I’m Not Dead, Just Resting.

ImageWhere do I begin? I’ve been losing blogging momentum over the last few months. Sometimes I have an idea, but I don’t get around to it in time and then the inspiration is lost. I’ve been a lot busier playing music lately. My roommate has been making electronic music and I’ve been playing guitar with him. There was another guitar player at first but he went to Chile. There’s been a guy with other electronics too that played a gig with us, but hasn’t practiced much with us since. We had a female singer/hula hooper but maybe its best if she sticks with the hula hoop. Me and my roommate played a house party in the Bronx, it was my first visit there. We rented a Zip Car and got to the Bronx no problem. Once we were there we got lost and drove around in circles, got stuck on a bridge that took us back over to Manhattan, and eventually got to the party where a lot of Dominicans wanted to hear Salsa and Bachata, not the crazy eclectic mix of beats and noise that we call Electro Monster Punk.

So yeah that’s been taking up my time. And since I don’t get paid for this, it’s easy to lose focus when I have an actual job and am dedicating lots of time to practicing music, which I also am not getting paid for. I know there are a few faithful readers out there, and looking the other day at my stats, I guess there’s the random people who somehow find this, so I’m not giving up completely, I just think it will be a while before I hit 100 posts, where a few months back I thought I could get there by the end of the year.

A few weeks back I actually had my first visitor to New York. My cousin’s husband got a new job and showed up for a few days of training. I met up with him one night when he and a few of his fellow trainees wanted to see Times Square. We went out for a few drinks and I got to know him a little better. I had only met him during the weekend of his wedding, but he knows my mom and my grandpa, so he’s family. It was his first trip to New York, coming from California. He even took the subway back downtown to his hotel, which is part of the New York experience everyone has to do at least once. Way to go Tyson.

So that’s been life in a nutshell, minus the quirky observations. I’m just trying to make it through to 2013, but there’s still this whole issue of the Mayan apocalypse. First of all, it’s been about four years that I’ve been hearing about this, so it’s about time that it passes and we can all move on with the reality of life instead speculative bullshit based on misinterpretation of ancient writings. Here’s my theory about all of this: nobody can predict the future. I know Nostradamus is credited with predicting Hitler and some other things throughout history, but he was also wrong too, so maybe we can all make a list of one hundred things and if one or two are right we can point to those instances and say, “Told you so!”, while ignoring where we were completely wrong.

Remember Y2K? Everyone was led to believe computers would malfunction or some Skynet scenario where the computers overthrew humanity was going to happen. I was working as a bartender on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood and we were so overstaffed for New Year’s Eve 1999/2000 but we were dead that night. Everywhere was dead that night, everybody stayed home in fear. Then the next night, when everyone realized the earth was still turning and their microwave didn’t try and cook them, they all went out in force and we were super busy. Of course less than two years later 9/11 happened and caught everyone off guard. And I hate to say it but that’s how it’s always going to happen. The worst things to occur in the following decade have been natural disasters like the tsunami in Thailand, the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, hurricane Sandy in New York, blizzards, floods, earthquakes, and the all too frequent mass shootings that have been happening lately.

Me and my friends had joked about apocalypse preparedness, which I wrote about right before Sandy came to New York. And while it was slightly tongue in cheek, it is important to be a little prepared for times of hardship. The key is to remember that in many cases it won’t announce itself until it’s too late for you to do anything but duck, or run. To steal a line from the Grateful Dead – “When life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door.”

But it’s easy to get caught up wondering how it all ends, because its an extension beyond one’s own self, and after all death doesn’t discriminate. We wonder if we will live long lives, accomplish our goals, be remembered well, or even be remembered at all. The thought of the end to civilization means even the greatest and most celebrated people will be meaningless. It’s selfish and ego based, but then again we’re all human so it probably affects us to some degree.

Will things change? Will we all go at once? Suffer slowly? Or just make it through the weekend unscathed and realize that we still have to go to work, pay the bills, and spend Christmas with the in-laws trying to avoid getting stuck in conversations about religion, politics, or gun control.

Here’s a classic from the 90’s, be sure to make it to the end when Perry Farrell starts going off about aliens and crop circles and the year 2000. Uh, yeah right dude.

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If You Can’t Find It In Chinatown

I have an iPhone 5. I pre-ordered the phone when they were first released. I didn’t receive my phone for 3 weeks after that. After my first exciting week of being douchy new iPhone guy, I dropped it on the tile bathroom floor of my work and shattered the glass face.

