Archive for March, 2007|Monthly archive page

Static

Well, hello.

I don’t really know who visits this blog on a regular basis and who just happens to read these lines because he searched for the words “Blond Ventriloquist” on Google and found himself unexpectedly here (gotcha!), but I just wanted to apologize. Apologize for not writing as much as I’d like to. These days leave me strangely lethargic. I think it’s a combination of the cold dry weather outside which makes one a little sleepy, and the distracting worries which plague me. Worries of the immediate nature, like finding another apartment, finding ways to save money, and worries of Meaning of Life type, which I won’t get into here, with your permission.

Now, I did write a new post the other day, but decided not to publish it. It happens sometimes, although rarely. I see this blog as my venting place, my thought pad, but I also want it to be enjoyable and worthwhile to read. When I deem a post unenjoyable or not thought provoking or illuminating enough, I decide not to publish it. So yes, the draft section of ABAIG has a few unpublished posts in it. Maybe I’ll publish them at a later date. in the meantime, they are kept there. Some of them are too personal for my taste, and some of them are just pointless rants.

So even when I don’t post anything, it doesn’t mean I haven’t written anything. That is the nature of my writing. I am myself most harsh critic.

For the past few days I’ve been riding a lot on the New York subway, an extremely efficient piece of transportation with endless opportunities for people watching. The subway is like the United Nations on wheels. (And those MTA employees inside their glass booths. Boy, are they short tempered! I guess they’ve seen and heard it all).

And in New York it’s still quite cool and very dry. My body’s oozing static electricity. I get zapped from objects like my computer, the tap in the kitchen, the chair I’m sitting on. Static is also a great way to describe my feelings in the last few days. Trying to find a cheaper, or less expensive apartment in greater New York, but not really getting anywhere. As usual for me, I play the waiting game. The big question is how long to stay in New York. That is unknown at this point, since (again) I’m waiting for things to happen on other fronts, things that I have no control or influence on.

So I’m waiting.

And in the meantime, I realized that the relative lack of music and movies is depressing me. I don’t have with me my CD’s and especially my 150 mp3′. I bought Frou Frou’s CD, but it’s just one CD. I’ve seen two whole movies since I left Israel: The Fountain (extremely boring and pretentious) and 300 (Cool visuals. Enjoyable, stylish gorefest). I toyed with the idea of renting movies through Netflix, but since I’m in a very temporary residence, it seemed a bit silly. I thought of buying some DVD’s but didn’t find any I really wanted, and besides, I think it’s stupid to buy a movie just because I want to see one. There are movies on TV (I saw 3/4 of A Time To Kill), but they are botched by endless commercial breaks, which makes the whole thing much more annoying than enjoyable.

I’ve been to a short stroll in Central Park, which looks suspiciously like Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv. Saw a lot of dogs and kids playing baseball, and found out I could cross it surprisingly fast from the east side to the west side of upper Manhattan. I really thought it would be much bigger. But then, I’ve only been to a small portion of it.

I wanted to end this post with some music, so here’s the beginning sequence of Hair, one of my favourite film musicals and a very New Yorkish film. It takes place at Central Park, and it’s featuring that infectious, great song… Well, you know which song I’m talking about.

The one about the opposite of static.

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Take the Fifth

Everyone in this town seem to be busy, busy, busy. Going to and fro, hither and tither, like an ultimate New York cliche. Everyobody’s going everywhere. But you know what?

Thay’re not really doing anything.

They go shopping, mostly. Or eating out. Or just strolling around. The art form most prevelant in New York is “The Art of Looking Busy”.

“Hey, sorry I didn’t call you back, I was very busy”. “I had a busy month”. “Life is really busy for me”. “I’m busy, busy, BUSY!”.

Jerry Seinfeld, a perfect New Yorker if there ever was one, had the perfect answer for this greatest of all excuses:

What do you mean you’re too busy? Pick up a phone!

Yesterday I joined all the Busy Little Bees and walked down the famous 5th Avenue. My destination: New York’s Public Library on 42nd street.

On the way there I went onto F.A.O Schwarz, the famous toy store. To tell you the truth, it’s not as big as I thought it would be. After all the hype, I expected a palace of toys and games.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a big store, but not huge. Either way, the store is filled with pretty cool stuff. I got to witness a lightsaber fight by two store employees who used the new Official Star Wars Lightsaber Toy. It’s nice, but it’s just plastic with light. I wouldn’t shell out 130 dollars for it.

My main objective, of course, was to find the famous Piano. Remeber this scene?

Well, I did find it but I only looked, not played on it. The place was filled with toddlers running around over it, and I felt stupid joining them.

