Category Archives: As Seen On Gawker

Drifting Away

There’s a bad habit among New York City pedestrians that needs to be addressed. It’s a problem that’s not just prevalent among tourists, or the bridge-and-tunnel set, or the elderly. It’s a problem that’s surprisingly not just confined to on-street cell-phone talkers, coffee sippers, or iPod listeners.

The problem is sidewalk drifting.

drifting.JPG

Sidewalk drifting occurs when you and another pedestrian are walking down the sidewalk, nearly side-by-side, when the offender inexplicably drifts over into your straight-line path. They’re not going into a store. There’s nobody coming at them in the other direction. There is no reason for them to move. But for some reason, they find it necessary to move into your way.

Often times, they are slower-moving than you are, and they drift into your way as you approach them from behind. These pedestrians need rear-view mirrors.

Sidewalk drifting is the pedestrian equivalent of changing lanes without signaling.

Generally, it happens without warning. Sometimes the reason is obvious: most of the time, sidewalk drifters are talking on their cell phones, completely oblivious to their surroundings. These are the same people who are literally incapable of walking and chewing gum. But often, sidewalk drifting happens without explanation: does the other pedestrian feel more comfortable on the right side of the sidewalk? Can the other pedestrian only walk at 20-degree angles? Does the other pedestrian enjoy the extremely close company of complete strangers?

There’s one sure-fire solution to stopping sidewalk drifting. We’ll make the pedestrian experience more like driving… with sidewalk lane markings!

drifting2.JPG

There! Millions of dollars in paint and labor and… problem solved!

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Filed under As Seen On Gawker, Life in NYC

It’s All Smoke and Urine

nosmoking.jpgWhile waiting for the light to change at the corner of 14th and 3rd this morning, a girl blew cigarette smoke in my face while I was taking a swig of juice. The taste of the hundreds of chemicals masked the taste of my juice. It was disgusting. I nearly choked. And I nearly choked her.

I’m going to make a bold statement here. It’s not one that my cancer-stick-loving friends will take lightly. Nor is it one that my freedom-loving friends will take lightly. 

If urinating in public is illegal, smoking in public should be illegal.

Urinating in public is illegal because it is perceived to be detrimental to society. It is unsightly. But it is not unhealthy. Urine is sterile once it leaves the human body. It does not contain bacteria. Hell, you can use fresh urine to clean wounds (remember that next time you drunkenly trip on the sidewalk). The smell that lingers from the urine stain on the sidewalk is enough to make someone gag, but it’s not unhealthy. Urine doesn’t pollute our air and groundwater. And let’s face it: when you gotta go, you gotta go.

Smoking in public is undoubtedly detrimental to society. It is not necessarily unsightly. After all, a smoking, brooding hipster is infinitely cooler-looking than a non-smoking, brooding hipster. But it can kill you and the people around you. Each breath of secondhand smoke takes time off your life. It smells bad, and it’s unhealthy. Cigarette smoke and cigarette butts pollute our air and water. And no matter what kind of addictive grasp nicotine has on your body, smoking will never be a bodily function.

So, if smokers are going to keep bitching that their rights are being taken away, why haven’t serial public urinators ever staged an uprising? Just sayin’.

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Filed under As Seen On Gawker, Life in NYC, Politics

What I Did This Weekend: Thinking Way Outside the Bun

Despite the abundance of 24-hour food service operations in New York, at 2:30am on a Saturday night, options for food dramatically decrease here. In addition, considering the lack of sobriety among the hungry at 2:30 am on a Saturday night, the perception of the quality of these options for food becomes dramatically warped.

The result? A visit to Taco Bell at 2:30am on Saturday night with Amish and his friend Rishi. In my drunken stupor, I went for the Grilled Stuft Burrito, much like Carmen Electra.

burrito.JPG(Side note: is anyone else surprised that she actually took a bite of that thing in the ad? I don’t think the ad does a very good job at the “sex sells” approach. I mean, the thought of Carmen Electra eating a 720-calorie burrito from Taco Bell is honestly a turn-off, especially when you start to consider the digestive consequences.)

