Thursday, April 29, 2010
TO: Flip Flop Wearers of NYC
RE: Eating at outdoor cafes
With the warm summer months approaching, a seasonal hazard is looming:
I am dreading that moment when I'm at an outdoor cafe, about to take a bite of food and I spy someone's nasty, crusty, filthy, feet poking out of their flip flops. And the worst part is, once I've spotted them, I cannot take my eyes off of them. Repulsive feet are magnetic that way. Plus, I'm thinking: does this person not know how revolting their feet are? Do they not care? Do they enjoy the attention from other disgusted diners like me?
Now, I know nothing can separate these people from their free-wheelin' footwear, not even articles like this: FLIP FLOPS ARE DANGEROUS!
But as a public service: if we are going to an outdoor cafe, where people are eating burgers and drinking gin, can we all agree to keep our feet clean? Maybe slap on some foot cream to keep the crusty scaling to a minimum?
New York summers are already fraught with many perils: getting splattered by air conditioning drips, fat roaches drunk on power, glum bastards waiting for the Hampton Jitney who wish they had a flashier ride to the Hamptons, that warmed over piss stench--let's do our part to combat this filthy flip flop menace.
Thank you for your support.
Monday, April 26, 2010
I recently came across an article about two people who were caught having sex in a K-Mart bathroom.
It struck me that this would not have been nearly as embarrassing if they were caught in a cool L.A. club. Or perhaps a chic NY restaurant. But a K-Mart bathroom is pretty horrific.
Then I started to think about other mortifying places to be caught in the act.
I came up with this list:
1. On top of the kitchen table in the above photo
2. At Sears Portrait Studio, in front of the "woodland" backdrop
3. At Costco, behind a massive stack of pickle jars
4. At a Taco Bell, in a vat of ground beef
5. The Foot Locker
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The Dog House Tavern is a weathered, red wooden structure built by the Olympic Game Club in 1908. Over the years it has hosted vaudeville shows, prize fights, silent movie screenings, proms, basketball games, temperance meetings, and all night gambling events. Boozy gamblers would sleep on cots in the upstairs room to avoid the "dog house" status awaiting them with their wives at home. During prohibition in 1933 it officially became The Dog House Tavern.
Being such an old, rickety looking building, many Whidbey Islanders wondered if The Dog House would collapse under the weight of history and rain, sliding into the Puget Sound one dark night. But The Dog was built tough. It could withstand generations of poker faced cheaters, rustlers, hustlers and midnight floozies.
Now this historic building might disappear in a different way. It's up for auction on April 23rd, and its fate remains uncertain. [UPDATE: The auction has been postponed for a week.] If someone buys The Dog House just to tear it down, I'll be heartbroken...even if the food there often gave me heartburn.
The Dog House Tavern played a central role in my teenage years. Nobody there gave a shit if we sat in the restaurant area; singing sitcom theme songs, annoying the paying customers while we drank water or nursed one cup of coffee. They never complained if someone sat by the totem pole at the backdoor, practicing three chords on a guitar. Occasionally, someone would put a quarter in the player piano and we'd ironically dance until tourists would want to take our picture. Then we'd sneer at them and leave.
They hired teenagers too. One of my friends worked in the kitchen, and rumor had it he would spit in the Principal's chili when he came in. (This may have actually improved the flavor of the chili.)
Underneath The Dog House was a cave called "The Pleasure Dome". Admittedly, whoever named it this either had a fanciful imagination or very low standards. Because all you'd find inside were a stained mattress, some empty beer cans and a couple of used condoms.
But The Dog House deserves to be saved. It's an iconic piece of Pacific Northwest history. Families ate there, actors performed there, tourists boozed up there, and once I saw my dentist dressed in a devil's costume darting in there.
Of course, when I lived on Whidbey Island, I was never old enough to sit in the saloon area. So I'd love to go back there, stride through those swinging doors and take my seat at the bar where so many other misbehaved ramblers came before me.
Monday, April 19, 2010
I'm not sure how it happened exactly, but I have the dubious distinction of being the go-to person for all of your toilet related issues. This includes breaking news updates, jokes and the above photo. One of you sent it to me yesterday with the note, "This would look great in your bathroom, next to the porn pole."
SIDE NOTE: For those of you who have never seen my bathroom, I made lemonade out of lemons by decorating a particularly ugly pole with a collage of pictures from a 1980s Playboy magazine I found on St. Mark's Place. The best part? Joan Collins is the main attraction.
While I'm grateful for this bit of decorating advice, I have to say that this item is one of the most appalling things I've ever seen. I actually flinched when I looked at it. It's truly offensive. I was so disgusted that I asked myself these questions:
1. Who decided that wiping one's ass should be whimsical jaunt to Jolly Olde England?
2. What the hell is this butler wearing? Is that a half shirt? What's going on with his stomach?
3. Why is his finger so damn long?
4. When did it become acceptable for a butler to hold his nose with his freakishly long finger, thereby insinuating that my shit stinks?
5. How did I get to a point in my life where someone sees this repugnant item and automatically thinks of me?
Sunday, April 11, 2010
A detour through Forty-seventh Street between 5th and 6th Avenues is an extraordinary assault on the senses. Flanked by two huge Diamond-tipped pillars on either end, stumbling upon The Diamond District is like finding a bazaar amidst all the midtown media conglomerates and office buildings.
