Monday, June 22, 2009

Race Relations

Last night I saw a pair of legs putzing on my stairs, and then heard rifling through my trash. I had decided to come out and ask him what he wanted because strangers will invariably run away when you ask them why they're doing something silly. As I approached my door however, I heard a loud crash and physically cowered; ducked and covered, if you will.

I came outside 30 seconds later to find my snow shovel lying on the ground and the window to my bedroom (upstairs) vandalized.

I panicked that it might be a direct attack at me, then silently thanked (insert name of higher power) that I wasn't actually in the bedroom by the window watching TV or anything.

Looking down the street I saw a black kid that can't have been more than 12 years old, running with a fire extinguisher spraying cars on the street. I decided if it was just some punk kid I wasn't going to get mad, but I called the police just to make an official report for my landlord and insurance.

The cops were really nice. Two young black men writing down all the details of my little story. They asked me to describe the boy and where he went off to, and noticeably uncomfortably, I told them...

Anne: He's wearing a red cotton shirt, blue pants or blue jeans, snug, and old white sneakers. Not tall enough to look over the roof of that car he sprayed.
Officer: How old did he look? What did he look like?
Anne: Can't be more than 12, maybe even eleven. (Pause) Black. (Longer pause) He ran into the park toward the projects.

Anyway, there I am being a dipstick when one of the officers says, "you mean, like that kid over there?" and points toward the park at THE KID.

The other officer smiles and me and says, "get in our car. We'll get him." The first officer adds, "what an idiot, hanging around like that."

Now at this point, I'm thinking, "what the fuck are we going to do when we 'get him'?" But I acquiesce and get in the backseat... which was also weird, because now I look like I've been arrested.

We zoom toward the park and somehow lose him. The cops talk to each other about going into the projects where he's probably hidden.

I am now in the Red Hook housing projects driving around in a cop car.
I am sweating balls.

Now, the Red Hook projects are big, but blend into the fabric of the neighborhood pretty well. You have to walk through them to get to C-Town, the post office, or the Smith-9th Subway station. I think people might hear "projects" and think of The Wire or any number of Law & Order episodes. Totally unlike that. There are park benches and people say hi when you walk past them.

However, cops routinely drive around said projects and aforementioned park to cattle drive teenagers out of public soon as night starts to fall. On their loud speakers they tell everyone to go home. It's really kind of condescending and hugely hypocritical, because the drunken white revelers playing Nerf ball in the middle of Van Brunt at 2 in the morning doesn't seem to warrant any police stare-downs or loud speaker cattle driving bullshit. I mean c'mon, coppers.

So I am not scared of the projects. I am scared of being in the projects in a cop car rolling 3 miles per hour with cops looking as far as they can see into the buildings, making eye contact with everyone like it's samurai showdown. With me. In the back seat.

We've all heard those stories about cops being pelted from top floor tenement housing, right?

The cops insist on driving SEVERAL TIMES through the buildings on what I thought were sidewalks. I realize the projects are structured with cleverly disguised concrete walkways just wide enough for a Crown Vic.

So there I am in some fucked up version of Driving Miss Daisy Langston Hughes wrote high on cocaine. I don't want to be there because I was never going to press charges on the kid anyway. The cops, ironically, defuse my tension.

Officer 1: Where did that kid go? It's so weird. He just vanished.
Officer 2: Man, I want to get him. What a stupid idiot.
Officer 1: We'll get him.
(Pause, Officer 1 turns up the volume on the radio which is playing hip-hop. Both cops start bopping their heads.)

Finally we relent and they take me back to my street. A bunch of white people on Van Brunt look at me like, "whoa. What did she do..." I just want to get to my dinner. When we get to my apartment the officer who's been dictating the whole time gives me a number and tells me a report will be ready in 48 hours.

Ten minutes later I see them still out there, now joined by two large white officers. They are watching me patch up the window with black vinyl, duct tape, and a bamboo kitchen floor mat (don't laugh). From inside I see the cops through that window, and as I close up the view for good, I thank (insert name of higher power) I didn't roll through the projects with the white cops.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Inventor of Vibrating Bed Dies

Semper fi, brother.

Semper fi.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Opening Themes

Opening Theme, Sono 1:
I keep my radio alarm on WNYC so I can wake up to the caramel-like voices of old men announcing human evils and media foibles.

