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I was driving down Park Avenue in New York earlier this week, and I saw a sign threatening a $300 ticket for honking your horn. And I thought, “That’s not really fair, is it?” I mean, why should the horn be legal in some places but not in others, just because some rich Park Avenue lady with a husband on the city council was woken up by a honk one time in the middle of the night? Why don’t we make the horn illegal everywhere – surely poor people deserve peace and quiet just as much as rich folk. Why do they even make cars with horns anymore?

Why? Because the car horn was originally designed as a safety feature. It was meant to alert a pedestrian of your existence, or maybe just to scare off livestock or men on horseback who might be in your way. These days, however, drivers and roads are a little more sophisticated than they once were (unless you’re in a place like West Virginia, or Boston), and I think it’s time for a more sophisticated honk.

For example, we only have one honk, and it basically means “Hey!” Like, hey! I’m driving here, or hey! you’re about to die, or hey! nice boobs. What if there are other sentiments that we want to express? With that, I humbly submit to you my latest invention: the multi-toned car horn. It would feature several different sounds, such as…

– The “Sorry” horn – for use when you accidentally cut someone off or splash a pedestrian with puddle-water. I’m hearing it sort of like a trombone going “wah-waaah.” It would be nice to be able to honk to take responsibility for your actions, maybe even warding off a “hey!” horn.

– The “Thank You” horn – for use when someone lets you into their lane, or when someone waves you ahead at the stop sign (I’ve often wanted to honk in this situation, but invariably, because of the single-use car horn, you’d come off as an asshole). I picture this horn sounding like when you get a 1-Up in a Mario game, or maybe when you kill a duck in Duck Hunt.

– The “How About THAT Guy” horn – have you ever been in this situation? Sometimes, after being stuck in traffic with people long enough, I start to feel like we have a common bond, a shared experience of hardship, sort of like veterans or Holocaust survivors. And then someone comes along driving on the shoulder, bypassing like hundreds of cars. There needs to be a way of expressing not only outrage, but camaraderie. I’m hearing this horn sort of sounding like “Pshhhhht, really?” like maybe a record being scratched to a halt, then a short, up-turning honk.

(Was it too much with the Holocaust reference?)

– The “Turn It Up!” horn – for use when the guy next to you is blasting his music, which I usually hate, but then I realize it’s Phil Collins and I LOVE it. The horn could actually be a human voice that says “Phil Collins! Fuck yeah!”

That’s all I’ve got for (semi) serious ideas. This is the part of the post where I take the idea too far and start suggesting things like a “your pants are too tight” horn or a “stop picking your nose” horn, but I’ll spare you. Besides, people need a place where they can pick their nose with impunity – I’m just glad you can’t get fined $300 for doing it.

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So I walked out of my apartment this morning, and everyone I saw on the street was carrying an umbrella. I hate it when that happens. I rarely check the weather – I just assume that it’ll be unbearably hot in the summer and unbearably cold in the winter. I usually look out the window before I go outside, but that’s more difficult now that I live underground (you can hardly tell if it’s day or night through my windows, leading to some very confusing  2 o’ clock awakenings). (Does anyone else think that o’ clock looks strange written out? Like, what’s the apostrophe for? Is the full version “of the clock?” And what the hell does that mean?)

But when I see everybody carrying an umbrella, I feel left out. Like it’s some piece of juicy gossip that everyone got but me (did you hear it was gonna rain today? and the dew point, wow!). I feel like the cool kids all got a memo (because they all work in the same office, of course) and I didn’t get it. And then there’s the dread that there’s going to be like a flash flood or something and I’m gonna get drenched. And it’s crazy because I don’t even like umbrellas. Why do I not like  them? A multitude of reasons:

1) They’re a pain in the ass to carry around. When it’s not raining, you feel like a chump for lugging it around with you, and then it rains, and then you get on the subway and you’ve got this wet thing you’ve got to deal with. It drips all over your legs, pretty much canceling out the benefit of using it in the first place.

2) Most people tend to hold their umbrellas at an eye-poking level. This might not be a problem in Hicksville-Wherever-You-Live, USA, but here in the big city, it’s a real hazard. Imagine walking down a crowded street and every person you pass is like a crazy threat to your eye-safety! Imagine walking in Times Square on a rainy day – it’s a big enough pain in the ass on a good day, but on a rainy day, there’s like no place at all to move.

Ok, so I guess I only have two things I hate about umbrellas. The drippy thing and the eye-poking thing. And also, they don’t keep you that dry. Three things. And they’re a pain to carry. Four.

And yet I still feel like I’m being left out when everyone has one but me. And whenever I do have an umbrella on me, it never seems to rain, and I feel rage with every dry, umbrella-laden step I take. I positively feel like I could poke someone’s eye out. On purpose!

