Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sign O'The Times

As I walked out of Grand Central Terminal on Friday on my way to work I saw something that, as the memory of it lingers, makes me more and more sad and is a barometer of just how economically messed up this country is right now.  There was a man on the corner dressed in a suit wearing a sandwich board.  With all the promotions that go on outside of GCT it's not an unfamiliar site.  There are always people flyering you and handing you samples of some new product.  

This one was different.  

I didn't stop to to read the entire thing, but the man was in his mid-50's and the first line of the writing on the sandwich board was "Almost Homeless."  The next few lines were about how he was some sort of manager who lost his job recently and he was handing out his resume to anyone who would stop and take it.

9 hours later when I was headed home, I could see him from across the street.  Still wearing the sandwich board and still handing out resumes.  At least I saw someone stopping and talking to him and hope that maybe he got a lead or an interview and hopefully won't be "Almost Homeless." for much longer.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I’m constantly amazed and annoyed by the people on the subway.  Not so much the other riders, though often I can’t stand them, but more so the people who take advantage of the captive audience.  The Preachers, the Musicians, the people supposedly raising money for the homeless.  Do they not realize that they are catching us at what is usually the worst part of our day and when we are quite possibly at our least charitable?


There are those that feel the need to just preach and spread the gospel for their entire ride, on the way to work.  Usually older women, you can never spot just which they will be.  But I can only imagine that after they exit the train they go off to their jobs working in Accounts Payable and no one who works with them realizes how they spend their commute. I often have the same preacher at the same time almost every morning who speaks/preaches in a voice that is vastly different from his speaking voice and I’m not sure if he realizes it is quite a comical one at that. 


One day I got on the subway and spotted someone who I just knew to be a Preacher.  Just before he could begin, he was pre-empted by a new entrant into the competition for captive commuters’ money, the Comedian.  While not very funny, the Comedian carried on with his shtick and I watched the Preacher open his mouth and then stop.  He then worked his way to the door near me and I could hear him grumbling the entire trip to the next stop about the Comedian, and I have to say his words were not exactly what you would wish to hear from a supposed man of the cloth.


This summer the Mariachi Bands were plentiful on the rails, all of various skills.  When heading to Yankee Stadium one Saturday this past summer, I took 4 different trains and was subjected to 3 Mariachi Bands.  That is easily 2 Mariachi Bands too many for any day.


The only ones I’m always impressed with are the young kids who will get on, place a boombox down, and in the small amount of available space, put on an acrobatic dance routine without touching another soul.  Their flipping, spinning on poles seems all the more impossible and impressive due to the fact that they are performing on a moving platform that is prone to sudden lurches and stops.


It is because of all these people that I never ride the subway without headphones on.  I never have music on so that I can hear what is going on around me and whether there have been train delays and just to keep track of what is going on in general on the train.  But I never take them off so that I have the excuse that I didn’t hear them.  This started because every now and then you get the crazy person who just wants to be heard and often is aggressive.  It is better to pretend you don’t hear them and are not aware of them then to have them get in your face.


I suppose I should be tolerant, but when it’s early in the morning or I’m exhausted after a long stressful day at work, the last thing I want to deal with is someone else forcing themselves upon me.  It makes me long for the days when I commuted to Connecticut on a real train every day, where I could just sit and read in silence.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Subway Snapshot

Not that I'm a subway spy photographer or anything... but when I saw this guy with his little dog with its hat on... how could I not take the moment to sneak a photo and share it. I believe he was on to me, so thank god for the iPhone where you can be "using an app" or "looking for a song" and actually be surreptitiously snapping away. Seriously... how can you not want to take a picture of an older guy with his little dog in a hat in a mesh baby bjorn type carrier?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Punky Brewster All Growed Up

So I was on the subway coming home last night when who got on with her boyfriend? Punky Brewster! Or at the very least someone who idolizes her. I was particularly taken with her shoe selection which the photos don't quite capture... one hot pink patent leather Doc Martin and one green leather 20 hole Doc Martin. Her bag was also excellent... it featured tiny Twinky the Kid and other Hostess characters of a bygone era.

Everyone on the subway was staring at her... as you can see this lady to her left:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I Know It's Wrong...

