Sunday, March 30, 2008


It's been a rough week for me. I was sick on Monday, and then on Thursday sprained my ankle and have been on crutches since.

Long story short about the ankle:
I was walking down stairs in the subway station and my ankle decided to go a direction in which anatomy doesn't usually smile upon. I got off the subway, limped to class, handed in a paper, and limped to the emergency room. (And then, crutched to my 6 o'clock class only 20 minutes late.)

No break, just a sprain. It could have been worse; I was holding on to the railing and kept from having my entire body weight from crushing down on my ankle. I could probably go without crutches tomorrow, but I know that I push myself faster than I usually should, so I'm forcing myself to use crutches tomorrow and then I'll just wear an ankle brace Monday.

But the point of this entry isn't to update the blogosphere on my health, but rather to share a video.

While I was in the waiting room in the ER, I had my MP3 player, loaded with season 3 of The Muppet Show.

I watched portions of three episodes, and two segments stood out to me, both of which I cannot stop watching. They are both duets with the guest and a muppet. The first is from episode 305 and features Pearl Bailey singing "In The Good Old Summertime" with Floyd. The second is from episode 315 and features Lesley Ann Warren singing "Just The Way You Are" with Rowlf.

The thing that strikes me about both is how much fun the guests have and how quickly the forget that they are performing with glorified (and totally awesome!) puppets. Not to mention that they are both beautiful, though one is playful and the other lyrical.

So without further ado, please enjoy.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I've done a lot of fun jobs in my relatively short life. I mean, I have been working since age 14, but 7.5 years of working is a relative short time compared to people who are, y'know, full-grown adults. But it has been exactly one third of my life!


The summer after my freshman year of college, I worked at a restaurant on Cape Cod called The Speakeasy. That same summer, I took a bartending course (and mixed a few drinks at the restaurant when the bartender was being his normal jackass self to me.)

I knew I needed to take a class when a patron of the restaurant ordered a V.O. and ginger, (a Canadian Whisky and ginger ale) and I had no idea what she ordered. I asked her to repeat her order and wrote down on my pad of paper: "Sounds like Veal." The bartender and I stood for 5 or 10 minutes at the bar looking at all the alcohol trying to figure it out.

Flash forward to bartending class.

It was me and six girls. (Fantastic, right?)

It was a 5-day class. Monday to Friday. Monday to Wednesday was learning drinks. Thursday, was practice for the test.

Practice consisted of each one of us playing bartender while the others ordered two "drinks" a piece. Drinks were, of course, just water with food-coloring, since alcohol is expensive and none of us were 21.

Keeping this in mind, remember, there's no reason to order one drink over another. The best thing to do is to order a drink that's common and would actually be required in day-to-day bartending experience.

I was playing bartender and Jen -- which may or may not be her name, I don't remember at this point -- ordered a Sloe Comfortable Screw Up Against the Wall.

Not a beat was missed before I said: "Can I get you anything to drink with that?"

Turns out Jen wasn't hitting on me, because she was unamused. She started listing the ingredients. I cut her off and told her it was a joke, handed her the "drink," and moved on to the next girl.

Mark, my manager from Unos and the man I consider my hospitality industry mentor responded when he heard the story: "Why am I not surprised that you put your foot in your mouth?!"

In case you're wondering, I scored 100 on the final test.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I'm fewer than 24 hours away from unofficially being on break. (I say unofficial, because there is school Friday, but I don't have class Friday.) I've always enjoy vacations for the nature of not having obligations, and I've always despised vacation because I've never known what to do with myself when I have no obligations. (Also: I have not being productive, and I tend to let myself be unproductive during breaks and then getting mad at myself for creating a backlog of work for myself when the vacation is over.)

I'm not going to say I don't need this beak, because I do. I'm also not going to say that I'm looking forward to getting out of New York, because I'm not I've spoken before about how I am unproductive in my parents' home, and that even when I lived there I couldn't work there and I did my best to stay away, either going to my girlfriend's house, or my senior year when she was gone, getting a job. (I put some late nights in at Unos when I really didn't have to...)

