Monday, April 7, 2008

A List of My Dislikes: Part 3

1. Protective Precursor Statements: I don't know if they go by another term, but let me explain what I am talking about with the following examples.
1. "No offense, but ...." My problem with this, you are a wussy. Yup. You hide behind a statement that does exactly what you are pretending it protects you from. No offense? Oh, yes. There most certainly is offense. And I don't like being offended, you offensive offender.
2. "With all due respect..." This is almost exactly the same as number 1. That's like looking at your boss and saying, "With all due respect, though your business-minded decisions promote the company overall, I still consider you, on a personal level, to be a top-notch douchebag." If you show me one instance when this precursor is used, and the recipient of the comment is not angry at what is said, I will buy you an ice cream, with your own money.
3. "I'm not racist, but..." I have heard many of my friends and even complete strangers start off a train of thought with this statement. The funniest part about it is that it most assuredly will be followed with a statement that most people do in fact consider to be racist. Once again, finding a way to hide behind that facade of innocence. But I'm on to you. You know who you are.

Stupid things people say just to fill a perfectly comfortable void in conversation. For example, "Yeah, I hear that's going around." Have you ever felt ill? Sure you have. But what is the response that is almost always warranted?
guy 1: Hey, buddy! How ya doin today?
guy 2: Oh man, I'm not feelin' so hot.
guy 1: Yeah, tell me about it. I hear that's going around.

and without you knowing, they suck you into their powerful, mind-manipulating paranoia.

guy 2: Yeah, my head hurts and I am nauseated.
guy 1: Brosef, my sister's finacee's best friend has the same thing. She can't shake it. She's had it for like (considerable pause as he looks to the sky for a definitive answer) over 2 months, bro. Her head, her throat, she can't breathe, all types of mucus...
guy 2: Yeah, me too. I just started with the mucus. My throat hurts too. Oh man, I hope I'm not getting what she's getting.

In a matter of minutes one can go from the predictable troubles of a hangover and unknowingly diagnose himself with threatening pneumonia. Moral of the story: If I look content not talking to you, then take a spoonful of shut up. I don't want to feel like I have pneumonia. I don't like pneumonia, and I certainly don't like you for making me feel like I have it.

Other than that, man, nothing too much has bugged me lately. What are some of your pet peeves?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

New York: Day 3

Day 2. Casey and Kevo are supposed to meet us at 10:30 so we can catch a train to Philadelphia to spend the day there. At 10:18 Kevin finally answers his phone and alerts us that they are still asleep. So AJ and I go to the train station to get tickets. They can meet us in Philly. Problem, tickets are $40 more than expected. We can Philly and decide to go to Harlem. Why? I'm not completely sure. But on the subway ride I come up with a good reason. When I die I want to think that I would have lived a good life. But in the unfortunate event that I don't, at least my epitaph will read, "Josh, who walked the streets of Harlem."

We arrive at 125th and step into another world. We slowly peruse. We find ourselves outside the Apollo theater. We walk inside to take a peek. We are immediately informed that unless we are part of a stage crew we can't enter. I tell them I am part of a stage crew. One eye blink later and we leave. Something is strange. Eerie, even. I am not racist, just observant. We are the only white people on this block. After 15 or so minutes of wandering around, we finally see another white man. I want to be excited, but my mind won't allow it. He is in handcuffs and being placed in the backseat of a police car. Oh shit. So we walk a few blocks off the beaten path when I spot an abandoned basketball court. I feel that this is a great picture opportunity, but become acutely aware of the presence of 6 men on the corner opposite us. Staring. Yes, still staring. I casually place my camera inside my jacket pocket and pray I live to tell about this. The men disperse gently, yet approach in our general direction. We turn around and follow the same route from whence we came. We find ourselves at the police station - AKA, our hangout - and don't veer more than 3 blocks from it at any given time.

