Being the random thoughts of Greg Tito, age 29.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

A lunch hour in New York

I've expounded before on the wonders of napping during lunch. And I still do grab at least 20 minutes of nap time most every day. But there are sometimes days when I have to get some errands down in the alotted hour of time in the middle of the day. These tasks range from getting my haircut at a place that always seems to play men beating up other men (Also known as the Ultimate Fighting Championship) on the tvs all day. to buying that new dork book that just came out.

Today's assignment: Buying supplies for a (very) low budget digital film shoot tomorrow.

This was a challenge. I had at least two stops to make, over twenty blocks to walk, and only an hour to do it. I left my cubicle at 12:01pm, hoping to get back by one so that my coworker could go on her lunch date with her Indian friend. I didn't actually leave the building until 12:08pm, however, because, while waiting for the elevator, I had a sudden urge to move my bowels (2nd time today!) which may or may not have been due to the mexican pizza I ordered at 10:11pm last night.

Feeling several pounds lighter, I emerged onto the Manhattan streets at Park and 50th. I had a lot of ground to travel as I had to make it to Madison and 40th. Here's my secret weapon: I walk through crowds faster than a hippy gets high on Earth day. Which is Ironic because, unbeknowst to me, Vanderbilt Ave between 47th and 42nd was closed to car traffic because of, that's right, the Green Apple Music Festival which coincides with Earth Day. Tactical error #1 on my part was to actually walk through the music performance by some chick at a piano and the countless corporate booths giving away free stuff while telling everyone how Green they are (while, of course passing out enough flyers to choke a small blue whale.) I managed to get by the meandering hippies, average new yorkers (smoking cigarettes and blowing it in the hippies faces), and the urge to wait in line for a free Google totebag. Ooh, teh shiny!

I made it to my first stop, Film Emporium at 274 Madison Ave., Suite 204. I know what you're thinking and no, much to my chagrin, it's not a nudey booth place. My mission here was to get DV tape stock and I was surprised to walk in to the premises to find, not shelves of merchandise, but miniscule cubicles with people slaving away at them. My first response when the fat, bearded, balding and pony-tailed guy (yes, comic book guy works here) looked at me was to ask, "Is this retail?" He assured me I was in the right place and I received my 5-pack of panasonic Master Mini DV tapes after he took a short trip into the back room. I can only assume what goes on in that room, but I think that's where they film the amateur porn we have all come to enjoy on the interweb. While he was charging my card, I noticed a flyer advertising the fact that this place also sells film insurance. Talk about your one stop shop. "Get all the supplies you need to insure your film is good." They would never sell malpractice insurance at a medical supplies store. Why do it here?

A timecheck after leaving the Emporium reads 12:32 (I lost 2 minutes going back up to retreive the information for my next stop which I left on comic book guy's desk.) I was doing all right, timewise, and I hoofed it over to 46th and 3rd Ave. where Tudor Electrical Supply Co. is located. This stop was more of a crapshoot. I found the address on Google maps after searching for Lighting supply stores nearest to my workplace. I had no idea if they had what I wanted or if they even existed.

I walk in to a very cluttered, but large, store littered with opened and unopened boxes of lighting bulbs, fixtures, lamps and other electrical mumbo-jumbo. 3 guys are clustered around two messy desks somewhat in the center. They are immediately friendly, which is odd, but then I notice the open bottle of Southern Comfort on the desk and the styrofoam cups around it with their names sharpied on.

"Been that kind of a day, huh?" I said to the guy with dark hair, moustache (which doesn't look creepy for some reason) and glasses.

"The funny thing is, it was that kind of day yesterday." He pauses. "And the day before that. And the day before that."

I genuinely laugh and ask the guy about what I came for. I explain that I was looking for something portable to light a subject in a car while driving. After saying he had nothing like that, I eventually track down a 6 in. battery operated flourescent tube. I buy two of those, 2 300 watt bulbs, 2 200 watt bulbs and batteries for the fluorescents.

