Archives For New York City

A great injustice

January 18, 2013 — 221 Comments

I need to tell you about something that has bothered me for a long time.  It’s something that makes me want to start a grassroots movement to raise awareness and sensitivity about it so that people aren’t so quick to stereotype and condemn.  We all make snap judgments; it’s natural.  But we need to remember that our first impressions are not necessarily the truth.

I became aware of this particular issue when I was in high school.  I went to see Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  Great movie, even though Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan really is the best one.  This is the scene that triggered my epiphany.  Watch and listen closely:

Did you catch the accent on the one guy?  I’m sure it’s supposed to be New York.  The actor does a really crappy New York accent, but it’s evocative enough that I get the point.  He’s a blue-collar worker, so he has a blue-collar accent to match.  Despite the fact that this movie is set in San Francisco.

The other day I was watching a rerun of NCIS.  The episode involved mob guys in Virginia.  They had New York accents.  (Does the Mafia even operate down south?  I have no idea.)

Fonzie?  Motorcyle-riding greaser in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  New York accent.  Same for Lenny & Squiggy, Carmine, Laverne, and Mr. Di Fazio.  Apparently dumb punks and Italians have New York accents regardless of where they live.  It could have been the influence of Garry Marshall, a New Yorker with an accent so thick you could slice it, but still.

I won’t even get into all the other movies, TV shows, and commercials where the cop, bus driver, cab driver, construction worker, waitress, criminal, hooker, or [fill in your favorite non-white collar worker here] have New York accents—no matter where they’re supposed to take place.  You’re casting for a movie where one of the characters is a two-bit thug?  Make sure he sounds like he’s from Brooklyn, even though the film is set in Texas.

Everyone associates a New York accent with a certain type of person, with a certain socio-economic level and intelligence level.  People do it with other accents too—the southern accent, for example.  But southern accents aren’t often deployed like that in shows or movies set in non-southern areas.  (Or maybe they are and I just haven’t noticed them as much.)  And over the past 50 years we’ve had four presidents with southern accents: LBJ, Carter, Clinton, and W.  Not one who sounds like Joe Pesci.

I mean, there’s nothing at all wrong with doing blue-collar work, but we can do other things credibly too, you know.  Imagine hearing a hardcore New Yorker take the Oath of Office as president, saying, “So help me Gawd”?  Doesn’t that instill massive amounts of confidence?  Wouldn’t you go all dreamy and swoony if you saw a production of Romeo and Juliet in which the two main actors spoke the Queens English?  Just think of how reassured you would be by a doctor who spoke in a Bronx lilt: “Ya got KEEAN-suh butcha gonna be foin.”

So please, the next time you hear a New Yorker talk and automatically think, “What an imbecile,” remember that we’re people too.  It’s just a matter of appreciating the unique beauty and music of our cadences.  As Shakespeare said, If you prick us, do we not say, “What the fuck, asshole?”  If you tickle us, do we not say, “Whaddaya doin’a me, knockit ooowahff”?  If you poison us, do we not say, “Shit, what the fuck didja put in here?”  And if you wrong us, shall we not cut you?  If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.  Fuhgeddaboutit.

Yeah, she paid us a visit. Dumb bitch caused a storm surge that flooded everything. Mr. Weebles and I had no electricity for a week and for several days we were trapped in the house.  Check it out: This was the scene outside my window the morning after the storm.  The Hudson River breached the seawall and ran apeshit.  We usually live about a half mile from the water.  I considered taking advantage of the opportunity to sell our house as a “riverfront condo” but the water eventually receded and ruined my plan.

For all of you living in the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, I hope you weathered the storm safely and with minimal damage. May you all have much warmth, dryness, and comfort.

We were very lucky.  We had no property damage and lost power for a week—a loonnnnnnggggggg week, but still just a week.  There are many who are still waiting for heat and power, and I am incredibly sad and concerned for them.  Not to mention the people who experienced complete destruction of their property.  Awful.  Just fucking awful.

