The NY Sketch

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in New York as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for New York is a moveable feast." -Ernest Hemingway (updated for the 21st century)

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I know it's been a while since I last posted
But there have been, ahem, extenuating circumstances:

#1 The Metropolitan Museum of Art (AKA “The Met”) killed my laptop –but that’s another story[1]

#2 The whole dog thing has been going crazy-loopy; and Kathi has had her day in court –but that’s another story[2]

#3 I have been visually compromised: a dog ate my glasses –but that, too, is another story[3]

#4 I HAVE been posting –but on another blog![4]

(The political situation over here [ie. the democrat internecine warfare that is threatening to tear the party apart and hand the election to the republicans] has been stoking my ire
I want to leave politics out of my blog so i've been venting my spleen on my namesake dan(ielle)'s blog
so take a look there if you want to read a good rant
and they are rants: i now realize I could never go into mainstream politics -my chequered past notwithstanding- in the heat of the moment I wouldn't be able to stop myself from calling my opponent a “fuckwit” or something)

#5 (and this is hot off the press and is STILL ongoing) Kathi and I have had a huge -and I mean HUGE- falling out. To the extent that in the space of three days -THREE DAYS!- we have gone from being close friends and colleagues… to her threatening to have me deported! Holy fucking shit in a basket. But that’s another story, that like I said is still ongoing, and deserves a thread of it’s own -watch this space!

In the meantime, i'd better take this bitch to the river, it's starting to bore even me!
Where were we?

Oh yes

The Story So Far....[5]

Dan has worked out who stole the 200 bucks from him. Only problem is he has no way of proving it. What to do? Revenge can take many forms, but as the Bard says, it's “a dish best served cold”....

We're playin' those mindgaaaaaammmmmmes
Pushing the barriers
Planting seeds....

Ah John Lennon, your spirit lives on
(Even though fascistic manhattan landlords have pushed up the rent on La Fortuna [one of John and Yoko's favourite haunts on columbus] so much that it's going to close down
Motherfuckers! And a breed I will shortly be dealing with as I hunt for an apt….)

So Christian, the guy who took my money, kept a pretty low profile over the next few days
But I took the opportunity to mindgame him whenever I could
like, for example, he'd be outside smoking one of his new-found cigarettes[6] so i'd go out there with chris/coco/bobby and be like:
“I don't know who took that money, but if I was the thief i'd be real fucking nervous right now. Real fucking nervous. Because not only has this person fucked with me, they were prepared to let darryl take the fall for it. Man, if darryl ever finds out who that person is, I wouldn't like to be in their shoes. He'll probably start by karate chopping them to the throat, then he'd....”
“What kind of person steals from someone when they're asleep? I bet you'd have to have no morals at all. Or if you did, and you see the person you stole from every day, the burden of guilt must be terrible.”
“Well, I believe in karma. That person will get theirs sooner or later. Maybe not today, maybe not for weeks, months -but something bad WILL happen. And when it does, one of the questions they'll ask themselves is if the bad thing would've happened if they hadn't stolen the money.”

Stuff like that.
It amused me and my friends.
Christian never got involved in these conversations except for one, and this was the piece de la resistance
Allow me set the scene:

Me, coco, and bobby are down in the staff basement -coco [the handyman] was down there to change a lightbulb in the bedroom where I was robbed: the scene of the crime!
So we're there, shooting the shit, when from out of one of the other bedrooms comes Christian -with just a towel round his waist. Urgh!
He goes to the bathroom. When he comes out again, i'm banging pots and pans in the kitchen, opening cupboards, the microwave and talking loudly:

“Maybe the thief's had an attack of conscience. They could have put the money in here to be 'found' -assuming they haven't already SPENT IT. Or they could put back what's left. That's a get out for them. Hmm, can't see it here, can't see it here....”

Christian goes back to his room.
Then inspiration strikes
I say to bobby, “watch me mindgame this cocksucker.”
I walk over to the bookshelf in the lounge area -i noticed when I was in the basement before (because I tend to be a nosy parker where other people's bookshelves are concerned) that it was groaning with Christian books -mainly modern Christian theology
I guessed they were christian's and/or darryl's
(Christian, lest we forget is a Christian. And it should be easy enough to remember the clue's in the frickin name)
I pick one up at random -it's called 'Extreme Righteousness'
I walk slowly past christian's room, reading out loud from the jacket
Sure enough, he comes out
The conversation we have goes something like this:[7]

