Monday, May 14, 2007

Germ warfare

I don’t consider myself a hypochondriac or OCD cleanly. I can apathetically step over dog poop on the sidewalks, workout next to the guy who refuses to apply deodorant before going to the gym, and I can see someone vomiting on the street without it causing me to lose my lunch.

But one thing does really bother me: sneezing.

Okay, bear with me.

I remember years ago seeing some cold or flu commercial claiming that when someone sneezes, the force at which mucus and whatever propels out of the nose and mouth can equal 100 mph. They demonstrated this by showing a person sneezing in a crowded elevator, and having animated particles shooting out of the person’s oraface, bouncing around the walls and landing all over the other people standing in the elevator.

This animated 30-second commercial has haunted me for the last 10 years.

Fortunately, I haven’t been caught in that scenario yet (knock on wood). But I am 100% sure that when that fateful day comes, I’m going to lose my shit. I’m talking a Cold War duck-and-cover reaction, and I’m not discounting the possibility of hysterical screaming.

I live in freaking New York City, one of the most densely crowded, dirty cities in America. People here can drink their SmartWater, eat their all-natural Guy and Gallaird salads all they want. None of that curbs my amazement that there’s such a low frequency of people simply keeling over on the street and dying.

All I’m saying is we can all do little things like covering our freaking mouths when we sneeze. Try to deflect that 100 mph germy spray from other people.

Granted, the elevator deathtrap sneeze is a low risk occurrence. So here’s another, more pressing issue on my mind: people eating on the subway trains.

Can someone tell me who in their right mind wants to consume their food in the most rank, disgustingly dirty place in the city? The environment is composed of garbage, homeless people, rats and roaches, yet someone will still willingly bring on a bag of fast food and eat it like their dining in Bryant Park.

I can admit to occasionally being enticed by the smell of fries and forgo common nutritional sense to give in to a fast food craving. In the right context, they can smell great. But if I smell that same smell walking onto a train, it can be worse than feces.

But I know it’s not just the smell of fries. Just last week I sat across from a young, normal looking, professionally dressed woman who, as the train began to move, busted out her Whole Foods salad bar box and began munching on her salad. The sight of this began to make my stomach churn.

I’m sure some people are wondering what’s the big deal? I think that, like the sneezing thing, my mind is working on a microscopic level. Just because your food hasn’t touched the floor of the subway train, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been defiled by the environment.

I once stood in a station and had a cockroach the length of my middle finger fly and land on my neck. I’ve waited for a train and watch rats drink from a black puddle of grime with a half of a dead rat floating in it.

The subway is a dirty, dirty place.

Can we all just practice a little restraint and hold off on the consumption of food until we get topside?

If not then I propose that the MTA attendants should be instructed to expand their inspections beyond firearms and other weapons.

“Excuse me, sir. Are you carrying any firearms? How about explosives? Okay fine. Wait, what’s in the bag? Mickey-Dee’s? Okay sir, you’re going to have to come with me.”

I think the world would be a better place for it.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


(The following rant contains spoiler info...)

So I just finished watching a rather disappointing Spiderman 3. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I honestly tried not to get too hyped about it.

I’m not going to go into a full review, but one thing particularly bothered me...

So Peter Parker gets full of himself goes to show off in front of his girlfriend while she’s at work, humiliates her, beats up some guys trying to come to her aid, and then actually hits her! Later on, he waltzes right back into the same bar, she hugs him and all is forgiven. (Cue end credits.)

That’s great for the movie, I guess, since we’re all on Spiderman’s side.

But try to think about if this scene happened in real life. If I was a coworker or friend and found out Mary Jane took the creep back, I’d be thinking, “The stupid bitch just took back that future wife-beater?! Has she no self-respect?”

I’m sure everyone knows some girl who dates “an asshole” who she constantly defends as a nice guy. Don’t we all end up dismissing her claims, thinking that she’s blinded by some mysterious need to cling on to the guy and that she’s better off ditching him ASAP?