5th Avenue is amazing. the buildings are sky high and the shops are gigantic. I went into Trump Tower and listened to a brief concerto in the garden inside the complex. I went into NBC studios tower and didn’t see Conan O’brayen. I went and saw Rockafeller Center, with the beautiful and famous Ice rink, and I passed Tiffany’s on the way, and although It was way past breakfast, I just had to go in and take a look.

Boy, did I feel inadequate with my jeans and sweatshirt. This is quite a glamorous place. It has four floors or so, but I was only on the first. I felt that if I’ll stay there too long, they’ll find out I have 5 bucks in my pocket and throw me out. At one point I realized I’m walking with my hands behind my back, as if afraid that someone will ask if I need any help.

But hey, it’s Tiffany’s. I just had to get in.   

Oh, and yeah, I bought a hot dog on the street corner. About time, wouldn’t you say? The guy with the hot dog cart was busy assembling a cell phone when I approached. I was a little disappointed. I expected him to wear a funny hat and a giant moustache and say:”A hot dog for you, sir?” but I bought the hot dog anyway, in a tiny bun.

From there, to the big and reneissance themed Library building, which was closed, Although my sourcs told me it should be open. But hey, I had a good time on the way and went into many places I didn’t plan on visiting.

To conclude my journey and go home I went inside Grand Central, the main bus and trains depot of the city. Well, what can you say about a town where the bus depot is a tourist attraction? The archytecture is breathtaking, like something straight out of the 1930’s. That was the first time I really wished I had a camera. Maybe I’ll go back there sometime and snap some photos.

And then I went down to the subway and joined all the bees on the way uptown. It was a very tiring day, but fun.

I’m still waiting to find some people to whom I can speak with words other than “how much is this?” and “thanks”.

Maybe I should just get myself more busy.

Excuses

Yesterday I saw a squirrel.

He was bouncing through the greenery at Union Square, and it was absolutely delightful, since I’ve never seen a squirrel for real before. Certainly not in the middle of a big city.

It was after I somewhat got lost at the East Village/Soho area and sat down for a minute to consult the map I got at the Subway station, only to realize that right there, in Union Square, there’s a Subway to take me home.

It became a hobby of mine to get lost in the city. As big cities go, this place is relatively easy to get around in, and like I said at an earlier post, you just go wherever you feel like and find new things at each corner.

NYU was just around the corner, and watching the students roam the streets, I felt again that twinge of sadness about the fact that I haven’t really got to experience college life, certainly not in a place like this, but it soon passed. There comes a time when you just have to leave that stuff behind you. You are what you are. 

I went to the East Village for a rather stupid reason: To find Israelis. To make a long story short, I am seeking a temporary apartment, preferably with roommates, and I realized my best chance would be to hook up with Israelis. Someone told me that the East Village is full of them. The thing is, the minute I got out of my house I knew it was just an excuse. I didn’t want to sit at home and it gave me an excuse to visit another part of Manhattan. Do you really think that when I got there I started going into the felafel stores and ask about apartments? No, I didn’t. I just walked a lot, looked at the spectacular buildings, went south into Soho, and saw the Empire State Building from afar (I think). I thought about walking all the way towards it, but it was more distant than it seemed, so I passed on it. Anyway, it was a great little hike. It’s obviously a student town, with Internet Cafes and Zerox shops… And sqirrels too.

Yes, I’m trying to find excuses to go places. I’m not much of a tourist, you see. I don’t like to tour for the sake of it, and I certainly detest guided tours. If anything, I like to do it solo, be my own master. But I need a reason. In the first few days I went to buy a cell phone and a laptop and during my searches I toured half the neighborhood. After that was over, I went to the East Village to look for Israelis. the minute I got there I forgot about that and just made it a day. I went to a sports store and bought myself a shirt, I watched the architecture and the people. I just didn’t feel like searching for Israelis and asking them about apartments. I wanted to have fun.

I know I’m repressing the fact that I NEED to solve this apartment thing, but fuck it.

Now, today I didn’t have any excuses or reasons left anymore. If I am to go anywhere, I said to myself, I’ll just have to do it. Go somewhere just for the sake of it. I wasn’t comfortable with that, but at the end, there is a limit to the amount of excuses one can have for stepping out. Sometimes you just have to be a tourist.

So I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’m not a big museums enthusiast, but the Met (as it is called) is a 10 minute walk from my apartment, and it looks so awesome from the outside, that I decided I’ll chance it and hoped I wouldn’t be bored to tears.

Well, it was quite an interesting experience, and I certainly enjoyed it, but I’ve written a lot already and I’m tired, or rather, my hands are tired, so I think I’ll have to take a raincheck on that.

Actually, I don’t really know if it’s such an interesting story to tell. I mean, it’s a HUGE museum, with hundreds of artifacts, sculptures and paintings, some of them are truly amazing, but the minute I got there and realized there’s a cafeteria somewhere in the building, I spent half the time looking for that elusive cafeteria, and during my searches saw half the museum.