Me: “This is your book?”
Him: “Yeah, that’s one of mine.”
“‘Extreme Righteousness’, huh? What’s all that about?”
“Well, it’s a kind of Christianity taken to extremes. People who take scripture and take it to, y’know, extreme levels.”
“Scripture? That’s like the Bible, right? Old Testament? The Ten Commandments? Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not STEAL? That kind of thing?”
“That’s right.”
“And you believe in this?”
“No, but I find it interesting.”
“I find it interesting too. Very interesting. Y’know, I don’t think I could list the Ten Commandments. How godless am I! What’ve we got, er, thou shalt not covet, thou shalt not STEAL –wait I already said that one. So you follow scripture, the Ten Commandments and so on?”
“No? I thought that was kind of mandatory if you were a Christian.”
“Not necessarily.”
“Really? That IS interesting. So what exactly do you believe?”
“Well, it’s complicated-“
“I bet it is!”
“But basically, we –we being my church[8]- believe that you’re going to get into heaven anyway.”
“You mean regardless of what you do in life.”
“Amazing. Wow, you really believe that?”
“Yes I do.”
“That’s a sweet belief system you got there. Me, I believe in karma –you know, how you’ll be repaid for the actions you take.”
“You mean Buddhism-“
“No, it’s a kind of secular karma. And you get paid back –good or bad- in this life, not the next. Anyway, let’s hope we’re both right, huh? I gotta go. You have a nice day now, Christian.”

And that was that
As well as being amusing to me (and bobby), I also found it very illuminating
This guy has follows a moral code that means you can do whatever you like in this life and still get into heaven
In other words, a licence to do anything
I guess if you’re gay, and a Christian, following scripture DOES become problematic
(God being particularly wrathful towards Sodom and Gomorrah; even turning Job’s wife into a pillar of salt for merely looking back at the destruction)
But it also means you are cut adrift from the moral code that underpins Christianity: the Ten Commandments
(not that that has ever stopped Christians from breaking them willy-nilly, as history has proved, but there you go)

So that was the best piece of mind gaming I pulled on Christian
But that whole thing of emphasising the word STEAL gave me an idea for the ultimate game
There had been other pieces of thievery going on at the hostel -my roommate heather had her wallet stolen from the cafĂ© bar, another guest had money taken out of his- so I went to see the management to suggest that there should be a mandatory staff meeting about it, because in my experience hostellers don’t steal from each other, staff steal from hostellers.
But of course I had my own agenda
In this meeting I was going to say that I knew who took my money -but because I couldn’t prove it I wasn’t going to accuse anyone.
But then, in the course of this little speech, I was going to see how many times I could say the word CHRISTIAN.
As in: “at first I thought it was Darryl, but Darryl is a good CHRISTIAN, and wouldn’t have done that.”
And: “I decided to do the CHRISTIAN thing and give the thief the opportunity to return the money anonymously.”
I had it all rehearsed in my head
It would have been beauuuuuutiful

But, alas, that wasn’t to be….

Why not? Find out next time in the final instalment of: The-story-of-how-an-argument-over-a-pair-of-headphones-ended-up-with-me-getting-robbed-in-my-sleep-as-I-shared-a-bed-with-two-girls AKA “The Headphones Saga”


[1] The irony here is that my laptop is/was decorated with a decal of one of Raphael’s famous cherubs.

[2] Her case was dismissed. So now she is perusing her civil action. It’s not really my business to say how much she is suing the city for. But think of a number between 1 and 10. Then multiply it by a million dollars. You can find out what happened to her by reading the posts labeled “Kathi vs The Central Park Fascists”

[3] No, really. I swear to god. A motherfucking dog ATE my motherfucking glasses. Why do these things HAPPEN to ME? Why am I fortune’s fool???


[5] I’ve labeled these posts now. The story-of-how-an-argument-over-a-pair-of-headphones-ended-up-with-me-getting-robbed-in-my-sleep-as-i-shared-a-bed-with-two-girls I have pithily called “The Headphones Saga”. All the pieces are in sequence except the first: How My Troubles Began. Start there and proceed chronologically, if you’d like to catch up!

[6] Of course, when I asked him for one, he said that he’d got it from someone else. Pfffft….

[7] Again, this is from memory. And my memory is not so hot. But there are no wild embellishments -though you might be tempted to think i'm making it up, I swear I’m not.