Everytime I see this stop smoking ad (every morning in my subway station) I always think for the briefest of seconds that she's flashing me a gang sign.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Subway Hell

This morning I had one of those experiences that start the day off in such a way as you know there can be no good to come of it. I should have just turned right around and went back home.

1. No A/C on my 40 minute subway ride.
2. When I got a seat, the girl next to me decided that a crowded subway in the morning is the ideal time and place to remove her nail polish and put on a new coat.
3. A female crazy/subway preacher yammering on about God and Christ and us Sinners for 40 minutes in the background. I had forgotten my headphones at work on Friday so I couldn't drown her out.

Now at work I feel a bit sick and to top it off since I took Friday off there is so much to attempt to catch up on.

If you are ever on the subway in the morning and come across this trifecta... flee.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Only For Use On A Fire At An Art Museum

So a while ago I saw an article on a technology site about how to turn a fire extinguisher into a spray paint can of sorts… or a flamethrower. Here’s one such how-to article:

Just yesterday I was walking down the 3rd avenue and at 10th street I saw my first fire extinguisher tag:

Messy… but huge and pretty cool.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Grand Central Casting

I have started playing a new game on the subway to pass the time. I cast my fellow travelers in a movie based purely by their physical appearance and/or demeanor.

It started a couple weeks ago on the way from Brooklyn to Manhattan with my Fiance in a train that was about 1/4 full. I looked at one man sitting a few seats from me and realized that he would be perfectly cast as the "Gruff But Loveable Father Figure." It made me then take a closer look at my fellow straphangers and start placing them in their various stereotypical movie roles.

Two 18-22 year old girls sitting near each other, but not with each other. One of them Jewish and conservatively dressed reading a textbook, the other black and more stylish, reviewing what looked like work for school. I immediately cast them as the 2 "Bickering Intellectuals Who Can't Seem To Get Along Or Agree On Anything But In The End Realize They Are More Alike Than They Thought."

Across from me was a thuggish dressed young black man with a big build who would immediately be cast as the "Guy From The Wrong Side Of The Tracks That Eventually Sacrifices Himself To Save Everyone."

Also in the train at the time was the "Prissy Beauty Queen", "Nerdy Dead Meat", "Hysterical Mother", "Weaselly Traitor", "Frightened Children Who Go Into Shock", and "Goofy Best Friend Who Dies At The Beginning Of The Third Act."

Not everyone gets a role, those that I don't cast end up as extras.

Myself? I'm cast as the hero of course, with my Fiance as my love interest.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Oh The Places You'll Go

Spotted in front of Grand Central Station:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Living Among Giants

Even as a little kid, New York City had a grip on me. It wasn’t like the suburbs or anywhere else that I was allowed to spend time. The train ride into the city, or the drive when you first saw the top of the Empire State Building off in the distance. It was just magical. It was a place of giants.

From the time I was very small, I would get an adrenaline rush at the very idea of being in this city. My Father was always the one to bring me here and it was his love of this city that not only fueled my own, but thrilled me to no end. It was as if he wanted to make sure I could experience some of the sights and sounds and go home carrying memories embedded into my very being.

He succeeded.

I thrilled at the times when Dad had to come to work on Saturdays. It was always for just a couple hours but I loved to go with him. I would bring some books and other items to keep myself busy and we would go into his office building down on Water Street, right beside the South Street Seaport.

When we got there, Dad would go to his desk and before he started working would give me a dictation mini-tape recorder. There was nothing cooler, circa the early 80’s you could give a kid to play with. Well, there was one thing.

The entire floor of an office building.

There would be no one there but my Dad and I and I would run laps around it. Peer from every window. Tape record my footsteps. I would look at what was on peoples desks and maybe borrow a pen if I needed it.

To a small child, the floor of an office building is just about the ultimate playground. I would attempt to use the phone or sit in important peoples desks and pretend that I worked with my Dad. Then, as now, I can imagine anything cooler than working with him.

I can still remember standing and leaning against a window, gummy bears (which were new to the US) in one hand, and peering countless floors below me at the tiny people and cabs and cars. Wondering what they are all doing and how important and happy I was to be way up in a building, higher than I had been outside of a plane.

