Sunday, April 27, 2008

Getting Over It, Part II

Some people never got over Vietnam, or the night their band opened for Nirvana. I'm still not over my first marriage(or ripping off Nick Hornby). In this series, I'll detail my attempts to get over a part of my life that lasted less than three years, but seemingly encompassed all of my soon to be over twenties. For some reason, moving to New York was one of these attempts. Whenever I declare myself officially "over it", maybe I'll have a huge party in Vegas - but I'll probably just have brunch.

Getting Over It, Part II: Watching America's Next Top Model

Let me get this out of the way: I know it sounds like bragging1 when I say my ex-wife used to be a model(the runway type, not plastic-car-kit or Sears swimsuit type). Wow, you used to date an ex-model, whoop-dee shit dude. However, that doesn't change the fallout from the divorce. Especially since she made it abundantly clear that she didn't feel I was good looking enough to be with her. So any confidence I was supposed to gain from fucking a mainstream, magazine approved version of female beauty was destroyed, defiled and turned into an irrational hatred2 of Tyra Banks.

Recently, though, I've turned away from the dark side to...well, another dark side: watching America's Next Top Model and The Tyra Banks Show. Anything even remotely related to modeling used to be avoided like the plague. However, the crazy ego trips of Tyra are such a spectacle, I can't turn away. It's like watching a six-year old girl get her own talk show.

I remember one episode where the topic was girls who are unsafe daters. Now, Tyra made some good points with her little stake-outs of women who gave away too much info to strangers at bars, followed men alone to their cars, and did other generally unsafe things that twenty-somethings do because they assume they are immortal(I still assume this, at least for another year).

However, Tyra left the realm of reality when, after ambushing a poor girl who had followed her fake-date down to his fake-SUV, she lit into the girl and showed her what was stored in the fake-trunk: a fake baseball bat, and fake bundle of rope. She would have been fake-beaten to death and fake-tied up. Once the charade had been revealed, what was the point of showing the girl these things? They didn't shock her, they made her laugh - staring in wonderment at crazy-eyed Tyra, marveling at the talk-show host's need to have every inch of reality defined by herself. She had constructed a perfect date-rape diorama, and goddammit, you were going to see it all.

But anyway, yeah, modeling. ANTM. Avoiding this just seemed like common sense. For one thing, there was at least one contestant every year who reminded me in some way of my ex-wife(most recently some combination of Lisa and Ebony from cycle 9). For's America's Next Top Model. Why would any man watch it, if he wasn't being forced to by a girlfriend?

Oh yeah. My girlfriend watches ANTM(of course), and I've watched it with her. Well, not at first. I made it clear I didn't care for the show, though I never said why(it probably didn't need to be said).

Eventually, though, time dulled my sensitivity to all things modeling and Tyra(living in New York probably helps, with those ridiculous money-shot photos of Tyra that were everywhere a few months ago, promoting her talk show's move to the city. The ones that were titled things like "Gabologist" and "Conversationista". On my walk to work, I noticed someone had finally doctored one with the ink-drawn cock it sorely needed).

Watching now, all I think of are the ridiculous challenges, photo-shoots, and Tyra's bat-shit crazy antics(like the intro to the current season, or how when Ebony quit during last season - I'm sorry, cycle nine - the background music was as mournful as a dirge, since to Tyra, Ebony had died).

Even though this only involves television, I still feel like it's progress: disassociating things from an ex, and enjoying - or enduring - them again.

1Though, since I've moved to New York, I assume every New York man has dated at least one "model", so it can't be counted as bragging anymore. It's par for the course.

2Yes, Tyra is the target because my ex-wife being a)black and b)model makes c)Tyra her idol. Or at least, her old idol.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Stray Thoughts

Stray thoughts, from the past week:
  • When you feel ugly, every pretty girl is an insult.
  • Why is blue-eyed-soul the only part of black culture that - when co-opted - gets the "blue-eyed" moniker attached? Shouldn't pretty much every popular genre of music be "blue-eyed"?
  • Why do I always end up having at least one person at work refer to me exclusively by my last name?
  • Wow, I have really shitty handwriting(this loses something in translation).
  • I have the unfortunate affliction of caring what others think about me. Maybe you do too, it's quite common.
  • Boots. Long black heeled boots will be the death of me(whether this is because of women who wear them or that I'm a troubled transvestite is up to the reader to decide).
  • Hey a limo! Flex your muscles, maybe you'll be discovered!
  • The best part about working construction was the strip clubs.
  • My girlfriend is always mad at me for something.
  • I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning is definitely Bright Eye's best album.
  • Why is every skeevy old man(who almost always has a bag of fresh porn mags) on the subway inevitably the most courteous man on the subway?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


