Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just Like Your Hip Twenty-Something Male Grandma Used to Make

So I've been wanting to get a meal at Torrisi Italian Specialties for over five months now, and being that my favorite person to take on a date in the Greater Little Italy Region is myself, I decided that today was my day.

There's a festival of sorts going on all the way up Mulberry Street, so it was hard to find this treasure of a restaurant that was praised so highly by critics throughout the city. It was blocked by a booth so I walked right by; I tried calling information for the address but that was a bust. So, as I was heading north, I asked a thin, well-dressed woman if she knew where the place was and she replied that she was heading there right at that moment. So I retraced my path to the place where I knew it should be and, alas, it was found.

It wasn't too crowded inside, and I don't know what I had been expecting, but all of the guys behind the counter were boyishly handsome and mostly blonde. And they were sassy! I asked if they had a sandwich menu (I already knew the deal with the prix fixe dinner), and I was pointed to a list of ingredients. When I asked one guy what I should get, another one said, "Chicken parm. Number eleven sandwich in the state. And that's biased. Biased against us." But I didn't want chicken parm. I asked what was good, and the first guy told me that he would get the turkey, but that wouldn't be ready for a while, so...I asked about the sopressetta, and how it was, and he said, "It's normal." Not sold. He started suggesting some stuff that sounded frankly boring to me, and I spaced out for a moment. Then he said, "You're getting the turkey." Okay! Bring it, boys.

I grabbed a cream soda--mmmm...corn--paid eleven-fifty, and took a seat. The decor in this place looked like a Warholian found-art installation: the walls were made of shelves that held repetitiously arranged canned tomatoes, Marino's Italian Ices, and other products reminiscent of the Mammaland. And then there was the huge black-and-white portrait of Billy Joel with boxing gloves aroung his neck: not Italian. Ya'll know brother's a tribesman. Speaking of the traditional Italian dining experience, I enjoyed the sounds of hip nineties mellow talk-music throughout the course of my meal- The Roots, Beastie Boys (aren't they from the same tribe as Billy Joel?), Beck, and my beloved Cake.

As I waited for my sandwich, I noticed a common theme: customer confusion. Is there a menu? Is there table service? (Answer to both: kind of...) When the server called, "Fifteen!" I squinted at a sandwich that looked like it could belong to me. I did not recall ever having received a number, but the guy taking my order must have been so charmed by my indecisiveness that he forgot what was going on, where he was, and how to do his job.

But I jest- the staff, snarky attitudes and all (in an Italian restaurant?! I know), was fine. And the turkey was sa-lamming. The petite tower that was my sandwich was piled with freshly sliced roast turkey, which was unbelievably moist. There was a mildly spicy sauce, I believe made with tomatoes and olives (not sure, really), and the regular fixings. But then, every few bites or so, there was the distinct taste of what I think was oregano, and it really brought the whole thing home...home meaning Italy, Italy meaning Little Italy. Good freaking sandwich.

On my way out, my counter guy checked in with me to see how it was, and I gave him the thumbs-up. They know they're good. But next time, I'm getting the chicken parm.

How About I Book YOUR Face?

I know why I hate Facebook so much: I'm jealous. I want all the friends in the world, and I crave attention. Facebook has more friends than anyone, and I am honestly convinced that it is the most talked-about thing in our culture. Why won't everyone just shut up and stop talking about Facebook and start talking about me, dammit?!This is in honor of that movie, by the way. Magazines inform my schema.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Text messaging... weird. I won't get too in-depth about this, but I will say that, at least from my experience, one can basically project one's thoughts or emotions, or lack thereof, into a text conversation regardless of the relevance of these thoughts or feelings. I know this is kind of a "duh" statement, but as an emotionally sensitive and cognitively hyperactive individual, it's a bit of a mindfuck at times. So, moral of the story, try not to hang on to text messages too hard, or read to deeply into them, because it's highly likely that your interpretation of the message is a mere projection of your own state or expectations.

Wow, I feel like a really eloquent fourteen-year-old. Thanks, Tavi.

