Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Is There Inner Peace in Manhattan? - Love, Peace, Harmony, Oh, Very Nice, Very Nice

"Oh, love, peace and harmony?
Love, peace and harmony?
Oh very nice,
very nice,
very nice.
Oh but maybe in the next world."
-The Smiths, "Death of a Disco Dancer."

New York Magazine is a clever little machine. They do this very keen bait and switch thing to keep you on your toes. This is how it goes:

July 17th, 2006: You are unhappy because you live here. Do you want to be happy?

December 4th, 2006: You are burned out because you live here. Sorry!

December 25, 2006: You love living here? Right? You should!

THIS WEEK: Just kidding! You are miserable because you live here. Do you wanna be happy?
(Side Note: 1. It is problematic to have birds/butterflies flying out of a girl's head because of the term "bird-brain," which means "stupid person." And because it's just sort of strange to begin with. 2. Is it a coincidence that there are flowers in her hair, and there's that song about girls in San Francisco with flowers in their hair, and people in San Francisco already have inner peace? Simmer on that, NYMag design department.)

The various paths to inner peace the magazine suggests all seem a little time-consuming/expensive to me (e.g. religion, yoga classes, ditching bad habits, acupuncture, investigating toxicity levels of household objects). If they had asked me, which obviously they didn't, I would have said that Seeking Inner Peace is lovely in theory (as the cover so clearly illustrates), but in practice it's better just to Avoid Bad Things. This will better your chances of stumbling upon Those Shreds of Random Goodness that make the path to enlightenment a bit less crowded (unlike the aisles at Rite-Aid, which, as I will discuss, are quite crowded with gigantic boxes of Beta-Blockers and "Get Some Zzzzs" Aromatherapy Linen Spray).

Bad: The Manhattan Mall:
I have to get off the train at the 34th street B station three times a week, and I can't seem to figure out how to exit the station without walking into the Auntie Annies/Charlotte Rouse Orgie that is the Manhattan Mall. Going to the Manhattan Mall is the exact opposite of a Retreat to Como Shambhala Resort at Parrot Cay. Everything smells like Sweet and Sour Chicken/Cinnabun and the escalators never seem to take you where you want to go, and the garishly large signs--large enough even for the blind, which is probably a target audience for most of the clothes sold by the basement boutique "Hype! Hype!"---bear no relationship whatsoever to the actual location of the store advertised on the sign. I know these things because obvs I accidentally shop there sometimes, specifically at that little store by the door that sells trashy underwear for people with no class, like me.

It still mystifies me that The Manhattan Mall exists. It has a Food Court. Even the now-remodeled Arborland Mall in Ypsilanti, Michigan, got rid of it's food court. You used to be allowed to smoke in the Arborland food court. It was like a total encapsulation of slow suicide. Manchu Wok + Kools + Merry-go-Round (the store, not the ride)= death.

Good: Discovering New Things About Your Favorite Appliances.
Me and this toaster have been through some rough stuff. The other day I yelled at it and asked Maggie if she knew why it had such an attitude and she said she never uses the toaster. I use the toaster probably 15 times a day. Basically, the problem is that whenever I asked the toaster to toast just one item, it would refuse violently by spitting out said item within only moments of it's insertion, and obviously the item would NOT be toasted to my liking. I tried unplugging and replugging it (I call that the "cool-down" theory) and I tried holding down the lever even when it made terrible noises, like the noise of a ferret being electrocuted. But then I looked a little closer at the problem and saw this:
That is a little "instruction," if you will: the words "One Slice" with two tiny little arrows pointing at a particular toaster slot. A HA! True enough, when I use the slot indicated by the arrows, I have no problems. To think I've been battling this problem for about 5 months without noticing this--or even realizing that my problem only happens when I'm toasting one item. I realized it like, in retrospect.

Good: The Wiggles:
So today at the gym I was watching "The View" and suddenly Rosie and Elizabeth are talking to these really enthusiastic children's performers called The Wiggles? They wear bright colors and they sing songs with lyrics like "Do the Monkey Yeah Yeah Do the Monkey!" and "Romp-Bomp-a-Chomp There's Dorothy the Dinosaur!" I mean: WOW. As I have not given birth to any of my own children and most of my friends are in a similar state of arrested development, I'm not really like "up" on the "Toddler Scene," and I'd forgotten how fantastic it is when grown men dress up in primary colors and totally just let it loose, you know? They put on TURTLENECKS--one of them dresses like a PIRATE--and sing "Let's make fruit salad today, let's make it the healthy way!" and the little kids just soak that stuff (I'm trying not to curse for an entire paragraph, because of the children) up! It totally took me back to the old days of The Gemini Brothers and The Song Sisters, my favorite musical groups when I was a tot. Children's Music is Magic. My face went from semi-horrified to completely captivated in about ten seconds. I just looked at their website and realized these dudes are more rich and famous than I will ever be. On the other hand, no one has ever photographed me in a turtleneck. Though I've been known to don pirate gear from time to time.