This was the day before Hurricane Sandy closed the subways and the MTA was already practicing their emergency train route. As I mentioned in a previous posting, the J train ran to Hewes stop in Brooklyn and then everyone had to exit and take the shuttle bus across the Williamsburg bridge to Manhattan. That Saturday morning was chaotic because the entire eight train cars had to exit one set of stairs from the platform, exit the turnstiles and emergency exit, grab a ticket from an MTA worker, exit another set of stairs to street level, walk about a block and a half past the line we were all searching for the end of, then turn around and slowly work our way back to the shuttle buses lined up to drive us to Manhattan.

In hindsight, it was the MTA knowing they needed to shut down the rail system ahead of the approaching storm. I had no idea this was happening, and it was a rude awakening when I was just trying to get to work. When I showed up forty minutes late I was flustered by the trip and I hurriedly changed into my work clothes in the cramped bathroom. I went to put my brand new, slick aluminum, way thinner than my previous iPhone 3, practically a credit card in my hand, did I mention brand new mutherfuckin iPhone 5 into my backpack and it slipped right out my hand, face down on the tile. I knew I was fucked. I picked up my phone and the face was trashed. I can still use it. But I can barely read what I’m texting and my thumb is being carved into sandpaper.

I’ve been trying to find a replacement screen but nobody has one that will fit the iPhone 5. Everyone is telling me places to check out, but when you go to Chinatown and they tell you they don’t have it, where can you go?
This is where fake Rolexes, cheap noodles, and first run movies on DVD for a dollar live. If you can’t find it in Chinatown then you’re screwed.

So yes, I feel like a douchebag for buying a new iPhone and breaking it a week later, I didn’t even have time to buy a case, and no I didn’t take the insurance. I didn’t need it for 2 and a half years with my previous phone. I had a month to change my mind after I ordered the phone. Only problem was I waited for three weeks to get the phone from Apple and then UPS, and then I had the phone for just over a week when…well you know. Where October was a great month, November has been mediocre in comparison, even if the hurricane and the broken phone happened at the end of October, the hangover lasted through November. I left out the disappointing part of my college football team waiting until late November to lose their first game of the year, and eliminate themselves from playing for a national championship. That added to my foul mood.

Kind of like last year, I had a great birthday in Vegas with friends and family in October then came back to find out I was getting laid off at work. I spent November contemplating the future and ended up moving to New York. So I’m saying that happened for a reason. I’m not sure breaking my iPhone will make me a better person, unless that means I stare at it less in pubic. Here’s to a better December and hopefully the world isn’t about to end, but I will rant more about that next time.

Apocalypse Soon

It’s been the longest stretch without a post since I’ve started this blog. October was going to be a huge month, I had so many ideas, but it all just fizzled away. What happened?

Like Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, or a very fat Marlon Brando in Francis Ford Coppola’s epic war movie, I went up river and I’ve gone native. What started out as mere observation turned into infiltration and participation. No longer am I amazed at things I see on a daily basis. Life continues to be exciting, but maybe I don’t have as many novel things to report on as I once did. Of course there may be other factors, such as a lazy approach to daily writing which was due to the many distractions that have occurred in the last month, and possibly a bit of self censorship because I can’t tell you about every little detail that happens. Here’s what I will tell you:

I met a Swiss traveler who is touring the U.S. and we hit it off. She managed to stick around New York for a while and we had lots of fun around the city at various bars, restaurants, and occasional tourist sites. At one point we were at a deli in SoHo at 4am with Lindsay Lohan, who I didn’t pay attention to enough to recognize, but my Swiss friend and the guy working the counter swear that it was her.

Another night we went to a concert at Webster Hall sponsored by Jameson that was called Pettyfest. It was musicians playing covers of Tom Petty songs. While I didn’t recognize everyone that played, they were all from established bands, and it was a reminder that Tom Petty has written lots of great songs. The best part was that we had been listening to the Strokes a lot together and I had introduced her to Portlandia to show what my hometown is like from a comical viewpoint. So when Fred Armison of SNL and Portlandia fame got up to play drums and then Fabrizio Moretti of the Strokes did the same, we were very excited. In fact, she admitted she and her friends had all had a crush on Fabrizio and made sure to get pictures to send to them.

All in all not bad for a free concert and free Jameson.

But now, I’m waiting for the storm of the century, or some such disaster to strike. My Swiss friend went to DC and she’s there with friends, waiting for the same. The subways were closed yesterday evening, so I missed what is generally a very profitable night of work at my restaurant, and today I’m not working again. Honestly, I’m a little disappointed, I prefer to take off from work when it’s planned. I’m trying to occupy my time with some movies and finally writing another post for the blog. The wind is howling outside, but the real storm is still somewhere offshore. I have food, beer, Jameson, movies, and a book for when the power goes out, which in all likelihood will happen at night when reading will be impossible, so I hope I’m drunk enough to just sleep through all of it.

