Holiday Cheer

The following is a poem I wrote.  Yes, a poem.  I wrote it exactly five years ago today to commemorate not Thanksgiving, but the day of travel that precedes it.  I’m proud to say that I cranked this puppy out in the first hour of my work day.  It’s amazing what inspiration (re: rage) can do.

It was Thanksgiving Eve
and on Tyler’s commute,
he encountered more people
than ever to shoot.

In fair Jersey City
the trouble began,
thanks to coiled deposits
from those best friends of man.

“I’m a dog lover,” he said,
“I love their bite and their bark–
but pick up their shit;
this ain’t Central Park.”

As he walked to the PATH,
dodging poopie from puppies,
he muttered at Asians,
at Hindus, and yuppies.

Lugging his luggage,
he descended below,
to the train that would take him
where he needed to go.

Surprisingly spacious,
he sighed in relief–
but his respite from trouble
would be shockingly brief.

At Pavonia/Newport,
two girlies got on,
bringing with them some Prada
and Louis Viutton.

Each Indian princess
shuffled and sighed.
There simply wasn’t much room
for them on this ride.

So they shot dirty looks
at the nearest male body.
And that certain young male
was this half-Jewish hottie.

With his bags and wide shoulders,
Tyler took up some space,
and was about to incur
the hot wrath of their race.

Their intention, it seemed,
was to have him just move,
but he had a point
that he needed to prove.

Chivalry isn’t dead,
but please stand corrected:
it’s a courtesy extended,
but should not be expected.

Well, Shiva and Vishnu,
weren’t pleased in the least.
But Tyler’s mind was now on
the impending Cohn feast.

At last in New York,
he rose to the surface
and quickly discovered
a strong brand-new purpose.

“I’ll teach all the people
to walk at a pace
at which they won’t lose
to a snail in a race!”

“Rule Number 1,”
he said in raised voice,
“Know where you’re going.
This is no time for choice!”

“This one’s for the parents,
and it’s Rule Number 2:
don’t walk any slower
than your damn children do.”

“If their legs are too short
or if they have sluggish feet,
take them up in your arms
and get off my damn street.”

“The Champs-Elysees
is great for a stroll,
but this is Midtown New York.
We are fleet-footed souls.”

“Don’t complain that it’s crowded,
that’s Rule Number Three.
You’re the one making it crowded
for people like me.”

“Numero Quattro
is for you fine CEOs:
a note about luggage,
especially those…”

“Those little briefcases
that come with two wheels,
that you drag on the street,
that crash on my heels…”

“If your baggage is smaller
than the handle you hold,
my beating of you
will be ferociously bold.”

“Just hold your damn suitcase
off the ground in your fist
and my thrashing of you
will be narrowly missed.”

Now, don’t think him rude,
or heartless, or vile,
but T-Trooper’s been thinking
this way for a while.

“There are eight million people
in this fabulous town;
but I have ideas
for bringing that number down.”

“If you can’t take the heat,
then get out of the kitchen.
Now get out of my way
and I might stop my bitchin’.”

In closing, my friends,
I wish you safe travels
and hope that your sanity
never unravels.

Because this is the day,
whether in car or in truck,
whether by train or by plane,
that commuting just sucks.

Have a great time tomorrow!
If you’re tired, just think:
“Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Now go get me my drink.”

Enjoy your holidays, everyone!

~ T

Sing-Along Study Break

Things have gotten busy for me lately, as evidenced by the fact that it took me two weeks to report on my one day spent in Philadelphia.  The school work at NYU has really picked up!  Since Friday, I’ve had a major presentation and one mid-term, with another test soon to come.  Never mind the fact that I’m already being inundated with e-mails about registering for next semester’s courses and further planning out my course of study.  My time for adventuring and jackassery has been significantly curtailed!

Still, I’m really enjoying the program.  I’ve learned some very interesting and useful things, and I’ve met some great people.  The course work isn’t so daunting, as long as I keep things in perspective.  For example, whenever I felt my eyes crossing as I reviewed the minutiae of First Amendment protections ahead of last night’s exam, I would just take a moment to refocus.  And I find a very simple way to do that is through song.  I don’t know if any of you other students out there agree, but even if this method doesn’t work for you, watching me apply it might have the same effect.

Wish me luck on my second (and likely tougher) mid-term!  And feel free to offer up suggestions for a song to rock out to during finals!

