Friday, February 21, 2003 at 20:10:59 (EST)

My Manhattan Terrace Adventure
Right before we took our Priceline trip to Paris, B got smooshed by a dumbass SUV. She did not appear to be permanently damaged, and seemed to get better pretty quickly, so we didn't think much of it at the time. Then, the other day she was wandering around when suddenly her left knee gave out. She was in a lotta pain and had no clue as to why it was causing her trouble now instead of several months ago, or even now if she had been dandling pot-bellied pigs on her knee. It just sort of came outta the blue and whap! She had been virtually immobilized.

Due to previous bad experiences at the walk-in center of the local hospital, she refused to seek immediate treatment. She did, however, make an appointment to get it checked out next Wednesday. So until then, she decided, she would need some crutches. She made inquiries to everyone we know, eventually finding that a fellow coworker at the College owned a pair. Not only that, but she'd throw in a walking cane as well!

The only problem: the crutches and cane resided in Marine Park, Brooklyn. The solution: send Jimmy Legs to the rescue!

After much groaning and equivocation on my part, I was convinced to do the boyfriendly thing and journey halfway across Brooklyn. Recall that I had already been shouldering the misery of having to actually appear in the office yesterday, so I was not looking forward to more travel, especially since later that night I had plans with M to buy this USB audio interface card of some Greenpoint hipster. Considering that in a normal day the farthest I travel is to the backyard to fill the birdfeeder, I was having trouble getting into the spirit of al that I would have to endure this day. But I had to get those crutches! And I had to get them before 6 PM so B could go in and teach her evening class.

Mass transit was on my side, at first. The B52 bus showed up quickly to take me near Atlantic Ave station. The Q Express arrived within a minute, and 5 stops later, I stepped off onto Kings Highway. If you've ever seen it in person, you know why they call it the Highway of Kings, for it truly sucks royal. Not really, actually I was quite enchanted by the area. It is so completely different than Clinton Hill/Fort Greene it appears a completely different universe. There were cute orthodox Jewish chicks, and there were super-gritty east-European types. It was a truly diverse crowd, all slopping around in the huge puddles at every intersection.

I had B's directions, which told me to take the B2 bus (hmm, first the B52, and then the B2 ...) to Ave R and 31st Street. I saw a B2 and jumped on. It was going the wrong way. No problem, I got off at the next stop and backtracked. Time was of the essence, though; I needed to get back quickly or B would have to cancel her class. I walked to a bus stop, and waited. There was no bus coming; I could see way down Kings Highway and saw nary a mass transit vehicle. Then I casually noticed the bus stop was for the B82 bus, not the B2. It is a dastardly practice, coming up with bus names that place a "B" next to a number "8". From a distance they merge and appear to read simply "B2." I looked around for the B2 stop, but could not see anything. I was on 16th Street. I had to get to 31st Street, and the blocks were short ones. So I started hoofing it down the street.

I often forget that the bulk of Brooklyn is not made up of brownstones and attached rowhouses; a lot of it is pretty suburban. I found myself strolling through neighborhoods similar to the ones I grew up in Ohio. I walked past a house that had an honest-to-god White Picket Fence. Could it have been only twenty minutes prior that I had been heading into the Atlantic Ave subway? I could see no Manhattan skyline, nor see any graffiti or bodegas. I guess everybody drives there. Then the number street disappeared.

The streets ended with 29th, and Ave P. I walked around until I found Ave R, all the while thinking, "Where's that friggin' bus?" It could take me right to my destination, but I saw no signs for a B2. Upon reaching Ave R, it carried me another blocked until it too vanished. The streets resumed standard names, Gerritsen, Haring, Madison, Ocean. What? I should have looked at a map. Not only were the streets gone, the whole angle of the grid shifted 45 degrees. Nothing was where it ought to be. I kept walking, looking for anything that would lend a clue. I thought of ducking into a candy store to ask directions, but they had the largest Beanie Baby collection I have ever seen, so I couldn't bring myself to go inside. I trudged on, heartlessly deciding that B didn't really need to get to her class that night. It was mean, but this really took the pressure off, but I still didn't know where I was. I wasn't even sure how to get back since I had become ensconced in streets that did not explain their location with simple numerical or alphabetical listings. Then I realized Ave R had just jogged up one block.

I hotfooted it up to R and hiked further. The cross streets were still not making any sense. More 'name' streets to confound me. But then, like some kid of sign ... was a bus stop sign. For the B2! I pressed onward, and finally got to my goal: 31st Street. I found the house and picked up the crutches from B's friend's husband. He gave me a brief tutorial on their use and I was off. I found the proper bus stop and was soon hurtling back to Kings Highway.

