Part Two Best Place to Spend a Rainy …

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Part Two

Best Place to Spend a Rainy
Day
Real World

Rockefeller Park

Chambers St. (Hudson River)

A Skank-Free Real
World
.
It was Thanksgiving Day, and it was raining. In four days
our life would be turned upside down, but we had no idea then that three months
in the hospital and seven more of laborious recuperation were in the cards.
All we knew was that we couldn’t have turkey, we couldn’t have pumpkin
pie, and that we were all alone. We felt like the only person left in Manhattan.
And then the phone rang.

“Meet me downstairs
in 10 minutes.”

We climbed in next to him
in the cab took off for the FDR. It was eerily quiet, neither of us had much
to say. The cabbie was respectfully silent, probably thinking we were on our
way to some kind of wake. He pulled up on Chambers St. and we got out. The drizzle
made his hair curl, and he took our hand. “I want to show you my favorite
place,” he whispered.

We walked toward the river,
hand in hand. When we reached Rockefeller Park, he told us to look left. And
we burst out laughing. Tiny statues of humanish creatures, funny faces, funny
poses, all made of some kind of copper. “It’s the Penny Park,”
he smiled.

Actually, it’s Tom
Otterness’ Real World, a permanent art installation since 1992.
The pennies aren’t real, but the metal is copper, and the tiny figures,
each doing some bit of realistic business (sweeping, lighting a lantern, pushing
a wheelbarrow) are just adorable. Even the mundane can be fun, can be life-affirming,
can be art. Even on a rainy Thanksgiving, when the self-pity is as thick as
the fog settling on the Hudson.

Best Reason to Avoid Third
and Fourth Stops on the L Train
The Old People

Senior Moments. “Keep
walking with that dawg!” she screamed, leaning out of her first-floor window,
honest-to-God waving her fist in the air. She’d repeated herself several
times before we realized that, yes, she was actually yelling at us. A man and
his dog out for the morning walk, 9 a.m., some midweek morning out past the
third stop in east Williamsburg.

“Excuse me?” we
asked, all sweetness and glowing with a knowing courtesy born of countless exchanges
with the similar old ladies by our former digs in Little Italy.

Once more: “Keep walking
with that dawg!”

Smile. Pause. Wait.

“I had to clean up
after that dawg last week!”

Huh? Sorry. Must be a mistake.
We pick up after him. Every time. Never leave his waste on the sidewalk. We’re
good neighbors on the block. Pride. Cleanliness. The whole Boy Scout business,
on and on.

“Keep walking…”

She was stuck in place,
so we turned away and continued the walk. The next morning, after our dog had
lifted his leg on a hydrant 15 feet from the decrepit dog-hater’s door,
we watched her emerge–nightgown, swollen ankles, varicose veins, a bucket
of soapy water–and wash down the hydrant.

Traditionally, in exchange
for cheap rents and large spaces, pre-gentrification homesteaders deal with
unsafe, unclean streets, and long walks to the nearest bodega. I’m not
saying that we 25-plus demi-hipsters out here on the third and fourth stops
of the L train are homesteading. Far from it, judging from the sky-high rents
and granola at Phoebe’s. We do have our threatening hoodlums, and plenty
of rats. But we also have old people who’ve been here forever. Whole fucking
blocks of them.

Like the self-righteous
cocksucker who–much as his neighbor across the street–went red with
rage after watching us putting the dog’s shit-filled newspaper in the recycling
can. “You can’t put that in there! It’s got shiiit in
it!”

Sweetness, courtesy: “Sorry,
but we thought it would still qualify for the recycling can.”

“But it’s got
shiiit in it!”

Okay. Okay. Sorry. Our mistake,
but an honest one.

Old fucking asshole. Old
fucking cunt. We try, you know? Try our best. We’re out here looking
for a neighborhood to settle into. We’re not loud. Not discourteous. Not
to anyone, especially not older people. We’ve had grandparents. Four of
‘em, as a matter of fact, and quite enjoyed their elder knowledge and occasionally
redundant anecdotes. In fact, at least one of them taught us the relationship
between giving and getting respect.