"Two women were found dead under the BQE..."
"New evidence has surfaced that Mother Theresa was into leather-bondage."
"Later, we interview a man who didn't use toilet paper for a year!"

But if I wake up before 9am and hurry to shut off my radio, it's not because I've been jostled from my slumber with bad news. It's because I cringe to hear what happens next.

Nothing is more horrifying than the sound of The BBC Newshour opening theme. It's a Wagnerian freak show--ten seconds of string instruments gasping for air on the sinking Titanic as if the lives of toddlers depended on it. It's a team of miniature ponies slapped with nail-studded whips, driven by a Norwegian war demon, and headed straight to a lake of fire. It's a freezing tornado of pigeons in heat. And just when you think it's over, THE CLOSING THEME IS THE SAME SONG BUT TWICE AS LONG.

Now, it strikes me as utterly strange that the BBC's morning TV theme is so pleasant (if sterile): synthesizer plops of water on sine waves of rhythm. Not fair.

Opening Theme, Sono 2:
I recently woke up at 5am and found myself watching a Golden Girls marathon (a.k.a. the Hallmark Channel before noon on any given day of the week).

You know what? That opening theme IS TOXIC. Not Brittany Spears horny-or-possibly-retarded(?) toxic. I mean toxic like I challenge you to listen to it and stop your subconscious from singing it out loud later.

Opening Theme, Sono 3:
The X-Men cartoon opening theme.
Opening theme!

But you know what's curious? IT SOUNDS A LOT LIKE THE BBC NEWSHOUR THEME. So here's my plea to you, BBC Newshour: Find whoever did this opening theme for the X-Men cartoon series and have him/her redo your friggin' snuff film foley of an opening theme.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How Translators are really Trannies

I recently made a passing joke about translators being "trannies" but as I plow through volumes of Japanese text it dawns on me how true this metaphor-analogy (a.k.a. meta-anal) is.

Translating is just like gender-pandering. First, you have to understand this is a superficial treatment of the surface. There are not necessarily any structural or subcutaneous changes made to the original. You just give the elements a different persona, exterior; a version others can understand and intercourse with.

Step 1. The Tuck.
I like to start translating with the big stuff. Go into the "meat" of the text and just start making all that is Foreign, American. This is the basic F to A procedure.

Step 2. Shave.
Now that you've gotten yourself a technical American, you have to make it as transparently manifest as possible. No use tucking if the rest of your body is hairy. So shave. This means taking something like:

He stared at her glaringly. (tucked)
He glared at her. (shaved)

Step 3. Make-up/Dress-up.
This last step can usually be performed by any half-decent editor, but a good tranny doesn't need a make-up artist. She can play to her tells and make it so that you second-guess your judgements. You know she's a tranny, but she foin as all hell.

mm mm MM.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Symmetry of Flight

You fly out, you fly back. You fly out, you fly back.
This time out to Los Angeles, I flew out sitting next to someone whose exact identical opposite (sic) I sat next to on my flight back.

I sit in my second row aisle seat next to no one, awaiting takeoff when I hear a male voice running down the At-At tube hall thing to our plane. "I'm runnin' like OJ! I'm runnin' like OJ! Don't take off without me!"

The man saunters in and plops his stuff down right next to me. He smells like patchouli. He's wearing Neo-from-the-Matrix sunglasses and two leather pendants the size of my fist around his neck.

Man: Hey, baby. What's your name?
Me: Anne. What's yours?
Man: I'm King. My name is King.

Of course it is.

I bury my head back in my magazine and ignore him for the next four hours, during which time he proceeds to make friendly with the men sitting in the row ahead of us. They talk about the NBA Finals and decry JetBlue's lack of ABC on the TV. They make friendly with the mousy looking stewardess and ASK HER about the other HOT stewardess.

King: She FOIN, right? Right guys? You know what I'm sayin' Papi (to the Dominican father sitting with his two infant children).

[Word of advice: Even if she looks like she knows she's not smoking hot and is ok with it, don't ask any woman personal questions about another MUCH HOTTER woman, and proclaim as much.]

An hour out of landing, King starts me up again. He is like, black Rain Man the way he repeats himself and goes on.

