Why Am I Such A Downer?

April 12, 2012

On Monday, 4 separate people came up to me and asked me what the matter was and I didn’t know what to tell them.

More disconcerting than whatever was going on in my heart was the fact that it was so readily apparently, obvious to 4 different people, so urgent that not only did they notice it, they felt the need to come up to me directly in order to have some sort of intervention.

And what was that?

My hairline? A source of easy, venial obsession. I noticed the other day a spot on my frontal scalp hair would not grow and which I keep trying to sweep to the side or not notice, an easy signifier but not something worthy of a massive self-immolating breakdown to the point that people are concerned.

My weight? Still a point of contention for me, so much so that wandering around on Monday I considered talking to a nutritionist, a medical doctor (something suggested by my father after I told him the difficulty I had had opening  tough window) or downloading a fitness app, only to finally just literally google “What should I weigh” only to discover from the rote internet that I was literally at my ideal weight or, said differently by a tipsy girl at the bar last night: “Really, you’ve lost a lot of weight Nick since I first met you, don’t lose anymore or you’ll be too skinny.” Grace here is not imminent because it is something I chose to change about myself (thus a point of vulnerability) but at least validation from a stupid google search proves the insanity of my inadequacy there.

Romantic difficulties? These have tortured me since forever, so there’s no big change there, except maybe sometimes feeling like a dirtbag. Going in to my therapist’s on Tuesday, she posited that the issue regarding my weight and my romantic difficulties were inter-connected and thus feeding each other in terms of worry, that “you were wearing your extra weight as an excuse, a way to protect yourself or not take responsibility for your difficulty in finding someone compatible with you”. After all if I had the excuse that there was something physical I could change about myself, I could let myself off the hook for the more difficult work of maybe just accepting myself more, being more okay with myself, just being a happier person.

I gave a note the other day to the Level One improv class that I Big Brother (read: like a TA in college) that was given to me by Peter McNerney: “A great gift that you can give to your scene partner is being natural, not being worried, not trying to “get it right”. Because when you get yourself in that headspace of ‘getting it right’, you close yourself to the opportunities of what the scene can become.” An easy note, a difficult one to accept. If I want to be more desirable, more fun to play with, find some more balance or okay-ness in myself. Don’t try to blame percentage points of my own weight (“If I lost 1 pound would I be one pound closer to  a girlfriend?” cries flawed and silent logic) but instead just do the work of trying to enjoy myself more, be happier, be more in the moment and ready.

In my yoga classes I take (again Young Nick cries out in douchebaggery at present Nick’s invocation of yoga), the teacher will often tell us in poses, “Don’t look down at the ground. Looking down at the ground may serve you in life, probably not, but maybe. But here, in practice, look up.” Like in yoga, in life, in improv, just trying to stay positive, not seeming worried, being affected but staying up until something important comes along, well, it’s important.

So I went into my therapist and confessed like I would a confessional the different ways I felt like I was undermining myself romantically, the ways I felt inadequate or sad or frustrated. And my teacher Christina Gausas is right that “after a certain while, navel-gazing becomes about ego”, in the way that people have pity-parties as a way to attract attention and receive external validation, but it also felt good just to be explicit about what you feel about your life, to be expressive to say your emotions in a way that they could be exposed and then mastered. In my work with my coach Sean Taylor, one of his most frequent notes to me and my teammates is just to “speak your thoughts”. In life we are frequently coy because we fear the consequences and certainly as I look back on a youth of speaking rawly out of either extremes of speaking out of intense emotionality or saying nothing that that is not the best way to live, but damnit, if you can just talk to another person, birth your thoughts and insecurities into the world, make your unconscious or conscious mind exposed for a moment, what a difference that makes.

To reiterate a note from last week from Neil Casey- “We are that special breed of people who can talk about what they mean on stage”. Or, that way, in life.