But the old folk out here
are pissed off. They seem to hate the influx of Manhattan expats and our willingness
to pay such ridiculous rents. Most of them probably don’t own their apartments,
presumably because they were too busy beating their children to save up for
the down payment. Too busy bitching about the Mexicans who moved in and ruined
the place. Too busy fretting the blacks who creep across the park and pass through
to Bushwick. They know that soon enough, with all their friends dead and the
Cranky Old Fucker Block Association a shadow of its former powerful self, we
youngsters with our dirty dogs are going to kick down their doors, drag them
into the streets and send them down to hell just a little before their time.
Our dog will piss on your grave one day.

Best Reason to Admire Architect
Hugh Hardy for Designing Something Other than a Theater Such as The Victory
Windows on the World

1 World Trade Center, 107th
fl. (West St., betw. Liberty & Vesey Sts.)

524-7000

Lomonaco’s Lair.
The interior space has to compete with the ace view when it’s not cloudy
out, but Hardy and his associates have provided a kind of lyrical and romantic
setting for that high-style good food. It’s almost unobtrusive until you
look carefully, and then you realize the skill represented by the plan.

Best Evidence that Big
Brother is Alive and Well
Why We Stick with Tokens.
The train was pulling in just as we reached the
bottom of the stairs at the 28th St. N/R stop. We weren’t in a terrible
hurry, and few things in this world look quite as silly as someone running for
a train, so we decided to hang out for a minute and let the rush pass. Unfortunately,
the small Asian woman at the turnstiles was in a hurry. And, as should
be expected at such times, her MetroCard wasn’t working. She swiped it
and swiped it and swiped it, uselessly, her frenzy increasing as the train doors
opened and people started piling off.

She glanced over her shoulder
nervously. We were standing between her and the token booth, watching the show.
Then, in an act of panicked desperation, she stooped down, as if to make a bold
dash beneath the turnstiles so she could catch her train. Before she made that
final move, however, she stopped, glanced back over her shoulder toward the
token booth again, the guilt clear in her eyes. She smiled sheepishly, then
stood back up to continue swiping her MetroCard as the doors closed and the
train pulled away.

Best Indication that New
Yorkers Are Conformist Twinkies
The Hipster at the Juice Bar

Wheatgrass Whitey on
the Wet-Noodle Barricades.
Maybe we’re just nostalgists, but it occurs
to us that you used to be able to hang downtown hipster triumphalism on a stouter
peg than the one on which we’re accustomed to seeing it hung in the year
2000. Maybe there’d have been a satisfying riot in Tompkins Square Park;
or someone had shot a cop, thus expiating the guilt of the fellow with the dredlocks
and the trustfund, so that he could drink beer in 7A with a more blithe and
unself-conscious enjoyment of his stupefying white-skin privilege. Or maybe
several whiteboys had torched a flag at a Public Enemy concert. We’re talking
back around ’87, ’88. The lines of demarcation were better defined
then. Hipster triumphalism was a clearer-cut phenomenon and it was, arguably,
a finer age.

These days, though–man
oh man. So there we were at our favorite downtown juice bar, soon after the
Democratic convention, listening to one of the guys behind the counter rhapsodize
about political matters. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, etc. And why?
Because of the news report that–get this–because of the report that
Al Gore was gaining in the polls. Because. Al. Gore. Was. Gaining. In. The.
Polls.

Yaaaaaaaaaaar, brah.
Yeeeeeeaaaaaah.

It was extraordinary. Homeboy
actually pumped his fist–pumped his fist–eased back all groovy-like
and moaned yeeeeaaaaaaah, maaaaaan

We’re Nader supporters,
ourselves, and it’s this sort of display of uninformed hipster political
aggression in the service of a right-wing tool and corporate bootlicker like
Gore that makes us slobber with despair into our wee, dear cups of macerated
wheatgrass; makes us want to haul off, cash in our 401(k)s and live out the
durations of our lives in a hut in Borneo, Buru or Kuala Lumpur, in each of
which we suspect there’s a more politically savvy variety of native than
you find here in NYC; a class of native who’s more nostalgic for freedom
than our local bourgeois bohemian, and where, besides, the ideological air’s
purer–more honest somehow–and one can breathe.

All of which is to reaffirm
the dominant centrist/whitebread political alignment of New York’s hipster
classes, for whom abetting a creep like Gore–who’s well to the right
of Nixon in significant respects–represents the quintessence of political
virtue. For some reason, supporting Gore passes for leftism–if
not around real leftists, at least in Manhattan, or much of it, anyway. What
a grimy little ideological joke. In the year 2000, the Village Voice–the
local Domesday Book of the bourgeois bohemian–is willing to sic Richard
Goldstein on Ralph Nader. Toward the hidden goal, we presume, of maintaining
the corporate status quo.

