Posts Tagged ‘new yorkers’

The Old Days

November 6, 2017

images.jpeg

I love to eavesdrop on conversations in public places. I immediately get out my pen and start scribbling. The quartet of old timers contributing to the conversation I heard below in a coffee shop was composed of three guys and a woman. Lifers in the neighborhood.

“…and this is the killer. On each table they have a container of chocolate syrup and a bottle of seltzer!”

“And then you get the chopped liver and the schmaltz.”

“Ya know, I went to the doctor today. I picked up two containers of coffee. One was for the receptionist…”

“Did you use your coupon?”

“Yeah. I had to wait two hours. The doctor overbooked the appointments.”

“I remember this doctor down on Mulberry St. He weighed about 270. At the end of each day, he would go into those restaurants like he was going to the electric chair. And he smoked Camels! He lived to be 90 years old.”

“He was a two dollar-three dollar doctor. If you didn’t have money, he wouldn’t ask for any. But his wife was the receptionist! She wouldn’t let you out of the office unless you paid.”

“I remember this doctor who used rusty needles. He dipped them in alcohol. If the Health Department ever walked in, fuggettaboutit!”

“I remember when ice cream sundaes was 15 cents. With real strawberries in there.”

“In the theater, nickel candy was a dime, so you brought your own.”

“I remember when I saw that movie Avatar.”

“You gotta be sick to see that. Space ships flying all over the place. 3-D glasses!”

” If you take them off, you can’t see the movie. It’s blurry.”

“What a racket!”

“I hear a lot of people are running away from Scientology.”

“John Travolta…I seen that place they have in L.A. Tom Cruise…”

“Did you see a rabbi molested that kid yesterday? He got pinched.”

“Did you hear a rabbi said that lox is not kosher? That was in the Second Avenue Deli. They were slicing it. I was getting hungry just watching it.”

“On Tirdy-Tird Street?”

“I said to him, ‘See that good looking guy walk in? Sheyna boychik.’ ” And he said to me, “Shyena maidela.”

“My blood pressure is 103 over 70.”

“That’s too low.”

“When I exercise, it goes down to 98.”

“Whoa. That’s too low!”

“You seen Gladys lately?”

“She’s a pretty bright woman. You can’t screw around with her. She knows where it’s at.”

“She had her little dog in a carriage with a Santa suit on.”

“What about that guy whose car crashed into a crowd of people at 90 miles an hour? He’s been in jail for two years.”

“Remember in the old days? The handbrake? Now, I wouldn’t be able to find it.”

“Mine’s on the left on the floor.”

“Mine’s in the middle. It’s a foreign car.”

 

 

My Love-Hate Relationship with NYC

March 24, 2012

HUGE INFLATABLE RATS

As seen in different spots on Fifth Ave, installed by union guys to protest a building’s employment of non-union laborers. In one of those if only I had my camera photo ops, I walked by this same rat the day after I shot the above photo and the rat was half-deflated.

A burly, no-neck, crew-cut union guy in a sweat suit and lots of bling, along with two sidekicks who were busy pumping air out of the rat, was in a face-to-face with this building’s concierge. The concierge, a business-suited, 20-something, congenial guy was explaining to the beefsteak why the rat had to go.

By his body language, the beefsteak feigned understanding, seemed not to blame the concierge. He demonstrated this sentiment with a succinct , “Yo. Hey. Yo.” And with a final wave of his hand, “Hey.”

*  *  *  *  *

MASSIVE CROWDS IN FRONT OF THE APPLE STORE

The hordes of humanity I must plow through each and every Monday through Friday at 5:00 p.m. to reach the subway entrance. I have a bicycle bell, a gift from a friend, which I will once again carry undercover now that Spring has sprung. A single jing jing of the bell and the masses part like the Red Sea. It’s amazing.

*  *  *  *  *

READING AT LUNCHTIME  in Central Park

Especially anything by author David Vann. When I read his engrossing, critically acclaimed collection of short stories, “Legends of a Suicide,” I couldn’t put it down. It’s the same with this novel. He’s an amazing writer with a brilliant understanding of, and compassion for, the darker side of humanity. Set in a remote region of Alaska, a forbidding place where the lost souls of the world seem to gravitate — or hitchhike — hoping for escape or to find themselves.

