Saturday, March 31, 2007

Birthday Gift Idea #2

Once they invent the hoverboard for in honor of my birthday I am betting that they won't have all the kinks worked out, so I introduce to you Birthday gift idea #2: The helmet.

And even if they don't invent the hover board guess it could be used to not die whilst ridding my bicycle.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Is nowhere safe?

I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't know this was happening in my own borough. I've been to Coney Isalnd a few times and found its time warpped, un-disneyifcation refreshing and dare I say, even a little charming, even if it was kind of scuzzy.

Condos in Coney Island? Is no where safe any more?

Egg and Cheese on a roll: $1.75

I have a like/hate relationship with New York City. While I think that it is enormously overrated, It also, by virtue of being full of some many people, has a lot of interesting things to do, and it is a good place for my career for the time being.

That said I have never much warmed to New Yorkers themselves. There is of course no city wide identity of a "New Yorker" for it is a city of 8 million individuals (or some such bullshit).

Sure there are normal people in New York, kind people, funny, interesting, blah, blah, blah, but you don't interact with these people in your daily life very much so it's easy to forget that they exist.

Most days you come in contact with jerks on the side walk, jerks on the subway, jerks driving, jerks in stores. Basically 8 million individuals acting as if they own the joint, and hell bent on fulfill every "New Yorkers are rude" stereotype.

But something restored my faith in humanity a little bit this morning. Food street vendors. Particularly the man who owns the breakfast cart in 50th street between 6th and 7th ave. He not only sells delicious breakfast foods for very low prices, but always smiles and genuinely acts like he is glad that you are paying him money. In a world of self centered no shit giving and poor costumer service, his egg sandwich and donut cart is a beacon of shinning light. or something.

It's just refreshing to have someone not be a jerk in New York. This morning for instance, a homeless woman came to the cart while I was waiting for my egg sandwich, she asked for a coffee and donut and told him that she had no money. He said "no problem" and gave it to her.

I can't boycott all corporate chains, because damn those Frapicinos are delicious, but I bet that would never happen at Starbucks. I'm just saying.

* That is not the man nor the egg cart in the picture, that is in fact the only Native American street food vendor in New York who was pushed last year from selling his Mohawk food in the his normal spot by the city. But that's a whole other story. I just liked the picture.

What We Call the News

What we call the news indeed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Couldn't Give a...

The general opinion about Americans the world over (aside from we are fat, have no taste and are ruining the world) is that we are by and large a cheery, friendly, upbeat people.

Sure, occasionally back in the Midwest (and even in "we too cool to care" big city) people smile and strike up conversations with strangers, something that is a sure sign of crazy in many other countries.

I maintain however that we are not the grinning-happy-go-lucky masses that we to a certain extent even believe ourselves to be. We are in fact a country full of people who don't increasingly don't want to be bothered and couldn't give a shit. Myself very much included.
The anonymous nature of most of our interactions plays a huge part in this, providing us with all the safety of a padded suit and a ski mask to be bigger and bigger jerks.

A few recent examples:

When I phoned the corporate headquarters of an un-named company yesterday to inquire about using an image in an article, I was hung up on as soon as I said the name of the magazine. Naturally I called back, and the following exchange took place:

Me: "Hi I just called, I think we got disconnected."
Woman in charge of all calls coming into a major company: "No we didn't, I hung up on you."
Me: " Why would you do that?"
Woman: “Because you keep calling here and I'm sick of it.”
Me: "I have never called before."
Woman: "Well somebody keeps calling about subscriptions."
Me: "I'm an editor and I'm calling about using a photo in an article in our magazine, that's why I asked to speak to your press department."
Woman: "Oh, oops."

Yeah, oops. She just wanted to be left the f*ck alone, she didn't want to have to talk to me and figure out who I was or what I wanted.

Similarly, the woman last year who wished me dead, simply because it would make her job a little bit easier and she could get back to reading blogs or playing solitaire.

Or good ol' Spirit airlines, whose countless "customer service" representatives gave increasingly less and less of a shit when our bag full of Christmas gifts was lost stolen this past Christmas. (It is nearly four months later and they still don’t give a shit by the way nor have we received any money for our stolen gifts)

And then of course there’s me. I seem to be becoming a grumpy old woman well before my time.

Perhaps it’s because I’m new, or perhaps it’s a little bit of not shit giving on the part of receptionists, but a number of random calls get transfer to me daily. And whether it’s a high school or college student with a journalism project, a reader who can’t find a camera review from six months ago, someone writing a book about a photographer we covered in the 1970’s, or an advertiser, when I pick up the phone, the same thought is in the back of my head: “why can’t you just leave me alone!” I do my best to be helpful and answer questions, but really at the heart of it all I don’t think American’s, or perhaps humans really want much to do with each other.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

How to lose friends and alienate people

This seems like a really stupid idea. And even though it makes me want to vomit, I'm guessing it kind of works, only in the way that saying "hey I got some dumbasses to send me free stuff" can be considered advertising. Still if you are looking to get rid of some friends, or just look like a total douche, this is also a good way.

Birthday Gift Idea #1

With less than 30 days until the anniversary of my birth, I'm sure more than one person is racking their brains for gift ideas. Well I'm here to help, one word: Hoverboard!

I have been complaining for years that we are being lied to, I'm sure the technology exists to make one of these, and I know the demand is there. Even if it's not, when has that stopped anyone? I learn and write about tons of pointless, expensive gadgets at the magazine that people seem to think they can't live without, and I firmly believe the the Hoverboard is one of them.

So hear my plea Hoverboard makers: don't wait for Christmas or a re-release of Back to the Future, deliver the Hoverboard to AweseomeK this birthday season!

ps. I can wear normal shoes when I ride it right?

Taking away the maid's vacuum

Some yuppies have decided not to wipe for a year as a stunt to promote a book and I'm supposed to care.

The idea of lessening your impact on the environment is not noble, it's necessary. But the way they are going about it does more to hinder actual conservation than help it, and it's not like they can even pretned that they are doing it for altruistic means- they are doing it to promote a book, a blog, a New York Times article, they are doing it for fame. And the hook- the gross out factor that will make people want to pay attention is the silliest part of it: no toilet paper.

So they are trying to not make an impact on the environment by not using anything disposable: no more take out- good, canvas bags for groceries: good, but they don't live in the woods, so they make waste- I'm sure they still get mail, I'm sure the woman still uses tampons. And the ban on using any energy? Again misplaced. No cars: good, No TV: good, no elevators and no mass transit? silly (does 10 people instead of 9 on an elevator or 209 instead of 210 people on a subway make a difference? Hardly) And the candles don't make much of a difference when you are still running your washer and dryer.

Beeswax candles and smelly bums are not only a gimmick (used by people who still spend 75% of their days in front of energy sapping computers) but they make people think that changing your habits to consume less and contribute more are crazy hippie ideals that regular people can't/would never do. It makes for less flashy headlines, but Amanda Park Taylor's weekly "Conscientious Objector" column in the L Magazine regularly offers advice on things that people can actually do (like using less water and reusable bags for shopping).