My Portland friends and I had a running list of things you need for the Apocalypse, since the whole Mayan thing has been gaining steam. Sure there’s always those emergency preparedness kits they tell you about in the media, but our list was things you don’t think you need until they’re gone. The problem is, people usually think things will come back to normal right away, and generally they do. But when you look at what happened with hurricane Katrina, or when ice storms take down all the power lines, or ridiculous amounts of snow fall in a region like the Pacific Northwest as it did in 2008 and transportation ground to a halt and store shelves were empty for weeks, that’s when things start to get weird.

It’s good to have a network of people to rely on, who can help you out when you run out of supplies, or help you raid and loot other groups of people that have lots of supplies. Think of the Road Warrior and that crazy gang that Mel Gibson took on. Dressing in leather, wearing modified football pads and having a mohawk also looks cool and helps with the intimidation factor. Unfortunately for me, I don’t have much of a gang out here.

So here’s my impromptu list and remember, this is speaking in case of a purely hypothetical emergency, post law and order scenario.

1. Guns and ammo.

I’m not talking about the magazine, I’m talking the real thing. I know what you’re saying. Guns are bad. Guns hurt people. Yes they do. Just remember what Clint Eastwood said before he started talking to empty chairs: “There are two kinds of people in this world my friend, those with guns, and those who dig. You my friend, dig.”

It’s part of my American heritage, the wild west, if it’s me or you, well I’m choosing me. So don’t come busting down my door to rob me.

2. Drugs.

Legal, illegal, I don’t care. Drugs can be considered medicine, therapy, a way to pass the time. Even if you don’t use them, someone else may want them so it’s a good item for trade.

3. Booze.

Once again something to pass the time. Remember all the people looting cases of beer during Katrina? That’s why you better be able to protect your stash from the needy and the greedy. And whiskey is helpful if you need to remove a bullet or an arrowhead with a dull rusty knife blade. Just like in those old Western movies, sterilize the blade, give a drink to the patient, pour some on the wound, a little for the doctor…

4. Lipstick and Makeup.

This suggestion came from my friend Jenn, who pointed out that women still will want to look good. And guys, just like drugs, just because you may not use them doesn’t mean that someone else won’t covet them enough to trade for something you value.

5. Tampons.

Once again, I have to give credit to Jenn on this too. I don’t think I need to elaborate on the value of having happy women.

6. Candy.

One more from Jenn, who pointed out that living on ramen, insects, and forest berries will get old pretty fast. Good to have something for your sweet tooth.

7. Wet wipes.

Hygiene is important, and if clean water becomes scarce and hot showers become a luxury, these could come in pretty handy.

8. Condoms.

When your iPhone no longer works and the internet’s down and Netflix stops delivering, there’s still that old fashioned form of entertainment that never goes out of style. There’s always baby booms 9 months after disasters, but if you’re not ready to repopulate the earth Post Apocalypse and want to stay STD free while fleeing across the country to a safe zone away from the zombies, make Trojan Man your right hand man. Or use your right hand, man.

This list is not all inclusive and can always be tailored to suit your own personal tastes, but feel free to use it as your guide for survival, because not only is your physical health important, but your mental health is too.

Meanwhile, I’ll be waiting here for the worst and I’ll post some pictures if anything exciting happens in the ‘hood.

 

Random Thoughts, Follow Ups, Celebrities Are People Too!

Summer is ending soon. That’s how I mark my years. January 1st, you’re still stuck in the middle of winter. Even though I moved to New York in early January of this year, it seems that fall is the new beginning. Maybe it’s the start of school, football season, or my upcoming birthday, fall is always the time of renewal for me. Say goodbye to lazy days hanging out with the friends, camping trips, wakeboarding on the river. Oh wait I haven’t done any of that lately. I guess it’s just ingrained in my psyche. I’ve been out of high school since before anybody knew what an internet was and yet it seems I almost annually have a back to school dream. Usually it involves something ridiculous like being there with the football team and my old coach is asking, “Haven’t you used up your eligibility by now?”

Maybe I’m just revealing my unwillingness to grow up, and grow old.

August has actually been a fairly pleasant month, considering how hot it was at the beginning of summer. Everyone was saying how it was going to get up to 130, and I’m thinking “130, is that for real or are you just pulling a number out of your ass?”

Instead, August has ranged in the 80s, which is fine, considering the humidity still adds to the discomfort factor, and as I complained a few posts back, there are lots of thunderstorms after the humidity builds to intolerable levels and then one nice clear day and it starts building again.