While ringing me up, the other guy at the desk (bald, grey, looks like the sports talk guy from Frasier) mentions queitly to moustache that they should ask me for a ting. I play dumb until the happy black guy comes up and picks up the bottle of SoCo. "You down for a ting?" he asks. "Sure." So they pour four double shots into four styrofoam cups. Happy black guy hands me one, "Don't drink it yet," he warns. When everybody has their drink, they stand and hold it out, as if making a toast. They then touch everyone else's cup saying, "Ting, ting, ting," and down the shot. Happy black checks my work, "Good, he said ting." They put down the cups and continue working. I pack up my bags, bid them all good day, and hit the streets with a warm belly of Southern Comfort.

Timecheck reads 12:51pm. Just enough time to stop and grab some lunch on my way back to the office. I weave through the crowd, the hot blonde in tight pink sweat pants walking her tiny dog (also wearing pink,) the Grand Central Partnership dudes picking up trash, the middle-eastern guys selling halal meat and falafel in the lunch wagons. I'm only stumbling a little bit due to the liquor eating away the first layer of my empty stomach. But it feels good. I love New York right now.

Carrying a fresh Subway (foot long honey oat, ham, swiss cheese, onions, pickles, olives, jalapenos and Southwest sauce) sandwich, I arrive back at my cubicle at exactly 1:03pm. Not bad. One hour. Mission accomplished. Shots drained. Sandwich eaten while writing this blog. Now I just have to wash my hands, fill up my water bottle, and begin the day again.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

4:20, dude!

Today is 4.20.06.

This morning I resisted a strong urge to call my boss and tell him to fuck off, I'm staying home. As I snoozed for the 7th time, I daydreamed about doing nothing but enjoying the bright sunlit day. I would make a pot of strong coffee, sit on the stoop, comtemplate the movie contest I'm doing this weekend and maybe smoke a little. There would be delicious chocolate eggs left over from Easter and maybe I'd make a home-cooked meal for once. (living in New York, it seems the only things I eat now are steak fajitas, peanut rolls, and a concoction that Rain Delay and I have perfected: Ramen made with a can of soup, including the MSG packet.)


The damnable alarm went off sounding like some deaf doctor's demented beeper and I stumbled into the shower at 9:11am, where I'd have to bust my ass to get to work on time. Leaving the apartment, I was millimeters from locking myself out of the house without cell phone, wallet or, duh, keys. I mean the door spring clicker thing was touching metal. I walk out of the apartment without one of the aforementioned items on a daily basis, sometimes making it all the way to the subway two blocks away before I have to go back for, say, my cellphone. But this was the first time I was about to leave the house with out ANY of them. I should have known something was up, that the gods were aligned against me. After some bad train luck and an annoyingly long ride on the 4 train which involved a family of black kids screaming goodbye to somebody, I strolled in at 10:05 realising that I also left my ID at home. Where I should have stayed this morning.

It's only when I got to work and saw the date on my phone. 4.20. The day when stoners are stoners, men are men and women are women. I first heard about 4:20 in college, when it meant everything about smoking pot. I made fun of those kids, the uber-hippies with beeswax in their hair and smelly pits whose parents dropped them off in an SUV. 4:20 was the police code for dudes in the act of smoking pot, it was the number of chemicals in marijuana, it was the day bob marley died, I heard various reasons for why 4:20 was synonymous with anything pot-related. It was always a joke to me, though, it was a stereotype unto itself. I'd refer to someone in tiedye as 4:20, anyone who had the munchies or was suddenly paranoid. "4:20 Dude! I'm so hungry, what's that noise, is that the cops?" Anyone who said 4:20 without irony was an idiot, perpetuating their own negative stereotype.

But here I am, stuck at work, and all I want is a big fat bowl to smoke when the clock hits the appropriate time. Which is going to be 6:37 tonight when I get home.

6:37 Dude!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Random thought

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only person in my gym who's rocking out to Weird Al's "Theme from Rocky VIII."
"So today, his deli comes first.
Still he dreams of his past days of glory.
Goes in the back and beats up on the liverwurst,
All the while you can still hear him say:

It's the rye or the kaiser, it's the thrill of one bite.
Let me please be your catering advisor.
If you want substitutions, I won't put up a fight.
You can have your roast beef on the rye,
Or the kaiser."

