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.

 

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Tattoo You

I just realized it. Everybody has tattoos.

Okay, I’m kinda exaggerating.

Everybody but me.

I’m not really sure when it happened, but tattoos became mainstream.

When I was a kid I remember my dad saying stuff like “Only sailors, bikers, and longshoremen have tattoos, don’t get a tattoo, you’ll regret it.”

Since he grew up in L.A., I’m guessing he was referring to San Pedro and Long Beach from his era. Definitely a lot of sailors, bikers, and longshoremen there.

During the ’90s heyday of Grungeapaloozas it seemed like every dude had a tribal arm band tattoo on his bicep and every chick got a tramp stamp of some really meaningful artwork perched above her ass. Piercing through lips and noses became more common and ordinary earrings gave way to African tribe style megadiscs to stretch out the earlobes.

I had some friends who were really into the Grateful Dead and got some different Dead iconography tattooed one day. Today tattoo shops are rivaling Starbucks, but back then there were less quality artists around. When the three of them returned, they instantly regretted the shoddy work that now adorned their skin. I laughed and was glad I missed out on that one.

Today’s 20 somethings who grew up after us have found an even more accepting attitude towards body art. Even the most tame looking, skinny nerdy guys seem to be covered in full arm sleeves like they front hardcore punk rock bands. White boys with Japanese Yakuza gangster art, girls next door with knuckle tatts and 666’s and daggers, I’m not even sure who to believe anymore. I mean, to a degree you must be pretty hardcore to spend the time and money getting pricked with a needle, but it’s all just an image. A hard image to change.

Maybe I’m just jealous. I never came up with anything that creative and original that I wanted to show the world. Maybe I feel that’s just tipping them off too much. Not my favorite band. Not my favorite football team. Not my favorite brand of beer. I once saw a guy in Portland with a PBR elbow tattoo. That was on the East side of course.

Out here I recently saw a kid with a canoe on his forearm when I was riding the subway. Certainly unique. And I really appreciate the work some people do. Really that’s why I’m staring. I’m trying to figure out if that pattern on your cleavage is a rose or a heart.

I’m not sure about the rest of the country, or the world, but Portland and New York definitely have lots of tattooed people. My roommate who just left was working as a tattoo artist in New York for the summer. He’s from Spain and was covered head to toe with tattoos. Okay, neck to shin.

Like I said everybody has tattoos, ‘cept me.

On the J

Riding the J train home after work at midnight and I’m trying hard to stay awake. There are more than a few stops to go, so I close my eyes and get some microsleep. It’s been a busy month with six day work weeks and late party nights with the roommates and the houseguests staying at our hostel/refugee camp/apartment. Any sleep that can be had will help at this point. A couple of stops later I open my eyes and see that someone has brought a potted plant on the train. Emphasis on the pot.

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Wait! Is that for real? Somebody brought their ganja on the train?

I gotta get a closer look at this.

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Okay so it wasn’t some dudes weed, but that was pretty funny to wake up to. It made me do a double take.

Shortly thereafter the mysterious plant exited the train unseen by me and disappeared into the night.

 

 

Subway Crazy Pt. 2 Overheard on the Subway Pt. 4

It keeps happening. Crazy people on the subway. I feel like I’m getting more than my fair share. Is it bad luck? Is it the heat? In Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, a neighborhood in Brooklyn is in the middle of a summer heat wave and things keep getting more and more tense among everybody, from personal issues to race oriented, to economic inspired and eventually there’s a riot and Sal’s Pizza gets burned down. I sure hope it doesn’t come to that, but some New Yorkers are just way too tense. I want to go all West coast in my best impression of “Ted” Theodore Logan and say, “Chill out bro, you people need to be more excellent to each other.”

I’m leaving work today and this lady gets on the subway carrying a roll of carpet and a fan. I guess that’s clue number one that she could be suffering from the heat. No one offered her a seat, and I had the privilege of standing next to her. At first she seemed all right. A few stops later she was talking. To whom I’m not sure, but it involved frequent repetition of the words “bitch” and “whore” with “you think you’re all that” thrown in for a little punctuation. I think she was mad at no one giving her a seat, but it seemed like she might be singling out someone in particular. We were crossing the long stretch over the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and I was plotting my escape, but she left at the very next stop and there was no incident.

