Living in New York is different than living anywhere else in the U.S.  I don’t mean on a cultural level, of course there is that, but in an everyday sense.  Everyone living stacked on top of each other and an extensive public transit system makes owning a car pointless, most of the time.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing.  You save money on car payments and insurance (though, like everything else, it’s probably made up for in the cost of rent), you don’t have to worry about sobering up for the drive home from the bar, and you have a smug sense of self-satisfaction for being “eco-friendly.”  But sometimes, it really sucks.  You can’t jump in to your car and cruise over to a Wall-Mart or Target to pick a few things up.  You have to plan out what you want to buy, go to the different stores, and carry all that back to your apartment—and, if you’re like me (living in a walkup), up four flights of stairs.

So whenever they can, New Yorkers try to make things easier on themselves.  The city’s Chinese restaurants and pizza places employ an army of deliverymen that bring takeout to your door; any business that sells merchandise that can’t be easily carried out offer a complimentary delivery service; and one of the most popular grocery stores in the city is just a Web site.  If you’ve never heard of Fresh Direct, the concept is simple: order your groceries through their site and they bring them to your apartment. Yesterday, my roommate off handedly mentioned that it was how he would get his groceries from now on.  I had used the service years ago, but don’t anymore.  “What’s a good amount to tip the delivery guy?” He asked me.  “Do you think $5 is enough?”  I paused for moment to consider the question.  “Actually, I don’t think I think I ever tipped them,” I said. My roommate was shocked.  “Dude,” he said, “you have to tip.”

For the rest of the day, all I could think about was the act of tipping.  I kept replaying Steve Buscemi’s rant in Reservoir Dogs about throwing in a gratuity for your dinner.  In the film, Buscemi’s character, “Mr. Pink,” regales a table of career criminals just after breakfast on the morning of a heist on the inequality of tipping guidelines.  He points out that it’s good manners to tip a waitress, yet no one gives anything to someone working the register at McDonald’s. “I don’t tip because society says I have to,” he explains. “All right, if someone deserves a tip, if they really put forth an effort, I’ll give them something a little something extra. But this tipping automatically, it’s for the birds. As far as I’m concerned, they’re just doing their job.”

Okay, I don’t know what it’s like to be Fresh Direct driver.  Maybe it sucks.  Maybe they pay next to nothing and you need tips to get by.  But in all honesty: the job doesn’t seem all that different from Fed-Ex or UPS and we don’t tip them.  Is it because they’re delivering food?   What if you’re a diabetic and UPS guy brings you a package with your insulin that keeps you alive in it, do you tip him then?

A friend once told me that you tip to ensure good service for NEXT TIME.  And I get that for certain situations—try tipping a dollar or too more the next time you order from your favorite pizza place and you soon get a reputation among the delivery guys and they’ll get your order to you way quicker….and probably won’t spit in your food. But it still bugs me that there is this odd dichotomy about tipping, like slipping your barber five buck but leaving the dental hygienist hanging.  The only remedy I can think of is to not tip anyone (people will think you’re a cheapskate) or tip everyone (they’ll think you’re an obnoxious big shot).  In closing: tipping is weird.

[Pic via]

catcallingRecently, I privately made the statement that if I were a woman living in New York, I would go crazy.  I stand by that.  Now, while I have on numerous occasions and for a wide variety of reasons posed the hypothetical of if I were a member of the farer sex—this is a little different.

Allow me to explain.  There are many things that people let slide in New York that wouldn’t fly anywhere else.   I’ve seen many a bizarre and borderline mentally unstable behavior, from a woman pushing a baby carriage of kittens through Central Park to the guy on the subway last month who was ranting about how Miley Cyrus was trying to control his brain.  The basic consensus is that if no one is getting hurt then New Yorkers will just ignore it and go about their business. It’s really the only way that so many people can coexist in such small a space without open violence.  And one of the many things that New Yorkers accept is the constant catcalling to woman on the street.

Not a day goes by when I don’t see a guy yelling something out to a girl on the street and pretty much every woman I know who lives in the city can quote some recent line that was shouted out to her.  Of course, I understand that this happens everywhere—I knew a guy in high school (in Virginia) who couldn’t drive longer than a mile without shouting something out his car window to a random woman walking down the street.  But in a city where most people use public transit and walking to get around—it happens all the time.  And if I were constantly being harassed while I was just walking to work (I get annoyed with the people for charities and causes I actually support try to talk to me on the street) I could seriously end up going on a shooting spree.  Most women here have the patience of saints and simply ignore it.

Here’s my question: does this ever work as means to picking up a woman?  Has there ever been a scene that goes something like:

So Steve, how did you meet your wife? Steve smiles knowingly at his bride, who shoots a mischievous grin back at him. “Well, it’s a funny story,” he says.  “I saw her walking down Broadway and called out to her.  I said, ‘Hey baby, I like that dress…I think it would look even better crumpled up on the floor of my bedroom.’”  To which Steve’s wife will chime in “And from that moment on, he had my heart.”

Guys, can we as a gender just step back for one second and look at this behavior? Let’s admit that it’s just posturing for other men.  When I think back to that high school friend, hollering out from his car window, someone was always in the passenger seat.  And for every guy shouting out something on street corner to a passing woman—there’s another guy around.  I’ve never seen a lone man catcalling by himself.

