At The Argo Tea Cafe

November 1, 2011

Going home always instills feelings of being home.

If you know what I mean.

In this case, going home meant comments from my parents and my sister about my appearance and grooming habits, obligatory letting my grandmother hold the crook of my elbow and, of course, dressing up in clothes I would never wear for others’ amusement.

This was a favorite game of my sister’s and my mother’s for as a far back as I can remember. Everyone would get very excited about “Let’s see Nick in that!” and I, who have always hated “clothing” in the aesthetic sense, would protest and squirm, maybe have a tantrum or run out in a huff, differing from which point of my childhood or adolescence this was happening in.

It was always at some sort of all-family gathering though, where the social pressure is highest and this time was no different.

It was my grandmother’s birthday, the night before Halloween, and in her attempt to constantly pawn clothing off on me, she had brought a top hat and “two different capes!” (her emphasis, not mine) for me to try on, presumably for some sort of halloween experience. My friends, Rob Malone, Matt Chao, Chadd Harbold and Frank Orio had all gathered as well (at my mother’s request) and they joined in on the pressuring which had a particular pervasive take this time.

First it was my grandmother just mentioning that she had brought the aforementioned hat and capes to the room in her up-tone excited voice as if she was saying “I have a great i-dea!” which then stayed in the room like germs from a lingering cough infecting the air as my parents heard, my friends heard and eventually my sister who, of course, was entirely enamored of the idea.

As I helped my mother set up the very nice dinner she had cooked for everyone, I heard my friends talk with my sister from across the room, feeling the onset in the back of my mind. As my sister continued to inflate the idea like a hot-air balloon, I grew more and more tense as I pointed out the almonds that could be toasted for topping the couscous, building to that moment in the back of my mind.

Slowly, my friends were infected by my sister’s charm and enthusiasm for the idea. Matt Chao, with his penchant for nerdy ideas and general geekery, was, as expected, the first to fall.

“You know what we should do?” I heard from across the living room. “We should see Nick try on that top hat and capes!”

“Yeah!” My sister instantly seconded.

“Oh, that would be won-derful!” My grandmother exclaimed.

“Damnit Cec.” I replied. “You rigged this.”

“I didn’t rig anything.” She said, putting on a faux-shocked face.

“Come now, dearest Nick.” My grandmother told me grabbing the crux of my arm.

“Goddamnit.” I told myself as the traitor Chao and my sister continued cackling from the back of the room, because now if I didn’t do it, I would be disappointing my grandmother at her birthday celebration.

My friends gathered round and Matt Chao took the picture with an iPad 2 that was definitely going to destroy his life (he already found an MMORPG to play on it) as we filed into the other room.

There I was getting dressed up again. I think I even called it out.

It didn’t look too bad.

And I hadn’t bought a costume.

I took it with me in a bag home at the end of a nice dinner with my friends and wore it the next day at the Magnet Theater’s Halloween party.

I hadn’t done any other work on it or changed my clothes, so I just told people I was a magician.

I had a pint of whiskey that I kept taking out (diet, folks) and people asked me if my costume was drunken magician and I said, yes, that seemed appropriate.

I made sure to take good care of it, like my mother texted me and said.

Magician Nick, the end.

***

I asked my therapist today a rhetorical question. Or maybe not a rhetorical question, maybe just a want or a desire.

I asked: “When is therapy going to help me improve my love life?”

I’m coming up on a year since I’ve been in anything really meaningful.

I weighed in yesterday at 182.4.

The Accutane seems to be working even though it’s making my skin dry as hell (the doctor told me this was to be expected and was not permanent).

I even perform some funny comedy and people are starting to agree that the stuff I do doesn’t suck. Scott Adsit sat it on the show I did last week and people seemed to like my sketch I brought in on my Magnet team.

I look at myself in the mirror and see someone who could be with somebody, see someone worthwhile, someone worth at least a date or two.

I feel like people keep speaking past me, like they’re unable to connect, like they’re interested in observing me or looking from a distance or having my acquaintance.

Several times in the past week, I’ve had young ladies tell me “I’m a big fan of your blog” seeming to mean both “I really enjoy your writing” and “Nothing will ever happen between us”.

One of them even said this probably knowing that I had talked about her rejecting me through process of ignoring me on it (Ladies, feel free to comment if this is something that does make you feel good or a fan of something).

There’s something funny about that to me (even if it’s glaringly obvious), the idea that my ability to articulate who I am and what I feel is the very thing that is both what intrigues people and also causes them to make sure they keep a proper distance. I feel like perhaps people wish they could be open or wish they could be honest or unashamed or public with their thoughts. But as have that sanctity of themselves that they choose, that privacy, they don’t want to be dragged into the zeitgeist and who could blame them?

Or they could just not be in to me, that’s fine too.

I still haven’t returned (yet) to OKCupid, though I have returned to going to a party or two and drinking hoping for something dumb to happen, always with disappointing results.

When I told my therapist my rhetorical question, she told me:

“You came to me a few years ago with a strong idea: that you wanted someone who would accept you for who you are, take you or leave you. And that’s good. But you’ve realized that you can change your appearance somewhat, you can put your best “you” forward, without changing essentially who you are.”

But there’s also something to be said for the repercussions of being a public person, it’s a strong choice to live like that, but people may react strongly.

As I was writing this, I got a message from someone on OKCupid, a reply from a message I sent 6 months ago.

 

Well, ladies. I guess I’m still on the market.

***

I apologize for the blurriness of this photo, only vouching in my defense that it is difficult to take a good picture of something when you have an intense desire to eat it immediately.

When I first passed “Za’atar” on Greenwich Avenue it immediately struck me as small and strange and oddly cavernous, a wild, ethnic joint offering 3-buck falafels amidst a string of mid-level restaurants and haute-crap bars.

It’s on my path both of walking to the “Improv Ghetto” (26th-30th sts bet 6th and 8th Aves) from my home and also just a preferred path for general walking for me. I love streets that are diagonals in New York City and Greenwich Avenue is one of the greatest and steepest offenders.

I passed it several late nights where I saw it oddly open with a hijab-clad woman working the back but it wasn’t till I was looking for a meal, running late for a rehearsal I had committed inanely to walking to that I ended up there.

The time I went a skinny, short older man manned the area, while what appeared to be a railroad-style hobo (of the type one used to see in Greenwich Village) sat in the front eating from a plate of kidney beans.

He said he was from “Damascus, Syria” when I asked him and asked me if I wanted “everything” to which I said yes.

What I got ended up as 5, as opposed to the advertised 3 dollars, but hell if it wasn’t worth it.

Light and crisp, but packed falafels, stuffed into a well-toasted whole wheat pita, with non-pickle cucumbers, lettuce, tomato, lightly-pickled onions, tahina, hummus and a potent, but sweet hot sauce.

It was the sort of falafel you wolf down and then spend several minutes after just contemplating the accomplishment.

I’ll have to go back to Taim and do a side-by taste-test.

But this is certainly one of the best falafels in New York City and quite a find.

***

ZA’ATAR

Falafel w/Hummus + “Everything”- $5.00

Greenwich Ave. bet 6th and 7th Aves.

123L to 14th St-7th Ave. ACEBDFM to West 4th St.

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September 26, 2011

Now that most of my portable video games are exhausted, I’ve taken to finally catching up with my backpack-stored New Yorkers.

Sometimes, I just discover why I wasn’t inspired to read them in the first place, with articles on bullet-proof fashion-wear and extremely depressing things.

But at least I’ll usually glean a good cartoon, sitting on a blue subway-car bench. And snap a picture. And feel good about that.

Lately, I’ve had moments of needing that reassurance (surprised?).