I stopped by the gym and got a workout then got back on the train home, and there’s this guy in a construction shirt and jeans with slicked back hair. I’m riding along thinking about what I need to eat for dinner and this guy answers his phone and starts speaking Russian. His side of the conversation sounded something like this: “Gorbachev stolichnaya trotsky lenin putin das vedanya rasputin SO WHAT?! Leningrad stalingrad kalishnakov rachmaninov babushka balalaka glasnost NO!!!!!”

Once again I’m standing near the offending party, and with this guy, the English words were so loud and pronounced, the whole subway turned to stare.

“Whoah dude, settle down. Your tone is most bogus.”

Scary people. But sometimes its not what you say but what you do. Or don’t do. Or doo doo.

I was on my way home a few nights ago and looking forward to the air conditioned relief of the subway car. As I stepped in my first thought was wet dog, but the smell grew much, much worse as the AC cycled it throughout the car. At the far end was a homeless man slumped in a pile. For all I know he was dead. His smell was a piss brine mixed with a shit sandwich and a side of puke, well fermented from a fine vintage, possibly a 2007. Half the passengers were sneaking past him to get through to the next subway car. I waited at the back with a couple others as we held our noses and waited for the next stop. As soon as the doors opened, we rushed out and jumped in the car behind us. I shouted “Don’t do it!” to the people entering the contaminated car and they must have momentarily thought I was the crazy one.

The safety zone was packed, and half the people already knew the story. We looked at each other and laughed, and one guy asked what’s up as we all stood crowded together.  I said, “There’s plenty of seats available on the next car.” And half the subway car laughed. The next three stops to Canal Street were a continuous exodus from the stinky car as more and more victims attempted to breathe again, and the former victims laughed knowing all too well what they had suffered. I love public transportation.

And yeah I couldn’t resist. The late, great Randy Rhoads on guitar:

Subway Crazy/Train Insane

Are you Subway Crazy? Am I Train Insane? If you’re reading this, then probably not. I’m not trying to brown nose you, I’m just thinking Subway Crazy doesn’t spend the time to read. Train Insane don’t care.

I got out of work the other night and was on the Q train to Canal street, making my connection to the J. The thing with Canal Street is, it’s a busy hub, but it doesn’t seem to have been planned very well. Union Square and Times Square are busier hubs, with more train lines, but they also have more clear cut divisions between those lines. At Canal street, when you exit the Q, you keep walking to the end of the tunnel for the J, and the 4/5/6 line is right before that. When you come from the J to the Q during morning rush hour, you have to battle everyone exiting the Q and coming up the narrow stairs as you try to go down the stairs and inevitably watch the doors close and the Q train pull away. Around midnight, it’s not as crowded, but there are plenty of people around. As I was making my way to the J train home a week ago, this couple was wandering back and forth on the platform, in search of the right way to go. He was wasted, beyond drunk, I’m not sure what he had been up to that night, but he was stumbling around while she yelled at him and they tried to figure out where to go. I walked by as they looked at the stairs to the 4/5/6 and made my way 20 feet further for the stairs to the J.

In their defense, it is pretty confusing, and I was mystified by it a few times sober when I first got to the city. The trains travel a little slower at night, and after waiting about ten minutes I heard the couple making their way up the stairs. She was still berating him as he reminded himself how to put one foot in front of the other and eventually get to the top of the stairs.

It’s fun to watch peoples’ reactions to other people in the subway, because there’s such a variety of human life forms thrown together in this city that sometimes people get wrapped up in themselves at look at everyone else thinking “What a bunch of weirdos.”

In this case, the couple was turning heads and making the commuters readjust their locations on the platforms. Their relationship reminded me of the chicken and the egg conundrum. Was he a drunk because she was a bitch? Or was she a bitch because he was a drunk? Either way they traveled like a hurricane and kicked out a big wake. That’s subway crazy.

A night or two later I was leaving home to head out for the evening. I was starving and grabbed a sandwich at the deli and was at my stop eating while waiting for the train. The other guy at my bench was reeling forward trying to fight gravity with a couple of prescription bottles that kept falling out of his hands. He was a mess of opiate proportions, but he somehow managed to get on the train. I was too hungry to care that I had jumped on the same car, and as I ate I watched him deteriorate even further.