So in the end—this act, which appears on the surface as an attempt to attract the opposite sex, is nothing more than an empty way to try and reaffirm masculinity, via pointless swaggering, for other men.   It really has nothing to do with women.

[Pic via dailymail.co.uk]

I’m exhausted.  I went and saw a midnight showing of Harry Potter last night, because I’m a huge nerd.  The highlight of the evening was when the grown man (in costume) two seats down from me wept at the end and had to be comforted by his girlfriend (who was dressed in a slutty Harry Potter costume). Anyway, I don’t feel wordy today.  So here’s another photolog post.  Deal with it.

Stairs

I like it when my graffiti tells me to read more…as an annual reminder.

Jingle BenzI feel like whoever decorated this Mercedes Benz station wagon in a Christmas theme did so for a demolition derby.  I’m not sure if they suspected at the time that they’d be driving it around town, in July.

PickAxe

When you think about it, a guy taking a pickaxe on the subway isn’t that odd.  Especially when you imagine  all the insane things people have carried on the train in New York.  Still, it throws you for a loop when you see one on your morning commute.

bike

I’m often puzzled by the amount of broken bicycles left chained up around the city.  Even if it was run over and knotted together with another bike, like so, I think I would still untangle/unlock my bicycle and take it home,  not just walk away.  But that’s me.

ruinsA building in my neighborhood randomly collapsed one day.

And finally:

obamaI’m tempted to buy a stack and send them to random southern addresses.

new-york-cityYesterday, my friend Chris saw a homeless woman taking a dump on 32nd street—she was doing it next to a parked car, in full view of everyone on the street, at 8:30 in the morning.  That’s a true story.  I’ve got another friend, Jess, who once found a guy masturbating on a subway platform at nine o’clock at night.  He was wearing a suit and tie.  That really happened.  Years ago a buddy of mine was walking down the street on his way to a bar (this was downtown), when a guy jumped off the roof of a nearby building and landed right in front of him (like that scene in the Departed).  That actually happened.  An acquaintance of mine, Streeter, saw a guy dressed as a cowboy on a real life horse….in the middle of the Bronx.  That’s a fact.

Whenever my friends tell these stories, there’s always someone who mutters the obligatory “Only in New York.”  In a city with this many people, packed so tightly together, it’s no wonder that these things happen.  And bearing witness to them has become a rite of passage for living here.  Of course the best part of it all is sharing the experience with others.   Whenever someone sees a part of that “crazy New York” they have to regale their family and friends with the freshly seen insanity, and then everybody around him or her begins telling their own anecdotes.  It then soon evolves into everyone going around the table recalling the wildest/most disgusting thing they’ve ever seen another human being do in public (this usual involves a normally private bodily function) in an effort  to top one another.

“You saw a guy peeing in the park? That’s nothing, I saw a guy jerking off.”

“Yeah? I saw a dude jerking ANOTHER DUDE, at the library.”

“Pshhhhhhh, I saw a tranny hooker stab her pimp with a coat hanger.”

“Oh please, I once watched a guy dressed in a clown costume making out with someone wearing a Nixon mask on the A-train.  Oh, and it wasn’t Halloween.”

Then it’s my turn to share and I’ve got nothing.  I have no stories like that.  For some reason, I don’t have any crazy New York moments. I’ll have been living here eight years next month and I’ve never seen anything that bizarre.   I have to wonder: Do I not go out enough? Or is this craziness happening around me and I’m just not noticing?

What the hell New York? Where’s my pooping homeless lady?  Where’s my masturbating businessman?  Throw me a bone, here.

[Pic via Tripadvisor.com]

As you can tell by this post’s title, I’m not really going to be all that wordy today.  I cut my thumb on a knife while I was washing the dishes recently, more specifically the side of my right thumb that I use to hit the space bar when typing.  So writing anything hurts like a bitch.  I know, poor me.

I’ve decided instead to share some random photos that have been kicking around my on iPhone for God knows how long.  When camera phones were first introduced (oh so long ago),  I thought it was a pretty stupid idea (Really, a camera on a phone?).  But as it’s become a more standard feature on most phones, I’ve learned to appreciate having a decently powerful digital camera constantly in my pocket.

Tag

Graffiti is pretty prevalent in New York, so anytime someone bothers to take a picture of  it, it’s a unique piece.  The color scheme clashes beautifully with the color of the fence, while the lettering is a bit of a throwback to the heyday of tagging in the city during the 80’s and 90’s.    It’s now painted over and I feel like this picture is the only proof that something so cool was ever there.

SpongeBobThis past Thanksgiving, my parents came to visit and insisted on seeing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  For three hours I stood in the cold.  But I got this great shot that looks like SpongeBob Sqaure Pants is attacking the city.  Yeah, it was worth it.

General Lee

Yes, this is a car painted to look like the General Lee from “the Dukes of Hazard.”  I’ve seen this specific car twice in New York City…in two different Burroughs…on two different nights…months apart.  “But Mr. Ninja,” you may say, “what if they’re two different cars?”  “No,” I would respond.  “The laws of physics prevent that amount of amazingness within such close proximity of each other.

Speaking of cars…

CarFire

I found this one evening a block from my house.  It took whoever is in charge of such things almost a week to clean it up.   Every time I passed by the wreckage on my way from work, hating life, the thought “things could be worse” would pop in my head.

And since we started with some graffiti, let’s finish with some to make you think.

Deep Graffiti