Sunday, December 30, 2007
Fear not my faithful readers! I may be taking a break, but it will be a short one!
After blogging continuously since August, I've decided that the time is ripe for me to take a short vacation. I will resume blogging on Sunday, Jan. 6.
This week, my buddy Tom, recently returned from adventures in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, is visiting us in Saratoga for the New Years holiday. Between catching up with Tom, catching up with Becky, who also just returned to Saratoga from a week at home with parents, and all of the drinking that we've got planned for the year's silliest holiday, there simply won't be time for blogging. Sorry.
But don't worry, I'll be back in the New Year, retooled, and ready to go, with exciting stories of writing, riding, general malaise. Stay safe over the holiday, Happy New Year, and I look forward to getting back to you soon!
Friday, December 28, 2007
I'm sorry I didn't post the weekly top and bottom lists yesterday. It was a stressful day that turned into a late night of drinking with Amanda and Eryn, my two closest high school friends. So you'll have to forgive, but here's the list:
Tops from the week:
1) Spending time with my Brooklyn friends... so nice to catch up with everyone!
2) Eric visiting Saratoga Springs!
3) Cross country skiing with Becky, and the skis Eileen gave her for free.
4) Blue Sky Bicycles. Some people say they have a snooty attitude, but they've always done well by me.
5) The weather today, and riding with my BVF buddies.
Bottoms from the week:
1) The assassination of Benazir Bhutto. This is very, very scary.
2) Trying to be a journalist over the holidays. Nobody returns your calls.
3) Having to work over the holiday, while all my friends are off.
4) The poor snow conditions Eric and I had when we went skiing.
5) The rain last Sunday, killed a lot of our snow.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Yes, that's right, my kid brother Eric is here visiting me! It's nice to have Eric here, as he provided me with company at Chinese last night, and an excuse to watch Live Free or Die Hard for a second time. Plus, he pretends to be interested in my work, even sitting in the office with me for about four hours this afternoon, while I wrote some HIGHLY interesting stories about a new city lawyer and people buying discounted wrapping paper on the day after Christmas. (On a side note, it turns out that writing real news stories during the holidays is a lot like pulling teeth.)
We went for a little cross country ski this morning, and tonight we cooked up some delicious fajitas. Right now we're watching Blades of Glory, which I've seen about three times already this week, but Eric laughs at different parts than me, which makes watching it with him a totally new experience. If there was ever a better holiday movie, I don't know what it is.
Eric also provided me with a list of things to blog about. They are:
-Hanging out with Eric
-How Eric is smarter than me
-How Eric is better looking than me
I suppose I've addressed the first two points. Sorry, bro, you haven't sold me on the last two yet.
There was an anthrax scare in Malta today. It seems that some employees at a State Farm office in Malta found some white powder. Well, needless to say, as part of Albany's ongoing attempts to convince the rest of the state that it's a real city, everyone assumed that this was a terrorist threat. Of course, the powder turned out to be corn starch. Authorities are looking in to looking at how or why it got there. (On another side note, a very boring news day could have been very exciting for me if I had made it back to the office about three minutes earlier than I did after finishing up an interview with on of the city's commissioners. I wasn't in the room when the police scanner went wild with calls for every police, fire, and medical vehicle in a 200-mile radius, so I didn't get to go down and cover the corn starch.)
The upshot to all of that, was that one of our photographers, who was down there, got a chance to talk to some of our colleagues at the Times Union. Apparently, some of them read (or at least, have read), and enjoy my blog. So that brings my number of readers up to 4. Yay!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Maybe it's because right now I'm at work banging my head against my desk; or maybe it's because it's cold out and I haven't been able to ride nearly enough (or at all); or maybe it's because I really am a Jew, no matter how hard I try to not to be; but whatever the reason, I have had a very hard time getting into the holiday spirit this year. I would say I'm dangerously close to "Grinch" on a scale that runs all the way up to horses dressed as Santa Clause. (Didn't they realize that Reindeer would have been a more convincing costume?)
Last December, Tom and I gleefully walked down a seldom-used railroad siding and cut down a modest pine bough, stuck it in a bucket of sand in our living room and called it a Christmas Tree. We hung colored lights on it, and posed, with the rest of our house mates and Becky, in front of it for holiday-themed portraits.
At best, it was a spindly little Christmas lawn clipping. At worst, it was a weed growing in a crack on old train tracks. But to Tom and I, it was the best Christmas Tree there ever was, and we stood up for it, even as everyone around us made fun of it. It was a sad day when it was time to take it down.