Then this beggar was making his rounds through the train. You see many of these guys, some seem pretty bad off, others you wonder if that’s just how they like to get money; anyway, this guy comes up and asks me for money or food. Not quite done with the first half of my sandwich, I offered him the other half. It was untouched and unwrapped. He takes it, but instead of thanking me, or leaving, or both, he proceeds to ask me what’s on it.

“Chicken parmesan. Chicken. Tomato sauce.”

“Does it have mustard on it?”

“I don’t think they put mustard on chicken parmesan.”

Now he’s thumbing through the sandwich like he’s about to shuffle a deck of cards.

“What is it?”

“Chicken parmesan. Chicken. Tomato sauce. Mozzarella.”

“Does it have mustard?”

“What’s wrong? You don’t like mustard?”

“No.”

“There’s no mustard on it.”

“I don’t want it.”

He tries to hand it back to me.

I wave him off.

“Are you serious? You ask me for food. I offer you food. And now you don’t want it? Get outta my face!”

“Um, do you have a bag?”

Beggar man wanders off and the Pill Popper is on all fours looking under the seats. He thinks he’s dropped his pills, but he can’t find anything and he’s scouring the ground as people recoil in fear and disgust and he gets near them. The young couple across from me is giggling at him and as he stands up and bends over to the ground he flashes hairy ass crack our direction and we all make the AAAAWWWWWW! face of horror and laugh.

That is Train Insane.

Then a few days later, I’m leaving work and its a really hot night. The tunnels under Times Square are steaming, but the Q train shows up quick and I’m happy to get into somewhere with some AC. The seats are pretty full, but the corner two seater has just one person, a 20 something kid with a lot of luggage with him and he’s semi lying down. So I stand nearby and after a few minutes it appears his hand is working its way towards the front of his waistband. Then he seems to be making a repetitive motion back and forth and back and WTF?! The older couple across got up and moved when seats opened up at the next stop, and I was wondering if they had seen something that I thought I was seeing. I wasn’t sure what you do at that point. Tell him to stop? Then I realized he wasn’t spanking the monkey, but he was scratching himself. On the sides, in the front, in the back. I can’t say it was a relief, because then I wondered what kind of crazy skin fungus was going on with this guy. Maybe I should have called a Hazmat team. Once he left at his stop, I sure as hell wasn’t going to sit there.

And finally, today I’m on my way home after a lunch shift, it’s about 3:30. Usually more respectable people during these daytime hours. Well, generally. There’s a big cluster of people, because it’s Times Square and all the tourists stand around at the bottom of the stairs instead of continuing down the platform, and since I just got there as the train did, that’s where I’m stuck. Among the crowd a man is hurriedly entering the front of the train while yelling back to his companion.

“Elaine, this goes to Bridge Street. This goes to Bridge Street! Get on this train!”

And the crowd is entering the train, and I get on the back of the car, while that same excited man is yelling to the dismay of the whole car.

“Elaine! Elaine, did you make it on the train! This goes to Bridge Street!”

I’m not sure what happened to Elaine, and how long ago she ditched the excited man. She certainly wasn’t standing near me. He made his way through the car searching for her, but she was nowhere to be found. The man wore a backpack with an umbrella sticking out of it, had thick glasses that emphasized the fact that his eyes didn’t quite focus in stereo, and had a Bluetooth earpiece. He could have just been your average goofy, dorky, touristy guy, but talking to the Korean lady’s baby before he exited at the next stop didn’t help. Those of us in the know gave each other the look.

“Yep. Subway Crazy.”

I’ve also never heard of this Bridge Street, and I’m pretty sure it’s not a stop on the Q, although I may have misunderstood. But when you’re Subway Crazy, nobody really listens much anyway.

There’s a saying in poker that if you look around the table and you don’t know who’s the mark, then it’s you.

Think about that the next time you ride a New York Subway.