When Dad would finish his work we would go to the South Street Seaport which was still home of the Fulton Fish Market back then. It would smell a bit, but then you would burst through the dead fish scent barrier to a wondrous outdoor mall area. It was full of people and food and activity and my favorite at the time, street performers. If my Father would have let me I would have watched them forever.

In the past 28 years of my life I’ve only spent 5 of them not living near or in this city. I’ve lived in NYC for 10 years now and love this city like I could no other. It is a city that can still instill in a 36 year old man the thrills and emotions that excited him as a little child.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Overheard and Overseen

Older Man: Hey... Wait up!
Older Woman: What is it? My feet cold!

In Dunkin Donuts line, a line of chat on a well dressed man's Blackberry Pearl:
"Whatever. I was waiting to see if bitch tits was going to come with."


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Day With The Dead

Ever been to a morgue?

I have. And not just any morgue.

The Bellevue Morgue.

You know… where the random people and the crazy and the homeless end up.

Needless to say it was a tad sobering.

Back in the late 90’s, I think it was in the year of our Prince, 1999, I was working on a photo shoot for Details magazine. Details was going to be having their annual “Movies” issue and had this idea. Let’s get a script by a screenwriter and shoot it as a fashion spread, using sub-lebrities.

How sub-lebrity were they? Well here’s a list off the top of my head who got to star in this:
Billy Zane (as the lead)
Buster Poindexter
Saffron Burrows
Lisa Rinna
Rose McGowen
Isaac Hayes
Paul Sorvino
Tom Arnold
Traci Lords
Denise Richards (who is key to the morgue)
And a host of others that make no sense in 2008.

There are many stories from this shoot from such joy as having to rush to get Paul Sorvino’s pants dry cleaned in 2 hours, Traci Lords snubbing the Editor in Chief of Details by turning and talking to me (a no one on set) while I was lugging cables one day on set instead of talking to him, to having to pick up Tom Arnold at the SoHo Grand… but none have stuck with me like the morgue.

Back to the morgue.

To get to the morgue you have to take an elevator down and then navigate through a series of hallways to it. The room was fairly big with the refrigerated doors with rolling trays for people like you see in the movies around the walls with a bank of them in the center of the room, dividing it in two. There were a couple rooms off the side, one of which had a door open and was filled with plain pine boxes.

We moved in like a small army. It was interesting mix of people, fashionistas and photographers, lighting guys and PA’s, not the types you’d expect to be hanging out in the morgue.

We were to be shooting a scene in the morgue that had Denise Richards lying on a refrigerated tray as one of the “victims” in the story line. They had made sure one had been emptied for us when we got there so she would be fine to lay on it. We weren’t to open other drawers. Not that I wanted to.

As we’re all setting up on one side we began to hear a noise from the other side of the bank of refrigerated drawers.



I look around the bank and see the morgue workers stacking body bags. Full body bags. With people in them.


They were stacking them one on top of each other on gurneys and wheeling them away. It sent shivers through you to see them and think that those were people.

We ended up finally setting up the shot and Denise (who was dumber than one of the corpses loaded on a gurney and fresh off the Starship Troopers set) got situated in the drawer. The photographer then had an issue of some sort and we had to wait around for 20 minutes while they made a decision. It was cold in there, very cold and Denise was wearing only a tank top and jeans laying on a stainless steel tray. Eventually I went over and asked if she’d like a jacket while we were getting everything sorted. Her response, “Oh, yeah! That’d be great.” I then reminded her in the future to ask for such things. I’m sure she does now.

Eventually we got the shot and all the important people got out of there with a quickness. As I stayed behind with some others to pack up equipment we struck up a conversation with one of the morgue attendants. He explained the filing system for bodies and how the colors of the cards on the trays let you know from a quick glance whether that tray holds a child or adult body.

He also told me something that has stayed with me to this day and I obey.

He said told us how bodies are held there for 2 weeks to be ID’d or claimed and then they are put in the pine boxes and sent to a potters field to be buried as John and Jane Doe’s. Once he learned that he said he made sure that he always has his ID on him when stepping out of his house.

Now, I do too.