People ask why I write this blog, why I write things so personal here and it would be easy to say that it is therapeutic (and it is), but the truth is as it has always been, is that storytelling is a craft which is both a practice and a way of attaining a sort of mastery over the self. In connecting the dots in my own life on paper, I see my own patterns, forgive myself for my own mistakes, make manifest what is only insecurity when it floats around in my brain. When I talked to my friend Matt Weir this morning, who is very handsome and tall and an inveterate improv lady-killer, he was telling me how important it was to have that moment “where you realize you are in the presence of someone or something important”, where you take that time to recognize the importance of the moment and not blow it off, but try not to worry about it.

And then the paradox of yoga, improv, acting, what have you: To care about the things that are important to you. To consider them without worrying about them. To show the appropriate amount of attention to things that drive you without letting them consume your life or become yet too much for you. Yesterday in my groovy friend Emily Shapiro’s “Yoga For Freaks and Geeks”, a cheap yoga class she runs for improvisers and comedians, Emily talked about “Tree Pose”, that classic pose in yoga where you try to put one bent leg high upon the other, balancing on the straight leg: “Maybe today you get high on your leg, maybe you’re just down by your ankle or even toes on the floor. Just try not to push your knee and hurt yourself. Wherever you are, that’s cool!” the last part intoned with her own goofy lilt. Finding balance in your life, your worries, your improv, everything.

And then that difficult part embodied by Emily’s cool-weird-girl lilt- Being in that place then, of “That’s cool!”

So there you are, people who came up to me, worriedly on Monday. My psyche exposed. I’m worried about my weight sometimes, my improv not so much right now (I had three great shows last week, pretty cool!) and my love life, happiness, balance, quite a lot. Sometimes I fall out of that pose, on to the floor and sometimes it gets me down not being where I want to be and I dive into that place of self-criticism, desperation or even the crappy validation-projection that happens looking on online dating sites or into the eyes of another person at a bar.

But even those days are fine, somewhere along the way.

Even those moments are fine as long as they are manifest and talk-able.

Because I think a scumbag is someone who isn’t honest with themselves.

And I think me, I just have a receding hairline.

And that will have to do.


It was a feast fit for a blood test.

As I have mentioned on this blog before, I suffer from psoriasis, one of the nerdist things one can suffer from.

Psoriasis makes you covered in terrible like scabs and crap and rough patches, it can be brought about by stress the environment or nothing, be dormant in you forever or make you into a freak of nature, standing around like some 50s Ray Harryhausen creation.

Luckily I take pills that control it for me, just leaving me with something that resembles but isn’t dandruff and a couple weird spots here and there. But, the medicine that I take does have all sorts of side effects causing me to get blood tested every now and then just to make sure that my liver isn’t failing or any of that crap.

And that also means, once in a while, in a while, I can’t eat anything for a full 12ish hours.

This would be easy for most men, but not a hypoglycemic crazy like me, oh no.

Between the waiting, the daze of getting up and the unfriendly people at the NYU Medical Center Pharmacy, by the time I have gotten my extraction given and on gone, band-aid placed, I am in a blur of food-crazed starving and blind anger searching like a sasquatch seeking brains!

But that old conundrum, one that used to plague me!

By the time I get done with these things it is ALWAYS 10:30-11:30am! The nether-zone of eating!

Too late for breakfast with it’s strictures and conventions (see other rants against breakfast on this blog) and too early for the nearby go-to Indian joints of Curry Hill (near to NYU-Med) to be open.

So it was in this way that I found myself trying out for the first time a place on Lexington that I never would have gone to ordinarily, one of the anonymous joints that line that street with adverts for sub-par lunch buffets or hot plate fare, all pale imitations of my beloved Dhaba Lunch Buffet which opened stunningly at noon! Noon! Too late!

Anjappar Chettinad is a South Indian restaurant, a breed that is usually vegetarian (and thus constantly advertised for NYC as being kosher) but this one advertised on the window that they featured “thalis”, the south indian tradition of a meal comprised of several small plates, but with non-vegetarian options as well. I almost opted for the North Indian special off their lunch menu, not knowing what anything really was, before a kind look from my waiter steered me back saying “If you come to a South Indian restaurant, it would make sense to try the South Indian food, no?”

It did.

The plate was deceptively huge with a chicken curry still on the bone, a delicious spicy vegetable curry with cauliflower, the precise makeup with which was unrecognizable to me, some biryani rice (plain) which I tried to have little of even though it was exquisitely spiced, raita and finally the bread.

