Friday, November 6, 2009

Subways: Love/Hate Relationship.

According to good friend Tani Cohen, I need to stop apologizing for the hiatuses between my blog posts. He says that it gets annoying every time I say i'm sorry. Well, to that, I say sorry to my readers for the break and fuck you to Tani. Don't tell me how to live my life!(I actually have much love for Tani. He's probably the most intense baseball fan I know besides myself and I am happy that he got to celebrate with the Yankees brass the other night.)
However, on to the blog post for this week, I will be discussing the enigma of the subway. I have a love/hate relationship with the subway. At times, I feel like one of the kids in Narnia after they come out of the wardrobe because I can't figure out how the hell I got to where I am so quickly. It's a fascinating thing, the subway. What truly fascinates me the most is the origin of the subway. I want to know more about the pioneers who helped build these tracks. It must have been crazy for these original workers, digging underground for a good majority of the day, unearthing, I imagine, some crazy shit.
That they were able to complete this monstrosity of a project so long ago speaks to their engineering ingenuity. It's really quite amazing when you think about. A friend told me the other day that during rush hour in NYC, there are as many people underground as above ground. Pretty crazy statistic.
Other things I like about the subway:
Mini-convenient stores: it seems that whenever I see them, there's always some delicious treat to be had. Maybe it's just good marketing because it makes me think I need some sustenance to survive the 15 minute train ride home. Nonetheless, I always find myself saying hey, I could use some sour patch kids right now(BTW, my favorite candy, always delicious, always hits the spot)
Reading on the subway: I've recently found out that I can get a boat load of reading done on the train. Normally, I can't do work without there being total silence but on the train, i'm like a toddler being lulled to sleep by the constant rocking of the car's movement. However, I am a 22 year old man being lulled to work by the groans of the homeless man at the end of the car(we'll get to that later) I don't know how, but I can finish packets of reading on the train in 20 minutes that would've taken me over an hour to do in my room. Perhaps I should become one of those box car children from the books of my youth in order to continue these good work habits.
Musical/Dancing acts: This is, by far, my favorite thing on the train. I love the mariachi bands, tumbling acts, and soul singers. While everyone else looks away/pretends to be listening to music, I remove my headphones and stare straight at these subway versions of Stevie Wonder, Santana, and Keri Strug(sans twisted ankle). I don't get why people don't embrace them more. These people have true talent. In fact, if any TV execs read this, it would definitely be a huge hit on TV(obviously bigger than that "lets send celebrities to the wilderness show where Heidi and Spencer can go crazy). Just remember to credit me when Mumbling Joe from the 4 train hits it beg. I knew you when you were wearing multi-holed slippers and a women's mu-mu man.
And now, for things I hate on the subway:
Really, I hate most things about the subway. All of what I said before happens rarely and most of the time, I find myself cursing out the MTA for their ineptitude. First and foremost, whenever I actually need the train to be on time somewhere, there's some absurd construction going on(like, repainting the tracks, or electrocuted homeless man or something(terrible smell btw) It always works out that when I don't need to get somewhere on time, the trains will be running like the train version of the Concord and i'll get there in record time, but, whenever it's business time for me, the train's late, I am forced to run, and I end up sweating so much that I resemble one of those couples from the biggest loser(we're talking serious sweating, folks).
One other thing that I despise about the train is a phenomenon i'm still looking for a name for. On the way to the Bill Simmons book signing last week with Shai and new friend Rami, we were discussing how annoying it is that when you're standing for the train and it pulls up, you're stuck between two cars and not near any door. I usually aimlessly choose a spot on the tracks and end up fairly close to one of the doors. However, in these moments when I end up in this bermuda triangle of trains, where commuters go to die, I can never decide which door is closer. They both look so far away and by the time you end up picking a door, you're the last one on, squished up against the door, as you get anally probed by the chubby, smelly, charedi(for my non-Jewish readers, these are very religious Jews who tend to leech money off the government and never shower---I added the no showering part in although it's usually true) guy behind you. So, really, my point is that it's terrible when you end up between doors and it totally ruins the rest of my trip. I still need a name for this terrible occurrence. Suggestions are welcome.