How gross. The complacency
of New York’s Whiteboy Syllogism–”I am, because of my choices
in pop culture consumption (not to mention the fact that I play bass), a radical
freethinker; I like Gore; therefore Gore is a radical freethinker”–stretches
here to its illogical limit and whines like a violin string in a heavy wind.
It never occurs to these people that their affection for Gore is predicated
on the fact that, in fact, they’re really conservatives, secretly and deep
down inside at their timid cores.

Best Fashionista Riot
The Manolo Blahnik Invite-Only Sample Sale

Caution: Vile Whitegirls
Shopping.
Easier to slip past St. Peter and into the gates of heaven than
into the Manolo Blahnik shop on sample sale day. An hour before opening, and
already the crowd’s assembled and radiating bad energy in front of the
gates: dozens of the sloe-eyed and pencil-hipped girls who represent the glossy-rag
secretarial/sartorial pool.

There’s that pushy
duo from the ailing beauty magazine, for instance–women famous for their
sharp elbows, excessive bickering, sour faces and constant bitching. They try
to cut; boos and hisses greet their arrival. “Ohhhh no, I don’t think
so,” a senior fashionista seethes, as the rude girls push their way
to the front.

Early morning chitchat yields
to uneasy silence. It’s like we’re about to storm the beach at Normandy,
except that no one vomits–at least not in public. And when the gates open,
it’s Pamplona. Panic, elation, selfishness, a certain remarkable female
viciousness–all are in evidence. Some women bring friends to guard their
swag piles as they themselves haul ass through the merchandise, scooping up
stilettos. Roughhousing, shoving. Ladies! Bitchy screeching. The ruder
women dismiss ill-fitting shoes grandly, sending the Blahnik staffers away,
barking requests for more boxes. The rules: grab as much stuff as you can lay
your hands on, regardless of size or style. Then, at work, pool resources with
the rest of your office group, hoping you’ll get lucky.

Alas, inevitably, most of
the shoes you grab are too small or too large for anybody, or in objectionable
colors that run a spectrum from mental-institution orange to Paisley Park purple.
So we end up empty-handed, but not–so to speak–empty-headed. Shoe
sale as metaphor: not with a bang, but with a hatchet-faced fashionista’s
greedy whimper. Besides, we can afford to pay retail.

Best Technological Disaster
Death of the Concorde

Nuts to the Man on the
Moon.
When an Air France Concorde crashed on July 25, killing all 109 passengers
and crew members on board along with four people on the ground, the sleek, supersonic
fleet of planes (shared by British Airways) was effectively history. Concorde,
which made the trip to London from New York in a mere three hours and 10 minutes,
was an enormous leap in mass-transit technology. Yes, the prices were dear (although
you could almost always find incredible promotional deals), but what innovative
breakthrough isn’t enormously expensive when it’s first introduced?
We remember a 300 dpi laser printer that cost $18,000 in 1988; 12 years later
you can buy a higher-quality printer, at about one-tenth the size, for less
than $750.

Class-warfare newspapers
like The Boston Globe were gleeful in their obits of Concorde. On Aug.
19, a smug Globe editorialist wrote: “Speed has always been the
driving force in commercial travel. Concorde’s retirement may be unique
in transportation annals for lowering maximum speeds. Supersonic speed has remained
a formidable barrier for most airlines, and no successor to Concorde is within
sight. So millions of air travelers will have to be content with moving around
the world at a pokey 600 miles an hour. Poor turtles.”

We trust that stupid, flat-Earth
opinions like the Globe‘s won’t deter engineers from continuing
the quest for quicker modes of transportation. It’s inconceivable that
the United States, which 31 years ago sent a man to the moon (for no discernible
reason other than to piss off the commies), can’t revolutionize everyday
travel, whether it’s airplanes or trains. Fifty years from now, when people
look back at the incredible number of automobile fatalities today and just shake
their heads, wondering why our society was so barbaric, we can only hope that
such conversations take place aboard a two-hour flight from New York to Hong
Kong.