I'm going home for a very short time, and every reasonable hour of my few days (read: 11 am to 1 am) is already booked solid with family. (I was volunteered to babysit, it's my brother's birthday, and I'm seeing a Pat Metheny concert with my mother.) I never get anything done -- musical or otherwise -- in that house, and the only redeeming quality to being there (other than family, which has its moments...) is having a full-sized kitchen and a dish-washer, two luxuries my refrigerator box (read: apartment) in Manhattan doesn't have.

And yet, I'd rather just take a long weekend.

In a weird way, I feel I haven't earned this vacation. I haven't had midterms like all of my friends have, I haven't successfully done anything yet this semester, and I haven't even handed in all of my small assignments that have been due. I've barely kept up on my readings, and I've only missed class for illness, but I still feel this is undeserved.

But the calendar doesn't reward based on accomplishments, it rewards based on a linear concept of time. In a way, it's comforting to know that whether needed or not, the third week of March is my vacation, but that almost makes it worse to know that when I'll need the break and deserve the break, it won't be there.

At least I can stay up until 4:30 every morning!

(Oh wait...I do that already...never mind!)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Spring! (Kind of...)

This week was the first signs of spring in New York City.

Sure it hasn't been above freezing for even a full week yet, and I'm still fighting that runny-nose that came with the last 12-degree late-evening walk from the subway, but I say with great confidence that New Yorkers are in full Spring mode.

In Manhattan, when spring comes, the crocuses don't bloom, the birds don't start to chirp, and I don't skip class to walk around outside. (Not that I ever did that before...especially if my family's reading this. But seriously -- I think I skipped a total of 3 classes while in high school, and one was me using the MCAS as an excuse and "finishing my essay" during the next block. The other two were after I turned 18 and it was all kosher in the eyes of the school.)

Yet as sure as smell is a three-dimensional sense, there are sure environmental indicators of Spring here.

1) The coffee truck in Union Square has been replaced by a Mr. Softee ice cream truck. (Of course, during the month of March when patrons are as confused about their tastes as they are what the weather will be when they get out of work, the coffee truck sometimes is along side Mr. Softee, or or at most a block away...)

2) The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble has set up outside, in front of Whole Foods, rather than below the street level sheltered in the subway station. And more than them just being there, people actually sit and watch for a while (without fear of freezing).

It's a nice transition. I hope it doesn't return to sub-freezing temperatures any time soon. And if it does, I hope Hypnotic goes back underground; I wouldn't want to be playing tuba in 21-degrees...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Sometimes, stereo sound really bugs me.

It has nothing to do with the fact that I love my single-speaker record player, I swear. (Well, at least mostly it doesn't...) But sometimes, when the stereo isn't mixed but is a huge spread, it's very disorienting.

When I have one instrument coming out of only one ear, I get very unnerved. (This is of course something that only happens with headphones...) And then when the other instruments come in and take the other ear, it doesn't help, it only makes me more uncomfortable.

I am not going to be a music purist or elitist, but when the music I'm listening to is something that can be done live, I want it to at least try to emulate the live experience. (This sentences is constructed as such to allow for the fact that some recorded music is never meant to be performed -- or even performable -- live. And that's perfectly okay, and even awesome sometimes.)

I don't need an audience, I'm okay with things being spliced (though I am happier not knowing about specific splices), and I'm more than okay with levels being messed with, but c'mon, can someone explain to me when in the tangible world sound doesn't bleed? That's what makes it so disorienting to listen to these hyper-stereophonic recordings: if you're listening to something that is directly to your right, your left ear doesn't hear silence, it still hears what your right does, just not as clear and a little later!

