Monday, October 05, 2009


White Dog on a Leash, Lifting His Leg and Urinating Clipart Illustration
Are you one of those folks, like The Boy, who refuses to listen to reason and wash produce before he eats it? Well here is a cautionary tale. As I was walking to work, I heard a Family-Guy-type voice screaming.

"Oh yeah, go ahead and just let your dog go on my box of vegetables."

As i looked up, I noticed a big truck with a big guy in it yelling down to a lady and her dog which had just, um, baptized the beets, so to speak.

"Just keep walking. Don't do nothing about it," he screamed down.

"Well, I don't think he meant it," she said.

"Well I think he did," said the guy.

I kept walking. And I will be extra vigilant about washing my veges from now on. Fo sho.

The Case of the Stalker Pastry

The Cupcake Stop sprung out of a New York law school student's idea.

I'm being stalked. By killer pastry. Not only is my block bordered by cupcake stores, but there are food trucks that seem to be following me around, tempting me with the promise of heaven. One truck sells cupcakes(!?!). The other sells waffles, including bacon waffles or waffles with nutella.

I know it's wrong, but I can't get them out of my head. No means no, ok, trucks?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pursed Off

It was one of those packed subway days where I was lucky to get my preferred commute location - standing in front of the doors on the non-open side for the express commute. This is the best location. You don't have to hold onto a pole, you are out of the high-traffic areas, and you can spread out to read your paper. Well, usually you can. Last week my primo location was compromised when a giant-purse-wielding hussy wedged her way into my consciousness.

So as I understand it, the polite thing to do when entering the subway with a giant purse, backpack or baby in a stroller is to fold them up and rest them on the floor (the babies especially love this.) Put another way, if anything you are holding has the potential to poke someone in the eye or sack them like a quarterback, you should remove it from your shoulder and find a less dangerous place to store it during the duration of the subway ride. Apparently this bristly gal didn't get the memo. Her giant purse had me cornered. I gave up reading my paper altogether. And when her sleuth moves threatened to fill the tiny gap between us, I balked! I asked her (somewhat politely) if she could move her bag. "It's got me cornered here," I said, good naturedly as I pretended to be boxed in.
She snarled. "You're on a subway. Get over it." She didn't move her bag.
Not to be outdone, I mumbled, hand on hip, eyes full of disdain, "The polite thing to do would have been to move your bag." Thanks for stating the obvious. What a comeback. It was one of those moments where you want to be pithy and precise, but just. Can't.
Anyway, the moral of this story is, I bought a smaller bag. I don't want to be a purse whacker or a bag bully. I just want to stand in my corner and read my paper.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Good Help Ain't Hard to Find - Even in New York

lego man dangling by a rope
I know. I know. New York is supposed to be full of hardened creeps (and there are some, as documented here). But New York has a good side too.

I rushed out of the office last week with bags and computer, detoured to Whole Foods to buy some Belgian beer, and hopped in a cab headed to the East Village to meet The Boy, Easy E and Ms. Foliage at Sigiri Sri Lankan Restaurant. As I got out of the cab with all my gear, I stuffed one of the giant beer bottles under my arm and shuffled toward the restaurant door. But as I turned, the bottle slipped and was hanging precariously from my armpit. My armpit! I was about to waste a whole bottle of beautiful Oomegang brew into the gutter.

So there I was, bags akimbo, squeezing the hell out of that beer neck trying not to let it fly.

"Help me. Helllp meee!" I pleaded to someone, anyone on the street.

Now, I would have done the right thing - averted my eyes and scurried past quickly. But there she was - a samaritan in platform heels who helped me right my bottle, saving its poor soul from the indignities of the street.