The bread was the best part, my deepest regret, my greatest pleasure.

It was neither naan nor poori nor any of the indian breads I am used to. It was a heavier, flaky, pull-apart bread soaked with butter that felt rich and full absorbing curry fully with every bite. I was transported.

I ate so much more than I ever though possible.

Luckily Yoga was harder than I thought it would be with Emily Shapiro.

So I felt some sort of atonement.

And also drank some Diet Coke (sorry Emily :P)



South Indian Executive Lunch Special (Non. Veg)- $12.95 (15 w/tax+tip)

Lexington Avenue bet.  27th and 28th Sts.

6 to 28th St.


A final addendum, food wise.

I am addicted to those fucking hot wraps from Pret A Manger.

It is embarrassing.

I blame Christina Gausas who, while lovely and amazing and talented, has an unnatural predilection and love for that place that like most of her advice, forced me to follow it.

The Buffalo Chicken Wrap and The Falafel and Red Peppers Wrap are inexplicably excellent and relatively inexpensive (like 6-7 dollars). They are low in calories and (if you give them five or more minutes to digest) very filling, disturbingly so considering their low calorie count.

Now, I should be clear. I should hate Pret A Manger. They are a chain, the enemy of New York City business and innovation. Low calorie foods are stupid and lame and pre-packaged hot wraps? God, why don’t I go to fucking Denny’s?

But I can’t help it now.

I dream of getting fucked up and eating twelve of them, wrap after wrap.

Damn you, Christina Gausas. Damn you, Pret A Manger.

You have turned me in to a corporate shill.




January 28, 2012

Why am I so obsessed with giving other people notes?

It comes out in obvious and less obvious ways.

In my improv classes or in film school or even high school, when I knew the answer to the question I would say it, I would raise my hand high up in high school, yearning, aching to answer the question, my one chance to talk and be right in a world where for all other intents and purposes I was wrong or othered. In improv classes and rehearsals I struggle not to note or give advice to my teammates, my classmates, others barreling past my own gentle reminders that not only is it a huge blow to one’s ego to receive an “I’m better than you”-style note from a peer, but that I also supremely do not know what I am doing.

In film school I had no such qualms, acting like an expert and even going to classes to give speeches on the silliest things: what to get out of film school, the importance of script supervisors, the screenwriting process and of course, snarkily talking about who was good or not.

Obviously, engaging in these stupid conversations in film school, I found myself barely involved with the film industry on my way out, because when I found myself rejected from 50 film festivals with my thesis, out of a job and working at a movie theater after a 300,000 dollar education, I realized that the confidence I had formed was some sort of monstrous inverted pyramid, based only on the spark of “voice” I had mistaken for virtuosity, destined unto its own collapse.

You’d think I had learned my lesson out of film school, going into the improv community that had taken me in, like it takes in so many other broken, insecure people. But of course, as humans, we are universally slow to see our own folly and slower still to change. Such is the stuff of Kurosawa and Shakespeare.

But giving notes with conviction and some amount of eloquence (the fruit of my writing) is a powerful position to put yourself in and one that people respect especially if those notes are not delivered with the condescension or silliness of a taunt or even any heavy emotion and are placed instead into an article of faith. In fact, people sometimes desire that because they struggle and are insecure and desperately want help. After all, what they are doing is impossible and demanding and silly. It’s hard to be a clown.

When I have given notes to people either in improv or film school, it is with that scary conviction of that I know what’s right (even though I most certain do not) but also always as an article of faith. In the logic part of my mind, there is never any reason to give a note to someone about their performance or film or writing if they do not show obvious promise or talent. It is only when I think I see that splinter in their foot, that thorn in their side that they cannot see that I attempt to alert them, even if I don’t have the skill to remove it, even if I don’t even know I don’t know whether it actually is a thorn or splinter.

So why do I do this?

When I was a film student I was not an expert on making films. Now that I am an improviser, I am, as my friend Austin Kuras said, “in the high school part of improv, where your friends now might not be your friends later until things settle down”.