Speaking of complaining, I just want to say one more thing about NBC. I kind of got bored with the Olympics by the end. By NBC’s coverage I mean. It just seemed too difficult to find when something I wanted to watch was being broadcast, tape delayed or not. It was more something I just read about. It seemed they did very little to hype Ashton Eaton, winner of the decathlon and University of Oregon Duck. I missed Usain Bolt winning the 200, and running the 4×100 in which the Americans took second with what was the former world record.

Remember when you just thought Jamaicans smoked ganja and made groovy reggae tunes?

I would love to see Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, and Asafa Powell grow some dreads and burn everyone on the track. Twice.

When it came time to show the closing ceremonies, NBC cut away before the end to premiere their new stupid tv show and once again earned ridicule on Twitter at #NBCFail.

What kind of moronic douchebag do you have to be to run a tv network? I’m sure I’m qualified. Underqualified?

Haven’t they ever heard of the Heidi Game? Have you?

The Heidi game is only the greatest moment in live tv coverage eff ups that happened before I was born and changed the way live sports were shown. During a period of bitter rivalry between the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets, the tv network showing the game, a certain NATIONAL BROADCASTING CORPORATION, had plans to air the movie Heidi. In the days before cable tv and VCRs, people had limited options. Showing Heidi was a big deal for families, and Timex, they used to make watches, had bought ALL the commercials for the airing of Heidi.

The executives said that Heidi must air on time, and of course the football game ran long and involved multiple lead changes, so just as things were getting good, legions of Jets fans and degenerate gamblers had their gridiron contest invaded by a little girl in pigtails. Everyone began frantically calling the tv stations and tying up phone lines, the ending was not seen on the East coast, and NBC looked the fool.

After that, tv shows and movies were preempted by sporting events, unless they only happened to be closing Olympics ceremonies.

I promise to not mention NBC until 2016. Unless I hear from their lawyers, or they offer me a job.

I’m still doing the Times Square sushi thing. It pays the bills and can be entertaining. For instance, I took it for granted that people know how to eat with chopsticks. Maybe my friends are more sophisticated or I have a bad memory or they’re just Asian and that’s what they know, but I thought most Americans had been exposed to Chinese food as well as Japanese, especially sushi, considering how many sushi restaurants are around New York.

Of course there was a time when I was a young kid of about six and my parents took me to San Francisco to visit the Lu’s. Now the Lu’s were friends of my grandmother and they emigrated to the USA around the same time, although my grandmother moved with my dad and his sister to Los Angeles.

So years later my dad is married, with a not Chinese wife and a half Chinese kid who has never used chopsticks before visiting the Lu’s and their whole extended Chinese San Francisco family and we’re having bowls of noodles and this inept kid, me, is trying to figure out how to make the chopsticks work, and even knowing it’s wrong, trying a two handed technique just so that I can eat.

So last night a group of hedge fund guys was in drinking at the bar and one of them was a little wasted and ordered some sushi. He was the quiet one of the group, possibly because of his state. I saw him warming up with his chopsticks before the sushi arrived and it was really entertaining. He was trying to get the ends to meet and was having a lot of difficulty, but his persistence kept him fed when the food arrived. I felt like giving him a noogie and saying “Way to go sport.”

At least its better than having to ask for a fork, or trainer chopsticks. After my San Francisco experience, I vowed never to be humiliated or go hungry again and I made myself learn. Years later as an English teacher in Korea, there were nights when groups of us would get kicked out of the bars at 2am and go to the Pojungmacha, or Soju tents, which were basically bright orange tarps hung by the river, with an older Korean woman cooking food and serving beer and soju. It was a great place to keep the party going. Part of the fun was eating communal squid stir fry and if you weren’t good with those slippery Korean metal chopsticks, you would starve. We would deliberately steal food from the other’s chopsticks as either a drunken challenge or a way to flirt. And if you couldn’t keep up, you definitely weren’t in the gang.

So if you’re one of those people who fear that the Chinese are going to take over the world you had better learn to eat with chopsticks.

Cindy Lauper can eat with chopsticks. She was eating at the restaurant just the other day. Isn’t it amazing! Cindy Lauper eats sushi. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. Actually I didn’t even recognize her. My first thought was, “Who’s the crazy lady with the giant glasses? She’s so unusual.” Then somebody in the kitchen mentioned it and I went back and looked at her and thought, ‘Cindy Lauper, huh, how old is she? How old am I?’ And then I heard that voice. Yes, that was definitely Cindy Lauper, and she’s definitely from New York.

