Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
There are many frequent oddities in New York City. If you ride the 4 train, you may have stumbled across “Train Man”, the self-proclaimed subway superhero whose superpower is his ability to mimic the train noises (He’s actually pretty good). Or perhaps you’ve encountered the almost-naked cowboy of Times Square as he struts around, not playing his guitar. Maybe you’ve even grown so accustomed to the woman who stands on Williams Street and repeatedly asks for what sounds like either ‘water’ in a heavy Philly accent or ‘quarter’ accent-free, even though she always has both a full purse and bottle of water, that you grow anxious on the days she is absent. The longer you’ve lived in NYC, the less shocked you are by such experiences. For me, I have grown fairly accustomed to the strange things people say and do; there isn't too much that fazes me. That is, except for the costume people...
The costume people are those who opt for a profession which consists of dressing up as a random cartoon character, super hero, or animal, waving at tourists, and taking photos. The assortment of characters is impressive; I've seen Elmo, Dora the Explorer, Bugs Bunny, Spiderman, and even this weird looking penguin that sometimes dances. But, despite this creativity in costume, the idea seems as ridiculous as those people who paint themselves silver and pretend to be statues. And for that, I am still surprised, confused, and slightly weirded out.
I think the strangest thing about these costume people is that there is actually some type of market for them; I see them EVERYWHERE. So they are clearly earning some cash and judging by the exponentially increasing number of them, they must be doing it well. But I still don’t understand how this is a successful business operation. I mean, we all know that the tourists are the ones who fund all of this, but I just don’t see why anybody would want a picture with a person dressed up as the flamboyant, purple Teletubby (Tinky Winky for those of you who are familiar with the show) in some nondescript area that is not Disney Land or Universal Studios or anywhere you generally expect to find such characters. I don’t know about you, but to me, TInky Winky doesn’t scream New York City the way, I don’t know, something like...maybe that giant, green woman who sits in the harbor and holds a flame all day might....just a thought.
But, it's not just the idea of the costume people that is weird, it's their behavior as well. Those costumes are bulky so it’s not like they can be carried around like a laptop when commuting to work. Instead, the costume people transport their costumes by simply wearing their costumes. So, just as someone commutes to his or her office in business attire, so too do the costume people commute in costume. It’s quite a sight to see Mickey Mouse sitting quietly on the subway reading the morning paper. Equally as surprising is to catch a costume person on a cigarette break. Charlie Brown will saunter to a street corner, lift his pudgy little arms, and without warning rip off his own head! Then a small, sweaty human face will poke out of the robust costumed body and take a deep inhalation.
Several weeks ago, I witnessed not one but two costume people on a cigarette break. I was lucky enough to overhear their conversation, as follows:
Winnie the Pooh: (in thick Brooklyn accent) “Yea this fucking guy won’t leave me the fuck alone.”
Shrek: Nods, takes a deep inhalation of a cigarette.
Winnie the Pooh: “He's trying to cut my fucking balls off here, and I’m just like fuck off asshole, you know?”
Shrek: (Deep gruff voice) “Shit man, that's rough.”
Winnie the Pooh: “You're telling me.”
And with that, Winnie the Pooh and Shrek flicked their cigarettes, replaced their respective heads, and walked away, all the while waving at the tourists and shouting out greetings behind those never fading cartoon smiles.
I just don't get it.
Monday, May 3, 2010
What is the first image that comes to mind when you think of NYC? I will say, based on no official research whatsoever, that most people would mention landmarks: The Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Times Square. Others would probably recount frequent NYC sites: mountains of garbage, bakeries that specialize in cupcakes, lots and lots of people. Maybe a few would even be more specific, relaying a memory of that single moment in Central Park, or describing a favorite Vietnamese Restaurant on Doyers Street or reciting, verbatim, the absurd and highly frequent subway announcements. For me, the answer to this question is simple: Nuts4Nuts.
Though these ubiquitous carts are mobile, they have nonetheless become a permanent fixture in the NYC streets and thus a permanent fixture on my mind. That particularly delicious scent emitted from these carts is like no other. It wafts throughout the streets, moving like one of those visible, odorous plumes that you see on cartoons. And then that plume enters my nostrils, and instantaneously, I am salivating like Pavlov's dogs. No matter the time, the place, the level of my hunger or complete lack thereof, when my olfactory sense identifies the source of this mouthwatering smell, I really want those nuts. In fact, you could say I do become a bit nuts for those nuts. (Speaking of that, why use 'four' instead of the grammatically correct 'for?'What does four have to do with nuts? Maybe there are four different flavors of succulently covered nuts? Or they use four different types of nuts? Maybe when this ingenious idea began, there were only four carts? I just don't understand the pun)
And yet, despite my raving, I have never actually sampled a nut from Nuts4Nuts. Why? I have absolutely no idea. When I began asking my fellow city dwellers their opinions of the nuts, I discovered that they too were in a similar position. Though none of them analyzed the oddity as much as I did, they could not tell my why they never tasted the nuts. How bizarre! Why do we, who all live within a 2 block radius of any given Nuts4Nuts cart, deprive ourselves of such a delectably fragrant snack?
After much thought, perhaps a bit too much, I have come to realize that, just like anything else in life, expectation and actuality are not always the same. I, and perhaps others, live in the idea that the Nuts4Nuts nuts must be the best tasting nuts in the world, simply because they smell like it. Though such a statement could be entirely false, these nuts could be nothing more than average, mediocre at best, I would rather forbid myself from ever trying them then risk the disappointment.
Besides, taste is 75% smell anyway
Monday, March 8, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Occasionally, the atmosphere becomes thicker than usual in my office. Tension, anger, frustration, irritation weigh down upon us causing everyone to fidget uncomfortably, until suddenly, an audible cry of dismay, accompanied by a series of curses, sounds through the cubicled halls. And with that alarm, the rest of the employees follow suit, until the office reverberates in a cacophony of bitching. Fingers are pointed, threats are made, people are ridiculed, camaraderies are destroyed. The scene is worse than the bloodiest of battles.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Peter Gibbons may be my hero at the moment.