Last year I even went out and spent more money than I now earn in a week on holiday gifts for friends and family.
This year, I harangued Becky into setting strict spending limits for our holiday gifts, and left decorating our apartment up to her. I couldn't even get excited about a potted Christmas tree she bought at Home Depot. Don't ask me why. Don't ask me what it was about. Let's just say that my Grinchy attitude was clearly the root of the problem.
All I've wanted to do for the past several weeks is knock off work tonight, eat some Chinese food, like my family does every Christmas, and go home for a long nap, preferably waking up in time to start drinking on New Year's Eve. Don't tell me about eggnog or carols, don't let me see New Channel 9's "Santa 9000" bullshit weather map. How's that for holiday spirit?
Thankfully, in a few moments I'm going to pick my brother Eric up from the train station, and we're going straight to the closest Chinese place we can find. It won't be like the meal my family had on Mulberry Street last Christmas, but it will be delicious. Then maybe I'll be in a bit more of a holiday mood. Or maybe I'll just feel bloated.
Monday, December 24, 2007
OK, OK, the avalanches are not in my head, they're above my head.
It's snowed a pretty fair amount so far this month. More than a foot of snow fell in the city, in four separate snowstorms. The DPW worked overtime to keep the the roads clear, and our downstairs neighbors worked overtime to keep our sidewalk clear.
The Saratogian ran a record 19 stories about snow falling, and the DPW plowing the streets, and morning commute getting delayed by snow and ice. It's been a good winter so far, and not even Sunday night's rain couldn't significantly reduce the amount of snow piled up on the sidewalks.
As a consequence of all of this, there was a lot of snow accumulated on our house's sloping metal roof. About two days after the first snowstorm, I was puttering around the apartment, looking for something that I'd misplaced, or getting ready to spin, or something of the sort, when I heard a giant WUMPH over my head. My heart stopped. Was the house collapsing?
Then I heard a skittering, sliding sound, followed by a brief silence, and then a muffled crash. I ran to a window and saw that a slab of snow and ice sloughed off the roof and crashed to the ground.
An avalanche can form when a weak layer in a snow pack, usually formed by square snow crystals, collapses, creating an instability that allows any snow above that weak layer to slide. The process can be hastened along when there is some sort of crust, which allows snow above that layer to slide easily over it. In the case of my roof, the metal itself acts as a hardened crust, and any snow above will slide, given a trigger.
If you've ever watched a Discovery Channel special on avalanche, you know that it doesn't take much to set one off. I might have set off the one I heard by closing the bathroom door, or my downstairs neighbor could have set it off by running his washing machine. Point is, that first one scared that crap out of me.
Once I realized what it was, I felt relatively secure that the snow cascading off of my roof wouldn't harm me. Since then, I've come to enjoy the steady stream of snow coming off the building. It's like my own little trip to the high mountains, and it all happens right above my head.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Although my personal politics fall somewhere between Abbie Hoffman and Dennis Kucinich, I have long been an unashamed fan of Michael Bloomberg, who was elected to his two Mayoral terms as a Republican. But it's OK, because he is now better known as an independent politicians who has pulled out all the stops in his crusade against the illegal firearms that stream into the city everyday. I couldn't be prouder that someone like Bloomberg is the Mayor of my hometown.
I had the chance of a lifetime to ask Bloomberg a question last Thursday, when I wrote this article for The Saratogian. Our newly elected Mayor, Scott Johnson, was invited to have lunch with Bloomberg and fourteen other newly-elected Mayors at City Hall in NYC. My colleagues at work viewed this as little more than an opportunity for Bloomberg to build cache in other parts of the state, in preparation for a likely bid for some higher office.
But the important thing is that the lunch was followed by a press conference in City Hall's famed Blue Room. I had the privilege of calling in. Of course, there were tons of reporters in the room with Bloomberg, and they got to ask their questions first. A voice on the phone told me that I was supposed to press *1 to ask a question, and, thinking that *1 was the equivalent of raising my hand in a crowded press room, I pounded the buttons every time the Mayor called for questions. I had a list of question in front of me, mostly centering around Saratoga's racing crisis, but I was fully aware that I would only get the chance to ask one.
After one particularly violent flurry of my button-pushing, that got me a funny look from the guy at the next desk, a disembodied voice came over the phone and announced that "The next question will come from Andrew Bernstein of The Saratogian."
In an instant all of my preparations fell apart. I stammered. I said Um and Uh. Then I managed to spit out my question about the Mayor's stance on NYC Off Track Betting, and his thoughts on the NYRA crisis. I hands trembled as I did my best to write down his answer. Whew.