And oh! Thanks to the most important blogger, the woman without whom this blog would never have been born! Thanks and happy birthday!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bound for Greatness

This blog is. How do I know? Simple: master fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson started her blog (at the tender age of eleven) on my twenty-fourth birthday. And I started this blog on my birthday, which can only mean one thing: I am a child prodigy and the world is destined to know!

Clearly, this girl is a genius, or perhaps I am once again falling victim to interview lust: I read a profile about someone in a magazine and suddenly develop personal feelings about that person. Now, this is not nearly as intense as when I was dreaming about James Franco (but the dreams were kind of scary...), which is good, because we're talking about a pubescent girl, here. So, Tavi, you don't have to look so skeeved as you read this; I admire your pluck! Chick can write, for real. Granted, if you don't like the way that middle-school midwestern kids talk you may not want to get too into her prose, but I think I've found a new guilty pleasure.

Monday, September 20, 2010

At the End of the Day

So, it's this lady (Sophia Loren)'s birthday today. Not too shabby. What else...

I'm at work, and blogging, but I feel totally justified in doing so, since I did my work and am almost done with the day.
My disdain for the city has been reaffirmed, as I just travelled to Badassachusetts and it was beeeeautiful. But, alas, the city is my home...for now.
Summer is drawing to a close, and I'm actually ready for it. The season was brutal. I just need to get into a healthy physical habit before it's too cold to get motivated. Any suggestions? And keep it clean, please! This is a family blog. I know whole families who read this blog...all the time...I swear.

Thanks, comrades!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sushi Roll Gets Punched in the Face by Chris Brown

Hey guys! So, I hear some of you read that last's really long. I owe each of you (all THREE?!) a drink, or CPR, or something. It's good to see I'm not the only hipster on the internet with a sense of humor. Wait, funny hipsters are the lifeblood of the internet! What was I thinking?

So, yeah, I took myself to dinner tonight and i would yelp! about it but I don't do that but I just need to share the phenomenon: Kumo, (sushi restaurant on Cortelyou Road): every single time I have been there (which has been quite a few) I have heard the song "Disturbia" by Rihanna. I don't care for this kind of music, but if I am hearing the same song every single time I go into this restaurant, it can mean one of two things:
1. I happen to be there when they play the song, say, each day; maybe I always come around the same time.
2. They play this song at least once every hour. They may even have an hour-long song loop that plays ad nauseum. Poor wait staff. I wonder if they notice...

So this is really important information and I'm glad I got to share it with you. Why don't you go yelp! about it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

On Hipster

Every hippy is somebody's square. And don't you ever forget it. -Rev. Howard R. Moody, June 6, 1965

Hipster. The word sounds dirty to me, like mall did when I was a child- so ubiquitous and representative of the corporately-molded youth culture that I couldn't bare to utter it. I'm not saying that I was aware of this back then, but I heard teenagers say it on television and it just sounded like something I wasn't supposed to say. I'm not so much afraid of hipster as I am hesitant to use it, because of what it's come to symbolize. You say hipster, you think of a skinny guy with a beard and an "old" T-shirt, suffocating his balls in impossibly tight jeans, maybe some fancy shoes. But are they fancy? Or are they old and gross? And which would be more hip? Or, to misuse the term in its newfangled form, which would be more hipster? See, this is exhausting. This is why I want to give up before I start trying to analyze this idea. It's a classification of a culture to which I at least partly belong but am afraid to embrace. Or my friends like to shun. Or about which none of us really care, and people throw around this word and I get stuck thinking about it for days. Living in Brooklyn, being twenty-six years old, one notices the (counter?)culture and wants to form some sort of opinion about it. But before we start hipster-slinging at people who aren't so different from you or me, let's look at this word and try to understand what we're saying.