We decide to get some cigarettes in a mild attempt to fit in. We walk into the gas station - right across the street from the police station - and AJ buys isne cigarettes and a lighter.
Note: Another observation. The polite convenience store clerk is black. No problem whatsoever, except what happens next.

attendant: What color lighter you want, bro?
aj: Black.
...slight pause from attendant.
aj: I mean red, or blue...or pink. All colors are good with me [insert nervous laugh]. We leave even more nervous than before. Walking down the street I see another great photo op, a run-down alley surrounded by apartments. I take the picture.

aj: Yeah, I'm sure what these people want to see is some California guys taking pictures of how they live. 'Oh, look at us with our camera exploiting your poverty.'

I want to make a smart-ass comment, then realize how right he is. Once again, camera in jacket pocket. A man approaches us at a fast pace and as he passes he sings out, "Haha! Welcome to Harlem," and walks across the street. It is time to leave.

We leave.

Casey and Kevin are about 3 hours from arriving in Manhattan, so we decide on visiting Central Park. Two minutes after we enter the park it starts to rain. We head across the street, see Trump Hotel and Tower, and enter the Time Warner plaza. There is a large bronze statue upon entrance, and the man bears a disproportionately small penis.

Photo op.

We ask a pretty young lady to take a picture. At first she seems timid. Then when I pretend to hold the itty-bitty penis in my hand, she laughs. Back to Times Square. At ESPN Zone we meet the bartender who is a Cali girl. Two suits sit next to us. We talk. They are reporters for Reuters. I am jazzed. A few beers later we leave to meet Kevo and Casey. With them we venture to Rockefeller Plaza. Kinda cool I guess. We eat a hot dog from a stand. Always wanted to do that.

Later we go to Long Island to visit Casey's friend Pat. We have some drinks. I forget my camera at Pat's. We head back to Manhattan, except we board the wrong train. Two stops later, we get back in the right direction. We go to a bar. I don't know the name of it, or in what section of the city we are for that matter. I just know that the lights inside are all red. There are a lot of people. After a drink or three Kevo and I set our beers down, in the same exact spot, and go outside to try to talk to some girls. We come back in a few minutes later, and one of the beers is gone. It is mine, because Kevin's is still full. What kind of satanic force steals a man's beer?

We all spend the night mingling with people whom I've never met before and before you know it, we all hit the wall. That very wall that after 6 hours of bulldozers and beer just make you want to fall asleep. But we can't. The girls we are with want to go get some food. So we go to this place up the street called Ziggy's. I order a 12 piece mozzarella sticks to share with somebody, but after every gets their greedy fingers on them, I was allowed one stick. We call it a night, or early morning, after that and go home.

New York: Day 2

Just to summarize the vocab I have learned so far:

Trendy: Overly-priced drinks and/or food in an environment that either attempts to look antiquated or supremely modern.

Chill: The complete opposite of California's version. Chill means that the place in which you are to attend is infested with guys who jerk off to the most recent issue of Wall Street Journal. It is an unwritten code that to be part of said "chill"scene, one must abandon blue jeans, shirts without collars, Vans and hoodies, and replace with button-down shirts, shiny black shoes, and ties are preferable. These people also boast of their great wealth and don't take kindly to any joke and/or comment regarding Bear Stearns, which leads us to the next phrase.

So New York: This is simply code for, "Caution: Douchebags inside. If you do not wear your full protective gear (button-down shirts, shiny black shoes and preferably a tie) then enter at your own risk."

DAY 2. So we wake up late today, like 9:30. We immediately head to the ferry for the Statue of Liberty. We get into line at 11. After purchasing "standby" tickets, we look for a coffee shop. I ask a kindly fellow if he knows a good one around and after some pensive moments he turns and yells, "Hey Pops! You know a good coffee shop around he'e?" This is the stereotype I need to get my day going. His father points us in the right direction.

We get back in line at 11:30. We arrive at the island at 1:45. We walk around, acknowledging its splendor. We see some very attractive young girls, and I offer to take a picture for them. They smile and thank us. I take the picture. I try to make flirtatious conversation, but they are French. One holds up her hand and points to her wedding ring. The other follows suit. Still, I try to ask for their numbers, but they turn and look at the ocean. Who says chivalry is dead?

