Monday, April 26, 2004

talkin' loud (and sayin' nothin')

There are times whenever I'm driving between Amherstburg and Ontario where I've gone through all the CDs I brought along for the trip or the other drivers are too insane to take your hand off the wheel for more than a second to change the CD. Unfortunately, the radio landscape is bleak. Lots of signals come in at night, but most provide entertainment for all the wrong reasons.

Usually I can get away with CBC, but when the odd program sends my ears screaming, it's time to wander the dial. FM usually proves hopeless, one cookie-cutter, tightly-playlisted station after another. Over to the AM dial, where many a strong signal is wasted on nationally-syndicated talk shows. All these stations from far-flung locales like St. Louis, Philadelphia, Nashville, etc, which could provide interesting windows on what's going on in those locales. Still, I may stay on a station for a few minutes to see how much lower the pole has fallen.

Things you notice after checking out a few of these cheap air-fillers:

1) Those callers who froth the most usually reveal their ignorance of the subject at hand by getting their insult terminology wrong. For example, if you're going to bash someone for being too far to the left for your liking, the insult to use is "commie" or "pinko", not "Nazi" or "neo-fascist", which are more appropriate for the person calling in.

2) Every third caller will be an old grump who wants to the good ol' days, when food was bland and prejudice was

3) Every fourth caller is there to inflate the host's ego.

4) Most US talk show hosts sound as if they attended the William Shatner Academy of Dramatic Pauses. Through generous use of dramatic spacing, they can stretch an item that should take 30 seconds to read into a 5-minute melodrama. These pauses must be accompanied by a tone of outrage, no matter how small the item is.

5) Commercial breaks will contain no local content, unless it's a station from Soviet Canuckistan. The ad selection will always include Larry King promoting a pseudo-health product (all of which sound alike, be it garlic tablets or orange juice), death-related topics (funerals or wills) and Hooked on Phonics. If it's a particularly right-wing and/or religious station, add in promos from groups like Focus on the Family.

6) When there is a local newscast, the only stories covered will be the latest homicide/major arrest and the tiniest tidbit of news about (name of musician/fancier of chimps and children banned from this website).

7) When all else fails, callers blame the Jews/Muslims/Non-Believers/Feminists/ Homosexuals/Educated Elite/Illumnati/the guy who invented the parking meter/aliens from the planet Krang-Kor and other grand conspirators for all our miseries ("Yeah, Bob, first, may I say I think your show is the best! I just wanted to say that I stubbed my toe, but it's the Krang-Korians that caused the porn video, sent by them to tempt me into damnation, to be in the way. It's all a conspiracy, Bob!")

Monday, April 05, 2004

new york stories (3)

A little Big Apple housecleaning before plunging forward...

I sent the titles of the episodes of Hasta En Las Mejores Familias over to Kiersten for translation. These shows make a little more sense now, though still bizarre:

Show #1 - Mi pareja me hablo tanto de su amigo, me enamoré de él.
My partner talks so much about their friend that I've fallen in love with them (the friend).

Show #2 - Mi madre ama a su pareja y a mi me hizo a un lapo.
My mother loves her partner and she puts me aside.

Show #3 - Me gano la vida como payaso, pero mi hijo no me accepta.
I enjoy life as a clown but my child won't accept me.

Moving on...

Day 3
Me - Greenwich Village/Soho/Union Square
Amy - Soho/Upper West Side
Together - Curry Hill/Little Italy/Chinatown/City Hall

The split day, where we wandered off to do our own thing. Both of us avoided the St. Patrick's Day parade, but saw enough people decked out for it to get a feel for it. Lots of big green hats, makeup, buttons, etc. I might have checked it out, but for security reasons backpacks were banned (plus read some groups were prohibited from marching). Some Orangemen ancestors might have turned in their graves had we gone.

I started off by walking south on Lexington, towards Gramercy Park. Passed an armoury, where a group in Civil War-era uniforms prepared for the parade. Wound up at the park, the largest private green space in town.

Weaved over to Greenwich Village, first with a stop for a quick bite at Gray's Papaya. This must be the home of the cheapest meal deal in town - two hot dogs and a large fresh fruit drink for less than $3, the "inflation special". Headed back and forth along the side streets, using Bleecker as my home base. Snapped shots of several places Elizabeth and I went to last time, but never had to chance to shoot. Scored on several cheap books at a store on Carmine St whose name would normally make me flee in terror...

(image to be restored at later date)
There's a hint of a joke in there, as if it truly lived up to its name, several authors should not have been present (hello Robert Crumb).

Slowly ambled on in the snow towards Soho, where I ran into Amy, who'd been merrily window-shopping. We agree we needed a rest and headed back to the hotel to collapse for an hour.

We split off again - she headed to the Upper West Side, while I followed a lead on a CD store on W. 18th St. I'd never found a used that matched the fun of digging through my haunts in Detroit and Montreal. Flipped through the Yellow Pages, saw a large ad for Academy, decided it was a destination.

Finally found the gold mine. All I'll say is (a) they had a decent 4/$10 bin and (b) I walked out with the type of bag they usually give out at fashion stores.

We met back up for dinner and decided to sample one of the Indian restaurants on "Curry Hill". Ended up at Udipi Palace, which advertised itself as "Kosher Indian Veg Cuisine". Another hit, as Amy discovered she liked dosas (she had one with cheese, I had one with spinach). Used more caution in ordering than the night before, but still walked out stuffed.

To burn it off, we headed down to Little Italy, starting off at the same spot on Spring St we'd run into each other earlier. She gave into temptation for NY cheesecake and we stopped at a little cafe in the heart of the Little Italy strip on Mulberry. In middle of our dessert, two guys walked in who looked like they came out of a casting call for a Martin Scorsese flick. You couldn't have picked two more stereotypical-looking mob types. Dark suits, chat with the owner, gratuitous use of "capeesh"...all the ingredients were there. I stifled the impulse to go BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

After dessert, we continued wandering south, through Chinatown towards City Hall. Lots of security stations around the latter, giving the area an eerie feel. Only saw a few people walking by, began to feel like I was in a spy thriller with all the alleyways. Called it a night there, except that I got off at Astor Place to take one last look at Kim's. Walked out with two more DVDs. Lots of drunk students out in the East Village that night.

Had to get up bright and early the next morning to catch the train back to Toronto. The ride back flew by faster. Sleeping for half of it helped. We lost oour stretching room when we hit Canada, as our car was closed off. Wound up by teens who liked playing with matches. The smell was too much, so Amy snapped at them. We arrived on time, dropped off

FIN - JB, with help from AB, KE