Bad: Rite-Aid

I know it's weird, since Duane Reade is generally at the top of my list when it comes to bitching about drugstores. But I'm switching camps. Duane Reade is cleaning up it's act and Rite-Aid is officially worse, and here's why: The aisles are crowded with tall stacks of unopened boxes and the cash wrap is crowded with employees--at any given time, you can assume that four of said employees are actively NOT unpacking aforementioned boxes and one is manning a cash register with an imitation of efficient behavior comparable to that of an aging carnie stuck with operating a ride that catapults children to their death while she smokes the cigarettes that cause the hacking cough she emits about every 20 seconds. I assume these boxes contain the stock that is noticeably missing from the shelves, as each aisle looks as though it has recently been ransacked by a band of Wild Cabbage Patch Kids with Rabies and long arms.

Good: Les InnerPeacables:
Maggie and I have decided to communicate only in song today, as if our lives were a rock opera. I'm a notoriously dreadful singer but Maggie says my voice is "cute, like a little girl's." Sample lyrics (imagine these being sung to a very peaceful melody):

Me: Would you like me to get you anything from the store?
Maggie: Yes you can get me a whore!

Bad: The Things Behind the Deli Counter:
Speaking of the store....Hey ladies! Do you feel like the intimacy of your relationship to your deli guy increases significantly the first time you have to buy tampons from him? (which involves, obvs, telling him exactly which ones you want, and since it's usually on the first day that you find yourself without any tampons, you're all like: "Green!!!!! I said GREEN!") Like the first time he sees you drunk, or the first time he sees you with someone you are clearly dating/fucking, or the first time you drop an armload of food-ish products on his counter that all include, in some form or another, processed carbohydrates, refined white sugar and/or obscene amounts of cream?

(Side Note): It's weird for me to mention tampons on this blog because, even though I am old, I still find the-act-which-shall-go-unsaid-which-requires-tampons to be embarrassing and gross and it makes me wish I was a bony boy who never cried or needed tampons. BUT tampons, in and of themselves, are not gross. They are just Q-Tips for Elephants. Plus I'm working on my issues, and one of my issues is "Disgusted by Womanhood In Self, Though Totally Tolerant and Occasionally Enchanted by Womanhood In Others."

Good: Reading About The Guy Who Wanted to Quit Smoking in New York Magazine's "Inner Peace" Issue
(photo from the article itself, which you should read, really, especially at the gym to maximize potential superiority complex)
Smoking for 25 years has made this dude "spit blood at regular intervals" and develop "chronic asthma." Holy shit! I'm like Captain Planet-healthy compared to that stuff.

Good: C'mon Get Happy Playlist:
fidelity/regina spektor. peaceful easy feeling/the eagles. laura/scissor sisters. the seed/the roots. because of you (jason nevins remix)/kelly clarkson. tell me something good/rufus+chakra kan. nothing in this world/paris hilton. crush 16/dave matthews band. the state that i am in/belle+sebastian. i've got my mind set on you/george harrison. maneater/nelly furtado. bad reputation/joan jett. iron man/the cardigans. better things/dar williams. first day of my life/bright eyes. i want you back/jackson five. stronger/britney spears. understand/christina aguilera. family business/kanye west. baby you should know/joy zipper. crazy/gnarls barkley. one love/bob marley. right in time/lucinda williams. irreplacable/beyonce. for the longest time/billy joel. come see about me/the supremes. as cool as i am/dar williams. i really got the feeling/dolly parton. all we have is now/the flaming lips. by the way/heavenly. lovertits/peaches. become you/indigo girls. one is the magic number/jill scott. i kissed a girl/jill sobule. uncle john's band/grateful dead. sexyback/justin timberlake. free/the martinis. marie/kevin devine. fuck and run/liz phair. papa don't preach/madonna. the luckiest guy on the lower east side/magnetic fields. mona lisa/wyclef. tower of song/u2 with leonard cohen. build me up buttercup. the temptations. under the bridge/red hot chili peppers. musicology/prince. sweet caroline.neil diamond.


Anonymous said...

