Saturday, September 25, 2004

So I'm futzing around in the back of Tulip tonight, when the bartender hands me a business card with the following scribbled on it: "SWLiP je tady." Perplex, I sought out the writer. It was Brant Hadaway of the blog Strange Women Lying in Ponds.

UPDATE: Of course I meant to write "perplexed." The things I hate about my typos are: a) I make so many of many of them (it's the drinking, and I'm triny to cut down) and b) when I make them, it's never something simple like "I've cahnged my point of view" but rather something that seems sinisterly revealing about my very thought process, because even in emails, I'm often racing ahead of myself, often starting new setnences without finishing the last, and then forgetting to finish the first sentence, thereby leaving myself cruelly exposed.

On that note, I spelled my friend's name wrong in a review I wrote today for Amazon. Sorry, I didn't actually spell it wrong. I got it wrong, as in Iceberg Goldberg Same Thing.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

What a fucking miserable depressing place Prague is to return to. People dressed like we're back in the GDR, never speaking or smiling to one another, often with grotesque physical deformities, drab oppressive overcast days, and have you seen the selection in the shops? What year is this? Jesus!

Check out this fun Quicktime video, meanwhile, edited and put to music, of me and Alex and her sister having fun in New York City.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

You might have already heard about the
great Kryptonite bike lock debacle
. Apparently, a biker in San Francisco discovered that all you need to open the most popular brand of Kryptonite bike locks is a Bic pen. (He found out after his bike was stolen.) The guy posted the news on the web, word spread like wildfire, it was soon covered by the major media, and now everybody in the world with one of these supposedly unbreakable Kryptonite locks is susceptible.

I just did it myself. One of my hosts here in Manhattan just showed me how. It's really quite a shocker. The scary thing is that if you go around Manhattan, you'll apparently still see these locks everywhere. Any unscrupulous guy who wants to make a lot of dough just needs to rent a big truck, buy a Bic pen, and hit the streets of New York.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Oh my! I almost forgot to tell you.

Reason I'm Here: Sister's wedding to a man named Bob, a very nice Bob-like man who, like my entire extended family, hails from the Greater Boston area, at a conference center in the woods of Rhode Island called "Whispering Pines."

Funniest Moment During The Ceremony: The minister's doing the repeat-after-me thing, and when she says "through hardships and triumphs," the groom says "through hahdships and triumphs." My parents, in the front row, both start snickering visibly.

It's Not A Wedding Unless A Family Member Gets Drunk And Makes A Fool Of Himself: That's where I come in. No, it wasn't a slurred and rambling toast. It was the beige suit that my Uncle Ken gave me about three years ago -- a three-piecer he bought in 1980. After I took in the flared leg, it fit me perfectly, and it's just enough on the respectable side of clownish to wear to weddings. At a certain point in any wedding reception, inevitably the DJ plays "Staying Alive." You can guess the rest. I knew my personality was getting out of control when the wedding photographer ran out onto the floor to start snapping pictures of me...

Most Pleasing Sign-Of-The-Times-In-Massachusetts Revelation: My family's local minister came down to Rhode Island to perform an excellent (as far as these things go) New Englandy Protestant non-religious religious wedding service (i.e. something along the lines of, "Gee, what is this God thing we keep hearing about, and what's it have to do with Christine and Bob meeting on Match.com? Aw shucks, who really knows, but gosh it sure feels good, doesn't it? As Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians..."), is now an out-of-the-closet lesbian. Not only that, she brought her new partner, who is also a minister, for whom she just left her husband and kids, to the reception. When I left the U.S.A. in 1996, this might have passed for shocking. By the way, my parents' high school buddies, including one former Pentagon employee and a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, can really cut a rug when "YMCA" comes on, which, if you ever really listen to the words, is about the gayest song ever...
I'm writing from New York City, where I'm staying with my girlfriend's sister and her boyfriend in an East Village apartment. It's good to be back in the U.S. for a few days. I'm returning to Prague on Thursday morning. Yesterday I went to the local deli to buy beer, and stood there looking at the display fridge for about fifteen minutes in sheer anguish as I contemplated the huge selection of malt beverages available. Coors? Bud Light? Interesting and exotic, for me at least, but then there were my hosts to consider. Brooklyn Lager? Seemed a bit too obvious. Considered Rolling Rock for purely for the nostalgia value (that's what I drank in college). Found various imports with enticingly colorful packaging... Pilner Urquell? Czechvar? Bwahahahaha! Finally settled on a big bottle of Colt 45 and a six-pack of Chinese Tsing Tao.


Thursday, the night before I left, there was a Violent Incident at Tulip. I was sitting in the office when the manager ran back and started rummaging through the freezer. "Fucking Arabs!" he said. I'm all, "Huh?" and he's like, "Fucking Arabs, man! (pause) They tried to steal [our cook]'s bag and then hit him!" He was looking for a hamburger patty to apply to the cook's face.

Indeed, one of our cooks had been sitting at the bar, off duty, having a drink with a lady friend, when four customers who by various accounts were Gypsies, Moroccan, Non-Specified Arab, or White walked out of the restaurant. One of them grabbed the cook's bag as he left. The cook immediately noticed and went after the guy, grabbed the bag out of his hands, and said something along the lines of, "I saw that, now just leave." Not content to turn tail and walk away, the would-be thief smacked the cook -- hard. By one customer's account, he had a long wind-up, and the physical evidence was pretty severe -- glasses bent way outta shape, some swelling. He was quite disoriented, so we called an ambulance just to be on the safe side. Meanwhile, the bartender and the rest of the kitchen staff (two brothers you'd definitely want on your side in a bar fight) took off in hot pursuit, and a customer ran to find a cop. The law showed up in force -- by this point I guess we're getting to be pretty well known by the local cops? -- but the culprits were not apprehended. The bartender returned declaring loudly, "From this point on I am racist ty vole! If Morrocans come to this restaurant I'm not serving them jako I call the police immediately!"

I'm not sure there's any silver lining to the story. (The cook was OK in the end. No concussion.) But I don't think these guys will be coming back. My experience with this sort of thing is that gangs of thieves will generally stake out a joint, find a place where they can easily filch somebody's belongings and get away without making a scene, and will return until they exhaust the possibilities of petty crime. They definitely made a scene this (first) time, and I was impressed the way the staff and customers all came together to deal with it.