For all of my moaning and complaining about the tumult and inadequacies of my continuing (perhaps even inaccurately named now) post-collegiate existence, my weeks and days can really be divided up into two categories:
When I have a video game I’m playing and when I don’t.
Those weeks I don’t are sometimes more intellectually productive or cathartic. When there’s no video game in my pocket, there’s no doubt that the week’s New Yorker will be consumed like a freshly toasted hoagie; quickly and with sadness that it’s gone. Perhaps I’ll find a book and latch on to it, or even read a play, which tend to be shorter and easier to get through, with their sparse barbed dialogue, without sacrificing the intellectual imprimatur of the Young Man Reader.
But the weeks I am playing video games, I have something else that is tangible: peace of mind. I know I’ll never go without stimulation, without distraction, forced to feel the world and feelings I’d rather not experience (my ex, my sister, my lack of any real job or sense of what might be my career, etc…). In the improv class I took last weekend with guru Dave Razowsky, he spouted at us Buddhism-isms, applicable to improv, one of which was that “lack of acceptance is the root of all suffering.” If such is true, so be it. But video games make for pretty good Tylenol for such suffering then, floating you by even if you know the crash might come.
There also the sense of the lack of “kick” the world has, that threat of impending “being” one faces with its disappointments. In improv classes (among a LONG list of others), I often turn to my phone, not because there is any sort of interesting thing to experience, but usually because to be present is to face your own discomfort in being you, to accept your writing for its flaws, your acting or comedy for its misses. Instead of being present where you are vulnerable, you’re back in that screen, your mind in another world.
Much has been said, I feel, about the part of our brains we’d lost upon the advent of the first Blackberry: the organizational part, remembering dates and calendars, sacrificed upon the altar of more reliable electronic notifications, a buzz in your pocket, instead that feeling of unease or remembrance in our heads. Now appointments are like childhood memories, faded into the background, unsure, as we turn to our phones or cloud-electronic calendars for confirmation of what our own memory cannot tell us.
Is there something to be said then about our emotions, our beings, the rest of ourselves being there? When I go elsewhere to protect myself, into my phone, where does the rest of me go? Does it atrophy, like those memories?
I’m not sure, I can say, nor do I think such thinking might change my behavior, just as the recognition of it hasn’t seemed to throughout the years. Even if we know our memories of dates and times will fade, the phone storing them is more convenient, more reliable, more of an extension of the self. I don’t intend to give such things up and when I hear people forgetting their phone, I feel in shock, as if someone just said “I forgot my arm.”
I don’t know how much of me I’ve lost or am losing or where I go or what I’ll become, which was my state of life without thinking of electronica.
I do know though, that now that I have a Nintendo 3DS, I carry a little virtual being, a “Mii” around in my pocket, named Nicky, a facsimile of me. As I pass people on the street, my Mii is beamed to whoever else has a 3DS as there’s is beamed to mine and when I next open my machine, I see their small facsimiles, their electronic selves meeting me on a virtual grassy plaza somewhere.
We shake hands. We interact. We share twitter-sized greetings. And then they stand in my plaza, for as long as I’d like, to play games with, to interact. They reappear in other games, like confabulated dreams.
Who is that other self, that Nicky?
And what does he have of me?
Keith Haskel drew this picture of me on a table in Williamsburg with crayons provided for children.
Well, children or the overgrown children that make up the hipsters of the area.
As we sat down for a brunch I owed him as part of a remunerative effort for missing out on his birthday party, a young woman stopped me, recognized me and invited me to join her at her table.
“Thanks,” I told her. “I’m flattered. But I’m here with a friend.”
Keith made arms up as if I should “take her”, but I smiled and she walked off.
The event was unexpected, but somewhat frequent even as my expiration date passed as part of the airing of my reality show appearance. It is perhaps testament to Ms. Frankel and her popularity that I am still stopped on the street as an implied member of her totemic circle.
“Duder, you just gotta play it up for all it’s worth.” Keith said doodling. “Use it. Use it for something.”
