Seen on the back of the women’s stall at Ogilvie Transportation Center.

You better watch out for those purses. They can be very dangerous.

Chicago Sign

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So you know how when someone cuts you off in traffic and goes slow or comes to a stop you get really mad and say things you probably shouldn’t? And then the person who committed the offense then honks their horn at you, gives you special hand signals and yells at you?I mean, I don’t know what that’s like…I mean. It’s never happened to me…

Uh…anyway. So I was walking down the street today and a guy came out of a restaurant with a big pizza box in his hand. He walked directly towards me. Now this is nothing new in this city. You get very good at defensive & aggressive walking in order to get places.  Normally when someone makes  a b-line for you, you assume they will slip past you either in front of you or behind you. No biggie.  No harm, no foul. And people are really quite talented at this.  Only every once in awhile is there a collision, a myriad of apologies are handed out, each party makes sure the other is OK, and you continue on your way. So you would imagine my surprise when on a fairly empty sidewalk, this guy walked toward me, and turned to walk directly in front of me at about half the pace I was going.  I actually ran into him because I couldn’t stop fast enough. Out of shock more than anything else I said, “Oh my gosh. Really?” After nearly bowling him over with my endowed chest region (he was half my height, but yet a grown man) I got around him. But then, as I passed, he started yelling at me! “You need to f%$*g learn to walk down the f&%#$g sidewalk.” He said some more stuff but I was so dumbfounded by the absurdity of the situation, I actually laughed. I mean, really? who talks smack to someone they feel was walking poorly down the street. That’s just retarded.

Beauty in the Subway

June 15, 2009

A few nights ago, I was returning from a trip to see a friend perform in Greenwich, CT. (His name is Jeffrey Tucker. Fantastic bass if you’re looking for one:) Shameless plug for a dear friend).  My train arrived at Grand Central at 11:20.  I arrived at the apartment I’m staying in at 1:00. Yes, that long for about a 10 mile ride. Oh the joys of public transportation. Anyway, that is not the point.

I transfered to the A train at 42nd Street, and as I descended the stairs to the platform, I heard a man singing funk and old school R&B with a guitar. This is nothing odd because you hear such performances all the time in the subway.  But as I approached, I noticed something odd. That something odd was an asian man in his mid-50’s improvising with the guitarist on a flute! I didn’t think I would ever hear Mustang Sally played by guitar and flute in my lifetime, but hey there’s a first for everything.

I walked by nonchalantly, trying not to pay attention but stood within clear earshot of what was going on because that’s what every cool New Yorker does and since I’m a cool New Yorker, I also shall play the game.

Well, as I stood there being cool (and subsequently bored because the train wasn’t coming), I heard other voices jump in and sing. I turned around and a black man in a business suit and a hispanic man in kakhi’s and dirty-from-the-day polo on were singing along with the black man on guitar and asian dude on the flute. And they were singing! I mean, really getting into it.  And they were just guys waiting for the train.  This intrigued me some and I began to watch.  A crowd began to draw around the man performing. Even the most hardened New Yorkers began to take notice.  I finally just gave up and thought, “This is stupid and boring to be a hardened New Yorker. Why not just be me. And “me” feels like going over and watching and listening”. So I did just that…with a HUGE smile on my face, which I found to be very contagious.  The train wasn’t coming anytime soon, so everyone on the platform gathered. Suddenly, another voice entered the mix. A white guy had just come down the stairs and was singing – and he was good!

I stood there basking in the moment of seeing all types of people from all walks of life coming together on a subway platform in the middle of the night at 42nd Street, the heart of New York City, the hardest city in the world, to sing, watch and dance to what had started as just a man and his guitar.  The joy from this man radiated to pierce even the hardest heart in the place.  He even played “Shout” and had grown men dancing and raising their hands and singing “Shout”. I mean, the guy was gifted.

And for 25 minutes, while we waited for the ever slow A train, we all had a period of pure joy brought by the universal gift of music.

After that, it just didn’t seem to matter to me how long the commute was.  I experienced something very beautiful at midnight on the Subway platform.

