Archive for December, 2008
There’s just one bus an hour from Sudden Valley to downtown Bellingham. It’s due at five past the hour. It takes about ten minutes to walk to the bus stop from the house. But with all the snow and ice on the ground, I gave myself twenty minutes to get there, allowing for the increased journey time, and for the chance that the bus might be a couple of minutes early. It wasn’t. It was twenty-four minutes late.
Twenty-four minutes to imagine how good a couple of the songs on (on or off? Always confuses me, that one) the new Kanye West LP would sound as the soundtrack to Crockett speeding around Miami in his Ferrari at night, his mind full of regrets regarding his failed marriage, and how, if he could only get over that, then things with Gina might be a little better.
Twenty-four minutes to imagine that the sign next to the bus stop for Bob’s Burgers and Brews could be the sign for a business that I could open, (Bob, among a small group of friends, is my nickname. It’s not rocket surgery: Robinson > Robbo > Bob). There’d be nice big wooden tables, a rockin’ jukebox, and a big log fire. No TVs. Unless it’s baseball season.
I wondered if “The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver” by Elbow isn’t the best song of the year, what else could it be? I wondered whether standing still to conserve energy or moving around to keep warm would be the best thing to do if I was stuck in the cold overnight. I wondered how long it would take my shuffling feet to turn the fluffy snow into ice, and if the woman stood near me at the bus stop was thinking that I looked weird shuffling around in time to the Electric Light Orchestra song I was listening to; not that she knew what I was listening to.
I wondered if my new tuque/beanie/knit hat/whatever-you-want-to-call-it makes me look like a rapist. I wondered if I could do a Photoshop drawing of the shops across the street in this dusky light. I wondered why I didn’t risk it, eight minutes before the bus was due, and go and get a coffee from the one of those stores; that would help keep me warm. I wondered if the woman would give me a dirty look for throwing my cigarette butt on the pavement.
Wonder, wonder, wonder. Lots of wondering. I wondered if the bus had been involved in an accident on the way, and me wondering why it was so bloody late might, in retrospect, seem a tad selfish. I wondered if that FedEx truck in the distance might be the bus… I wondered exactly what it is in our brains that makes us think such things even though we know we’re clutching at straws. Why “clutching at straws”? Where does that come from? Wondering, if push comes to shove, if and me and the woman were starving to death: could I kill and eat her? (Assuming that this was halfway up a mountain, not with some shops across the street where I could easily go and buy some Cheetos and beef jerky.) Wondering if push comes to shove would I even kill her for cigarettes if she had some and I didn’t. I hope not, but nicotine is a funny beast. Wondering if those blue-ish lights I can see through the trees in the distance are the lights from the inside of the bus. Yes they are! I’m gonna be a few minutes late, but that bus will be nice and warm inside, and, oooh, “Hold On Tight” (the E.L.O. song); this is a great tune. I bought the 7″ single for my sister on her ninth birthday. Well, I assume my Mum or Dad actually paid for it, but it’s the thought that counts.
The above was typed into my iPod Touch when I finally got on the bus. Once I’d sat down, I took it upon myself to try and remember as much as possible about my time stood waiting for the bus. Aside from correcting a few typos, the above is as typed on the bus. Ultimately, the journey was a waste of time, though, because the bowling alley was fully booked; it was league night, darn it.
We went to get a dog the other day. Well, Lisa and Cameron did; I just tagged along. We went to a town called Burlington, about 45 minutes drive away, driving through the hyper-speed effect of snow in the headlights. The dog was being given away by a family because they didn’t have time to play with him. Not surprising given the gaggle of infants and enormous TV blaring out the “Ultimate Fighter” finale. It’s be cruel to call them white trash. So I won’t call them white trash. Anyway, the dog – an 11 month old Labrador – is a real cutie. He was called Rascal, but as soon as we all got in the car to drive back, he was renamed Rosco. It was difficult to get him to sit still for a photograph, so in my other hand, right behind the camera, was a nice big piece of beef jerky. Which we shared. He may be cute, but he isn’t getting all my jerky.
