Monday, February 9, 2009

Open Letter From a Rat

I used to work at Joe Coffee Store in Manhattan. We spent most of last winter co-habitating the shop with a 3 lb rat.
He had alot of personality and really enjoyed our assortment of sweets. He mostly came out at night and helped himself to leftover stock which we tried in vain to secure in tough, plastic storage bins. He always found a way in.
It was a mostly peaceful relationship, if not annoying and gross. You can imagine our shock when upon opening the store one morning we found a letter addressed to the staff. It reads as follows:

To the baristas of Joe Coffee Store: Purveyors of Espresso and Savory Delicacies,

I am a rat. Some of you are aware that I have been occupying your basement for upwards of 3 months. I thank you for the accommodations and have had a most enjoyable stay. I chose your fine establishment because it is a well known fact that I have quite the sweet tooth. It is a treat to indulge on pastries from Donut Plant, located in Brooklyn. I would go directly there but I must admit, Brooklyn is somewhat of a trek and we all know cabs hate going out there. I could really go into a tirade about cabs right now, but let's stay focused on the issue at hand.

Roughly 2 weeks ago I stumbled onto a dessert that can only be described as "life-altering". Being a connoisseur of Old-World European pastries, I was floored to discover that you serve rugelach; a rare and highly specialized Yiddish sweet.

I immediately tore into your reserves and took a bite out of each one. They were all to die for. Each one combined the perfect blend of walnut, cinnamon, and raspberry preserves; subtly sweet, savory and wholly intoxicating. I will however admit that I was very displeased to find that the following week's inventory contained raisins.

I HATE raisins. I have always hated them and don't see where they fit into the food chain as an edible. I have seen children put them up their nose rather than eat them. The elderly put them on their bran flakes to encourage regularity. That is a double whammy of inedible slop if you ask me.

I felt a great conflict of emotion because I LOVE rugelach and I HATE raisins. It was a lot to process, but the love overwhelmed me and I painstakingly picked out all of the raisins or ate around them. It was still delicious but not as indulgent and gratifying as prior experiences because I lived with the fear that I could bite into a raisin at any moment. They are always hiding in there somewhere. Nasty little critters, they are.

A careless and thoughtless baker will fill out a batch of dough with extra raisins because these vile little creatures cost next to nothing when compared to a walnut. The ratio of raisin to walnut was a staggering 8:1. I would have rather the baker gone outside and picked up a handful of gravel to add to the batter than deal with another raisin.

It is clear that I am upset. I beseech you, please contact the vendor and demand they return to the original recipe of rugelach. If that does not work, demand the baker is suspended from further employment until he realizes that this maelstrom of raisins is corrupting a perfect recipe which in my mind is like an act of defiance against God.

If none of this is rectified within the next 2 weeks, I will be forced to take my business elsewhere. To speak about this further, feel free to seek me out in the basement. My hours are 1am to 5am.

God Bless,
The Rat


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Violence and post Modern Art, also known as the F train

NY----you've done some retarded things. Profoundly retarded.

But last night, you really raised the bar.

I was leaving a great show I had performed on at Bowery Electric and because of the awful, bone chilling wind, scampered down into the 2nd Avenue F station instead of walking to Delancey.

For those of you who don't know this station very well, or anyone who has never been here, a brief description is paramount.

The 2nd Avenue station is where nightmares come true. Aside from being the most consistently urine soaked station along that line, or any other for that matter-- ( E train, you're not off the hook, this story just doesn't involve you) I am certain that the generator that provides power for all of Manhattan is underneath the platform. Either that, or some accessible version of the fires of hell. It is the most outrageously sweltering place on earth mixed with stifling garbage stench, fecal matter wafting, and sweaty, toxin filled New Yorker perspiration rolling down smalls of backs and foreheads. And this is the winter time. I would need to go under hypnosis to explain what this is like in the summer time because I have repressed these experiences and pushed the trauma down so deeply.


So, not even a second into the first step down, I notice something that looked like hot sauce? Maybe. It is custom in NYC, when done eating your food, to violently throw whatever is left of it onto the steps, platform---really, anywhere someone could step on it, slip and break their neck. Hmmm. But there was alot of this stain and no food.

A pomegranate slurpee? With a hole in the bottom that trailed behind the passenger sprinting to catch the train? I just don't think so.

I take a few more steps down and realize they are drops of blood. Then there is a large splattering of it at the bottom of the steps and of course it leads up to the MTA vending machine where I need to purchase my card. I look around not sure what to expect; there is no station attendant present to witness this horror scene. I approach the machine, begin to touch the screen when I realize there is blood smeared all over it, covering all of the metrocard options. Ugh. How awful that I am so used to these machines looking like a baby's highchair tray, that I don't notice blood smeared everywhere. It's dripping down the money slot where you feed your dollar bills and I see out of the corner of my eye, 2 dollar bills wadded up on the ground sort of floating in a pool of blood. I feel concerned and nervous that someone has been hurt really badly.

Finally I react to the person pumping money into the machine next to mine and I say, "Uh, do you see all this blood everywhere?"

The man says to me, "Honey, this is NYC, it's probably just an art installation---get over it."

I just shot him a look like he was nuts for saying that and he was shooting a look at me like I was nuts for caring that there was blood covering the station, fake or not. I don't want to live here so long that I no longer react to the sight of blood. And I also don't want to ever be so blase towards violence that I assume it's always an "art installation".

Which leads me to another topic. I see so much shitty art in this city it boggles the mind. Get the f#%$ out of town if you think staining public property with blood to stage a violent crime "art installation" is valid. Yes, you got a reaction out of me as art is supposed to do. My reaction was to kick your ass for making bad art, and causing me to miss my train because my dollar kept getting spit back out at me, each time, more smeared and red, much like the art installation I would like to make out of your face.

So, I still have no clue if I was supposed to be concerned for someone curled up in a corner bleeding out, or if I should go home and google "The New School funds bloody subway station art project"so I could write a snippy letter. (I googled and couldn't find any reported murders or a senior art thesis involving gore.) All I know is that I was stuck on the same car as the guy who thought I was a tourist and prone to histrionics. We sat on opposite ends eyeing one another; on the same train, but living in very different New Yorks.