Later that weekend, I was faced with a horrible turn of events. At Manhattan Diner, there was NO MILK for my coffee on the table. My god! The humanity! I looked around and located my waiter, shooting him a pained look and pointing to my sad and liquid-challenged creamer. As he scurried away, no doubt pumped with pride to deliver my much-needed lactose, a funny thing happened. The guy at the table next to me valiantly offered up his full creamer, enabling my coffee to achieve its special purpose.
So yes, Virginia, there are nice New Yorkers. Like so many other things, it just takes beer and milk to flush them out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jury Duty - Take 3 - The Story

See full size image

Essentially the story was this:
Two crackheads meet at rehab - 40-year-old Wayne Hunter and 47-year old Carolyn Johnson. They become friends, lovers and then live-in lovers. That, it seems, is where things began to go awry. They both began using again, and the week prior to the incident had been on an almost 24-hour crack binge. On the morning in question, Mr Hunter attacked Ms. Johnson with a hammer, wounding her head and breaking bones in both her hands. Depending on whose story you believed, he either held her hostage for several hours and raped her, OR after he bludgeoned her with the hammer, they reconciled and had makeup sex. 

He was charged with 26 crimes - several contempt charges relating to an order of protection which Mr. Hunter disregarded when he contacted Ms. Johnson over several months during his initial incarceration, two assault charges and three rape charges.

Ultimately our decision came down to their two stories, some shaky forensic evidence, and the letter of the law.  I knew it was going to be a tough decision when we argued for 3 hours about one of the contempt charges. The assault charges were easy. There was DNA evidence from the hammer. But the rape charges . . . we just couldn't agree. Most of us were leaning toward guilty except for two jurors. One of them TOTALLY had a Rihanna complex and felt sorry for the defendant and thought we were all being unfair to him.  Geez. I made her cry about that crazy business. Anyway, after the judge clarified for us that the defendant had to KNOW he didn't have consent in order to be charged with rape, several of us changed our mind. There just wasn't enough evidence to prove what went on in that apartment.

So, unable to come to unanimous agreement on the rape charges and one of the contempt charges after 12 hours of deliberation, the judge took a partial verdict from us on the remaining charges, assuring, at least, that he would stay in jail a bit longer.

After the trial was over, the attorneys wanted to talk to us, and we gave them a bit of insight into our thinking. They said the defendant had a history of violence against women, and they were planning to retry him in a couple of weeks on just the rape charges. 

They should be picking the new jury this week.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Jury Duty - Take 2 - Juror #11

Cross Examination - The Hung Jury (Cover Artwork) 
I know when it happened. During the Voir Dir (which they pronounce the French way, not the Texas way wink wink Lady Lawhorn), I got all Type A - wanting to answer all the questions correctly. What a jackass.  So when the assistant district attorney, a competent young Asian woman, asked if a victim had to fight back in order for a rape to occur, I said no, that I could imagine a scenario where someone could be held against their will, threatened or too fearful to fight. Ding ding ding!  You are the next contestant on The Perp Ain't Right.  So that's how I became Juror #11 in The People of the State of New York vs Wayne Hunter, a trial that would last 7 days.

Let me set the scene first. Windowless courtroom. No cool murals like on TV. Ramshackle judge's desk. Clerk desk, computer and file cabinets NEXT TO the judge's desk.  1 baliff and 3-4 other security personnel with two desks behind the attorney's tables, equipped with phones (which they would use in the middle of testimony. Wha?)  Anyway, not the pristine environment they show on TV. 

Then there's this little side story. It took two days to pick the jury. I was chosen on Day 2. Apparently the Day 1 jurors really bonded, to the point that when the Day 2 jurors showed up, Day 1 had created their own clique - one that didn't include the Day 2 jurors. They would sit together, eat lunch together, share vacation photos. The exclusion was tight. One day four of us ran out for coffee during a break. I was last to get my order. The other three left together but did not wait for me. Wah wah.