Say, for example, one has children. You teach your children to take an hour out of their day to jump up against a wall and try to grip it with their hands. Then your children teach their children to do the same thing. And their children teach their children. And their children teach their children. And on and on. Would you eventually create a form of superhuman that can climb up walls? And would they, could they, for the sake of argument, be called homorobinsonians, please?
Ever now and then, if you watch really, really, really closely, you’ll see something special when the snow is falling. I was lucky enough to get a photograph when it was snowing last week in Brooklyn. Press down on your mouse when the cursor is over these words to see what I saw…
I’m in Bellingham, Washington now; about an hour and a half north of Seattle, an hour south east of Vancouver. Considering I had to fly here via Phoenix, it was a pretty nice trip. Got some reading done, watched a few Mad Men episodes, and got to see some nice scenery out of the window. I’m not sure what this is, but about 45 minutes after leaving Phoenix, this was the view. Am I deluding myself into thinking it might be the Grand Canyon, or is just a grand canyon?
The nicest part of the flight, though, was near the end, coming in over Oregon and Washington. Lots of hills, forests, and clouds. The snow on the ground, though, made it easy to spot where all the clearcutting is being done.
On the road from Sea-Tac Airport towards Seattle.
I’m staying with my friends Lisa and Cameron (who, when I was in Washington in the summer, lived in Wenatchee, the place where I went a-gun shootin’). They live just outside Bellingham, in a place called, wonderfully, Sudden Valley. I like to think it used to be called Placid Meadow, then rocks started shifting, sheep started tumbling, and ta-da! Sudden Valley was formed.
Bellingham seems a lovely place, though. Lots of friendly people, lots of young people – there’s a university here – and lots of free wifi.
A nice walk for a couple of miles, and there’s a lovely view of Bellingham Bay. It rained a lot, though. I had the option of taking an umbrella with me on my walk, and even though nobody would’ve known that I was being a hypocrite, I couldn’t do it. So I just got drenched instead.
And what better way to warm up than with a few beers and rum & Cokes, near a bunch of Santas get their drink on, while Aerosmith and Journey rock the jukebox.
It’s been a fun week in the Newest of Yorks. The more I come back, the more I just bumble around, doing this and that, doing the odd touristy thing, but in the main, just hanging out with friends. I’ve eaten lovely garlic bagels – burp! – from a place up the road, and drank lovely coffee at the local coffee shop, Cocoa Bar on 7th Avenue, Brooklyn (where, I’ve been told, a former “America’s Next Top Model” contestant works. I’ve seen her in there – she’s quite pretty).
I had a nice chat with a guy with a glass eye from Charlotte, North Carolina when I was on the Staten Island ferry. As we headed back to Manhattan, he asked me what the name of that bridge on the right is. I told him it was the Brooklyn Bridge. He then pointed to the land to our left and asked if that was Brooklyn. Err, no, that’s New Jersey.
I’ve watched people ice skating at Rockefeller Center and in Central Park, and wished I had the balls to give it a go myself. But what’s the point in making a tit of yourself when there’s nobody you know watching you do it.
I spent an afternoon at Coney Island, having it mostly to myself, save for the odd fisherman, jogger, and a handful of dodgy-looking Russian fellas just stood around on the boardwalk.
On the subway, I stood next a cool-looking black guy with a bushy ponytail and a White Sox cap, with a fly girlfriend (looking totally like an eighties hip hop girl). They were quite the groovy couple. He was wearing the exact same Nike trainers as me. He was probably more disappointed by this than I was.
I went to Madison Square Gardens to try and see a Knicks game, but the tickets were waaaaaay too expensive – one hundred and fifteen chuffing dollars – for a game that I’m not a fan off; a game that as far as I can see is three quarters of squeak-squeak-swish, then one quarter where the points matter. (And, there’s a part of me that thinks basketball should be in the Paralympics, cos it’s only for people who are abnormally tall.)
