Thursday, October 18, 2007

I <3 Harlem


I fall in love with Harlem more and more each day. And today may be a cherry on top of a half week’s worth of sundaes.

Last week, while reviewing my credit card statement, I realized that my liquor store, New Harlem Liquors, charged me an extra $253.10. I immediately knew what happened.

On 5 October 2007, I paid a visit to the packy. (If you’re unfamiliar with the term “packy”, you’re clearly not from New England.) In doing so, I picked up a bottle of Stoli Raz, as I was feeling a bit stressed and needed a reliever, and I just wasn’t feeling the bar scene. On the rocks with a fresh lime, it never fails as a sweet but subtle prescription.

Now you must understand that the packy’s in Harlem are hangouts; much like the barber shops and salons are, when evening rolls around, the liquor stores fill up with people—families even—in search of bottles, cigarettes, or lotto tickets.

In the New Harlem Liquors all the selections, and there are quite a few—even of good wines—are behind the counter. I told the gentleman what I was wanted; he grabbed it and rang me up. I handed him my credit card, he ran it through, and I blindly signed the slip, as I was distracted by all the commotion going on around me. Besides, he had told me my total before I handed the card over, so I didn’t think twice about what amount I was signing for.

Well, fast forward to the 10 October, when I was officially reviewing my recent activity. It was then that the transaction that took place on the fifth had posted on the eighth and I noticed it. Instead of a charge for $28.12, it was for $281.22. A seemingly simple, honest mistake—hopefully one that could be easily fixed.

Well, I immediately contacted my credit card company, hoping the process would be simple. Naturally, as with all irrelevant receipts, I had trashed this one. Furthermore, I chose not to use my AMEX so this made life all the more difficult, as American Express is the sole credit card company that will simply bend over and take it. And even though life takes VISA, VISA is not one to up and just take it.

The lady on the phone, as nice as she was, explained the process and I was dreading it, hoping I could resolve it with the store. I went there to discuss the matter with someone, but since I don’t have a printer, I was asked to come back with a copy of my statement.

Fast forward to today: I had printed the statement out, and of course my cycle closed, so now a payment is due on an amount I didn’t spend! But regardless. I went this morning with it in hand, talked it over the Carlos whom I’d spoken to the week prior, and he asked me to come back around 3. Ok, fine.

Well, I just returned from there and to my great relief and surprise, it was as simple as handing them my card to receive my credit of $253.10. The owner, whose name I did not get, laughed as we went over the sales from that day. Like most small businesses, the credit card machine is separate from the register, so since the register balanced at the end of the night, there was no reason to scour the credit card slips. He, like me, said it was a simple, honest mistake with the 2 being hit an extra time.

We shook hands.

He credited my card.

I bought a bottle of red—paid in cash.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Apples, Bathrooms, Kites

LL, well, well: Hello and hello.

I went apple picking this past weekend. It was lovely.

My love affair with Turkey has grown deeper, if only because of my disdain towards the United States and its current sordid, unilateral leadership.

I have a new found and deep respect for NBC journalist Matt Lauer. He had the distinct privilege (if you can call it that) to sit down in Boise, ID with one of the GOP’s finest scandal producers: the mendacious Senator Larry Craig (and his picture-perfect wife Suzanne, too). It was a respectfully cunning and inquisitive interview with regards to the Senators most recent debacle: a gay sex sting in an airport bathroom.

Finally, a family values senator gets what they deserve: an ousting.

And then there’s Afghanistan.

I know, random.

But I’ve fallen in love with the place all over again: Its mystery; its culture and once pukka population; its robust history; its tear jerking turmoil. Each of those a facet of a state which the west knows very little about, nor do they seem to have a desire to understand—the proofs in the present.

I was introduced to the country by Mr. Rory Stewart, Scottish journalist and author of The Places in Between and The Prince of the Marshes. Both books are non-fiction accounts of time Stewart spent in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively. Stewart is a brilliant writer with a prose like no other. He paints a vivid picture of an often scarce, barren, and dangerous landscape. But what he did in Afghanistan was something I could not even fathom tempting: walked across the torn state right after the fall of the Taliban in 2003—and he’s still alive, and continues to do civilian work throughout the Middle East. His second book was about a year in Iraq as a civilian worker for the British government.

I have so many reasons behind my love affair with the most war-torn part of our world, but Afghanistan stands alone for me. (So do Turkey and Israel, but they’re both states in quite different political and societal shape.)

Now, you must know, rarely do I read fiction for pleasure. But over the summer, I was at the book store with Katie T. and we both recommended books to each other and promised we’d read them. I recommended Stewart’s Places, Katie lobbied for The Kite Runner; I went for it. I know it’s despicable that I hadn’t read it up to this past summer. But I’m now happy to admit that I’m one of the millions of readers who so eagerly read through Hosseini’s captivating novel. And thus my love affair has further flourished.

Of course Places was the first book Kate read of the four she bought. Kite Runner was the last I read of the four I bought that day, with a few others in between. But I read it and loved it and am now vehemently following the turmoil behind the film’s release.

Katie and I have talked about how we must travel somewhere absolutely outrageous together someday. I now have no doubt that with or without her, though I’d much prefer she joins, that absolutely outrageous place will be Afghanistan.