Pimp my ride

June 8, 2009

Late last night, walking down the street with a friend in Inwood (this is where all the action is folks) we hear the honk of one of those old car horns that has the round end that you sqeeze and makes that “old car honking noise”. Yeah. So I’m not explaining it well. But suffice it to say, I was expecting to turn around and see a bicycle approaching. Imagine my surprise to see a motorized wheelchair approaching us.  But this was no ordinary wheelchair. This chair was pimped out.  A canopy had been built over it with an American flag attached, wallpapered with bumper stickers, neon lights and flashing digital lights on the back.  My friend and I both stopped, dumfounded, looked at each other and said simultaneously “Only in New York”.

I have yet again proven my point – I only have to be in Inwood a few minutes and I have blog worthy material.

Classy rejections

June 5, 2009

In my line of work one gets used to the massive amount of rejection.  It’s all part of the game.  And the rejections range from not hearing back to getting nice letters saying how nice it was to hear me, I’m just not the right fit for this season, we’d like to hear you again, good luck in your future endeavors blah blah blah.  But at least they have the courtesy to be nice and confidential. There is one famous opera company whose rejection letter is the same to everyone.  Basically they say  “you don’t have enough professional experience and we only hire people who do.” Really? Is that why you hired that 19 year old and sent me, the one who has actually performed on stage, a rejection? At least have the guts to say, “you suck and we just don’t want you”. I’d rather that than this B.S.

So I thought I’d seen it all until this week.  The company shall remain unnamed, but it is a regional one that I’ve had a beef with in the past and questioned why I was even auditioning for them. I’m such an audition whore.  Anyway, the audition was fine, but this week the email came:

Greetings all,

I apologize for the mass email, but this is the most efficient means of communication these days.

We appreciate your auditioning for our 2010 young artist program, however, we cannot offer you a place in the 2010 program.

We wish you all the best in your future endeavors

Um. Ok. Wait. Back up. The email just said “greetings all”. Who else is reading this? My bird and pet turtle? This is an email to just me, right?  Oh…wait…no…you didn’t…you did.

Yeah, um, the sender didn’t bother to Bcc: anyone. Oh no. All the names and emails of those rejected were in the To: field for all to see.

Oh, now that is classy.

As time passes, we like to fancy ourselves with the notion that we have become more civilized.  While we do have flushing toilets and don’t die from the common cold, the fact that we are reduced to name calling for those we consider to be our foes just goes to show that perhaps we aren’t quite as advanced as we pride ourselves to be.

Case in point. Politics.  It seems like now the cool thing to call your political foe is a “fascist” and claim everything they are doing is leading to “fascism”. I heard it throughout Clinton’s administration, Bush’s and now Obama’s. So in the pursuit to get our expression of opinions and ideas as civilized as the flushing toilet I’m sharing what I have learned. You can then decide for yourself if the person you disagree (or agree with) really is “fascist”.

According to the Webster Dictionary:

1 : a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

According to the bastion of all knowledge, Wikipedia:

No common and concise definition exists for fascism and historians and political scientists disagree on what should be in any.

According to the Library of Economics and Liberty:

As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer. Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the “national interest”. Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities…  Entrepreneurship was abolished. State ministries, rather than consumers, determined what was produced and under what conditions.

Under fascism, the state, through official cartels, controlled all aspects of manufacturing, commerce, finance, and agriculture…no economic activity could be undertaken without government permission. Levels of consumption were dictated by the state, and “excess” incomes had to be surrendered as taxes or “loans.” The consequent burdening of manufacturers gave advantages to foreign firms wishing to export. But since government policy aimed at autarky, or national self-sufficiency, protectionism was necessary: imports were barred or strictly controlled, leaving foreign conquest as the only avenue for access to resources unavailable domestically. Fascism was thus incompatible with peace and the international division of labor—hallmarks of liberalism.

I found some other sources, but these definitions summarize the others pretty well. So you take a read and decide for yourself if someone or something truly is fascist – and you can also decide if you like it or not.

Critical thinking is as good for our brains as flushing toilets are for our bowels.