I saw a Muslim fellow with his wife, who was in full-on, slit-for-the-eyes garb. He, though, was a white guy. And looked so much like John C. Reilly in a comedy Muslim costume, I found myself having a quick glance around to see if there were cameras anywhere.
And, after having my interest piqued by this NPR story that they talked about on TBTL, I had to try me some Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Man, thems good Cheetos. I’m a fan of hot food, and I’m often disappointed by snacks or fast food that claims to be hot, but these buggers are damn good. And they stain your fingers red.
Today was my last day here. After a few fairly cold days, today was warmer, but still coat-worthy. It was that annoying sort of weather, where you get hot and sticky inside your coat, but fear pneumonia if you take it off outdoors afterwards to cool down a bit. It makes for fairly sweaty-smelling subway carriages. Then the rains came, and the umbrellas came out. But I’m gonna save that rant for another day…
…Or maybe I won’t. This is my umbrella rant. They are evil. Well, aside from in supernatural horror films, inanimate objects aren’t often evil; umbrella users are evil. If you’re a person with an umbrella and think this doesn’t apply to you: you’re wrong. Oooh, my hair’s getting wet! Deal with it! We live on a planet where rain quite often falls from the sky. If you paid 50 dollars/pounds/euros for a haircut, then you deserve to get it wet. Really, is your haircut worth so much that you have to take up almost twice the width of your body with one of these damn things? But my shoulders will get really wet, too! Oh, just like the lower part of your coat, you mean? Sorry, didn’t realise your coat’s shoulders were made lovingly from God’s beard hairs. So, you know, go ahead and stab me in the head with your umbrella. Wouldn’t want to do anything that’d make your shoulders wet. And you motherfuckers with golf umbrellas (mostly men and, oddly, tiny tiny women, in my experience): you need to start paying some rent for the amount of space you’re taking up. And the way you sidestep any puddle; yes, I understand, I don’t want to get my shoes wet either, but pay attention to what your umbrella is doing at the same time. Learn to use one of the damned things. And when you’re going into a shop, don’t just stand there carefully wrapping it up, blocking the entrance for us people who have got wet hair. And, finally, if you think it’s adorable that your toddler has his or her own umbwella, then come round to my house, and I’ll happy poke you in the thigh with a sharp piece of wire to make you reassess your views. Deep breaths, Craig, deep breaths. I feel better now. So, yes: umbrellas. Discuss.
Tomorrow’s a travel day. Off to another time zone where there’s the chance of more rain, so, maybe I should buy an umbrella…
BANK GUY: Erm, chaps, erm… well, looking at these spreadsheets… we’re in a bit of bother here.
STOCKMARKET GUY: Waaaaaahhh! Pa-fucking-nic!
TV NEWS GUY: Doom! Gloom!
TABLOID NEWSPAPER GUY: Doom! Gloom! Boobs!
GOVERNMENT GUY: We believe the measures we’ve put in place can turn the economy around in the very near future.
ME: Huh? What’s going on?
MOST OTHER PEOPLE: This is looking bad, let’s shop at the cheap supermarket this week, eh?
LOUIS VUITTON: Jeez, I dunno what it is, but I still love my initials.
Apologies to any Jewish, homosexual, or gypsy readers.
Jetlag’s still screwing with me a little, but it did mean that I was up nice and early this morning, and got to see the sun rising through the trees of Prospect Park, and flooding 1st Street with yellow light. The photo doesn’t do it justice, I’m afraid.
I’ve been awake for over 24 hours now. First to Heathrow, where the Air India lady at check in was very lovely and pleasant, then it went a bit pear-shaped. I’ve not meticulously planned my return trip, and the lack of a return booking had the airside people in a right tizzy. No, Mr Robinson, you need a return ticket. Err, well I’ve done this before and I’ve been okay. But you need one. But I don’t know the exact date of my return. Well [enter second Air India person] we’ll have to take your luggage off the plane because you can’t fly without a return ticket. Much (amazingly calm) chuntering later, and I’d worked my way through four Air India employees, and got to a big cheese who seemed to understand that I had the eyes of a gentle soul rather than a dodgy fucker, and made me a “reservation” which I didn’t really need to use, which, it seems was just to cover their arse in case I decide to live forever in a cabin in Montana illegally. Just goes to show, though, sometimes it pays not to take “no” for an answer. The flight itself was a peach, though. The plane was only about a third full, and I had all three seats to myself. Sweet.