*  *  *  *  *

MAKING OUT ON THE SUBWAY

If I am forced to witness one more couple (pick a gender, any gender, or combination of genders — a lack of boundaries does not discriminate) embracing, stroking, tongue-kissing and humping one another on the subway, crowded or empty (or even worse than that — my husband came home one night disgusted at having witnessed a girl popping pimples on her boyfriend’s greasy face on the F train) — I will scream! What is wrong with you people?

*  *  *  *  *

HORSES AT REST

Look how they go bi-level – front feet up on curb, back feet down on asphalt.

*  *  *  *  *

SPITTERS

I remember the very first time I saw a No Spitting sign posted on a subway train. What? I thought. Who would spit on the subway? I was so naive. The only thing nastier than spitting is airborne nose-blowing. I know someone victimized by this practice. A glob of snot landed on the cuff of his pants — which he later threw out. Of course, brawling on the subway is the worst:

Welcome to the Jungle well…

Spitting warranted an op ed in The N.Y. Times

*  *  *  *  *

Watching A SKYSCRAPER GO UP

Absolutely breathtaking.

*  *  *  *  *

CONGA DRUMS ON THE SUBWAY

If you read this blog regularly, you know I’m a music lover. But there is a time a place for everything, especially conga drums and especially at 5:00 p.m., after you’ve just escaped an 8-hour workday with a headache as poundingly intense as those drums.

*  *  *  *  *

THE DIAMOND DISTRICT IN MIDTOWN

What can I say? 47th Street is one of my favorite places to traverse  in the city. I often mosey on down there at lunchtime to soak up the color and energy of the place. Commerce in action!

*  *  *  *  *

HORN HONKERS

Signs are posted all over the city: NO HONKING $350 FINE. Yeah, right. Try and enforce that one, Mr. Policeman.

*  *  *  *  *

JOKES ABOUT NEW YORKERS

Nothing is funnier than the truth.

*  *  *  *  *

TOURISTS HOGGING THE SIDEWALKS

Families strolling five abreast on crowded Fifth Ave., holding hands, no less.  Trying to get back to the office when lunch is over is like trying to break through a roller derby jam. But then I’ll feel guilty because one of them will stop dead in his tracks, stretch his head back and peer at the sky, spread out his arms and say out loud, “I’m in New York!” or “!La Quinta Avenida!” — reminding me that, yes, I do live in a great city. It makes me want to thank them – but that’s something I would never do. They might think I was crazy.

*  *  *  *  *

AND

CRAZY NEW YORKERS

You’vee got to be a little crazy to live here.

Encounters at the Yard Sale

July 27, 2009

YardSaleSZcrop

Me, standing amid some of our superfluous stuff (check out the crock pot I purchased in a crackpot moment). Notice the big pockets in my cargo pants — for stashing all the loot we were about to rake in.

The Nuts and Bolts — Humanoids vs. Human Beings

At 9:00 a.m., we stared out into the empty street wondering when Koreatown was ever going to wake up. Finally, a little after 9:30, our first visitor, a man in a cowboy hat, pulled up to the curb in his pick-up truck. He climbed out, didn’t even look around and asked if we had a lunch box for sale.

Nope.

At 9:45, another guy in a cowboy hat materialized and made a beeline for two pairs of Converse sneakers. A minute later, we were in the black — by four whole dollars.

Yard Sales. The weekend activity I love to hate.

Two years ago, in preparation for our move to the city, we’d also staged a yard sale. I used the word “staged,” because, as artists, we tend to arrange our stuff in a non-cluttered and visually pleasing way — which may possibly work against us on some level. I’m not sure.

Anyway, in my yard sale experience, two distinct types of browsers tend to show up:

  1. The Humanoids — unfriendly critters who browse with a 99-cent store mindset and refuse to make eye-contact. They’re on a mission to buy the Taj Mahal for the price of a dog house. Or a find a diamond in a lump of coal. If you’re asking two dollars for something, they’ll bargain you down to one. One dollar? Fifty-cents. Anything over two dollars? They’ll wave their arm in disgust.
  2. Human Beings — they say, “hi” or “good morning.” Some might comment on your stuff, remarking that they like it or that it’s nice. Others strike up conversations.