[8] Christian, before all this stuff kicked off, told me about his church. It sounded interesting -not least because they hold their services in a bar and provide beer. And that sermons are sometimes conducted by transvestites and bikers. I was going to go check it out -I’m glad I didn’t; I might be in a cult by now!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dogs Send You Daffy

The whole dog thing has been crazy the past two weeks
I've been leaving my apt in brooklyn at 6.30am, and not getting home till after 9 at night
I love it though
(although it can be trying at times -like when a great dane bites you/shits diarrhoea up your leg)1

And after it snowed last week there was a flash thaw -central park was like a glacial melt, all the paths became ankle-deep streams of ice-cold water

But for every day like that, there are a dozen where both the weather and the dogs are perfect

It's keeping me fit too -all that walking; occasionally having to grapple with a great dane that weighs more than I do

I'm ripped, biatch!

But what is good for the body is not necessarily good for the mind

I realised the other day that I talk the most heinous gooey gobbledegook to my dogs as I walk them

it's absolutely mortifying

But seeing as how this blog is all about self-mortification, I thought i'd give you an insight by sharing the nicknames I give to some of my regulars

This is the gayest shit you ever heard

here we go:

Obi (Great Dane, Male)

Obes; Big Guy; Mr Man(?); Monsieur D'Obes;

Slobberchops; The Beast; The Monster;

Lucy (Irish Terrier, Female)

Luce; Lucy-Luce; Lu-Lu; Juicy Lucy; The Juice Loosener (© The Simpsons) ; My Little Love; My Lady Love; Lady Love, My Dove2;

Brody (Bernese Mountain Dog, Male)

Brodes; The Brodster; Brodski; The Brodisian; Teddy Bear3; Baby Bear; Big Bear

Charlie (Black Labrador, Female)

Charlie-girl; Charles; Sir Charles4; charlie-charlie sniff-sniff; Charlston

Savvy (Mutt, Female)

Savs; Swarvy; Savvy-wavvy-ding-dong-day

River (Long haired lab, female)

Riv; River-Divver; River-Divver-Liver-Quiver; Riiiiiiiiiiverrrrrrrrr

Coco (Shiat Tzu, Female)

With my best friend also being called Coco, you can bet this dog gets called bitch A LOT, as in “How you doin coco, my little bitch? You're my little bitch, coco, aren't you? Yes you are, and you're a good little bitch too.”

Will I ever fail to find that amusing? Probably not ;-)

1But obi is my best boy and I forgive him everything.

2I REALLY love this dog!

3If I ever own a dog, I think i'd get a Bernese; they really are like giant real-life teddy bears

4This dog already has gender issues: she cocks her leg to pee!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Real Life Colombo (pt 3)

The Story So Far....

Dan has -no, fuck it, I can't be assed to go through it all again!

If you want to catch up, go through the archive! Now's a good time, also, because i found the original 1st part, which i sent out as an email (it's called How My Troubles Began)

Now read on:

So. I now have a new prime suspect in my case

Would you like to see a picture?



Of course you would, and I'd be happy to oblige:

Look at him

Notice the eyes set slightly too close together (not unlike our soon-to-be ex-president)

He has the sloping brow and cranial bumpage of the career criminal!

(Not that I believe in phrenology -that was dismissed as quackery over 160 years ago1)

Anyway, this fellow's name is Christian

He is, coincidentally enough, also a Christian2

A Christian called Christian, ha ha

Not only that -he is a gay Christian

(Not that I care that he is a gay Christian -that whole schism in the church over the issue of gay bishops etc; I really, really couldn't give a flying fuck)

But his religious/sexual orientation has a certain bearing on the case, as we shall see

As you can see from the photo, Christian is in his late 30s/early 40s

What did I say about people of that age working/staying in a youth hostel?3

He even hit on me one time

Not that I mind being hit on by gay men; I find it flattering (usually)

But this guy -urgh!

Here's how he did it too:

[imagine his voice as this very nasal, american drawl]

HE: “Are you ABSOLUTELY sure you're not gay?”

ME: “Sure I'm sure. I break gay hearts every day. Why?”

HE: “I just find it very hard to imagine that such a wonderfully flamboyant character as
yourself could be straight.”

ME: “Hey your lot haven't cornered the market on being wonderful and flamboyant y'know. You might think you have. But you haven't.”


I had another issue with him too -one that we had a minor falling out over: cigarettes.

