Sarah And Me

Well, every other blog has already posted about Sarah Palin. All of them. Even my mom posted about it. [No link for you, suckazzzz!] And I don’t need to point out some of the more obviously hilarious shit, like the fact that the Sarah Palin action figures are male, or that the media really isn’t very good at their jobs, or her apparently legitimate LinkedIn profile. No, I have something way way more fucking important to tell you.

I’ve tried to keep this to myself, but I know Sarah Palin. And not the way America knows her warm, moose-gutting smile from the small-town life we all participate in, and not the way that she knows Jesus or whatever. I mean, we met. For a brief period, I like to think that we were something special. And not in a gay way.

WARNING: This story is, for once, entirely true

Do you remember when Into The Wild was published? Well, I do. I was ten years old, but already starstruck by the majestic beauty of Hatchet. This wasn’t the book Hatchet, but the mediocre TV movie with all the bearfighting. I couldn’t read the book, because throughout most of the ’90s I was illiterate because of brain parasites, etc. In fact, I only knew about Into The Wild because I met Chris McCandless at a press conference shortly after it was released. At the Barnes and Noble inside the Stuckey’s in my Massachusetts hometown, his smile dazzled me and his tales of the Arctic lit a fire in my soul.

I was so impressed with his charisma and pallor that I promptly started hitchhiking to Alaska, like in that famous eight-episode sequence from Malcolm In The Middle. A variety of friendly truckers gave me rides across British Columbia, putting me through various trials, each of which I passed with youthful vigor, aplomb and spontaneity. After weeks of this foolishness, I reached my destination: beautiful Wasilla, Alaska, then a finance boomtown with over 400,000,000 residents, and a downtown with skyscrapers, and unbelievable amounts of relevance. Due to my own inadequacies, I was unable to obtain gainful employment and was forced to take a position as a newspaper boy, one of millions struggling to start a new life in this fast-paced metropolis of opportunity.

One of the quieter neighborhoods in bustling Wasilla.

In the crowded stations of Wasilla, where the packed trains left every twenty minutes for Milwaukee, New York and Terrifying Communist Russia, I plied my trade with issues of the Wasilla Daily Courier (circulation: 200 million). “Daily Courier!” I would shout, with the vigor that poverty and starvation brought to me and so many of my compatriots, “please, sir, just 25 cents for a Daily Courier!” It was particularly difficult to make sales on account of I couldn’t read the headlines.

And so thousands of frustrated commuters brushed by me without so much as a fare-thee-well, hurrying to Communist Vladivostok to buy whale futures and shares in igloo distribution firms: these were headier days. But the town shuddered under the potential yoke of a potential Russian invasion, and we all shuddered with it. But who was I to complain? The constant fear sold newspapers, and only our ineffective Mayor Stein was there to defend us. A weak line of defense he was, yelling across the Bering Strait, suitcase in hand, begging for a Terrifying Communist trawler to ferry him to sunny Siberia. In our beds, silently, at night — we quaked with terror.

In 1996, after a year of this backbreaking labor and mind-rending fear, I met Sarah Palin. At the time, she was only a City Councillor (one of 752 that represented each of the massive city’s many districts). Still, even the meekest of salarymen had a good excuse not to stop and talk to a knee-high newsie such as myself. But she did. “Excuse me, young man,” she said, kneeling so as not to dominate me with her 6’7″ frame, “but have you had anything to eat today?”

It wasn’t long before we found true love.

Being a good sport, Sarah posed frequently for informal portraits such as this one.

Living in a small apartment in a fifty-story high rise in Wasilla’s Skyscraper Heights district (the site of which is today an empty, mouldering parking lot next to a derelict walrus factory), we each worked toward our respective goals. While I struggled to get a job where I didn’t breathe coal dust in the dark corners of locomotive platforms, Sarah plotted against Stein. While we slept, she knew, Stein was making clandestine phone calls to the Communist premier, negotiating the handoff of Alaska to Russia in exchange for 3% of ANWR revenues, gross, plus 22 points on the antique stores dotting the Alcan Highway. She shook with fury while she slept and moved with a stunning quickness while awake, faxing out press releases and calling the editors of the Courier to insist that they denounce Stein. The newsroom, which was by then entirely in the pockets of the whale industry, declined with bald-faced bravado.