One more subway trip and a ride on an extremely crowded B38 bus later, I was home. It was 6:15. B had not yet canceled her class, so I handed over the crutches. It was then we realized the crutches were rated for a person no taller than 5'2". B is about 5'6" so the crutches didn't quite make it to her armpits. She took them anyway, putting all her weight on her hands, giving her the appearance of some sort of prehistoric land sloth. I kept this to myself as she departed. As it turned out, the hipster flaked on us, so I didn't have to journey to Greenpoint after all. I must have B give me more little jobs like this, in other part of Brooklyn I don't know well (which is most of it). In fact, I proposed we take a vacation this summer in which we travel through the borough to all the exotic locations like Brownsville, Seagate, Homecrest, East New York. Each one, more beautiful than the last.

Posted By Jimmy Legs

I saw the same FIGHT GAY SODOMY stickers mentioned here!
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Thursday, February 20, 2003 at 11:28:04 (EST)

You need Information Adjustments, not Information Retrieval
Hey, I'm in the office, just like the rest of you! Nobody else from my department is here. I realized that I have not actually spoken with any of them in at least a week. Maybe they're all dead. Or they got promoted. I had a nice little Brazil moment when I arrived: I knew from my last visit to the office that my ID card had expired. It would still work on the main entrance gate (the one with the fingerprint identification pad), but it wouldn't open the door on my floor. So I asked the ID Badge lady about getting it fixed. She said I had to get my manager to fax in a memo telling them how long to extend my access. She wrote down the fax number for me.

So I asked, "So can you give me access for today or something?" If I was to give the news about the fax to my boss, I'd need to get up to see him. She replied, "Have your manager fax the information on company letterhead."

"Yes, but how can I get up there to ask him to do this without the necessary access to get in the door?"

A slight pause. "To get access, have your manager fax the information to us. On company letterhead."

"So you can't let me in today to tell my boss I need him to send the fax?"

"Yes, we need the fax from your manager to give you access."

I hate that when you're talking to somebody and they respond like a robot, like I'd asked a question that simply wasn't written into the program. Just answer me like a human! So I got to stand outside the door to my floor like a suspicious terrorist mass murderer and wait from a fellow coworker to be kind enough to break the very explicit rules about letting people into the office without a working ID card.

But nobody's here. So no fax for me. I'm gonna have to go through this every time I come to the office. Which should be never. I'm here to pick up a package of website corrections from somebody who should know better by now. Not only did she leave stuff in my cubicle, she left me voice mail messages about it. Anyone who has ever worked with me should know two things: 1) I'm almost never in the office so I never check voice mail, and 2) I hate them. E-mail is such a superior form of communication it renders both phone and human interaction as obsolete. If I ignore people and the phone long enough, I just might convince the rest of the world.

Posted By Jimmy Legs

Way after the fact, Salon realizes 25th Hour is a cool movie
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Thursday, February 20, 2003 at 08:56:40 (EST)

Back to Frivolity
There comes a time in each person's life in which he must ask himself: "What would a I look like as a French chicken or pig type thing?" This is what I would look like:

It isn't pretty. I had to put the eyes and mouth way down at the bottom to approximate my forehead. The hair's almost right, but it's quite a bit fuller on the bird than in real life. Alas.





Posted By Jimmy Legs

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Wednesday, February 19, 2003 at 15:36:41 (EST)

How we screwed up our own country
I just wrote a ridiculously long piece about my recent conclusions about the problems in this country. What it comes down to, for me, is the simple fact that our nation was devised to give its citizens true control of how the government works. The problem, of course, is that nobody wants to. We have turned Patriotism from having a vested interest in how we are ruled into a simplistic series of actions (or inactions). Most people in this country feel patriots are those who unconditionally support our government's decisions, and to be skeptical is to be plainly treasonous. This is true of other types of government, such as fascism, but it should not be the rule of thumb for our country. The way we've completely perverted the basic tenets of our system of rule is partially why we are thought of so poorly in other parts of the world.

What I am realizing is that the real source of this corruption is not really from our leaders. It's easy to whine about Bush and his annoying regime, but they are just doing what they do. The real problem with this country is us. You and me, the guy on the subway. We're the ones to blame, and even after the horrific events of September 11th, we still don't want to believe it. We want to blame the government, but the fact is the government is us, no matter how we distance ourselves from it. It's like a guy who cheats on his wife and then says, "Don't blame me, honey. It was my damn dick that got me into all this trouble." It feels good, it feels right to say this, but it doesn't answer or excuse the behavior.