Best Subway Station Snapshot
of Loneliness and Pain
Not Fast Enough, It Seems.
The overweight, unattractive 20-year-old girl
leaning against the pillar at the Astor Pl. 6 stop, quietly singing along to
herself as the incompetent keyboardist slowly picked out “Killing Me Softly”
on his Casio.

Best Look Adopted by the
Fashion Elite
Eastern European Refugee

Polish Fashion Joke.
The fashion elite that toils in the background, the stylists and photographers
who determine which looks from last season will make it into magazines and window
displays, are working a look these days that’s so parodic in its accuracy
that we failed to notice it until now. It’s not just the SoCal mullets,
the New Romanticism peasant shirts or the skintight jeans that inexplicably
sag at the ass. It’s all of these things combined into a look that’s
best described as Eastern European Refugee. Clothes so ugly in styles so unflattering
that you assume that no one would ever choose to look this way. We walk
around Greenpoint and can’t tell the stylists from the Poles. In Vogue‘s
September insert, “100 Best Dressed List,” Dazed & Confused
fashion director Katy England stares out like a just-fucked pixie, holding her
pit’s leash and wearing jeans she must have pilfered off a Russian teenager
for the shoot. “‘I kind of like the bat-wing thing at the moment,’
she admits sheepishly.”

Who can blame them? The
glossy suffragettes who were taking notes at Bryant Park’s shows have translated
the recycled kitsch-glamour of the runways into a depressingly tasteful version
of it, with suburban effete thrown in for good measure: midi skirts, string-tied
backless getups, Jimmy Choo mules. Every day we see these girls on the subway
and get disheartened by what French Connection and Club Monaco have done to
their sense of adventure. Rei Kawakubo introduced her fascinating, horrendously
grotesque “deconstructed” line only 20 years ago to this very New
York market. Where has it gone? The risk-takers turned 50 and have subsequently
discovered Donna Karan; the newest designators of “risk,” like punk-imitates-life
Stella McCartney, design their clothes with such reverence to prevailing market
diction that the clothes they produce settle into a muddled normalcy along with
everything else.

The inculcation of pretty
defeats the purpose of fashion, which at best should be ambiguous and at very
least should be a visual representation of what’s going on at the moment.
Think Kawakubo, but also Vivienne Westwood, or even the recent Fendi and fur
“ghetto fabulous” of Mary J. Blige, Lil’ Kim, et al., which may
very well be the only interesting thing that’s happened to fashion in the
past decade.

There’s nothing wrong
with style; the Parisian girls haven’t swayed from their clean sweaters
since Jean Seberg, and the Japanese girls continue to look like miniature drag
queens in their ankle-breaking platforms. The problem is that when New York
girls take their fashion so seriously, they end up looking like back-lot aspirational
whores on WB sitcoms. As for us, we’ll stick with our socks-and-heels,
our sheer dresses and our dirty hair. We may look stupid, but at least we do
it with love.

Best Place to Witness Random
Acts of Child Abuse
Ikea

People, Please! We
left home and the South at 16 to get away from overweight stepfathers screaming
at hysterical 11-year-old girls, while chainsmoking trash that under no circumstances
merit the title “mother” look on disinterestedly. It’s bad enough
we just spent two hours agonizing over whether we wanted the clear rose-petal
handles or the chunky, opaque, disco ball-looking jobs for our Visdalen chest
of drawers. Seeing you continue the asshole cycle in the parking lot afterward,
and knowing you, too, were agonizing over the Bialitt or the Prioritet desk
set is enough to make us go out and get fixed. That’s exactly what you
people should have done after first catching yourself treating anyone’s
child that way. May your assembly time be long and your kit incomplete! And
as far as the kids go, the next time mom’s husband says you’re spoiled
for wanting the Vikare bedroom you’ve been asking Santa for and then takes
mommy to Aruba over Christmas, break a leg off that Gutvik bunk bed and bludgeon
him with it! Provided it’s pooled from fellow shoppers, no jury in the
world would convict.

Best Way to Alienate
an Irish Bartender
“Say, You Guys Know Any Leprechauns?”
We’d been sitting at
the bar for a good long time, letting the afternoon stretch out into night.
It was a small, quiet place, and we’d been chatting with the bartender
and a few other patrons, most of them Irish. We’d been talking about various
events in the news, and various ridiculous things we’d seen in the Times
over the course of the past week, when the barkeep brought up a story from the
“Dining” section about the best ways, according to the Times,
to get the attention of the bartender when the place is busy.