P.S. I got two new, shiny things week, a pair or shoes(Air Pegasus, purple and white, so pretty, so fresh)(see picture) and a Mac. T'was an excellent week and i'm loving both new items.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No Lincoln

First, I would like to comment on the title of this blog post but alas, I am too lazy so instead, check out my friend Nathan's blog for further explanation.
Again,I apologize for the severe decrease in posting. Due to my increasingly depressing Vietnam War History seminar(honestly, how many more times can I read about American troops raping mamasans at An Hao or NVA troops gouging the eyes out of American troops!!!??) and the new novel I am writing, I have been running short on spare time. However, that's all in the past(not really) and I look forward to producing a consistent stream of blog posts! Hoorah!(again, see Vietnam reference before. I really want to be in the marines now)
I am currently sitting at my brother's house in Riverdale, about to eat dinner with my family. This is great for two reasons. One is that I get to eat my mom's home cooking and her culinary delights are a combination of the Barefoot Contessa and Paula Dean...delicious!(If you don't know who these beautiful women are, I feel bad for you and you should begin watching the Food Network). The second, and most important reason, is that I get to see the progeny of my brother and sister in law, my two amazingly beautiful nieces Noa and Maayan. See pictures below. Playing with them makes me want to have kids right now. Don't worry, mom! It's not gonna happen quite yet. At best, i'll buy a kitten...probably some type of tabby. Those things are damn cute!
Back to the heart of this post...being home is great. Whether it's taking the subway home from school or flying across the country, walking through your front door and seeing your family is an unparalleled feeling. I love the smell of my house. I love using my mother's computer because it actually runs, unlike my piece of shit dell, which is nearing its death and needs a severe dose of the whatever the computer version of Dr. Kevorkian has, and I love talking to my dad whose hilarity rivals Bernie Mac(z'l) I don't remember my dad being this funny when I was younger. Maybe I didn't notice it....or maybe with this senility has come an unrivaled sense of humor. Either way, the old adage certainly jives with me...home is where the heart is.
On another note, I got a haircut from my barber, Vinny. He's this dope Bucharian guy who loves to talk to me. I usually pretend to engage in conversation with him while mostly attempting to decipher his pseudo-soviet mumbo jumbo. Whatever, he cuts a mean hair. If you see me on the street, you may think I have enlisted in the Hitler Youth. My hair is a lot blonder when cut and combined with my eyes, I am an embodiment of the Aryan race. Yikes.
Another reason coming home is great is I get to go to my favorite shoe store. If you're a true friend of mine, you know I have a shoe fetish. If you're not a true friend, screw you and try harder(to become a good friend, I recommend purchasing a pair of shoes for me). I have shoes that line my room and my closets. Girls come into my room and make fun of me for having more shoes than they do. For this I am proud and not ashamed. It could be worse. I could be into stockings or high heels. That's some kinky shit, man. The feeling I have when I walk into a shoe store is like my birthday and chanukah combined into one euphorically blissful shopping experience.
My favorite part of Cribs, the awful MTV show, where we, the clueless viewer watches the entertainer show off his myriad of cars, clothes, and harem(which we have purchased with the oodles of money we funnel to them for their terribly produced music) is when we see their shoes . These people have shoe closets, my friends. These shoe closets are my version of a suicide bombers version of heaven with 72 virgins. Except, instead of virgins, substitute in a pair or Nike Dunks, preferably in very bright colors.
When i'm older, I want to have one of these closets. I want to wake up in my bed, surrounded by shoes. Hell, if I could have a shoe blanket that would be sweet. Whenever I deposit a check in my meager bank account, I think about what shoes I can purchase next. I know. I have a problem. My mother tells me every time she sees me. So what! First step is admitting it. Second stop is buying more shoes. Also, for those conscientious shoppers who won't purchase nike products because they utilize kids in their sweat shops, blah, blah, blah, I say go bark at someone else. I'm not reducing my carbon footprint, i'm not replacing my light bulbs with those LCDSHDF(or whatever they're called) lightbulbs which save energy or something, and I sure as hell am not stopping my purchasing of nikes. They are my drugs and I need them. I say instead of yelling at people for buying nikes we should be patting those kids who make the shoes on their backs. For example, "good job, little guy, you make a fine shoe. Now, here's your plate of two cookies and a glass of milk...for the whole day." Lets support these youth and infuse them with a sense of self-confidence. The kids are the future!
pining for a new pair,

