Tags: new york


my current housemates are terrible and awesome

Just wanted to give a little shout-out:

Last night, my current housemates drank about three dozen beers. Bottles and cans everywhere--the coffee table, the kitchen table; they were on every surface in the house. I had to step over bottles on the floor to get to the bathroom, and when I got to the bathroom there was an open bottle filled with human urine atop the toilet tank.

Tonight I went to pay the deposit on my new room in Park Slope, and I came back to find the apartment absolutely spotless. Not only were all the bottles and cans gone, the trash and recycling were taken out, the dishes were all clean, the floor had been mopped, the bathroom tiles had been scrubbed with bleach, and the shower curtain had been replaced. Everything shone with specular highlights and smelled like Pine Sol. The housemate who likes to drink had done all that today, with a raging hangover, simply because he couldn't stand the mess. And when I got back he was still cleaning.

I feel bad now.

But I'm still glad to be moving.

escape from sunset park

Living in Sunset Park has been stressful.

No one on the street ever talks below shouting volume. Folks shout abuse at their children and significant others in three different languages. (I've lost count of how many times I've heard the phrase "Get in the fucking car, woman.") Drunk middle-aged men wander into delis at two in the morning and threaten to kill the clerk. I have to stop whatever I'm doing twice a day to leave the house--once in the morning as the downstairs neighbors blast music over breakfast, once in the afternoon as my housemates come home to unwind from their terrible jobs by blasting music in the common room and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. (I don't have the heart to ask them to stop; I'm not cruel enough to rob them of that little moment of peace. They have been really good about turning the volume down when I ask, though.) On some weeknights I find my housemates asleep on the couch in their boxer shorts, DVR'd football on the TV, in front of a spliff and a couple beers. They seem happy, but it makes me sad.

Collapse )

I found a new place in Park Slope today, two blocks from where I used to live. New housemates are a friendly, mature couple in their thirties, and the rent is only $100 a month more than what I'm paying now. I move in December 15.
  • Current Music
    Jay-Z - Empire State of Mind
  • Tags

babycastles: the copenhagen interpretation

Babycastles at the Silent Barn. Holy shit. Thank you so much about telling me about this place, drabheathen, because even with my growing New York game industry connections I would never have found them in a million years.

You know Babycastles is on the true cutting edge of avant-garde because it is located in Bumfuck, Nowhere. Not Bumfuck, New York. It's Bumfuck, Nowhere even by Midwestern standards. Potentially even more Bumfuck, Nowhere than a random spot in a cornfield in Ohio because corn implies that someone runs over that spot with a harvester once a season. To get there, I had to get on the L, off the L, onto a shuttle, and back onto the L. And then I hit the end of the line and had to walk thirty minutes. That's how far away it was. (I'm not sure that even technically counts as Queens anymore. Or NYC proper, for that matter.) I walked past the place three times before finally finding it, because the spot where Google Maps said it would be was a shitty dive bar with its sign in Spanish next to a row of derelict houses and a falling-apart warehouse.

Turns out it wasn't in the bar. Nor was it in the warehouse. Surprise! It was a random door cut into the drywall of one of the derelict houses. No sign, no windows, no lights--the splintery plywood door nearly fell off the hinge when I pulled it open. I was worried I'd gotten the address wrong and wandered into a drug cartel hideout or something, the kind of place where they tie up intruders and hit them with chair legs under the light of a single swinging bulb.

And yet. You open that door, and...sound. Light. It's something out of H.G. Wells, a portal to an entirely different slice of cake.

Collapse )

fun things i have done lately, part 2

Nerd Nite: PowerPoint. Beer. Science. A winning combination!

If you've never been to a Nerd Nite before, here's how it goes down. Take a college PowerPoint seminar on bird migration or muscular dystrophy or nuclear fusion or what have you, and hold it late at night in a hip bar in DUMBO. Allow anyone to present on any scientific subject, regardless of obscurity, social appropriateness, or sobriety. Yes. It is exactly as crazy and surreal as you imagine. And it is great.