When the press conference ended, and the line clicked off, I hung up the phone and walked around the newsroom. Everyone else was out of the office, so there was no one to share the moment with. I sat down and thought about what had just happened. My respect and admiration for the Mayor had clearly gotten the better of me while I was trying to maintain the objectivity my job calls for. I hope the next time, I'll be able to express my adoration for the subject of an interview with a little more professionalism... and a little less stuttering.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Well, once again, another week has ended. With the end of the week comes yet another top and bottom five list:
Tops from the week:
1) Divine Caroline, the essay of mine that they published, and all of my wonderful friends and family who took the time to read it, and send me their thoughts. Thank you all so much!
2) Battenkill-Roubaix registration opens Friday at noon! There's nothing like planning in advance.
3) All of the snow we've got this month... and I can't wait for more!
4) Cross country skiing... soon Becky will be in on the act!
5) Velo Magazine's smoldering new model from Brooklyn...
6) (Yeah, six. Why not?) Today's press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. More on that next week.
Bottoms from the week:
1) Cleaning all the snow off my car every day, just to leave it sitting in the parking lot.
2) Leaving your car in the parking lot on the night it snows, so that in the morning, you're obviously the a-hole, who didn't let the plow clear out the whole lot.
3) Dante's alternator. Sorry, dude, that was a bummer... but I found you on today's police blotter!
4) You know that burning feeling you get when your hands and feet have been numb, and they start to warm up again?
*I would have linking to a story in my own paper, but our new Web site sucks, and doesn't have any archives. There, I said it. Instead, you can enjoy my colleague's take. Just keep in mind that her view is car more charitable than mine would have been.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I'll present to you the second part of last night's essay next week.
For tonight I offer this question: If you were on a ship that was sinking, and your fellow passengers kept jumping off, would you abandon ship, or would you stay to operate the bilge pump?
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
This is the first section of a multi-part essay:
I am like a comet. I started as a small particle traveling through space, and have slowly and steadily accumulated a nebulous array of particulate matter around me. We travel through life, and bits and pieces fall away, and others join, and attach themselves.
But just as major life events can lead to Earth-shattering revelations, they can also have cosmic consequences. My comet's tail shrank considerable when I moved out of my parent's house in November.
I had kept literally all of my schoolwork – class notes, homework assignments, papers, tests – from Kindergarten, all the way through four years of college. It was all filed neatly in brown cardboard accordion folders, one for each year of my education, and all stacked neatly on four book shelves in my childhood bedroom. And 99.99% of it hadn't been touched since it was filed away.
Then it was time to move out, and it was time to reduce the clutter. So I started with a random accordion file.
I’m sitting in my desk chair with the file on the floor between my feet. I've got a recycling bin on my right and a trash can on my left. I open the file and dive in.
I first pull out a thick ream of loose-leaf paper, covered with scrawling cursive script written in runny black ink. This file must be from high school. I flip through the packet to look for staples and then dump it all in the recycling bin without pausing to read anything, scared that I might get cold feet and stop the whole operation.
Next I find find some type-written papers. An essay Young Goodman Brown. I rip the staple out and throw it in the trash. The paper goes into the bin. “Why,” I think to myself, “would I ever want to relive my ninth-grade interpretation of Young Goodman Brown?” I continue through the rest of the file pausing every once in a while to read something that looks familiar or interesting. I eventually stumble on an essay that I remember writing for Mr. Weisberg’s English class. I remember being proud of it at the time. I flip through it. I’m still proud of the essay. I can’t bear to toss it. I turn around and place it on my desk. The comet can't loose all of its tail, or it would cease to attract the attention of those dreamy star gazers, who turn a glass eye to the night's sky.
Ostensibly, I was flipping through the papers to remove staples and paper clips and other things that would interfere with recycling. But the more papers I saw, the more I realized that I wanted another look at all this stuff I’d created. At some point in my life, I'd put time into creating these things, they deserved to at least be eyeballed before they went off to the pulp mill.
I continue the search, pulling out papers and flipping through them. Before I realize what I’ve done, the first file is empty, so I move on to the next one. Fourth grade, this should be funny.
I quickly find a black and white marble composition book with what appears to be weekly entries about things I’ve learned. On Dec. 2, 1994, I wrote: “this week I learned alot about detail drawing in art and a lot about mapmaking in soil stidys.”