As it turns out, naturally,
all of their suggestions were, in reality, a list of the worst possible
ways to try to get a bartender’s attention. Things like “wave money
in the bartender’s face,” or “Get his attention by yelling, ‘Hey,
Rich!’”

So then we all started talking
about other bad ways to get a bartender’s attention. We had more than a
few drinks in us by this time, so the brain was shutting down and the tongue
was starting to flap without any guidance.

“Our favorite,”
we announced, probably too loudly, “has always been that line from Kubrick’s
The Killing.” Our best friend, who had been sitting next to us,
and who knew exactly what was coming next, got up and left.

“There’s a scene
where a big Russian wrestler is supposed to start a bar fight,” we continued,
“so he slams his empty bottle down on the bar and yells, ‘How ’bout
some service, ya stoopid-lookin’ Irish pig
?!’”

All the eyes in the place
immediately dropped to the bar, and there was a long, uncomfortable silence.
Finally, the bartender, without looking up, said, “Well, moving right along
then…”

It’s always best, we
figured later, to put things like that in a little more context.

Best Tribute to Human Ambition
Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Mott St. (Prince St.)

226-8075

Nice Wall, Too. Just
compare the old St. Patrick’s church on Mott St. in Little Italy with the
upscale godbox next to Saks Fifth Avenue. One has the intimacy of the old European
town that generated the Roman religion, the other the glossy power-panache of
the newly enriched rulers of the American mogul kingdom.

Best Place to Live Like
the Cast of Survivor
West Side, betw. 42nd & 57th Sts.

“Reasonably Priced
Water (Gasp)…Reasonably Priced Water…”
Yeah, we know how it goes.
You move into your new place and it suddenly seems like you’re the only
person in NYC who doesn’t have a bodega and a juice bar and a video store
conveniently located right outside your door. But you don’t know real suffering
until you find yourself squarely located between W. 42nd and W. 57th. That,
friends, is true no-man’s-land. This is the part of Manhattan that has
no mercy for anybody stupid enough to live here. For this is the tourist district,
and those who live here understand that slow walkers are merely the start of
the torture.

You know, naturally, to
avoid Broadway and Times Square. So where does that leave you if you need to
run a quick errand? At the mercy of jackals. Need some aspirin? There’re
Duane Reades posted at the two extremes. In between, there’re overpriced
stores charging insane prices. Same with orange juice or fruit or bagels or
a simple heating pad. The shop owners don’t believe any natives frequent
this area. It’s all about poaching.

Maybe you just want to go
out to lunch? We hope you enjoy paying $8.25 for a ham sandwich, you goddamn
yokel who just might actually happen to pay taxes in this town. Don’t expect
any other basic conveniences, either. This is the one part of town where you
can’t find a TV Guide at the newsstands. See, everyone’s a
tourist. And tourists don’t buy TV Guides with local listings when
they’ll be back home by the end of the week. So screw you, Yankee.

Yes, there’s the occasional
oasis in all this lameness. But that’s all it will be: an oasis. The only
way to survive–in fact, the only way to take control of your life–is
to come in late for work every Saturday. Go uptown, go downtown, go anywhere
a human being can stock up on life’s simple necessities. Maybe you haven’t
brought your lunch to work since the interning days, but that’s all changed
now.

It used to be that this
island wasn’t America. This part of the island isn’t even Manhattan.

Best Bar Joke
Sucks in the City.
We love that old “Why the long face?” joke
as much as the next guy. But with HBO busy clogging up our streets with movie
trucks, nasty p.a.’s and craft services, not to mention a surfeit of celebrities
wandering aimlessly around town, we figure the new version of the joke goes
more like this:

A horse walks into a bar
and the bartender says, “Sarah Jessica Parker?”

