It should come as no surprise to my friends that I have a new backpack, but still, I thought I should just share it with the world.

The saga of my bags goes something like this:

Since last summer, when I worked as an over-paid but sadly honest worker for the U.S. Census, I had been using their cool messenger bags as a way to finally not wear a hoodie with pockets full of useless shit.

Literally, I was a man who didn’t know how to wear a bag. Napkins, cell-phones, gaming devices, umbrellas, you name it; I would try to fit it into my pockets.

Things that were too big, like my New Yorker, I’d carry sweat-soaked under my arm or butt-sweat-soaked in my back jeans-pocket.

But that came to an end with the era of the census bags, two because I snagged an extra one at a meeting at the World Financial Center where they asked if anyone wanted another.

They both ended up ripping in the same places, diagonally through the dyed nylon that said “U.S. Census Bureau” and then horizontally right next to the zipper.

Oddly though, I still kept using them for a really long time.

A New Yorker could be placed along the side of my bag to internally cover the widening gash and the bag didn’t ever really need to close as long as I didn’t tip it or anything.

All in all those census bags were useful, they had a pouch for water bottles and they were relatively capacious and good and not bending pieces of paper, which is why they attracted so many errant sketches, script pages, other writing bric-a-brac from errant projects and classes that I never cleaned out, filled them to bursting, until, well, they did.

I carried the bag around all through winter, getting snow on my stuff when the “snowpocalypse” happened, finally capitualting and returning to the man who carried his stuff around crammed inside his jacket.

But then spring came, but then summer and it was too hot again and I couldn’t wear a jacket, it’d exacerbate my already profuse sweating condition.

So I carried my stuff around in errant plastic bags left in my apartment by me and my then quasi-roommate (now moved-out for good) John Beamer. The problems with that were:

1. John would throw stuff out in my carry-things plastic bag, because we also used plastic bags for trash and he’d get confused


2. My parents kept thinking I looked like a hobo, which I guess I somewhat did with my non-changing pants, broken-buttoned shirts and plastic bag full of slightly trashed-on crap.

So finally, my dad just said “order some bag on Amazon and I’ll pay for it” and there it was.

The Voltaic Off The Grid Solar Backpack.

It slices, it dices, it charges my phone or my PSP or my 3DS or friends’ phones or appliances as I walk around the city.

It’s capacious and can fit my big-bootied laptop, my various rechargeable batteries and hard drives, my New Yorkers, a brownie sometimes if I want one.

It’s powered by the sun and can charge anything fully even if there aren’t any power sources around.

I don’t have to go to strange Starbucks-es any more quibbling for that table nearest to the outlet, or begging someone I don’t know to let me plug in to their computer, like some weird sexual-innuendo’d joke.

Nope, I’m a self-sufficient man, with my water-bottle on one pouch and my small umbrella in the other, my devices, my panel.

Maybe the best part is, now, when people stop me on the street, it’s not always about a TV show, but sometimes about how fucking cool my backpack is.

Maybe this is just some vain transition out of pseudo-fame, maybe it’s compensating.

Either way, that long-haired nerd in me, once skulking around high-school. He’s nodding inside. He’s proud.

Not to say that the regular me isn’t also there, carrying my bag.

Coming home, plugging in batteries.

And looking at my broken census bags and missing the memories and the times that came with them.

Not that I’d want to use them again.

It’s bag nostalgia, if you will, not nostalgia for a bag.


Matt Chao got a splint last week, but he actually broke his foot the week before.

“Yeah there’s like a part that’s black.” Matt said over G-Chat as I asked him about it.

“What the fuck,Matt, go to the hospital.” I told him, with certainly worse punctuation.

“Yeah I was going to but my parents just said to rest it.” Matt replied.

“The fuck?” I asked.

“Asian Parents.” Matt said in about that punctuation.


“If you had them, you’d understand.”

I didn’t. I had Jewish parents and Jews believe in (and largely are) doctors. If you got the sniffles you go to one, if you got cramps or rashes or allergies or anything, you don’t sleep it off, you make an appointment with your internist.

But Matt Chao, who had had a 15-20 pound stage fall on his foot on the set of a commercial was such a fucking–I don’t want to say “good” but–good PA that he didn’t opt to go to the hospital, nor did he the next few days.

“Just go Matt.” I told him still. “I’ll go with you. Just call me. We’ll hit up Beth Israel. I’m good with the Jews. It’ll be cool.”

Matt had never been to a hospital before as a patient, he told me proudly after he “proudly” opted to take the subway, hopping up stairs to the hospital. He had been born in front of the intake-doors to the emergency room and delivered there, according to his lore, which he followed with a signature staccato Matt Chao laugh.

When the Physician’s Assistant, a nice seeming Orthodox Jewish dude saw Matt he seemed pissed that Matt had walked on his foot for 5 days before seeking a doctor, stating that he had broken foot not in one but 3 places in fractures and prescribing him Codeine for if he needed it.

“Nope.” Matt Chao said blithely, proudly, though the PA insisted he take the prescription.

“That stuff can be useful to have around.” I told Matt, but he seemed unconcerned.

I spent the next while trying to convince him to stay at my parents’ house while he got a splint for his legs that the doctor told him would last 4-6 weeks, not terrible.