Two explanations are forthcoming, both rooted in my psychology.

The first would be the desire to change myself that I so desperately want, a vestigial notion left over from my youth. When I wanted to yell out the answer in high school, it is because I wanted to be acknowledged. I wanted in this one area to be cool, to be big, to make myself as such. When I gave notes to my classmates then or later or later, it could because I didn’t like who I was, where I was and so instead of changing or having the strength to address myself, it was easier to see your own faults projected in others, to see that hurdle you thought someone else could cross, et cetera and gain some comfort and strength that at least you could change them.

Similarly, this frequently leads to frustration when people don’t change or refuse to take notes, mine or others, because I see in their intransigence my own inability to conquer the flaws in myself.

Note: this is the same low-self-esteem/victimhood philosophy that lead me to date girls with low self-esteem, because I thought I would show them how great they were and they would in return love the un-loveable: me.

The other, more altruistic reason (if not similarly misguided) is the attempt to correct the past in myself.

The same reason I was once a summer camp councilor for adolescents (a mixed experience in its own right) was because I wanted to tell 14, 15, 16-year olds that life wasn’t so goddam terrible even if it seemed like it now. I remember so vividly in the terrible parts of high school or film school or now comedy the huge mistakes I made, the horrific lows that I could not (and maybe even should not) have avoided but which I wish someone with some sort of authority could have been there effectively to tell me: “I’ve been there, quite recently. And it’s alright.” This is a very juvenile philosophy, a sort of “Catcher in the Rye”-style notion, but that sort of thought process isn’t past me entirely yet.

Having lacked a superhero or a cool magic-user to pop out of my Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels of my youth, I wanted to be the one that popped into these peoples’ lives.

Maybe that is part of the impulse still. Just wanting to be there to let them know that someone sees what they are going through and sympathises. To congratulate them earnestly, without the sugariness of sentimentality, at their successes in their failures. To remind them knowingly of the failures in success. When I do give notes well or am proud of myself, it is in these moments, where it looks like someone could use support, just like in an improv group scene, knowing when to make the move in life.

What do I make of all this?

As I said I know nothing, or know little. I am still vulnerable to those looooooo-ong conversations about comedy or film where I sound like an expert or argue like one. Often I enjoy them. But I am not a fool and in the moment I am trying to attune myself to when I have enough experience to talk about things and when I don’t, looking in to my nice coach Sean Taylor’s eyes and listening to his tone, trying to figure out when I’ve said too much, though I’m still not there yet (Sorry, Sean).

In a way, doing yoga has humbled me more than most things because I am so incredibly, intransigently untalented at it.

Knowing you can’t even do a halfway decent downward-dog is a good reminder of shutting up and just working hard.

Maybe I’ll thank myself for the shutting-up and enjoying myself, working and learning.

That’s good practice, too.


There’s something cathartic in being about the nerds.

It is important to define some levels here in what I am talking about before I continue.

Many things I do are defined as nerdy. Improv (as exemplified by this excellent video) is a pretty nerdy thing. Film nerdiness, like seeing a lot of indies and foreign films can be too (which I was reminded of when I met two Arizonans in France whose last movie they saw was The Notebook on DVD). Magic: The Gathering cards are still really nerdy in a way that is socially isolating and the subject of many jokes, but since I still sometimes find myself around them (like any addiction, you never really quit) I won’t cast judgement entirely right now.

But sometimes you head into a movie theater and see a combination of goth/punk overweight late-teenagers of all ethnic varieties at 3pm on a Wednesday and you know you’re going to see some Anime.

Anime was a phase I passed through (and am mostly out of) in the early parts of middle and high school exemplified by that weird gap in time where the internet existed but wasn’t fast enough that anyone could download things instantly. So, my best friend Frank and I would trudge down to Chinatown every weekend or every other weekend into the back of a knickknack store and buy VHS of anime episodes ripped off of non-region DVDs (which were expensive!) or subtitled amateur-ly by fans of the series we were trying to watch.