A little more drama happened on the second day of testimony. Midday, the judge began to look purple. He stopped the trial and shuffled out the back door. An ambulance was called. We were all sent home. No one knew what had happened.  Turned out he had the "flu". Read: the runs. We were dismissed for the day and only worked half day the next day.  As a result of THAT little trend, on the following day of testimony we were dismissed for two hours for lunch.  (I know. Two hours, WTF. We started at 10 am and had two hour lunches. No wonder the trial took 7 days . . .) Anyway, one of the jurors, an older gentleman with two hearing aids "misheard" the judge and thought we were dismissed for the afternoon again. He didn't return after lunch. Jesus Christ.

So finally, the trial got underway in earnest. We heard from the victim, the defendant, CSI, SVU, two detectives, two doctors, some friends, etc.

The worst day? When they displayed the GIANT va-jay-jay diagram ALL DAY and kept pointing at it and drawing on it. Shudder.

Jury Duty - Take 1

TheSee full size image State of New York got their money's worth out of me recently when I got nabbed for jury duty. Remember, awhile back I had to go downtown to account for my absence at an earlier session.  

Feeling annoyed, I showed up at the appointed place, at the appointed time, dreaming of ways to "get out of it."  I mean, what kind of fresh hell was this?  First of all, I was worried about what to wear. I had googled myself gaga the night before trying to find a dress code. I'm pretty sure they have this in Texas. No dice.  I went with warm and comfy.  Second, I couldn't determine the coffee situation, i.e. whether I could bring Starbucks into the building.  I did.  Third, jury duty appears to be another of those no-buffer-seat-zones. So even though I arrived promptly, even early, I ended up having to give up my bag holder/buffer seat because I couldn't stand watching the infirm and cane-wielding older folks amble up and down the aisles looking pained. I mean, I'm not an animal. Finally, my indignance reached its high when I found out how this crazy New York jury system works. Despite my hopes, this was not going to be over quickly.

See, in Texas, you show up, you read a few book chapters, you likely don't get called for the jury, and you go home, hyper with the knowledge that you just got out of something truly repugnant, like cleaning the litter box.  As with so many of life's petty activities, this was not to be the case in New York City.  Although it is not disclaimed on their site, you can expect to commit AT LEAST two days to jury duty. The system is kind of like rolling out dough for cookie cutter cookies. You roll it out, cut the cookies, then roll the waste back in and re-roll another batch. The jury system keeps re-rolling and re-rolling the potential jurists, assuring that most folks called are going to get chosen for one trial or another. If you don't get chosen for a jury by the end of the second day, you're free to go. It wouldn't play out like that for me.

I got called up in the first group of potential jurors, and, of course, because the universe is a snarky old biddy, I got chosen. For a rape trial. That's right. It's an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and i'm playing the role of Juror #11. 

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Blow Hards

"I haven't taken a subway since January," pronounced the investment banker sitting at the table next to me.  I know exactly what he said because a) the tables were so close I could have jacked him off without leaning over, and b) he was speaking so loudly I would have had to stuff my ears with the generous cup of bread sticks not to hear him.  He apparently lived in the neighborhood around Blue Hill, the restaurant I dragged The Boy to for dinner. He'd just gotten back from Japan. He was going to Florida on Monday, but would be home for Easter. As a boy, he fell down while playing soccer. Annoying? Yes. Pretentious? Also yes. The Boy and I hovered in the corner next to them, praying for a hasty exit. The waitstaff was, sadly, on the side of the Loud Talker. They. Moved. At. The. Pace. Of. Snails.  Thankfully they didn't leave a glistening trail behind, although that might have been cool. 

Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's the economy, stupid

Spring is supposed to be a time of growth and rebuilding. And though technically it's not quite spring, Manhattan is in a perennial winter, both literally and figuratively. The weather can barely stay above freezing, and businesses around town are closing up every day. I came across the deliberate and careful disassembling of a furniture store's marquee sign today, the giant letters resting in nests of bubble wrap on the street. I think the whole world wishes it could curl up in a bolt of bubble wrap until this giant mess is resolved.