Tonight's lectures were on open source Bussard reactors, the neuroscience of visual perception in the context of art, the anti-ergonomic effects of running shoes, and teledildonics. I think you can probably imagine how each of those went.

Perhaps most notably, this is the first large social event I've been to in NYC in which I've actually succeeded in getting to meet and hang out with random strangers in my general age cohort. Maybe I don't completely suck at making new friends after all.

I missed nerds so much.

(edit) NHK, I HATE YOU.

Just kidding, NHK, this documentary on Nerd Nite is actually pretty endearing. Although vaguely condescending in a "look, America-jin can be otaku too! Aww, look how kawaii the America-jin otaku are! Don't you want to visit New York so you can speed-date a kawaii gaijin otaku?" kind of way.
  • Current Music
    Jonathan Coulton - The Future Soon
  • Tags

fun things i have done lately, part 1

Yes, I do occasionally leave the house, or do things other than make stuff. Sometimes. On occasion. Every now and then.

Last week I met theotherbaldwin in person! It's weird; I've known him through the Internet for over twelve years, longer than I've known most of my closest friends, and he used to live less than an hour's drive from me, but we'd never seen each other in meatspace. (He was a regular and eventually maintainer of the Cafe Eblana Messagebase, the first Internet community I'd ever been a part of, back when I was an attention-starved twelve-year-old messageboard troll.) He didn't look or sound anything like the pictures and audio he's put up over the past few years, but that may be because he's just been through an ugly divorce and that will mess up anyone pretty badly. Funny how in this day and age you can meet up with someone you don't recognize and in less than thirty minutes go on to reminiscing with him about the time a dude you guys both knew in middle school broke his penis in a tragic masturbation accident.

Collapse )

it is human trafficking awareness day

A global problem with domestic implications, for virtually every country in the free world. As one of America's few simultaneous first- and second-generation immigrants, this is an issue that hits pretty close to home for me. The experience of being moved to a far-off foreign country against your will is upsetting enough when you have legitimate resident alien status, travel as comfortably as you can reasonably afford, will enjoy moderate affluence in your new country, and are guaranteed return to your homeland in a few years. I can barely imagine what it would be like to make the journey across the ocean in a fucking metal shipping container, only to be sold into debt slavery and/or prostitution the moment you get off the boat. And that's in America. They tend to go to the more geographically proximate countries first, like Australia, and dear goodness you don't want to know how they treat illegals over there.

In 1993, a merchant ship called the Golden Venture ran aground off Queens, dumping its hidden cargo of 286 illegal Chinese immigrants into the sea. Ten drowned trying to swim the last 300 yards to shore; many of the rest had to be rushed to local hospitals for hypothermia and malnutrition (they were literally starving to death). For over four years the remainder were held in prisons throughout the East Coast, in accordance with aggressive legislation meant to keep Mexicans from sneaking across the border into the U.S., while the courts processed their petitions for asylum. (Why haven't you heard this story before? Well, aside from a couple of ethnic communities and a handful of bleeding-heart liberals, no one in America gave a shit, because frankly, those illegals had snuck into our country to Take Our Jorbs and those minimum-wage Chinese restaurant jobs belong to Real Americans!) President Clinton eventually had them released at the end of his first term in 1997. The release gave them their freedom, but not asylum. 110 were deported, one of whom was given a forced vasectomy by local Chinese authorities on his return because of the One Child Policy (he had three kids).
A few of them reentered America illegally, and are again facing deportation.

