17 May 2007

An aged man is but a paltry thing

A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

(This isn't my blog anymore. Go not to Byzantium, but to http://redadmirable.wordpress.com/ and blush at my grandiosity).

16 May 2007

Strange (Hospital) Bedfellows

I knew a lot when I took a drafty bus down to DC to protest W. Bush's first inauguration--I was sixteen, so of course I knew a lot. I knew that I really wanted All Things Considered to call me and not only be a Youth Radio reporter (so embarrassing and yet so rad), I knew that it was likely the FBI would be surveilling my vinegar-soaked handkerchief self, and I knew John Ashcroft was a Confederate apologist, woman-hating defeated Senator. In fact, I think the sign I made for the demonstration said something negative about him, instead of about Bush. (Remember the luxury of domestic politics?)

Much has changed in six years--Barbara, Jenna and I have all grown up, and at least one of us has never been arrested for trying to drink with a fake ID. The moral terrain has shifted so dramatically in the direction of egregious, malicious corruption during Bush's presidency that, this morning, Ashcroft seemed like a victim.

The mad-cap race to Ashcroft's hospital room would strike me as a thrilling, political-noir drama if it wasn't so repugnant. Bush tried to take advantage of an incapacitated, doddering Attorney General who had clearly shown himself willing to bend the law to satisfy politics--that's the kind of Attorney General you shouldn't have to drug up before program reauthorizations.

But, then, anomaly of anomalies, a weakened Ashcroft staggered out of his bed and took a stand. When the line between the good guys and the bad guys has veered so far over into the bad, it's hard to predict who our bedfellows will be. Compassionate Conservatism really backfired, eh? Wanton promiscuity and bed-sharing all around--and if Robert S. Mueller III is impregnated with Ashcroft's baby, he still has time to abort it.

13 May 2007

Take Another Sip

So, I fear that I inadvertently bad-mouthed Devendorf/Dressner/Berninger & co (The National, to people who don't feel guilty about Technocrati searches (I am so ridiculous)) when I said that they played unremarkably last Tuesday. "Boxer" is all I've been listening to since my epic walk on Friday, and everytime we (being Ingrid the iPod and I) reach the end of "Gospel" I react like there's been a malfunction and stare at her as though there must be more. Honestly, I wish there were. It's a morose album--also about love, which exacerbates the discomfort--but I spent the weekend in New Jersey: it wasn't all Journey cover bands at O'Reilly's.

12 May 2007

Artistically Challenging Stirrup Jeans

Time Out New York did a feature this past week on the best walks in the city, which I was psyched about. I super love walking, and exploring at a pedestrian pace, on a human scale--I think it comes from travelling in countries where I don't speak the language, or at least not very well, and my social anxiety and fear of embarrassing myself make taxis and buses prohibitively intimidating. Ask a dusty, taciturn, big-bellied bus driver how to get to Sololá? Pienso que no.

Also, now I have a pedometer. Leeeee! And I have finished finals. So there's lots of good sunny time in Brooklyn. But was I going to do one of the ToNY walks?

"Ulysses S. Grant's final resting place is a hot walking spot."

My decision was made.

I chafe against predetermined exploration, anyway, (even though Max and I have grand plans for a Stoner's Walk) and it would definitely have been impossible to drink the Milanese cappuccino from a defunct Madison Avenue cafe to which ToNY aimed walkers, so I evaluated my priorities. I considered my ultimate destination--Gowanus, starting from Williamsburg--and also my ultimate preoccupation on any May morning when the air's already sultry: pretty dresses.

You should do this walk. You should not do this walk wearing consignment Grasshoppers. They will smell irreversibly atrocious.

The route is about five and a half miles and took me--with stops and an extended mournful look at my bicycle, which was robbed of its seat and rear wheel in Prospect Heights (it looks ridiculously undignified, like a senior citizen who forgot to put his pants on)--about three hours. Also, there's no reason for you to go all the way to Gowanus, even though if this were a magazine and especially if this were a cool magazine, I'd probably advise "catching" some "artistically challenging material" at the "Issue Project Room." Also, guess I'd do that if I wrote for Zagat's.

So. I started south on Bedford Avenue and walked through Williamsburg, the real Williamsburg, where everyone was scurrying around on foot or in minivan getting ready for Shabbos. If they were really rushed, they probably didn't have time to eat and just picked up a little drive-thru Glatt kosher chinese food at "Chinese Checkers." (I think keyboards explode if you spell "through" with all its letters in the context of mono-saturated fats).