I remember now that I couldn’t comprehend that ‘a lot’ was two words until about 7th grade. It’s funny, that detail seems so natural to me now. As far as I can surmise, I meant to write that I learned about mapmaking in social studies, as soil studies are not commonly taught in grade school. Oh man. If I’d only taken the time to look around my classroom when I wrote the entry. I’m sure that ‘Social Studies’ must have been written in bold, colored letters somewhere in our classroom wall. The highly-reflective book goes on my desk.
Now I’m going through files again. I find an accordion file from my junior year in high school. I’m flipping through notes from a class in bioethics. A few keepers, most for the trash. Ah, Algebra II, no need to flip through this, straight into the trash. My hand cramps as I rip the stapled corner off of a homework assignment. Sheesh, I got 6 out of 10 points. Not so good…
I’m drowning in a sea of paper. But as soon as I finish ravaging one file, I have to go for the next. I can’t stop the flow of rip, toss, grab, as I pick up papers, rip out staples, and throw out reams of paper.
I can feel my luminescent tail diminishing as each piece of paper hits the trash. And such is the cosmic cycle.
To be continued...
Monday, December 17, 2007
I know I've showed you this shot before, but now it's been published! Last week, the December issue of the French cycling magazine Velo arrived on my door step, and right there on page 72 is me!
Back in October, the magazine dispatched photographer Richard Delume to New York City to collect images for a monthly feature on riders from around the world. He shot a number of NYC based racers, including my team mate, Scott.
Richard, who speaks little English, explained that the point of the feature was to show readers the varieties and combinations of gear used all over the world. On the magazine's facing page was Akihro Yokoyama of Tokyo, and the magazine featured gear that each of use. Richard picked my Continental rubber, Fizik saddle, Diadora shoes, and FSA crank. Also featured were Akihro's DeRosa bike, his Sidi shoes, Campy Bora wheels, and Exteondo jersey.
So, right at this moment thousands of readers in France, from people sitting in airport waiting rooms, to people reading a bit before bed, to people having an espresso and cigarette at a corner cafe, are reading about my tire choice! How cool is that?
Anyhow, that's all for tonight, but before I sign off, I wanted to let everyone know that I can't read French, so if anyone does, please let me know what I'm saying to all of France!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I've never been known to possess too many "manly" traits -- I mean, I shave my legs for crying out loud -- and yet, I had a very manly weekend. It all started with my day off on Friday. It snowed Thursday night, so I woke up to a thick blanket of snow covering everything from sidewalks to cars to roads. That meant that I got to do one of my favorite thing in the world: shovel snow!
Shoveling snow is something that I've always enjoyed doing. It's a great excuse to pull on a heavy wool shirt, put on some boots and work gloves, and go throw snow around outside in the chilly air. After a few minutes of shoveling, the sidewalk is clear, you've worked up a little perspiration, and you've accomplished an important task. Few things make me feel more accomplished.
Saturday brought more manliness. A female professor of Becky's was moving out of her house in Greenwich, NY, and needed some help. She recruited Becky and me and two other students to help her move by offering us a rate that a professional mover would have laughed at, but that nearly doubled the hourly rate I earn churning out words at The Saratogian. My spindly arms are not really too useful for moving heavy furniture, but I was willing to do what I could for a buck.
It turned out that I was the only man recruited to help with this task, and I soon feel into my assigned gender role. Who could figure out how to remove the legs of the dining room table? Me. Who was needed to move the heaviest furniture? Me. Who knew how to tie the furniture securely into the truck? Me. All the while, the four women said things like: "You tie those notes so well," and "can you lift this heavy heavy, thing." I felt very, very manly. Also, I was again wearing my heavy wool shirt and work gloves, which are the epitome of manly.
The manliness didn't end there. When Becky and I got home from Greenwich, and after my hands had thawed from the single-digit temperatures, I came home and did something even more manly. Becky and I had purchased a coat rack shortly after we moved into our apartment, and it had sat aside since then. Then my parents bought me a drill for my birthday. Although I'm not really sure if I needed a drill for the job, now that I had one I was certainly going to use it. All week I had waited to drill something, and now it was time.
Still wearing my wool shirt and Carhartts from the move, I took the cordless drill out of its case, and using a hook on its handle, I hung it on my pants' thigh pocket. For good measure, and to balance things out, I hung a hammer from the hammer loop on the other side of my pants, and stuck a small level in my back pocket. Then I walked about the apartment for about an hour asking Becky if I looked manly.
At first she said things to placate me like "Sure, babe," and "You look sexy no matter what you're wearing." This was flattering, but not what I wanted. So I stuck a pen behind my ear and continued to pester her until she relented and admitted what I had known all along: that with my drill and hammer and level and pen and wool shirt, I looked damn manly.