So my week sucked, but it could have been much worse.  And despite having no heat, I was warmed by the good wishes of you guys.  Margarita, Honie, Maggie, Nigel, Cathy, El Guapo, Mike, La La, Rollergiraffe, Sweet Mother, Michelle, Brian, Meizac, Fish, The Ringmistress, and of course, Le Clown—thank you so much for emailing. I was so moved by your kind thoughts and your offers of help and support.  And to all of you who posted to me on Facebook or sent along your good wishes via other bloggers—I can’t tell you how much the outpouring means to me.  It never really occurs to me that my absence might be noted, as pathetic as that may sound.  You are fantastic, caring human beings, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  As always, your kindness humbles me.

And you know, going through an experience like this teaches you a few things.  I want to take a few minutes to share some of the lessons I learned.

It is not a good idea to use your butane lighter to heat up your microwave popcorn.  Unless you really, really, really love those burnt kernels.  And setting your hair on fire.  And turning your house into an inferno.

Do not use your butane lighter to warm up your sex toys or your lube.  I cannot emphasize this enough.

It is considered rude to use a hospital ER waiting room’s outlet to recharge your laptop.  Okay, so they were on generator power.  But it’s not like I was pulling the plug on someone’s respirator or life support, for crying out loud.

Men really do need to have at least some light when they’re using the toilet.  If you choose not to heed this advice, do not go into your bathroom barefoot.  Consider yourself warned.

Pioneers weren’t better than we are, they were just bored as fuck.  That’s why they invented so much stuff.  Forget everything you’ve heard about our forefathers having enterprising spirits. These people weren’t driven by grand visions or a desire to create things to help humanity.  They were driven by mind-numbing, soul-crushing boredom.

Oh, little electrons, I will never take you for granted again.  Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever.

NOTE:  Let’s all send our love and good thoughts to Brigitte.  She also experienced power outage, and it’s quite possible that she hasn’t had her power restored yet.  In this cold, snowy weather, I wish I could do more than send virtual hugs.  

[Disclaimer: This is not aimed at my Republican buddies here, who are intelligent, thoughtful human beings.  This is for the members of the GOP who are hell-bent on fomenting hatred and encouraging discrimination, among other things.  Anyone who is offended by this, however, is exactly the type of person I’m referring to below and should be offended.]

[Note: I’m not generally a politics person.  I will probably never write another political post, so I wanted to make this one count.  I’m coming out swinging.  I might lose some readers, and that’s okay.]

Hey, wingnuts.  You don’t know me but you hate me.

I’m from New York City.  To you guys, that’s just another name for Sodom.  Y’all hate us city slickers because we’re not honest, hard-workin’, church-goin’, “real” Amuricans.  Yet my city, along with 3,000 people, took a big hit for you 11 years ago.  Fuck you.

I believe that a person’s race, religion, or sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  You, on the other hand, cloak yourselves in your “Christian faith” and use it to justify your perverse views on humanity.  And you’re fine with people enjoying freedom—as long as they’re white, Christian, and heterosexual, and as long as they think exactly as you do.  You’re fucking hypocrites.

I care about the earth.  I know global warming is real.  I oppose drilling in the Arctic, fracking, and everything else that messes with our fragile environment.  I support the Kyoto Protocol and I’m ashamed that we are one of the few nations not to ratify it.  You hate that hippie shit.  As long as you make more money, who cares what happens to the planet, right?   You clueless fucking idiots.

I’m a woman.  I’m everything you dislike in a woman, too.  I am child-free by choice.  I didn’t take my husband’s last name.  I have my own career.  I believe all women should be able to live without the government dictating what we can and cannot do with our bodies.  You think we should be smacked around and put back in our place.  A lot of you don’t even seem to believe rape is a real crime.  That’s how much you hate us.  Fuck you, you sick misogynist bastards.

I say women should have equality in the workplace and get equal pay for doing the same work as men.  You hate that idea with a passion.  Let me tell you something, wingnuts.  The first women in my family to work outside the home were my grandmothers.  They were working their asses off when Lilly Ledbetter was still just a gleam in her daddy’s eye.  My grandmothers worked because they had to.  One of my grandmothers was an immigrant from Sicily.  You would have hated her just for that.  The other was a Rosie the Riveter—she worked at Fairchild Camera, manufacturing bomb sights and reconnaissance camera equipment for the war effort. (You’re welcome.)  They had difficult lives and few options.  Today, American women have opportunities that my grandmothers couldn’t even have dreamed about.  And you can’t handle the fact that women are now outclassing you and challenging your authority, can you?  Fuck you, you deserve it.

