If we’re being honest, ninety percent of the stuff we put on the internet is for self-enhancement, don’t you think? We’re trying to make ourselves look good. We get little thrills when people like our posts, or when we get more Twitter followers, or when a friend forwards our witty e-mail.
And blogging is no exception. Why else would I smear the internet with words of my own creation, like so much lipstick on a mirror, than because I think I have something awesome to say, and I want everyone to hear it? Isn’t it so self-congratulatory? Isn’t it so arrogant? Isn’t it so presumptuous, to believe that people would want to spend time out of their day moving their eyes back and forth along sentences devised by my silly little brain?
Nothing matters very much, and most things don’t matter at all. -- Former British prime minister Arthur Balfour
Dear Friends –
I want to write a genuine philosophical defense of silliness. You know, silly like dancing a jig on a picnic table in the rain, or loudly singing Disney songs on the L train, or wearing a tutu in public. That kind of silly. This, I realize, risks being an extremely silly endeavor itself. But bear with me—there’s more meat in it than you might think.
Every once in a while on Twitter you come across one of those cesspools where hashtags like #idiot and #asshole get flung back and forth across the fence like monkey poo at a zoo. Inevitably, what triggers these hate-fests is some political issue like religion or abortion or race.
Sometimes I enjoy scrolling through these epic back-and-forths, marveling at the sheer amount of vitriol some people are capable of squeezing into 140 characters.
Let’s talk for a second about Nelson Mandela. When he got freed after twenty-seven years in prison, I had just decided on my favorite ninja turtle. I was therefore in no position to appreciate the gravity of the situation. Likewise, in 1994, when he was getting elected the first black president of South Africa, I had just saved up enough allowance money to buy a fast traxx and couldn’t care less about politics in any country, let alone one thousands of miles away. But I really should have been paying attention a year later, when he did this super bad-ass thing that united his country and ensured the successful transition away from apartheid.
“During the first 32 games, there were 302 players who could be seen at some point rolling around in pain, crumpling into a fetal position or lying lifeless on the pitch…”
- Wall Street Journal, June 27th, 2014
Circle up boys! Huge win yesterday; kudos for that. But. Tournament’s not over, and we have a big game coming up. So today I want to see some serious hustle. I want to see some drama. Put Meryl Streep to shame. Everyone knows victory is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent exaggeration.
Start off jogging in place. Warm up those muscles. Now, nice and easy, throw in a light grimace or two. Nothing fancy, just a basic show of anguish. We’ll be getting to the harder stuff later, promise.
For the first time in Williamsburg history, irony is out.
It happened suddenly. People heard America was facing a couple tough competitors in the first round of the World Cup. They wandered down to the local bar to check out the game. They intended, most likely, to keep tabs on the score out of the corner of their eye, eat their deep-fried pickles and drink their Brooklyn Lager, scoff at the number of sissy-dives the players took, and go home equipped with a sufficient understanding of the details of the game so as to be able to have a good fighting chance at winning the game-analysis superiority contest with colleagues at work the next day.
New Yorkers are always trying to figure out how to beat the masses. They love bypassing the long line at the club, acquiring a reservation at that popular restaurant, getting tickets to the sold-out show.
But there’s one aspect of New York life wherein people know not to attempt to beat the crowd. It has to do with seats in public places. If the best seat in a crowded public place is completely vacant for no apparent reason, stay away. Do not sit there. There is something secretly wrong with it. Empty seat on an otherwise packed subway car? Vomit underneath. Empty stool in a crowded bar? The couple next door is breaking up or making out. Best open patch of grass for sunbathing on a warm day in Washington Square Park? Dog poo.
“Who are you?”
That’s what the model in cutoff jean shorts asked me at this Tribeca bar a Friday or two ago. I was there with a group late at night at the suggestion of a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend. At 2am we’d all piled into a taxi, zipped downtown, gotten out in front of a long line of people, and, because my friend somehow knew the bouncer, skipped the line like the trendiest of the trendsters.
The L subway line runs west to east across the center of Manhattan, tying up the belly of the island like a belt. As the train runs east from 1st Avenue it dips under the East River and arrives at Bedford Avenue. Bedford is where you get off if you want gourmet Southern barbeque ribs, or if you want a wheel of goat gouda, or if you want to listen to weekly swing sessions at a German beer hall. From here the subway line continues to the Lorimer stop, home to Barcade, where you can play original Asteroid, Pac-Man, or Donkey Kong for 25 cents a pop, and the Alligator Lounge, where you can get a free personal pizza with EVERY beer you order. Then the train arrives at Graham Avenue. From Graham, if you walk six blocks north—past the dollar store, past the paint shop, past the pharmacy and J.Pinz Scrap Metal--you’ll find my new home.
There’s been a big kafuffle in the news recently about money and elections. Apparently an evil army is amassing in Mordor in the form of cheerfully-named organizations like American Crossroads, Restore our Future, and Priorities USA. These are the so-called Super Political Action Committees—“independent” organizations permitted by law to flood elections with cash provided they can plausibly deny they’re in cahoots with the campaign. Already they’ve been sighted swooping in like the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz and flooding close races with last-minute injections of capital. Meanwhile, most of Mitt Romney’s campaign funds come from checks made out by millionaires and finance firms, and saggy-faced geniuses like Karl Rove and Mitch McConnell gather in wood-paneled rooms to secure exorbitant pledges from businessmen interested in fostering symbiotic relationships with Republican elites.