This was also a little after the time Pokemon (sort-of) and Dragon Ball Z (particularly) had gotten us into these Japanese animated shows with their promise of cool action, people always talking about the “awesome power of friendship” and often weird sexual undertones present in Japanese culture. Adult Swim on Cartoon Network had not yet turned totally into a bastian of college-age haute-comedy and still showed some cool anime shows as a stepping stone forward for us like Cowboy Bebop, which allowed us to continue growing on it as we began to realize how many episodes of our favorite shows were literally just people talking about the big fight that was going to happen stretched over a 9-26 episode arc.

When the internet sped up and Ricky somehow mysteriously disappeared, Frank and I would download the episodes off the internet of our favorite shows and go over to each others houses (mostly me to Frank’s) to watch them on our crappy monitors, hoping this wouldn’t be another episode where everyone was just intimidating each other and hopefully at least a couple people would throw a punch. But we were mostly disappointed, but somehow still hooked enough. We watched shows like Scryed, Yu Yu Hakusho, Bleach, Naruto, One Piece together while Frank delved even nerdier with the DSL connection at his house as we scoured the IRC (Internet Relay Chatrooms) for episodes in those early BitTorrent days, watching GTO (a show about a perv who becomes a teacher to sleep with 17 year-olds), Hajime No Ippo (an infinitely-long boxing anime) and Hikaru No Go (which is literally about people playing fucking checkers. No joke. Look it up.)

But a show we both watched was Fullmetal Alchemist, a silly steam-punk-style show about “alchemists” who have what is essentially a more science-y kind of magic powers. The show is about a big brother who always complains about being short and a little brother who is an animated suit of armor. Silliness ensues as well as some musing on life and death and humanity’s ability to affect those things.

Time has passed since those days.

First Frank became the skinny kid from his fat-bowl-cut-Korean-kid days, working out in college and then improbably becoming a personal trainer talking about being too shy to hit on his clients at the gym. I became chubby, got into movies and faded away from anime (though I still read some manga) since there were so many films to watch that didn’t involve waiting around 26 excruciating weeks to see what happens.

But now I do improv and work as an assistant and Frank trains people at the gym. I’m out late nights doing shows at weird places, Frank is training 6:30am clients. It’s hard to see each other.

So when I saw that the Cinema Village had, for some goddam reason, one of the several released-only-in-Japan Fullmetal Alchemist movies playing there, I knew to invite Frank.

We got some lunch. I joked about how I weigh less than him now (not at all salient, he is ONE-MILLION TIMES more fit than me), we walked around as I tried to decide on a dessert for an hour as I had to answer upset texts from a girl on my improv team. We talked about life and ended up splitting a cupcake.

We sat down in the aforementioned theater for the movie, which was silly with a Face-Off style-twist, though decently-animated. The last line of the film was: “Oh look, we’re leaving the valley.” which was really stupid and self-aware.

But we both for that time were back staring at a big suit of armor and a blond-short-guy fighting a wolf-man on top of a train.

And in the end, isn’t that what life’s all about?

Oh look, we’re leaving the blog post.


I had a freakout over squash. That is who I am now.

I haven’t been able to go to Birdbath Bakery around the corner from me for a while now, because the sandwich that I used to get from them, the Chicken Cilantro, was on a white bread that I had sworn off.

But one day, passing by, I decided to just investigate what they had I could eat and found that they had a smoked chicken sandwich on some sort of whole grain sourdough that seemed appetizing.

They had also seemed to have upped their lunch game, importing the famous Macaroni and Cheese from their parent store City Bakery in a hottray, along with another item I didn’t recognize.

“Spaghetti Squash cooked with homemade tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, a bit of cilantro, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds.”

“A taste.” I requested.


I got the smoked chicken sandwich (which was yummy enough) with the squash that was like crack.

Now, I didn’t know if this was kosher for me to have (not in a kosher sense) in terms of keeping my weight, but when I got upstairs I just ate half of everything, felt great and took a walk with my new couch-crasher New Jersey-an/Southerner Teddy Shivers to show him places to eat in the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, when I got back upstairs from the hour-point-five -long tour, that delicious-ass food was still there and I took a bite of the squash.

And then another.

And then the barrier broke and I ate the whole thing.

Guilt flooded my squash-ridden body.