Then it was time to do some work. I rolled open the 175-piece drill bit set that my parents had given me with the drill. I took about 45 minutes to figure out which drill bit was the right size. Then I held the coat rack against the wall, used my level to square it up, and drilled two holes, one on either end of the rack. At this point I had to go back into the drill bit case to find a Phillip's head driver. There were seven, so I had to compare each one to the screws that came with the rack. When I made my selection, it took me about two seconds to zip the two screws into place. Manly job done. The only problem was that I immediately wanted more things to drill.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
With the winter storm that's supposed to blanket much of the northeast in as much as two feet of snow tonight and tomorrow, I thought you might be looking for some light reading material. The editors at Divine Caroline, an online general interest magazine, were kind enough to publish some of my writing on Friday. This is a great opportunity for anyone curious about what my writing looks like on a real website with flashing ads. And, if enough people click onto my story, they might even publish more of my writing! So, surf on over and check it out, and then spread the word, before you go shovel all that snow!
Here's the url, in case the link doesn't work: http://divinecaroline.com
The essay is about the absurd lyrics in a particular song that's currently making rounds in pop-music culture. The essay contains some explicit passages. If such things make you uncomfortable feel free to scroll through the story quickly, but please do scroll through!
Thanks for reading!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
It's Thursday, so it's the weekend, yay!! Another week in the books. Here's the tops and bottoms from the week:
Tops from the Week:
1) Today's 5 inches of snow! So much white fluffy stuff, yay!!
2) Last Saturday's Hanukkah party and riding with teammates down in Brooklyn.
3) Going for a walk with Becky in the snow.
4) Divine Caroline, but more on that later.
5) The Saratogian holiday party today. So much good food!
Bottoms from the Week:
1) Becky's shitty interviews.
2) The ice we got early in the week, but it's all ok now!
3) My attitude toward winter over the past few weeks. Once again, now that there's snow, it's all ok!
4) Walking around with 14 pounds of latke in my stomach on Sunday and Monday.
5) Driving home in the freezing rain, sleet and snow last Sunday. At least we made it safe.
Have a great weekend everyone, see you Sunday!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Tonight is the last day of Hanukkah. Good news, the oil lasted eight days, long enough for us to make some more, to keep the eternal flame lit. Becky and I lit the candles almost every night this holiday, marking the first time that I've managed to honor the tradition on every night of the holiday since I left home for college in 2003. What an accomplishment. Here's our menorah, all lit up:
The stove felt like a safe place for open flames
in our tinder-box apartment.
My first-ever Hanukkah memory involves that menorah, which my parents gave Becky and I when they visited last week. When I was 2 or 3 years old, and we lived in our first home, on Third Place, I remember standing in the dinning room with my parents, and saying the Hanukkah prayers, while my parents lit this menorah. The menorah was on a piece of furniture that was about ten feet over my head, and I could barely see the flames over the furniture's edge. It was a good Hanukkah. Later, my Mom bought a new menorah, and this one went into the family's cabinet for old dusty heirlooms.
When they gave us the menorah last week, my Mom said that it was her mother's menorah. My Dad countered by saying that it was his grand mother's. It was one of two items he'd inherited from great-grandma Anna. The other being a white-enameled colander that my parents have in their kitchen, he said. So there it is. My menorah once belonged to my parents. Before that, it belong either to my maternal grandmother, or my paternal great-grandmother. Your guess is as good as mine.
Incidentally, it turns out that the reason my Mom bought a new menorah because this one doesn't work very well at all. The tall candle, called the Shamash, is positioned too close to the lower candles. This causes the candle to melt from the top and bottom, until it falls over, and goes out. The sacred laws of Hanukkah state that the candles have to go out on their own, meaning that this menorah flies in the face of Hanukkah law. Oh well, I'll still keep it for the sentimental value it has for some ancestor.
My Dad is wearing a green shirt,
Most people at this party have been to every one for decades.
Becky and I also celebrated Hanukkah by going to Jackie and Harvey Hollander's (family friends) annual Hanukkah Party. This is a party that started in 1984, weeks after I was born, and has been held every year, without interruption, ever since. I missed one or two parties when Hanukkah fell during finals at school, but I've been to most of the past 23 parties.
The funny thing about a party that's been going on for 23 years with the same guests, is that everyone gets old. Obviously, I've gotten older since 1984. My parents have as well, and as you can see in the photo above, they're not the only ones. You can also see that there's a new generation coming to the party now, so hopefully the Hanukkah party will go one forever.