Also, umbrellas breed sadness. Immediately after a storm, you see tons of inside-out umbrellas abandoned on the street – dead soldiers in a senseless war. There’s nothing so sad as seeing a turned-out umbrella just lying there on the sidewalk. Except maybe when you see one glove (or one shoe), and you know someone out there has a very cold hand (or bloody, gross foot). For every turned-out umbrella, there’s someone out there with soggy pants. Tragic.

Wow, I can’t believe I got that much material out of umbrellas. 545 words, in fact. (Now 549. 551. Damn. 554 – ha!) And here I was worried this was a bullshit topic. And you, you read the whole thing, didn’t you? Sucker.

Another totally weird dream. I was walking on a dock with a bunch of my friends, and I got a call from my friend with the deal of a lifetime. But in order to cash in, I had to put my life at risk and run a makeshift marathon uphill (both ways!) with people dropping from exhaustion all around me. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I got a call from my friend Jesse. Actually, in real life, his name is Lunch. Well, that’s not his real name either, it’s just what we call the poor guy – Lunch Dinnerson. (Don’t know where that one came from. The legend is that a while bunch of his friends were sitting around, and somebody just made a declaration out of the blue: We should call you Lunch.) In real life and in all actuality, his name Matt something (well, not Matt Something, because that would be ridiculous, but what I’m saying really is that I don’t know the guy super well. All of which contributes to the bizarreness of the dream).

Ok, now in reverse order, the guy’s real name is Matt, but we call him Lunch, and for some reason he was named Jesse in my dream. (Man, I just summed up the whole last paragraph in one sentence. I need an editor.) I know it feels like I’m spending a lot of time on the guy’s name, but trust me, it’s important. See, I’ve got a friend who’s (real) name (in real life) is Jesse Green, and he’s definitely the first Jesse I would think of when I hear the name. So when the phone rang in my dream and it was Matt/Lunch, my subconscious needed to somehow let me know that this wasn’t the Jesse I would normally think of, and it did so by displaying the name “Jesse (Alternate) Green.”

(Do you remember the old days, when phones didn’t have first and last name fields for the address book? If you had one guy in your phone book named Matt, and you met another Matt, he was doomed to be “Matt 2” in your phone forevermore. And of course, it always goes wrong, like you end up drunk dialing the wrong Jessica to ask her to come over late one night. Or, even worse, someone sees your phone. I vividly remember sitting around with my friends one night with my buddy Brian going through someone’s phone. When he looked up and said, “Dude, am I Brian number 2 in your phone?” you could hear the pain and disappointment in his voice.)

So Jesse (Alternate) Green gave me a call in my dream, and immediately I knew that it was Lunch on the phone. He said to me, “Man, I’m so glad you picked up the phone. I’m about to make you rich!” I was understandably excited, so he laid it all out for me: “See, I’m down in Virginia for tennis camp, and I met a guy with a connection. How would you like for me to pick up a pound for you?” I was a little shocked, not about tennis camp, because Jesse/Lunch is a pretty athletic guy, but because I don’t use or sell drugs (seriously, in the dream and in real life). I gently reminded Lunch of this fact, and I was met with silence on the other end of the line. Then, “not a pound of weed, man! A pound of Quick-a-day!”

If you don’t know what Quick-a-day is, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s an invention of my subconscious, and I STILL didn’t know what it was. Lunch explained to me it’s a daily multivitamin health shake mix that you drink once a day, to like, lose weight or stay fit or some such nonsense. Apparently, it’s not so easy to get a hold of, so I could make a killing selling it on my own. After I heard all of this, I was excited to jump in. There was one condition – I had to be one of the first ten people to get there.

Immediately, I was transported to Virginia with my friend Lunch. All around me, everyone was racing to get their hands on Quick-a-day (I guess it’s all the rage at tennis camp). In my mad dash to win the race, I ran across a busy busy highway (far too busy for Virginia) in the dark. Having made it to the other side, I was faced with a steep hill. People were tripping and falling as they scrambled to get to the top. I climbed and climbed, but never seemed to get any closer to the top. Eventually, I collapsed. With my dying breath, I shouted to Lunch, “It’s ok, leave me. Just make sure you get there first and put in my name for Quick-a-day!”

And that’s when I woke up. Not really a full dream, more of a dream fragment. Interesting (hopefully?) nonetheless. Bottom line: if you ever get a phone call from anyone number 2 in your phone offering a chance to sell Quick-a-day, don’t go for it. It’s not worth losing your life over – remember, it’s imaginary.

