Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sun Bleached Photo Wall. Park Slope.

Coffee crush. for the hearing impaired.

I think I have a crush on my barista. (Heavy sigh.)

Well, I may have a double crush, as I have two favorite baristas now at Ninth Street Espresso. And I think they tend to work together, so how perfect is that.

But let's recap.

There was my original barista, who took to remembering that I always come for a small Americano, and who started preparing it for me even before I got a chance to place my order. This was the guy who set me straight when I upgraded from a small to a large americano by letting me know the small one was better. This barista also has a large dog.

The second favorite barista is also super duper nice, and recently joked with me a little when I got back from Denmark in mid January and went down to get my coffee again for the first time. With me I had some kind of spray cleaning product I had just got, and when I placed it on the counter to get money out of my pocket he said: "Is this a stickup?". (Guffaw.)

Now, seeing I was home in Scandinavia over the holidays, one month in total actually, and that I have taken to preparing my own coffee at home from the Ninth Street Espresso Hair Bender Blend, I hadn't been served by my first favorite barista for something like 45 days. I like the sound of that better than simply one and a half month, so let me just repeat that: FORTYFIVE DAYS.

Perhaps even 49 days, but hey, who's keeping count. (Light coughing.)

But listen now, today I went down there, and when it was my turn to step up to the register and order my small americano from my second favorite barista, it turned out my first favorite barista already had my coffee order covered. Even after such a long time, he still remembered me!
(high pitched squeak)

This made the other one do something with the cup he got for me, throwing it into the air like Tom Cruise in Cocktail, or at least he attempted to, and they laughed as he failed, and I smiled like a flushed nine year old.

Because I had run out of ground coffee at home, I took a bag of Hair Bender Blend beans from the shelf and said: "Uhm, can I have it, uhm, whatever it's called, you know, for a French press?".

And they smiled at me and laughed a little and my first favorite barista went: "You want us to whatever it's called for whatever it's called?"

"Yes", I said and laughed a little. "What's the word I'm looking for?".

For some reason they didn't seem to remember either. But we all laughed ever so heartily. (Soft music played in the background. The smell of coffee lingered in the air.)

While my second favorite barista went to ground my coffee (that was the word I was looking for, by the way), my first favorite barista went to ring it all up at the register. And he rang it in, asked what coffee beans I got, and kept fidgeting with the register, numbers went in, some went out, and then it all came to 13 dollars. Which is the price of the Hair Bender Blend. And then he said something endearing about giving me my Americano for free.

And I said thank you. Smiled as wide as I could. And as he handed the cup to me, he said: "You have a lovely evening". And I think I said "you too".

What a romantic day. (Heavy sigh.)

P.S. The rights to this story are for sale because of the financial crisis. As is part I. Amy Adams can play me.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Eagle vs. shark

Flemming recommended that I see this movie, and John, Paul and Mary did I laugh when I did.

Go rent it. Really, rent it, rent it, rent it!


The sight of this embrace refuses to leave me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Comedians, gods and parents. Rough and unpolished thoughts on religiousness.

The other day Johan called me from London quite excited about a bunch of stand-up comedians - as is usually the case - from whom he had heard a bunch of delightfully funny jokes.

It happens more often than not that he takes it upon himself to render all these jokes to me over skype, at which point I usually drift off and sit absentmindedly in front of my laptop and look at photos of dogs up for adoption, while I throw in some "oh reallys" and "hahas" at suitable intervals - something he seems relatively content with. It happens sometimes that I simply hang up, and because he speaks so frantically about all those jokes, it might take a good 5 minutes or so before he realizes that I have disappeared from the other end of cyberspace and that he has to call me up anew.

But the other day, he actually snapped out of these very detailed renditions, and told me something I found quite interesting, namely that he had learned that a whole bunch of the great British comedians were really quite well educated. A good portion of the Monty Python crew had gone to Cambridge, he claimed, Eddie Izzard had gone to some University somewhere, and Ricky Gervais had studied philosophy at UCL. His own take on this was that there is a reason why Danish comedians never make it big, namely because they, in contrast to the Britsh comedy greats, don't have a tradition for pursuing comedy as a scientifically approachable art form of sorts.

Or something along those lines. The Danish language being understandable to only a relative few, might have something to do with it too.

Anyhow, a couple of days later I was watching The Actor's Studio on PBS where, incidentally, Ricky Gervais was being interviewed, among other things about his days at the Philosophy Department at UCL. And from there, he somehow drifted off to talk about religion, in relation to which his main point of wonder was: "If there is a God, why did he make me an atheist?".

Of course this triggered loads of laughs from the audience, however, I couldn't help but think that despite the question's punchline-like design, it was quite...mind puzzling.

People who are a tad into theology are probably familiar with the problem of theodicy, which roughly concerns itself with the paradox that if God is all good, and God had the sole hand in creating everything, then why does there exist evil in the world.