Only in New York Moment:
I saw a man carrying a fire extinguisher on the street today, spraying it at random. Honestly, what purpose could this serve? But, it seemed like I was the only one paying attention. Does anything make New Yorkers look twice? Apparently not.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The King of Carrot Flowers

Hello faithful followers! I hope this blog post finds you well wherever you are. I apologize for the delay. It’s been a crazy time here, being in the throes of midterms and all, so I’ve been too busy downing cups of coffee at an epic pace to write in here. I’m so jittery right now. I’m like a coke addict going through his first days of Detox. Yikes! I could be on one of those MTV True Life episodes. Don’t worry though. In my absence I have accrued a long list of things to discuss with you, which will all hopefully be covered this week.
As promised, I am first going to discuss my fear/frustration with grocery stores…more specifically, new grocery stores. When you are familiar with your own grocery store, be it Schnucks in St. Louis, Appletree for those morningside heights residents, or SuperSol for those Israelis/Upper Westsiders, being at your favorite grocery store is like returning the warmth and comfort of your mother’s womb. You know where everything is and you always have a direct supply of nutritious food to keep you energized for the long haul ahead that is birth.
However, when you’re in a foreign grocery store, it’s kind of like being in a foreign country for the first time, when you’re worried you’re going to end up hacked up like those kid’s in Hostel or, worse, like that kid in Eurotrip who ends up sodomized by some sort of Dutch Sex Goddess/dominatrix. But, I digress. It is very frightening to be “out of the womb” and in a “new” grocery store.
This happened to me on Friday, when I needed to purchase a few items for a salad I was making. However, as I’ve come to understand, whenever you need something in a grocery store with which you’re unfamiliar, you will never find such an item. Now, I know it would have been wise to consult with a member of Westside Market’s staff, but I love a challenge so I figured I could find it on my own. However, and I now deem this the Westside Phenomenon, I kept happenings upon items that I absolutely did not need. Honestly, how many cans of wasabi paste and maraschino cherries does a store need??? It was kind of like that scene in National Lampoons European Vacation when Clark Grizwald can’t get out of traffic and keeps repeating, “Hey kids, look! Big Ben, Parliament,” for what seems like a whole day spent circling these landmarks. Except, in my case, insert this mucus-y green concoction and damned red balls of satan for Big Ben and Parliament.
While I had this awful experience at this store, it was redeemed by my experience at Costco, where I am pretty sure a person could live for at least a month off their free samples. In case you’ve never been to Costco, for which you should be ashamed, they have free sample stands all throughout the store displaying their various delicacies. I was fortunate enough to be there when one of the greatest snacks known to mankind(second to dunkaroos, (which is what I imagine the apple from the tree of knowledge tastes like) was on display, Mozzarella Sticks! Oh man. I love these scrumptious, fried sticks of heaven. What is funny about these free samples is the classic Costco look that everyone gives each other.
Because the free samples are, supposedly, there for only a short period of time, a person goes up multiple times in a few minutes to take advantage of this sweet deal. I will admit I partook in said activity. However, there are those who get a bit violent when the food comes out of the oven. It’s kind of like the stampeding animals from the Lion King scene where Mufasa dies(such a sad scene in retrospect. I don’t think I had the ability to fully grieve as a child, but I guess that’s for another post). I think I saw a lady slap her own child out of the way. My friend, Adam Gindea, can attest to this spectacle. Anyway, what makes these encounters so humorous is the I-just-saw-you-here-like-five-times-before-this-but-we’ll-both-pretend-it’s-our-first-time-up-here look. It’s a classic moment where you both admit your gluttonacy(yes, I made that word up). Yet, for the mozzarella sticks, you(read:I) would do anything.
With much love,

Only in New York Moment:
I just took an hour long break from writing this to drive to NJ with a few friends to see this meteor shower, which could not be seen within the lights of NYC. So, in reality, it was an out of NY moment, but nonetheless, it was a pretty sweet break from the monotony of the school week. So, next time it happens, I’m told this is a bi-annual thing, check it out.