The party's best feature are several contests that happen throughout the night, all geared toward making (and eating) the traditional food of the holiday, the latke, or potato pancake. After all, a lot of work goes into feeding the 20 people that turn out every year to celebrate the miracle of lights.
The first contest is the potato-peeling contest. Anyone can participate, and the person who can create the longest peel gets to take a prize from the grab-bag. I've never been much of a potato peeler, so I chose to stand around and schmooze while the others peeled.
The next contest was the potato grating contest. This one is pretty straight-forward. Contest are given a pile of peeled potatoes and a grater. Whoever can grate the most potato in two minutes win. You can use as many potatoes you want, the only rule is that if you break skin and start to bleed, you're immediately disqualified. I've come close to winning this contest in the past. I've been runner-up several times, but have never gotten to the top-step of that podium.
This year, I had targeted the grating contest in the same way that I target certain bike races during the season. I went in with a cool head, and did my best to tear through the potatoes as quickly as I could once the clock started. I was up against four other Hanukkah party regulars, but none of us had ever won the contest. When the clock stopped, I had shredded 2.5 cups of potato, and my arm hurt. But I won my targeted event.
After Becky and some others slaved over the hot stove flipping the greasy latkes ("I was a master, on my first latke-flipping try," says Becky), it was time to eat dinner, and the final contest: the latke eating contest. This is where I really shine. I was the defending champion in this marquee contest. I won the 2006 event after an epic face-to-face eat-off with my brother. When the dust settled, Eric ate 28 latkes, I ate 29. We both went into diabetic comas, from which we didn't emerge for many weeks.
Immediately upon receiving the winner's cup, which is passed from winner to winner each year, in 2006, I immediately hung up my fork and retired from the game. During the lead up to this year's party, I swore I wouldn't contest the eating event. When it was time for dinner, I simply ate my fill, and then two more latkes. I wound up with a total of 17. Eric couldn't make it to the party this year, apparently leaving no one to compete against me. I accidentally won, with the next-closest contestant putting away 14. The cup is now mine for another year. Eric says I'm a pretender to the thrown. Maybe I am. I certainly felt all 17 latkes for the next three days. Oh Hanukkah.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Last Friday, after a nice home cooked Pad Thai dinner with our friends Dante, Becca and Leila, Becky and I decided we needed a night out. I had had a very long week at work, and Becky had had a long week of studying for the GRE and putting together graduate school applications, so we (and especially me) had drunk a fair bit to forget the week's many trials.
The drinks made the long, cold walk down to Caroline Street, the center of Saratoga's night life, almost tolerable. We went into the City Tavern, which is five stories tall, and has a bar on each floor.
We made our way up to the fourth floor, where there's a DJ and a dance floor. We'd been there about five minutes when Soulja Boy's "Crank That" came on. Instantly, what had been a relatively sedate dance floor started bouncing and writhing. Everyone was singing along, and all the women seemed to know the song's proprietary dance, ala the Mokeraina. The chorus of the song is "Superman dat hoe." Becky turned to me and said: "Do you know what that is? Superman?"
"Uh... a comic book character?" (At the time, I was convinced the lyric was "superman down low," and yes, I do know that that doesn't make any sense.)
Now, "Crank That," is one of those songs with a simple, catchy beat, a chorus of steal drums in the background, and unintelligible lyrics. I'd heard the song before, I've even rocked out to in the car, but had never thought about the lyrics. I told Becky I didn't know what "superman" was.
Well, let me tell you, a comic books couldn't be farther from the truth. This next bit is not for the squeamish.
According to Becky (and confirmed by the Urban Dictionary), "Superman" is when a guy ejaculates on a girl's back, while she's asleep, and sticks a sheet or light towel to the mess. In a couple hours, when the semen becomes dry and crunchy, the sheet or towel is stuck to her back, and when she stands up -- viola -- a cape. Just like Superman...
Now tell me, does it make any sense that all the women would get so excited about a song with such gross lyrics? I didn't think so, so I did a little research.
First, I looked up the song's lyrics. Not only are we to believe that Soulja Boy executes the aforementioned deviant act on said hoe, but he also "cranks dat" (strokes his penis) about 4,000 times during the song, in preparation for the culminating act. Then, he "supersoaks dat hoe," (ejaculates on the woman, presumably on her back.) Then, I suppose, comes the superman. Why, you might be thinking, is this poor woman asleep? Perhaps the unimaginative lyric bored her.
Well, I would say that those lyrics are pretty explicit. Certainly not appropriate for a younger audience, and I don't think they could play the song on the radio. Soulja clearly has little or no respect for the hoes he's superman-ing, so why is this song such a hit, especially with the women at City Tavern? I knew I needed to dig a little deeper, so I checked out the song's video.