When my brain only hears something in one ear, my thoughts usually start with an expletive followed by a "my headphones died!" or even worse, "I think I'm deaf in my left ear!" I don't like it, and I plan to never allow an engineer or producer mix an album I work on in this way. Sure these albums sound find with speakers, and actually pretty awesome because it is more like the "real live" situation, in that an instrument's sound only comes from one localized place, but we live in an earbud culture, and things need to sound just as good in headphones. You can't swing a dead cat 'round here without seeing 10 people with headphones in, and that's the direction the recording industry has gone -- and will continue to go, likely.

Minus the dead cat.

This rant has been brought to you by bad my linux equivalent of iTunes on random and producers and recordings artists.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Bullet points

*There was an impromptu block party on East 91st Street today. The street was closed because the entire east half of our block was being taken up by a large crane -- the kind used to construct luxury high-rises -- in pieces, being put together. Tens of neighbors were sitting on their stoops, just watching. (I guess the cable was out?) At one point, they even had pizza.

*I was reminded that this is the 2-year anniversary of Michael DiRoma's death. Michael started the group that played capture the flag on the streets of New York, a group I took over in September/October when he went back to school. He was supposed to meet a group of us at a poetry slam when we found out. He was killed in a car accident. Plenty of thoughts about Michael and the entire situation, but no words.

*The above caused me to look through old emails, and I found this: an introduction to a brief paper about the representation of minorities in television news. I hope my sarcasm translates to the web...

There's no escaping it. It's everywhere. No matter where, there's an abundance. Everyone is confronted with it daily, on TV, in magazines, in the streets, on the train…yup, Black people. Representing 17.4% of Manhattan residents on the 2000 census, it's impossible to escape the sea of undeniable Blackness encountered every day. Of course, this group of people who are so vastly different and live in such a unique way must be represented in the news for what they really are. And thanks the objectivity that the Fourth Estate, our lovable journalists, brings to Television News has done for Black People everywhere as Morgan Freeman did for Penguins. And without a question, all coverage is fair and even-handed...

The capitalization is intentional.

*I need to remember from now on that laundry day and gym day should not coincide. I'm going to feel this in the morning.

*Once again, I've proven to myself that I love to self-sabotage. It seems like the only relationship (or potential relationship) I haven't sabotaged was the one with the girl I knew would run away and break my heart. (Of course, you could say the way I handled things afterwards sabotaged the potential friendship...but I knew too much of her; she was too vulnerable around me and couldn't be my friend after telling me everything I knew, even about her thoughts and feelings on her supposed best friend.) Again, lots of thoughts about this, but no words.

*Spring training is in full swing. It's a happy time of year for baseball fans, because we know that even when the rest of the world treats us poorly, baseball is there. Spring training is the best time of year for baseball fans because your team can lose every game and you can still feel good. In fact, the entire month of April is like that, too. So many teams go .500 or worse in the month of April and still end up in the playoffs. (Maybe next week I'll actually find out if that's true...but I can think it without statistical analysis, and it makes it even better to be a baseball fan.)

*I saw a kid and his dad kicking a soccer ball to each other as they walked down the sidewalk today. It made me nostalgic for experiences I've never had. Funny how that works.

*I'll leave you with advice that was given to me in the form of a note in my 8th grade yearbook: "Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines." Thanks, Mike.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Strange parallels

I am not a big fan of Pizzeria Unos Chicago Grill's food. A lot of the time, the service is mediocre. The decor tends to be the same from one to the other. And they sell Pepsi products, and I'm not the biggest fan of Pepsi products. (Or Coke products, really. I prefer the Dr. Pepper/7-Up line...which many of the products are distributed by Coke in restaurants.)

And yet, it's had this strange parallel in my life.

My first date? Ended at Unos.
My first restaurant job? Unos.
My first sick day from work? Unos.
My first promotion? Unos.
My first performance based bonus? Unos.
My first real professional mentor? Boss from Unos.
The place I was eating the first time my then-ex-girlfriend called me and started a chain of events that made her my girlfriend again? Unos.
And today:
The place that we came up for the name of my first business venture: Unos.

I feel like now, any time I agree to go to Unos, I should expect something exciting. As long as I don't show up there too much. I don't really like the food or the service, anyway.