King: So what do you do? You work? What do you do?
Anne: I'm in publishing.
King: Alright alright. That's nice. I like that... So if I look for you in the papers I'll find you? Is that the only way I'll find you? You can find me in East Oakland. I sell incense and oils. Just ask anyone about King The Incense Guy and they'll tell you all about me. I buy oils and such in New York, and bring them to Oakland, every week. How do I find you... PLANET ASIA. I'm gonna call you Planet Asia.
Anne: ...
King: OK Planet Asia, so how are we gonna see each other again? Am I gonna have to look through New York City for you? Or are you just going to tell me where to find you?
Anne: (smiling weakly) I'll just ask about King the Incense Man when I'm in Oakland.
King: Alright alright. I like that, Planet Asia. I'm gonna find you, Planet Asia.

Incidentally, Aly tells me Planet Asia is a hip-hop artist.

Hmph. Planet Asia. Sounds more like a hippie stripper name to me.

I sit in my tenth row aisle seat next to no one, awaiting take off when a man comes pounding down the plane aisle and plops a huge backpack right next to me, saying "holy shit. That was close."

He's at least 6' 7" and the size of a library bookcase. Looks like he came straight from the Long Beach surf -- tanned, blond, flip-flops, jersey shorts. I feel bad for the guy having to sit in the middle seat, but he seems pretty happy just to have made it. His knees hit the front seat, his arm is touching mine. I lean away, into the aisle.

Right after takeoff he takes out a brown bag lunch and starts eating the first of what will be three sandwiches. He notices I'm listening to the TV with shitty JetBlue headphones and offers his Bose headphones. I kindly refuse, and we start talking.

Man: Hey, are you a lawyer, by any chance?
Me: No. Why?
Man: I got a DUI last night. Spent last night in jail! I need a lawyer.
Me: Yikes. Try the guy on your other side, maybe. He looks like a lawyer.
(We both chuckle)

A stewardess approaches our Exit Rows and asks for vocal confirmation that we can aid in an emergency situation. The man says to the anorexic but cute stewardess:

I'd LOVE to help you with ANYTHING.

She eats it up. If you look up "blushing" in a dictionary, it would show her face. The man and I look at each other and do the eyebrow dance.

Then the cute stewardess returns for beverage service and the man asks for two Jack and cokes, "and something for yourself if you want one." She is LOVING it. After pounding the drinks, he tells me, "if I start snoring, just punch me in the face," and passes out. I pass out too.

We wake up two hours out of landing and the man proceeds to drink TEN MORE little Jack Daniels, insisting on ordering them through the aforementioned stewardess every time. He and I start talking and he says he's freaking out about the DUI because he's on a football scholarship at Columbia University... which explains everything, 'sfar's I'm concerned. Huge, check. White, check. Compulsive drinker, check. I mention I went there too, and thought it was just fine. He goes on about how he went because his family made him. He wanted to go to Santa Barbara.

Of course he did.

His name, is... Tyler.
Of course it is.

Then, he says the most amazing thing:

Columbia is full of Asian people studying all day. It's lame.

I look him dead in the eyes and then turn my head. I ask myself what "cognitive dissonance" means, in case I'm wrong about it.
At one point Tyler pulls out the vomit bag and starts writing on it. Then he asks me to read it over and make sure it doesn't sound like the drunken rambling of a college student.

You face is so beautiful but it works too hard. I want to see you again. I'm in NY for school but in LA the rest of the time. (his phone number) Please call me. P.S. Don't be freaked out by this note.

Tyler: So do you think it's OK?
Anne: I think it's PERFECT.
Tyler: OK, I'm gonna go give it to her.

He pops out of the row to deliver. He returns.

Tyler: I think I freaked her out.
Anne: No way. She totally likes you. Plus it's rad you wrote that on a vomit bag.
Tyler: Fuck. I did? (Pause) Did I tell you I spent last night in jail because I got a DUI?

We've landed. I watch Tyler ask the stewardess about the note and she is positively RED. She says it was really nice of him to give her the note and that it did NOT freak her out. I'm sure if he remembers he did any of this, it could be the beginning of a really sweet relationship.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Best. Headline. Ever.

'Gay penguins' rear adopted chick

Courtesy of The BBC