I was a little nervous, because when it was time to watch the video Becky and Becca were sitting on the couch with me. Was this going to be an awkward moment where the three of us were treated to video depictions of Soulja ejaculating onto some poor model's back? Thankfully, no. The video is surprisingly tame.
Mostly it shows Soulja wearing an over-sized pair of white sunglasses like the ones Andreas Kloden wore during the 2005 Tour de France. Except that Soulja has written his own name in white crayon across his lenses. At first I thought he'd done it to remind himself of his name. Then I realized that didn't make sense, because the name would be backwards if he were looking through the glasses. So, I figure the name must be to remind us of his name, so that we can remember not to buy his album when we see it at the record store.
Other than the gargantuan sunglasses, the only thing that stood out in the video was a silly dance in which Soulja and other members of his crew sort of jump back, while leaning their torsos forward, a pose that makes their baggy sweat suits hang off their limbs, creating a cape-like effect.
Well there was the answer right in front of me! Soulja never intended to ejaculate on any woman's back... HE is the hoe! And the song isn't about what he does, it's about what he wants done to him. No wonder all the women at the tavern were so excited about the song: "Finally," they must be thinking, "Here's a performer who wants to be disrespected as much as most performers want to disrespect women." What a cou for women everywhere.
Well, good for you, Soulja Boy. But my suggestion to you is that next time, you should just come out and say what you mean, so that I won't have to do all the digging to figure out what you're saying.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
On the corner of Clinton and Amity,
Site of another tragedy.
As I've said before, there apartment was one of the first places I ever remember spending time outside of my own house. Since I was friends with Daniel Kelly long before my family lived in our current house, my memories for their apartment go back even farther than memories of my own home, which makes makes this most recent tragedy pretty close to home.
My memories of time at the Kelleys run a wide range. There were birthday parties with powdered dough nuts hanging from strings, and there was my first introduction to the Beatles, and there were putrid potions mixed in the bathroom sink. There was running around the slippery floors in socks, slipping and sliding along , and trying to get traction on the richly-colored rugs.
Then there was a call to our house, early in the morning of the summer of 2004. I answered the phone. It was Margaret. "Can I speak to Fran please?," she said in the voice of someone on the edge of loosing control of their emotions. I went and got my Mom immediately. I soon learned that there had been a fire in their apartment in the middle of night. I remember with surprising clarity how my heart hurt for them. It was almost as if my own house had suffered a fire. And of course, it must have been 100 times worse for them. And to have it happen a second time; I can't imagine the agony.
After the fire, Margaret and her family lived in different places all over Brooklyn, moving around for almost an entire year while the apartment was rebuilt. And now, it's the nomad life for them, again. And that sucks.
But again, their tragedy has reminded me that nothing is forever. It makes me feel lucky that I was able to have the same home for almost my entire life, and that this fall, when it was time to move out of my parent's house, it was my job to throw out all of my old accumulated papers. Nothing that I'd chosen to save had ever been stolen from me by fire.
Margaret, Rich, Daniel, and Timmy, I'm so sorry.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
I just got home from work. I'm tired and grumpy. Here are your stinkin' top and bottom five lists.
Tops from the week:
1) Muscle-tension intervals. Way more fun than weight lifting.
2) Becky's two upcoming job interviews!! Yay!
3) My parent's visit last weekend.
4) Delicious Hanucka pot roast prepared by Becky.
5) My big fluffy comforter.
Bottoms from the week:
1) The fact that I was at work until midnight tonight.
2) The fact that I was at work until midnight tonight.
3) Icy sidewalks. Illegal and obnoxious.
4) The first snow storm of the season. Huge let down.
5) Gas fireplace heat. Not exactly that effective.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I've got nothing to say today, so I'm going to share with you these photos from a little back-country skiing that I did with Dante and Tom last winter. Dante went skiing on Monday, and I couldn't work because my skis are still in Brooklyn, and I had to work, and I can't afford it on my measly paycheck. But I heard all about his day at lunch today, which made me sad that I couldn't have gone skiing with him, and made me nostalgic for some great skiing that I've done. This back country trip was the last time I strapped the boards on, enjoy!
We spent the day hiking up the mountain, and skiing back down.
I gave myself a hip injury that nagged me until July, but it was worth it.
You can't tell, but it was also really cold.
It snowed, which made the skiing good!
He learned to ski the winter before last winter.
