Sunday, September 6, 2009

Loogie, Newark Penn Station

He sits on a bench in Newark.
He reads a book of dark short stories.
He is waiting for his train that has caused his 1 hour trip to balloon to 3 hours.
He notices a woman sitting on the other side of the bench.
He hears a sound that is kind of like spitting.
He feels a slight spray of liquid on his arm.
He turns in the direction of the sound/ liquid.
He stares at the homeless woman staring at him.
He looks down at the glob of spit on his backpack.
He stares at the homeless woman staring at him.
He wonders if this crazy old woman just spit on him.
He stares at the homeless woman staring at him.
He wonders what kind of lunatic would expectorate on a stranger quietly reading a book.
He stares at the homeless woman staring at him.
He wonders if he should respond in some way.
He thinks; ask her if she just spit on me?
He wonders if is she going to attack him?
He thinks; spit back?

She picks up her junk and walks away.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Tuna Snatcher

All my man wanted was to grub on an otherwise trashbound sandwich... the man is always trying to stop people from snagging shit due for the garbage heap.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Peruvian Adventures: Day 2

Monday 1/19- We explore Central Lima.

Last night, on the trip from the airport to our hotel, we drove through some real depressed and run down areas, not exactly tourist or sightseeing hot spots. Due to this, we were a little skeptical about what this first day would bring, wondering whether there would be much for us to see besides urban blight and industrial sprawl. As it turns out, we wake up to sunshine streaming in through our window and the near constant horns blaring from the street outside. It's a beautiful day and we've got a lot to see.

Traveling around Central Lima we are overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle on these tiny, narrow streets. The sidewalks are about 5 feet wide and as you walk you are no more than 6 feet away from the cars whizzing by with no regard for human life. We make our way to the majestic Plaza Mayor and wind our way around from there for the rest of the morning, poking our heads into various shops and getting a lay of the land. In what will turn into an ongoing trend, we can't go more than a minute at a time without having to say "no gracias" over and over to someone offering or asking us for something.

Martha, not fully respecting the intensity of the sun in Peru, garners herself a substantial sunburn covering her face and shoulders by the time we sit down for lunch. The first real meal that we eat out in Peru is at a quiet little restaurant not far from out hotel. As we sit down to eat, we are starting to realize a few things about how the rest of the trip is going to play out. We have obviously overestimated our ability to communicate with the Spanish that we have in our arsenal, so we are going to have to rely on other forms of and hoping that the people we meet have some empathy for our pathetic grasp of their native tongue.

Regardless, of this challenge, we can't give up, we must forge ahead, and the first obstacle in our path is the menu directly in front of us. Even with the help of the little guide book I brought along, we are only able to speculate what we might be ordering. I manage to order a some fried chicken and white rice while Martha gets a rice and seafood combo, both successful and satisfying ventures. Somehow, unknowingly, we order an appetizer, "%20Cebiche.htm">Cebiche" which we are perplexed by and thinking that it is raw chicken, we choose not to touch it. We later find out that it is one of the more popular dishes in Peru, marinated raw fish served in a number of different ways in different parts of the country. Popular or not, aside from a quick taste to quell our curiosity we decide to leave it to the Peruvians.

The rest of the day is more of the same, continuing to explore and see as much as we can of the Central Lima area. For the most part, its cobblestone streets, historic architecture, and lively atmosphere are more than enough to entertain us for the rest of the day. We visit massively elaborate cathedrals, tacky crafts stores and a delicious churro stand. Overall, a great first day in Lima with the popular outer districts of Miraflores and Barranco on tap for the next.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Peruvian Adventures: Day 1

COBFTNG, long dormant is being woken up from its slumber for an important update; I just got back from 12 days in Peru. Well, not exactly, I got back last Saturday morning, but have just been too lazy and busy to get around to posting anything about the trip until now. Martha and I traveled, explored, got lost, found our way again and ate a ton of great Peruvian food. We also took a ton of pictures, only half of which are accessible at the moment bc of memory card issues, that I will be sharing with all of you unwaveringly loyal COBFTNG readers. I'm going to try to get a post up for each day of our trip accompanied by whatever pictures I have available.

Sunday 1/18- We fly to Lima, Peru from Newark, NJ.

This is only the second time I’ve traveled outside of the country and the first time that I’ve gone on one that I organized myself. So, Martha and I had been thinking about and planning this little Peruvian excursion for a number of months. We had both been itching to travel and explore foreign parts of the world, particularly South America, and after much debate and research we settled on Peru, for the following reasons:

1) It seemed relatively affordable. The plane tickets to Peru were roughly half of what it would be to Argentina, Chile or Uruguay.

2) It had a number of things that we wanted to see and do (Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, the Andes, Lima, etc…)

3) From what we could tell, it seemed like a relatively tourist friendly/ safe country that wouldn’t place us in any unnecessarily dangerous situations.