Friday, October 16, 2009

young forever

First and foremost, I’d like to apologize to my dear friend, mentor, past chevruta(maybe former) Sarit Horwitz. Yesterday, Sarit texted me telling me that she had checked five times yesterday to see if I had updated my blog. I responded my telling her to not fear, I would update later. While it might say more about the lacking in the social scene in the Chicago neighborhood where Sarit lives that she checked five times yesterday to see if I had blogged, I, nonetheless, feel ashamed that I disappointed this lovely lady. So, Sarit, here’s your apology and I hope this next blog post suffices to fill the giant hole in your heart created by my lack of blogging yesterday.
Yesterday was a fairly mundane day in which I attended my one class(having only one class per day on Tuesdays and Thursdays is what I imagine it must feel like to wake up on Christmas morning, except I get it twice a week! Oh, happy day!) and tutored this delight of a child, Caleb, who is a 9 year old spark plug who loves to learn about Judaism. I, seriously, love this kid. I want to create a little doll version of him and carry him around with me(Creepy? I hope not. I just think this kid’s amazing) However, the dominant part of day was the evil rain that was coming down all day.
I hate rain! I despise, loath, abhor, insert any synonym of those and you can capture my feelings. I’m fairly certain it stems from a childhood in which all three of my older siblings were gone so I loved going outside and playing with neighborhood friends(more likely, playing with myself because all the neighborhood kids were too frum or too busy robbing local convenient stores---basically a microcosm of growing up in U-City). That being said, whenever it rained, I was forced to stay inside. I missed so many little league and high school baseball games because of that damned, God-forsaken, heavenly urine.
I have many dear friends who claim that rain is romantic. What kind of crock of crap is that?! They argue that lying in bed, under the covers, watching a movie while it pours outside makes them feel all warm and cozy. What sort of craziness is this!! Now, I’m all for cuddling in bed, but I’d much rather be outside frolicking in the grass and sunshine. Give me a ball and an open field and occupy myself for hours. I’m especially adept at creating nonsensical games when bored, such as “Foil-Ball,” which my brother and I created by getting aluminum foil, forming a ball, each person on their knees in the den and you have to slap the ball past the opponent and depending on where it lands, you get points. Ah, the fruits of our youth! So young and innocent! I miss those days. Life was so much simpler.
Now, I am still faced with those dreadful pangs of depression that creep in when I first hear those taps on the window. Rain is, in no way, a positive thing. F the Earth! My outdoor time is more precious than it(Yes, I know it’s ironic that I want to enjoy the spoils of mother nature while denying her the rain. Whatever). So, the next time you see the rain, don’t come find me because I’ll probably be locked in my room, curled up into the fetal position while I await the first rays of sunshine to break through my window.
While discussing my rain issues with a friend yesterday, she began singing a song from what I think is the greatest album of all-time. Neutral Milk Hotel . Plain and simple, they are amazing. In the midst of this conversation she begged me not to turn this into a music blog, which I assured her, will not happen. I am not smart enough nor pretentious enough to talk about music like I care that much about it. In fact, I hate those people almost as much as I hate the rain. People who think music is the end all be all and if you listen to some type of pop radio, you are an apostate to good music. So, I say, screw you pretentious music buff. Why don’t you go listen to some more Sufjan Stevens and Rufus Wainright and talk about how they’re the best songwriters of our generation(I’m not quite sure why I picked these two, but I’m sure I’ve heard conceited music lovers discuss their merits before) Nonetheless, I will say this is an album I can always listen to, no matter the time or mood, no matter if I’ve just listen to it before. It is heavenly goodness.
What makes it even better is that it’s all about Anne Frank!!! Everyone knows my love of anything holocaust related. Hell, I’ve been to Poland for the past four summers! I know, I don’t know how I deal either. Anyway, their lead singer just began having dreams about Anne Frank for nights on end and decided they needed to write an album about her. What came out of these dreams? A musical masterpiece, if I say so myself. Check it out. You’ll thank me later.
I’ve decided to insert a new section in each blog post. This happened while walking back from the grocery store today. As mentioned in the first blog post, New York is a crazy place and certain things I see can only happen here. So, with that, I’ve decided to add the crazy the “Only in New York Moment” to my blog. So, today’s “Only in New York Moment”:
A man, walking around in ski gear in the middle of Broadway. We’re talking a big man, about 6’5, 250 LBS with ski pants, ski jacket, ski goggles, ski hat and ski boots. Excuse me sir, could you point me towards the nearest slopes? Well, actually, no my friend because there are no F’ing ski slopes in the MANHATTAN AREA!! What was this guy thinking? What a kook. I chuckled all the way home. Only in New York.
Shabbat Shalom(next post will be about my grocery store fear…excellent!)