As we were ordering, Rishi drunkenly asked the cashier, “do you guys have any beer?” We all had more than our fair share already that night, so Amish and I shrugged off the question and laughed. After ordering our food, Amish and I sat down. Rishi, however, remained up at the counter talking with the cashier.

“What is he doing,” Amish asked me.

“I have no idea,” I replied. “But whatever it is, it can’t be good.”

I chose to stay out of the conversation between Rishi and the cashier. From our perspective, it didn’t exactly seem heated, but there was definitely a consipiratorial aspect to the exchange. Our number was called for our food, and I picked it up and brought it back to the table – but Rishi stayed at the counter. As Amish and I dug in to our food, Rishi pulled out his wallet at the counter for some sort of transaction. The cashier gave him a large Duane Reade bag from behind the counter, and he lugged the bag back over to our table with a grin on his face.

I was creeped out. “Uh, what just happened there?”

Rishi reached into the bag, fumbled around, and proudly pulled out 3 bottles of Heineken for the table. He promptly spilled one of them all over the table and all over himself, drawing the ire of the other late-night employees. While the sale pretty much happened entirely under the table, the cashier later came over to instruct us to also drink our beers under the table.

So, yes, in the wee hours of the morning, you can apparently buy beer at this particular Taco Bell, and off the cashier no less. Obviously, we weren’t the first people to ask for beer at this location. When the transaction was complete, the cashier left the store and returned a minute later with another six-pack of beer from the 24-hour drugstore next door, presumably for the next customers willing to throw down cash for some beer – with a wink and a nod.

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Filed under As Seen On Gawker, Food and Booze, What I Did This Weekend

It’s the Booze Train

I talk a lot of smack about Connecticut. But on a 2-hour train ride back into the city, I was sandwiched in a middle seat on Metro-North between a guy who smelled musty and someone’s dog in a carrying case. The musty smell, when the breeze was blowing just right, made me gag. The dog, which I am allergic to, made me sneeze and wheeze. Luckily, I could seek solace in the the next car of the train: the bar car.

barcar.JPG

See that? A giant Connecticut State Seal. That state is good for something after all.

Metro-North was very aggressive with the marketing of the bar car on this particular train. They would mention the bar car at nearly every opportunity they got:

Announcer in back of train: Passengers coming aboard, if you’re looking for some open seats, there are plenty, just keep moving to the back of the train.
Announcer in front of train: Hey, Jerry, way to take away our business up here!
Announcer in back of train: Oh, sorry, guys. We have a bar car on the train today, in the front car. Snacks, cold beverages, beer, wine coolers, and spirits. So, uh, head to the front of the train if you prefer the bar car over an open seat.

I, for one, do in fact prefer the bar car over an open seat.

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Filed under As Seen On Gawker, Food and Booze, On the Road

Questions I Want to Ask Potential New Roommates, Based on Experiences with the Roommate He Will Be Replacing

  • Does your entire diet consist of white bread, cold cuts, and protein shakes?
  • How many casual sex partners do you plan on having in your bedroom on a weekly basis?
  • What percentage of those casual sex partners do you meet online: (a) 100%, or (b) less than 100%?
  • What is your policy on hearing loud, rowdy sex noises? Is it consistent with your policy on generating loud, rowdy sex noises?
  • Does your sexual deviance suggest that I should not sit on your bed, out of fear of acquiring an STD?
  • A hypothetical question: if there were 15 people in the apartment drinking and socializing, would you (a) acknowledge their existence and greet them, or (b) lock yourself in your bedroom and slip out quietly when everyone is gathered in the living room?
  • Another hypothetical question: if I were to knock on your bedroom door, would you yell “come in” every time, despite the fact that you always lock your bedroom door for no apparent reason?
  • Do you wash used plastic plates and silverware in the dishwasher?
  • Do you consistently forget to put items back into the freezer that you removed, resulting in a puddle of melting popsicles on the top of the refrigerator?
  • Will it be revealed months later that you are obviously a 70 year-old woman trapped in a 25 year-old man’s body, given your use of Aqua-Net?
  • Did you know you could use your debit card like a credit card?