Now, that is, as Johan would say, the rough and unpolished version of the problem. I'm sure that there are lots of ifs and butts and modifications to that paradox, but in any event, I hope you'll agree that, in essence, the problem of theodicy and the problem of Ricky Gervais are somewhat related: If God does exist, then why on earth did he create doubt in his existence. It just doesn't seem very strategic.

Moving along.

Over the holidays I read Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk, the plot of which I will spare you, however, there is one quote I would like to bring before you:

"Jump to once a long time ago, Manus, my fiancé who dumped me, Manus Kelley, the police detective, he told me that your folks are like God because you want to know they're out there and you want them to approve of your life, still you only call them when you're in crisis and need something."

Heaven knows I sob and act like a baby in the bosom of my family when something doesn't go my way, but let's leave the perhaps disturbing incisiveness of above remark for now, and rather twist it topsy-turvy and presume that to religious sceptics God is like their folks. That to them, he should stick more or less to his own business, and otherwise just be there for when the shit comes down.

I'm not really sure what useful information, if any at all, the little analysis above sheds. It's just that there is something pervertedly easy about being the irresponsible non-believing child. No wonder blasphemic comedians have fun.

Which brings me back to Johan, the source of all this nonsense, who always says that being religious is the easy part, while being the sceptic or the atheist is the tough part, because in the latter case, you're left all on your own.

And this I have always doubted saying that being religious is the tough part, because then there are loads of rules and regulations that you have to stick to. Commandments to follow. Cheeks to be slapped. Being the sceptic or the atheist is the easy part. You can always blame God for making you the way you are and having brought you up to act the way you do.

P.S. This religiousness-related article is a stub. You can help Sarah Carlson by expanding it.



Look at me going all Nigella Lawson-y.

My dill and cilantro came in bigger bunches than I could handle, and determined not to see it all go rotten and frozen against the back of the fridge (why does this always happen with greens and herbs?), I chopped it up, ziplocked it, tried and failed at vacuum packing it in said bag, and popped it in the freezer, where it will probably move further and further to the back behind forgotten ice cubes and pre-chopped vegetables, until one day, I decide to defrost the fucker, and will stumble upon those little sachets of unidentifiable greens and wonder: "When will I ever use this?". After which I will throw it in the trash to leave more space for ice cream and such.

Missing the bacon

I watched Gummo the other night, and wound up reading voraciously about the movie afterwards, as is usually the case. Well, as voraciously as you can within half an hour, at least.

One thing I read was how Vernor Herzog had taken a delightful creative blow to his head when he saw the bacon taped to the wall in the bathtub scene.

This I missed. Completely. And I felt somewhat like an ass for having done so.

Bathroom Break

Bush asking Condoleezza Rice for permission to go to the bathroom during a Security Council Meeting at the UN in 2005.

Photo by Reuters/Rick Wilking from an interesting collection/article at The New York Times

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Long Lost Mexican Suitcases

I don't really know what I would use one of these suitcase-boxes for, but every time I pass by a store that has one I feel like acquiring it to hold and to have.

I think it might be the meticulous arrangement of things that it invites to. The neat categorizing of equally neat little things. It's sort of like a jewelry or treasure box for grown-ups. And for some reason, the whole idea of guarding something is so appealing. Regardless of the extent to which that thing's value is utterly made up. Perhaps it's the process of safeguarding something, and fetischizing it, rather than the object itself that is the thing or process I covet.

And perhaps for that reason I still haven't bought any of those suitcase-boxes. Perhaps because it comes empty. Because it's being sold. Like a real treasure it's something you should happen upon in an old attic, like the Robert Capa Cachet of long lost negatives. The Mexican suitcase.

Love Truck

Monday, January 26, 2009

Loft Party. Turned Hangover. Turned WTF.

Oi oi oi, whoever came up with the idea that the physiological effects of drinking should succeed rather than precede the actual partying sure was a strategist at heart. Because really, if someone said to you: "Listen you can go have the merriest of times but you have to suffer from headache and nausea for a good 12 to 24 hours before you go" - then really, how much partying would then take place in this world? Not much I suspect.

I think it's pretty widely known that I can't hold my liquor. Well, I can hold it, I just can hold much of it. And especially, as it is currently the case, when I haven't engaged in much late night partying for a long time, then I'm just out of shape, pure and simple.

But all that I happily ignored on Saturday evening when I went to Maria's "Farewell for now bash", and drank with all the other Danes as if I had been doing nothing else since high school.

And it was such a good party. One of those where you have memories of lying down on the floor doing push ups for no apparent reason at all, and where you take it upon yourself to declare to all of those people you like, that you like them, if in fact, you don't downright love them. One of those where you are the last one to leave, and you wake up the next morning wondering a) Did I really undress those other guests from their overcoats when they made an attempt to leave? and b) How did I get home at all?

