Thursday, October 29, 2009

Living in New York City--the Inescapable City

Foto by tgw, New York City, Winter 2006 --------------------------------------------------------------------
I tried to get out of this New York City in which I live. To wander off into parts unknown even though there aren't many parts unknown left in this human-dominated world. So I soon discovered I couldn't get out of this city this time or last time or any time. God-damn, I hate this city for that reason: I can't escape its eating me raw and spitting me out over and over, grinding beast that it is. No wonder people crazed by money and jealousies and efforts at territorial and spiritual dominance want to blow New York City off the map. New York City is the USA's symbolic city--a city that fully represents and symbolizes OUR collective greed.

This City is going down slow. The city can sing along with Saint Louis Jimmy Odom, "I have had my fun/If I don't get well no more/My health is failing me, Boys/I believe I'm goin' down slow." And I'm going down slow right along with this going-down-slow city. I feel it's my duty to keep on acting out my own life on this city's stage. I'll sink or swim (except I can only swim in imaginational streams) in this city right up to either my end or its end, my end really not an end as much as it will be a relief.

This City is so full of ironies. Currently, here in this corrupted city, small businesses are folding and closing down all over town; yet our powers that be keep telling us our future looks bright. There are for lease signs up all over town--hi-rise luxury buildings are hanging out the "Now Renting" signs, and yet, the chic, the conspicuous consumers, are out in droves, buying overpriced Euro-labeled Chinese-made goods, hanging out with constant superposing glee, spending millions going to Disney animated movies and spending millions going to Disney-produced Broadway shows in Disney's own Broadway theaters, Times Square now looking like a DisneyLand parking lot. The truly insulting characters out of this mix are the twentyish Baby Boomer babies out spending as much of daddy's money as they can before it runs out, partying heartily as if there ain't no troubles going on anywhere. Partying at any of the hundreds of new trendy Baby Boomer Baby (BBB) hang outs, drinking exotic drinks being mixed up for 'em by millionaire bartenders, former stock brokers working for former stock brokers who decided they had leisure time and stolen money enough to open trendy bars and restaurants and hire their friends as partners, bartenders, and their babes as managers. [Big City Tip: Definitely if you're coming to New York City and you're in your early twenties, maybe with intentions of being an actor, or being a fashion designer, or maybe even being a stock broker, first go to bartending school (shell out a thousand or so) and become a bartender.]

Up the street from me is a trendy little place tucked into the darkest corner of the set-back-off-the-sidewalk 50-story hi-rise luxury building in which it resides. Out in front of this trendy little corner place is the inset slabwalk of the 50-story hi rise, which the trendy place has turned into a sidewalk-cafe setting with tables sitting under large umbrellas, all enclosed in a web-belt railing suspended from brass poles, the railing garnished here and there with phony evergreen trees in tacky white plastic buckets. The tables have umbrellas obviously to keep things from falling into the customers's food from above, like rain, but also like bird shit or human spitting, since sunlight seldom gets back into that tacky little corner, like not even at noon. The place is pushed deeply back into that hi-riser's armpit corner, it's ass abutting the extending-on-out brick wall of the building next to it on the west, the original Life Magazine Building, when Life Magazine was like England's Punch, a satirical rag that made fun of social and political times in the late 19th Century. The Life Magazine Building is now called the Herald Square Hotel even though it's three long blocks away from Herald Square.

The trendy little corner nook place has a weird trendy foreign name, I think it's Azya, something like that, and its subtitle declares Azya a "Wine and Chocolate Bar." In the role of a neighborhood clown/agitator, I one jolly afternoon around rush hour stuck my head in this trendy place's dank interior and asked a person in there if they served coffee and this skinny dworkish wannabe actor said, very brightly, acting as if he were the head waiter, "Yes, we do, sir." I said, "Then where's the manager, I have a beef. I wanna know why this joint isn't called a Wine and Coffee and Chocolate Bar. I'm the honorable Glenn Spleen and I represent the Coffee Growers Union of Tanzania and I wanna hear an explanation why since you can get coffee in here as well as wine and chocolate the word coffee isn't prominently displayed in your sign over the entrance out there? Every time I see that coffeeless sign I wanna tell your customers how they're being deceived. Why should I have had to ask you if you had coffee if your sign would have informed me of that fact, which it doesn't, and that's what peeves me to this clownish rage."

