Wednesday, August 19

Life Imitating Art Imitating Life
or something like that

I'm sure I saw the black undercover police SUV before I read Richard Price's Lush Life. The book starts with four cops in a fake cab, cruising around, looking for problems:
The Quality of Life Task Force: four sweatshirts in a bogus taxi set up on the corner of Clinton Street alongside the Williamsburg Bridge off-ramp to profile the incoming salmon run; their mantra: Dope, guns, overtime; their motto: Everybody's got something to lose.
Even if I saw the black SUV before reading Lush Life, I never noticed it. After, it seemed to be in the Lower East Side all the time and seeing the car with its sirens on, de-cloaked, made me feel in the know. But I figured the taxi idea had been a literary twist.

'Til yesterday, when I saw four kids (teens, really) sitting on the curb alongside their van. The doors of the van were open so you could see in, to piles of blankets and inoffensive looking things. One of the kids was shirtless, with a bandaged wound on his back shoulder. Behind the van was a cab, and at first I imagined there'd been a fender-bender. But why, I wondered, does the kid already have a bandage on? Then I noticed the whirling police light on the cab's dashboard, and thought, ooooh. I wonder if Richard Price witnessed a similar moment when he was plotting out the book.

Monday, August 17

Unsolicited Rave Reviews

Dear people at the gas station on Houston & Ave D:

Let's admit it: Things weren't looking good for me. I was in a gas station alone, surrounded by a motley selection of New Yorkers -- cabbies, folks in inordinately-large-for-ny cars, and a man refueling his ice cream truck. My car was all gassed up, but wouldn't start.

No one was honking, but there was a man in a giant green SUV who looked like he had his hand poised. I kept putting my key in the ignition and turning. A/C - check; Radio - check; actual on-ness of car - nothing. When I tried to put the car in drive, it just slid backwards toward the man refueling the ice cream truck.

I tried another 12 times, give or take, trusting that "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" would pull through for me. The gas station attendant approached, as it became clear the theory wasn't working.

He wasn't able to get the car going, and neither was the Hispanic man who came over to help, saying "mami, just look at the instruction manual." More gas station attendants swirled around me, and I got lots of advice, until finally they put the car in neutral and dragged it away from the line of cars impatiently waiting to fuel.

I called zipcar, and it turns out that I used the car's key, when you're supposed to only use the magnetic entry card doohicky. The woman on the phone gave the car a hard restart (just like when you call Time Warner because your cable is out). Cheers to the zipcar lady, and jeers to me, for goofing everything up.

But biggest amazement and praise to everyone at the gas station, who was genuinely concerned, 100% patient, incredibly helpful, almost bizarrely involved, and truly uninterested in stealing my tote full of freelance & my wallet, which I did not monitor well in the chaos.. All this, and I even returned the zipcar 10 minutes early.

Tuesday, August 4

Made By Me.

Of course I did research before J, Joe, and I went to the Home Depot in Brooklyn to get plants for my rooftop garden. I consulted the internet, my mom (oh, anytime in April or May sounds good), and my dad (who gave a very precise date, along with evidence from the New York Times for the rightness of the timing) for the best date to start planting.

I spent about 50 bucks. Dirt is more expensive than you might think. I needed planters, and plants, too. $50 seemed like a lot for just a little garden, but I figured everything would go swimmingly after all my research, and that the garden would pay for itself in deliciousness.

As it turned out, swimmingly was an overly apt term for what happened to my garden. You know what happens next: The rain. Buckets of it. Daily rain for entire weeks. The dill was the first to go. One strawberry plant drowned, and the other one blew away. Times were tough, and I gave up. But these two lonely tomatoes survived -- twenty-five dollars each, delicious and costly.