Physical Graffiti

When you walk around Brooklyn, there are lots of buildings that look like the cover of the Led Zeppelin album I stole today’s title from. I was recently in a conversation with some random person at a bar about records-vinyl, and I told him about how many of the Led Zeppelin albums had some little trick to them. Funny little things like on Zeppelin III where there was a wheel in the corner that you could spin and there would be different images you would see on the open window section. If you don’t know what I’m talking about think of children’s pop up books and how you can slide a character across the book to represent them running or something like that. So Led Zeppelin albums were like pop up books for young adults and teenagers. Things to do while you listened to the music. A lot of old albums had cool things like a gatefold so when you opened it there’s a big picture of the band, or really cool artwork. The Grateful Dead album Dead Set featured live performances from the Fillmore West and Filmore East, in San Francisco and New York, respectively. The front picture has a male skeleton looking over the Golden Gate bridge to the City and the back picture has a female skeleton looking over the Brooklyn bridge towards Manhattan. Open the gatefold and the whole picture is two skeletons back to back looking out over their cities. Nevermind the fact it puts New York in the West, it’s a cool picture.

CDs were the beginning of the death of album art. I won’t say it was completely void of creativity, but the loss of scale meant the old album features were never recreated so a kid could buy a Zeppelin CD and never know that on Physical Graffiti, which was a double album, depending on which sleeve you put in the front, and which side was facing out, there would be different scenes of people in the windows of the brownstones.

I was into vinyl in the era when cassettes were about to be taken over by CDs and was fortunate to inherit the collections of my parent’s friends who were making the transition. One collection I never got ahold of belonged to my aunt, maybe were her ex-husbands, but they were just kicking around in the bottom cupboard of a bookstand. Who knows if she gave them away or trashed them, but I remember a couple of Cheech and Chong albums. One being the Wedding Album, depicting the two comedians as Siamese twins with both the brides fully pregnant and probably many other visual gags with all the extended families. The other album was Big Bambu. That was the album that came with a rolling paper the size of the album. I’m sure many people in the ’70s used it when they first bought the album, but I distinctly remember this one being intact at some point in the mid ’80s, but now it’s long gone. But if CDs were the air strikes in the war on album art, mp3s were the foot soldiers. I know you can still buy CDs, and I know for some people, they want the tangible item to hold in their hands, but I haven’t purchase a CD in a long time. I have a massive collection of music from all the CDs I started buying in the early ’90s, that eventually were backed up on external hard drive, and many of the CDs sold used. Then there was the Napster phase of finding all the one hit wonders that I would never buy a full CD of, and swapping collections with friends. Honestly, my collection is a mess. Not a complete mess, but there are things that need to be deleted because they are awful and came from somebody else’s collection, or compiled because the artist’s name is spelled incorrectly in multiple instances; i.e. AC/DC, AC-DC. And really what I’ve done, is load just a fraction of my collection onto my iPhone and listen there, so if the album art shows, which it rarely does, it’s the size of a stamp so who cares? The rest of the time, if I’m looking for a song I go on YouTube, or if I want a certain genre I go to my Pandora playlist. In my lifetime, I’ve listened to music on 8 track as a kid in my parent’s VW bus, cassette tapes on the very first Sony Walkman, owned a five CD carousel changer-5 hours of random music on shuffle!, consolidated my CD collection to my favorite 40 to bring to Korea with me in those book style collections that let you ditch the jewel case, and still it was a bunch of extra weight to haul around. Now I sit on the subway and half the people have their headphones plugged into iPhones, potentially carrying ten times the collection I brought to Korea in the palm of their hands. What’s next? Psychic Radio? “Hey dude, can you think a little quieter? Your Slayer is drowning out the sound of my John Tesh.”

Things are changing all the time, sometimes for the better, other times I catch myself getting old and declaring, “They don’t make ’em like when I was a kid!” Which in the case of Big Bambu is true. Even though I’m a musician and not a creator of visual arts, I miss that aspect of music packaging. It’s become more simplified.

The other reason for today’s title is that I just met a friend of my roommate who’s from Brooklyn. He showed us this video he made of himself train surfing.

Crazy right! Among other subversive things he likes to do is graffiti, and he gave us the run down on waxing, which is a way of marking trains that he’s known for. Our other roommate is a tattoo artist from Spain, and he does graffiti as well, so it was decided that the two of them are going to decorate the apartment. We have these big canvases of white walls in our empty living room, so they are going to add a little life to them. Then we’ll have a party and I’ll post a picture or two.

And now for today’s music. Led Zeppelin right? In my research I found out the Physical Graffiti buildings are 96 and 98 St. Mark’s Place in the East Village. The steps of the buildings were also featured in today’s music, so you’re gonna get Mick, Keith, and the boys instead. What’s funny to me is these were both British bands, but even as a kid I pictured these as being in New York. Way before I ever visited here the first time. This video is worth it, if just to laugh at Mick’s goofy lip synching, and when Keith stumbles up to the steps at 1:31.