And this overpriced little nook of this "Old World" (that's the buzz word the twentyish style setters use to describe this overkill of bars and restaurants that supposedly reflect an Old World attitude, meaning I assume having a European flavor in their beer, wine, and cocktail selections and in the food they serve) is always packed. Even on fairly chilly days lately here this joint has been packed with the flush sitting at these cold aluminum tables covered in the half-filthy table clothes and protected from bird shit and human expectorations with the even-filthier than the table clothes umbrellas hanging over the food. These flush folks are sitting eating directly across the street from a Con-Edison Sub-Station Power Plant housing three huge Siemans (a Nazi company still thriving) generators, colossal things, spinning so fast and shooting out such powerful surges of electrical blitz they have to be cooled down with tons of city drinking water--their power so exhausting they constantly spew out mercury and dioxin poisons into my neighborhood's air. These people eat their food in these conditions and think they're being highly fashionable doing it.

The idiots packing this wine and chocolate dump (and in terms of putting a spotlite on it, it is a dump--probably tons of rats and roaches having balls and feasts after they shut down for the evening) are spending as much as $35 for a Euro-trash skimpy meal lassoed on the plate by that horrible raspberry slop these Euro-Trash chefs love using--to make their poverty-stricken portions look larger--along with a $7.50 glass of some supertrendy wine like maybe a Coppola Chablis for the white-wine-drinking White ladies and a bold Mondavi Bordeaux for the White gents (I have never seen any black people in this joint)--all the Hollywood overpaid creeps are gobbling up vineyards in Napa Valley to produce their own celebrity wines--sots that they are probably--and this ain't wine for the thousands of winos laying around Hollywood and Vine rotting off Napa Valley's original wines, the wines of the Gallo Brothers--Italian Swiss Colony--Thunderbird ("What's the word?/Thunderbird/What's the price?/Thirty twice"). One of my favorite wines when I drank wine was Gallo Hearty Burgundy. What did I know?

I had a bottle of 100-year-old wine one time. I was at a dinner at one of my brother's fat-cat friend's Dallas mansions where we all got to chugging down this dude's table wine and we all were getting chatty and jokey and finally the fat cats got to brag-fighting--you know, big shots bragging about their possessions, comparing fame and fortunes by playing a vigorous White dozens on each other. At the height of this Texas bragging session, our host started trumpeting on his fabulous wine collection. "In fact," he said, "even though this wine here you guys are guzzling so joyously ain't bargain-bin wines, I can do much better." With that, he left the table, disappeared for about 5 minutes. When he returned, beaming ear to ear, he was holding up a dusty drab half Jeroboam of wine saying he'd just paid $9,000 for it that morning at a wine auction held at Neiman-Marcus (Stanley Marcus might even have been present that night; certainly his daughter was). This guy said he was going to treat us to a 100-year-old bottle of Chateau Lafitte, 1877, as he began to uncork it. He poured a dollop in a wine glass and handed it to a famous film director who was sitting next to him. The film director took a sip of this 100-year-old $9,000 wine. His eyes lighted up. He held the glass up to the room's light and he said, "What a pleasure. By god, that's quite a pleasure. Amazing how the lustre has remained so viable in its taste. It's like drinking a bit of French history." Then our host poured each of us a glass of this prize wine and stood back as we all tasted it. Ohhs, ahhhs, magnificos, chorused around me. I took a taste. It tasted like shit to me. It tasted like I was drinking a mouth full of liquid decay. It tasted like an attic smelled. It tasted like dirt, dry dirt. Yet all the phony baloneys were holding their glasses up to the light and praising its vintage lustfulness, its still bold fruitiness, with a taste that captures those good-time vintages of so long ago on the roof of your mouth.

"I say, I hate to swallow this it's so, how shall I put it, divine?" said a famous Dallas interior decorator. It still tasted like shit to me. I was still mocking these phonies under my breath as one of the fat cats, a man with an art collection, a rare coin collection, and possessor of an amusement park, went into a rapturous animation telling his story about trying to buy a bottle of wine he said was guaranteed by Christies to be from Tom Jefferson's personal Monticello wine cellar--a bottle old Tom had brought back with him from his sojourn in France, hand labeled, then the label signed by the man himself. This guy said he bid $225,000 on it but it went for $250,000, and coincidentally to an old friend of his, a Dallas restaurateur who collected vintage wines. All the while I'm thinking, wow, I'll bet after Tom died, his slaves maybe drank his wine up in celebration of their Master's death, then they filled those empties back up with piss. Some Frenchman, I sarcastically thought, certainly pissed in this bottle this dude paid $9,000 for this morning we were all sipping.

So a sparse-portion of half-a-swordfish steak, grilled with a sprig of fennel across it, with two small red potatoes on the side, all surrounded by that lasso of raspberry syrup (you talk about high fructose corn syrup!) at this trendy corner wine and chocolate bar is $35. Add a couple a'glasses of celebrity wine at $7.50 each and that comes to $50 for one...oh, I forgot to add on that chocolate mousse, let's see that was $15...why, here ya go, lunch for two at this Wine and Chocolate Bar comes to $130. "Ah, and worth every penny of it," the hayseed tourist from Iowa says as he pushes back from the rickety table. "Hope you enjoyed your overpriced paltry Eur0-trash meal," the cute actress/waitress chirps. "Oh, honey, it was so Europe, you know, so cultured, I'm leavin' here feelin' like a god-damn duke or earl or something like that." "Well, thank you, and you all come back soon--that is if we're still in business."