1st of all, you look really pretty in that picture!

The whole "singing everything" reminds me of Ithaca College, where opera majors are bored and freezing, and they have "recit Wednesdays," in which you are only allowed to communicate with your peers in Recitative on wednesdays. It's basically what you are describing with Maggie. Fun/ridiculous. Definitely. (also there were "fosse fridays," when you had to move through the halls in Fosse-like movement. wow...thank G-d i moved to NYC...)

I think you should add this to your playlist this week: "Mental Tenant" by the Daphne Rubin-Vega. p.s. LOVE "come see about me"

riese said...

re: pic....thanx!

And I will add that to my playlist...yay DRV!

Your Fosse Fridays are everyone's worst nightmare of opera students and others like them. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of living the nightmare already at Interlochen, when I would literally be woken from a sweet dream by opera students singing in the halls on their way to their rooms to sing even more.

Mercury said...

Sort of off topic, but I was reminded that I sometimes have dreams that I smoke, and then I wake up kind of wishing I did, and then I remember that it's poisonous and gross, so I eat some chocolate instead.

I have 3 z's and 2 v's in my word ver. and then an 'n' at the end, just to ruin it.

Mercury said...

PS if my toaster had that one slice instruction I would totally be befuddled by it. I wouldn't understand that that's the slot you use if you only want to toast one item. I'd just be like, "What the hell? no, I have TWO slices!!" Also, both the 5th avenue mall and the dimond mall, the only two malls in Anchorage, have food courts.

riese said...

The thing is I didn't even realize ANY toasters had that kind of instruction on it! I don't understand these mechanical things!

rachel, alaska's only gay bar has a website that is gaudy and takes too long to load, and the mall has a food court?

as rufus and chakra kan may sing: tell me something gooood

El N said...

right in time/lucinda williams

This was totally my sex song for 1998-1999. And once in 2002. May I say that, like fine wine, it got better with age (as did I!)

I'd love it if you put together these playlists using iMix and linked to it. Then strangers in the middle of the country or in Alaska can download your tuneage with ease!

ps. Haviland. Yep. Still with the name-crush.

riese said...

heee...yeah they played that song "right in time" when marina and jenny were hookin' up in the l hot hot! better with age indeed...

okay! I did it! I made it into an imix. Of course they cut out about 65% of it--because it's not on itunes or something--but apparently I will be recieving an email when it goes up...or u can search i think, imixes for "cmon get happy"? hmmmm...yay!

goneundercover said...

those wiggles guys may also be from australia. with accents and everything. they were just making a name for themselves in the big u.s. of a about 8 years ago. when i worked at a toy store. and wore a purple apron. with "pieces of flair".

El N said...

right in time" when marina and jenny were hookin' up?

Which, can I say and thought at the time, was a very strange choice of songs for that couple. It did not work for them. Uh yeah, I totally can see Marina hanging out on a tattered blanket at the Newport Folk Festival complaining about all the Ani fans trampling her spread of fine cheese and wine. Not. As for Jenny, she's the girl who got run over at the gate when those Ani fans raced for prime spots. The year was 1995. She thought Heart was scheduled to play. They weren't. She was sad. It became the sum of one of her parts.

And yeah, I don't appreciate how iMix can screw up a carefully put together playlist by not carrying everything you put on it. Drop a link my way nonetheless because you rock for doing that. Did you create one for the winter playlist?

riese said...

gu: they totally are from australia, you're right. did you guys sell bananas in pajamas, and if not, do you know what i'm talking about? that was a particularly amazing australian import.

ln james, Re: what you said--I had 'Right in Time' on a CD of music I made from various L Word soundtrack lists (an imix, if you will) and I had sort of always assumed that song had played perhaps during an Alice scene, or maybe even an Ivan scene. Then when I was rewatching season one about a year ago, I was like "Whaa??!!" so surprised to hear it come up for Marina and Jenny. I remember thinking the lyrics went ok for the situation, but the musical choice was, as you said, a bit suspect. Nevertheless, still hot. I mean, if they played Rod Stewart while Marina and Jenny were hooking up, I might still find it hot. Hell, I watch the show even though they still have that horrendous intro song.

riese said...

whoops that link didn't paste right. i'm gonna figure this shit out, i promise.

goneundercover said...

hmm.. bananas in pajamas..? it sounds familiar...we probably did, but i musta blocked it out.
fun songs and bright colors aren't so fun and bright when you have to giftwrap pokemon and thomas the train items for rich hags on their way to birthday parties that started, like, oh my god, an hour ago, under bright flourescent lights, listening to the latest kids sing the beatles for the 5th time in a day, with mary kate and ashley getting into mischeif in the video center, all while wearing a purple apron (see above).

