Rules are rules


I’m meeting an old friend for dinner at Angelica Kitchen (yes, no possessive) and arrive early. I ask for a table for two, and the hostess tells me I have to wait for the rest of my party.

“Can I then have a table for one? It comes to the same thing,” I say, gesturing to at least three people sitting by themselves in tables for two.

“Sorry, it’s policy,” she explains. I give up and spend the next fifteen minutes reminding myself that without rules our world would descend into chaos.

Don’t judge a book by its readers

A girl in college once told me she thought that people who liked the same bands could probably be friends. Her sentiment struck me as terribly naïve, but it’s taken me two decades to question my own assumption that people who like the same books share a sensibility.



Last week my wife and I went to see the formidable Barbara Ehrenreich speak at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. You might know Ehrenreich from Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, her much-celebrated and controversial book about the ordeals of blue-collar workers, but I love her for Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, in which she stomps all over our country’s favorite panacea. In short, Ehrenreich’s a bad-ass. Which is why I was so surprised by the kind of people that made up her audience.

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Sorry I asked

As I wait for the train at Queensboro Plaza I see a young woman on the platform trying to make herself heard over the noise. I can’t make out what she’s saying, but it’s clear that she’s asking a question. Everybody is ignoring her.

cordsI notice that she’s holding a few brightly colored cords in one hand that seem to match the colors of the subway insignias (green for the 456, yellow for the NQR, red for the 123, etc.), and assuming she’s asking something MTA-related, I walk up to her.

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A disturbing peek into my psyche

Here’s a sad story. When the weather allows, I like to take a break from work and visit the Strand’s kiosk in Central Park. While there, I methodically browse through all the books on sale, starting at one end and making my way to the other without skipping a single book. But this isn’t the sad part!

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The sweet sounds of sweat

After a recent vacation in Yucatan in which we encountered an alarming number of Hemingway lookalikes loitering shirtless on the beach, I returned to New York resolved that my resemblance to literary figures would end at my Sartrean eyes. I signed up at the local YMCA posthaste to join their Pilates classes.

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An eye for an eye

At a recent night out with another couple, we followed Indian food with a nightcap at Rolf’s, a German restaurant. (Thankfully the ethnic leap was mitigated by the bartender, who was Bangladeshi.) It’s not often that I get to talk about my literary obsessions with a willing participant, so I drunkenly tried to keep up my side of the conversation about comic novels with the husband—not an easy task in my state, considering that after two drinks I forget names and after four I forget adjectives, and I was somewhere around my fifth.

The man in the mirror

The man in the mirror

As I strained to convince my companion of the virtues of the great Dawn Powell without the benefit of recalling her name, I caught my reflection on the mirror behind the bar. Even from a distance I could see my right eye was noticeably off alignment, as it invariably happens when I’m tired or, as in this case, sauced.

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Fear of flying (to Texas)

It stands alone for good reason

There’s good reasons why it’s alone

The whole thing started off badly. I forgot that Fran Lebowitz had rescheduled her talk at BAM when I scheduled a visit to my parents, so Sabine had to give away my ticket to a friend. The day of departure I woke up at 4:30 in the morning and arrived at the airport an hour and a half early. Then as I stood on the security line half asleep I overheard three college bros behind me talk loudly about beginning their day with a beer in that unmistakable douchey accent of theirs. I was on my way back to Texas.

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Losers weepers

After our recent success with pupusas, Sabine and I made tamales for the first time this weekend. This reminded Sabine of the time we had a party a couple of years ago when I went to pick up a big order of tamales in Woodside and got lost, missing the first hour of the festivities.

The thing is, after living in Queens for five years I’m still not sure which way is north. Although I’m well aware that in Manhattan the Queens-bound 7 train is headed east, in my mind it magically points north as soon as it crosses the East River.

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An epiphanous pupusa

Sabine was making pupusas, a sort of filled corn tortilla from Salvador. Usually when she cooks I might just help with slicing and dicing, but as the dish was Latin American I got more involved and started making some pupusas myself.

As we cooked, I told Sabine about my conversation on Friday with our company’s director of human resources. I’d gone to talk to her about year-end review stuff, but at some point the conversation took an unexpected turn.

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St. Francis of Sunnyside

I'm pretty sure this is not St. Francis

I’m pretty sure this is not St. Francis of Assisi

My brother told me that I should be careful about the persona I’m creating on this blog. “You’re coming across like Andy Rooney,” he warned. “Your friends might think it’s funny, but the people who don’t know you will think you’re a cranky old jerk.”

I see his point, so I’ll refrain from writing about my experience at Apple’s “Genius Bar” (gag) and instead I’ll write about something that shows me in a better light: my love of animals.

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