I turned right on Rutledge, which turns into Classon, at which point the neighborhood begins to change. Blue Bass was started across the street from Pratt by some pretty young ladies last fall, and I really love their things, especially the things that are wee sweaters and sailor shirts for babies. I touched one, and something Lego-ish fell off. Sara Hodges, proprietress, was very nice about it.

I kept walking down Classon, hellooo western fringes of Bed Stuy, and turned right on the little spit of Quincy street that ends in the old Brooklyn Trolley building turned Broken Angel, the eerie building that needs an urban arts patron to the tune of $1.4 million. (Site-Meter indicates that I have a fabulously wealthy readership that loves sea glass). The Salvation Army at 22 Quincy isn't anything special, just several dank moth-bally rooms where I seriously considered buying a yellow bathing suit with white buttons. Honestly, it was the yellow and not the potential salvation (read: private-part skin falling off due to mysterious used bathing suit disease) that finally convinced me to walk away. A series of courteous gentlemen, though, did inform me in turn that all furniture was half-off. Another one told me my fly was down. All very helpful.

I trudged along, one teeny acid-washed skirt wealthier. My armpits were nearing super-saturation, so I dripped all over the counter and ordered a beverage at Muddy Waters, just north of Grand Army Plaza. Hootie Couture, on Flatbush, has lovely gowns and dresses that probably thrill the pubescent crowd that descends after it gobbles up American Apparel across the street. Everyone writes about Allison Houtte so I don't really need to, but on Friday she was keeping her store icy cold like a mint julep on Kentucky Derby day (she's from Florida/I'm out of my element here) and charming everyone who came in. Also, she kept trilling "If anyone wants some goooodies, come right up! I have caaaandy!"

At the (second, yes, second) Salvation Army down the block there was a different sort of lady clientele, exemplified by a sturdy old woman in a very sensible polo shirt who was paralyzingly confused about whether she'd purchased the other identical polo shirts on the counter before her.

"What?! They're yours! Take them!" the cashier kept repeating, and the woman didn't respond, just kind of jabbed her finger at the price tag. Finally, she used a very, very small voice to say "I want to pay less," even though she'd already paid--more.

By that point, I wanted to pay less, too, but I kept the dream alive and paid $2.99 debit for a smoking hot pair of Ralph Lauren STIRRUP JEANS. I was smelly and redeemed.

09 May 2007

Feliz Cumpleanos a Lee

I made cupcakes for Lee's (ten hour long) birthday party last Friday. Lo era una celebración de Cuatro de Mayo, y por eso--just joking! I made Mexican chocolate cupcakes out of a mix of things, and I'll send the recipe along the next time lovely Whisk & Ladle proposes a recipe exchange. Until then, I'll say: there was orange zest, cinnamon & coffee in the cake part, and the vanilla icing was, ideally, like a Creamsicle, with orange juice & then more orange zest on top. Even though I know I'd really be a chiller person if I could, I can never restrain myself from forcing my baking on Amanda (and Josh, this time), because I think she'll be just as psyched as I am, and then I made Mark & Danielle eat them, too. I didn't say anything, because then we'd all have salmonella, but I felt like the batter tasted better than the baked result.

Before I iced them, Lee said "I love zest!" and so I took him at his word. I'm just a literal woman. Thatz's all.

Working Uptown

I went to the see the Arcade Fire at the United Palace Theater last night. I’d had big plans to show Max the Elder the apartment where my parents & I lived when I was small, but some pork tacos and the persistently tourist-stymied walk through midtown meant we didn’t really have time. Seven-eighteen one seventy-first, fourth floor facing west, forgive me. I know that the relevant chattering classes have been writing about the United Palace and my limited architectural knowledge doesn’t enable me to contribute anything meaningful, but I will say that it struck me as big & drafty—but that’s probably a function of my similarity to that aNYthing fellow in that I never see shows above, well, Summer Stage. Ani rocks! Put your legs together! Your male privilege balls aren’t that big! aNYway, you might say I’m similar to him. The theater kept reminding Max of Salomon, the biggest lecture hall at Brown, one that’s cemented itself in my mind as (a) where Cathy cried as we unfurled a banner calling Richard Perle a war criminal and (b) where the lighting meant that everyone, however well nourished they were, looked sallow enough to indicate kidney failure.

We had general admission tickets, which meant that we queued up obediently (Max is much better at behaving obediently than I), waiting our turn to fill up the narrow aisle to the right of all the seats. We stood there for awhile, shuffling & leaning against each other and squinting at the stage.

