Math is unavoidable. Making a fuss about it isn’t.
At some point in my life, I fell from ahead to behind. In most of school from elementary through early college, I was the youngest kid in class, and for whatever reason, the last to hit a growth spurt. Which meant I was the runty pipsqueak that got knocked out of the way on the playground while others ran up the jungle gym, looking down at me from a giant perch and calling me “kid” as they didn’t even bother to say “watch out.” I can’t explain the growth spurt (I’m a happily lanky 5’10″ish now) but the age thing came by a manner of birth circumstance: the cut-off date to enter school in our area of NJ was Oct. 1; and I was born at night on Sept. 30, just a few hours shy of midnight. So that made me usually the youngest kid in the entire grade, which meant I was also the last among our friends to get a license senior year (thanks for all the rides, guys). It meant that when I went off to college I was still a meager 17, for the first month or so, which was fine because at GW all the freshman just went out to clubs because DC is a swampy wasteland after 5pm and there was crap else to do.
So I made one good-faith effort to Make Friends and Go Out with my neighbors from the third floor of the dorm, only to be (expectedly) turned away at the door of the over-18 club (which was maybe The Spot? All the DC clubs run together in my brain like diseases in your roommate’s medical textbook you scanned once out of boredom). I put up no fight, turned on my heel and headed back with the few other not-yet-18s, feigning disappointment that I couldn’t make it past the door. We went back and watched Saturday Night Live and I never attempted to visit a club again. Continue reading →
“We’d each ordered curry, and when the young waitress came back to ask about the food, McQueen pointed at the B-grade health-inspector placard in the window, joking, in his hurried London accent, that it deserved an A.”
“I met Renata Adler on a cold December day – actually, on 12/12/12, a date that spawned mass weddings and superstitions – at the Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York. We realized within minutes of being seated that the plan was a mistake. Over endlessly echoing, impossibly loud lunchtime noise, we ordered Bloody Marys and the briniest mollusks and agreed to just treat lunch as lunch.”
This list above is the last few stories from FreeWilliamsburg, via my RSS feed. A symbolic and ubiquitous coffee chain finally makes a move, a generationally significant sleek and pricey technology store eyes the nabe (for its first Brooklyn location), while a punk rock vegan fast food restaurant gets priced out and a music store (a music store) gets in trouble in a Brooklyn neighborhood that once was full of young people for being too loud with its guitars and noise singing and etc.
I had this strip pinned to my wall for most of elem/middle/high school.
Confession: Though I like to think of myself as a born with ink in my veins newspaper nerd, and actually delivered our local newspaper for about two years, I never read much of the paper until well into high school. We had two that came to our house — the showy Asbury Park Press and the much smaller and more modest (and less newsy) Ocean County Observer — but I’d usually just give the front page a once over (to “see if any wars broke out overnight,” as I’d tell myself. Oh how innocent and peaceful you seem, mid-90s!) and then dive right to the comics. I looooved comics hard, in that proto-obsessive way that I’d later apply to The Simpsons, the later Arrested Development, then Scott Pilgrim, Doctor Who and eventually a relentless pursuit of tattooed girls who weren’t interested in me in Brooklyn dive bars. This was (we’d later learn) at the end of the last golden age of newspaper comics, so I’d first devour Garfield, then the subtle absurdity of The Far Side, plus Curtis, and, of course, the subversive and endlessly imaginative Calvin and Hobbes.
At the time I treated Calvin and Hobbes like any other strip, save for the particularly elaborate Sunday panels. It was only later in high school and into college I began to see Calvin as an ADD-addled Holden Caulfield of sorts, a kind of bulwark trying to stand against the oncoming waves of nonsensical adulthood.
In connection with the release of the new documentary Dear Mr. Watterson, I wrote a story for the Post about the cult of Calvin and Hobbes and why its influence has remained so potent — particularly, I will say, among our generation, the late 20- and 30-somethings whose pliable young minds were ripe to be molded by the suspiciously smart Calvin, even as creator Bill Watterson faded into seclusion and never released another drop of Calvin art, or gave more than a hint of what caused him to remove himself from the spotlight. In that story, two things got cut from the final copy, so I want to talk about them here: Continue reading →
Scenes from an actual September birthday on a Monday night.
On Sept. 13, 2013, I declared birthday bankruptcy.
I sat in my apartment completely overwhelmed by the night’s schedule of birthday parties that lay ahead, including at least two in honor of very dear friends, of the can’t-really-make-an-excuse-to-miss-this variety, and two more held by peripheral friends, of the kind that you try to hang out with in because you’re always in the market to meet strange people in new scenarios when there is booze involved. But sometime around 9pm, looking at my looming Facebook events notifications and text invites, I pulled the ripchord on this birthday night freefall and decided to abandon the ride and go for none, spending the night instead making dinner with my roommates who, mercifully, have birthdays in the spring.
That night was merely the low point in my birthday bankruptcy considerations. Continue reading →
I have, at several points in my life, found myself on the precipice of addiction to various things, real or imagined. Here are the top 5:
There were two times in my life where I actually craved a cigarette, at least craved one not just in that drunk-freshman-year-trying-to-impress-girls-who-wouldn’t date-anywhere-near-the-upper-echelons-of-my-family’s-income-bracket way. The first was during my brief but fruitful stint as a waiter at Darryl’s restaurant in Raleigh, a job I interviewed for mere days after 9/11, which is not a cultural benchmark to this story as much as it is just a relative note about how stressful and emotion-consuming time it was. That was amplified by (though no way on the same level as) the personal turmoil I was dealing with, having just quit school at GW after two years, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was all wrong, that the school did not feel even close to right for me, and was at risk of sucking me into a future of politics and polo shirts, incomparable student debt and friends who only liked you for the K Street connections you might have. Continue reading →