NYC: Convention Time

So I actually work downtown and west enough that if I didn't know the Convention was here, I wouldn't actually experience it at all (with the possible exception of the NYPD bike dispatching station that they've set up around my subway stop on 8th Ave. -- last time I checked, there were something like 50-odd bikes and tons of cops hanging around). Of course, most of New York is like that -- except for things like 9/11 or the blackout, things could very well be happening on the next block over and you would just have no idea. It makes the city kind of fun. Walk walk walk - BOOM! Movie shoot! It's kinda neat.

But yeah, the convention -- myself and little J headed out on Sunday morning or so, armed with plenty of water and a camera, to see what was going on. I didn't exactly know where the route was going to be, or where the parade was going to be by the time we emerged from the subway, so we just took the F train to 14th St. and figured that we'd wander around until we saw people moving some general direction or another. It didn't take very long. Immediately upon exiting we saw people with signs heading down 16th St., moving west. It didn't seem like much of a parade, so I was initially disappointed. But then I was struck by all the loud thrumming in the air, and realized that from where I was standing, I could see four newscopters and a blimp. The helicopters gave the proceedings an eerie, menacing tone, but that was soon counteracted by the actual people that we ran into, closer to 7th Ave.

The crowds soon thickened up -- the streets were jammed as soon as we actually got to 7th. Huge banners, people in costumes, wearing signs. There was a whole group of protesters I'd actually seen the year before at the Iraq protest I went to (similar vibe), a group of harlequins in full headgear and sparkly makeup. They were accompanied by a guy dressed as the Statue of Liberty, but with a skullface painted on. He was being interviewed by somebody with a videocamera. The reporters were all out in full force, as well as the hobbyists with their camcorders and digital cameras. Everybody was recording everything, including me, who was snapping away with my D100. There was a veritable D-SLR army out there on the street, and I felt a silly, inconsequential kinship with those that had my exact make and model of camera.

One advantage of liberal activist protests that you don't seem to get at conservative rallies is that while the activists are obviously out there because they care deeply about this convention and this administration, they're also out to have a damn good time. There was a very definite pranksterish tone to the whole thing -- people obviously spent a lot of time making elaborate costumes and funny signs, as well as coming up with clever chants to yell as they marched. It's kinda hard to imagine a fundamentalist mom holding up a sign reading "I skipped Burning Man to protest your abortion." In addition, the sheer amount of percussion made it seem like a parade, rather than a protest. I accidentally typed "parade route" earlier in this post, but I let it stand because it still seems like an apt way to describe it. Hippies with their handdrums, maracas, flutes -- whole sections of the crowd were marching, dancing and singing. It made the whole thing seem very fun. Which I think is both good and bad -- in people's efforts to make it an event, gimmicks inevitably win out. I found myself taking pictures of people's funny signs ("God Hates G.W. Bush," "Monkeys Against Bush," "Sluts Unite") and funny costumes rather than the honest-to-god earnest protesters (of which there were some). It's attention-getting sure, but is it effective? Is ANY of this effective? Part of the point I guess is to show the country that there are lots of people who care enough about getting Bush out of office. And perhaps somebody who lives in a mostly red county will see it and feel a little less alone, be inspired to activism, I don't know. It's fairly impressive that hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country have descended upon New York to make a big stink. But on the other hand, if it's the unwashed hippies, the noisemakers, the funny sloganeers -- isn't that also the easiest thing in the world to dismiss? There was very little nuance involved in the demonstration. I mean, granted, nobody is going to be chanting "Hey ho, hey ho, measured troop withdrawal from Iraq by 2008 is the way to go" but neither, I think, is holding up signs like "Bush is a fascist" and "Asses of Evil." I found myself annoyed at being able to very easily come up with counterarguments for all the extreme positions expressed. It's the exact same intolerance for the realities we're facing that I get so annoyed at when they come from White House.

J and I cut around the slowest bit of the parade (it had taken us and hour to move two blocks) and headed uptown, where we caught up with it around Herald Square. After a small picture-taking break, we marched past the mounted police (so cool; when we passed, the crowd started chanting "Give the cops a raise!") and turned down 5th Avenue. By this time, we were hot, tired and a bit dead on our feet, so we followed Fifth Avenue down to 23rd St. (at the Flatiron Building) and headed home from the 23rd St. F.