At the end I found it and sat down, at last, to cheeseburger and fries. I mean, all this walking made me hungry. So if you’ll ever go the Met, and search for the cafeteria, just know it’s right below the Renaissance paintings section.

There, I saved you two hours.

Let it snow

The city is covered in snow. I pretend it’s Christmas and I hum “let it snow” while strolling my temporary Manhattan neighborhood in the Upper east side.

I feel excited. Everything is new and fresh to me, and the fact it’s covered in white makes it all the better. I stand in front of a snow covered staircase and just stare at it. I’ve never seen a snow covered staircase, except for in the movies. It’s really amusing when you think about it. People come to New York to see the Statue of Liberty or to shop in Bloomingdale’s, but I get a kick out of stairs with snow on them.

The white coating seem so pure, so fresh, so different than what I’m used to. It’s just perfect, and although it’s quite cold, it’s not so cold as to make me suffer or not enjoy myself. I welcome the cold, I relish it, because it’s a different experience for me and it makes me feel more alive.

But not all is such a poetic experience. The streets are also covered with melting snow, and one has to jump from street corner to street corner in order to avoid them. So I find myself jumping, like the rest of the people. We’re all jumping over the puddles, over the mountains of melting ice, and it bonds us together in a strange way, and it makes me feel like a child again. My feet get a little wet, and it’s not really comfortable, but all I have to do is get into a store and warm myself up.

You see, the stores are shelters, so I find reasons to go inside them. I went into a Barnes and Noble, a huge bookstore with thousands of books on every subject imaginable. People are sitting on the floor, reading, talking about books, or drinking coffee in the lounge. It’s almost like heaven on earth.

I know I should’ve posted some pictures, but I had so many things to buy, including the computer on which I’m writing this post, that i’m trying not to go overboard, and cameras here are more expensive then I thought they would be. Maybe soon I’ll buy one. I’m also trying not to have the word “tourist” plastered all over me. I don’t carry a map, for example. I try to blend in, to act like I belong here, that I know where I’m going, although I have no idea. And it’s more fun this way.

So for now, you’ll just have to imagine. Hey, maybe it’s better this way. 

I like to be outside and see people. there are people everywhere, all kinds of people, talking in many languages. As it happened, my first day here was also St. Patrick’s day, so the streets were filled with loud Irish folk with green hats. It was real fun! Their joy made me happy, and although I’m not Irish to say the least, I wanted to join them in their celebration.

Basically, there’s something exciting about being where nobody knows you. I hear Hebrew on the streets and I get a kick out of the fact that nobody knows where I’m from (until I open my mouth, that is).

Because there are always people on the streets, you really don’t have to sit at home and be alone. Somehow, I don’t feel alone outside, even though I don’t know anyone. It seems to be a city of lonely people grouping together. I don’t see a lot of couples in the street. I don’t see a lot of large groups, except for obvious tourists. But I see a lot of people walking alone, holding their Starbucks cup, talking on the cell, reading a newspaper, and I feel it’s OK to be alone here, that it’s not frowned upon. I went into a matinee show at the local movie house just because I felt like it.  And yes, I was alone, and I didn’t mind. Perhaps it will change, but for now, I’m ok with it.

Yesterday evening I was hungry. I sat for hours in front of the computer, looking for an apartment. I DON’T WANT TO BE IN FRONT OF THE COMPUTER ALL DAY AGAIN! It was really depressing, so I decided to get out. It was really cold outside, and I could’ve gone down to the store and buy something or order food, but I wanted to go out and eat with other people. I want to experience the city, and eating alone at home in front of the TV isn’t my idea of fun. I know it to well.

So I went out and looked for a pizza place and I found one, and it was perfect. It was nice and cosy and warm, exactly what I was looking for. On the way there, I passed through a small playground with antique looking benches. It was covered in snow from beginning to end, and it was beautiful and quaint. It looked like something out of a fairy tale. I half expected to see Galadriel floating down the steps, radiating light.

And suddenly, I was overjoyed. I don’t think I realized the extent to which my life has been a humdrum affair, how I lacked excitement and beauty, how I let my self die inside, how depressed and zombie-like I was. The wind blew hard, and my throat swelled just looking at this beautiful place in the middle of this great city, and I don’t know exactly why it happened, but this snow… this pristine snow covering everything, purifying everything… It felt like it was also purifying my soul, and the beauty of this little snow garden overwhelmed me.

So I just stood there, and let myself cry a little. 

Chapter One

I planned on writing a much lengthier post today, but I just don’t have the time. It’s been a tiring, hectic week. So much stuff to do-and to pack! It’s crazy. THIS is crazy.

Ain’t it, woody?

Too much information

They say knowledge is power. But knowledge is also a bother.