One of our greatest Republican presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, was a champion of women’s rights.  He also spoke out against racism.  His unorthodox views didn’t endear him to a lot of people, but he was a very forward-thinking guy.  I suspect that if he were alive today, he would have been just as open-minded on the subject of gay rights.  Meanwhile you halfwits are trying to drag us back to much darker times.  You’re a disgrace—not just to the Republican party, but to the whole country.  TR would kick your sorry asses back to the Stone Age.  Fuck you.

You disgust me.  You’re vile, arrogant, and pathetic.   I hate how you’ve given my country and my people such an awful reputation around the world.  Because the Americans I know—immigrant, American-born, gay, transgender, hetero, black, white, Latino, Asian, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, whatever—are decent, kind, open-hearted souls.  They’re better Americans and human beings than you will ever be.

You’ve rewritten history to suit your agendas.  You’ve twisted the truth to such an extreme that it’s not even recognizable anymore.  Some people say you’re insane.  I disagree.  You’re not insane, you’re just evil.

The only good thing is that the more you talk, the more you reveal yourselves as hate-filled, ignorant troglodytes.  And the more that happens, the more people will want to stop you.  Because you need to be stopped.  You need to go back to your caves and pick bugs off each other, and leave my country alone.

Fuck you.  Fuck you all.

Yesterday afternoon I was waiting for the bus.  Nothing exciting there.  But then I saw a man wearing in a black minidress, black go-go boots, and a huge blonde wig, walking up the street.  He carried a gold lamé purse.  The whole look was truly fabulous.

He stopped at the ATM in front of the bus stop.  While he was at the machine, a woman got on line behind him.  I’m not sure if something transpired between them because I wasn’t really paying attention.  But all of a sudden the guy was ranting at this chick.  He gave her a bunch of attitude and wagged his finger at her, and concluded his tirade with, “I’m just glad I’m gay!”  And he blew past her in a huff.

I have no idea why he went off on her—maybe she said or did something to set him off (she did kind of look like she could be a bitch), or maybe he just decided he didn’t like her for reasons known only to him.  Everyone around me looked at him like he was contagious and gave him a wide berth.

I didn’t get a crazy vibe from him—raging drama queen, maybe, but not crazy.  I found him interesting.  For starters, he looked fantastic in that dress, with shaplier legs than I’ve seen on most women.  That’s not fair.  Secondly, I wondered why he was wearing knee-high boots in 95-degree weather.  Maybe he really was out of his mind.  But the boots went well with the dress and he really worked it.  He looked like Rupaul but with darker skin and less makeup.

As he passed me we made eye contact and I smiled at him.  His whole face smiled back and he said, “You’re beautiful, honey.”  I said, “Thank you, so are you!”  That seemed to make him very happy.

But I couldn’t help myself, I had to know:  “I hope you don’t mind my asking but aren’t those boots really hot on a day like today?”  He laughed.  “Oh no, they’re actually a lot more comfortable than you’d think!”

As he sashayed away he looked at me over his shoulder and yelled, “You have a beautiful weekend, honey!”  I thanked him and wished him a beautiful weekend as well.

He made my day a little brighter.

It happens to me at least once a week: I end up sitting on the bus or subway next to a guy with exceptionally large genitalia. How do I know they have exceptionally large genitalia? Because they sit like this:

Their packages are so massive, so bountiful, that they’re physically incapable of keeping their legs together while seated. Every so often I’ll notice one of them move his legs closer together by an inch or so in an attempt to allow someone to sit next to them. But it seems that most of them are at the mercy of their enormous manhood and have no choice but to give their boys the space they need.

Just this morning a woman tried to sit next to one such gentleman, who made no effort to close his legs because it would cause him too much injury. She looked pissed, but I leaned over and explained to her that I’m sure he would make room if he could, but his physical condition prevents him from doing so. She nodded her head in sympathetic understanding and proceeded to squish herself into the remaining one third of the seat.