~ T

Blake Griffin Is Your Daddy

One of the stranger things that has happened since I started The Honestly Blog has been the extra attention I’ve paid to the world of sports.  Yes, my baptism in pinstripes predates my birth as a blogger; but thanks to the revival of the family football pool, this was the first year I ever followed the NFL week to week.  And my athletic horizons are widening still, as I find myself now waiting for NBA highlights while watching SportsCenter on the treadmill.  Yes, I followed The Decision last summer, and I’m glad for my fellow New Yorkers that the Knicks are a team to be reckoned with again; but truthfully, there’s only one reason I’m keeping an eye on professional basketball this year.

Blake Griffin.

I only first learned about the big guy as he and the Sooners battled through March Madness in 2009, and in the hub-bub that soon followed when he announced he would go pro.  For me, that was when his story got interesting.  He was drafted first overall to the worst team in the league, and managed to injure himself so badly during pre-season play that the resulting surgery sidelined him for an entire year.  Blake Griffin’s NBA debut might well have been the longest anticipated such start in recent memory.

And what a start it’s been.  He’s averaged almost 22 points a game, which when you think about it is almost a quarter of the points a professional basketball team will total in a game.  He makes two-thirds of his three-pointers.  He’s started every game.  Oh, and the guy is not afraid to take fucking charge of a situation.  Check out this highlight reel of Griffin’s ten best dunks of the year.

That’s just this year so far.  And this is the ten best, meaning there were others almost as outrageous that had to be left on the cutting room floor.  Like I said, my basketball knowledge is minimal, and my playing experience is nigh non-existent, but nevertheless, I am finding myself becoming a big fan of Blake Griffin’s.

I also happen to think he cleans up nice, too.

The Clippers are playing the Nets at home this March.  I plan to take full advantage of my proximity to the Prudential Center, and of the Nets’ low ticket prices, and see some of these vertical feats of strength myself.

~ T

Through the Years

For the last weekend of summer, I went back home to Long Island, to take care of some business and to be a dutiful son.  Mom had a list of things for me to do.  One of the last items on the list was to go through three giant plastic storage buckets full of paraphernalia commemorating my nearly twenty-six years on this Earth, and to throw out anything I didn’t feel particularly sentimental about.  She was surprised to discover that I didn’t feel particularly sentimental about most of it.  No, Mom, I do not need all my Little League trophies or middle school report cards.  The bundles of letters I sent you from sleep-away camp can go in the garbage, too.  Arts and crafts projects from nursery school will sooner turn to dust in my hands than do us any good as holiday centerpieces.

Among the things she insisted on keeping were all my school pictures.  I can’t fault her for that.  They were pretty funny to look through.  I took a handful to Mom’s scanner before the weekend was over, because I figured you would all find them amusing.

So, let’s hop in the Way-Back Machine and travel to 1990…

Voila!  Say hello to Yours Truly at age 6ish.

The first thing you’ll notice is the hair.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I used to be a blonde.  Thanks, puberty.

The next thing you’ll notice is that I seem to be pretty rangy.  Now, with the exception of being born at under six pounds, I don’t think I could have ever in my life been considered “skinny”; but by the looks of that jaw line, in first grade I was coming pretty close.

Finally, please note that my mother had dressed me for Picture Day in Ralph Lauren.

Let’s send our time machine back a little further, shall we?

Straight out of the Kids ‘R Us catalog, right?

This sweater combo with the matching undershirt is quite the little number, don’t you think?  I’ve even got a pretty good pose here, too; early proof that I could take direction.  Unfortunately, I must have been less cooperative for the barber than I was for the photographer.  I realize my head’s at an angle, but that bowl cut seems to be a little slanted across the front, no?

For the record, my hair would no longer grow that far down my forehead.  Thanks, age.

Finally, for the coup de grace, let’s go back to June of 1986, when Yours Truly was chosen to be one of the ring bearers at his beloved Aunt Cindy’s wedding.  Drumroll, please…

Game.  Set.  Match.   I challenge anyone out there to find a more adorable toddler in a sweeter outfit than that.

Nevertheless, I have questions.  For one thing, why’d they put me in white?  Isn’t that against the wedding rules?  Or are the ring bearers and flower girls allowed to be in white, because the adults think it’s cute?  For another thing, socks and sandals?  Honestly…?

To fill out the story behind this picture: I shared ring bearing duties with my cousin Tom.  I had been the picture of happiness all day.  When we got our cue to walk down the aisle, Tom dutifully headed for the altar.  I decided I had had enough of my mini-tux and pitched a shit-fit right there at the back of the church.  My mother picked me up, carried me down the aisle, muttered to my aunt, “I told you this wouldn’t work!”, and then threw me into my father’s arms with an exasperated, “Here!”.  Dad, never one for big events, hid a grin beneath his mustache and took me outside for the remainder of the service.