You can find my review of Destroyer's Trouble In Dreams in the April 2nd issue of iProng magazine.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My Weekend Apart

I think I grew up a little this weekend when, instead of ordering a second tall hot chocolate at Starbucks, I ordered a tall mocha instead. When I mentioned this change to my girlfriend she confirmed I was firmly into teenager-level maturity when it comes to caffeinated beverages.


Lately, it's become obvious that I've had a hard time adjusting to New York. When I first arrived, I was so consumed by work that I never settled in. Neveracclimated. Now I find myself, almost a year later, without much of a social circle outside of my girlfriend(without much means zero).

At work, I have mostly solo projects to work on, which combined with my natural introverted nature makes socializing there difficult. Plus, I haven't shaken the feeling that I don't fit in. To quote High Fidelity, I feel like one of those people who shaved their heads and said they'd always been punk: I'm a fraud, and I'll be discovered at any second. Everyone at the office is so...New York. They are all at least four of the following: young, hip, smart, worldly, and attractive. This isn't what I'm used to: for past five years I've worked for the government. I went from shirt, ties and blue blazers to a daily fashion show.

What to do, what to do.

So my girlfriend had an idea: spend a Saturday apart. The idea was to force me to explore the city on my own. To grow.


I'm not sure what growing in NYC entails, but I hope it involves a lot of drinking at coffee houses. That's where I've ended up early Saturday afternoon after my morning workout, sipping...mocha. I miss my hot chocolate, but the world wants me to grow. In honor of eMusic adding the Rolling Stones(64-70) to their catalog, the soundtrack to my Saturday apart will be the Stone's three best albums: Aftermath, Beggars Banquet, and Let It Bleed. So I sit back, and start Aftermath on my new iPod1.

"Paint It Black"

The girls aren't in their summer clothes, but I do see something else that happens everyday: a Starbucks full of young go-getters. Every day a group of young men and women in suits takes over all the seating. They look like actors auditioning for a role in a commercial about a community college. They have PDAs, Blackberrys, cellphones, and they scribble things onto yellow legal pads with one apparent goal: recruiting. Other not-so-dressed-for-success young adults wander in, and they interview them. For what, I don't know. I'm guessing it's some sort of cult. Or real estate related.

I've kept the gym habit up, surprisingly, for the last couple of months. I think I've grown addicted to the post-workout feeling of renewed confidence, and on Saturday that feeling lasts until the end of the weekend. It's a penance to avoid feeling wretched. I live in Harlem, but I trek to the gym near my office in Times Square. It's an "office" gym, which means it's practically empty on the weekend. My "home" gym is always over crowded on the weekend, and I'm tired of making up excuses for the trainer there as to why I haven't started a program with him yet. For some reason, though, I want him to know I still workout. I'm no slacker, Chris. I just can't afford you, you big-smiling top-heavy bastard!

"Going Home"

is a quick album; I'm already on the last track. Sorry Mick, I can't go home to see my girl. I need to make this city my new home. Get used to it.

I take a break from the Stones to listen to the new Raconteurs album, Consolers of The Lonely, only now realizing the coincidental title. It's brilliant. Hopefully my totally untrained thoughts on music will be published again. Regardless, it's fun to write about it. Pick it up if you like rock music.

I decide to read for a while. In my bag I have Angela's Ashes by Frank McGourt, The Gathering by Anne Enright, and How To Be A Man: Scenes from a Protracted Boyhood by Thomas beller. I pull out the Beller. It's a great read, immersing me in New York in a way I've so far been unable to duplicate in real life. I briefly imagine a pretty girl coming up to talk to me, but then realize I'm reading a book titled How To Be A Man. Women would probably prefer someone who doesn't need directions in masculinity. Besides, my attention-whoring doesn't need to be fanned today.