As my vacation approaches, I gird myself with classes taken to bring myself to a sort of crescendo of experience before I leave for Paris, where all my classes and shows end a week or days before I leave and I am left with some sort of sense of finality, of completeness, of accomplishment if you will, before heading off to a foreign land.

This also means just putting myself out there. Going to see shows, doing more improv, seeing my friends. Trying to take opportunities, or just not be in my house. The usual, really.

But this sort of chain has been yielding fruit for me, as going out to ASSSSCATs at UCB led to going out to Chris Gethard Shows, led to going on a date, led somehow to being called a douchebag by comedian (and definite person I think is cool) Marc Maron.

To give some background, I was on a date with a nice young lady (whom, for once, I don’t wish to embarrass here), sitting at a bar having one of those long “we’re connecting!” talks over drinks I was drinking more quickly than she was, when a stand-up fresh from an open mic wandered out and heard me invoke the name of Marc Maron.

“Marc Maron?” the stand-up asked. “His podcast is great.”

And thus began the 15-minute long conversation that took place in front of my date, mostly not involving her, that looking back was both mortifying and somewhat unavoidable.

At least I can probably assume that she learned about Marc Maron and the WTF podcast that night, if also not to date comedy-nerd douchebags.

But the conversation ended strangely with the stand-up telling me he was actually moderating a panel that Marc Maron was going to be at tomorrow night and that he had free passes he had forgotten to give away and did I want them.

“Yeah, uh, sure.” I said, completely unbelieving that some dude I just met would give me tickets to see a sold-out Marc Maron panel.

But he asked me to tweet at him and lo-and-behold the next day I received a tweet-back saying that my tickets were reserved under my name with a plus-one.

Thus began the scurry to try to find someone to go with.

I should probably pause at this point and explain a little bit for those of you who don’t know about who Marc Maron is.

Maron is a comedian who came up with the class of Janeane Garofalo, David Cross, Todd Barry, Louis C.K. and more in the 90s mostly and was well-known back then both for his acerbic honesty on stage as his drug and alcohol problems. In that era he both won acclaim for being funny and some respect from his fellow comics and also managed to alienate nearly all of his friends with his self-destructive behavior. By the mid 2000s he had hit something of bottom having failed to land the big movie parts (a bit in “Almost Famous” was his break) or good TV gigs that contemporaries like David Cross or Dave Attell had landed (he did a few shows that were short-lived) and was unsure what to do with his life following a string of firings from liberal-talk radio Air America. It was around this time that, conscious or not, he started up a podcast called “WTF” which was possibly intended to be a show examining life’s “WTF moments” but ended up being both a series of intimate interviews with talented comedians (Cross and Barry were some early guests) and his own personal quest for redemption, talking frankly about his life and where he was in it, his feelings of despair and self-loathing and romantic unfulfillment. He would often start an interview by apologizing to his guest for any wrongs he had committed towards them, kind of a 12-step amend, since he was now sober. As the podcast continued, it became more and more influential as bigger names stepped up and people became more involved in the show. Suddenly Ben Stiller, Judd Apatow, Robin Williams, Louis C.K., many greats appeared and even solicited appearances on Marc’s podcast. It became a place where people went to see the truth, the back-room of comedy. What these opaque performers were like behind their masks interested us and Marc’s own struggle and frankness made us root for and identify with him. His was a no-bullshit zone in which his audience was his confidant and support, a dangerous, but typically stand-up comedian move. Here’s an article from the Times if anyone needs more info.

I got into the podcast through my ex, who was a big stand-up fan before I had even really gotten into stand-up, and through me it went virally to my father and my friends and it expanded through other channels until at least 30 percent of the people I knew listened to the show, those in or out of comedy. As someone who writes about himself and his life in sometimes awkward, sometimes funny, sometimes sad ways, it was obviously a good fit for me and I was and am a big fan of the podcast and Marc’s comedy.

Which is why the panel kinda sucked.

First there was a poor set-up.

I hadn’t listened to the guy offering me tickets so I didn’t realize when he tweeted me back that the show was the next night. I tried in vain to get the girl who I’d gone on a date with to come with me but understandably she was busy. My friend Bander who’d invited me to a different WTF event was also busy as was my improv buddy Sebastian. So I did what I thought was the right thing and invited my ex to come along, considering she’s the biggest Maron fan I knew and she gratefully accepted.

I was worried about some awkwardness there but there wasn’t much. We had sort of settled things the last time we’d seen each other and I had come to the realization that the person I missed was the one who loved me. a person who no longer exists. So it was just like seeing a friend, just a little more awkward.

Then we got there and sat down, I had a drink of wine from the free bar (always nice) and sat down to watch the “Maron”, the Denis Leary-produced pilot that Marc Maron was there to world-premiere to the onlooking audience of (I could only assume) rabid fans.

I saw him before the show standing outside the theater sizing up people as he has before every show I’ve seen him at.

“How’s the pilot?” I asked him.

“We’ll see.” He replied.

The pilot was… lacking in my opinion. Coming from a fan perspective, I wasn’t sure how a TV-version of Marc’s podcast would work considering that the whole show is premised on his “outsider” status looking in, talking to people more outwardly successful than him. The pilot seemed to be similar to “Louie”, Louis C.K.’s superb show on FX, with a similar typeface, a similar title and a similar single-camera shooting style, lit like a short film (It was directed by the 2010 Academy Award Winner for Best Short, an NYU alum). My main problem with it was that it seemed like what it was: a “sitcom-ed” version of Marc’s life, but the very nature of his life and podcast (as well as Louie’s show) is to eschew such bullshit. People don’t speak in epithets, people are messy, but in the sitcom Marc had made, he had written it (as he described on the panel) by hiring a sitcom writer and just taking him around his house and telling him stories from his life which the sitcom writer turned into sitcom dialogue. It’s not rewarding to see something you expect truth from and have it regurgitated in that form.

So when the Q+A came around I asked a question, as I’m always a question-asker at Q+As out of–curiosity? need for attention? need to connect with people? No matter, I asked my question, which was something along the lines of?

“Hi, so it seems like this clearly references Louie in some of it’s choices, the typeface, the title, the single-camera shooting style. I wondered, I know that in Louie, they made those aesthetic choices based on Louis C.K.’s style of rough-hewn comedy, an attempt to tacke uncomfortable truths in a messy aesthetic type of way, reflecting it. So I just wanted to know, what influenced your aesthetic decisions on this show?”

Which of course, Marc Maron, with his epic insecurities must have treated like “You’re ripping off Louie” and that’s what he replied to.

“Well, obviously that comment is meant to be provocative and you must feel very smart.” He started. “But let me just say this isn’t like Louie, you said single-camera and Louis is shot like a short film, we just have a similar title because WTF was a weird title, but other than that there aren’t any similarities.”

A smattering of applause.

“But no, this guy over here, it’s OK, it’s OK, I see myself in him. It’s fine.” He continued to laughter.

Another comedian asked another question, a softball, an obvious attempt to defuse the situation asking “How does it feel to go from wanting to kill yourself in your garage two year ago to being in front of a crowd laughing hysterically at your pilot?” to which Marc replied:

“It would be great but now I just feel bad about what I did to this guy over here [gesture at me] even though he’s obviously the douchebag in the situation.”

They cut the Q+A there, if I recall correctly.

Last night, I met someone who was also there and confirmed both the general responses, the strangeness of Marc’s lashing out of me but said that his tone toward the end was more conciliatory.

My ex was amused, though I apologized to her for putting her on the spot, sitting to next to me.

“No, it was awesome.” She said. “Marc Maron said he saw himself in you.”

Most of the crowd I felt glaring at me as I got up to go to the bathroom at the end of the show, or waited in the line to pee.

The funniest reaction came from an old film professor of mine from NYU who happened to have been sitting next to me who the second the panel ended said “Well Nick, pleasure seeing you” and fucking darted for the door as quickly as possible shoving her way past everyone else.