Overall, I was glad I got out there. Just by being another body out in the crowd, in some way, I swelled the ranks and showed my dissatisfaction with the current administration. But I also didn't feel like I wanted to discuss anything with the people I was marching with. Sure, I don't like Bush. And yes, I want him out office. But I felt like I would have just been picking a fight if I had expressed by more moderate views with anybody there. It is inspiring, though, to see so much motivation and fire. I'm interested to see how the rest of the week turns out...


Baby Carrots

So, my worst suspicions were confirmed today with a quick Google search while having lunch today. Unlike Cornish Gamehens, which are actually chickens bred to be smaller, baby carrots are in fact full-grown carrots whittled down to size to appeal to the American snacksense. Because, you know, we'll eat anything modular. To be precise, according to USA Today:

"They're grown-up carrots cut into 2-inch sections, pumped through water-filled pipes into whirling cement-mixer-size peelers and whittled down to the niblets Americans know, love and scarf down by the bagful."

Awesome. I don't like them any less, of course, but it was still neat to know. Interestingly as well, an entire pound of baby carrots only has 200 calories. Crazy.


So I got a bit of spam today in my inbox, the usual deal, asking me to check out some webcam, "if i'm lonely." But then, at the end of the e-mail, there's this surreal little paragraph, which I think is totally, totally precious:

"Her daughters hairy binocyles is thinking. His brothers noisy mobile
phone calculates and their small kitchen calms-down."

I wonder what a binocycle is.

In other news, Elephant Larry's show "The Precinct" finally got reviewed! It's not the best-written piece of work, but they did like it quite a bit. I'm very proud of the show, so that's pretty cool. They even namecheck me and Geoff's bagpipe bit, which is really fun to do. So that's cool.


In addition, right around the corner from where we're doing "The Precinct," our all-police-themed sketch comedy show, there's this priceless bit of graffiti. For those not as intimately acquainted with the show, Geoff's character's name is Preston Jenkins...so we couldn't really resist this lovely photo-op. Ah, shenanigans. Posted by Hello

So this is a truck that we honest-to-god saw after Elephant Larry had dinner at Benny's Burritos on Greenwich Ave. Rapex Contracting Corp. Are you fucking kidding me? Who names something like that? So, needless to say, we had to take a picture. Posted by Hello


Wouldn't it be funny if there was a proverb that went:

"The best babies have the slowest mommies."

Which is to say, the best ideas/things take the longest to come into fruition, a perfectly adequate idea to express in proverb form. But I love how awkward the image of a slow mommy is. And the idea that there is such a thing as a 'best baby.' Overall, the phrase makes sense, but good lord the analogy is flawed all over the place.

Oh, man, I'm going to have some more coffee.


Oh, man, I totally almost forgot to post this, but a bumblebee hit me in MY FRIGGIN' EYE this morning. I was just turning onto 4th Avenue on the way to the subway when this bumblebee buzzed around the right side of my head and smacked me in my eye. So weird. I jerked back kinda awkwardly, and gave a look to the girl walking right behind me like "did you see that" which either she did not or she was trying to ignore the weird guy herky-jerkying across the sidewalk like some kinda nerd. Good start to the day...


Mostly, this is just a test to see how well this photo uploading softward I just downloaded works. But dudes (I say, as if anybody's reading this thing), I also wanted you to see this Gorgeous Picture of myself and Alex duking it out as the heroic crime-and-self-fighting duo, Fightman & Puncher. Yeehaw. Posted by Hello


Two small things today.

1) File under the heading of small things that you have blind spot for (like blinking!): Gum. On the streets. Absolutely freaking everywhere. I thought about it this morning as I got off the train because I musta stepped in some sort of gummy fruit thing (not actually gum). And then when I emerged from my stop, I look around and all over the sidewalks are the little black dots of gum-having-been-there evidence. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Absolutely everywhere. Who does that? Who just tosses gum on the street? And usually, you never see a fresh piece. I wonder how long some of that gum has been there. Of course, I think it's more stunning for me, because I trained myself long ago to just swallow gum, because, hey, it's smaller than most food you swallow and pretty slick and I'm PRETTY CERTAIN it does get stuck in your appendix for 18 years or however long it's supposed to be there until they have to remove your giant chewing gum tumor through surgery. But yeah. Gum on the streets. Total blindspot. And yet it should be pretty obvious that our sidewalks are not sidewalk-colored but in fact totally spotty almost all the time. I like seeing stuff that I usually ignore. Makes me feel observant or something.