But I didn’t bother her, because what’s the point? Celebrities are people too and they eat, sleep, and breathe just like us nobodys. Cindy, thanks for being my first celebrity I’ve sighted in New York.

Olympic Update: Chinese Dominance

Last night I watched the Olympic opening ceremonies on the bar TV at work. The sound wasn’t on, so I missed what looks like a lot of songs by Britain’s greatest rock stars. Including Mary Poppins, every bit the rock star in her day, flying around on tour, showing up and leaving when she pleased, and indulging that out of control laughing gas habit.

There were lots of cute kids moments, I suppose which is mandatory for Olympic openings now. Mr. Bean also showed up with a great Chariots of Fire sequence where he hails a cab to get to the front of the pack and trips the leader to finish the race in first. The genius of Rowan Atkinson is how funny he can be without any sound at all, he’s a modern Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin.

The best part had to be James Bond parachuting the Queen into the stadium, which I caught the tail end of as a group of bar customers commented how serious Her Majesty looked. Wouldn’t you be a little more excited if you just parachuted into a stadium full of thousands of people with THE James Bond? Not if you’re British royalty apparently. She didn’t smile, she didn’t wave, she didn’t even seem to be breathing heavily. She stood there very stoic and British. I replied she should do the Raise the Roof gesture and shout “London’s in the hizouse!” and everyone laughed.

I found the video posted here:

http://mashable.com/2012/07/27/james-bond-escorts-queen-to-olympics/

Check it out if you missed it.

The parade of nations is always a good geography lesson as well as a quick indicator of the nation’s wealth. If there’s 30 million people and 3 made it to the Olympics, it’s a safe bet that most live in poverty.

American Samoa and Cameroon had the best uniforms that I saw, very culturally representative. I just hope they weren’t made in China.

Speaking of the Chinese, they are off to a flying start in Gold medal dominance as female 48kg weightlifter Wang Mingjuan has gained one of their first medals.

But the true Chinese dominance will be in table tennis. I guess it’s no mystery that the Chinese are good at a game that’s also known a Ping Pong, but let’s take a closer look at things.

Representing team Canada: Andre Ho, Grace Gao, and Mo Zhang.

Representing team USA: Ariel Hsing, Lily Zhang, and Timothy Wang.

Representing team Austria: Jia Liu

Representing team Poland: Zeng Yi Wang

Representing team Dominican Republic: Ju Lin

Representing team Argentina: Song Liu

Representing team Croatia: Yuan Tian

Representing team France: Yi Fang Xian

Representing team Australia: Jian Fang Lei, Justin Han, and Miao Miao.

Yes Miao Miao. Also known as Hello Kitty to her friends.

Add in China, and Taiwan, and the odds are pretty good someone of Chinese descent gets the gold.

Things Are Heating Up

First of all I’m getting excited for the upcoming football season. NFL camps started today. Locally Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez reported to camp and the speculation is beginning on whether Tebow can steal the starting QB spot.

Next, the Yankees have the biggest lead of all the divisional races as the baseball season winds down and millions of New Yorkers will be looking for them to win another World Series for their city.

And the opening ceremonies for the London Olympics will be happening later today. I love the Olympics. Mostly obscure but very talented athletes who have spent a lifetime training get what may be their only chance to score on the world’s biggest stage.

I’m not talking about a gold medal. I mean sex in the Olympic Village. It’s like an international spring break full of the world’s most beautiful physical specimens.

Runners, swimmers, gymnasts, decathletes, heptathletes, pentathletes, weightlifters, javelin throwers, discus flingers, shot putters, basketball dunkers, beach volleyball spikers, tae kwon do kickers, table tennis top spinners. If you hadn’t heard, U.S. Soccer hottie and sometimes loose cannon Hope Solo recently made some statements that there was a lot of action going on from her previous experience in the Olympic Village. 10,000 condoms of preparedness worth of action. In some cases, people who can’t even communicate verbally rely on the language of love. Or lust. Eat your wheaties and train hard kids. Someday you too could be an Olympian, just promise you don’t end up like Bruce Jenner.

Check out the opening ceremonies. Not for the silly costumes and fireworks, although one of my favorite movie directors Danny Boyle is in charge of the festivities. Watch it for the parade of nations and get an idea of which countries you’ll be rooting for. Bonus if you’re Australian and that made you laugh.

Then when you see them compete there’s a 90 percent chance they’ll be wearing 80 percent less clothing. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the Brazilian women’s beach volleyball players and all the female pole vaulters. But that’s just me. Maybe you’re a fan of team handball or fencing. Just remember, when the agony of defeat crushes their medal dreams, don’t be too sad, they might find the thrill of victory waiting back at the village.