Just because I didn’t want to hold on to everything doesn’t mean that I’m not sentimental about the past.  Far from it.  But thanks to the magic of modern digital technology, I can open these little windows to the days of yore whenever I want, and peer through and think, “You’ve come a long way, buddy.”

~ T

Kickball Is For Lovers, Part II

I’d be remiss were I not to mention that Cupid’s arrows continue to strike at Momma Johnson Park.  Over the Fourth of July weekend, kickball alumni Nate and Julia got engaged in the hills overlooking Lake Ontario.  The picturesque proposal was only slightly marred by the fact that when Nate got down on one knee, like a proper gentleman, his lower leg went directly into a shallow puddle, soaking him as well as his phone.  So, I waited to post this congratulatory note until I figured ample time had passed for him to get a new one and notify all necessary parties.

So, congratulations to Nate and Julia, two of the first new friends I made when I moved to Hudson County three years ago.  They were part of the original band of Goddamnit Gerberites; and though they have since retired, we never miss an opportunity to hang with them.  They’re warm, funny, and engaging people–and among the few who have no qualms about crossing the canal into Jersey City!  Above all, they are a perfectly complimentary couple, as evidenced by their Halloween costumes from last year.

Congratulations, guys!

~ T

Kickball Is For Lovers

And now for some news to brighten your mood on this oppressively hot Monday…

Two weekends ago, the summer camp that I attended with kickball rookies George and Amanda hosted an open house for alums to commemorate the start of the camp’s 70th summer.  Though I consider going to sleep-away camp to be the single best decision I’ve ever made in life, I wasn’t too eager to mill about the old grounds and have awkward conversations with people I haven’t seen in eight years, if not more.  I was also privy to information that suggested it’d be best if I forfeited my place in the Hudson County carpool…

As I have since been told, late in the afternoon of June 19, on the deck of the senior canteen–where our little gang wasted many a summer evening playing word games, making up songs, and talking shit about people over chipwiches– George proposed to a completely surprised Amanda.  The scoundrel said he’d had it in the works since the camp announced the reunion, and I stand in awe of his patience and thoughtfulness.

So, here’s the official Honestly Blog congratulations to two of my dearest friends.  I know few people as deserving of each other as these two and of the happiness they’ll continue to share together.

Now all I have to do is decide which Color War shirt to wear to the wedding…

~ T

Benny and the Jets?

Hey, sports fans!  How ’bout that US soccer team?  Our dauntless squad of sporting pseudo-celebrities continue their unlikely climb up the World Cup bracket, having defeated Algeria yesterday, 1 – 0.  This means that the Americans will play Ghana on Saturday, and that for at least three more days, people in the United States will pretend they understand, enjoy, and care about soccer.

I kid, I kid.  Some of my best friends are soccer players.  I have nothing but respect for the tremendous stresses they put on their bodies, and the relentless effort with which they play.  But, come on, let’s face it: when it comes to the World Cup, America has always been the red-headed stepchild of the competition.  We’re the people who were so arrogant and xenophobic that we had to make up two entirely new sports (warped and bastardized adaptations of existing games, to be sure) just to keep the world’s most popular and most practical game from taking root here in this, our nation, unique among all others.  But once every four years, we kick the doors open to whatever international venue FIFA has chosen and swagger in like we’ve been a part of it since the Aztecs were playing for beating human hearts instead of a garish golden trophy.  It’s so shallow, so disingenuous, so…American.

But, seriously, I wish Team USA the best.  I mean, it’s hard not to cheer on these guys.  Strictly by virtue of being the American soccer team, they’re underdogs.  Who doesn’t want to root for the underdog?  Plus, when you have squad members like Benny Feilhaber putting videos like the one embedded below on YouTube for the world to see, how could you not want to see them succeed?

Can I just say…honestly, Benny Feilhaber?  It’s not enough that you’re good enough at soccer to earn a place on the national squad which competes in the world’s most elite competition, but you have to be humorous and self-effacing as well?  Is it really necessary for you to be a better lip-syncher than any contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, what with your funny faces and diva gesticulations and punning literal dance moves?    Must you have a perfectly shaped dome, a strong and confident chin, rakish facial hair that I’m sure requires little or no maintenance (it just grows in cool that way), pouty lips that frame a dental hygienist’s wet dream, and those steel cobalt eyes that are simultaneously so cold and so warm, so hard and so soft, which slowly and inexorably draw me in, more effective than any state fair hypnotist’s pocket watch could ever hope to be, and delicately yet insistently command me to surrender control to you, Benny Feilhaber?  Why must you toy with us mere mortals on this earthly realm, Benny Feilhaber?  Do you understand the paradox your very existence suggests?  Tell me, Benny Feilhaber, is it fair?