I ate something light later, but when I got home that night, my weight (on the scale my bos bought me for the new year) had gone up 5 pounds instead of the usual three (how much my weight fluctuates day-to-night).

I hyper-ventillated in my therapist’s office, I wondered if this grand ruse was coming to an end, if chubby Nick was returning, so soon.

She looked at me calmly and we continued our session.

“I figure if this has been working for you.” She said. “Trust it and it will.”

I did and I ate some salads the next day and was fine.

My freak-out, silly.

It was just squash.

And I haven’t had it since.

Because I’ll eat french fries, cupcakes, crepe nutellas, pain au chocolats, shots of Jameson and risotto balls.

But I’m scared as fuck of that yummy squash.



Side of Spaghetti Squash w/Parmesan, Homemade Tomato Sauce and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds- $5.00

Prince St. bet. Thompson St. and W. Broadway.

CE to Spring St. NR to Prince St. BDFM to Broadway-Lafayette.

So, I’m Skinny. Now What?

October 10, 2011

An overstatement to be sure, but one that’s nice to make in the other direction than I usually do.

“Looking good, Feitel.” My friend Bobby Olsen told me. “Looking like girls are going to start just eating you up.”

“Well, ya know.” I replied. “I’m feeling pretty good actually. I’m worried, but feeling ok.”

And I was. It feels good to lose weight, to feel like you are lighter than a month or a week before. The opposite worry comes from feeling heavy or guilty that you ate something, assured that your one transgression will cause those 20, 30, 40 pounds to reappear instantly, waiting for the sin to push you over the edge.

In some ways, this diet is as close as I will ever get to being a Catholic.

“Alright,” I told Bobby, revved on myself. “It’s time to start playing that game. Am I skinnier than my friends? What you got bro?”

“Well what do you guess?” Bobby asked jokingly.

I guess around… 170?” I said.

“Yeah, sure.” Bobby said blowing this off and I contemplated my 188 weight as if I had a ways to go.

Then again, Bobby could just have been sick of standing in front of the ATM I wasn’t using in order to ask him such a question.

But nevertheless, I had been getting comments. Frequent invocations of “you look great”, or “you look buffer”, or “slimmer” or whatever. I tend to blow off compliments and internalize criticism as many people I think do (especially those with depressive tendencies), but just as criticism can chip away even at a guarded defense, if repeated over-and-over, compliments can too, eventually even enlivening the glummest of us grouches.

When I went to tape another episode of the TV show I am on, I got even more compliments, questions about “how did I do it?”, asking again if girls were “throwing themselves at [me]”.

Which I keep on looking at in some sort of strange view.

I didn’t get in to this diet to get girls, necessarily (though the spark was a bad dating experience) but while I’ve managed some amount of discipline and serenity about maintaining my eating habits, I’m not really sure how or if it’s supposed to change my life, particularly my dating life.

I still had two girls I dug express in (appreciably awkward) ways that they weren’t in to me, either by not responding to messages or erratic behavior, but that feels just like normal anyway.

I’ve stayed away from OKCupid for about a month now and when I went back to look it today, I first wondered if I should update my pictures, then if I should take a look at my profile, then how this could in any way be representative of me at all.

I almost called this post “My Inevitable Return To The World Of Online Dating” only to realize in going there that it didn’t appeal to me anymore.

Something has changed in me it seems like, a lack of immediate neediness, I guess. Or maybe just an unwillingness to search.

This weekend I found myself acting in my friend’s grad-film project for NYU in an improvised scene where I had to kiss a young lady for 6 or 7 takes, after terribly demeaning her on a badly-gone OKCupid date (The phrase we found through improvisation that I repeated over-and-over to make her break down was “You are an emotionally void person”). As I did it, in character of course, it made me realize how easy it was to just kiss someone. How, with some confidence or just the expectation that you will, it was possible to just sweep someone up and kiss them.

Now, of course, this does not disrupt the Solondzian fantasies of me and my fellow nerdy or once-nerdy brethren, who imagine a comical resistance and a slap from any lady we might try to kiss, as well as some sort of expression of disgust (such as “Ewww!” or “Gross!”) for good measure.