Business is conducted in several languages; Russian, Spanish, Chinese. Each doorstep reveals merchants on cell phones or smoking a cigarette. Men wearing heavy gold chains hand out flyers as they bellow monotonously, “We buy diamonds, we buy gold.” Wildly different architectural styles stand side by side: Beaux Arts, Art Deco, International Style. Armored vehicles with precious cargo lumber in and out. Couples walk hand in hand, oblivious to the chaos. The women eye the rings while the men eye the pretty girls, peering out from shop windows as they arrange the sparkling goods. Hasidic men dressed in black stride past tourists wearing I LOVE NY t-shirts. If rumors are true, the brown paper sacks tucked under the arms of men dressed in understated suits may be hiding a glittering cache of gems or just a pastrami sandwich.
And at the end of the street a Pomeranian dog named Pepe is perched on a chest by a kiosk. But only on sunny days. “Pepe don’t like the cold,” his owner explains.
I have been fascinated by this block for years, and never seemed to find much historical information about it, apart from a few lurid headlines and some facts and figures about diamond sales. But talking with two dealers from Rick Shatz Inc. who have been in the diamond business for 30 years provided some insight. In an office filled with black velvet lined boxes of “Fancy Yellow” diamonds, photos of family on the walls and stacks of paperwork, Rick and “Uncle Fish” talked about the industry, past and present. They explained how diamond-cutting techniques were traditionally passed down from father to son. As they spoke, they cut each other off and filled in each other’s blanks with the type of familiarity that long-term friendship inspires.
They both agreed that the internet is the greatest catalyst of change in the diamond industry.
“It used to be that there was a personal connection,” said Rick. “A guy would travel all over the world, carrying his diamonds for sale. Now there’s no need. You can get on the internet, put in an order, and in a day get what you want. It’s good for the consumers, who are more educated about diamonds than ever. But there is a loss of personal connection. It used to be that a son would buy an engagement ring from the same man that his father did. There was a sense of tradition. That has faded a little.”
After leaving their office, I took Steve Kilnisan’s Diamond District tour, the only one-hour, one-block tour in the City. Turns out that the Diamond District is a true rags to riches tale. According to Mr. Kilnisan, in the late 1800’s it was a rag district, where rags were cut, washed and sold. By the 1920’s publishing houses had moved in. Playwright Eugene O’Neill used to have a working studio there, where he’d make last minute revisions and rush back to the theatre district. Diamond shops began springing up by the mid-1950’s. The area nearly shifted again in the 1990s. After 42nd street had been revamped into a family-friendly center, the adult entertainment industry tried to set up shop on 47th street. This was avoided by registering the synagogues in the area, like the tiny Radio City Synagogue. By invoking a zoning law that states no adult oriented business can be within 500 feet of a house of worship, the Diamond District was spared an influx of peep shows.
After the tour I popped into the National Jewelers Exchange. On the second floor there is a kosher restaurant called "The Diamond Dairy of New York". Deals are made over tuna fish sandwiches and noodle pudding. A seat by the window overlooks the diamond exchange below. Jewels shine as they are brought out from behind glass cases. Customers in all manner of clothes; fatigues, heels and suits come in and examine the goods. There is laughter in one stall and serious discussion in the next. Angie the waitress, wearing a big red flower in her hair and matching lipstick surveyed the scene with me. With a little sigh she said,
“Beautiful aren’t they? All those jewels. I come in here to work every day. Sometimes I succumb and buy something. I got the prettiest garnets the other day. How they sparkle! I figure, you can’t put it all in the bank, right?”
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
File this one under, "People Who Have No Fucking Common Sense And Deserve What They Get".
Just woke up and read this little tidbit:
LONDON (Reuters) – Two women were arrested at a British airport on suspicion of trying to smuggle a dead relative onto a flight bound for Germany, police said on Tuesday.
The 91-year-old deceased man was pushed in a wheelchair through Liverpool's John Lennon airport wearing sunglasses before check-in staff became suspicious and he was prevented from boarding the plane.
You read that right.
They put sunglasses on a 91-year-old corpse and wheeled him though the airport. Now I realize that most 91-year-old men aren't terribly spry. But there's a difference between not sprinting to catch your flight and slumping over while turning blue.
But beyond that, it seems to me that the sunglasses are really what gave them away. This was an airport in Liverpool. Not a city known for it's bright, sunshiny weather. I suspect anyone wearing sunglasses would look suspicious.
Monday, April 05, 2010
It has been well-documented that I am a heinous toilet paper thief.
Evidence of my crimes can be found right here: EXHIBIT A.
When I steal these paper goods from restaurants, bars and quaint bistros, my friends usually just shake their heads sadly. Sometimes they sigh and mutter, "Oh, Saara." I can tell they're wondering how their lives got so far off track that they're stuck with the likes of an unrepentant asswipe criminal rather than an esteemed Astrophysicist or a witty Pulitzer prize winning author.
But I have one friend who doesn't seem to mind. He just came back from Italy. I saw him Saturday night and he presented me with a beautiful gift...a stolen roll of toilet paper from his hotel in Rome. As you can see, I even took a photo of this treasure. This toilet paper traveled across the Atlantic just to be in my bathroom. This toilet paper was packed and carried through customs. Then it was carried into a nice Upper West Side restaurant and presented with a flourish.
Just in time too. I was on my last stolen roll and was preparing for the hunt.