I submit that it is not.

~ T

I Look Good

After spending a hot summer weekend with oodles of friends, old and new, I headed to the gym this morning.  The final part of my routine on Mondays is to step on the scale in the locker room.  It’s one of those great standard issue antiques, with the sliding weights on the top.  Well, I am quite pleased to announce that for the fourth consecutive Monday, I’ve weighed under 200 lbs.

The first time this happened I was astonished.  I was alone in the locker room and was frankly disappointed that I didn’t have a witness.  I don’t think I’ve weighed under 200 lbs since I was 16 (which makes me realize what a sad sack of shit I was in high school).  Clicking that block over from 200 to 150 was momentous.  Sure, I had to spin the tiny one all the way to the opposite end of the balance, but hey–under 200 is under 200.

So,  it wasn’t a drastic difference (today’s 197 has been the lowest yet), and being 6’1″, it’s not like weighing 200-and-change marked me as some kind of physical anomaly.  The cloud within the silver lining, however, was realizing that even in the 190s, there’s still work to be done.  Sure, I may have looked fucking European compared to the Binghamtonians, but that’s not gonna cut it in my world.  The battle continues each morning most mornings, and will include next month’s Hoboken 5K.  As always, you’ll be duly notified of any accomplishments or mishaps.

So, in recognition of this physiological benchmark, I present to you a forthright anthem celebrating one’s own vanity, ego, physical appearance, and inflated sense of self-worth.  In short, a top contender for my own personal theme song.

~ T

June, June, June

Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to summer!  Yes, everyone’s favorite season (well, everyone except the clinically depressed and severely misguided who look forward to winter) began with the recent Memorial Day holiday.  I hope you had a weekend full of stories.  I sure did, and I’ll be sharing them with you soon.

But in the meantime, let’s celebrate the start of June with this now-classic YouTube selection of the otherwise incredibly talented Leslie Uggams singing on the National Mall.  Why?  Just because it’s June.

~ T

The Dell from Hell

Greetings, readers!

For the past week, I’ve been living an early ’90s existence without a working laptop.  This has meant an obvious lack of blogging.  But, just like a secondary character on Lost, I’m back from the dead, and I’ve got stories to tell.

First and foremost, if you’re ever thinking about getting a Dell computer…don’t.  I have a Dell, and it will be my last after the circus I encountered this week.  After having my computer professionally de-bugged, I was still faced with constant freezing and crashing.  I finally called Dell tech support and they walked me through some diagnostics.  The results of those tests led the voice on the other end of the phone to believe that the guts of my computer needed to be replaced.  Hard drive, motherboard, fan, keyboard–the works.  It was the computer equivalent of a simultaneous heart, brain, and lung transplant.

I was told that the parts would be ordered next-day delivery, arriving at a technician on Tuesday morning, who would call to set up an appointment with me that afternoon.  Fine.   I took my laptop to work on Tuesday and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally, at 5:00 I called Dell and asked where my technician was.  No one ever showed.  No one ever called.

I was told that my request had not been processed.  “I don’t understand,” I said.  “Do you not have the proper information from me?  Are you missing something from me?”  No, I was told, they had sufficient information.  “Well, is this because the parts are not available yet?”  Oh no, I was told, the parts were always in supply.  No, my report failed to be processed because, well, they were having some trouble with their database.

Yes.  The people I had called to help me fix my computer had to call people to help fix their computer.

So, finally, on Thursday a technician arrived to perform the necessary procedure on my laptop.  The surgery was so extensive she had to come back on Friday.  It wasn’t until this weekend that I even had a moment to sit down and download some necessary programs to it.  It’s still not fully loaded, and it’s still giving me trouble (currently, it doesn’t recognize any USB devices), but at least this was all covered under my warranty, which still has six months left on it.

But here’s my question: If Dell foot the bill to put brand new innards in the body of my old laptop, will they be extending the warranty to cover those new parts?  It would make sense.  Basically, they’ve just given me a new computer, just in the body of an old one.  If I went out and bought a new one, you bet they’d offer a warranty.  So will they give me any satisfaction from keeping me out of the loop and away from my adoring public for an entire week?  I expect a follow-up phone call to gauge my response any day now.

~ T