But it just makes a self-conscious guy think, huh, well, what if I just did it? Of course, self-conscious or awkward guys are often told “be confident” or “confidence is sexy”, but since there is a lack of experience to found that in (unlike compliments or insults which reinforce or dissolve self-created ideas and boundaries), it’s a difficult note to take.

But as I said, as I gave what I kissed a girl a bunch of times, as I gave a funny performance, as I got on stage 3 times this weekend (and later tonight!) for shows, with some confidence and poise, I felt my general confidence rising. Experience seemed foundational and just like doing improv, the more you do it, generally, the more you feel you can.

All of this, of course, is super creepy.

I kissed a girl in the context of a weird improvised comedic grad-film acting project, not in any sort of real sense. And it’s super creepy to take from that, agreed upon experience, that I could kiss more girls.

But maybe this is how people get to be creeps: they get skinny, they get some false confidence and they start kissing people for some reason.

I guess we’ll have to see if this happens and the (inevitably disastrous) results.

For now though, I don’t want to go back to online dating, to something strange and unrepresentative.

Not for at least 20 minutes.

At least.


This was the note I tried to tape to the exterior of my building in the mad rush surrounding my experiment with CLEAR mobile internet.

I had decided (or was conned or convinced) on a cool fall evening to try CLEAR 4G internet, a mobile version of WiMax (which is really interesting and runs on the wavelength that old antenna-era TV used to) which took little convincing since I am a hater of Time Warner Cable and how it seems to represent “the man” in general.

Growing up over in the West Village, I lived in a building littered with Time Warner outages, from expensive “on-demand” services that rarely worked to internet that I, as the designated “techie” (I’m not just a “foodie”, guys) of my family was forced to constantly attempt to fix and reset. I actually memorized the number for Time Warner from the old daytime commercial jingles to begin with (TV growing up), but then just out of use (it’s still 212-674-9100).

My usage of them in my apartment gradually degraded as I read an NYTimes article about cutting your cable and purchased my outstandingly cool Mac Mini-home TV system (which I feel like I could do a whole self-congratulatory blog post about) which has been saving me money ever since and has made me virtually nauseated when I am forced to watch cable at the houses of others with its commercials and its non-optimized programs. We can see whichever movies we want when we want and Netflix is on more devices than ever (not to mention Hulu), so why do we have to endure commercials and reruns and millions of channels of crap? Why can’t cable look more like Hulu Desktop with interspersed commercials and a slick shopping-mall style interface of what we might want to watch, along with commercials targeted towards our demographics?

End diatribe, but don’t think this is over TV. Don’t think this is over at all.

Anyway, when I cancelled my cable, I kept my internet, but ever since I read about WiMax I imagined getting rid of that too, shedding their cable-bound internet and ethernet cables and reducing my invasive attachments to a simple black box that I could just take around with me wherever I went. CLEAR offered me a month to try their service, contract-less, and I took them up on it, with their “Apollo” 4G Hotspot shipping to me the next day.

Thus the note and the panic.

I had to go to work finally and I wasn’t going to be at my apartment. The peril of ordering things online in a door-man-less building! You have to take a little sticky note they may or may not leave at the exterior of your apartment (and wait for it to arrive), call them, ask them to hold it at their facility, go to their facility in the evening (but not TOO LATE in the evening), bring some government ID and then hope that the driver didn’t just lose it or the guy behind the counter waiting to get off cares enough to look those two extra minutes to find your bo in a pile.

This would not happen to me. I would not allow my wireless liberation to happen one-three days and a lot more hassle later.

I tried knocking on my neighbors across the hall who had been leeching my internet (another NY social-tech phenomenon I found out about through an NYTimes article) but the woman there was leaving in 30 minutes! Too much of a risk! I tried calling up friends before realizing the folly of it; they wouldn’t wait for my router! I even considered knocking on the door of the cancer patient on the first floor and asking her but I just didn’t have it in me to bother her, hear about the chemo and then ask her to hold my package.