In other words, Sarah was an uncompromising ideological badass, fighting for all that was right. I guess that’s what finally drove us apart. For awhile, she was content to teach me the ways of her home; to date, I can kill a polar bear from over ten thousand feet away, with my bear hands. [Oops! I meant “bare.” — Zach] I loved to learn. But there was a problem. Like most East Coasters, I was an ardent believer in Communism, and Godlessness, and Doing The Wrong Thing, and Mandatory Abortion, and Didn’t Enjoy Shooting Guns, and I thought that All Small Towns Should Be Fired Out Of A Cannon Into Space, and Hated Trucks, and Mandatory Gay Marriage For Straight People Also.

Of course, one night our disagreements became more than academic. “Goddammit, Sarah,” I shouted in a fit of pique, “if we don’t confiscate 92% of the pre-tax earnings of middle-class Americans, how will we fund the Welfare Baby Higher-Taxes Space Program For Transgender Welfare Babies?”

“Get out of my apartment,” she replied. “I thought you’d fit in here in Alaska, but it turns out you just loved my innovative hairdo!” Dejected, I packed what few possessions I had into a steamer trunk and headed back to New York City, then and now an isolated backwater with no relevance to the way that the country functions. Since then I’ve led a paltry and middling life, never matching the vigor that Wasilla — and Sarah — had filled me with all along.

The test rocket had to be scrapped somewhere over the Pacific.

Of course, Wasilla is a quieter place today. Since the 90s, it’s shrunk to house only a few thousand residents. The skyscrapers were taken down, packed up and relocated; to Shanghai, mostly. I often think back on those days with Sarah, or pause briefly at my desk to compose to her a typo-ridden letter. Still, the responses never come, and the threatening knocks on the door from her staff are ever-louder. I think of how much better the times were then… Ah!, but those were Wasilla Days, the sort of days we shall never see again until we’re carried away in Heaven’s merciful chariot. Until then, dear friends, adieu. Mon cherie Sarah, adieu!

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Filed under politics, politricks, the deranged ramblings of a madman, Zach

Close Encounters of the Ill-Mannered, Possibly Retarded Kind

One of the many charming, intriguing mysteries surrounding Smackdown HQ (our apartment, on Monitor Street) is the nature of/name of/ mental state of our “landlord,” a strange, impolite personage who landed on my radar last night, unfortunately.

The whole affair surrounding him/her is very strange. For starters, our rent check is made out to a woman who we’ve never met or seen, and we are required to slide it under the door of creepy, behind-the-stairs-apartment 1R every month. It’s all very Wizard of Oz. The woman doesn’t even live there. She must be some kind of puppet-master calling the shots from a nice building.

inside 1R

the real landlord?

A dude named R**** (and in case he knows how to use Google, I’ll be blocking out his name in most instances) does live in the building, maybe. And, he might have a duel identity. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Here are the facts of the case DUN DUN:

1. We used to call R RonnyBobby, because we’re pretty sure he’s introduced himself as both-on separate occasions.

2. R may have a brother named Bobby, with whom he shares a voice mailbox- or maybe he is really both. He has referred to Bobby as both his “buddy” and his “bro,” which tells us approximately nothing. Zach claims to have met “Bobby,” and says that he is identical to R.

Unsettling, no?

Unsettling, no?

3. R doesn’t have a last name? Or maybe is the son of our real landlord?

4. R lives in 1R? But usually sits out in front of the building in his car for some reason, emerging only to lecture building dwellers on the proper way to recycle? He told Zach he lives there sometimes….