Best Urban Legend in
the Making
So Let Him Reap.
We’ve seen him twice now, both times in the early
morning. Both times he was on that strip of grass behind the fence on the bit
of road that spans Central Park’s 96th St. transverse. The first time we
were walking north on the park drive bound homeward from the reservoir when
suddenly there he was–a guy in shades and street clothes, swinging his
arm back and forth in a semicircular motion that we didn’t so much recognize
as associate with something–but what? History? Mythology? The novels of
Thomas Hardy?–certainly with the archaic implement he brandished. It had
a name, if we could only think of it. A scythe! That was it! The fellow was
a reaper and those were reaping motions. A reaper, we thought. How rare a thing
to see in this great age of All Terrain Vehicles (we happened to be passing
one just then). A sudden thought struck, horrible to relate: the man had not
been wearing any sort of uniform. Who was he? What was his affiliation? Was
he a psycho, perhaps? Or just your average harmless guy with a scythe? We slowed
with the idea of turning and calling out something funny (“Hey, you don’t
look so grim…”) but when we turned he was just standing, looking after
us.

The very next morning, outward
bound this time, we saw him again. Same place, same man, same shades. Same scythe.
He wasn’t actually doing any reaping at that moment; he was just walking–northward–
presumably looking for something to cut down in its prime. We didn’t think
about it much going around the reservoir; heading home, though, we kept an eye
out.

But the solitary reaper
was nowhere to be seen. An abandoned Parks Dept. vehicle stood a few yards away
from where we’d last spotted him. We didn’t remember having seen anything
like that the day before. (That was a point–how had he got there, a man
with a scythe in the middle of Central Park?) All the way home we kept glancing
furtively about, now here, now there, expecting to see the reaper pop out from
behind some tree or shrub. But he seemed to have vanished as mysteriously as
he had come. Once or twice, passing other runners, we thought about issuing
some kind of warning (“Hey, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for
a scythe-wielding dude who’s either a psycho or an undercover park ranger
or an hallucination…”). But if there’s one thing we’ve learned,
it’s not to mess with fate. Either your number is up or it isn’t.

Best Moronic Educational
Objective
OU812.
You’ve probably heard a lot about charter schools lately, how
they’re the perfect alternative to the shoddy public schools and their
tenured teachers marking time until retirement. How they’re going to bring
back the basics, the neglected three r’s. If you’re like us, you might
even have believed what you heard. Until we got a glimpse of our neighbor’s
reading material on the subway the other day. It was the curriculum plan for
a brand-new charter school.

The first “objective”
(education-ese for goal, we think) in the math section was certainly ambitious:
“Students will develop a sense of numbers.” We didn’t really
care to learn more after that, and neither, we suspect, will the kids.

Best Miscarriage of Justice
The Kimes’ Sentencing

Any Mother’s Son.
This is the third year in a row the Kimes’ case has made the New York
Press
“Best of” issue, and, sadly, it looks like it’ll probably
be the last. Unless they make a fantastic jailbreak involving helicopters.

Crucified in the press and
railroaded in court, “mother and son grifters” Sante and Kenneth Kimes
never had a chance. Are we just ignorant over here, or is “circumstantial
evidence” not supposed to carry much weight in a court of law–especially
when there’s no proof that any crime has been committed? Yet on the basis
of nothing but circumstantial evidence, Sante and Kenneth were given 120 and
125 years, respectively, with no possibility of parole. And for what–for
being small-time hustlers with big dreams, or for just being kind of creepy-looking?

It all goes to further prove
something we’ve come to accept: If you’re rich, famous, good-looking,
you can kill whomever you want, however you want, and not have a thing to worry
about. But if you’re a little scruffy and shifty-eyed, look out.

People who have dealt with
the Kimeses directly say that they really are crazy as june bugs. And we’re
not about to deny that they’re both lifelong grifters, with a trail of
petty crime that crisscrosses the country. But this trial wasn’t supposed
to be about that. This was Columbo territory–a murder-one case with no
body, no physical evidence that showed that any harm had been brought to Irene
Silverman, no confession, no nothing. All they had was a motive–and if
that’s all it took to put them away forever, then we’re all in a great
deal of trouble.

Best Linguistic Chasm
Goal!
We had taken a day off Thursday, and, before returning to the office
on Friday morning, stopped at the coffee cart, the way we did most every morning.

“Where were you yesterday?”
the coffee man asked when we dropped our quarters on the counter. “I missed
you.”

“Oh,” we explained,
“Took a day off. Played hooky.”

“Oh!” he exclaimed,
a little too excited about this, we thought. “Where did you go?”

“Went down to Coney
Island,” we admitted.

“Really?” he asked,
still a little too excited. “You like hockey?”

