The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘New York’

So … Here’s Some Art For Ya

In 1976, the twenty-six-year-old Belgian director Chantal Akerman returned to New York – the site of her wanderings earlier in the decade – to make “News from Home,” a serene and monumental time capsule of Manhattan streetscapes and subways. Akerman transformed her luminous, textured images of the city’s rectilinear majesty by means of a simple yet radical gesture: she paired them, on the soundtrack, with her own reading of newsy and needy letters that her mother wrote from their home town of Brussels.

The New Yorker

Other feature films that Akerman was rumored to have considered:

  • Beautiful shots of city basketball courts, paired with a recording of husky breathing by her aging grandmother
  • Picturesque desert sunsets, with superimposed images of skyscraper construction sites, and paired with a looped recording of a mom asking, “Say cheese! … Wait is this on movie mode? How do I make this take a -“
  • A split screen view with one side having breathtaking footage of Yosemite Natural Park, and the other side a small but busy barbershop, paired with flopped Rodney Dangerfield jokes
  • Vignettes of stray city cats paired with a doting father’s advice and lessons teaching a son or daughter how to drive a car
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Montauk, New York

U.S. Army – Wrecker of Love

The end of sixth grade was coming fast, and with it, a move. This time I’d be going from Leavenworth, Kansas to West Point, New York.
School would finish, I’d go to Arizona to see family on summer break, and then on to NY. Life was going to roll on by pretty quick for a while – but not before an important life event.
My first girlfriend.

At school with about a week of school left I was stopped by a girl.
Would I want to go out with her best friend?!
I did some quick thinking. The obvious answer was: no.
I didn’t want to go out with anybody.
I’d found girls pretty, or at least appealing since I was young. I’d just never wanted to date a girl. Really, I didn’t mind not talking to them. I liked it a lot if they found me funny, and I liked to imagine dating girls – but reality is much harder to control than my imagination, so I stuck with that.
I had no confidence. I was a romantic conspiracy theorist. Why did that girl just smile at me? Oh, it’s a joke! That’s so mean! Any thing that should’ve been perceived as a girl having a crush on me I saw as some attempt for me to lower my guard, only to then be made fun of.
But if this girl wanted to date me until I moved, whatever floats her boat.
Thus began my romantic life!

You’d think – with me ‘going steady’ (that’s just funny to me), that my life would change a lot.
I’d have to sit with the girl at lunch, or nearby her at class, or walk with her in the hallways – but no, none of this happened. Looking back, I probably was supposed to do these things.
I assumed our relationship was just in title, not in deed. So she could say, “yeah, that’s my boyfriend over there … He’s so … Oh … Don’t look at him, he’s trying to figure out how much of his peanut butter sandwich he can fit in his mouth at once. Gross.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t know until then that middle school girls love the telephone.
“Hello … may I ask who’s calling? … Oh! … One second! … BRAD!”
Who would call me? I thought, Why is my mom grinning?
“Hello?”
“Hey Brad!”
What? First, who calls me? Second, a girl?!

I came to realize it was the “girlfriend.” And her friend who had asked me out.
I got the cordless and headed to my room. Once I was in my room I was sure a family member (possibly several, led by my mother) would creep up and eavesdrop. Fuel for making fun of me.
I didn’t want to be talking on the phone – it cut into my video game time. Or TV time. Or playing with my dog. Or anything-but-talking-on-the-phone time.

One day the two called and they sang me a song. Yes, they sang to me. At the conclusion of the phone call I applied my best charm to say, “Yeah … well … it stinks about my going to New York, huh?”
“Huh?”
“Ya know, New York …”
“You’re going on a trip to New York!!”
“Ha, no! I’m moving … there …”
Uh oh. Had I forgotten …
“… What?”

I had forgotten to tell everyone but my closest friends that I was moving. And my closest friends didn’t include a single female. I hadn’t thought much of it but this was especially bad because we lived off-Post in Kansas so my friends didn’t up and move like clockwork. What a weird concept!

My budding love came to a screeching halt. All blame, of course, goes to the U.S. Army.
How dare you, wrecker of love!

Penguins and Slow Dancing

At some point during sixth grade my dad came around with some news.
“Family meeting, family meeting …”
No, I actually have no idea how he announced this. It’s funny, I don’t remember one single time when my dad or mom announced to the family that we’d be moving. It seems like there should be some sort of psychological conclusion there, maybe that I blocked them out because the announcements always impacted me more than I realized but … nope! Pure coincidence!
Anyhow. We were going to be moving. Kansas to New York.

The interesting thing about Kansas was that we lived off post.
This had its ups and downs. I was exposed to new things (really, there is a difference between living on post and living off post).
One of my closest friends, when I told him I would be moving, said, “so you come and you suck the friendship right out of us! And then you leave?!” This was in sixth grade. Talk about your funny. This guy always killed me (if you’re reading this Jimmy – hello!).
When I moved I would usually tell my close friends because, after all, they were the people who would need to know this. Living on post, you kind of expect that at the start of the next school year you won’t see a few faces, but you’ll see a few new faces. It was a nice rotating yearbook.

