Thursday, June 10, 2010

New York Experience

So last night some friends and I went to the Bell House for a trivia night. It was put on by the fine folks over at Stuff You Should Know, and hosted by a man called the "Quizmonster.”

The gimick? The SYSK folks were competing against everyone with an all-star trivia team that included Christopher McCulloch (creater of the Venture Brothers) Joe Randazzo (editor of The Onion) Wyatt Cenac, Ira Glass, and John Hodgman!

We sat one table over from the superstars. I got a free shirt, and J. Hodgman was kind enough to sign it. I mentioned that I’d written a (fairly favorable) review of his latest book, and he asked if he owed me anything. Thus the shirt-note.

Who won? Our team didn’t, but neither did the superstars. The table behind us, named “Choad the Wet Sprocket” cleaned everyone’s clocks.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Drive, Ride, Walk.

Lately I’ve wanted to walk. Down from Park Slope past the cemetery into Sunset Park or further into Bay Ridge’s Chinatown, or north up to Williamsburg. Across the park to the east or over the bridge and up into midtown. I’d walk to the Bronx if I could. To Yonkers. With this much city there’s always more to see, and even on my daily treks (to the laundromat, the hardware store, to get groceries) everything is always changing.

But I fall in love with the city when I’m in a cab. With the windows rolled down, zooming over the bridge or along the water, at night, staring at the lights on the buildings, I feel like the whole city is min, mine to watch and wonder at.

Last night K & her work friends decided to go out: a beer garden in Gowanus then the Bell House to meet up with more friends. Katie came in a car and wanted to keep drinking so when we decided to find a karaoke bar in Bay Ridge, and when it turned out no one else could drive Katie’s stick-shift Acura, she handed me the keys. We shot down Fourth ave., which I love, because the lights are timed: 14th street, 23rd, 34th, 44th, 62nd. Then a hard left up to 8th ave. and a perfect first-shot parallel park into the last open space. Driving in the city can make me fill like a God.

Being driven around can make me feel like an emperor. But at the end of the night, after the drinking and singing, when we all decided to take cabs home, I walked out to 8th and stared north as far as I could up the avenue. Forty-eight blocks north and two blocks west was my apartment. What would it be like to walk? What would I see at two, or three, or four in the morning?

It pleases me to feel like a God, to be treated like a king. But walking — walking makes me feel like a traveller, like a citizen. Walking takes me into New York like a seed in the loam of the city.