Desperately I darted around before realizing what people do–yes! The Coffee Shop across the street where I got my morning imbibe-able! I ran in and begged Lucas (who I used to call Tats for his tattoos, punk demeanor, i.e: “What up, tats?”) if he could do me a huge-huge favor and hold my package for me if the FedEx guys came after explaining to him the depths of my conundrum and my quest to free myself from cable as I did here and he said:

“Sure man.”

And I raced outside to place the note on my door, grabbed tape from my apartment came outside and–

There. There was the FedEx Man.

I signed in gratitude as he looked at me with the raw look of a man witnessing a tech-crazed man-child on the verge of salvation and allowed me to sign after some cursory questions.

I was free.

In the time since, I have taken around my square-shaped router on adventures in New York City, testing out the internet. It’s uneven, less consistent than my earth-bound modem. But it’s more wide-ranging and portable and, most importantly, at home it offers me roughly the same speed as my current Apple router does (Ethernet would be faster but that would mean more wires!!).

I am still embroiled in my month, still carrying around my router-puck sharing wi-fi and offering it like chocolate in the ASSSSCAT line and coffee shops trying to make friends and conduct social experiments, as well as testing the puck’s limits.

There’s still that last cord of resistance to get through that worry that I’ll wake up one morning and my internet will be out and it’ll be a huge mistake and I will search in vain for my cable, just as I felt like I’d lost a friend for a while after I cut my TV channels and HBO.

But just like my worry that my pounds’ll come back, it’s a fear to be overcome, not acceded to.

I should point out that friends Rob-Bearded-Still Malone and sometimes-villain Andrew Parrish fear this transformation. They want me to stay tethered fearing this will accelerate my transition from man into hyphenated man-machine.

“Or just make you into a lamer person, bro.” Rob offered.

But in that direction, I hurtle, un-Maloned.

Here’s to a wireless liberation, frantic SoHo packing problems, and geeking out, for sometimes, man.

Here, here.


Thursday was a good night.

I did a genuinely good show on two Whiskey-Diet Coke’s out of a house that looked dim, packed with no one but a few performers, assorted girlfriends and a particularly beardy Rob Malone, who generously came out to support and fulfill the two-drink minimum (of which he still owes me for one drink, I’m reminding him now).

(Also Sean Taylor and Shawn Amaro who were our great hosts, http://www.varietyunderground.com)

But somehow my group–full of a brit, a fiancee, a depressive writer type, and an Actor–all really gelled and we did a crazy set about late-30s romance involving S+M gunplay, gay-hate-speech against robots and even a meta bit that went over well. My good friends Shaun Farrugia and Woody Fu were also there, playing with their team Honey and gave me punches and pictures after.

We all took a cab to Greenpoint on Rob’s decision to meet a girl, Shaun’s desire to get home and my lack of sobriety/high off having a good show. It ended up being fun as we ragged on each other in the cab, talked lady issues and improv and Rob did his best to add beardy comments.

We ended up at a Korean joint called Mrs. Kim’s on the beautiful fall evening as we all had the sort of “giving each other shit” conversations that I love having with my friends. When Rob’s lady friend arrived Shaun took me aside, between our attempts to use my 4G modem (to Rob’s chagrin) to stream “The Princess and the Frog” on Netflix.

“Beard guy over there’s a baller.”

“Yurp.” I replied.

We ended up ordering the restaurants Brunch-meets-Korean fair and while my friends got  a chorizo-based “Kim-Dog”, I got myself the Chicken Caesar, which arrived pleasantly at the table, an unexpected treat.

The chicken was cooked in a soy-glaze, happily, which it made it more tender and less dry than “salad-variety” chicken and the caesar dressing had the fishy tang of a highlight of sardines, again adding nice touches to the “still-asian” part of the item.

And for a “fourth-meal” I felt happy that it conformed to my diet and didn’t feel too-guilty sopping up my stomach-whiskey with it.

Eventually Rob left and Shaun went home and I hopped own cab back to the Magnet for a Thursday night Inspirado.

When I got home, I was full of funny and food.



Chicken Caesar Salad- 11 bucks

Corner of Franklin and Kent Sts, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY.

G to Greenpoint Av, or really, just when you’re in the neighborhood.