“Ummm…” we hesitated,
not really following this train of thought.

“Me, I love soccer.
I love all sports!”

We smiled, took our coffee
and went in to the office. It took about two hours before we finally understood
what the hell that was all about.

Best Place to Witness “Prosperity”

Commune’s Block

The Hot Spot for Urbane
Rubes.
Commune really should have been just another banker bar. It’s
close to the Park Ave. S. strip of bridge-and-tunnel restaurants, and attracts
the same clientele–basically Wall Street boors and trophy secretaries looking
to swap ogles for cosmopolitans–as places like Angelo & Maxie’s
and Lemon. It was born to be yet another spot where thickened fratboys can pick
up flocks of girls dying to stick their heads out the sunroof of a stretch limo
and go “Woooooo!” all the way back to Yorkville.

But somebody else got picked
up along the way. Maybe it’s because Commune isn’t as close to Park.
Ave. S. as it is to Broadway, and Broadway in the Flatiron District is (at least
according to that billboard) where Silicon Alley starts. Not to rush to judgment
and blame dot-commers for making Commune one of the hottest nightspots in summer-2000
New York. Thing is, someone anointed that hole. It was definitely a troupe
of clueless white brats with tons of money that wasn’t here four years
ago, and we don’t know of any other.

Who else tries to enjoy
a night out in Manhattan with nine friends? Seriously, now, how many times does
a new New Yorker have to try going out on the town with more than four other
people before realizing that roving parties always end up on some sidewalk,
drunkenly negotiating where to go next, for half an hour? You can walk across
E. 22nd St. between Park and Broadway any night of the week and encounter three
or four of these ridiculous scenes. Eleven tipsy officemates, three or four
times over, equals too many stupid dot-commers to ignore.

Nobody else is insecure
enough about their own wealth to be impressed with fucking bankers! Never mind
the nightly back-to-prom auto show, the passe infatuation with cigars, champagne
and cellphones, the womanizing exploits carried out expressly for the sake of
locker-room talk, and all the rest of the childish behaviors you’d think
the Fast Company set would consider beneath them. What about the fact
that overpaid cubicle jockeys were getting trounced by macho jarheads like this
just a few years ago, in Columbine-ish high schools? Give a mouse-monkey a few
stock options, and he’s weak at the knees over a chance to share a communal
table with one of the Jovan-scented masters of the high-finance universe. Herds
of dot-commers are yearning for freedom from the modicum of classiness bred
into them in striving commuter enclaves, because even that smidgen would demand
sensible use of the pile of venture-capital cash that’s falling into their
laps.

And so every night is Saturday–just
like college, only without homework, and with a cult of designer-label whores
taking the place of the cheerleader sorority. It’s turned a sizable chunk
of the Flatiron neighborhood into another Bleecker St., but the children who
made it happen don’t even know. They never figured out how to live in a
city (no matter how many extra signs Commune posts, a bunch of brand-new SUVs
get towed every single night)–how to save money or to spend it with style,
how to choose a restaurant, or negotiate a crowd, or go on a date–because
they didn’t have to. So welcome to the era of the urbane rube. Now it’s
Manhattan’s character that supposedly doesn’t matter.

Best Way to Spot a Dot-Commer
from Williamsburg
Flipflops

When Your Souffle Collapses,
Wear Florsheim.
Everyone tells you how scary brilliant you are when they
see your latest Flash work, or hear how you negotiated the six figures and
a signing bonus. Sure, you’re working from home, that’s great. Honest.
Working from home is swell–we’ve done it–but our mother does
it too. We’re not terribly impressed by your big, big brain. It’s
fucking New York City, don’tcha know. There are a lot of us smart
people around here, and thinking you’re at the far-right-end of the bell
curve is embarrassingly postcollegiate.

The flipflops are killing
us. That and your sense of entitlement. You on the L train Bedford St. platform,
standing with your homely smart-girl girlfriend, wearing flipflops. Then, you’re
at the bar waiting for your table, cellphone-etc.-etc.-etc., basking in the
glow of your accomplishment. Your privilege. This is your New York City.
You’ve grabbed it by the horns, and by God you’re winning! Well bully
bully. But fucking flipflops?

