July 15, 2010

What Happened To MTV?

The heat does things to people. Makes them sweat like barnyard animals, yeah, but makes them do strange things too. Strange, like skew focus and concentration and thoughts and memories. That’s what the heat did to me. After a few long days in New York, I boarded my flight back to LA, settled down in my unusually small chair, noticed the ashtray and silently wondered just how old this plane was, as if the grossly off-color tube televisions mounted every 20 feet wasn’t a dead give away, thought about the opening sequence of the first Final Destination movie and relived my trip in my head. But the heat does things to people. I remember some, but mostly remember pieces. A fever-dream.

Having friends of friends in high places with parents who have uninhabited Japanese style lofts and let people stay there is way better than having hotel reservations. If only rice paper didn’t let 7am light in so easily. On my way to eat breakfast, I come to the conclusion that there must be more Topsiders per capita in NY than the Sperry factory itself. I must’ve missed the welcoming committee at JFK which hands them out with a wry smile as you enter the city. I quietly reassured myself that the faded canvas on my Vans are able to breathe better and therefore be more comfortable in the sixth-circle-of-hellesque climate but can’t help to feel as if everyone knows something I don’t. I made a right on 2nd. Atlas is up on the right. Vegan pancakes can be just as good if not better than “real” pancakes, but perhaps only if made by a Middle Eastern man with a strangely Bostonian accent. I should know, not the guess about the chef’s origin, but the quality of the pancakes since I ate them every morning. Like I said, just as good if not better. I’m sweating and it’s only 10am.

Six hour flight. Bad movie. Six might as well be sixty.

No, I don’t want to purchase a snack box after spending hundreds on a ticket, 24 to check a bag and another 19 when I accidentally accepted the offer for the premium line which moved just as fast as the regular line. No. Coffee. Black.

There was a lot of shopping. Well, window shopping, although I’m not sure that’s accurate either since I didn’t buy any glass, just looked. Not at the windows, but all the stuff for sale behind them on every corner of every block in Manhattan. I love the smell of commerce in the morning. I can’t help but to think handball is the new bicycle polo. I can’t help but to wonder why that guy was wearing a turban and a miniskirt. I decide that there should be a law passed that granulated soap should be banned from all restaurant bathrooms especially when it’s pink and reminds me of the product janitors would spread over vomit when a kid would puke in elementary school. I shopped more. Window shopped. The heat does things.

Turbulence opens my eyes; it usually does when I’m floating seven miles above the earth with nothing but a few laws of physics holding me there. I make a mental note to delete the song playing on my ipod when I get home. How did it get there anyway?

About the time the romantic comedy starring John Mayer’s ex girlfriend and the guy from 300 that yelled a lot ended, I come up with at least three metaphors for the homeless man fast asleep outside of the trendy women’s shoe store clutching a wad of dollars in his outstretched hand I saw the day before last. That dude’s lucky I didn’t need seven dollars, at least then I didn’t. I did however, the day before that, when I lost the Metro card I had bought not one-hour prior. Although that’s when the two two-dollar bills I won as a result of my belief in Spanish soccer came in handy. Metro card machines don’t recognize two-dollar bills, I wonder if they do in Spain.

Adjusting the seat belt over my buckle reminds me of Topshop and how I had to tell the girl with braces not once but twice that I didn’t want to take a look at some pants with an elastic waist. I wonder if they have topsiders. I wonder if I should’ve tried on the elastic pants. I hated braces. I almost fall asleep.

The coffee the guy serves me in a tiny styrofoam cup with the United logo embossed in it is burnt and it both saddens me to the point of tears and angers me to the point of violence. Hiring a hit-man who’s actually an undercover cop. That would do it. I think you can get the death penalty for that. I’m pretty sure at least. I drink the coffee anyway. The heat does things to people. Contract killing. That way I wouldn’t have to actually hurt anyone and on the eve of my sunrise walk to the gallows I could request my last meal -- a liberal mix of Snack Taverna and Café Havana. If New York never does another thing for me, at least I had those two meals. Those two meals -- my last meal. I’m satisfied with myself for not only discovering the food that would theoretically be my last meal, but also my fairly humane and civic approach to my hypothetical situation which would necessitate the request and procuring of a last meal.

I'd give the woman across the aisle a two dollar bill to turn her reading light off if I had the two dollar bill.

It’s a fact that cheeseburgers and fried chicken are among the top choices for last meals. I think my shirt still smells of someone’s last meal after sitting in a Popeye’s for twenty minutes on Canal Street. That’s where I was told to sit and wait while the nice young man went to fetch the gaudy Rolex Daytona I wanted for a gift. I wonder if I should’ve ordered something, a biscuit or a side of red beans and rice. I didn’t. I people watched, and soaked up the stench. That was someone else’s last meal, not mine. Nothing sets off the décor of a Popeye's like a 30 dollar gold Rolex. Can you get the death penalty for buying a fake Rolex? Two birds with one stone, perhaps. But that’s someone else’s last meal.

More turbulence and the seat belt icon beams which sucks because now I have to piss. The coffee was horrible. I think of contract killing and my last meal again. I wonder how the hell the guy with the broken leg got an exit row seat. I tend to trust nobody except those displaying perfect physical prowess to be my wrangler in case of a water landing at 600mph. I’m hungry. Contract Killing. Rear airplane bathrooms tucked in the arc of the sidewall of the 757 were designed by small men and women who would never understand the discomfort and the subsequent poor aim caused by the 90 degree angle of the neck necessary on anyone six feet tall or more. Contract killing. Los Angeles needs more Cuban food.

I think about walking over the Brooklyn Bridge and quietly and rhetorically questioned how many people choose to end their days by bounding the rails. Sorry, but I did. Walking through the humidity I quietly and rhetorically questioned why more people don’t end their days by bounding the rails. Sorry, but I did. God bless air-conditioned cabs. Too bad the 80 year-old driver who was born in a cab in Brooklyn in 1931 didn’t know how to work it much less the hazard lights which incessantly blinked until we showed him how to turn them off. I’m sure they’re flashing now. We thought about explaining to the cab-driver how the red on the air conditioner meant heat but we figured that discovering his new-found power over blinking lights might just be all the excitement he could handle for one day. The heat does things to people. Cabs are too expensive but at least they take debit cards. I swipe. I touch the screen. I thank the old man. I get out. I come to the almost immediate conclusion that the Brooklyn Flea Market sounds a lot cooler than it actually is. I get stuck on the subways because of F-train construction and end up in the Lower East Side when I wanted to be in the West Village.

My leg is on the verge of cramping and my neck hurts and I assign blame to both the awkward angle of the top third of airline seats and the fact that like most stereotypical tourists, I have been looking up for the better part of five days. Someone has to. New Yorkers claim a level eye is the truest characteristic of localism. I look up. I take pictures of things above me. My neck hurts and I didn’t bring Topsiders.

It’s late, or early. I try to fight sleep while more flashes of my trip project on the back of my eyelids with intermittent strobes of white filling in the blanks like empty slots in a slide carousel. White -- the color of heat. The heat does things to people. The last twelve minutes of my flight are spent somewhere between dream and memory. The last four of those minutes are spent thinking about and flinching at the snuff film chapter from Less Than Zero and remembering when MTV used to be good. I Heart NY.