2) For some unknown reason, I've been carrying around 10 useless keys with me at all times for about a year or so. Everyday, I only ever use ONE key. It opens my door to my apartment. That's the only key I ever ever ever use. And yet, I've been lugging around an excessively heavy keychain, and it didn't occur to me until yesterday that perhaps, oh, I should cull that down to a few less keys. Which I did. Now I carry around just one key. And I feel smarter. I like simplifying my life. Next stop: cleaning out my fucking backpack. It's heavy for no reason. I'm going to figure out why.


So I've got Switchfoot's "Meant to Live" stuck in my head, and how. I have to say that even though I've been hearing the song all summer, it finally hit me in some sort of pop-rock sweetspot (this happens occasionally). I predict that I will listen to it everyday for the next week or so as my get-up-in-the-morning song, and then return to it every couple of weeks or so. I don't know, there's just something about epic radio songs that ask you to live up to your potential that really get to me – Stan Bush's "Dare" and, you know, the entire Andrew WK canon come to mind. Especially since the Switchfoot package is so banal and polished – I watched the video and they just look like a central casting "rock band," wearing all kindsa tight li'l t-shirts and leather armbands and sweatbands and chunky watches and, god help me, the drummer's even wearing a trucker hat. Also, to watch the video, there seem to be about a million guitarists in the band, but it's a little hard to tell since a) they're in different rooms for some reason and b) the camera seems to only wanna make a star out of the singer. Which makes sense, since he's the kind of blond mopheaded singer that cameras seem to love. He looks a bit like the singer for the Goo Goo Dolls (name escapes me, I seem to remember it's something complicated with lots of consonants). Anyway. I would love for there to be a roadtrip sometime soon where I could sing this song really loud while hanging out the window, but I fear that's not going to happen.


So among the weirder things I'm involved with recently is a new website that me 'n' Alex designed for a photographer friend in trade for his services: www.passedoutwookies.com. It's a gallery website, basically, where people can contribute their photos of hairy hippies who have overindulged and then, for lack of a better term, passed out. Now, this is all sort of entertaining (I don't quite have the necessary levels of schadenfreude to properly appreciate the site, I think), but the thing I find more fascinating is how many hits the site has been getting. A feature of the gallery is that you can see how many times the various pictures have been looked at...and some of them are now up in the 3000 range. Which is strictly incredible to me. It's some sort of law of the internet (and humans, I guess) that the easer an idea is to grasp and "enjoy" (i.e. the dumber the idea) the more popular it's going to be. Alex and I toiled for 2 years on our sprawling, complicated X-Ball website – a site who's quirky pleasures would only get better if you read the million and a half (give or take) stories that we posted about our fictitious extreme sports-playing characters. Despite our best efforts, it never really took off, even though I'm quite proud of it to this day. We used to joke about how we should have just gone ahead and made runningintowalls.com, where we'd post nothing but pictures of people hurting themselves, and how that woulda been the most popular site ever. I realize now that we could very well not have been joking. Not that I condemn simple entertainment, but I guess I don't really feel like I need to be actively contributing to the din of moronic crap out there. Not that the passedoutwookies.com thing is moronic crap. I think I just prefer the achewood.com's of the world. All right, I'm getting back to work here. Enough shirking!


Man, do NOT think about blinking for too long, or it just starts to seem like the weirdest thing you do. Try not to pay attention that, as you're speaking with other people, they're continually moisturizing their eyes. WITH THEIR EYELIDS. On the other hand, if you decide to think about it, make sure you notice how smooth and automatic the motion is, how fast it is, how it doesn't interfere with your normal life EVER (unless you think about it too much). It's also very quiet. Okay, I'm quite done here.