In 1961, Elaine Chao, the eight-year-old daughter of a prominent Shanghai businessman, would be brought in the passenger cabin of a merchant ship to Long Island, a subway ride away from where the Golden Venture would end its ill-fated voyage 32 years later, to accompany her father as he expanded his business into America. She would enjoy a life of incredible privilege, buying her way through one of New York's most expensive private schools, going to Mount Holyoke and later Harvard, and ultimately becoming the trophy Asian wife of a prominent U.S. senator. A familiar face among the Republican old-boys club, it surprises no one when she becomes Deputy Secretary of Transportation under George H.W. Bush and later Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush. Her contributions to the people of the United States as Secretary of Labor at the beginning of the 2008 recession include photo ops with her husband, fudging the numbers on the cost of outsourcing government jobs to private contractors, and twiddling her thumbs while the unemployment rate breaks records. In 2008, the year the recession hits, Chao gives an incredibly banal speech about how you white people can't possibly understand how hard it is to be a Chinese immigrant in America but how you too can be an American By Choice (tm) if you learn to make the same difficult sacrifices her incredibly wealthy, legally immigrated father made for her. Liberal commentators in academia cry foul with accusations of white privilege, inexplicably. (Perhaps they take the concept of racial color-blindness too literally? Or perhaps they have forgotten that "white" is an actual American ethnic identifier as well as a synonym for privilege, so that the dissonance required to separate those concepts outside the neatly color-coded Western sphere of racism discourse would cause their heads to explode. What an adorably domestic way to look at an international problem. But I digress.)

In 1996, 14-year-old Deng Chen works off the debt of his passage to America at a series of Chinese restaurants, lost and alone, without money, family, schooling, immigration papers, or even a rudimentary grasp of the English language. Several times the triad gangs that brought him over let him talk to his parents, only to have them anxiously beg him to pay off the debt quickly because the triads have threatened to kill them off if he does not comply. Nine years, special attention from a U.S. senator, and a heart-wrenching article in the New York Times later, he is still wandering across the East Coast from Chinese restaurant to Chinese restaurant, trying to pay off his debt.

In 2009, I overhear an elderly (wealthy) first-generation Chinese immigrant on the subway talk to his son in Mandarin about the illegals trapped in debt slavery by the international triads in Chinatown, and aiyaaah loudly, see, son, this is what happens when you are too lazy to fill out your papers. The two Fujianese guys (not wealthy) in restaurant smocks across the train pretend they don't understand him, and whisper sadly to each other in Cantonese.

Later that year, I bring a visiting Chinese immigrant acquaintance to Chinatown, and she harrumphs and says, "No, show me where the real Chinese people are. These are all peasants and migrant workers..."

Guys. We've got an awful lot of work to do.

new york i love you but you're bringing me down

Mood swings recently have been terrible. I can't even write on LJ about what I want to write about.

So...have this song. You've already heard it if you've listened to my Post-Oberlin mix album, but I can't plug it enough. This is so dead on--it has pretty much been my theme song ever since I moved to New York.

You might have to be a New Yorker to get all the injokes ("Our billionaire mayor who thinks he's a king") but the general feeling is pretty universal.

Oh, take me off your mailing list / For kids who think it still exists / Yes, who think it still exists...
  • Current Music
    LCD Soundsystem - New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down
  • Tags

donuts of terror

I, and many of my former colleagues, have bought breakfast from a suspected terrorist. He is my age, and he indeed has a wonderful smile. I sincerely hope he's innocent, although the evidence against him right now seems overwhelming. I'm also very relieved that the bombing plot law enforcement agencies have discovered, regardless of whether or not this man is responsible, did not come to pass. September 11 was more than enough terrorism for New York.

Moreover, I really hope the media coverage of this case doesn't give New Yorkers yet another excuse to disrespect our Afghan community. Those guys, especially the ones who run coffee carts and fried chicken restaurants, are already the lowest of the low in this city; even in poor neighborhoods they are treated like shit. God forbid what will happen if we treat them all like terrorists, just because a small group of them might have been.

I don't even want to think about what this is going to do to the immigration debate.

defense department obliviously re-enacts 9/11

This happened at 10:15 this morning. My office didn't evacuate, which, in retrospect, was probably not a good thing.

I'd be outraged if it wasn't so amusingly insensitive. What the hell were they thinking?

Internet conspiracy theorists are already smelling a cover-up. While I am not one to lend Internet conspiracy theorists any credibility, I worry that this time they may be right, if only because the DD's cover story is so ridiculously inept. From the evidence, I'm guessing it was a poorly conceived Air Force training exercise, or some kind of emergency false alarm.

(ps. 4/27 NEVAR FORGET)