5. R does not appreciate or actually, seem to notice sarcasm. He never laughs or smiles. He curses a lot and says “Ya know wha’m sayin?” after like EVERY sentence. This + the Bobby mystery leads us to believe he may be mentally retarded, or at least generally retahded.

Okay, so whatever. He’s your average middle-aged, cantankerous, Brooklyn landlord. NBD, right? WELL THAT WAS UNTIL I GOT ATTACKED. Yesterday, while we were at work, working full-time office jobs like real people, R was apparently inspecting our apartment, possibly with his side-kick/bro Bobby, with no prior warning.

He was appalled to discover that our window AC unit was left on low throughout the day, that we had 10ish empty cereal/little frozen pizza boxes ready to be recycled and also like 15 or so bottles/cans. This recycling pile was not even big enough to be on the floor. Everything was arranged by size and type on top of the recycling bin lid. Man, we are SUCH aNiMaLs.

The thing that kills me is that between my occasional OCD and Zach’s propensity for general tidiness, we generally have a pretty orderly lifestyle. I’m more Phoebe than Monica, it’s true. But Monica is in there , goddamn it. I scrub floors, I dust everything! And always have a back-up canister of Clorox wipes under the sink! There were no dishes in the sink, no food left out, etc. Just strange art supplies and books strewn gracefully, WHIMSICALLY, throughout the space.

But as Zach put it: we have a right to our clutter. We also have a right to reasonable warning before being descended upon. If this were a real blog like curbed or gothamist I would have a scan of that stipulation in our lease inserted below. But this isn’t that kind of operation. Weeeee!

PS- type Air Conditioning Unit Fire Hazard into Google. Unless it is also a HEATING unit, which makes sense as a producer of FIRE….it’s job is to COOL things. Also it is full of WATER.

(Thank you to Z for calming me down off of the “we’re going to burn alive in this air conditioned death trap one night” ledge using Google last night, so I could go to sleep.)

It’s true, we had one pet “roach” … I prefer the term “palmetto bug.” But um, HELLO, it came from the depths of hell, and no matter how deeply I clean, that’s a little out of my jurisdiction.

I really don’t like the thought of our possibly twin’d, definitely unstable land person minion or whatever just wandering around our apartment whilst we are away. Did he bring his 25-year-old Asian girlfriend with him? Did they make fun of our pathetic DVD collections, rifle through our books and records, watch some HBO, and sample all of the different kinds of cereal we have? Did they test our beds to see if they are just right? It’s hard to say.

Bear Tennants Outraged at Goldilocks Abuse of Master Key

"Bear Tenants Outraged at Goldilocks' Abuse of Master Key"

WE MAY NEVER KNOW.

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Bloomberg Returns 3: The Rise Of Taj

So, I don’t know if you heard, but I’m calling off my mayoral campaign. Why? Word has it that Mike “I bought all the laws and now I keep them in my basement” Bloomberg is going to run for his own job again, even though it’s illegal for him to do so.

Oh my God, Adames was right the WHOLE TIME!

I’ve got to hand it to him. It’s a really clever plan. For one thing, he already has the endorsement of the entire media, issued directly from their secret cabal three hundred feet below Park Slope. They even said it was a great idea! So even if he doesn’t win the election, how would we know?

So let’s just let him have it. Do you have a better idea? Ray “If elected, I promise to kill every single person that didn’t vote for me… with my bare hands” Kelly? My man Kwame? You don’t have a better idea. Look at you. You’re reading a blog in your underwear right now. You don’t know anything about anything. If somebody gave you a $2 million studio apartment in Bushwick you probably wouldn’t even know what do with it. Which is lucky, because you aren’t getting it. Or, um, any other apartment, on account of more condos. Sorry.