And aside from it taking three bloody hours to get from Newark airport to Brooklyn, everything else went swimmingly. So, yep: I’m back in New York.
First thing, naturally, was to have a shower, and once I’d done that and was drying off my toes, I noticed there was a bit of water seeping from the lower edge of my big left toe. Closer inspection, and it was loose. I had a bit of a tame tug at the top left corner to see if it was completely loose, and off it all came. And I was slightly amazed to find that it wasn’t super raw and painful underneath. Looks a bit weird, but, y’know what? I think I’ll be alright. You want to see the pictures, right? C’mon I know you wanna…
Update in the cold light of day: apologies for putting the following picture online. It’s pretty disgusting. I was drunk when I blogged, so, y’know. Anyway, I’ve censored it, but if you really do wanna see it, just click the image and you’ll see the full horror. Sorry, again.
Sometimes, music is too cheap. I know we’re all used to being able to the price of CDs coming down, and to be able to illegally download stuff, but I still think that certain things are worth more than what we have to pay for them. For less than the price of two pints of lager in an English pub, for less than the price of a packet of cigarettes, you can go into a high street music store and buy a copy of THE best album ever made. It often gets overlooked in those best-of lists because technically it’s a compilation, but “A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector” is, in my opinion, the best record ever made.
It’s pretty much got all the best versions of the Christmas songs you already love, and, thus, is the sound of Christmas. I listened to it today on the tube. Christmas has now begun for me. I suppose the switching on of the lights in your town is a good indication of the proper commencement of Christmas, but for me, it’s always the time when I first listen to “A Christmas Gift for You.”
And now, in HMV and on Amazon (and one assumes in lots of shops), it cost less than five pounds. Frankly, that’s not enough. I’ve been loving this record for nigh on twenty years. I mean, if I was to buy it now, that’d be 25 pence a year! That’s crazy talk. Really, if I was to pay for that album what it has meant to me over the years, I’d be paying well over £100. Obviously, I’m not about to write a cheque to Phil Spector, though.
If you’ve not got it, listen to your Uncle Craig: go to the shops now! Unless, you know, you’re a Muslim or a Jew. But, having said that, Phil Spector is Jewish, so even you Hanukkah-celebrating dudes and dudettes have no excuse.
Note: I tend to hate these type of preachy “classic music” type magazine articles or blog pieces, so if you wanna ignore me cos I’m a pompous ass, that’s entirely fair. I probably would, too.
Anyway, on that note, I’m off to Florida with my family tomorrow for a super Christmassy time. Woo hoo!
Yesterday, apart from all my troubles seeming so far away, I went to the Curzon Soho on Shaftesbury Avenue to see a presentation of twelve short films collected under the title Next Generation 2008. It was a selection of stuff by German film school students, and is part of the 11th Festival of German Films.
I went because my pal Lars had a film being shown. Now, this sort of thing is often a problem. Someone you like shows you a piece of their work: what if I don’t like it? How does one smile and say “It’s great!”? Luckily for me, I had no idea which was his film – not even the title – so when the lovely first film finished, and I saw his name at the end, I was especially happy.
As if often the case with this kind of thing, the selection was a mixed bag. But, for me, half of them were good, so if it sounds like your sort of thing, I’d recommend going along tomorrow for the second screening. It is at 11am, though, so you either need to skip work, or get up early if you’re unemployed.
Apart from Lars’ film, my other favourite was an animation called Our Wonderful Nature by Tomer Eshed, which – helpfully for those of you not in London or able to go to a cinema at 11am on a Wednesday – is online here. Shame the MySpace video quality isn’t up to much, but it’s good enough, and should you need a giggle on this overcast morning, you could do a lot worse than watching it right now.