Christian smokes -but never has cigs: NEVER. I wouldn't mind so much that he bums them off me4; instead he does something I find really annoying: he “nickels and dimes” them off me

Nickel and diming, for those who don't know, is offering to buy a cigarette with a handful of shrapnel

I hate it because it puts you in a position where you feel you can't refuse because you've been offered legal tender, even though you don't want shrapnel in your pocket -and, this is the important bit, the other person knows that too. That's why they never offer a quarter -in case you accept. It's extortion, of sorts, but so petty it's not worth kicking up a fuss about

However, one day l lost my patience with it and said I wouldn't give him cigarettes anymore unless he was going to buy some, or at least stop with the nickel and dimes

We didn't really speak much after that; I could care less

But he found a new way to get his cigs:

Christian is one of the night shift staff

The night shift has the power to decide when to kick everyone out of the cafe bar if we're partying

So Christian starts to say that he'll shut it down -unless someone sorts him out with some cigarettes

Now that really IS extortion!

What a prick

(and, lest we forget, a supposed Christian)

But don't let the above lead to believe that I had an agenda against Christian

Honestly, the guy was barely a blip on my radar -just another slightly strange hostel person

But I zeroed in on him when everything was kicking off between me and darryl

He was hovering around the periphery looking extremely nervous

When we took it outside, he stuck his head out the door and back in again TWICE

(Like he wanted to know what was going on, but didn't want to SEEM too concerned)

Ho-ho, I thought, that's interesting

In Colombo, you will recall, the Rumpled One somehow intuits who the murderer is as soon as he arrives at the scene5 and then spends the rest of the show building a case against them

So, if i'm playing real life Colombo, I guess I better follow suit

OK. Let's start with Means, Motive and Opportunity

MEANS: Christian was working the nightshift the first time I thought my wallet had been stolen (and was shooting my mouth off about the $200 inside). So he knew there was money in the wallet. He has the MEANS.

MOTIVE: The oldest motive in the world (and coincidentally one of the Seven Deadly Sins): GREED6. And as the “nickel and dime” thing demonstrates, he never has any money. He has the MOTIVE.

OPPORTUNITY: He lives in the staff basement, and seeing as he was working the night shift, he wasn't sleeping. He has the OPPORTUNITY.

And because he is a Christian (or supposed-Christian) that helped to answer “one more thing that had been bothering me...”

[scratches head, flips through notebook, puffs on cigar stubb]

I couldn't work out why the money had been taken out of the wallet and the wallet replaced in my pocket

If i'd been the thief I would have taken the wallet, taken the money out the wallet -and then thrown the wallet into the nearest public trashcan

I was so drunk that night, when I discovered my wallet was missing my first thought would not be that the wallet had been stolen -i would have assumed i'd dropped it somewhere when I was off my head

I probably would have tried to retrace my steps, ask if it had been handed in at ding dongs, the front desk

And then when it didn't turn up, regretfully write it off as another piece of costly drunken sketchiness

Say no more

But because only the money was gone, I straight away knew it had to be theft

The thief has, from the get-go, put themselves in needless danger

What kind of person would do that?

Well first of all it screams “amateur”, but I knew that already -the basement is full of amateur thieves7

But then I tried putting myself in this person's shoes

Perhaps this person has ethics

(Skewed ethics, but ethics nonetheless)

They really want the money -have made whatever justifications they need to take it- but they don't want to totally screw me

The wallet had both my debit and credit card inside

If they disposed of the wallet i'd have no money and no way of getting any, in a foreign country

This person could say to themselves, “I took the money BUT I left the wallet” and feel good about themselves

What kind of person?

Well, religion, and Christianity in particular, is filled with moral equivocations of this kind

We need look no further than our beloved President, himself an Evangelical Christian, who has personally sent felons to the gas chamber as Governor of Texas and as President sanctioned the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians -and felt righteous in doing so.

A religious mind can find right in doing wrong

So I decided to keep a close eye on Christian the Christian

This wasn't easy because he wasn't around much over the next couple of days

I did find out though, in the course of my investigations, that Christian was leaving the hostel in a couple of weeks; more circumstantial evidence: if he was going, he might feel emboldened to take the money as he would have only a few days of having to occasionally see his victim

But on Friday I saw something that had me 99% convinced

I'm in the cafe bar, chillin, when Christian comes in

I observe him surreptitiously

The first thing he does is take a packet of cigarettes out of his pocket and go out to the smoking area

(Like I said before he NEVER has cigarettes)8

Then when he comes back in he buys food from the cafe bar

He never does this either

He uses his change to use the cafe bar internet

A bit later on he goes back to the cafe bar to break a twenty -a twenty- to get more change for the internet

I've never seen Christian with cigarettes

I've never seen Christian buy food from the cafe bar

(I've never seen him buy ANYTHING)

I've never seen him use the cafe bar computers -which are expensive- ever

This dude suddenly, two days after I got robbed, has money

Hmm, could there be a connection, d'you think?