He's a bit of a natural.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
In the wake of Sunday's snow and ice storm, my walk to work has become decidedly treacherous. Despite a city ordinance that requires businesses and residents to clear their sidewalk within 24 hours of a snow event, this morning, about 30 hours after the storm, most sidewalks along my route to work were still not clear.
And remember, this wasn't just a little snow easily crunched under my shoes. It was a thick rime of ice, making the walk slippery and dangerous. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that my walk to work takes me down North Broadway, one of the wealthiest streets in Saratoga Springs.
This street is the playground of the wealthy. The homes here are gargantuan in proportion, and are often surrounded by broad lawns and carefully trimmed hedges. The people who own these buildings drive cars that cost more than the money I'll earn in the next seven or eight years. They don't have to pick up a shovel, all they have to do is pay a journeyman or two to shovel for them. And yet... they don't. Join me on my walk to work today.
Look at the beautifully clear sidewalk.
This was the second-to-last clear walk until I got into town.
This is my neighbor's "Snowblower Special."
The lazy home owner ran a snowblower over the sidewalk
Obviously, it was completely ineffective.
Here's Broadway, around the corner from my house.
This homeowner scraped the snow off of the ice, making an even worse situation.
The ice is so hard that feet hardly make an impression.
This homeowner didn't do anything. Not a single thing.
This was fine after the storm, when the snow provided traction.
But on the second morning, the snow was hard as ice, and it was like a skating rink.
Can you spot the sidewalk in this photo?
I couldn't, as I was snow-blind,
and I headache from slipping on the ice.
Well don't worry, they shoveled the walk to their front door.
I guess people who use 4-wheel drive vehicles assume
that people also have 4-wheel drive... for walking.
Ironically, this is the sidewalk outside a funeral home.
I suppose they don't want anyone to die on their property.
Well, good for them!
This is the crosswalk at the intersection of Rt. 50 and Broadway.
This was ok in hiking boots last night, but not in dress shoes today.
You can jump over it,
but be careful on the landing!
It's a lot harder than it looks.
Hall of shame: this is outside the posh Saratoga Hotel
This is the sidewalk outside the Saratoga Springs City Center, which the city owns.
Again, the city can't clear its own walk.
Monday, December 03, 2007
This was was the first measurable snowfall of the season
But it was a lot less than the forecast called for.
We went to bed on Sunday expecting to wake up to a world blanketed with as much as eight inches of snow. Instead we got about an inch of heavy slush on top of an inch of ice. Of course, the ice meant that we had to salt and scrape our sidewalk, and I broke my window scraper clearing off my car. So it was a major disappointment on all fronts. No fun snow to play in, lots and lots of ice.
It was not, however, a disappointment for area school kids, who got the day off of school. This meant that our downstairs neighbor, a teacher, had the day off, so we got to bond over shoveling and scraping.
Many of our neighbors did not share in our enthusiasm for shoveling, as ours was one of the few clear sidewalks, even when I walked home from work at 11:30 p.m. tonight, which made the walk rather treacherous, but there'll be more about that tomorrow...
Sunday, December 02, 2007
I can already here the DPW dump trucks out patroling the roads, laying down a thick rime of salt and sand, in the name of keeping our roads passable in the face of winter's first accumulating snowfall.
But back to my role in this whole hullabuloo.
On Friday, the last day I was attending to my reporting duties this week, we heard the first whispers of a major winter storm headed our way, sometime later in the weekend. I happened to be the only reporter at my desk when that news poped up on the forecast, so I was immediately dispatched to write a story on the impending storm, a story whose only real effect would be to whip readers into a frenzy of storm-preparations.
The funny thing about writing a story like that is that was that my sources, the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Works and a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany, both said pretty much the same thing: "Yep, it's gonna snow. The roads will need plowing, the sidewalks will need shoveling. Motorists should be careful when driving."
The DPW guy added that the crew had put plows on all their trucks. "We're all ready to go," he said.
Being the eager young journalist that I am, I wrote a story, which ran on the front page, above the fold, on the next day's paper, in which I said: "It's going to snow some yet-to-be-determined amount. The DPW will be out plowing, and you'll have to be out shoveling. Be careful when you drive." Where's my Pulitzer?
The Saratogian followed up my story the next day with a nearly identical story by one of my colleagues, which quoted a different person at the DPW garage saying the same thing, and a different NWS meteorologist, who also said the same thing. This time though, preparations were already well under way across Saratoga Springs, with people flying to hardware stores to lay in a six-month supply of road salt, replace aging shovels and stock up on gasoline for the generator, ice picks, batteries, canned food, etc, etc...
I hope everyone had a great weekend!