You could call someone a hep cat or a tell them what hip is or make them turn down that hippie shit and pump up the hip-hop; any of that banter will make it clear that this word was not invented for Generation Y. Some sources state that hipi is an African Wolof word, meaning, "to open one's eyes." This isn't a sure thing, but it's slang so it's fluid and I'm not here to split hairs. As far as I'm concerned, hip needn't be a dirty word, the question is whether one would want to be considered a hipster. Here's what I've come to: if you're hip, you are with it; you know what's up. You start the trends, or at least ascribe to them in a way with which you are and suits your own unique thing. Now, if you are a hipster, you essentially follow those who are hip. Like a slave to fashion, you sacrifice personal comfort to prove that you are unique--
WAIT! My argument is already flawed. Who is qualified to draw the line between a poseur who is pushes his personal tastes aside to stand out (or fit in), and a truly self-expressive individual who disregards practicality in order to make a statement? Does this line even exist? I have consistently claimed that I am hip, a trend setter, laid-back yet charmingly eccentric, but what the hell perspective do I have to judge myself as holier than thou, my hipster friend?

And while we're on the subject of judging, why don't we just get right down to it: when my friends and I use the word hipster, we are doing but one thing: hating. We're looking at people in our age group, making stinky faces and deciding that we are better than they are because we think that they think that they are better than we are. Because they wear vintage clothes (like me!)? Possibly. Because they are not from Brooklyn but say that they are (sorry, friends)? Maybe so. Because of ALL OF THOSE TATTOOS? Yes. And let's not even begin with irony. This is apparently the age of irony, which my literary criticism classes have taught me is sadder than tragedy, and we are all mere reflections of our time and surroundings. So the world is becoming so sad that it's funny, which is ironic, which is why we wear thick glasses and deliberately unattractive hairstyles (though this aesthetic seems to be fading...or maybe it's been adapted into a more attractive, or generic, incarnation of itself). So we, as a young, creative culture, are a mirror to the times, and I don't know if this goes for all hipsters, but my friends and I seem to believe that we are not a part of this, that we are not this thing. But if we are not, then why are we so compelled to criticize those who we deem to be hipsters?

Is it because WE ARE HIPSTERS? What could we do to avoid this tragic fate? Shop at Wal-Mart? Watch network television--- watch television at all?! Wait...relax. Maybe we can strive to be what hipsters are actually supposed to be in this new age: young, forward thinking people who ride bikes, make their own shit, listen to independent music, and quite possibly go vegan? Now, I'm not about to swear off my omnivoracity, but all of that other shit is cool. There is nothing wrong in letting your freak flag fly as you try to change the world because you are young and smart. If you are superficially emulating those who do this as you do nothing but watch youtube videos and, dare I say, go to the mall, then maybe you can take a step in the direction of putting your mouth where your image is. But to make everything a little less harsh, let's start by taking it easy with all of the label-slapping. (And the tattoos, well...that's for another time.) And one final question...

What does it matter? I try to stake claim to my own hipness with the assertion that I have always stood out, been a bit of a weirdo, and indulged in thrift-shopping. But maybe all of these Brooklyn kids have; maybe we've congregated here for a reason. If not, well, thanks to all the rest of you for catching on to what it means to be super cool. And all of you other kids in other cities and hip regions, congratulations for making it there. Self-expression in numbers is a beautiful thing. But to judge or even worry about what it means, well...
When I was brewing this essay up in my head, I went upstate and got some air. I went to the hills, saw swooping birds at sundown and heard the many voices of plummeting waters. And then I thought about this piece, and how unimportant it is to even care about this stuff. I understood why I had been compelled to analyze a minor cultural phenomenon and the use of a silly word, but I wanted people to remember that our humanness is what we have in common, and that we often use our similarities to create false divides. So, my hipster friends, stop talking shit about the other hipsters and be glad for what you've got. And if you find that too challenging, then maybe you should get out of the city for the day and regroup.
(Author's note: If you liked this piece, search the internet for more like it; I'm sure I'm not the only one with an opinion on this topic. And if you have an opinion, humor me and COMMENT!)
(Author's question: Why is the moral of half of my posts to get out of the city? I do not plan it that way!)

Friday, September 3, 2010

I've Got More Important Things to Do

...than flex my literary muscles right now. But I want to give you something, and I assure you that I will post something hearty and real sometime soon. I know, last time I promised to post something later that day, well...that was the last time I posted. So for now, feast your eyes on this:

My dear friend Adam snapped this of some slouchy broad back in Asheville, NC last summer. Good times! Verdant beauty, sunny days predating the relentless heat waves, southern comfort...makes you want to flee the city, no?