He was back to doing intern (read: slave) labor for PBS in a lull between gigs and the commute into the city from Jersey on the trains left him without money for cabs.

I kept arguing with him, even getting my mom on the phone to convince him, trying to tell him he’d be better off in the city living my ‘rents. But not even my mom, who’s always right, could convince him to get in there.

I think, honestly, he enjoyed the challenge, the game of swinging around on crutches through people, around people, to take them up on the offer.

“I’m going to jacked.” He told me on the way out of the hospital, swinging. “But fuck, I might not be ready in time for Christine’s paintball birthday.”

“23rd, 24th, 25th… Should be at the end of the fourth week.” Matt counted to himself.

“I don’t think you should be playing paintball for a while after you get out of that thing.” I told him.

“Nick, it’s paintball.” He said, as if that was all the explanation needed.

We hopped in a cab up to PBS, for this time at least.

He was supposed to stay with my ‘rents tonight, one night, for an early orthopedists appointment but missed that by accident.

“Oh well.” He said after I g-chatted him reminding him, too late, he’d gone home. “Your parents are really nice.”

“Obv.” I replied thinking how much fun Matt Chao and only Matt Chao would have tomorrow at 6am, navigating Penn Station rush hour on crutches.


I feel like it’s weird to do this, but I really liked this iced tea.

I was meeting up for a rehearsal (for a show this weekend) in mid-Brooklyn at Blue Marble Ice Cream, where a friend’s ex used to work and where I still feel jittery.

I had to sit there though, it was the meeting place for a rehearsal in a weird mid 90s-style church basement where we’d go after meeting up.

And I had to get something, well, because.

I had discovered in the last few months my somewhat lactose-intolerance and I knew that if I ate ice-cream I would feel like crud when trying to be the weird magician character I was to play.

So I asked if they had any iced tea and they said yes.

And I asked as I often do if the mid-20s hippy lady behind the counter had a suggestion for which kind I should guess and she said yes.

“I defer to your experience then.” I said and let her pour me some.

It was an herbal Hibiscus iced tea, slightly sweetened with Stevia, which I discovered after asking.

It was just really, really good and refreshing and didn’t need anything.

I find myself getting Arnold Palmers (half tea/half lemonade) when I’d be in the mood for tea, just because it’s a less artificial way to add that necessary bit of sweetness to iced tea, that is usually just over-killed with shots of syrup at Starbucks.

Here, on the other hand, the Stevia wasn’t sugar or a syrup, just a slightly sweet tasting thing.

I remembered it once from going to a weird coffee shop across from the McKibben Lofts and pouring in my coffee and thinking it distinctly tasted like soap.

But this time it was just right and it didn’t feel heavy and it just felt light and a little bit sweet.

I drank it and was happy and commented so to my theater director.

Who thought it was weird that I was talking about how much I liked my iced tea in character.

And noted me on it after the rehearsal was done.



Hibiscus Iced Tea w/a touch of Stevia- $2.35

Underhill Avenue between St. John and Sterling, Brooklyn

23 to Grand Army Plaza, BQ to 7th Avenue-Brooklyn


P.S.- Happy Birthday to “goob” Blake LaRue and honorary “goob” Simon Robinson, who will soon be embarking for Japan to go wife-hunting/teach English or something.

Blake just sells coffee-infused frozen yogurt out of a truck and refs lo-rent B-ball games between comedians.

Actually that’s not bad.

Happy berfsdays.




9 Responses to Bag.

  1. Matthew Chao says:

    Chris’s response was “Oh man! You’re so NOT on my team!”

    Also, it was a bump, not black — which is/was probably just a hematoma

    Lastly, he was so not pissed, he was just surprised.

  2. Heather says:

    Love hibiscus tea – I proudly consider myself a tea whore, actually. I prefer it unsweetened; but, in the rare occasion I feel like a bit of sweetness, a drop of stevia does the trick!

  3. Julie Brown says:

    Incredible, Nick…..just love reading your stuff….although you may think your life is a conundrum, to some of us it is a moment of immeasureable pleasure in an otherwise crummy day……love it, love it, love it!!! And your bag sounds pretty cool, too….I’ve not seen one like it, so I’m looking it up on Amazon.

  4. Lisa says:

    This is a terrific post and it brightened a gloomy day. Thanks, Nick.

  5. Laurie says:

    Another great post, Nick. Thank you.

  6. Mj says:

    I “get” u’r love of the new bag AND missing the old ones, but i still love a great matching set of plastic bags. can’t beat the price, stuff is easily sorted into several bags (e.g., work stuff, lunch, typical purse stuff, to do projects), nio one is tempted to take them – so, so many reasons to love them. Of course, they don’t power up anything – alas, i have to use wall outlets for that.

  7. Megan S says:

    Hey, This is off topic to this post. But I know you’ve taken classes for improve and such I’m in NY and I’d just like someones advice on a good acting class or something for beginners. I really want to do stand up or acting. I don’t know. Sorry if this is an annoying question. No one I know would have any idea and I follow your blog and you are the only person I could think of to ask.
    Sorry. Thank you!

  8. Megan S says:

    Thank youu šŸ™‚

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