I saw Maron after the show as I walked out.

“I’m a big fan, actually.” I told him.

“I’m sure you are.” He replied.

“Well anyway.” I said.

“We cool?” He asked.

“Sure, of course.” I said and shook his hand and left.

I felt fine about it all and obviously even for its length the version I give you is abridged. I knew it was more about Marc and his insecurities than about me, which my friends confirmed.

But still I went home and felt a little bad, until I had someone to talk to.

Also, that first date just cancelled on me.

That’s Karma, Marc Maron.

You got it.

***

There are many shameful things I share here on the pages of this blog:

Stuff about my sex life, addiction issues, feelings of inadequacy, terrible things I do to people, my private relationships.

But I have to say there are few things I have more trepidation about sharing than my occasional Magic: The Gathering relapses.

In fact, it was pretty much the only thing for years that I lied to my parents about, going to the store and playing with my friends when I was supposed to be at high-school newspaper (called “The Polygon”) meetings.

I just want to take this moment to say, ironically at my school newspaper, I was the “People” editor. Enough said.

Anyway, I quit Magic a few years ago, but no one ever quits Magic, like other things I’m sure and every now and then I’m lured in again, to play a card game and exorcise all of the adrenaline and competitiveness that I never got out (nor will ever get out) through sports.

It was nice that the “Magicians” at the store I’d never been to in Williamsburg (Twenty-Sided Store) noticed that I had lost weight as they in their infinite lacks-of-finesse would always tell me when I looked fatter.

Aside: Opening up a gaming store in hipster Williamsburg=smartest idea ever. What do you think all those douchebags who make iPhone apps and work for Tumblr used to do in high school and college? Settlers of Catan, motherfucker.

“Gay” was the thing Chadd Harbold told me when I told him where I was before getting brunch with him and I felt that to be, in spirit, a pretty accurate reaction.

What can I say? It’s enjoyable, it hearkens back to what fun parts of my youth there are, it’s a nice way to let off steam when I get so involved in the other nerdy community I’m in of improv comedy.

I don’t do it all the time. But it was pre-release event and it was a Saturday morning and I thought it would just be fun to go.

Dangerous I know and dangerous to admit! I posted on here a while ago a whole article/bonanza about a woman outing and dumping and dissing a date she’d been on because he was someone who was a Magic virtuoso, someone I looked up to when I was a kid.

What can I say except that person sucked who dissed Jon Finkel and the internet all agreed, that I am who I am and don’t try to hide that very often, that sometimes I do things that might be counter-productive or not in my best interest. Sometimes I might go to a smelly, crowded gaming store, sit in a crowd of people who seem like stereotypes (I as well) and sweat it out through 3-4 hours of competitive “spell-casting”.

But some people snort Adderall and I find that much fucking weirder.

So, there I am. I did ok. I played in two events going 3-0 and 1-2, somewhat even. I felt good and reconnected people I hadn’t seen in years.

I played Magic for a day.

And as much as I would seek to self-deprecate through that statement, if you don’t like that, fuck you.

🙂

***

I’ll never get over that my best friend Frank is in such goddam good shape when he used to be the chubby kid back in middle school. It’s just one of those things that will make me eternally insecure.

We hung out in Park Slope going to a new meatball shop (not worth mentioning) and just walking while I drank a huge bottle of Raspberry-flavored seltzer down the Park Slope avenues.

I called him on one of his excited mentions now that we were both looking ok (I still am constantly worried about my weight, despite not owning a scale) of going to some place that was dangerously named “Ample Creamery”.

Frank for his part was phobic. As a personal trainer, if he is seen at any point walking near his gym, he can be conscripted to hang out doing what’s called a “floor shift”, having to walk around the gym pitching packages of training sessions to customers.

So we took a round-about route that Frank complained about that was actually just a straight L that led us right there, much to Frank’s Brooklyn-native consternation.

“What, who cares if  I live here?” Frank said. “Doesn’t mean I need to know how to get places.”

“You said this was way out of the way.” I told him.

“Meh!” Frank exclaimed in his usual exclamation of indifferent defiance.

And it was settled.

When we got to the Ample Creamery, we were given an ice-crema tour by samples from a nice attendant through crazy flavors involving everything from gummy bears to jam and Frank got a cone full of breakfast cereals and cereal-milk flavored ice-cream while I opted for a 70% dark chocolate scoop.

The ice cream was rich and gelato-like and enough that I shamefully ate all of it, though such things are not forbidden to me even on my weight worrying.

“Sleepy.” I told Frank.

“Man up,” He replied as we walked out of the store. “Crunch time.”

And I was reminded why Frank looks so much goddam better than I do.

***

AMPLE CREAMERY

Dark Chocolate Single Scoop- $4

Corner of Vanderbilt Aves and St. Marks Pl. Brooklyn, NY

Q to 7th Ave. 23 to Grand Army Plaza.

 

 

 

 

 


Hurricane-in

August 30, 2011

I survived the hurricane.

That’s what I felt like I should start with.

The hurricane, for those of you who were in it, was relatively mild as far as us New York City-ers were concerned. I heard coastal towns and Long Island were hit harder, but we were mostly left with I think 5 felled trees in Manhattan and a couple of days spent in various forms of intoxicated partying.

The strangest thing of all of it were the subways being closed down, something that has never happened in my 24-year history of living in New York City (maybe 21 years because I probably wouldn’t have remembered for the first 3).

I walked around on Saturday before the storm, when things were still closed and Sunday, when stores opened in SoHo (my neighborhood) at around 5pm. It was a hoot to see boutique owners driving in and parking to try to reap the benefits of low-lying non-subway-taking European tourists, mostly amazed they hadn’t been killed.

For me the hardest part wasn’t subsisting. That was something of a joke. The bodega across the street from me stayed over, it would seem, 24/7 even during the hurricane and I know they had their best day ever that Saturday morning as the line snaked around the narrow aisles and people grabbed cheese and packaged meat.

I, for one, was set with Indian curries I had stocked in my refrigerator from a late night excursion Friday night, where I decided, what the fuck, might as well buy something, as I left my friend Alex Hilhorst’s going-away party early to lug curries home, round 11:3opm.

No, the toughest part, as indicated by some of my tweets and Facebook updates, was the loneliness for me of being trapped in my house for 48 hours.

The pat of SoHo I live in is great for me, before West Broadway with all the stores and crazy tourists, on a block with trees and a park and 5 restaurants and a laundromat and an aforementioned bodega.

But the bad part about living there is that, well, no one else does. Which is usually fine, because I’m located conveniently near almost ever subway, except when the subways aren’t running.

As Rob Malone headed over on the last train to Katie Rotondi’s house and Andrew Parrish headed out to PA, I was stuck there in my apartment, with ample Netflix, a DVD collection, a new video game and the electricity never even went out (like it did for my boss who got stranded for 3 days in Vieques when Hurricane Irene hit there).

But the thing is, I’m a social person. Even more than that, I am someone who is not agoraphobic, but rather hates being trapped in my house. I’ve broached the subject before, but not recently, so for those unaware, a reminder:

When I was in middle school and high school, I didn’t have many friends. I mostly slunk around the school in a leather jacket (in the high school days) not talking to people, carrying a backpack with all my books in it, because I didn’t want to deal with the jeers of the locker room. Just trying to survive the hellishness of adolescence.

When I went home for the weekend was arguably even worse, because just as other people were going over to each other’s houses or hanging out, I was at home, calling people up. And if no one wanted to do anything, as no one so often did, I was there at home by myself all weekend, just feeling bad and beating myself up for no one wanting to spend time with me. Sitting in my house, in my room, became time for brooding, time for accepting that no one cared for you, that you were a freak, that you were unloveable.