Posted By Jimmy Legs

Seeing the Forest's kick-ass piece on Judge Scalia's theocratic insanity
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Tuesday, February 18, 2003 at 11:18:32 (EST)

Can we fire this guy? He thinks *we* work for *him*
Ugh, I just heard what Bush had to say about the protests. He said something about how as a leader, he must stay true to his plan. What a fucking moron. He's so wrapped up in trying to act like a 'leader' he will 'lead' us into a mass grave. I hate the dismissive tone used by the Bush Administration has been using in referring to the protests. No matter where you stand politically, it was an enormous turnout and for Bush and Condoleeza Rice to say nothing besides "protest are fine but useless." Perhaps it's too late in the game to be surprised by their bulldozer mentality. But instead of Bush declaring, "The People have Spoken," he's sticking to, "I'm the one who gets to decide, not you," as he told a reporter who actually took issue with his policy to his face.

Posted By Jimmy Legs
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Monday, February 17, 2003 at 15:36:24 (EST)

I've got something to put in you ... at the gay bar
There's an article in the Times about the band formerly known as The Wild Bunch (now the Electric Six). This band used to play in Athens, Ohio all the time, back in the good old days when everything was better. I can only remember two things about them: 1) the lead singer, not exactly the picture of physical fitness, would always do calisthenics when he wasn't singing (jumping jacks, push-ups, shouting "Let's get fit!"), and 2) their anthem "Gay Bar". To this day I'm still not sure if it's homophobic or not. Its tone is just too pleasant to be some gay-bashing thing, so I'm inclined to think it's meant to be in jest. But they are from Detroit, and anyone who saw 8 Mile knows that gays have only Eminem to defend their lifestyle. Wait a minute ...

I'd really like to recapture some of the scene that I left behind in Ohio, but even that scene no longer exists in the same way it did then. My first years of college were spent seeing tons of great bands, then mostly unknown except to the nameless clubs they toured to constantly. At the time, the Union Bar had this guy doing the booking who had very good connections to the Chicago music scene, so we got a lot of traffic from bands like The Poster Children, Hum, the Cows, Unsane and Tar. In my rose-colored memory, there was nary a poor selection when bands came in from out of state. The scene may be returning to its former glory, now that Scott Winland of Geraldine has his own booking business, but it seems there came a great drought when I was still in school and we no longer were a town that merited visits from these amazing bands. Now in New York, I see a lot of good bands, but there's always that feeling that I might be walking into a trap when I pay the cover. Before I moved here, I just assumed that I'd see only the best possible musical entertainment, and while I have seen great shows, I'd say I'm batting about .300 right now. To improve my score requires much research, something I didn't have to do in the salad days.

Then again, my horizons were a bit different then. While I like a greater variety of music now (Shellac to John Zorn to Stupid), when I was younger I adored anything that followed the Loud/Fast Rules. I still like that stuff, probably more than I should at my advanced age. Maybe that's what it comes down to, I'm just gettin' too old to hang around punk kids and frowning scenesters. Then again, what fun is going out if you can't find somebody to mock?

Posted By Jimmy Legs

Here's the NYT article about Electric Six
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Sunday, February 16, 2003 at 13:26:48 (EST)

My feet hurt from all the Not Marching
We got off to kind of a late start on Saturday, as A didn't realize we were gonna go a bit early to join B's union to march to the rally. He was doing laundry. He ended up bringing his laundry over to our pad and trying to dry it out on a rack. By the time we got going, we decided to just go for the main rally. We took the G to the L, and received a surprise in the form of a truncated L train. They were running L's as shuttles between Canarsie and Bedford St., and from there a train to Union Square. The platforms were absolutely packed; many others were on their way as well. At Union Square we just got out and started walking. We hiked up to the 40 streets, only to find First Ave blocked off with big trucks. All pedestrians were redirected to Second Ave. Meanwhile, thousands of people were further uptown, also trying to head east. Second Ave quickly became a rally of its own, with tons of people trying to get anywhere. We made it to 59th Street, as cops were telling us we had to go all the way to 64th Street to get to an open side street. The cops had every single side street blocked off, meaning that people could only walk up and down (and crowd) Second Ave. I didn't know it then, but the same thing was happening on Third Ave as well. Traffic was still coming off the bridge, which was causing all sorts of confusion. By this time the crowds on Second were so massive that we could not help but take up the whole street. The cops were fairly understanding, trying to herd us someplace. Everybody was getting frustrated, since nobody could get where they were going. They said First Ave was already all filled up, but they gave us no indication of where we might go. The three of us were getting frustrated, and we decided to go back downtown. This is not to say that what was going on at Second Ave wasn't kind of fun. The crowd was quite festive, even amidst the confusion. I think everybody was happy to see so many like-minded individuals, quite a departure from the kill-em-all sentiment that we always hear on the news. People were chanting various things like "UN, here we come!" to more specific calls to action like "Whose Streets? Our streets!" and "Let us through!" The cops weren't budging, however, so we tried to find more agreeable law enforcement to the south.