P.S. I love women's winter fashion. I know most people prefer the scantily clad ladies of summer, but I saw beautiful women in some knee high boots, a L&V bag, and a striking white coat. I love this look. Women in winter=PureNeeds. Keep it coming, ladies. You all look beautiful.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

that new new

In chief, I would to apologize for the inordinate amount of posts my dear friend, Adam, has made. Because he is recently engaged and nearing the date of his impending doom, he has felt the need to spread his misery to those closest to him. (If you read this Jessie, I assure you he has said nothing like this and he gets a big ‘ole smile on his face every time he talks about you…please don’t dis-invite me from the wedding!) Hopefully, he will find a new hobby soon, like knitting or screen printing and take his psycho-babble somewhere else.

That being said, I just recently got back from a long day that started at 9:30 in the morning when I get my Talmud midterm back. Today was a good day for multiple reasons. I got an excellent grade on said midterm and secondly, I just thought of that Ice Cube song, “Today was a Good Day,” which was an amazing product of the greatness that was West Coast Rap. What has happened to West Coast rap? The product has certainly dropped in the recent past. I had high hopes for the Game, but he failed miserably, kind of like the Chicago Cubs, every season. Man, it must suck to be from Chicago!

Back to my day, which continued with a couple classes, followed by my bar-mitzvah tutee, who didn’t do so well today but I imagine he will “step his game up” by the time the big day comes around. Following the tutoring, I made my triumphant return to the gym at the urging of my good friend, Micah Miller. Micah, in case you don’t know him, is a meathead. He’s the guy who buys those 50 dollar cartons of protein, whey powder, creatine, insert generic GNC product, and lifts a lot of weights and then makes said protein shakes. He has been begging me to come back to the gym and finally I acquiesced.

Luckily, I successfully completed the routing he set out for me, without re-injuring my shoulder or pulling a Stefan Johnson(see article for explanation-…too soon? Refuah Shleimah-speedy recovery, Stefan! which I separated last year (for those of you who don’t know me, I am extremely injury prone. In two successive years, I tore my PCL in my knee and tore my labrum and ac joint in my shoulder. For these injuries, I take no blame. Rather, I lay the blame on my parents who never forced vitamins down my throat, like my other childhood friends. I was so damn jealous of my friends who got to ingest those little delicious flintstone-y treats that I would down them like peanuts whenever I was at my friends’ house). Sorry for the tangent. So, after I returned from the gym, (which is like a giant meat market where these steroid-filled men ogle the scantily clad women and attempt to “pick” out the finest cuts… I’m sure their shrunken testicles thank them), I walked back through campus and looked upon all the fine establishments in our area and decided to make a list of the 5 most overrated and underrated business. That was the original spark for this blog post, sorry, I’m a little tangential…deal with it!

So, without further adieu, here are my lists (listed in ascending order):


5. Campo (bar&restaurant) - A usual late night hotspot which fraternities (of which I will admit my fraternity does) generally rent out for parties. It gets crowded and hot and the ambience depresses the crap out of me.