We board the ferry to Ellis Island. We arrive at Ellis Island. We walk around, take a picture, then leave. By the time we reach land again, it is 3:30. We meander about the city for some time, checkin out the scene and whatnot. Nothing else of substance happens until we go to dinner. Jon's Pizzeria in Times Square. Looks Kind of hokey from the outside, but upon entrance, a completely different world. Summary: Two dudes, obviously not from New York (dressed in hoodies and blue jeans) walk into a relatively nice restaurant. The setting is somewhat romantic, many couples are seated at two-person tables. We are seated in a booth in a corner. To emphasize, we look gay. Thanks Mr Hostman. Anyhow, we order a pizza and a pitcher of some fine Brooklyn lager. The beer is quite good, but the pizza is FANTASTIC. After dinner we scour the streets of Times Square and I think, Vegas ain't got shit on this place. We go back to Sarah's at about midnight. Casey and Kevo have arrived in Long Island and want us to come up there. We go to sleep instead.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

New York: Day 1

I am taking you back in time to get a run through my trip. I left my camera in my friend's suitcase, so when I receive it I will post pictures in their respective positions. Until then, shut up.

Day 1, March 25.

We arrive at JFK at 10:30am local time. We left San Francisco at 12:30 PST Tuesday morning and had an hour layover in Minneapolis, which sucked. During those two flights, I was awarded no more than 15 minutes of sleep. The plane was freezing, I didn't have a blanket or pillow, and the old Chinese man seated next to me reeked of hamster droppings and curry.

But we (AJ and myself) arrived safely, so that's to be appreciated. After the hour-long train/subway combination to get to our friend Noora's house, we shower and meet Noora and Sarah for lunch at Lucky Strike in Soho. When they first described the place, I noticed some new terminology I needed to pick up on. "This place is kind of trendy," they both said.

Trendy, hmm? I put it aside and carried on. My lunch is pretty good. It's a $13 turkey burger cushioned not by a traditional bun, but by an English muffin. I can't tell if that was trendy or if the brick interior fashioned to look antiquated was the trendy aspect. Either way, I eat the burger and continue on. After lunch the girls have to get back to work, so AJ and I meander about the streets to immerse ourselves in the New York culture.

Note: If you want to seem like a local and not a tourist, be sure to wear designer jeans, designer shoes and preferably a pea coat, not the same Levi's you've worn for 5 days straight and a hoodie. First mistake.

As we peruse we encounter a man on his cell phone at a crosswalk. He gives a brief look in our direction and immediately turns around.
me: This guy looks just like Mike Myers.
aj: Yeah, I guess he kinda does.
The light is still red.
me: Dude, I really think that's Mike Myers.

Just then, the man turns around. He gives a look just like this:

Mike Myers stared me in the eye, no more than 8 inches from me. It was in that instant, when I shared the same breath of the man who married an axe murderer, he immediately walks across the street, never to be seen from us again. I think that is a great way to start off our trip.

Our next stop is the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, but we arrive too late. So we meander the streets, tourist map in hand, looking for Ground Zero. Some 20 minutes later we come across a site which looked to be a large skyscraper construction project. So, doing what we think noble and responsible, we ask a local police officer around the corner where we could find Ground Zero. He tells us to walk three blocks east, hang a right, turn left at the stoplight and go down a couple blocks. "You can't miss it," he says. So we do as we were told, but that lands us at a church with a graveyard. So, being the gentleman I am, I find the first attractive lady I can and ask her where to go. She is from Poland, and very attractive, and takes us to Ground Zero, as her office is near by. Presumably, this was the site we originally landed at. It's a wonder people don't like cops...

Anyhow, our next stop is the Empire State building. Ignorant as I am, I don't imagine much of a line to get to the top. I mean, who else in their right ming would want to see such a landmark? We stand in line for 1 hour and 45 minutes. When we reached the top, we spend about 7 minutes walking around looking at the massive city of which we are now a part, wind chill cutting right to the bone, and I look over the edge. I am afraid of heights and decide that if I were to commit suicide, I couldn't do it there. I think I would die of a heart attack from the fear of being so high before I could even make the leap. I hear a man with a New York accent tell his kids, "Yeah, those stupids that jump off'a he'e don't e'en do it right. The wind's sooo strowng that it'll blow ya right back into the buildin' before you even reach the bottom."