When I came to college, after surviving that, I met people who seemed to dig me in the social reset of freshman year, I opened up, started talking to people and in the freak-fest of NYU-Film, I managed to seem cool just by virtue of my seeming unrestrained social non-graces, a loquaciousness born our of the ignorance of how to act around people and made tolerable by earnestness and the humor I had acquired from Woody Allen movies and my punny parents.

From then on and to this day, when I sit in my house alone, with nothing to do, nowhere to go, for an unrestricted or long period of time, I feel that same pressure, that same brooding sneaking up on me. The sense that no one wants to see me. That I have no friends. That I’m alone with my self-hatred.

Of course, nowadays, this is disconnected from reality. I have many friends, some of whom, like Rob and Katie, even video-chatted with me those nights giving me at least some virtual company. But I was companion-less and the talk of “babies being born 9 months after a storm” or just someone to cuddle with, gave a new dimension to that feeling, a new loneliness.

It may not seem like much, but 48 hours in your own mind, brooding, can be a long time to not like yourself.

***

But of course, I did survive the hurricane, as I said earlier.

My dad, like me, gets wanderlust and we went a couple times out to get some coffee, looking around for a place that was open on Saturday and Sunday, at my request entirely (my dad doesn’t even drink coffee).

It felt good to go on a quest for some food, to be out in the world, even though it felt so strange to see New York City dormant and mostly closed, the diners and coffee shops we went to, flooded (with people) and only getting busier.

And my life after?

Well, I’m still the same, seeing my friends a bit more.

My buddy Chadd Harbold just wrapped his first feature and Is aw him yesterday for lunch (though I ditched him when we were supposed to see Our Idiot Brother, which, I rightly predicted, sucked)

I went back on my dating website, encouraged by my friend Ilya, who had some success there and, having moved to New Haven for Yale, now had none of the problems of meeting people that we used to share, other than being awkward Jews, which we still both are.

Life is back to normal in this post-hurricane world.

I had a long-haired cabby rant at me yesterday about how Rick Perry would make a great president and he hadn’t slept for 48 hours (probably normal for a cabbie) before spouting a bunch of stuff about his workout regimen and “the fucking ragheads”.

I’m back to reading scripts and trying to perform enough that I can tell people I’m an improv performer at least instead of just an improv student.

It’s my life.

I’m not sure if I have anything more to say about it than that.

There’s some other stuff going on with an improv-possible-rape confession and the coolest Magic: The Gathering player in the world getting unfairly dissed (the former of which enough has been said and the latter which is an ongoing travesty) which would probably be interesting to talk about.

But right now, there’s a whole-grain sandwich calling my name.

And a chance to get out of my house.

***

Just as sometimes I like to quest for great restaurants to witness their greatness, sometimes I like to go to places that look like they conceivably cannot be good, to try to be surprised.

The best example of this category, in my mind, are restaurants that are attached to hotel chains.

Simply put, there is no incentive for these places to be good. They need only be adequate and non-offensive in the extreme.

They are there for the tuckered-out New York City tourist who is sore because he thought he could walk down to Ground Zero and back but, wow, that’s really a lot of walking!

So there, instead of another adventure, is the hotel restaurant, a place that caters to his laziness.

After all, if you weren’t exhausted or bewildered by New York City, why would you ever go to the restaurant attached to your hotel, in one of the finest bastions of dining in the world?

So, the hotel restaurant can’t be crazy or super-adventurous or any “weird” cuisine like Indian (“Is that like Chinese food, honey?”) but has to be something that a family can eat, something that has non-spicy options.

Something that serves french fries.

But even based off these necessary restrictions, I’ve been amazed by what I’ve found.

A place attached to a Marriot Express near me was an improbable Japanese/Mexican non-fusion restaurant! And the guacamole was delicious!

And this place I went to, attached to a Hilton near the Holland Tunnel, was great.

I had been recommended to a little Italian place by my boss, whose recommendation had been cut short by his sleepy script partner, who wanted to get the draft finished so he could finally catch Zs.

But I had forgotten I had a TWO HOUR (apparently) conference call and the Italian place didn’t have any whole-wheat pastas and only one chicken dish, in a day I was already near-suicide over my consumption of a white-naan sandwich (FOR SHAME!!!).

So I headed across the street to Pelea Mexicana, seeing a dish it looked like I could eat.

The place was deserted at 6pm and I had a booth all to myself. I spread out my things.

I got three different kinds of salsa to taste, all distinct and spicy. The corn chips (of which I had few) were warm.

My chicken breast came, finely bone-in, served on a delicious bed of fantastic garlic-sautéed spinach,, which was flavored by the jus and the wonderful pepper-tomato salsa the dish was cooked in.

It was under 20 bucks, they dealt with my sign language due to my conference call and I got to relax.

And now, when friends come in and ask me for advice, I can direct them to that Mexican joint attached to the Hilton near the Holland Tunnel.

And look at their faces.

And grin.

***

PELEA MEXICANA

Guajillo Chicken w/Chips+Salsa, Rice+Beans- $18.00

6th Avenue below Canal St.

ACE to Canal St.

 


Summer is Near/Summer is Here

June 1, 2011

Summer is upon New York City, even though it’s only somewhere in May still, if only for a few fleeting hours.

With this realization, this acceptance comes the fact that when the heat comes up, it doesn’t go much down, that the paradigm has shifted, that when it’s 87 and humid in New York (pronounced “YOO-mid”), that this is the new reality, not a heat wave, but a fact of city life.

I, for one, never want to accept the onset of summer in New York City. It’s the city’s worst season in many ways, the one where the garbage and piss smells rise up from the sidewalk, burning and sizzling into all of our noses, leaving us standing in stifling subway stations, waiting for our cars to arrive, less for expedience than air conditioning.

Every time I meet a new group of people, I end up acting like a tour guide to them.

“This is what will happen,” I explain to them, summing up the last few lines. “It’s going be pretty awful, especially during the day. But the nights…”

Nights in New York City during the summer can be hot and awful, sticky too.

But mostly it cools off and the light lasts and lasts so 9pm could feel like 6pm and the warm weather, feeling tropical, could lead you out all night.

It was a night like on Sunday, after seeing improv, after seeing the Hangover II, after sitting in my house, seeing different kinds of friends.

I was strung out, come down on two nights previous of drinking and the two iced coffees and king-sized “small” soda I’d drank at the theater.

But damn, if that night wasn’t pretty.

As the crew of people I was with disbanded and went home after the UCB, I stuck around with Tara, an engaged Canadian high-school drama teacher, and Jeff, a Texan-by-way-of-Delaware engineer, who both had come to New York for this improv intensive and both were just trying to see the city one more night.

We walked around looking to see is Shake Shack was open (it wasn’t), talking about our lives “back home”, our present adventures and leaving out purposefully the somewhat-sad contrast of what we were doing now, versus what our lives would return to.

In a way, this improv class we were taking was summer camp again, a block of your life divided, where your adult responsibilities could hold for a while, suspended in the face of the people you were with.

That is, of course, unless you were someone with a night job like our “big brother” Sean, the singing waiter, who got on shift after taking notes for all of us to be sent out at the end of every day. Or Ray, who worked an afternoon-to-late reception gig. Or Natalie, who acted for scale and took tips at night, from a corner of the West Village.

Or if you were me and didn’t have much of “adult responsibilities” to begin with, with a job so occasional that you hoped you were still employed, so you could tell everyone how cool it is.

All of us still were “holding” for that time, for those shows, for those classes with different teachers. Like campers we bonded quickly, free to hug, free to touch.

We clapped for each other, called each other pet-names, laughed when we picked on each other.

“Juvenile”, my inner critic calls out and some friends would agree, but college is some form of that too, as is grad school.

A place where nerds hover and function, in suspension of real life.

