Sunday, January 14, 2007


If I started a punk band, I'd call it Urethra Franklin.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Reasons Why I Moved to New York, No. 5,047

Last night, I was walking in the East Village, looking for hookers and blow, although those are harder to find there than they were a few decades ago. I hear tell. Anyway, on 2nd Ave., just below St. Marks Place, I walked past this sleek, hip-looking little restaurant that serves "soul food with a Chinese twist," called... yes... YES... "Hip Hop Chow"! [GOOGLE DISCLAIMER: I did not remember the name; I had to google it.]

I glanced in the window and there was an old-school-looking kung fu movie playing on a flatscreen at the back. Now, I like me the kung fu [UNDERSTATEMENT DISCLAIMER: The foregoing was an understatement], so I paused, thinking to do so only momentarily. But then I saw the half-frog/half-crocodile-looking monster with red eyes played by the guy in the rubber suit. He was jumping at some people and trying to bite them. He shot spiny things out of his mouth that stuck to the heroine's face. He hopped around and at one point there was a guy in a red cape hopping along behind him, in perfectly choreographed unison.

Finally, even my native reticence with unknown fellow prowlers of the urban jungle could keep me in check no longer. I entered this establishment and was approached by an eager and fresh-faced young server (that is not him to the left).

"Table for one?" he asked.

"Actually, I know this makes me a pain in the ass," I said, "but I just want to know what that movie is."

"That one?" he said, glancing back at it. "That's SHAOLIN DRUNKARD." (Although there was not a hyperlink in it when he said it. That would be fun if you could do that, wouldn't it?)

"SHAOLIN DRUNKARD," I said, musingly. Of course.

There shall be a review posted in this space in the near future.

The menu looked pretty tasty, too.

(Thanks to Kung Fu Cult Cinema for the pic.)

Pay phone culture

I've been watching the slow death of the public pay phone in New York City since I moved here ten years ago. I'm not sure if I've ever really thought about this before, but I noticed it again tonight. The type of people and conversations I notice has changed. The cell phone was already taking over even a decade ago, but pay phones were still much more of a social leveler. People of (almost) all creeds, colors and classes had to put their fingers and their ears on the greasy receivers if they needed to make a call on the street.

Maybe I'm overgeneralizing here, but now, a startling percentage of the pay phone talk I hear has an edge of desperation and is about money - money owed to the caller or, more often, by the caller. Pleas for just another week to pay a bill, demands for badly needed money to be repaid - from people who've apparently hit such a bad spot they can't even afford the $50 monthly bills on their cell phones anymore.

There must have been even more of these calls back then, in sheer numbers. But I notice them more now, pay phone conversations having become relatively rare.

I don't really have anything profound to add to that. There it is.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

NYC Moments, No. 1

Middle-aged white guy standing on the curb on Lexington Avenue outside Grand Central, shouting into a cell phone in exasperation:

"YOU didn't have a rabbi! YOU didn't have a rabbi!"

I'm going to bed.

Monday, January 8, 2007

I have a dream.

Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw are dancing together on an enormous, pastel-hued soundstage, rather like the set of "The Lawrence Welk Show," but much bigger and gaudier. An orchestra plays on top of a high dais, at the top of a wide flight of steps. The music is a lush orchestral version of the INXS ballad, "Never Tear Us Apart." Rather and Brokaw hold each other and gaze into each other's eyes, singing the lyric. They trade verses in their loud, stentorian voices, slightly off-key but endearingly enthusiastic. They spin around the mirror-shiny dance floor. A sweet-voiced chorus of men and women in tuxedos and gowns provides backup from their positions on the staircase. Bubbles and glitter fall from above. As the song nears its climax, Brokaw spins away from Rather to the opposite side of the dance floor, then runs, drops to his knees and slides across the floor to Rather. He stops right at Rather's feet, arms thrown wide, their voices joining on the last, soaring note.

I'm going to bed.