All I want to do is book a hotel in NYC. Not the cheapest one, but hardly the most expensive, either. There’s dozens and dozens of them on websites such as Hotels.com with all the info you could want, which, in the best tradition of the online age, includes some user reviews. These reviews mess with your head. Some of them liked the hotel, some hated it. It’s usually very subjective. So what am I supposed to get from these review? That John from Ireland had a blast but Jane from Arkansas hated every minute of it? All I need is a place to stay for a few days while I sort out some little things like, I don’t know, FINDING A PLACE TO LIVE, for example.

Now, I don’t mean the Hilton, folks, I mean those cheap little hotels like Super 8 or Howard Johnson. As a matter of fact, what I’ve come to learn is that there are no CHEAP hotels in NYC, just good expensive hotels and crappy expensive hotels.

Case in point: I spent almost three hours until 3 in the morning trying to find a suitable hotel, but failed miserably The next morning, my modem went dead. With no Internet, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to hop down to the travel agency, maybe they could find me a decent hotel. After all, it’s what they do.

After some checking, and with a strong endorsement from the travel agent (“It’s a great deal”) I decided to go for it and even pay a bit more than I planned, as long as I find something already.

I left there with a sense of relief. I had a place to stay. I won’t be living on a bench. When I got home, I took the computer to the lab in order to fix it (“You just had to push this button”) and then got back home, went online, and googled the hotel I just paid 600 dollars for because it was such a great fucking deal. And this is what I saw.

Now, I don’t think I’m that finicky. I can weather some tough conditions if there’s no other choice or if the end justifies the means, but I also want to be somewhat comfortable, and I hate, absolutely hate, ugly, dirty places (except for my apartment).

It could be that they all got it wrong somehow. It could be it’s a great place. But after reading this, I just couldn’t do it. I phoned the travel agent and asked her to cancel the reservation. Now I need to find another hotel for those 600 dollars, I guess. I could take a more pricey one, and stay for a shorter period, but then I’m afraid I wouldn’t have enough time to find a more permanent residence. This is such a bother, that I even considered to skip NY altogether and just go to LA. Did you know that in LA you can get a decent three star hotel for 150 bucks a night and in NY it will buy you a rat infested crib? I think that’s very interesting. Nevertheless, finding an apartment in LA isn’t easy, and I would be stuck in hotel probably for a long time, and the hole in my pocket will get wider and wider.

I guess it’s a good thing. I guess it’s a positive thing. But sometimes I feel that If only I didn’t have all this information. If only I didn’t feel the need to read all these user comments about all these hotels, I would be blissfully unaware of anything and perhaps decide much faster. I mean, all this information is supposed to help me decide faster, but it causes the exact opposite. Because I don’t think there’s an ultimate truth. Now, of course if EVERYONE says that a certain place is crappy it probably is, but what about those places where some say it’s crap and some say it’s awesome?

There’s just too much information these days. And you know what’s really irritating? That yes, sometimes you can absorb all that information, and make good use of it, make an informed decision, feel like you’ve beaten the system, feel like the king of the world…

And still get fucked.

Inventory

When I go through the final preparations before travelling to the U.S of A (on my Tourist Visa, mind you, after all that work-related fuss), I find it a bit overwhelming. There’s a lot of stuff to do, but sometimes I find myself sitting on the couch and staring at the TV, unable, or unwilling, to do anything. When I think about it, I realize that there really aren’t that many things to do. A few phone calls here, some buying to do there, but not that much.

It’s just that I’ve lived so long inside a cocoon, that the change of pace wears me down.

For the past several years, it was mostly work, home, work, home. I didn’t go anywhere, I didn’t even take a fucking vacation, so this is certainly exciting and scary at the same time. Travelling to other places, plaves where you don’t necessarily know “the rules”, and be an outsider, and all that.

Well, fuck it. I’ve always been an outsider. Maybe it would’ve been even harder if I had dozens of friends, childhood friends, or if I lived in the same town all my life, but that’s not the case. I don’t like being the new kid on the block, but sometimes you don’t have much choice.

I’ve got so accustomed to my little world: My apartment, my TV, my bed, my daily routine, that it seems unthinkable to disturb them like that, make them vanish. I’ve even got accustomed to the cat. It will be very hard to leave her behind. It kind of breaks my heart a little.

I’m a man of habits, whether I like it or not, and habits don’t go hand in hand with big changes. And that’s another thing: I don’t like changes. They make me uncomfortable. I have this constant battle inside me: There’s the guy that wants everything to stay the same because it’s oh-so-comfy and nice and sweet, versus the guy that demands that I get off my ass and stop bitching that I’m miserable and stuck in a rut and try and do something about it. Because bitching is so easy and addictive, while getting up and actually, actively do something about it is so hard.