This isn’t about not
keeping up with the times. Fashions come and go, but our problem with your flipflops
is different. We get it. We know what it’s about. We hear your statement,
and we think it’s ridiculously contrived: “No suit for me, man. No
ties. Not even khakis and a woven leather belt. Fuck those working stiffs. Fuck
the system. Fuck it all! I’m not even wearing real fucking shoes, man!
Fuck casual Fridays, dude. Every day is casual day! My father wore a suit
every day for 134 years, and he’s still wearing one in his coffin. Not
me! I ain’t no chump. I’m not even wearing real fucking shoes,
man!

We can’t wait to see
all your inflated worth–both fiscal and the self- kind–collapse like
the hollow compliment it is. The Web economy’s going down, suckers, and
our New York City–the one we knew when we got here–is
gonna treat you like yesterday’s whore du jour. You’ll be wearing
flipflops because it’ll be the only footwear you can afford after a good
day begging for our change.

Best Downtown Dog Run
Union Square Park

Hey Lady, Let Me Sniff
Your Butt. Please?
Dog runs, or “dog parks,” have become the hip
meeting place of the new century. No longer do men and women and men and men
and women and women just meet each other at bars, clubs, work or laundromats.
Dog runs are where it’s at. Girls actually dress up to have St. Bernards
slobber drown their crotches, and golden retriever hairs cover their finest
dresses. Guys get pug poop on their Pradas and Pomeranian piss on their pants.
But no one really seems to care.

Except us. While these jerks
are flirting with one another, either by flaunting new cellphones or talking
canine cuisine while Fido is off eating another dog, we sometimes want to throw
a .44-caliber bullet at them and tell our dog to “fetch.”

Nowhere is this worse than
the horrid dog run in Tompkins Square Park, where you may see pit bulls grab
onto Taco Bell dogs while their owners yell, “Drop the chalupa!” We
see many tattooed guys with big muscles and big dogs, both overcompensation
for their little dicks. We see trendy chicks who own a four-legged friend just
to attract “the right” type of guy: a moron.

That’s why we like
the dog run at Union Square Park so much. Not only does the area have two
sets of fences around it, our dogs get to run around on grass and woodchips
instead of concrete, hypodermic needles and broken glass. The area is kept very
clean, and most visitors actually watch their pets and play with them, instead
of themselves. Owners of big dogs do, for the most part, tend to watch them
around little dogs. And the little-dog owners seem comfortable enough to let
the tykes run around with the big boys. Sure, there is always the uncut male
that shows up and tries to dominate everyone, but the folks who frequent Union
Square seem to handle that pretty well. And best of all, it’s free.

Best Business Opportunity
Selling Groceries to Hipsters

Green Money. Tip
to entrepreneurs: The boutique owners, salon mavens, restaurateurs, dot-commers
and trustfund fashionistas who now populate the Ludlow/Orchard circuit on the
Lower East Side don’t really have a convenient option when it comes to
grocery shopping. At best, they’re forced to huff it five or six blocks
north to Key Food or Gracefully on Ave. A. Not a prohibitive distance, exactly,
but neither is it convenient. Especially when there’re websites to be designed
and the latest Flash animation to be learned. If ever there were a neighborhood
screaming out for a greengrocer, this is it.

So here’s what you
do. You know that two-block strip of defunct storefronts on the east side of
Allen St. stretching from Rivington up to Houston? You know, the corridor that’s
home to the awesome Tiengarden and the not-so-awesome Economy Foam Center? Yeah,
that one. Find a suitable stall (they’re tiny and dingy, so the rent can’t
be that bad), clean it out, stock it with four basic items–fresh fruit,
fresh vegetables, good bread and (this is important!) a good selection of coffee
beans (the closest decent beanery is Porto Rico way the hell up on St. Marks).
Sprinkle copious amounts of sawdust on the floor a la the Upper West Side’s
Fairway and stay in lockstep with your fellow storefront entrepreneurs by retaining
the name of whatever business happened to occupy your space formerly. (Big irony
points for names like Mushnik’s Bootblack or Glatzer’s Bra & Girdle.)
Make sure it’s simple, dumpy and rustic inside–dot-commers can smell
inauthenticity–and that’s it.

It may not be the swankiest
business in the city, but as our grandfather used to say, “Nothing beats
cash money.”

Best Reason Not to Fix the
Potholes
The Scooter Fad

Like Rollerblading, Only
Stupider.
We

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