The Humanoids are fully aware that you’re selling stuff from which you’ve grown detached, and that, by late afternoon, anything unsold will be thrown away or donated to Goodwill.

And they’re right! But the fact that they choose to use this awareness against you is what makes you hate them.

The Humanoids can be quite ballsy (sometimes, they’ll go so far as to ask if they can browse through the inside of your house).

So, to protect yourself and your dignity, you’ve got to set a few boundaries:

  1. This is a yard sale and not the mall. It’s not necessary to “bag” sold items (sometimes, I’ll do it as a courtesy, if the buyer is elderly and sort of adorable or just plain nice).
  2. If The Humanoid says, “Please hold this for me,” ask them to pay for it on the spot. Otherwise, A Human Being will inevitably come along, eye the same item, pay for it immediately and assume possession — which will then enrage The Humanoid — who had been planning to resell that item on eBay for twenty-times the price. At our last yard sale, a fight broke out over a cheesy, two-dollar lamp from the 1970s for that very reason.
  3. The Humanoid must carry their purchased item with them when they leave the premises. Your driveway is not their personal storage cube.
  4. As an addendum to #3, if The Humanoid buys a larger item, he or she had better have arrived at your house in a truck. If not, sell it to someone else — because The Humanoid will take his or her sweet time, sometimes as long as a week, to pick up their purchase — allowing their four-dollar item to depreciate by a boner-inducing half — which was probably their intention all along.
  5. Mentally calculate the least amount of money you’d take for a specific item — and then pad that amount. The Humanoids get off on bargaining you down to almost zero. Take it from me, feeling like a chump is so depressing!
  6. Swallow your pride and “let go” of any emotional attachment you still might harbor toward your belongings. The love affair with your stuff must be over — only a masochist would sell coveted personal property to The Humanoids for a couple of dollars. Don’t cling! The Humanoids always want something-for-nothing, which only increases your pain. Don’t give them the satisfaction!

Human Beings — The Upside

Of course, Human Beings do show up and they are what constitute the perks. Our first Human Being was a transplant from New York, a friendly guy with whom we immediately bonded. He bought a lot of cds and dvds. We chatted about music, life in L.A. vs. life in N.Y.

He said that when he moved to L.A. twenty-eight years earlier, it was as if he had slowed down and “pressed the pause button.” He still feels like he’s “on pause,” he said, but that the day will come when he’ll hit the “forward button.” That’s when he will move back east, because, “at heart, he will always feel like a New Yorker.”

I related to just about everything he said — but the “twenty-eight years” part really frightened me.

I can’t imagine another fifteen years of L.A. By then, they’d have to sweep up my desiccated remains and dump them in the Mojave.

But I recovered when a gracious young woman who had stopped by during her morning walk returned, as promised. She then bought three pieces of furniture and threw me some extra dollars — just because she thought we’d set the prices too low.

Around 2:00 p.m., we were ready to pack it in. The sun had already moved to the front of the house and we were starting to bake. But, just then, the jingling bells of the ice cream man caught our attention. Our first personal encounter with a Paletero, a Mexican ice cream vendor, was about to occur. If you’ve never seen one, check out this sweet video:

This particular paleteria was manned by two Mexican guys, one older than the other. The older guy browsed the yard sale for a moment, taking a fancy to a pair of size-ten men’s boots we were selling. As they bantered back in forth in Spanish, the older one, who wasn’t very tall, sat down in the driveway to try them on. They didn’t fit. They were much too big.

His younger compañero, in a fit of hysterical laughter, kept urging him to take them, anyway, only because of how much he liked them. “Sólo dos dollares!” he said. Only two dollars! But the older guy kept saying, “Son my grandes! Son muy grandes!”

By this time, I had joined in on their conversation and we were all joking and laughing. In Los Angeles, the only time I ever get to use my ability to speak Spanish, surprisingly, is at yard sales. When the younger guy asked me how I’d learned to speak Spanish so well, I told him “many years of school.”

Then he asked if we wanted to buy some ice cream.