live as a monk is crazy.

To me there is an undeniable serenity in these gardens. A movement within stasis. An asymmetric balance.

And their pointlessness seems to be the point.

Of course, the gardens are simply beautiful.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Up All Night. Never Again.

I ended up being out all night from Friday at 6:00 until Saturday at 7:00 am. But I was not wild partying. Oh, no. I was working. What's worse, I was working outside in the freezing cold. I got to witness firsthand the first flurries of the year. I only wish it had snowed like it did last night. At least then, the shoot would have been called. No such luck.

You see, I was on the set of a film. But not as any ordinary actor. I was there in the most ignoble and detestable of roles. I was there as an extra. For many people, the chance to be an extra is an axciting prospect. They travel in from Westchester or New Jersey and feel like professionals. For me, it's a degrading and abject experience.

Extras are atmosphere. The director (in this case Julie Taymore) never deigns to talk to them. Instead it's an assistant with a bullhorn. Extras are talked down to. Like they are retarded. Like they are kindergarteners. The only thing lower than being an extra is being a nonunion extra. Nonunion extras don't even get to eat form the same table as the union members. They get payed a lower rate, and are not guaranteed the same protections.

I have always known that I would hate being an extra. I don't like following orders and I loathe being talked down to, and so, I've never done it before. But, I thought, this job might be worth it. A job on a Julie Taymore Beatles movie. Sweet. I'll get to see her work maybe. And, since it's an outdoor shoot, it'll be done early and I can head to my day job. Not even close. Itwasn't a day shoot...a fact I was informed of same day. And there were hundreds of us poor saps suffering in the cold. With hand warmers that gave out halfway through the night and toe warmers that gave out even sooner.

By the end of the night, as a group we were delirious and angry. I had lost my voice from the cold and shouting. The one thing done right this night was that they saved for last a shot where police are dragging protesters through an angry crowd onto a police bus. The crowd (the extras) are surging around them, hurling abuse. By the time they got to this, we were all really at the end of our rope, so the artist may have gotten what she wanted.

What I find most interesting about the whole experience is how traumatic it was. I think back to the times I stayed out all night drinking or ingesting other harmful substances and realize that a good part of the effects I felt after a long night were simply sleep deprivation. I hadn't touched a substance, but after a night in the freezing cold, I felt like an alien on the way home. I lost my glasses in the holding area, but was too stupefied to effectively look for them. And, after a 4-hour meeting the next day, which I went to on one hour of sleep, I slept from 4 pm to 1 pm. 21 hours.

I hope I get my glasses back. And I hereby solemnly swear, I will never be an extra again.