And the joint is always packed. Who are these people that pack these joints from one end of Manhattan to the other--spreading over into Brooklyn, into Williamsburg, into Green Point? I assume this is the New York City middle class both our lousy mayoral candidates are kowtowing to trying to get their vote. So who the hell are all these smug fuckers who are traipsing all over my used-to-be Korean neighborhood acting like they own it now and, in fact, acting like they've always owned it?

Pshaw! I say to it all. And you don't see "Pshaw" used as mild-mannered cuss word at all anymore, do you? Pshaw nuff.

I am distracted by a whirling around in my brain of pestering thoughts. I think too much therefore I'm burnt out.

And I pass this corner trendy place right on by--unless I feel like acting the clown/agitator again--like asking them for a glass of water and then revealing that I'm Dr. Glenn Spleen from the Young Republican Water Studies Commission and I'm insulted by their serving water but not noting the fact that they serve water on that "Wine and Chocolate Bar" sign out front...clown, clown, clown, clown, clown.

I pass this precious little trendy place right on by and head up to the Subway on the corner for a 5-buck sandwich, a package of trans-fat-loaded Cheetos, and a 16-oz Barq's Root Beer for $7.00. Or I can pass the Subway on by, turn onto trashy Fifth Avenue, go down a block (Holy Shit, some Baby Boomer Baby has just opened a Scuba Diving shop on Fifth Avenue--can you imagine that), and there find a store with a French name run by a Chinese dude. Here they have a food bar where for 9 bucks I can get 3 or 4 slices of grilled chicken breast, a load of baby spinach leaves, a tablespoon of jalapeno slices, tomato slices, a pile of cold slaw, some grated jack cheese, olives, a chow-chow-like salsa the Mexican cooks make, a couple of spring rolls, some sliced cucumbers, several slices of an Italian sausage they have that's excellent, a whole grain French baguette, and a bottle of Big Cranberry juice drink from the Nantucket juice dudes--AND for a buck and a half more, I can get a big styrafoam cup of French roast coffee.

That's another compelling thing about New York City--if you find yourself broke, in the street, and hungry, this is the greatest city in the world for bad weather-protecting scaffolding to sleep under at night, for food scraps in garbages outside restaurants, delis, and fast-food joints, or for street food jockeys who for 5 bucks'll give you great pyramid portions of lamb, brown rice, grilled onions, and lettuce and tomatoes as gyro platters or rolled up in pita bread and dripping with white sauce and hot sauce and the juice from those greasy grilled onions.

Yes, I'm still insulted by both our mayoral candidates in their teevee commercials selling themselves to what they call the New York City "Middle Class." Polls are showing our billionaire mayor is going to be swept back into office, an illegal third term, the first mayor in the history of New York City to ignore term limits and defy voters and force himself on the ballot for this unprecedented third term. This billionaire little prick born and raised in Boston, lucking out in New York City by a couple of big Wall Street firms contracting his systems software, forming Bloomberg LD--then Wall Street handing him the Bloomberg Network and the next thing you know, this little prick from Boston is a blooming billionaire, the 65th richest man in the USA until after he becomes mayor in the footsteps of his hero Rudolph "Mussolini" Guiliani after the city had just been rocked by the 9/11 attacks (the Existentialist Cowboy is convinced the Mossad and the Pentagon cooked up 9/11) when he rockets up the Fortune Richest Bums in the World 500 to 5th richest worthless asshole in the USA. This guy has spent 62 million of his own money running against the Dumbocrat Black wimp who hasn't got a ghost of a chance in beating Mikey the Rich Boy in this election. Bill Thompson's ads are Bloomberg copycat ads--aimed at what Bill, too, calls New York City's Middle Class.

In the meantime on PBS this week there was an edition of "Now" called "Close to Home" about shop owners up on Manhattan's Upper Class Upper East Side (it runs from East 57th up to East 86th between the East River on the East and Fifth Avenue on the West) losing customers, unable to keep up with their rents, a lot of them going bankrupt and abandoning their shops. The show shows row after row of vacant retail stores for rent or lease up and down Madison Avenue in that area. The foreclosings on their houses in New York City and down in Florida are up. Overall home sales are down in spite of the Wall Street Journal (remember it's owned by Rupert Murdoch, that shiftless skunk Aussie asshole) announcing just a few days ago that home sales had showed an upward movement. Also it was announced yesterday, consumer spending is off as the year's big X-mas season approaches and these big outlet stores are stocked to the gills with the latest trendy model cell phones, the newest and greatest iPods, Blackberries, new model laptops, with Bill Gates's latest Windows operating system effort (Vista was such a flop, Bill had to get his wonder kids to fiddle with it and come up with Windows 7) , new superslick wireless notebooks--new and better and more downloads per nanosecond than the gods can shake a stick at.

