Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We Don't Have To Change At All

as any fule kno

When I was a kid we moved constantly. I went to a different school every year until I was in 7th grade. As a result, a lot of the artifacts of my childhood don't exist, as there is no attic to contain them. The guide to North American Mammals that I fetishized and read in bed in our house in Ithaca, the volumes of Peanuts anthologies, the MAD magazines, the football sticker albums and Dandy and Beano comics from our time in London, all gone.
One thing that survived our many moves is a dog-eared paperback copy of How To Be Topp, by Geoffrey Willans, wonderfully illustrated by Ronald Searle. Written in the voice of Nigel Molesworth, the "Curse of St. Custards", this book encapsulated a 1950's British schoolboy sensibility that, as a kid in the late 60's, was still very much in evidence at the public schools I attended in London. Actually, my school experiences were still touched by a post war mentality, from the damp outdoor "bog" replete with carbolic soap, to the shepherds pie and rice pud with treacle doled out by the dour lunch staff, right down to the "six of the best" punishment meted out with a cane by the sadistic headmaster Mr. Pickles.
Molesworth was an important icon for me, and I carefully extracted the minutae in the writing and drawings- "Hello clouds, hello sky", "utterly wet and weedy", "you could not lift what the french call a 'concombre'"- this helped me build up my database of British pop culture, along with the Jennings books, Daleks, Captain Scarlet, Jackanory, Ken Dodd and the Diddymen, all with the aim of avoiding being beaten up by the budding skinheads I went to school with, who suspected I might be from somwhere else because of my accent- somewhere else like Scotland.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Halal Philly Cheesesteak pt. III

Yummy junkfood scrumptiousness

Halal Philly Cheesesteak pt. II

UPDATE: My Facebook friend Tara Misenheimer at the Halal stand!

At the stand cleanliness is Job 1.

Halal Philly Cheesesteak

I've been enjoying our local Halal stand's take on the Philly Cheesesteak, with the hot sauce and white sauce usually reserved for gyros and chicken and rice platters.
This particular stand does everything well, but doesn't get the sort of notoriety reserved for the midtown carts.
The clientele consists mainly of the construction workers building the extension to the 7 line, a few gallerinas, and the odd postal worker or Martha Stewart employee.
The gyros and rice platters are excellent, and cheap, all less than five bucks. The falafel is outstanding, but it's the "Philly" that takes the cake. I wonder if back home its known as the Almaty Cheesesteak.

The Train Always Wins

I've been deeply disturbed on my commute recently by the lack of common courtesy and flaunting of the unwritten rules of commuting. I use Metro-North twice a day during rush hour, commuting 30 minutes between a sleepy Westchester hamlet-on-Hudson and Grand Central Terminal. I say "unwritten" rules, but actually these rules are often announced by the conductors: refrain from loud cell phone use, no bags on the seat (I plead guilty to this one, but will always remove my bag if somebody wants to sit next to me), and no feet on the seats. This last rule is the one that everybody seems to have forgotten, and which seems so obvious- I have to put my ass on that seat, often in light colored pants, and I really don't want your shoe detritus attached to my trousers seat.
I consulted the MTA Rules and Regulations page on their website, and was unable to find my particular grievance clearly stated. I found a couple that were close:
Section 1085.5 Prohibited uses.
No person in a terminal, station or train shall:
(a) block free movement of another person or persons; lie on the floor, platforms, stairs or landings; or occupy more than one seat;
(h) vandalize, injure, deface, alter, write upon, destroy, remove or tamper with the facilities or trains, including any facilities under the jurisdiction of tenants or permittees;
But really, the reason I am even posting this is because of this gem I discovered on the MTA's oddly quaint website- The Train Always Wins.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I know MJ was born in 1958, but he was still 50, my age, when he died. I was thinking about the other famous 50 year olds that made an impression on me growing up, and the guy who I always identify with is Johnny Mac. McEnroe embodied our snot-nosed generation, particularly the snot-nosed punk/brats we were in the late 70's:

I also have a soft spot for Ms. Nastassja Kinski, another snot-nosed brat, here in classic awkward/narcissist actress mold on Letterman in 1982:


Casanova's Chinese Restaurant

Just finished Casanova's Chinese Restaurant, the fifth novel in Anthony Powell's 12 volume cycle A Dance To The Music of Time. I first read these books when I was in my early 20's, so they obviously resonate differently under the prism of age. There is so much about the rhythm of the Dance: the coincidences, the reappearance of characters, the comic and absurd tragedies, that reflect one's own experience as a person in middle age. Next up: The Kindly Ones.

Missing Mammatus

We missed the mammatus clouds over NYC tonight, lying in bed in our suburban paradise, post-storm. The sky was red, but the "bumpy clouds" eluded us. Hail, yes. Torrential rain, yes. Lightning, yes. But no mammary-like ice clouds.