Somewhere around 55th Street, we found an open corridor. We rushed over to First Ave and finally got to the rally proper. It was bizarre. We were immediately herded into the now-famous pens: riot barricades forming squares along the blocks. On the one hand, I could see the justification, as the pens allowed a channel down one side of the street for ambulances. But it made joining the protest very difficult. Tons of people were on either side of the barricades, and everybody wanted to be on the side they were not. I could tell the cops were gonna do their job, but even they appeared to think this enclosure-based concept was silly. There were people as far as the eye could see, which, admittedly wasn't very far. The genius of the NYPD's method for containment became apparent: In a town like NYC, you simply can't see what's happening one block away. I have no idea if other side streets were open as well, or if cops were tear-gassing people while we stood around and sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" with Pete Seeger (don't ask).

Our pen was getting really crowded and it was starting to get kind of claustrophobic. A march would have been much more invigorating, for the simple reason that you are moving. Standing around in pens was only cool because there were so many people there to support the protest. Freezing was not fun. We decided to escape the pen and go elsewhere after a while. We pushed our way to the edge of the pen, and after getting the blessing of a friendly cop, we hopped over and headed down 53rd Street. When we got to the intersection of Second Ave, the same drama was unfolding as it had when we were the before. "Let us through!" the crowd chanted, and right as we got to the barricade, the cops complied (!) and a cheering throng headed to First Ave. Since we were trying to get onto Second, this made things pretty hairy for a while, but we eventually broke through and headed south some more.

There were tons more people now, and the Mounted Police had arrived. Horses are good for crowd control, because you can walk a horse through a group of people, and they will do their best to avoid getting stepped on. But this also assumes the people have anywhere to move to, which these people did not. So the horses are protesters were kind of at an impasse when we saw them. I heard later that a cop was pulled of his horse and beaten, but whoever did that was some nut who would have probably beaten up a cop any day of the week.

We headed for Grand Central to take the train home, and that's when I first realized that the same thing was happening on Third Ave: tons of people trying to get to First who were unable to move because of cop barricades. What sort of inane logic dictates closing off all the small side streets, forcing protesters to fill up the much busier streets like Second and Third? It was pretty clear that the police were not interested in keeping things especially orderly; they just didn't want all the people to get together at once. Consequently, every yahoo in an SUV was trapped on the streets, especially at 59th and Second. I don't know what those idiots were thinking, if I was a driver I wouldn't get within a mile of that part of town.

As we were leaving the area, it was cool to see that ever-more people were trudging uptown to join the rally. We'll never have a real tally of the turnout, but I'm starting to think the unofficial counts of 400,000 were lowballing it. The cops, who had said they wouldn't be counting (why not?), ended up saying there were 100,00 people there. What sort of shit is that? They claim they won't dignify the rally by counting it, like they count every other big get-together in town, but then afterwards they say "100,000"? Isn't that like playing pool for 'fun' and then saying afterwards, "I won, you owe me $20!"

I think this rally went about as good as it could, considering all the strikes against it. The city really did its best to divide and conquer, but on a rather subtle level, so as not to arouse too much criticism. I love the fact that so many more people turned out than anyone imagined, and not just here. At protests around the world, more people showed than originally anticipated. They say that over six million people engaged in some form of demonstration this weekend, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was more. I was thinking about people I know who didn't go to the rally, but still hold similar beliefs to mine. If you extrapolate that, and think that every person who attended know at least one other person who is against the notion of war, that's not just a helluva big group, that a factor of public opinion. And with any luck, these same people will act at the polls in the next elections. I feel like Bush will end up combating voter apathy simply because he's got so many disparate people riled up over his simpleminded actions. I mean, I've never participated in a protest of any kind, short of signing petitions and other noncommittal stuff. I just hope we can maintain this level of awareness, and take it further at a mainstream level. We don't have to be activists to act, you don't have to stand idle. Bush wants us to forget that it's people who run this country, not him. He may have taken his liberties so far, but we need to remind him that he works for us, not the other way around.

Posted By Jimmy Legs

More info about the rallies
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Week of February
16-22, 2003

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