But that time was now coming to an end. I’d told my boss my class was over on Friday. I’d told my new-found “intense people” about shows that were happening after they’d already left.

Camp was always interesting growing up because in some ways it represented an alternative reality. When you appeared magically in Vermont, you were context-less, separated from your environment. Even if you portrayed high status or low status through your bearing or gait, you were judged relatively, you were a person anew.

And then, after 3 or 6 or even 8 weeks, it was over. You might not see these people again. Life resumed.

Now I live a life without summer breaks from school or work or what have you. There is no “return to reality”, only the different phases, jobs, locations you live in, in your life, moving from crowd to crowd.

As I walked with Jeff and Tara, from out of town, it was Memorial Day, in New York City, the official start of summer.

And as I told them about how New York would be in the days to come, I only realized later they wouldn’t see them.

And I wouldn’t see them either.

But I kept on giving them the tour.

Because that’s what you do at camp; you pretend, for the moment, it won’t end.

***

 

“Excuse me, uh sir. I was, uh, just wondering, uh, if I could, um, get a… signature. Autograph, you know? Big fan.”

This is what I mimed to Rob Malone when we went to go see “The Hangover II” and he showed up in Galifinakis-style shaved-head-and-beard, claiming it had nothing to do with it.

“It has nothing to do with seeing the movie.” Rob claimed from his seat. “It’s just hot out. Also, sit the fuck down.”

I was standing in front of Rob in the awkward aisles of the 19th St East theater, where a group of us had been drafted to see the film on a slow Memorial day weekend.

I was just getting over an improv-prom I had attended, stag (actually with a non-date of the nice, but clearly engaged school teacher) which left me crying in bed over my loneliness at approximately 11:07pm, passing out in my clothes and waking up due to heartburn unable to go back to sleep at 4.

In these ways, the improv prom greatly resembled my real prom.

Plus I had someone tell me I was “adequately creepy” in a dead-pan and my enchiladas arrived cold on the table.

Just saying.

Rob and Chadd, who had met me for coffees earlier, helped me nurse through my stomach upset, my lack of togetherness and my generally weird improv-absorption by providing me some paths back to real life.

“I’m thinking of growing out my beard for the summer.” Rob claimed, during a conversation gap, causing all to jump on refute.

These were the moments friendships were made of.

Chadd for his own part was getting ready to shoot new projects in his exciting life as an “actual filmmaker” out of NYU-Film school and his enthusiasm and pluck in his progress, caused me to mention when we discussed some of our former classmates:

“Not ends up making movies and not everyone wants to.”

Chadd took a moment to take that in, with an Ohioan “I guess…” as if anyone who didn’t want to were crazy, in the face of his own refreshing certainty and commitment.

Andrew Parrish brought along his hot girlfriend, Kelly Hires, like a kidnapped Lois Lane, we imagined bound, gagged and saying something like “You’ll never get away with this, Luthor.”

But really they seemed pretty happy, away from their office jobs, on a warm afternoon.

Buddies Blake LaRue and Sean Dunn showed up just to look like each other, or like Blake was a 17 year-old impersonating Sean, and they mostly kept quiet except berating for peeing so often, a product of all of the caffeinated beverages.

The movie was terrible, we barely laughed. As another friend pointed out to me, “at some point it just became a weird drama and I just felt really bad for them.”

But on the street corner with Rob and his camera and his beard. With Chadd’s toothy smile, the Parrishes kidnap-y aesthetic and the LaRue/Dunn change-up, I felt surrounded in something worth while.

“Cheese.” Rob said as he took my picture.

And “Cheese” I replied when I took his.

***

If I’ve said it once on this blog, I’ve said it often: I hate breakfast.

But there are those times when you wake up too early on a weekend, bound by earlier awakenings and it’s 10:30 and you know you don’t want to wait until 11:25 or whenever the fuck these places start serving real food and you cave and you just go for something.

And sometimes, really, really rarely: It turns out good.

This is one of those times.

I ended up on a hypoglycemic Saturday morning at Bareburger, a spot near me in the South Central Village.

They just happened to have a 3-dollar egg sandwich, an early opening and an advertisement of a brioche and jack-cheese.

What I got was all the advertised above, along with the best tasting turkey bacon (something I usually avoid) I’ve ever had, “french fry hash” cooked with peppers and onions, and some pretty raw-dog organic ketchup.

When I was done it was sunny out. My stomach was full. I didn’t feel bloated or like I wouldn’t eat lunch.

I just felt like there was food in me that I didn’t mind eating.

At a table on a weekend afternoon.

Breakfast; that’s the highest praise I’ll give you.

***

BAREBURGER

Egg Sandwich w/Colby Jack, Turkey Bacon, French Fry Hash and Organic Ketchup- $8.95

LaGuardia Place between Bleecker and West 3rd Sts.

BDFM to Broadway-Lafayette Sts. ACE to West 4th St.

 

 


Yes, And

May 25, 2011

Without a doubt, improv comedy has taken over my life.

I am now in a place where I am actively “doing improv” seven days a week, each day, for at least two hours a day.

Most of this is due to an intensive improv class I’m taking over at the Magnet, a place I’ve written about before, with a bunch of really great people who are very talented and enthusiastic and whose openness and offers of friendship feel all the more suspicious due to the sudden-ness of our bonds.

“We must always be open and suspicious”. Our second week teacher, the slightly-mulleted Russ Armstrong told us, pacing near the stage before a scene in which we were supposed to be natural. “Open, so that we are listening to what our partner says and suspicious, so we are able to find meaning.”

He was referring to the scene, but as I’ve said here before, I apply improv philosophy to my life and it’s hard not to, again, when you’re doing it seven days a week.

Is the girl who emails me, but who is constantly unavailable, trying to draw me in or repel me? Am I supposed to follow her, pursue her, or take a hint?

Is my boss firing me when he says my availability doesn’t work for him for the next couple weeks, or is he just trying to be honest?

As improvisers in a scene, we make a choice and we don’t second guess ourselves. We trust in our partners and know whatever we are inferring from them is what they are implying to us and that they agree to the truth of that when it’s stated.

But in life, on a film set, next to your parents, staring at the girl across the room from you in class; you fear that these people do not see the same truth you do, you fear being shunned or shut down.

There’s no teacher yelling scene in real-life, no “back-line” to edit.

You’re just stuck with the choice and the consequences, which accounts for some of, at least my, emotional paralysis.

But on the other hand, there’s that phrase that’s central to improv, that “Yes and…”, a central concept which denotes agreement in a scene, the idea that we support the other person in their reality.

“You are all funny people.” funny-teacher Will Hines told our Saturday class in his non-emotive constant-deadpan. “But in the beginning, we’re not looking for funny. We’re looking simply to agree with each other. We’re looking at each other and building a story together, agreeing on the details and the world.”

This may also seem improv-exclusive, but I’ve noticed in my life.

The dynamic is action-validation.

It’s seen for granted in a parents’ love or approval. In someone knowing what gift to get you for your birthday, in your parents letting you take a class or study something silly.

In a young lady letting you rub your head on her belly and laughing and wanting to kiss you afterwards.

Knowing that someone takes what you give them, what’s personal about you and values it, that you agree on a reality.

Such things exists not just in scenes but in all relationships and, by contrast, when I find myself most upset is when I feel that I don’t understand reality, that I’m crazy, that I’ve made a move so poorly informed or unreal that it reveals my total ignorance of what the accepted reality might be.

This shock could come when I didn’t get in to Stuyvesant after feeling like tough-shit, or when a girl’s soft objections fade as I stop before kissing her on a subway ride back from Brooklyn.

“All pain comes from denial of acceptance.” said another improv teacher, David Razowsky, who I try frequently to beat now in iPhone Scrabble.