“Silver cello!” I yelped. And, a minute later, “that pipe organ looks a little bit like Oz.” Which it did, squished into totally disorienting perspective up on a platform to the rear of the stage. As a matter of course, I talk far too much during shows, and I was trying to get some of it out of my system.

The National played beautifully, if unremarkably—we, like just about everyone else I saw, sat down during their entire set, which was presumably what Matt Berninger wanted to do after he, like, broke his ankle when a mic stand fell on it, or something. It wasn’t clear what had happened, and he’s a relatively tortured vocalist anyway so it took me awhile to realize something was off. “Max!” I whispered, “this is the time to do the Lisa Turtle Sprain!” And he was, to a certain extent, doing just that, only with less of a curly brown ponytail. Who would be his Screech? The big glasses and David Byrne-suit wearing Dessner/Devendorf?

Anyway, they rocked hard. I’ve read that people think the Funeral songs are more successful live than Neon Bible ones, but I’d completely disagree—the show was choreographed, basically, (Regine, por lo menos, was choreographed) around a biblical theme & an active church was an ideal place to milk the haunted, mournful verbosity of that album. The opening video sequence (replaced during the set with images of the band) showed Aimee Semple McPherson--I think, I think--looking like a Kiss member preaching the Four Square Gospel in a mildly discomfiting and also extremely appealing atmospheric shift. During "Intervention" one of the young men not playing drums ripped pages out of what I took to be a Bible—that was a slightly silly move, right? Like something Zach Kline would have done in eighth grade for an English class presentation of Fahrenheit 451? On the momentary lack of sophistication scale, he scored close to Regine crooning, during "Haiti," what struck me as “my family tree-eees/losing all its leave-eees” (but wasn't) through her Madonna-gloved hands—even though that was my fault, not hers. I never felt embarrassed for the band, though, because I was madly loving them and also I was tangibly aware of the effort they put into and the glee they clearly get from performing.

And then they invited everyone on stage! Again, a refreshingly ego-less gesture! (Does that sentence deserve to be an exclamation?) This meant, of course, that until Win Butler surfaced again, those of us who [se boyfriends] had been waylaid early in the show by a MoMA internet calamity were perfunctorily presented with the lumpy bottoms and saggy messenger bags of a crowd that I persistently sensed was composed primarily of elementary school teachers who worked in the Bronx.

If only those teachers—the actual ones—who really are working downtown for the minimum wage could rock as hard as Butler & co. There’d be a revolution, and Washington Heights would become what Jess mistook it for earlier that night when she’d been in the neighborhood for barbeque: a hipster Mecca. And the United Palace? A hipster mosque.

03 May 2007

Babies, Part II

I'm disgusted. Hilary Clinton is so bad at saying she's sorry, she just wants to go back in time and REVERSE the Senate vote authorizing funding for the war! I'm so disgusted I'm Basil Fawlty telling his handsome, gleaming young guest that he really should have visited a chemist's shop earlier in the day. Hilary Clinton is a large-faced baby.

An easier way for Hilary to accomplish her shifty, calculating goal? She could build a time machine! That would work! I was talking my dear old friend James last night, and I learned a lot. (He still lives in New Jersey, so I don't get to benefit from his tutelage as much as I should). I learned that May '77 was a crazy good month for the Grateful Dead--some of the hottest Scarlet Fire jams--and also that it wasn't overambitious of us to plan to see their shows. See, I learned that James has been reading some stuff on the Internet about the government's research into time travel.

Call me a physics nerd (you'd be an idiot to call me a physics nerd), but I exclaimed "James, you'd burn up! You can't go faster than the speed of light!" He said, no, no, Emma, maybe they were looking into doing the traveling a different way. There was a facility in Montauk, he told me, where all the experiments had happened. They razed it recently (apparently the tests weren't panning out) and found, like, body parts from the future stuck in the walls.

Quarks. Effing quarks. Who knew?

Luckily for the state of my cell phone minutes account, James and I both agreed that actually traveling into the past could have frightening repercussions.

But I don't think Hilary Clinton would think that far. She'd probably still want everyone to think she'd never been wrong about anything. Another person who wants to use that Montauk time machine? Robert Byrd, Clinton's co-sponsor on the measure, who got all sorts of college students to swoon for him during the Iraq debates and all sorts of black college students to (presumably) loathe him during the 1940s when he was a registered KKK member and accomplished organizer.