Even if the guy acts like a cool person around other people, even if he never acts out of line again, even if he’s swinging around and pulling people out of flaming buildings, wouldn’t we all still have a hard time erasing the perception of him as “that dickhead who hits chicks”?

Maybe I’m too unforgiving of a person. But I know plenty of people who have had the same reaction to friends’ boyfriends. I’m thinking, once a wife-beater, always a wife-beater. So if in Spiderman 4, Peter Parker goes back to his abusing ways, Mary Jane better not come crying to me.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Spring in New York makes the shitty winters worthwhile (...almost).

While sitting inside the perimeter of the fountain in Washington Square Park watching kids gingerly walk in knee high water, I noticed two girls throwing a beach ball to each other over the spraying water in the middle.

The two began to egg each other to not throw the ball over, but into shooting water to see the ball get propelled upward in what surely had to be a magnificent sight.

But the two shrieked in wide-eyed horror as the ball failed to jet up into the sky, instead sank immediately into the center of the gushing water.

I laughed at their expressions and noticed that others around me were also enjoying this moment.

I can’t imagine this shared experience in any other place that I’ve lived in. As much as I love Texas, there’s almost no incentive to be in such close proximity to strangers, except when you have to.

Don’t get me wrong, constantly being around annoying, dirty, loud people can be maddening. But days like today are the subtle joys that I don’t want to overlook.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Arcade Fire at United Palace Theatre, 5/7/07

Tonight, I was lucky enough to catch the Arcade Fire perform their first of three back to back shows in New York.

The United Palace Theatre was an interesting venue, with almost every inch of the walls and ceiling covered in ornate moldings and sculptures. But later, I figured that it seemed to mesh well with the ten piece band and their menagerie of instruments. I was initially wary of attending at a seated venue, but I further realized that the band fit this place like a glove. I can’t think of another band that I would’ve been content to go see at a seated venue.

The stage lighting was amazing, yet simple, utilizing neon lighting to match their latest cover album art. It was a great way to set the tone of the concert.

As for the band, they played with intense enthusiasm and energy throughout the set. Their exaggerated instrument playing, feet stomping and dancing could be easily viewed as cheesy and contrived, but seeing the entire band into the music seemed to fuel the audience. Besides, who doesn’t like seeing someone wail on a xylophone? I’d prefer watching musicians play with pure joy than to see a band who act as if they're too cool to play their own songs.

I usually enjoy hearing a band interact with the audience, but oddly preferred it if the members hadn’t spoken through the show. It’s as if I thought they were interrupting the performance somehow or breaking the fourth wall (to use film terminology).

The band created so much energy that it was hard to find any downfalls in their performance. I love listening to their albums, but now they’ll pale in comparison to the live act. Each song sounded ten times more vibrant and intense than the recorded version.

Rebellion, Power Out and Windowstill were the most inspired performances. Neon Bible, the title track to their latest release, was one that I personally enjoyed immensely, mostly because that song has been going through my head for the past few weeks.

Ironically, Tunnels, probably their most well known song was the loosest one of the night. But perhaps they’re like most band who tire of their signature songs (i.e. Smells Like Teen Spirit or Creep). Not to say that it wasn’t well done, but the audience’s enthusiasm for the tune definitely carried the band through the rendition more so than any other time during the night.

At the end of the night, everyone filed out of the theatre obviously still buzzing from the show. I have to say it was probably one of the most amazing, energetic concerts I’ve been to. Probably on par with Thievery Corporation and Gomez, my other favorite live acts.

It’s strange to discover that the Arcade Fire aren’t as popular as I initially believed. Virtually none of my friends have heard of them, and the few that do didn’t really care for their albums. Not too surprising I guess since no one seems to share my taste in music.

I will definitely try to get my hands on a live recording or two of the Arcade Fire, but for now...

Rebellion - by far their best live song IMHO.

Neon Bible - showing that they can do the soft stuff just as well.

NOTE: I was a little bummed to find out that I’d miss an impromptu Yeah Yeah Yeahs performance tonight, but since I wouldn’t have been able to get in (as it was a chicks only concert), I’m not shedding too many tears.