I’m nervous for a number of reasons, the primary one being that neither of us really speaks Spanish all that well. I took it throughout high school and for a year in college to fulfill requirements but never put that much effort into really trying to learn it and speak it well. I can say that for most of the classes that I took in college, I wish I had applied myself more, but that’s a lament for another time… I have been trying to brush up on my Spanish, but its apparent that I’m not going to be engaging in any in depth conversations in my second tongue, which is unfortunate. I am fairly confident that through a combination of weak Spanglish and hand gestures/ body language I’ll be able to communicate my most basic thoughts and needs.

We wake up and do our final packing of our new gringo backpacks from EMS courtesy of Martha. We try our best to pack light since we know we aren’t going to want to be lugging everything we own around Peru. We want to be sleek and easily maneuverable yet still have everything we are going to need for both the mountains/ hiking and also spending a few days at the beach at the end of our trip.

The actual journey and flight to Lima is relatively uneventful. I haven’t flown anywhere in over two years and am a little nervous about taking such a long trip to a foreign and unknown country, but everything works out smoothly. We land in Lima, exchange some money and find our driver, a tiny, happy man named Lito, who is proudly holding up a sign bearing our names. As we follow him outside into the warm Lima night, we breath deeply of the fresh, balmy air of South America. We are finally here! After months of planning, saving and waiting, we are actually standing on Peruvian soil, seeing billboards written in Spanish, ready to take on any adventures and experiences that come our way. We hop nervously into the back of his huge, creaky van and head off into the night.

It is on this ride to our hotel that we get our first taste of typical Peruvian driving. They rely not on any sort of formal rules of the road but on a unique shared vision of how to navigate their crazy roadways. Each driver is hell bent on getting to his/her destination in the absolute shortest amount of time possible, regardless of any obstacles that might be in the way. What ends up happening is a cluster fuck at every intersection with every single vehicle beeping and honking until their wrists get sore from pounding the wheel. To say that Peruvian drivers use their horns liberally would be a gross exaggeration. Drivers down there use their horns as frequently as your typical New Yorker uses his or her blackberry, in other words at every possible opportunity and in between every possible opportunity.

Despite this, we get to the hotel Sunday night, not before getting pulled over by one of Lima’s finest Police officers because our man Lito ran through about 5 red lights while rationalizing his actions by honking through each one. Day one complete. Much more ahead.

(Unfortunately we don't have any pictures from this first day, but I've been starting to post pictures from the trip here if you are interested.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Detroit in trouble

I was going to make a small comment on an Ezra Klein post as I shared it on Reader, but I felt like I might as well write it on COBFTNG since for months it has been cruelly ignored by its own creator and it deserves a little action.

Here is the link. As anyone who knows me realizes, I'm a big fan of Kleins writing on The American Prospect and am quick to share what I feel are interesting and thoughtful posts that he churns out over there.

Here he highlights one take on the automakers bailout/deal. I'm obviously no expert, but why would the auto industry need further incentive to make higher gas mileage standards/ further "green technologies" a priority? I understand why looking for a bailout to try to save millions of jobs is reasonable given the state of our economy, but why haven't these companies innovated and progressed to the point where they don't need the federal government to jump in and save their failing businesses?

I guess it is by and large more of a statement about the condition of the general economy than any one particular industry that these types of "bailouts" are deemed necessary and acceptable. Maybe its an overly simplistic view of the auto industry, but I wonder if its right to feel that these companies are getting what they deserve for not adapting to evolving demand for more fuel efficient vehicles and environmentally responsible transportation options.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Terrible New York

Sometimes I feel I never want to live in New York City ever again.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

2 days later

I am fully aware that this site has been doing nothing but collecting dust for some time now, but at some point I hope to revive it to where it once was (about 3-4 posts a month). Until that time, you will just have to bear with me and my laziness towards churning out blog posts. 

I read something this evening from Ezra Klein's blog at The American Prospect and it really sounded right to me. I know I am as guilty as anyone else for getting so amped up and hopeful just from hearing Obama speak that I forget about the harsh realities facing our country and our political system. I forget about all the very real obstacles in the way and get a glazed-over look in my eye dreaming about a land of milk and honey, brother/sisterhood and hugs, sharing and caring.  Very few things are able to consistently give me chills up my spine, but listening to Dylan's music (specifically "Masters of War") and Barack's inspired speeches make the list.

Anyways, I'm getting sidetracked. Here is the passage from Mr. Klein which I thought was an apt way to say that even if things might not be as hopeful as all the celebrating suggested, there is still reason to believe that there is some reason to get excited.  Comments are always welcomed here in this land of free speech.

My basic emotion is relief. The skill of an Obama administration has yet to be proven. The structure of our government will prove a more able opponent than John McCain. But for the first time in years, I have the basic sense that it's going to be okay. Not great, necessarily. And certainly not perfect. But okay. The country will be lead by decent, competent people who fret over the right thing and employ the tools of the state for recognizable ends. They may not fully succeed. But then, maybe they will. At the least, they will try. And if they fail in their most ambitious goals, maybe they will simply make things somewhat better. After the constant anxiety and uncertainty of the last eight years, maybe that's enough.