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present tension

Archive for March, 2005

The City That Couldn’t Sleep

Sunday, March 27th, 2005

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Last Labor Day weekend I was up at five in the morning and noticed that some oddballs—advertising boffins, I supposed—were blocking off the street outside and setting up a series of double beds in the middle of Sixth Avenue and photographing them from a high rolling platform. Just now I follow a link to The Daily Telegraph’s site and find an animated GIF ad for British Airways that shows the image I’ve long been awaiting. I notice they’ve taken their six or so beds and Photoshopped them into a longer parade.

(Correction, please. It was not merely Photoshop. They painstakingly moved all six of the beds down the avenue and reshot them in position. Why the hell would you …

‘Tis the Sausage Lady

Saturday, March 26th, 2005

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A vile and mean-streaky harridan whom we used to call the Sausage Lady has published a “memoir” (quotations here suggesting a high degree of self-aggrandizing fictionalization) that tells how she was abused and victimized when she was a fat ugly little whelp. She keeps popping up in my occasional political cartoons, including this throwaway from 2003. Oh, yes—she’s the one with the bag of mail.

Postscript, May 2008. Not long after writing the above, I learned that the Sausage Lady was dead. Yes, even as her Fat Girl made her a bestselling author in her 60s, she was wasting away with many different forms of cancer (including pineapple cancer, which Harold liked best). Well lots of us get cancer from …

Welcome to Randall’s Island

Saturday, March 26th, 2005

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First, the travelogue.

For most of the last three hundred years Randall’s Island has served as an outbuilding to Manhattan, providing the distasteful municipal functions we associate with islands in the East River and Hellgate: potter’s fields, poorhouses and workhouses, insane asylums, disease quarantines, reform schools, prisons.

Currently the island is a city park, host to summer concerts, Cirque du Soleil marquees, and negro schoolchildren from Harlem who come to taste the wild swampwater. It’s recently been provided with a rubberized running track and a steel-and-concrete viewing stand that proclaims itself Icahn Stadium. I presume Icahn is none other than Carl Icahn, the leveraged-buyout sleazeball who liquidated TWA some years back.

Today I made my first visit, via borrowed schoolbus, …

Diarrhea; or, The Runs

Saturday, March 19th, 2005

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or maybe just indigestion from bad eating (see below) has struck again. Imagine me running three miles on the Coney Island Boardwalk, then six miles up Ocean Parkway (a thoroughfare I’d never seen before, but which was exactly as I’d imagined), finally up Park Circle and into Prospect Park, all the while looking for a porta-potty (or Royal Flush, to use the concession’s actual name).

George Kennan Dead. A Grand Guy.

Friday, March 18th, 2005

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So farewell then, George Kennan. Seems to me I’ve been hearing your obituary in my dreams for about ten days. How delightful to read in the Times that you were a gloomy, complicated and morose person, who despaired of conveying fine nuance in a world of political hackery. Whenever I thought of a foreign-service career for myself, you were always there in my mind as one of the Big Names. Somebody who’d hung around for decades—from the first delegation to the Soviet Hell in the early thirties, to an active career as an elder sage that ended only with his death at 101. I suppose now I shall have to think seriously about that graduate education in global whatsit and …

Gimme a Nail

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

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Can I switch from being a pack-a-week smoker to being a (temporary) nonsmoker? This would be just to help my wind a little over the next few weeks. Devil’s Advocate arguments arise: I didn’t smoke at all 15 years ago–well, hardly ever–and I didn’t run any better. In fact I ran rather worse, consistently. And there is no conclusive proof of long-term damage from light cigarette smoking.

Furthermore there is the moral argument. By keeping my Smoker’s Union Card active, I am helping to fight the good fight against the neo-Stalinist gang who endeavor to persuade us that pedophilia, miscegenation, and frottage parties on the town green are all perfectly fine; but people who enjoy traditional and moderate pleasures must …

Slowing Down

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

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Yesterday I decided to run a leisurely 8-mile fartlek, mostly around the reservoir. This did not come off as planned. The reservoir track was soggy with slush and mud. So I took a series of alternate routes, on the paved road and horse trails, pausing after ninety minutes to pick up my number from NYRRC on 89th Street. Then back to the park and another leisurely two miles, then back home. Felt great. I calculated I’d run somewhere between 12 and 13 miles in the course of two hours. But alas! It was too wearing on me, and when I ran the Pfizer 4-mile race today I clocked a shabby 8:05 pace. Which I would have thought quite wonderful a …

Harry in Chicago

Sunday, March 6th, 2005

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Harry is one of those people who like to talk on the phone, and like most of that ilk, he likes to say the same thing over and over, which makes it doubly difficult for me because I don’t like to talk on the phone and I have a low boredom threshold.

Another 5K

Sunday, March 6th, 2005

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And today, Sunday morn, I showed up for the preposterously named Coogan’s Salsa Blues & Shamrocks 5K in Washington Heights, the 553rd finisher out of 2160. Pace time was 7:55, which is unremarkable in the great scheme of things, but a Personal Best for me. This pace will be impossible to approach in the Brooklyn Half-Marathon on the 19th, where my goal is simply to keep it under nine minutes, or about 1 hr 50 minutes. I really must quit smoking in the next few days. The Paris Marathon is one month away.

As usual, the first mile seemed to go on for fifteen minutes. Bagpipers, steel drums, and mulatto girls in cheerleader outfits appeared at odd intervals, serenading us …

A little po’d about blogs and links

Saturday, March 5th, 2005

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I keep eight or ten blogs, mainly for experimental purposes. Their content is often diary entries. This is purely a matter of convenience. It is is easier to crank out a few lines of personal musings than to lay in “Lorem ipset"; moreover the diary leaves a little flag about my mood and activities during the last update.

Diaries, not coincidentally, were the main purpose of weblogs when they first sprang out of the slagheap seven or eight years ago. But many blogs today are really e-zines, created to promote one’s business or hobbies or social interests. Nothing wrong with that, but when you open your diary to the public, it ceases to be useful as a diary. …