Monday, September 25, 2006

Pretty Fly For A White Guy

This week is Advertising Week, one of the biggest self-congratulatory weeks ever created. I read about a seminar dealing with how to get kids to listen to your ads. I'm always looking for a way to become even more of an advertising genius so I corralled my good friend Michael and we headed to the seminar, all the way downtown, to Tribeca Cinemas. Closer to New Jersey than to my office.

We took the E train to Canal Street and I was feeling pretty confident about getting to the seminar on time. I'm an idiot when it comes to directions but Michael is not only a world traveler, he lives just a few blocks north of here. Yet there we were, literally standing in the middle of, uh, I think it was Lipsenard Street in Manhattan's trendy TriBeCa section. Standing here, I don't see what's trendy about it. Maybe that's what makes it trendy...the fact that no one thinks it's trendy. Beyond the TriBeCa Film Festival (thanks, Robert DeNiro!) and some art galleries, it looks like a part of Manhattan where the effects of gentrification have yet to reach.

Okay, I'm white. I admit it. And I'm not just white in skin color. I have a pretty white personality as well. Sure, I have a black iPod but my Bose speaker is white. I like classic rock, but mostly the white bands. And I like Barry Manilow. I'm a "fanilow". And Michael, while decidedly hipper, is pretty white-looking himself. So we're both actually standing in the middle of the road, turning in circles and looking at a map. We couldn't look more like tourists if we were wearing plaid shorts and black socks.

So what's my point? I'm getting there. Michael and I made our way to a corner when we were approached by 2 black teens. One of them actually had a boom box, which made me wonder if I had crossed into 1983 or something. And one of them says, "hey, you know where the graffiti store is?" The what? "You know, where they sell markers and shit?" Well, we had to apologize for not being able to help them out. I mentioned to Michael that it's probably aiding and abetting if we tell someone where to get the markers they'll use to deface some sort of property.

But always the optimist, Michael said we should be impressed that these two guys actually thought we would know. And he's absolutely right! Despite looking lost and white, we must have been giving off some kind of cool vibe that said, "hey world, we bad. Dat's right. We real bad."

It's good to be relevant again. Peace out.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Rockin' The Suburbs, part 2

I forget when I conquered my fear of insects. I'm not sure I ever really had one, even thought I saw the 1954 Oscar-nominated classic Them! Giant, irradiated ants terrorizing the Arizona desert. Or something. It's been a long time. I was one of those kinds who loved killing bugs and yet there was always this feeling that, if a giant, irradiated ant ever really existed, it would come for me first.

Loyal readers (all 4 of you) may recall my argument with some bees trying to nest inside my retaining wall. Or my problem with the underground bees. Well in my ongoing quest to conquer the insect world around my own private suburbia, I may have finally met my match.

Ants. Flying ants.

Flying insects are icky enough, but I've always been able to keep ahead of them because, for the most part, they don't fly that fast. Except for houseflies. But that's another story. If you're patient enough to wait for the moth or Japanese beetle to land, you can usually stomp or swat them with a satisfying crunch. It's the swarms that get me. And these ants have found my Achilles heel. They found it by landing on my leg and crawling into my sock.

I'm mowing the lawn the other day and taking another in a series of extended breaks. Which is why it takes me so long to mow my lawn. From the corner of my eye, I thought I saw something floating. And I followed that something to the swarm of winged ants gathered on the snowblower cover. And on the ground. And along the side of the house. Regular ants are one thing but ants with wings? It's like they mutated to some form of super ant. So I go to the arsenal of canned chemicals: what's left of a can of carpenter ant killer and 2 cans of Raid Ant Spray and made quick work of the little ant insurrection.

Satisfied that the ant horde has been vanquished and having quelled by wife's desire to call an exterminator, I continued mowing the lawn. The yard slants at, like, a 75 degree angle so it's a bit of a challenge but hey, I just killed who knows how many winged, mutant ants? But I keep thinking I see more flying around. And sure enough, one of my plants (I don't know any plant names) has a bunch of the little buggers (ha!!!!) all over it. So I retrieve my Raid and spray away. I lift the plant a little and find more. And I spray. And I conquer.

But as if I'm Porky Pig being mocked by a bunch of termites he can't kill, I spot two more piles of these things. And they're just randomly placed on the lawn. I spray but I soon run out. Okay varmints!!!! You win!!!!! Honey? Call the exterminator!!!! Take that, you three-sectioned demons from below.

Uh oh, is that a bee I see flying around up there???