But then again, it’s not really that it?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Friend-ly Iranian Visits Furthered by Platformed, Cocaine Vacant Discos and a Gay Wedding

Well, here’s to Kevin Federline being a better father than Brittany that fuck up of a whore of a mother. I’m only opening with that because my Times, the paper of note, had a fucking article about her custody battle in the A section but nearly a day after it happened. And here it is: Brittany's Loss

Bullshit. Leave it to Mr. Murdoch, his Fox fucking Post and Journal.

Anyway, enough with the gossip I never note because of its absurdity, indecency, and inconsideration.

I’ve been frustrated lately, and I don’t think the feeling is going to dissipate soon; there’s a lot behind it. Regardless.

I had the craziest week—and then some—ever [second to last week of Sept to the last weekend of Sept] though. Not only did the United Nations commence, but the delightfully charamastic Preisdent of Iran spoke in my hood at Colombia only to be shushed, shunned, and frankly punched before he spoke at an education World Leaders Forum. Wow. Check that shit. Not only does he—whose name spelling I don’t care to look up—“possess all the characteristics of a petty and cruel dictator,” but he also claims there are no gays in Iran. Wow, what a fucking feature. It must be so dull, ugly, and plain in Iran…please note my sarcasm.

But, more than anything, my dear old friend who is now an official South Carolina resident came to visit me: Miss. Kaite T (Twomey). We had a most fabulous time, even though she missed her first flight. Now, this should have come as no shock to me, as I spoke to her after midnight on the evening of her flight only to find her, and to no surprise of mine own, incredibly inebriated. Luckily, damn luckily, she made stand-by on the following two flights to arrive at JFK but merely 5.5 hours behind schedule. Whoopise.

She’s knows I hate her but still absolutely adore her, so whatever. We had a most fabulous four days together, even though I had to work five hours Sunday and six Monday. I have great friends to thank for filling her vacant time with theirs: Miss. D and my roommate, Roger. They wined and dined her as only fellow New Yorker’s can do, and I’m so thankful for it.

Anyway, fast forward to the following weekend (last official weekend in Sept). There was a Disco on Friday night on 138th and Lenox (that’s no mother fucking joke, bitch); a semi-subtle night on Saturday; and my very first, absolutely official gay wedding in New Jersey on Sunday morning.

[Note: New Jersey has gone further than any other state in these United States to recognize homosexual couples and their right be recognized under the law. Though they do not define it as “marriage,” the language of the law parallels the rights of heteros and homos quite closely, closer than VT, HI, CA, CT (though note MA .because they do indeed call it marriage). Allen and Mike came close to receiving the 1100 rights that hetero couples so unknowingly enjoy, all thanks to bright blue, albeit industrially and nuclearly glowing, New Jersey.]


I’ll quickly cover the disco: I went all out, to no surprise of any who know me.

I had my mother mail me the fur coat I bought many moons ago at the Salvation Army in Norwich for a 70s themed coronation dance in 11th grade; I ran to Andy’s Cheepes (which turned out to be not that fucking cheap) and picked up bell bottoms, paten leather white platforms, and a huge silver peace sign necklace. I already had my light green, huge square frame, light lensed Versace sunglasses to compliment; not to mention a ring for 6 of my ten fingers. D had a fabulous costume too: a perfectly Pucci-esq dress with her fabulously afro curly hair, gianormous gold hoops, heels and a tackily matching headband to tie it all in.

We were a pair fit for a shitshow, a cocaine buffet, and a whirl wind of a disco, and that is what it fucking was (minus the cocaine buffet…George Jung is still in jail, and in a recent Times report, Coke prices have skyrocketed:
Coke's Inflation). For I have never been to a party where more party goers dressed up! It was surreal and I loved it. If only all themed parties could be so successful, maybe 70s attire would be vogue again.

Or maybe just in my dreams.

As for the wedding:

It was absolutely unbelievable. D and I (Diana, that is) toasted the Sunday wedding with our first drink (a half-ass White Russian) at ten-ish. The wedding started at noon; we arrived a bit early, with all her work’s good company, and because of it were blessed with passed Champagne. Well, we indulged. Who wouldn’t?

It was a lovely day in Jersey City at the Hyatt, stunningly overlooking downtown Manhattan. The ceremony took place on the Hudson and with un-obstructive views of the greatest city in the world, specifically its lower half, mine and D’s home for the past four years. It was lovely. I’ll admit I had one grip though. To “commemorate” their partnership, once the JOP made it official, white latex balloons were released into the air…right on the edge of the Hudson. And to think that I just read an article last week about how recent reports of Sea Turtle populations are continuing to dwindle, even with the supped up efforts to help them. Regardless, it was a most fabulous day for a most fabulous couple for an incredibly overdue legitimate and indeed legal celebration.

After that, the fucking party began. Kettle was my only choice for vodka….god for fucking bid. I think I’ll start it there and end it there as well.

Somehow, and thankfully, I made it to work the next morning. Perhaps it was because we were wasted well before 4pm, or maybe it was because I was passed out by ten…but then again, who knows.

And then, here we are, Wednesday evening. Besides Dexter and Weeds, which I could write full reports about both for, there’s not really much else. Wizard of Oz monopoly with Kimmie is all the cherry I can give.

Till next time.