Hello avid Blogberg readers (Mom, Dad). I’ve been lying in bed for the last two hours trying to hold on to a dream I just had. Even in my half-asleep daze, I knew I wanted to write about it, so I started composing in my head the most brilliant blog post ever. Sadly, now that I’ve gone vertical, most of the witticisms have fallen out of my head. I hope you like what remains, a little ditty I like to call “Enter Iron Chef Morimoto: Cricket Battle in Kitchen Stadium!”

Our story starts at Vassar College, my alma mater and home to the next generation of relativistic, hippie pinko liberals. This is the type of college where you can major in something as useful as (I swear) Victorian Studies. (I myself majored in Bullshit Studies, which focuses on honing your ability to write 20 page papers about nothing at all. I feel like it’s serving me well in my blogging life (Exhibit A).) As our story begins, I’m waiting outside Vassar’s main entrance for a cab to take me to the airport. An NYC yellow cab pulls up, and in the driver’s seat is none other than Iron Chef Japanese – Masaharu Morimoto, pictured below giving the international sign for “killer bunny fangs.”

Image courtesy of LA Weekly

We throw my bags in the trunk and we’re off to Stewart Airport in Newburgh, NY – a small landing strip that houses six planes at a time, five of which are crop dusters.

On the way there, I confess to Morimoto that I’m a big fan of his work. I’ve seen him on Iron Chef, Iron Chef America, and I’ve been to his restaurant Morimoto in New York City. I tried at first to converse with him in Japanese, using some words I’d picked up from watching anime, but since the only things I can say are “thank you,” “lunch,” and “my crime-fighting robot suit is at full power,” the conversation took some weird turns. Eventually we settled on English, and Cabbie Jon prevailed until we arrived at the airport. As it turns out, I wasn’t actually flying anwhere that day, I was just dropping my bags off (a practice that I’m pretty sure is strictly verboten these days). I hopped back in the cab and we drove back to Hogwarts, er, Vassar.

We were on New York’s scenic route 44/55 just minutes from the school when a police car started creeping up on us. Morimoto immediately became paranoid and scared, checking the rearview mirror and saying things like, “you’ll never catch me, coppers!” As we turned off the road and pulled up in front of my school, the police put their sirens on. Morimoto cursed as he pulled the cab over. Two cops approached the car, giving him the typical “do you know why we pulled you over today?” line of questioning. Morimoto responded with the “I wasn’t speeding, was I, officer?” defense, but it quickly became clear that wasn’t the issue.

“We hear you like the crickets,” said the cop on the driver’s side. “Isn’t it true that just last week, you shipped six crickets home to Japan?” A look of terror flooded across Morimoto’s face. “But, but, I bought six plane tickets!” Morimoto said. (Let me say that I don’t know how you’d get a cricket to stay in its seat for a 12 hour flight to Tokyo. Furthermore, if I was stuck in the middle seat on a long flight and there was a cricket sitting on the aisle, I would be super-pissed.) “It doesn’t matter,” said the cop, “it’s still illegal to ship insects out of the country. Please step out of the car.”

They proceeded to cuff Morimoto and drag him to the backseat of the cop car. He kept shouting, “But no one said anything at the time!” in a most undignified manner. Then they simply drove away, leaving me sitting in the cab in front of my school. You know how after a car crash on TV, someone’s head is always resting on the steering wheel and the horn is going off in one loud, constant drone? Yeah, that was happening, inexplicably. And then I just woke up.

Sort of an anticlimactic ending, I know. If this were a TV show (specifically Dragnet), there would be an epilogue while the show’s theme song played. I picture Morimoto standing there holding that thing they hold in mug shots, (you know, that little clipboard thing, sort of like the thing they use when they say “action!” on a movie set?) looking guilty while the announcer says that he was sentenced to six months in a correctional facility – one for each illegal cricket he shipped.

Dunnnnh dun nuh duh…dunnnnh dun nuh duh daaaaaaaa. Fade to black.

Oh man. So my brother got married a couple of weeks ago, and I just now decided to blog about it. I feel a little strange writing nearly a month after the fact, but it was a monumentous (a word I invented) occasion, and it’s worth writing about. Also, I’m really at a loss for ideas, and this one’s ripe for the picking.

I don’t usually write about my personal life, so I need to introduce a cast of characters:

– Steve: my brother

– Arielle: his new wife

– Dad: my dad

– Mom: my mom

So Steve and Arielle got married on a Sunday, but I got up to Boston (an American city where my brother lives) on Thursday. I was the best man, and I came in early at Steve’s request to meet his future in-laws (not sure if they qualify as my in-laws too) and to…well…just sort of be there. Which I was happy to do – I’m currently unemployed, and my time is split pretty evenly between eating junk food, having stomach aches, and then napping. I saw it as my main task to keep things light during a stressful time and insulate Steve from as much bullshit as possible – a task at which I believe I succeeded. Not too much to say about these couple of days, so I’m going to fast forward: Cheesecake Factory, bridesmaids, rehearsal dinner (executed flawlessly by Mom), explaining that Steve and I aren’t gay together (or separately), watching a man eat 180 oysters.