Before moving from Kansas, my ‘cool’ friend got me invited to an end of the year party.
We made it through sixth grade! Life is good! Let’s go hang out in someone’s basement and listen to the Spice Girls! YEAH!

When I got to this party I knew most of the people … I just generally never spoke to them. As a rule, I try very hard to clam up and become nervous and … if possible … look even more gangly than usual.
I stood around nervously and chatted a bit.
After a little bit we played … You’ve gotta be kidding me … What am I on a bad teenage TV show? Am I Doug Funny? Am I Cory Matthews? Are we seriously about to play this!?
Spin the bottle.
I had not kissed a girl yet. This was panic inducing. Luckily I still did not have acne (though for all I know my face instantly became riddled with zits as soon as I heard the phrase, ‘spin the bottle!!’).
When it was my turn I spun the bottle. Round and round and … Hey … It pointed toward a girl I actually really liked! She was … smarts-wise … not my style. But looks-wise, yes please!
Based on her reaction, she did not feel the same way.
How do you say … ouch.
I did a terrible Italian accent and pretended to kiss her on both cheeks.
I included this side story because it’s somewhat funny and a milestone moment (my first and only game of spin the bottle!) and because DANG! Cool thinking under pressure, huh? I mean really! I was in sixth grade, I just found out this girl I liked did not like me one bit, and I came up with that joke. Not too shabby, 6th grade self.

The highlight of the night for me came later.
A slow dance song came on and a girl I’d known since third grade (when I moved there) said let’s dance. I painfully (I was so embarrassed!) admitted that I had never slow-danced and did not know how.
She said I’ll teach you. She said it like it was no big deal.
Sincerely, this blew my mind. I fully expected to be laughed at and made fun of. Isn’t this where the lights dim and random attractive figures appear and point at me while they laugh?
She and I danced. Her hands on my shoulders. My hands around her waist. The standard foot to three feet distance between us.
It was magical.
We slowly pivoted, turning in very slow circles. We chatted a bit.
At some point I realized –
“I feel like a penguin.”
She laughed!
She laughed!
Of course! All I have to do is be funny! This joke totally worked! And the way we were dancing, we probably looked like penguins too!

I danced with a few other girls and I made the same joke to each one of them (I am so cool, huh?).
One girl said I was funny and that she wished we had hung out more at school this past year. That was an awesome compliment for me. I was invited to hang out over the course of the summer and to of course hang out next year at school! We’ll all be best friends!

“Oh actually … I’m moving.”
Where to?
“New York.”
NEW YORK! WHEN!?!!??
“Umm … like a few days.”
Whoops.
I had told my good friends about my move. And that was it. Apparently this was a mistake – was I supposed to have taken out a school flier?

Really, it was a good night for me.
I pretended to kiss a girl.
I danced with a girl.
To this day I can clam up about dancing. Luckily, I enjoy alcohol and alcohol enjoys making me do the robot.

Houston, New York, Boston, Phoenix

Weekly Wacko (64)

Ya’ll Ok, Sweety?

My family got in the car and left West Point, New York for Savannah, Georgia on January 1, 2000. The day all the computers were supposed to blow everything up.

When we arrived we made our home at the Hunter Army Airfield guest housing. Essentially, a hotel for Military families.

Sometime during that initial period in Georgia I had my first experience  with southern charm (that I could remember – I was born in North Carolina but don’t remember any of it).

Naturally, it occurred in a Waffle House.

To those of you who have never experienced a Waffle House, I’m sorry. They’re not the cleanest restaurants, or the most delicious, or the best-staffed but … you love them all the same.

The waitress came up to our booth and asked around the table to see what we wanted to eat.

One by one the orders were made.

Eventually, I believe I was last to order, she got to me.

“How bout you sweety?”

… Sweety … Really? … I … I mean my family’s here and you’re a lot older and clearly a heavy smoker but … I mean I guess I … Sure I try to be sweet but … I mean for you to realize that just by looking at me … All right, yeah we can go on a date sometime but … Well let’s not call it a date let’s just say we’re “hanging out” and we’ll see … Sweety? … Well, you’re sweet too and …

I was taken aback.

I had never been called a sweety before by a stranger. Possibly only my mom and some other friends of hers had called me a sweety.

But for this stranger to call me sweety! How nice!

There were a number of moments like this where I adjusted to the switch between New York and Georgia. It turns out, the North and South are different in a few ways.

***

At a diner near our home in New York the guy behind the counter would yell at you to see what you wanted. This my family loved – what’s not to love? Table-side manners are out, yelling is IN. But you know, I think I’m also ok with being called sweety.

Soapbox? Well, world, we’re all not so different, you know? Cultural differences and what-not, but what’s that? That’s something to appreciate! Take it in! Love it! It’s amazing how different we all are. If ever there was a reason to be impressed with mankind it is because of the amazing complexity of the human race. Between one person and the next. Seriously.

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