When I look at my life, my pain or my character, my relationship with that “yes, and” that acceptance or denial of reality, those moments of breakthrough and happiness, it makes sense that I’ve found myself thrown into improv so frequently: It’s a medium where people are bound-obligated to accept me. Where at least, for a scene, they won’t turn me away.

But as you learn to be a stronger improviser, as I throw myself more under the wheels of it all, though this current pace won’t last, you learn to make stronger choices in life. To show some confidence. To try for the result you want and deal with the fallout later.

As Jonny-Jon-Jon told me, after a surprise appearance coming to see one of my shows: “You don’t take enough high-chance risks, man. Sure, it could be awful. But how will you know unless you try?”

I don’t know if I’ll find that confidence. It’s one things to have in a scene where to goal is to agree on a reality and another to find it in a life that’s experienced rejection.

But yesterday, after yet another date fell through, a woman on the street stopped me and said: “Hey, you’re Nick the Foodie.”

And I said “Yeah, what’s your name?”

“What are you doing here?” She asked me.

“Karaoke, just practicing.” I told her.

And then:

“Why, wanna come?”

“Now?” She asked perplexed.

“Yeah, now.” I replied.

“Sure.” She said and we walked.

And we spent the next few hours together, talking, discovering our reality.

And it was as easy as that.

***

Robert Martin Malone, pictured above, is often a character in this blog.

He was also a character in the first season of a web-series I wrote based on this blog called, fittingly, “Feitelogram Film Blog”.

In that series, he was, hearkening back to my days of watching the Power Rangers TV Show, a “Zordon“-like figure called “Virtual Rob” who would appear to me via G-Chat to hear me out for advice on my misadventures and to offer me virtual advice.

The joke was, back then, that even though Rob (or Rob-beardo, Ro-beardo, Beardo, what have you) was one of my better friends, I’d rarely see him due to his strange habits of dancing somewhere in Brooklyn or staying in to watch marathon episodes of Cheers or “edit”, a state which I always imagined to be more hanging around making beard-jokes with his roommates Blake (who was labeled a “Goob” by one of the commenters of my previous post) and occasional/part-time effeminate cartoon-villain Andrew Parrish.

But Rob has his own life and I’m happy to hang with him when he’s around to experience his beard-y foibles.

The other night, Rob staged a screening for a bunch of his friends (me included), of his latest feature film, made with fellow miscreant Zach Weintraub, which is called “Fresh Starts For Stale People”. The film, a gonzo road-movie/post-college coming-of-age tale strikes upon themes of discovering America, dealing with new-found fiscal responsibility, the perils/pleasures of moving to Los Angeles and the influences of late 80s action films on the human psyche.

While I can’t show the film (Rob is currently prepping it to try to apply to Fantastic Fest, which if I have ANY clout due to this weird pseudo-celebrity, I would like to extend in asking them to unequivocally accept this film), I can show the voyeuristically-taped talkback Rob had with us after the film.

Now, I must warn you, I haven’t SEEN this; I’ve just lived it.

But my quasi-roommate John Beamer told me it was, quote, “pretty fucked up” and I’ve also heard it’s “like 36 minutes”.

That said, if you are, for some strange reason, a “Feitel Fan” and want to check out my one-to-two comments, they’re there as well as the semi-coherent ramblings of some post-film students.

Why do I post this?

I don’t know.

I guess I just feel or felt after the last post, that for all the characterization of my friends that are on this blog, their exaggeration, their twisted or invented comments, their general pissed-off-ed-ness toward me, it might be nice to introduce some reality, some sense of what “The Real Schlub Life of New York City” looks like.

God that was an awful joke, even for me.

Anyway, here it is, with Rob and all of us, in our glory.

“Enjoy”?

***

I had my first non-class improv show the other night and it was actually pretty funny.

But it was almost upstaged by some home-made french-fries.

I had never been to “The Creek and The Cave” in Long Island City, though I had heard tale that it was a near legendary haven for both fledgling practitioners of New York City comedy and a pretty decent burrito joint.

My crew from my intensive class who I was performing with had tried (inadvertantly?) to ditch me on the 7 train, but I had found them only for I to ditch them to grab a bite at this place I heard was somewhat legendary, as good comedy and good food rarely go together.

True, there were a couple of places on MacDougal St in Greenwich Village. The Comedy Cellar, New York’s premier “street cred” venue, was founded by an Israeli who was looking for something to do with the basement of his Israeli restaurant, the Olive Vine Cafe.

C.B.’s, where my friend and much more successful/hard-working comedian Zac Amico works, is in the basement of a not-half-bad Italian joint and they even give artisinal pizza to the starving stand-ups at their open mikes, if you stay till the end.

But anyway, The Creek and the Cave was known not just for hosting indie teams’ improv shows, but also for having excellent and inexpensive food and I deinied myself my usual 8-8:30 dinner for a pop at that 9-o’clock mexican/improv fix.

I ended up forswearing the burrito because the sandwiches were cheaper and came with home-cut fries, which always appeal to me. As I tweeted recently, it’s also nice to have a side or a counter-point to a meal: chips with a spicy egg-sandwich, a side-salad with a Better Being Highline, some mac and cheese or roasted Brussel Sprouts with some BBQ Chicken.

Or just some nice big-ass fries.

The ‘Wich I found was under the 10-buck credit card limit and my only complaint was that, for a pulled chicken sandwich, it should have come covered in BBQ sauce rather than the useful but not entirely welcome mayo it was squirted with. I saw how it was necessary to flavor-up the tender, but on the bland-side pulled chicken, but it did violate one of cardinal tenets of “being careful, mixing mayo and cheese”.

What it lacked though in that one area, it made up for greatly in value and portion size. The home-made fries were huge, golden, fresh, cooked-to-order. They layered the plate, leaving no empty space underneath.

The sandwich came with fresh tomato and lettuce and some welcome REAL cheddar, which were protected from the mayo by the lettuce, smartly.

It was quick and scarfable, with or without beer, though I felt I might have done it more justice if I had given it more time.

But, alas, I had an improv show to do, where I had to masturbate using a fishing rod and play a part-time improvising scuba-instructor.

Even in eating, we must find balance.

***

THE CREEK AND THE CAVE

Pulled Chicken Sandwich w/Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo and Home-Cut Fries- $7.95 (w/o tax)

Vernon Avenue bet 50th and 51st Aves, L.I.C., NY.

7 to Vernon-Jackson Aves.


Boys and Friends

May 18, 2011

“You know, you’re something of a celebrity.” My friend Clark told me, as he got into clown makeup. “You could really get people coming.”

“It doesn’t work that way, Clark.” I told him, putting on the partially-ironed blue button-up shirt I’d stored in the prop-closet.

“Maybe if it was something food-related, people would show up. Otherwise, 5,300 people on Twitter don’t care.”

It was the second week, the second time we were performing our Improv-to-Sketch class show at the Magnet on a torturous 4-week run of doing the same show to about 6 people.

This week was a little better; my parents and my roommate John Beamer showed up with my grandma and they did the work of a family, giving dutiful laughs at the places that seemed appropriate.

Still, it was a different kind of learning to do your semi-improvised same-show 4 weeks in a row to a dead house and watch sketches you thought you loved fall apart.

“Well, maybe you can tie it in somehow.” Clark offered, foam nose now on. “Offer them a food tour upon successful completion?”

“Goddamit, Clark.” I replied. And went to go find my cop hat, buried somewhere in the prop bin.

These past few weeks have been a strange admixture, or taste of celebrity as it would be, for a longer period than I’d expected.

As I told my friends, I’d been getting recognized (i.e: approached) consistently at “about 1-3 times a day” but it still wasn’t certain what the effect would be on my life or what I was supposed to do with it.

In the two street fairs I went to this weekend, I was approached multiple times and mostly brushed people off with a “hi” or a nod, an acknowledgment, given not knowing how to reply to people just saying “it’s you” on the middle of a food fair.