Friday, September 15, 2006

Still A Million Dollars Short Of Being A Millionaire

I had intended today's post to be about my experience auditioning for the Pop Culture Week edition of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." I was going to talk about the fact that I was the oldest person on line or about the intense security to get into the ABC cafeteria or the Peter Jennings table tents or the weirdos sitting and the table with me. I had something to say about the jerk across from me who, after finishing the 10 minute, 30 question test looked at all of us and said, "well that was easy." I was going to talk about the interview process and everything. But I can't.

At 5:00, the introductions started. We filled out our little Scantron sheets (remember those things?) and were reminded how to fill in the tiny rectangles. The tests were computer graded on the spot. And I failed. By 5:20, I was on my way to Port Authority to catch a bus home. It all happened so fast.

Well, I do have to say that my intensive knowledge of popular culture is limited to older, more obscure stuff. There was a question about "Desperate Housewives", which I don't watch, and some celebrity questions about Demi Moore/Ashton Kutcher and Tom Cruise and stuff. And I really don't care about them so I haven't been paying attention. So I blew my chance at $1,000,000.

Oh well. At least I got to keep the official "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" pencil. How sweet is that?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

White Girlz On The Block

I live in a relatively affluent township in northern New Jersey. We're not rich (well, not all of us) but we do have some nice amenities. For instance, we have a great Community Park which includes a terrific playground. Now you should know that I really like little kids, and not in a creepy, call the police kind of way. There is nothing like the smile on the faces of little kids when they run around a playground, climbing, swinging, yelling, get the idea. My kids love going there. So I was wondering what was going on when, on a recent trip to the park, my son was yelling something about riding on the hooters train. Hooters the restaurant? Maybe. I took him there for his 4th birthday. But it turns out he was talking about some graffito he saw.

Here's the thing: I've never been a fan of graffiti. I never understood the point of it and I never saw it as art. To me, calling graffiti art is one of the biggest rationalizations out there. If you're drawing or painting on something that isn't yours, that's vandalism. But all that aside,
this was in a playground. A harmless, pure place where kids get to run around and just be kids, far away from TV and traffic and anything bad. So what goes through a person's mind when they feel that, of all the public surfaces in the town, he/she chooses a child's play train as the choice to write "hooters", complete with nipples in the 'O's? Are these angry teens who resent kids having a place to play? Nah, there's a rec center right down the hill. Does this playground have bad memories for them? Nope, it's too new. It wasn't around when they were young enough to use a playground.

Okay, I moved on from the train and followed my young daughter up the stairs to the rocket slide. That's what I call it, anyway. Someone else said it's a silo, due to the far
m theme of the whole place. She's probably right. Anyway, at the top was a whole bunch of things written into the wood in marker or pen. None of it was really offensive, beyond the really clever one that read "Penis DeMilo" (who says kids aren't getting an art education?). But what angered me was the idea that some people came up to this haven for kids and decided to deface it.

I'm sure I acted differently when I was a teen. I'm sure I thought things were a riot then that I don't think are funny now. There was a time when I was hanging outside the Red Lobster where I worked with a bunch of other guys. It was late and two guys decided to climb the movie theater marquis to rearrange some titles. "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" became "Who Framed Roger Rabbi." Well, that one's kind of funny. It also tells you how long ago this was. There was another movie title but I forget what it was. The point is that I grew up. So maybe these playground vandals aren't really vandals at all. They're just teens out having a good time. Maybe. But it's the permanence that leads me to believe that this was the work of some pretty stupid kids. I mean, they wrote their full names in some places. Jeez.

Being in advertising, I know the importance of getting your message out there. But there has to be a better way to let people know that Mitch Cramer known as the local Ferris Bueller. Perhaps the person saying hi to "cunt face" could have used a personal ad instead of a child's slide. But what do I know? I'm just an old man compared to these young Hemmingways.

I once read that if you put a bunch of monkeys in a room with a bunch of typewriters, you'd eventually get Shakespeare. In case anyone wants to try it, there are a few monkeys loitering in my town.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bye Bye Potfry!

As some of you already know, one of the funniest bloggers around will be joining forces with one of the other funniest bloggers. Potfry has been blogging for several years, starting with his observations about the New York Yankees and the greater sports world and moving on to the absurd world around us.

Starting, um, sometime soon, Potfry will be joining forces with Buckley on The Nose On Your Face. Buckley and Potfry also do an internet radio show on Wide Awakes Radio on Saturday mornings from 8am to 10am. Yeah, it's early. But it's funny and I call in every once in awhile as roving reporter Gordon Simms.

All of Potfry's classic postings can be found at The Nose On Your Face.

Good luck Potfry from all of us at Greetings From Suburbia.