I’m going to slow down to acknowledge the suite I was staying in. It was practically the size of my apartment, and it had a king size bed and a dishwasher. A DISHWASHER! I was considering driving home just to pick up my dirty dishes and bring them back for the free cleaning.

Which brings us to the day of the wedding. That morning, Dad and I had to drive to the florist and pick up (guess what?) some flowers and such. We had just enough time to pick up the flowers, race back to the hotel, change into our suits, and head to  the wedding. Or at least we should have. When we got to the florist, she told us she thought she had another hour to get ready. Fine. No reason to get excited, no need to worry the bride and groom. Dad and I went to get a bite to eat and when we came back, the lady was almost ready. What was holding her back, she told us, was that one of the chuppah poles wasn’t fitting into its stand.

(Parenthetical aside here for all the non-Jews on the internet – a chuppah is a tent under which the bride and groom traditionally stand while they perform the wedding ceremony. I believe it’s pronounced with a throat-clearing “ch” sound, but a regular “h” might be acceptable. It is composed of four posts with a tallis, or Jewish prayer shawl, stretched between them. It represents, well, something symbolic. I feel a little strange explaining this (I’m not a very good Jew, I’m only Jew-ish) but in the land of the people who can’t see so well, I guess the man who can kind of see okay is king.)

So one of the chuppah poles, a beautiful piece of birch, wasn’t fitting into its metal stand. It needed to be sawed down in order to fit. Now chuppah-pole-sawing wasn’t listed as one of my responsibilities as the best man, but I think it falls into the fine print clause of “handling shit.” So there I was, out on the street, sawing wood on my brother’s wedding day. And here I am, doing same, in photographic form:

After earning my woodworking merit badge (and sort of breaking the stand), we got everything to fit. Then it was off to the races (or the hotel, then the wedding).

To set the scene, the wedding took place at a farm (the reception was in a barn, but it wasn’t the kind of barn where they keep horses and horsepoop – it was the classy kind of barn). Another important detail – it was 400 degrees that day (Fahrenheit), and the relative humidity was in the thousands. Now, I happen to be a dude who sweats a lot (I like to think of it instead as condensation), and it was my job to lift heavy things and set them up, so I was off the charts pretty much immediately. Then, photo time! My only comfort was that nearly everyone else was also sweating through their clothes. Then we went into a gazebo for the traditional signing of the Jewish wedding contract, which has a Hebrew name that I’ve already forgotten. The rabbi had us all sing a song in which the only word was “die” while the document was signed by Steve, Arielle, and two witnesses. And since they had to sign in Hebrew, and none of them really know Hebrew, the song went on for what felt like 10 minutes (at which point, the lyrics became fitting).

What followed was a beautiful wedding ceremony. Steve and Arielle wrote letters to one another which they read aloud (letters which I, as the best man, proofread to make sure they were equally sweet and loving). They both looked unbelievably happy and content, Arielle in her beautiful dress, Steve in his the-only-Mossberg-able-to-pull-it-off vest. They exchanged vows, exchanged rings (which I totally didn’t forget to bring with me!) and sealed the deal with a kiss.

The reception (or “after-party” to R-Kelly) was a blast. But before the fun could start, I had to give a toast. I will sheepishly admit that I was unable to get to sleep the night before, agonizing over what I was going to say, running through it over and over again in my mind. Finally, I realized something important – my brother’s wedding day had nothing to do with me and nobody would care what I said. After that, I fell asleep promptly and slept well. I gave my toast, people said “aww,” and I could finally relax. The food was good – I wished I had a second stomach so that I could keep eating – and the wedding band, comprised of Steve’s friends, was kick-ass. I danced like a crazy man (who was dancing). Then we had the traditional Mossberg singalong, led by Steve at the piano. It began with a gorgeous duet with his new bride playing banjo and contained some of the best love songs known to man (and also “Kodachrome”). I even got to play the sax on “Just The Way You Are.” I think at first, people were unsure of exactly what to do, but by the end, they’d gotten over their apprehensions and were singing along in full.

Not much more to say. The night wrapped up at around 10:00, and after a trip to the 7-11 (and the best Gatorade ever consumed), the groomsmen ended up back at the hotel. I hung out for another couple of hours, and collapsed in my king size bed (DISHWASHER!). The next morning, I picked up a couple of friends and we all drove back to NYC. It was an event to remember, and though there are already like a gajillion photos on Facebook, I’m glad I got to document it here as well. Now is when I try to think of something witty to say and end my post, but instead I’d just like to express my love for Steve and Arielle, my joy and my well wishes for their future together. I love you, guys.