Wise words from a man who knows how to ski.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Life After Work World

I saw this poster taped to a tree outside my apartment in Brooklyn yesterday. The pic is from the signon screen for World of Warcraft, which I've seen countless times, but the caption is something new. As far as I can tell, the artist isn't trying to sell anything. Perhaps it's some private joke amongst hipster-nerds, trying to get a few laughs from their friends who wait for the bus to Greenpoint. Or maybe it's a public service advertisement lauding the wonderfulness of WOW. But it could just be that someone was moved to make an image and tape it to a tree. I offer it up to you, the discerning internet audience, to decide. I just think it's cool that someone did it within ten feet of my front door.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Anatomy of a Road Trip

I love to drive.

There is nothing more satisfying than cranking up whatever stupid song is on the radio (or my creative nowadays) and singing/screaming along the road. It's a therapuetic thing, spending quality time with yourself and performing for no one's sake but your own. The road offers an endless supply of entertainment for me. From checking the foliage or crazy sky formations, to people-watching, to trying to find that dream house, to determining the quickest route between two points, I enjoy it all.

The five years I lived in New York between 2000 and 2005, that was only one thing I lamented about city life. I wasn't able to afford a car. Actually, I couldn't afford the freaking insurance. I don't know why some companies charged over $4000 a year to insure a crappy car in Brooklyn. Who cares if the borough has one of the highest frequencies of grand theft auto (the crime, not the game) in the country? There's no way a sane working-class human can afford that shit.

But in December 2005, several planets aligned to let me own a vehicle. My generous brother was in the market for a new car and was fairly certain he wouldn't be able to get very much for selling his 1989 Volvo station wagon. So he let me have it. Upon checking inurance quotes, I realised 3 things which drove the price down considerably.
  1. I was over 25.
  2. I was married.
  3. I had no moving violations in the past 5 years (this was because I hadn't owned a car, not because I was a good driver. More on that later.)
After pushing the paperwork through the annoying bureaucracy of Geico, the DMV, AAA, and the Polish guy who passed the Volvo through the NY State inspection, Sparky took up residence on the streets of Williamsburg. The name comes from the various wires poking out all over the interior, remnants of my brother's various wiring projects. He's a fiesty bastard, Sparky, but he kicks enough shit for me to love him.

With the myriad of public transportation available in NYC, I always thought that owning a car was a superfluous endeavor. I WAS DEAD WRONG. My life has dramatically changed for the better since Sparky came into it. It's easier to get around with a car. I still take the subway to work in Manhattan, but if I have to go to a basketball game, or play D&D at night I always drive in. Parking can suck, but once you master the basics of cutthroat space scanning, you're fine. I know exactly how long 10 feet from a fire hydrant looks from a block away.

And Sparky makes weekend jaunts so much easier. In order to go to the nearest beach that wasn't Coney Island, we would have to take the subway to Penn Station and then ride an hour on the LIRR to make it to Long Beach, where meatballs white hats and skanky women (not that bad of thing really) abound. The return trips were never fun, sitting on a far too heavily air conditioned train in wet shorts while rubbing aloe into your badly burned face. But now with the car, I can drive to Jones Beach, suck in the morning sun and get back to the city while hopefully avoiding the traffic on the LIE.

I like that I have a Volvo station wagon, too. I had a bunch of friends in high school with old volvos and I will always associate them with being 18 and reckless. They have so much character. Boxy but good. And they fucking last forever. When my brother gave me this one, the odometer read 289,000 miles. That's a lot of freaking miles. After almost a year and a half, it's got 298,400. I've said that all I want to do is break 300,000 and then Sparky can die a happy death. I think one good road trip might do it.

Which is what this blog is all about. This weekend, a couple of friends and I are departing on the next great road trip of our young lives, or The Death of Sparky, whichever comes first. My only plan was to go south and chase the sun. We've got a place to stay in DC on Friday night, and then it's up in the air as to where we'll end up. I see myself on a beach in VA as the sun goes down on another Saturday. Whereever it is, it will be somewhere I've never been before, and that alone is a reason to go.

This week we'll make the preparations. I bought a case of oil (Sparky's been drinking the stuff lately,) and a wiffle ball bat. I'll throw a few tee shirts in a bag and my digital camera will have all it's memory sticks clean. There will be plenty of reading material and all three of us will have our mp3 players. I'm sure somebody will bring the evergreen and the road sodas. After work on Friday, we depart for destiny.

And we're not coming
back till the 'meter reads 300k.