In the meantime, I felt pressure as I went to the food-fairs in Hell’s Kitchen and Park Slope respectively, to take pictures, to micro-blog to show my experience.

There was a sense that I had to feed this new “Nick the Foodie” persona, this identity that 5,300 people followed, with images and content and wit or else people would go away.

As I told blogger this afternoon, even before the show, I would watch my “blog stats” and aim for 100 people to come on a good day, to get up to that. Now that those numbers are so inflated, I still check them and take the loss of followers even the more personally, even as I know with even more certainty, that these people virtually do not exist.

It’s a fallacy of numbers and insecurity, I suppose, the same habit that led me to math in high school when I couldn’t stand the subjectivity of my English Class Essay “B-pluses”, now leads me to think of the solid-ness of numbers for my self-worth, the way that every time I lose this follower who I do not know, I am losing something else, popularity or fame, things I don’t even crave.

It’s just easy when you don’t know who you are or what to think of yourself, in high-school or post-college, to cling to a digestible set of numbers.

I still don’t get messages on OKCupid (even as I admit the dating site I’m on) and I still don’t have the confidence to approach a cute girl in an improv class, or the strange chick-with-glasses in front of me on a three-hour line.

I guess I just don’t know the meaning of this, or what I’m supposed to take.

The gentlemen pictured above were skateboarders who stopped me with Matt Chao on Saturday as we walked down Broadway. They first said their moms watched the show, but later admitted they loved it do and the picture they took of me was really for them. I asked them as Matt and I walked in the same direction as them if they’d reciprocate with a picture and they agreed.

I’ll never see these kids again, though it’s cool they watch the show.

It just seems like yet another split though, a disassociation of me watching them, watching “me”.

As we got through the show on Monday, Clark said hi to my parents after, briefly and congratulated them on my “success”.

I later got a message from my manager, telling me that I had an audition tomorrow and that she hoped “you come back on season 3!”

***

I still want to hang out with Blake LaRue.

Another thing about having a lot of Twitter followers is that it doesn’t make Blake LaRue like you any more than he already does.

“Blake apparently broke up a fight that the UCB Basketball Team had.” Rob-beardo Malone reported to me, from his coiffed/slick suit, on the set of Sean Dunn’s Confabulators.

“Was Chris Gethard involved?” I asked. “Because he didn’t let me in his class and I tried to attack him with twitter followers for it. Also he plays basketball.”

“Yes and I’m pretty sure that was one of the stupidest things you’ve ever done.” Rob replied.

“Yeah,” I replied. “You know you’re right. But I was drunk with Twitter power. I wanted to see if I could use it to change things. The answer was no. No, you cannot.”

Rob nodded and we sat in the silent acceptance of that fact for a moment.

Then Blake appeared and proceded to ditch me off the film set, walking hard and fast with Matt Chao, whose only reason for being there was to come visit me.

Blake, why do you make me so jealous like that?

But the man who was involved in an improv-team basketball-fight had work to do and made it to his truck.

He had just gotten a job at Joyride a “Buzzed FroYo” and Coffee Truck that serviced the UWS among other places.

I caught up to Blake and Matt somewhere around Lincoln Center as Blake settled in.

“Blake, why don’t you love me anymore?” I asked him, from the distance separating us outside the truck. “All I want is to be close to you and your friend.”

“You’re just too famous for me now, Nick.” He said, prepping greek-yogurt mixture. “I’m afraid you’re going to embarrass me on the internets.”

“Well, Blake.” I replied and took the picture above while he was looking.

“See!” He said.

“Yeah, I do.” I replied. “Point taken.”

Matt and I both tried some Froyo as he much more easily conversed with Blake about his life and the truck, which Blake admitted to driving “about four times”.

“I’m getting real good.” He said.

I wasn’t much a froyo guy, preferring the decisive unhealthiness of ice cream or, better yet, gelato when I was going for my frozen treats, but I did try a “soy-Mark Hamill” which turned out to be something like an iced Mocha which I downed in about three gulps.

We said our tearful goodbyes to Blake, as he assured me he wouldn’t be seeing much due to b-ball ref-ing duties and his need to go back to NYU to draw caricatures of people.

“It’s not that I don’t love you.” He told me. “It’s just that I don’t have time for you.”

Later, Matt and I ran into two women who asked me for my info so they could talk to me about reality food shows and their ideas. They gave me their info and told me to use it.

We were late to “Bridesmaids” at the Loews, couldn’t get tickets and Chadd Harbold, whom I had guaranteed an early ticket, was pretty (understandably) pissed.

I had a caffeine head-ache as I went with my remaining friends down to Battery Park and the inevitably excellent Apatow-film.

But when I busted out those Motrin in the movie theater for my Caffeine-crash headache, I thought about Blake on that truck.

Too cool for me.

***

JOYRIDE TRUCK

The (Soy) Mark Hamill (Espresso, plain soymilk, 2-Scoops Chocolate)- $5

Broadway bet. 66th and 67th Sts on Saturdays (Locations vary per day)

1 to 66th St- Lincoln Center.


Lady Problems

April 14, 2011

I sent this picture to my ex the other day, after taking it, passing by a window on Bleecker St.

It’s been around 5 months now since we broke up (since I was dumped, since she left me, what have you) and often I question the effect she still has on me.

After seeing “Puppy Whistle”, Rob Malone’s film at the Anthology, that we were both in together, I was taken on some sort of awed walk by Dan Dickerson, of the sometimes-mentioned-here PA-style Dickerson Bros, who wanted to talk about my still uncomfortable reality “fame” and how I was doing in life.

When I mentioned how hard it had been for me to see her up there on the screen like that, pretty, idiosyncratic, herself and looking me, the me in the film, with loving eyes, her arms around me, Dan took a step back on 13th St.

“Really, bro?” He asked, biting a grin. “After all this time?”

“Yeah,” I replied. “It’s probably normal if you love someone like that.”

“Shit, I haven’t felt that way since high school.” The Dickerson replied. “I mean that girl when I was 16, she really fucked me up.”

And I nodded as we walked both back to the karaoke bar, as Dan kept smiling goofily and I just questioned what it was.

For sure, looking back at my history, I’m a case of emotional and romantic arrested development, having practically hibernated throughout high school in newspaper offices and libraries in order to keep the world and my own insecurities from hurting me.

Apart from strange experiences at a multi-program camp at the age of 12, my awakening to the idea that anyone could even be attracted to me didn’t come until I was 17 and a girl stuck her tongue down my throat while we were sitting on the sidewalk in front of the old Joe’s Pizza.

This explains, or rationalizes to me how I got this way, experiencing a high-school level heartbreak at 23, but it doesn’t wrap things up, not wholly.

As I told my therapist, after the sort of introspection that comes out of not having anything listen to while walking down New York City sidewalks, the times I call out for my ex, pronouncing her two-syllable name into the air or out-loud, softly, are not the times necessarily that I want her to be near me, or that I miss her touch or the way she talked about “floppy ears”, though those times come too.

Nowadays, it’s more the times that I think about the things in my life, I’m not proud or am uncertain of, the moments I regret or my anxiety about my future or lack of direction.

The rushes, or panic attacks, where bad moments flood my eyes and I’m taken out of body back to relive a time where I made that bad decision, where I embarrassed myself, or felt shame.

I realized, I say the word “Eva” where I used to say the words “I hate my life”.

When I used to say the latter phrase, it was like a ward or a dismissal against those bad moments, a disavowal of a time I made the parents of an autistic teenager uncomfortable, or when I made a glib remark at my old, haunted job. When I think about embarrassing myself in front of my agents, or just sitting alone, feeling alone, feeling like no one loves me or wants to be with me right now. That loneliness.