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Filed under As Seen On Gawker, Life in NYC

A ‘Hood By Any Other Name

Oh, New York City neighborhood names: manufactured by real estate scum and delivered directly to you. Sure, there’s the now-overused East Village (somebody shoot me), the completely misleading East Williamsburg (somebody shoot me, seriously), and the long-standing East New York (somebody has probably already shot me). But there are also those in-between neighborhoods – the ones that straddle the border between two ‘hoods with names – where slumlords have also gotten creative. There’s BoCoCa, GraMurray, and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, just to name a few. But too many in-between areas in New York have gotten overlooked. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to bestow a name upon some areas that get lost in the New York City neighborhood shuffle.

First up, Hell’s Kitchen. It’s the neighborhood that is defying the re-naming tradition. Some real estate agents have the nerve to call it “Clinton.” What a boring, non-descript name with no respect for the recent history of the ‘hood. But what’s up with the “kitchen?” What about the rest of the apartment? Well, “Hell’s Bathroom” has to be somewhere, and I know exactly where it belongs:

Hells Bathroom

Next, we head to Brooklyn, where the neighborhoods of Kensington and Borough Park are worlds apart. One is a quaint yet heterogeneous residential community, while the other is one of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities outside of Israel. Clearly, there needs to be some transition here:

Broken

Over to Queens we go, where Hollis and Fresh Meadows sound like places that are worlds apart. But I propose a great way to unite these two neighborhoods:

Ho Meadows

Back to Southern Brooklyn, where its proximity to both the beaches and a subway line that stops at West 4th Street provides a great backdrop for a new satellite gay neighborhood in Brooklyn:

Manwood

Finally, we head over to the vast wasteland that is Red Hook. For too long, the residents of The Point’s well-kept rowhouses have tried to distance themselves from the eastern side of Red Hook, with its public housing and proximity to the disgusting Gowanus Canal and exhaust-spewing Gowanus Expressway. Well, their wish is my command:

Red Anus

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Sometimes, The Polak Jokes Write Themselves

There’s been a lot of flack lately about an article in the Haverford College Alumni Magazine that disparaged the Greenpoint neighborhood in Brooklyn and its large Polish-American Community. The P.C. Police have already come to the rescue to take the article off Haverford’s web site, but this controversy begs the question: who the hell goes to Haverford College and where the hell is it?

But it also begs the question: how far off was he? I will not pass judgement, because I am embarassed when people reinforce stereotypes, but I want to share this story from my days living in Greenpoint:

greenpoint.jpgOne Saturday afternoon, my roommate and I were walking down Manhattan Avenue to grab some lunch at the Triple Decker Diner. Two middle-aged blonde women were walking in front of us, obviously speaking in Polish. They stopped to turn into one of the two thousand 99-cent stores that line Manhattan Avenue.

The 99-cent store had double glass doors at the front. One of the women grabbed the long handle of the door to pull. The door did not budge. She tugged again, and the door would not move. Not willing to give up so easily, the two women moved to the other door. The other woman grabbed that door’s handle and started to pull. That door wouldn’t budge, either, so she pulled again. At this point, it was clear they were annoyed. Frustrated, the two women assume the store must be closed, so they walk away and continue down Manhattan Avenue.

As we passed by the doors of the store, I noticed two signs. Inside the first door the women tried to open was a white, handwritten sign: “PLEASE USE OTHER DOOR.” Right next to the handle of the second door was another sign: “PUSH.”

I was in complete disbelief. I turned to my roommate and asked, “did you just see what I just saw?”

“Yes,” he replied, “yes I did.”

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Filed under As Seen On Gawker, General stupidity