The kids are fascinated. I feel nauseated. We leave.

On the way down, which takes another 20 minutes, AJ and I discuss how many bodies must be buried in the cement from the fallen laborers.
aj: Yeah, back then tere weren't as many Mexican immigrants. They were probably those Irish Mics I hear about.
Note: AJ is of Irish descent, and I know this was a joke. So you should too.

As he says this though, an elderly couple in front of us turns around with an indistinguishable smile. Turns out, they are English and thought the joke was funny. Always a clash between those two countries...I love every minute of it.

Our next venture is to Little Italy, which is rather disappointing. Chinatown is completely taking over, and the few remains of Little Italy consume no more than a couple blocks of tourist shops and a few restaurants. Having not eaten for seven or so hours, we go to the first place we see, looking for some New York pizza. It is Frankie Cee's. The pizza is terrible, the service is worse. We walk around a little more, by this time it is 8:00 so we walk to Schiller's to meet the girls, and some more girls, for dinner.

Upon arrival, we are once again told that Schiller's is chill, kick-back and trendy. It's also so New York.

Even though we have reservations for 9:00 we aren't seated until 9:45. The place is kind of cool looking, I guess, but loud as fuck. People everywhere, loud music. The only saving grace is alcohol, which we consumed a good amount of. After an hour at Schiller's, we go to a wine and beer bar, with nothing but a bunch of, pardon the term, douchebag guys. We have a beer and leave.

Note: I was under the impression we were going back to the girl's house to change before dinner, so I am still wearing my backpack full of cameras and maps. A little uncomfortable when going out.

We make our way to a third bar, don't know the name, and honestly don't care to remember. More douchebag guys and uppity girls. And I am still wearing a backpack. We stay for a small while, then go to Noora's to get some much needed shut-eye.

This was day 1 of my trip.

Need a better poll?

So I posted a poll on this site a couple weeks ago. And much to my dismay, I only received 8 votes. Kinda of a shame. Maybe I need a better poll. In fact, I have recently been pondering switching to another blogging platform. Yes, this will be my next poll. Get ready.

The Big Apple

So I returned last night from a week in New York. As soon as I organize my pictures, I plan on posting Josh's All You Need To Know About New York Guide. It was my first time in the big city and I had a blast. I was supposed to come home Sunday with AJ, but we missed our flight. Apparently trying to check luggage 20 minutes before departure at JFK is seen as "ignorant", as the lovely ticket lady informed me. But what a sweet deal it turned out to be.

The week we were there, The Colbert Report and Late Night with Conan were gone on vacation. So, Monday, we decided to try for standby tickets for the Colbert Report, the greatest show in the world. We arrived at 2:30 and stood in line until 5:00, all on the chance of hope. At 5:30, we were granted admittance to the security waiting room. By 6:30 we finally got to enter the set to take our seats. And by golly, I've never been so excited in my life. It was very small and very cold inside. I loved it.

So the warm-up comedian came out, told a few jokes, then the man himself came out. Steven Colbert looked at me. Yup. Granted, he looked at many of the 107 other people too, but I don't count that. Anyhow, the show went on, and it was fantastic. He shot out a few of his signature WRISTSTRONG bracelets, and I fought to have one. I was victorious in that endeavor.

After the show, Steven walked across the front row giving high 5s to the lucky bastards down on the floor. So I thought. As he approached our corner, he looked up and walked up the stairs.

I peed myself.


Our eyes met, and I reached out my hand. HE shook it. Steven Colbert shook my hand. I was in such a state of ecstasy, I blacked out. I tried to think of something witty to say, but all I could do was grab my Wriststrong Bracelet and scream, "Wriststrong! Wriststrong!" He did the same.

After our moment of temporary fame, I vowed to never wash my hand again.