BONUS RAY KELLY NICKNAME JAM
Ray “that includes children and people who forgot to register” Kelly
Ray “I know where you live: New York” Kelly
Ray “I have a laser on my desk that can burn your face off from across town” Kelly
Ray “Welcome to my labyrinth of murder” Kelly
Ray “Additional funny middle name about how he’s sort of a fascist” Kelly

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Why We Fight: Our National Crisis

DAY ONE, 10:38 PM

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the house: tonight, August 24th, 2008–a date which will live in infamy–our pet cockroach suddenly and deliberately flew across the fucking living room, nearly landing on my goddamn face. The inhabitants of our apartment were at peace with the cockroach and its kind and, at the solicitation of the Cockroach Ambassador, were looking toward the maintenance of peace in the bathroom. Indeed, one hour after their forces invaded the living room, our diplomats were negotiating an agreement in which the cockroaches would stay the fuck under the fucking sink and not come into the goddamn living room, shit-damn EVER.

I ask that the apartment declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by the roaches at 10:28 PM, a state of war has existed between the Smackdown and any and all insects living in the walls.

Now, we’ll take questions:

  1. Have you ever noticed that FDR uses the word “which” inappropriately in the first sentence of that speech? Isn’t “that” the correct word? Didn’t FDR go to college? I assume he didn’t, but I mean didn’t they read his speechwriters’ resumes?
  2. Cockroaches can FUCKING FLY?

DAY TWO [aka DAY ONE, but 1 minute later]

Previously, I was just trying to chill out and watch Hard Candy without thinking Ellen Page was cute when she’s pistol-whipping people. (It’s hard!) But after the cockroach flitted within a few inches of my face, we brought the entire apartment to a state of high alert.

The full array of anti-cockroach defenses were enlisted. These include:

  1. David Harp’s Instant Blues Harmonica, sad tale of a talent I never managed to develop.
  2. Taal vitaal vols. 1 and 2. Although it’s a pretty good Dutch textbook, it’s also heavy and flexible.
  3. Jill Thompson, The Little Endless Storybook. My Sandman phase has been over for … ten years. (Fine, five years.)
  4. Fine, three years.
  5. The last six issues of The Believer. ‘Nuff said.

The search of the room then began. Let me tell you, mo’fucker, roaches are smart. First it hid on our big canvas mural — on a brown patch, no less! I thew Taal vitaal in its general direction, thereby waking up all the neighbors. I was pretty sure that knocked it unconscious, behind the file cabinet. I declared victory, on the deck of a battleship.

DAY THREE [10:44 PM]: Operation Soaring Hawk-Eagle

Slowly but surely, I removed every book from the top of the file cabinet, checking each individual page to make sure there wasn’t a cockroach in it. Then I removed the file cabinet from the wall.

No cockroach.

I called back the reserves from the flood in the bathtub, stranding thousands of refugees. Suspended habeus corpus in the entire west wing of the apartment. Sent the DVD player into the extraordinary rendition program and had it tortured by Romanian black ops agents. Socialized the oil refineries and sold them to front corporations for big-ticket G8 investors. Searched one in every eighteen bags on the subway. Smacked random parts of the mural with a magazine, hard. (This was not effective.)

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something moving behind the expensive cello. And then I saw something leap on the other side of the bookshelf. Very clever, Mister Cockroach, to land on a copy of Artforum. But not clever enough.

Would you like some more lame allusions? No? I’ll cut to the chase, then: I whacked it with a Dutch textbook, then dropped the book on it, then (quite literally, I’m afraid) jumped up and down on the book for several seconds. I trapped it in a giant stack of paper plates and flushed it down the toilet.

No longer shall we live in fear, ladies and gentlemen. Of course, now we have to pay for the Cockroach Marshall Plan, but it’s a small price to pay for hegemonic domination of the apartment and the cash money to finally build some suburbs on Long Island. There is nothing to fear but fear itself… and other cockroaches. But we’ll deal with that in thirty years or so.

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How To Be A Beloved Contemporary American Writer!

I’ve deliberated long and hard and finally decided that actually, most of the formula for being a super-successful published essayist is to have a few stories to tell about various shit that happened to you in your life, and to be able to prove that you are qUiRkY! Congratulations FUCKING EVERYBODY. Time for us to call up our literary agents.