I take a break, and call my brother. I have to tell him I can't co-sign on his first apartment, because if for no other reason, my credit is horrible. Plus, isn't that what parents are for? After I get off the phone, I realize that the next time I visit home, none of my three younger brothers will be there. They'll have their own places. Weird.

I call my three best friends(they live back in Maryland). One is busy, so I leave a message. I talk to the other two for a couple hours. In a true display of guydom, during one conversation we manage to reenact an obscure scene from Lethal Weapon, following a loosely-related bit about giant eighties cellphones. The awesomeness of RoboCop 2(which he is watching) and the craptasticness of RoboCop 3 are discussed. I learn Peter Weller is a professor of ancient history, and very popular at Syracuse. And baseball, we talk a lot of baseball. I discover that the evils of Walmart can be forgiven, temporarily, if they deliver your Wii a day earlier than expected. I should call these guys more often.

I'm hungry. Next door is pretty decent pizza place, that - thanks to the reality of NYC rent - has to subsidize itself with a Subway Sandwiches shop. I get a nice, big slice of pepperoni and a - sigh - Diet Coke. Nothing says I've been forever changed by New York to my friends back home than the fact that I now drink Diet Coke. It's almost like handing over my penis.

I decide to go see a movie, the pinnacle of social activities. It's a great opportunity to meet new people see movies my girlfriend doesn't want to see. Clearly, this social thing will be a long process. I have some time to kill before Run Fatboy Run starts, so I wander Times Square. On comes Beggars Banquet...

"Sympathy For The Devil"

If I was going to meet the devil, the lights and chaos of Times Square would be an appropriate place to do so. This is a city, after all, where I'm pretty sure the most beautiful woman I've seen all night was a man. Or maybe I'm just bisexual. And hell can't be anymore crowded than the tourist-filled2 streets are tonight.

I'm briefly surrounded by a group of three friends whose average height is - I swear - 7'6". Don't these guys know the traditional dynamics of North American males? One tall guy, one fat guy, one cute/girly guy and some assorted adorable average men(the kind who end up with Drew Berrymore at the end of the movie). No, these guys have bonded over being giants.

Walking by the theater where A Chorus Line is playing, I notice the headlining quote from Michelle Bennett: "Dedicated to anyone who has ever danced in a chorus...or marched in step - anywhere."

I briefly march in step, and retroactively have a Broadway musical dedicated to me. I feel like I'm having a productive weekend.

"Street Fighting Man"

The sound of marching feet, and there is nothing for a poor boy to do but...well I could see Shine A Light, the Rolling Stones concert movie, but that seems a little ridiculous. Instead, I decide to see The Bank Job. Afterwards, it's three in the morning. I've been out, I've seen a couple movies, read some books, listened to some great music, and had a lot of Starbucks. Not a bad weekend; not the one I was probably supposed to have, but a step in the right direction(this is probably not true, and is instead an example of cognitive dissonance).

"Gimme Shelter"

If ever there was a perfect song for walking the streets at night, this is it. Combined with neon lights and towering steel expanses of Manhattan, the haunting rhythm guitar and Merry Clayton's howl become even more foreboding. I should head home, but I walk some more. I decide to walk up to 72nd street, and catch the train home from there. It's a nice enough night for walking.

"Midnight Rambler"

It's not too cold. With the light breeze, the night just feels perfect. It adds a crispness to every moment, enhancing the sensation of being alive. Drunken revelers are on every corner. A homeless vet scares the shit out of me when he materializes out of nowhere when I pass a stoop. The city is alive, humming, and oblivious to my presence. I'm at 72nd.

By this time, Let It Bleed has run it's course and I'm ending my Saturday to "You Can't Always Get What You Want", a song both revered and reviled by rock and roll fans. I can only assume it's detractors hate The Big Chill and boys choirs(probably a fear of castration). I didn't get exactly what I wanted out of this, but then again, I haven't really tried the way I should have yet. But I will.


It just occurred to me that I've been walking around with my gym bag all day. I must have looked like an ax-murderer carrying around the heads of his victims.

1This clearly illustrates my life priorities: I now own more iPods than long-sleeve shirts.

2I feel like an asshole complaining about tourists in a city I've lived in less than a year, but then again, maybe that helps me fit in better.