The Underground

Been playing more subway roulette the last few days. I’ve had an unlimited subway pass for the last week so I’ve been trying to make use of it. One factor in playing subway roulette is identifying when a train is approaching. Sometimes the wait seems really long and you start to get antsy when a rumble can be heard. This can be deceiving when you are in a hub station, because what seems to be an approaching train is actually coming from above and serving a different line. Often times on entering the station, people begin to scramble because they hear the noise and run for the platform, only to find it’s the train going the opposite direction. Sometimes, it’s worth it, because the way it’s been hot and humid lately, some of the tunnels fill up with heat and become uncomfortable saunas.

Sometimes it’s nicer to wait outside. Myrtle stop, J & M train. Building undergoing renovation.

Sunday night I went to check out another guitar, this time in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn. It was over an hour on the train so not exactly close by, even though it’s the same borough. I’ve recently learned that the city had big plans for their metro system and dug many tunnels all over that were not ultimately used. This was near the time of the Great Depression and ultimately budget shortfalls derailed their plans.

It explains a lot of areas of Brooklyn where there are not convenient trains, or you must take indirect routes to your destination. This also means there are ghost tunnels that have been long ago barricaded, and in some instances, there are even old trains left behind. Up until a few years ago there were sections that you could take tours of, but they aren’t running them currently.

There is the city hall station turnaround that was closed in 1945 because it wasn’t used very much and the train cars changed to a larger size that made the gap for getting on and off the train unsafe. The number 6 train still circles through there but you have to vacate the train before then. Although according to this article it is possible to continue riding. There’s some good pictures of the station as well:

City Hall Station

FDR had his own special line, Track 61 so that he could make a speech at the Waldorf Astoria and then sneak away in his custom train protected with bulletproof glass.

There may be secret entrances that homeless people, or graffiti artists know of, but I don’t have access until I meet some of them. I watched the ’80s horror movie CHUD recently, about Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers terrorizing the streets of SoHo late at night. It has lots of dark gritty footage and a few appearances by the cheesy looking monsters. At one point two cops walk into a diner at Spring St and Lafayette next to a triangular park called Petrosino Square. They get about two minutes of screen time before being killed by the CHUD. I thought it was funny because the cops are played by John Goodman and Jay Thomas a.k.a. Eddie LeBec, Carla’s husband from Cheers.

It’s kind of funny to see two actors you recognize and have their characters killed off right away. Even then John Goodman seemed like a star, just the way he walks into the scene you think he could be an important character. Nope. Anyway, I won’t spoil the movie by telling you what CHUD really stands for because you can watch it on Netflix instant watch and see these guys for yourself. Plus you can see the J train at Chambers street station which is an eerie old station not too far from city hall. Yes, that J train, the one that rumbles by my apartment every 12 minutes, which I think seperates me 3 degrees from John Goodman.

Petrosino Square. The diner was on the left.

These shots from Chambers St Station are across the tracks from the platform I was on. The stairs and that side of the platform are not in use. Very creepy, especially when it’s 3am and you’re the only one there like I was.

I also just watched the Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, the original, and while I found it very dated, it provided lots of insight to the subway system. For instance, did you know the conductor pokes his head out the window for three car lengths as they pull away from the platform to make sure nobody is caught in the doors and being dragged? That’s nice.

The most striking thing was that there were land line telephones and typewriters in the movie that would make it seem out of place today, but the subways still had that familiar squeaking of their brakes and the stations looked exactly the same. Oh yeah and Jerry Stiller a.k.a. Frank Costanza plays loudmouth wisecracking transit cop Sgt. Rico Patrone.

I ended up in Bay Ridge after the sun had set, it’s much like a lot of areas of Brooklyn, but a fairly quiet neighborhood with it’s own local bars and restaurants. There are more single family homes than where I live, but still in a very compact, New York style. The guitar ended up being in great shape, with a case, and for only $50 it was definitely worth it. I went to a park next to the Belt Parkway, found an overpass and crossed to a bike path on the waterfront. With a view of Staten Island and the Verrazano bridge, I played my new guitar in the hot night while mosquitoes bit my legs and lightning flashed over Manhattan to the North.