[nymag.com]
I made mix-tapes as a teen and have a cursory knowledge of history too Sarah Vowell, b.f.d.!

[photo: Getty Images via nymag.com]

Writing a book used to mean something. “I AM GOING TO WRITE A BOOK!!” used to be met with gasps and applause, and the endeavor itself used to command respect. But now, all you have to do is live long enough to have at least 10 wAcKy AnEcDoTeS to tell and be able to get to a Borders to read that dumb NaNoWriMo guy’s book.

How to write a book without the only thing that makes a book!

"How to write a book without the only thing that makes a book!"

In one short month, you will have your very own book of essays that other people can buy and chuckle at and be like

“OMG that is SO something that happens to people!” or

“NUH UH I had a problem relating to my parents/boss/French people one time too! LOL!”

Has anyone else read Sarah Vowell’s book “Take the Cannoli?” Did anyone else notice that it was just a bunch of stories about different stuff that ANYBODY could have written? She didn’t escape from a war, she didn’t discover any scientific discoveries, and she definitely didn’t figure out that having bangs and wearing makeup helps you be pretty. But she did grow up, go to high school, and have some friction with her dad and some trouble learning to drive! Sound familiar? WHATEVER. Also, yeah RIGHT you have a lisp and are allergic to gluten, and played the recorder. TOO ADORABLE, I AM NOT BUYING IT.

Then there’s David Sedaris, who unlike Sarah Vowell is actually really funny and a good writer and related to someone else funny and famous. However, he’s also just an OCD dude from the middle of nowhere in North Carolina of all places who did a lot of drugs, worked as a furniture mover, dropped out of art school, and sort of walked around for a while. JOIN THE CLUB, GUY.

So…why are these two living the good life and not having to wake up early to go to a job? Telling stories that anyone could tell and getting to be on national radio like every day? What is the secret to their relatively random success? I need to know, because getting famous enough to be able to live in like, Flatiron and not have to get up at 8 am is basically the most pressing goal on my plate right now.

Well, friends it’s pretty simple. Do you want not to be REALLY famous but at least get to be read by snobby kids on the F train and able to get published in NY Mag or whatever if you need vacay money? Then like Vowell and Sedaris, you need the magic ingredient. The magic ingredient is what qualifies you for publication other than being a hipster who loves to speak in public (HELLO, OVER HERE!).

DUH it’s Ira Glass.

King of Anecdotal Entertainment

[photo: commons.wikimedia.org]

Ira Glass, listen, I’m pretty sure that listening to/inserting poignant music into anecdotes from across the country and having a professorial speaking voice is not the same as being smart. So why don’t you just take off those sexy foxy salt and peppery used to have a ponytail infectious chuckle having smart guy Elvis Costello looking fake glasses and stop haunting my dreams with your unwelcome but undeniable sex appeal, k?

David Sedaris on Ira Glass:”I owe everything to Ira….My life just changed completely, like someone waved a magic wand. (wikipedia.org)”

Um yeah, no shit it did. I wish Ira Glass would wave his magical wand all over me too (yeah that’s right). One minute you’re reading your diary at an open mic night and like, working odd jobs, and then two seconds later you’re all over the mags and radio and getting artsy smoking pics taken of you! Pretty sweet if you ask me, and just the excuse I’ll need to take up smoking again in another 25 years…

"Ilive in France, but it's soo haaaaard!"

[photo: bloggingbunny.blogspot.com]

What if you don’t think you can meet Ira Glass? What then?

DO NOT PANIC. You just have to revert back to the time-tested approach of just being really pretty. Being pretty will still get you everything you want, including popularity and a book deal even if you grew up in the suburbs and your book revolves around a story about a boss who was pretty mean to you. It also doesn’t hurt to happen to work in book publishing while you are being so pretty.