“What?” I replied incredulously. “Improv shows? I think even people who like me on TV don’t want to come see me do 1900s-era Austrian-play-inspired improv on the second floor of a methadone clinic.”
“Sorry,” Keith replied. “Didn’t hear that. Was too busy drawing this picture of you surrounded by a floating FEITCLUB hashtag.”
Seeing Keith doodling reminded me that while I had no idea what to do with this suddenly still-lingering pseudo-fame, that I still expected to drop at any moment, Keith Haskel was the sort of man who could have spun Bravo-fan Twitter followers into gold.
Keith had the sort of drive and energy I always admired out of film school, working on the funniest shows with up-and-comers like Human Giant and Delocated, taking time off school when necessary and getting hired repeatedly by Viacom and Adult Swim for both his funnies and his professionalism.
What’s more, doing these full-time stay till-9pm gigs, he managed to put out a sketch or viral video every month or two to his awesome website, as well as somehow becoming friends with street artists, leading to his footage being used in Exit Through The Gift Shop.
When I encountered him doodling, he was taking a hiatus just to write, not in the sort of way that people do it, depressed, miserable and mostly unemployable, in a post-collegiate haze, but as some sort of Writing-cation, to see what he could make or learn in the time before “The Man” came knocking back on his door.
As it did, Keith got promoted and rehired to a TV gig that doodling day and when we ate our food, he just kept throwing ideas out for sketches, for editing things he’d made before, for whatever could be of his in this real world.
As we got a little buzzed and went to see Rob-Beardo Malone’s screening of Puppy Whistle, it felt nice to unwind with someone who contained so much energy.
“Duder, you just got to not worry, every once in a while. Just keep doing what you’re doing and mostly ladies and some men will keep stopping you in the street for pictures. Life is great!” Keith exclaimed.
And wandering around the blocks with him to the Anthology, waiting for a Malone-filled movie it kind of was.
Until I saw my ex on screen, in the film we’d starred in together, Rob’s film.
But moments like that, they exist, but they don’t erase everything else.
Even if you think so, at the time.
In my recent adventures in food-blogging (“For what? For who?”), I have found somewhat irk-some-ly, that my stomach space is no longer entirely my own.
While this might seem like a slight or trivial thing to you, or even a luxury, in my own massive indecisive adventurousness of lunch-hunting (often the high point of the day), you might understand such a let down.
While I don’t have any excuses or any explanations (those are owned by others), I can tell you that I sneak a meal when I can.
And one of those meals snuck was, luckily enough, from the Bistro Truck.
The Bistro Truck was a place I had been jones-ing to go since I saw them inexplicably parked outside McNally Jackson as some sort of culinary accompaniment to a New Yorker festival book-signing.
That day I was just on break from work, I ordered a special, it was too expensive (but good), but STILL– I felt that I had not experienced the true essence of the truck.
Imagine my surprise then, without seeking it out, in-between writing-motivated meals, I found the truck in its (I later learned) constant location, off Union Square, serving up its tasties.
Despite minimal room, I couldn’t resist the 6-buck Dijon Chicken, cooked in the nominal mustard and craime fraiche, served over cous-cous or rice (“COUSCOUS ARE YOU CRAZY” I told the amused truck-man.) with a nice spring-greens salad on the side.
This was no Chicken and Rice Halal-Food dinner.
Instead what I found were the nuanced French-Moroccan flavors of the truck, with subtle spices standing in for obnoxious hot sauce, mayonaise/yogurt nowhere to be found, and delicate cous-cous absorbing every bit of the jus the Chicken came in and stirring in well, for bit-coated goodness. That the salad had a well-thought-out vinaigrette was not lost on me, either.
When I was done with it, I found myself, over-full and over-content, resting in my back-meshed chair and submitting to yet another Netlflixed X-Files episode.
The pounds would be worried about later.
I’d put them on my virtual Mii.
Dijon Chicken w/Couscous and Side Salad- $6
5th Avenue bet. 16th and 17th Sts. (Mon-Sat 11:30-6:30 only)
NQR456L to 14th St Union Sq. 1 to 18th St.