Good fun, but jeez have I had to pay for it. We're talking nausea, dizziness, headache, hypersalivation, tremor, stomach ache and a good portion of anxiety and uneasiness thrown in. And it just never eased off. I've been bedridden for something like 36 hours, and it's not until now that I am starting to feel alive again and have regained my appetite. Which is why I suspect my hangover may have evolved into a "What the Fuck Bug". You know, one of those suckers that just come out of nowhere and seem to serve no purpose but remind you that nausea is one of the most debilitating sensations ever. Especially if you suffer from emetophobia, fear of throwing up, as I do. Cause then you can concentrate on nothing but not throwing up. Which, let's face it, is not very productive at all.

But I'm good now, back to life as we know it, only my arms are a little sore from the push ups. Apparently I sat on the back of poor Flemming while he did his, so he's been feeling even worse. At least that helps.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama's People

The New York Times Magazine on Sunday had a most stunning series of photographs of Obama's People taken by Nadav Kander. I really like what a diverse crowd they are, so peculiar looking in each their own way.

I think my favorite is White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel (below). I watched a roast of him on C-span a couple of months ago, from a 2005 fundraising event, and I was completely smitten with all the stories and jokes about him, that alluded to his "bad boy in Washington with the heart in the right place" persona.

Gawker ran a little poll the other day, "Who's the hottest Obama staffer", which Rahm Emanuel won.

And this is what they wrote to accompany the nomination:

Amazing what people fetishize these days: Gray hair, dark circles under the eyes, average-at-best height, a missing middle finger? Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, beat conventionally gorgeous policy advisor Melody Barnes in our poll.

Really, those of use not blessed with conventionally gorgeous looks ought to watch and learn.

P.S. Go check Nadav Kander's Website. His work is eerie.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Perro pelon Mexicana

Ooo, pure delight! Look what I received from Joe the Plumber, also known as Pedro, sent all the way from Mexico City.

Apparently this little fella used to be a prime delicacy in pre-Columbian times, has been believed to have supernatural powers and was used to accompany the dead across the river between life and the afterworld, and was even the favorite pet of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

No wonder he looks a little exhausted.

Thank you so much Pedro, and next time, just send me the dog. Pretty please.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hoarding the Moment

I'm not very proud of this, and I'm actually not really sure how it happened.

I set the alarm clock for 7 a.m. yesterday, determined to get hold of a copy of the New York Times with President Obama gracing the cover. And although people tend to refer to New York as the city that never sleeps, I'm sure some people will agree it's not the least true. In fact, new yorkers sleep in late. At least in the village. Here people don't really start crawling the streets until 9 or 9:30. (Well, that applies to the creative class. There's an invisible class, too. Composed of illegal immigrants and such who basically work 34 hours a day. But they're kept out of sight. In stock rooms and basements. Riding delivery bikes so fast no one can see them. Clever.)

But even at 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning, it was difficult getting a copy of the New York Times. The first place I went they said they "only carry the Times on Sundays". The next place, the Times "hadn't arrived yet". And in the third place it was "all sold out".

Of course, being such a genuine believer in the good of the human race, I continued roaming the streets of the East Village, suspecting shop owners for never having put the newspaper on the shelf in the first place, namely with the prospect of selling them with a great profit on craigslist in a week or so. (This, I just learned the other day, is the case with the Times from the day after the election). And I suspected my neighbors for having done the same. That is, buying the Times in bulk. Just to hoard them. To keep someone else from getting them.

Despicable. I thought to myself. And thought how on a day like this there ought to be instituted a law against buying more newspapers than you need. Like when you buy tickets for a concert. Or there's a special offer in a supermarket.

And as I got more and more angry and disappointed with the human race, it happened that I walked past an obscure little deli, where a whole bunch of The New York Times were lying out front in the cold.

And I took one for myself, and one for Maria, as I had promised her I would.

But then I decided to get another, thinking mine would get all wrinkled up and unruly once I had read it, and thus not be suitable to keep as a memento.

And then I went inside, with three copies, ready to pay.

But then I saw another stack of newspapers on the floor. Decided to get one more, just in case.

And that's how it happened that I became one of those people taking more copies of the Times than I needed. And I am not proud of it. At all. And would therefore like to encourage anyone who feels bereft of the copy they were entitled to have (as I did November 5), to let me know.

Send me an email, why don't ya, and I'll send the Times to you.

Sorry world. Sorry Mr. President.

However, keep in mind I only have one extra, as I am keeping two for myself. Just in case.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

He's a lefty!

And apparently there's been an over-representation of left handed presidents since WWII. Clinton, Reagan, Truman, Ford, 2 x Bush, and now Obama. Usually, only one in ten people are left handed.

I also learned from this article on the Washington Post that a left handed person sometimes goes by the nickname of a "southpaw". That is, if I understood it correctly. In either event, I dedicate this little post to my two fellow southpaws, my mom and my sister.

The Set-Up

The Day Obama Became President