4. Morton Williams (grocery store) - Extremely overpriced, limited selection, and way too many homeless beggars outside (this will be a future blog post topic, the beggars I mean)
3. Amir’s Falafel- A lot of my friends won’t eat here because it’s owned by a Lebanese man, who, they claim, hates Israel. This is silly. I’ve tried it a few times. Now I will not eat there anymore…not because of the owner’s political leanings but rather because the food tastes like something made of rat’s blood and human excrement.

2. 1020(Bar) - See description of Campo but after leaving this dank hellhole, I feel like I need a whole bottle of prozac.

1. Pinkberry- My mother swears by it. I hate this place with a passion! Everyone who goes there is so pretentious about how great their yogurt is. It tastes like someone put cyanide in it. Give me some old school frozen yogurt and i’ll be a happy camper.

Underrated (I’m only doing three because there are not too many underrated things)

3. Haakon’s Hall- A new bar on 118th and Amsterdam, which has great lighting, well priced drinks and a bartender who is from St. Louis(Yes!!!) and seems like he just smoked a whole pile of meth(Which makes sense as he hails from Missouri and t makes for great conversation)

2. Tom’s- Aside from the tourists who like to take pictures of the “Seinfeld” restaurant, nothing quite hits the spot like one of their tuna melts and broadway shakes(that’s a little vanilla chocolate mixture for the uninformed) Check it.

1. KORONETS—Not much needs to be said. Biggest pizza slices this side of Chernobyl. There is nothing better than a late night, ending with a huge slice of this gooey, hot, saucy concoction. Sometimes, I want to shower in it.

Those are my lists. Let me know what you think, if you agree, disagree, want to kill me, etc.

Off to Koronets,


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Golden Mean

I've been meaning to get this whole blogging thing started for awhile, and finally, during one of my recent mundane classes, I told myself the time was now ripe. Lo and behold, here it is, the beginning of my new art, "The Musings of a Midwesterner" blog! As many of you know, I hail from St. Louis, Missouri and, as a result of my laid-back, respectful, quiet upbringing in this wonderful Midwestern haven, I often have felt out of place in the streets of New York City. As such, I can't even tell you how many times i'll be walking in Manhattan when strange, humorous, inappropriate thoughts pop into my head about how crazy a place New York is and how I ended up here. Even today, I sometimes still feel like one of those European tourists, with their fanny packs stuffed with their passport and form fitting Armani Exchange paraphernalia who end up in East Harlem because they didn't switch at 96th street from the 2 train to the 1. Like them, I still am often lost in translation. For those of you who are non-New Yorkers and could care less about this over-hyped city, don't fret, my friends. While I have only discussed my out-of-placeness in New York, this blog will cover many aspects of my life, ranging from a little Jewish learning, to covering my forays into the Columbia social scene(which I compare to the watering pools of the jungle, where a slew of hippopotamuses(that would be the males of this campus) try to push and shove each other out of the way, while all the while attempting to reach the same goal...some shallow, vapid, WASPY girl who will probably end up CAVA'd anyway because she drank too much(that's the student run Columbia ambulance service), and finally discussing the gamut of idiotic comments I hear so often in the classroom(this never ends). It will be a hodgepodge of, what I hope will be, extremely entertaining material for you, the reader. You should definitely comment as it will provide me with great inspiration to continue preaching to the masses(realistically, a lack thereof). That being said, I will not be like my good friend, Nathan Miller, whose calling card for his blog is that it's updated daily. Alas, he's more a man than I. Sometimes, the creative juices run dry. But, I will do my best to keep the entries comin'. I will end with a phrase a friend of mine, China, from school uses often. He champions anything wonderful in his life as PureNeeds. This could range from a beautiful car, a delicious sandwich, and for him, drooling over Kobe Bryant. While I don't necessarily see those as PureNeeds, I think the phrase is amazing and have attempted to integrate it into my vocabulary. So, I wish to part by saying I hope you can get some of your PureNeeds from this blog as my main goal here is to provide you all with some laughter(and a little bit for myself as well).
Still trying to find the Golden Mean,