Mercury said...

that sounds a little bit like my vision of hell.

Mercury said...

Um, something good about Alaska. I guess you wouldn't be as thrilled as I am that there are like, mountains, AND the ocean, right there? Or that we have "decent winters" which means that there's snow on the ground all the time and your face hurts if you go outside without covering it for too long, just because it's that cold? Or that our public transportation is only a few sparse city busses that run on their own version of time. We have nice bike trails. And tourists, tons of really funny tourists. They walk around in "ALASKA" sweatshirts in the summer when it's 50 degrees and all the locals are wearing shorts and tank tops. And you know, if you leave Anchorage, there's like a zillion square miles of forest, and little towns scattered around, and this one road, that goes up to Fairbanks. I've never been.

Anyway, I told you I want to move, right?

riese said...

That almost sounds worse than working at GapKids listening to like, bad summer of '99 music, like "Brighter than Sunshine" and Fatboy's ashame your tenure at the toy store corresponded with the pokemon craze--those are really particularly annoying. have I already told you about/badgered you to watch "Empire Records" for the scene when she comes out in only an apron because they are selling their business to the man and will now have to wear aprons? Likely I have. I tend to repeat myself.

riese said...

Rachel: Mountains are lovely! I do think Alaska is lovely. VERY lovely. Mountains are nice, and ocean, and glaciers. Though Hav and i had trouble finding soft serve ice cream, though we did find about ten oak logs carved into the shape of mooses and a lot of carmel corn and many items of clothing made out of fur? And um, what was really cute was all the signs that were like "Alaska Loves ALL FAMILIES!" everywhere we went because we were on the Rosie Gay Cruise. Then it would be like "Rainbow diamonds on sale!" SO HOT. Yay Alaska!

Mercury said...

Alaska lied, it likes the colors of the rainbow that you can find in plaid flannel shirts, which is, not very many, and it likes beer and hockey, and four-wheelers parked crooked in a weed-infested yard, and pot growing in the basement and owning four cars but none of them work more than %50 of the time and the greater portion of the bodies of the oldest ones have yeilded to rust. I think Alaska is too often drunk or fishing or sled-dogging to formulate an opinion on gay rights, although it is red in every single election, and believes firmly in drilling in ANWR, because that means jobs for our local young men, and also oodles of money for our government, which they occasionally dole out to the populus, because they can't think of what else to do with it, because nobody can agree that the roads are falling apart or that our schools are shameful. Actually, they resurface some roads like every year, and others they forget exist, like the one by my house.

This comment is really long, and very possibly pointless, but that is the beauty of it. I promise.

kwcfovdj... for some reason, this makes me want chicken and orange juice.

riese said...

1. Your RSS feed is still not wkring.

2. Your description of Alaska reminds me of Northern Michigan a little bit.

3. It is the beauty of it! I mean, that comment was totally blog-worthy, which is one level up from comment-worthy. need to consider the possibility of a Sunday Top Ten guest blogging spot!! Think it over.

riese said...

Um, there was an "o" in that "wking" in the first paragraph. i'm totally dumb.

Mercury said...

Well, I put the percent sign on the wrong side of the fifty, so call it even? That comment was right after my most recent blog post during which I was feeling poetic and like words were slippery but easily accessible and had good scents like maybe soaps or lotions. Which is my way of saying that they were being nice to me.

I don't have any good ideas for a sunday top 10, but I'll mull on it some. and of course, I'm totally flattered.

and also, I wanted to comment that I just noticed there is a justin timberlake song on the get happy list, which made me just stop, I didn't gag or feel shocked or anything, it just totally took me by surprise. Like maybe if I'd seen Justin Timberlake brushing his teeth in my bathroom at like two am I would have a similar reaction, this is the last place I would expect to find you.

Not that I can really judge, because, I don't recognize any of the songs (because I don't really learn artists or titles of songs, I just go 'oh i like this one') and I haven't heard any justin timberlake music, it's just funny because he was once in a boy band, and also, I watched a music video in which he danced around a lot and there were funny camera angles, but we had the sound off & were listening to Godsmack at the time, so I still didn't hear any of the music.

I'm wondering whats the max number of comments you've had on a single post, because I'm probably close to breaking it. Or at least, the max total word count for comments on a single post, because do I ramble.

bomeamm is the verification, which makes me think of Rent, and "bohemian", I think they are probably pronounced similarly.

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