So the depression is coming to New York City full blast. My expenses have doubled over the past year. My only salvation is I still pay cheap rent. I'm lucky I live in the only affordable housing left in New York City. All around me here in the middle of Manhattan are buildings rising like sore thumbs into our already disrupted skies--the new 60-story tacky monstrosity hotel over on Sixth Avenue now blocks out my old western view out over the Hudson and New Jersey, the source of so many great sunset shots I used to make shooting out one of my apartment windows--I called them "Window Shots," setting the camera up on a tripod in this window, the setting it to go off every five seconds, shooting sequentially that way.
I can no longer shoot the above view--that view is no longer extant--there's a 60-story block-long hotel on Sixth Avenue blotting it out now.

I continue on in this continuing present tense--and tense it really is, too (what ever happened to Tensor lamps?). I'm an I character stuck in the heart of The Big Apple like a well-aimed intentional arrow.

for The Daily Growler
Yankees Take 2nd Game of World Series From Phillies
Old has-been Pedro Martinez came out beaming tonight as the second game of this year's World Series started. He was facing the Yankees disappointing-in-regular-season ace, A. J. Burnett--a pitcher who usually doesn't win if the Yankees aren't hitting. He also is subject to one or two innings where whatever brilliance he's shown in previous innings are erased as he gives up walks, hits, and runs.

Pedro started out on fire. The Phillies got a run quickly off Burnett and the game was 1-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning. I mean Pedro was pitching like the Pedro of his glory days--with great control, not walking anybody, striking out 4 of the first 6 batters he faced including Jeter and A-Rod. He struck Jeter out twice. In the bottom of the fourth, Pedro was doing fine until Mark Texiera came up and poled one 413 feet to land it over the right centerfield fence and right into the glassed-in Yankees new bullpen sanctuary to tie it 1-1. And that's how it stayed until the next inning when Pedro, again humming along, gave one up to Matsui. Coincidentally, Matsui's home run cleared the Japanese signboard in right field just at the foul pole. After that, the Yankees started hitting, even Jerry Hairston, Jr., got a hit, and next thing you know that Korean(?) pitcher, Chan Ho Park, is that his name?, came on to relieve Pedro and he gave up a hit and the Yankees scored another run and then Mariano Rivera came in in the eighth and that was it for the Phillies--3-1. Burnett and the Yankees are whooping it up tonight.

Last night's great game was marred by two big umpire call mistakes--one on the Yankees when the Phillies first baseman, Ryan Howard, caught a drive on a short hop and the umpire called it a catch and the Howard threw to second where they tagged Posada out for a double play. A really bad damaging call. Then in the next inning the umpires fucked up a call on the Phillies, a ground ball hit to Jeter who got the runner coming into second but on the throw to first the runner beat the throw but the umpire called him out and that stopped the Phillies in their tracks. If that call had of been made right, the Phillies would have scored the tying run. They are fixing to bring play reviews into baseball. That's a shame. Nothing was more fun than when players could get up in an umpire's face and call him every name in the book--and managers could come out and either jaw up in the umpire's mug or kick dirt on him. In those days you heard "Kill the umpire" from the stands. Now all you hear are cheers like "Let's go Yankees." Soon I suppose there'll be peroxide blondes and Black skinny minnies in skimpy costumes leading the crowd in cheers--like they do at Japanese baseball games. Baseball is soon going world like golf has already gone world.

I truly think after the Yankees win this World Series, I'm going to have to eat crow. Joe Gerardi will certainly be selected manager of the year--an honor he will have now gotten by being manager of the year in both major leagues--MOY when he managed the Florida Marlins, now MOY when he and the Yankees win the WS this year. The saddest part is, if Joe and the Yanks win the World Series, Gerardi will surpass Joe Torre as the best active manager in baseball. Joe failed us all by being unable to pilot his Dodgers to victory over these same Phillies. The Phillies averaged 7 runs a game against the Dodgers.

The Phillies are a good team, but the Yankees are an awesome team, especially when they start hitting. They are vulnerable when their pitchers conk out. Pettite goes next for the Yankees--he's a toss up, but he'll win if the Yankees start hitting--and surely that will happen soon.

for The Daily Growler

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