I couldn't believe it

I mean, this guy is either incredibly arrogant or incredibly stupid (or, I suspect, both), to come into my cafe bar and start breaking twenties -my twenties- right in front of my eyes!

What. The. Fuck.

So I shared my suspicions with a couple of people I could trust

Their opinion was that I should take it out of his ass

But i don't have any proof

Doesn't matter, they said, just get drunk and pick a fight with him, you can't let him get away with it

Well, fighting is not my style

(It can't be when you are a skinny wretch like me)

I prefer brains over brawn

And besides we are playing Colombo, remember, not Dirty Harry

Colombo doesn't beat confessions out of people

No no no

He fucks with their heads

Find out how I go about doing that next time!


1But, of course I'd say that: I have the brainpan of a stagecoach tilter! (© The Simpsons)

2Or perhaps, not coincidentally: maybe he is easily led: one can only wonder what might have happened had his parents named him Buddha, or Judea...

3See post Freek City

4That “Can I bum a fag?” joke has been said so many times at the hostel now it's becoming anti-funny.

5A reader of this blog (who knows who he is; cheers!) sent me the following, by critical theorist Slavoj Zizek, on Colombo's seemingly preternatural powers of detection. If it hasn't appeared in Private Eye's Pseud's Corner then it ought to:

'In the TV-series Colombo, the crime (the act of murder) is shown in detail in advance, so that the enigma to be resolved is not that of "whodunit?", but of how the detective will establish the link between the deceitful surface (the "manifest content" of the crime scene) and the truth about the crime (its "latent thought"), how he will prove to the culprit his or her guilt. The success of Colombo thus attests to the fact that the true source of interest in the detective's work, is the process of deciphering itself, not its result (the triumphant final revelation "And the murderer is…" is completely lacking here, since we know this from the very outset). Even more crucial than this feature is the fact that not only do we, the spectators, know in advance who did it (since we directly see it), but, inexplicably, the detective Colombo himself immediately knows it: the moment he visits the scene of the crime and encounters the culprit, he is absolutely certain, he simply knows that the culprit did it. His subsequent effort thus concerns, not the enigma "who did it?", but how should he prove this to the culprit. This reversal of the "normal" order has clear theological connotations: the same as in true religion where I first believe in God and then, on the ground of my belief, become susceptible to the proofs of the truth of my faith; here also, Colombo first knows with a mysterious, but nonetheless absolutely infallible certainty, who did it, and then, on the basis of this inexplicable knowledge, proceeds to gather proofs… And, in a slightly different way, this is what the analyst qua "subject supposed to know" is about: when the analysand enters into a transferential relationship with the analyst, he has the same absolute certainty that the analyst knows his secret (which only means that the patient is a priori "guilty", that there is a secret meaning to be drawn from his acts). The analyst is thus not an empiricist, probing the patient with different hypotheses, searching for proofs, etc.; he embodies the absolute certainty (which Lacan compares with the certainty of Descartes' cogito ergo sum) of the analysand's "guilt," i.e. of his unconscious desire.'

6Certain apologists for the thief have come to me with the following excuse: “You have to understand there are very poor people in the basement, people who sometimes don't know where their next meal is coming from, and $200 is just too much temptation.”

Well, I had this to say in response: “You do not need $200 to fill your belly. You can fill your belly with $2. $2 of bologna, sure, but $2 nonetheless. In fact a 'starving' person could have taken a twenty out and left the rest; I wouldn't have noticed. To take the whole $200 is naked greed, pure and simple.” In fact, it's more than greed. It's GREED and SLOTH: they're taking money I earned, so they don't have to work themselves. There are poor people in that basement because they can't be assed to get a second job, despite living in a city with a superabundance of vacancies in the “services” sector. Perhaps they have too much PRIDE. And if they DID spend that whole $200 on a blow-out meal, that's GLUTTONY. (Can you see where I'm going with this?) Or perhaps they took that money out of ENVY that I have that kind of disposable income. Or perhaps a petty dispute over, say, cigarettes could make them enRAGEd enough to steal the money out of retribution. Or, um, -I'm reaching now- this person could be, er, addicted to dirty phone lines? And needs money to feed their LUSTful habit?

(one, two, three... seven! Got em all in there! ;-P)

7In the aftermath of the robbery somebody (I forget who) told me that if I live in the basement I should EXPECT to get robbed. First of all: I was only in there ONE night. And second of all: Jeez, how do you people LIVE like that?

8I wish now i'd gone out there and scabbed one of him. But I didn't think quick enough. Esprit de l'escalier...