I reach out for the word “Eva” in those moments like I once reached out to punish myself with dismissal.

There was a sense, especially towards the end of our relationship, that seeing her, that having her near me, that knowing there’s that someone who loves and accepts you, that knowing it was someone you felt the same about, like that could be something that could turn around a day, or an hour, or a year.

That reliance of love, on someone else’s, on that phenomenon, is both symptomatic of my low self-esteem (the “miracle” of someone I love loving me) and a difficult to break as I focus on not backsliding into self-hatred in the wake of it all and the loneliness.

Still, it’s made me more weary as I go out in the world, even more a somewhat-misogynist than when Eva would sometimes comment on my stirring-angry statements about unrequited love, about the women who didn’t return my affection, or the ones who hurt my friends (or who I perceived to).

Now, I even shy away from people who seem to flirt with me without affection, who wear it as part of their bearing, or use it for friendliness or charisma. Walking from a screening one night, an old friend tried hanging off me, hugging my neck, putting her cheek next to mine. A girl on set stroked my face as I said good-bye, gave me a hug when I wrapped shooting, asked me questions and looked into my eyes. When I went to see a show alone and lonely last night at the theater, a young lady hugged me, recognized me, put her hands through my hair and invited me over with ebullience and charm and a smile.

In summary, I felt revolted at these experiences. I feel shame when I look back at them. Partly because of my lack of quick understanding of sarcasm or irony, of intent and intentions, of a need to to be loved that feels shaken and confused by these cues. But on the other hand there’s that proximity, that feeling that the dark parts of my life might be re-averted, at least temporarily. That something might come from you looking at me that will help me be better at least for a while.

But that’s not what those people were offering. So instead, I have nostalgia, as I call out my ex’s name, once or twice, as I walk down Bleecker St.

As I take picture of floppy-eared loaves in the window of a bread-store.

As I wish for the absence of love, or whatever it is that still binds me.

As I want something to replace it, this misogyny in me.

Eva, I don’t blame you, for feeling like this was too much to bear.

***

Alright, Chadd Harbold asked if I was going to write about this and I really neither care nor understand this, but I guess let me try to explain.

Jenna Jameson called me a “fuckknob”.

How did this happen? To be honest, I don’t even really know who Jenna Jameson is (weird enough to admit that probably means it true, guys).

Here’s her Wikipedia page (apparently she is pretty interesting), but I didn’t know most of that until just now.

So, anyway here we go:

When I woke up on Tuesday, April 12th, I did what I usually do, which is check my phone, my email and my twitter (and maybe my online scrabble games).

I took a look and saw that friend, Buckwheat Groat and extremely prolific tweeter Ben Perry had tweeted something dissing someone for saying Bethenny Ever After was their favorite show.

Now, regardless of what I think about my own situation and my weirdo relationship to reality television, I am ON that show and Ben knows that and so he shouldn’t be dissing people for liking it like that.

But Ben Perry is not just a prolific tweeter but a wordy one and, given Twitter’s limit on how long a message can be, instead of writing a full rebuttal and erasing his message, I just quoted what he said with a little online frowny face.

Now, as those of you who read the blog can tell, I’m not one much for “emoticons” so my use of one here was probably a mistake, but the intent was something like “Ben, don’t do that, I’m on that show”.

And in fact Ben got that message later tweeting something like “Well, maybe she’s not so bad for liking that show because my buddy Nick’s on it.”

But Jenna Jameson did not appear to get the message and ended up calling both me and Ben “fuckknobs”.

What is a “fuckknob” you ask (and probably rightfully so)? I have no idea, just as I was somewhat weirded out by being called one.

I tried to explain to her the intent of all of this, but it seemed to no avail. She went back to tweeting about parties and LA restaurants and posting pictures of her shoes.

Ben, on the other hand, engaged in a full-out twitter blast war with her, posting salvos and earning hate from her legion of followers including one particular message from her calling him “not worth my time, cocksmoker, go watch pornstar that actually care about your idiot driven awards” for whatever that means.

A couple people tweeted in my defense. Some people on Facebook appeared to celebrate the occasion. I mostly felt confused and somewhat violated.

I felt my twitter account mostly non-offensive and was unsure if she was such a fan of the show why she called me a “fuckknob” (or even, again, what that was). Probably she couldn’t tell or remember that my account was the same as that nerdy, chubby kid on the show wearing his ratty hoodie. I don’t blame her, I suppose.

Mostly, I just wonder of the significance of it all. One girl told me I should feel honored she acknowledged my existence, while someone else asked me if I “printed out and framed” the tweet. I just asked “Why?”

But still, I feel somewhat victimized. Even if my friends seem to celebrate my “fuckknob”-ery.

As it now had entered all of our lexicons.

***

The Kimchi Truck stiffed me the other day.

I thought I could do it all, heading out on an early Sunday morning, racing myself, to finish the first type-up of a sketch for class later, all so  I could go out to the Sunday morning flea-market where the Kimchi Taco Truck was bound to appear.

All I had been hearing about this place from blogs and chowhounders were raves and awed stories of 40-minutes waits braved for a fresh collision of flavors.

But they didn’t show up. Engine trouble, I heard, or something about the battery.

Still I was pissed and unleashed a marginally tamer twitter rant against them after talking it out with my friends at the Schnitzel truck and realizing it probably wasn’t their fault.

So I waited. I bided my time. I’d tried to find moments even in this semi-jobless free-floating existence of mine that I could be set to go down to wherever the truck was early enough to avoid a line, try it out and flee back home for writing.

Today they were finally  in SoHo, I had no morning plans, no shoots or dalliances, I took a shower and was there.

And was honestly, mostly disappointed. The Kim-Cheesesteak, the much-blogged about semi-centerpiece of the truck (apart from the nominal tacos) was merely an average sized affair, with a good roll, but not enough flavor or punch to distinguish it from the clearly superior “99 Miles to Philly”, who provided me comfort food and shelter from bad love-less nights when I lived up by Union Square.

Worse though were the “Spicy Rice Cakes”, which were advertised as grilled, but were in fact wanly boiled in a pot, served rubbery in a red-glop not even warm. They made me feel a little sick even.

Still, I felt like giving the truck one more chance (and was still hungry from not eating all of the rice cakes) and tried the “Kimchi Arancini” which, in fact, were excellent.

Three small Jawbreaker-sized golden nuggets came with a red-spicy dipping sauce and a sensible bed of lettuce to cool them off and to soak up the debris.

Dipped and bitten into, the balls revealed a melange of gooey parmesan, mozzarella and some red-pepper flavor, which made them hard to eat slow.

Perhaps the disappointment and the tease of missing out on the Kimchi truck so many days led to my let-down.

But at least I grew some balls and got some there.

(sorrythatsprettylame)

***

KIMCHI TACO TRUCK

Kimchi Arancini- $4.00

Location varies (Follow @kimchitruck on Twitter)

***

BONUS- WARM-WEATHER SPECIAL

Coffee does strange things to me, even still, but I do get a hankering for a nice iced, especially to lift me out of the drudgery of an unknown day.

Jacques Torres’ Mochas are known for their cocoa-fab excellence in the ‘hood, but they’re too hot for the upcoming weather and JT won’t be sporting their impregnable “Frozen Chocolates” for at least a couple more months.

Instead, try to finagle an Iced Choco-Coffee like I did. It’s an iced coffee with their milk-brewed hot-cocoa instead of regular milk.

It gave me a caffeine buzz with a mellow chocolate pillow-y sensation walking down a sunny King St.

At the same price as a nearby Starbucks’ regular iced coffee, it could for you too.

***

JACQUES TORRES WEST VILLAGE

“Iced Choco-Coffee” (off-menu item)- $2.18

King St bet. Varick and Hudson Sts.

1 to Houston St. CE to Spring St.