[photo: mediabistro.com]

Oh um hey Sloane Crosley….sorry…I didn’t see you there, how awkward…. umm, you ARE really pretty though…

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Filed under general complaints, Honor!, jealousy, manhattan

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rock

Hey, is anyone in the audience an American? (Or, I guess, British?) If not, please plug your ears for awhile while we have a discussion about rock and roll.

When you think about rock, what New York neighborhoods come to mind? Well, Dylan and Springsteen used to play in the Village a lot. There are tons of great bands in Brooklyn. And the East Village has that CBGB place that sells those T-shirts you see everywhere. (Oh wait!) The Ramones claimed to be selling their bodies on 53rd & 3rd (note: if you have a better idea what that song’s about, please tell me).

Pictured: The Ramones, shortly after being
sodomized by wealthy East Side businessmen.

But, of course, there’s one neighborhood that is uncompromisingly ballsy. One neighborhood that sticks it to the man. One neighborhood where a 150-square-foot apartment costs 8.2 million 24-carat diamonds an hour. Oh, that’s right, you guessed it: motherfucking SOHO.

Yes, that’s right. Soho is the most awesome, hard-rocking, leather-jacket-and-spiked-belt neighborhood in New York. What’s that you say? It’s not? Really? Soho is a hellhole populated entirely by effeminate European tourists and street vendors who drive in from New Jersey to sell brightly colored trinkets to idiots? Soho is, you say, the opposite of rock?

Then why did they get a Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, asshole?

Yes, you read it right. You can now learn about the history of populist American music… then go next door and get a $62 hamburger at Mercer Kitchen. And you can buy a painting with no discernible composition!

“Oh, look, Bjørnsten, it’s that thing the Americans call ‘rock.'”
“Oh, how quaint! How much is it? I hope it’s less than a million! Because I only brought two!”

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Breakdancing Kid and Captain Rip-off

I’m so very very sorry to disturb your commute at 6:45 on this beautiful Thursday morning. New York City, greatest city in the world! And you are all the greatest people that have ever lived, anywhere. Give yourself a round of applause. (Waits.) Ladies and gentlemen, I only require a moment of your time. This is my younger brother. He is six years old and a veteran of the first Gulf War. The VA has cut off his benefits. We have quit our school’s basketball team to go out and make a little spending money for ourselves, especially since our house burned down last week. Jesus bless you.

Anyhow, this is my boombox. BOOM BOOM CHH, BOOM BA-BOOM CCH, BOOM BOOM CHH, BOOM-BA-BOOM BA-BA-BA-BOOM. We’re going to do a brief performance for you. (Louder: ) BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BA-BOOM BOOM. Watch me dance for you. (Dancing.) Now my little brother will dance also for you. (Additional dancing.) Now we will dance together. (Throws little brother against ceiling.) THUD. (Little brother collides with ceiling with a sickening sound, then does a perfect backflip in the air, and lands on his feet without breaking tempo. One or two tourists applaud.)

Thank you. I know what you are thinking. You have seen this brother-brother dancing-ceiling-backflip act before. In fact, most of the people trying to get money from you on the subway seem to be coordinated, seem to be running the same essential scams. Well, it is not true. It is a coincidence that I am one of about thirty thousand “high school students” of dubious age selling candy at high markups out of boxes held together by mailing tape in exactly the same way. I am also selling these DVDs and plastic-wrapped individual double-A batteries.

I want to make one thing clear. When this train stops, I will not get off and walk three blocks to our secret training center. When I do not open the door to that weird abandoned bank on Stuyvesant Avenue, it will not be full of boxes of Starburst, rolls of mailing tape, and water cooler bottles with “United Homeless Organization” written on them in Sharpie. Let me be perfectly clear. There is no network of secret tunnels under Brooklyn. We do not have a private jet docked at a Batman-esque hangar under Ridgewood Reservoir. Anything you can give will be appreciated. Adames is the mayor in our secret underground scam city, BTW, and that city, if it exists, is made entirely of baby formula bottles and stolen copper wiring. Have a nice day.

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