Where things get really ugly, though, is when two of these guys try to sit next to each other. Neither of them can spare an inch of room, so it turns into a contest to see who has the more fearsome junk. It’s fascinating to watch them jockey for the dominant position. Ever watch a nature documentary where they show two stags locked in battle, bashing each other in the antlers? It’s kind of like that. These guys duke it out knee vs knee, leg vs leg, all while maintaining the illusion that they’re paying no attention to each other whatsoever. Eventually the alpha dog emerges and the bitch retreats, crossing his legs in defeat. Imagine how painful that must be.

What we really need is designated seating for these poor guys, roomy enough for them and their family jewels.  How can we expect them to use seating that simply isn’t designed for them?  How is that fair?  Our society doesn’t take into account the needs of these men, and it’s not right.  What’s worse, we judge them unfairly.  Everyone automatically assumes that they’re selfish douchebags when really, they’re just differently abled. I was guilty of this stereotype as well; whenever I saw a guy crowding his seatmates by sitting with his knees three feet apart, I’d think, “Asshole.” But no more. Now I know better.

Before I continue, please remember to cast your votes in the first Hot Dead Guy Sweet 16 Tournament! The results so far have been most intriguing—there are very few landslides, it’s anyone’s game!

And now for today’s tale.

I was on my way to work this morning and all of a sudden I heard, “Daaaaayyyyummmm, girrrrl, you got it goin’ ON! Mmmm!”

So I turned to see where it came from, and also to see the recipient of this compliment.

The commenter was a bedraggled gentleman smoking a cigarette and leaning against the wall of an office building. He looked like he was three sheets to the wind.

The recipient, dear readers, was yours truly. I know this because when I made eye contact with him, he said, “Yeaaahh, girl! Uh-HUH!”

In my younger days I would have found this sort of thing annoying. But now it’s been years since I’ve received a random remark from any people at all, regardless of their sobriety level. So I found it amusing and disturbingly refreshing.

The guy had obviously already been partying hard even though it was 9:30 in the morning, and I’m not sure what sort of funhouse mirror his eyes were filtering things through. Today I’m wearing my glasses, I have no makeup on, my hair is all ratty, and I’m not exactly dressed for success. I can’t begin to imagine how I registered with him. But I’ll take it. I’m not proud.

I really need to get that time machine up and running.

Because for starters, I need to go to the Automat. I’ve been hearing about this place since I was a kid. The last Automat in NYC was open until 1991 but by then it was a heartbreaking shadow of its former self. So even though I’ve been to that one, it doesn’t count as a true Automat experience. I want an authentic Automat experience like this:

According to my parents, and everyone else I’ve ever spoken to who was lucky enough to eat there during its better days, the Automat was great. Everything was freshly prepared and all you had to do was put a nickel in the slot, open the door of the compartment containing the dish of your choice, and enjoy. It sounds like so much fun! Plus, they were reputed to have the best baked beans, the best rice pudding, the best macaroni & cheese, the best mashed potatoes, the best creamed spinach, the best chicken pot pie, the best honey buns, the best pies, the best cakes . . . the best everything, really. And most importantly, they had the best coffee, always freshly brewed. The coffee was dispensed from spouts shaped like dolphin heads—and let’s face it, anything dispensed from a spout shaped like a dolphin head is going to taste pretty fantastic.

So I need to go back in time so that I can have a delicious lunch at the Automat. I would have such a good time looking in all the little cubbyhole windows and choosing my meal. And I want to have a cup of that world-famous coffee poured from the dolphin spout, and maybe a piece of cheesecake or coconut custard pie (for which the Automat was also noted).

But it would be a shame to eat and run, so I would probably also take in a movie matinee. That’s why I’ve chosen April 1936—because that’s when Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, starring Gary Cooper, premiered. And if you haven’t seen what Gary Cooper looked like in those days, check it out:

See what I mean? Yeah, I know, he’s smoking in this photo, but Good Lord, he’s also smokin’. Talk about a hot dead guy. I’d have me a fine time watching him on the big screen, and besides, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town happens to be a fun little movie. Of course, they could have filmed him just sitting there reading aloud from the phone book and I’d pay money to see it.

On the other hand, maybe I’d skip the movie and get back in the time machine to hunt down Gary in person. That would make for a nice afternoon too.