Having Somebodys


I have somebody who might be interested in renting your apartment.

As far as I’m concerned those are pretty much famous last words by this point, but any time somebody says that I have no choice but to ask who.

Typically it’s the friend of a friend who just moved into town, or somebody who is in some unique situation. I know everybody means well but it’s the way the news is delivered that makes it so misleading

I HAVE somebody who etc.

They have, only them. It’s like every one of my friends suddenly became a broker. They are always so confident that they have fixed solution. They’ve done it; they figured it out, case closed.

I HAVE somebody who is interested in renting your apartment; she’s got an internship in the city for 3 months.

That’s awesome for her, congratulations and all, but unless she’s going to have 4 consecutive internships that pay her the salary of a real employee I don’t think you really have somebody for me.

Once in a while I’ll get the semi-brazen friend who declares:

I think I rented your apartment for you.

Everybody is so excited to jump right to the end. Just because you have somebody who really wants an apartment and says a bunch of things, doesn’t mean they will pass a background check, and a credit check, and will actually come through.

You can’t take everybody at his or her word. After all, this is the city where the phrase “voted best pizza” exists on half the pizza places in the city.

Oh yea? Voted by whom? Your mom?

So you could understand how I might be slightly less than eager to jump when somebody says they have somebody to rent my apartment. But nonetheless, I must continue to jump.

Like last week.

A colleague of mine told me they had somebody.

“My wife knows him but he’s Italian and doesn’t speak great English and wants to communicate via text.”

I thought about making some hilarious stereotype joke about it being impossible to talk with your hands via text message but deferred and texted him anyway.

What follows is not an exaggeration. All punctuation actually happened. The name has been changed to protect the ridiculous.

Hi Luigi this is Rich I hear you were interested in my apt. You can email me at ______.

One minute later he responded.

We can txt????

I figured what he meant to say can we text, but the typical Italian language format made him confuse his statements with his questions. That really didn’t bother me. Though haven’t somebody who’s English was that poor could potentially make for some really awkward landlord conversations.

What if a pipe burst or there was an emergency, was I going to have to text him to figure out what the hell was going on. But I was getting ahead of myself.

I was more concerned about the amount of question marks he used. Was he really that inquisitive? Maybe. I just conceded realizing this conversation would probably be easier (barely) over text message. I wrote back.

Sure.

Two minutes later Luigi responded.

Okok yes I m interest of your apt!!!! When can I see u to talk about it!!!! Please let me know

At this point I realize this guy not only overuses punctuation but he has no idea how to use punctuation. He’s mistaking exclamation points (which he uses far too many of) for questions marks, and disregarding periods all together. I mean 8 exclamation points in two sentences.

I once had a writing teacher who told me for the entire semester we got 3 exclamation points.

I think by this point my teacher would have thrown his phone out the window.

I also realize that I am not going to just invite this import over to look at my apartment unless he meets the bare minimum criteria I have for renters. So I decide to check something quickly with him.

Can you answer a couple questions for me? Do you know what your credit rating is?

As soon as I send the text I realize there is no way this guy knows what a credit rating is, and even if he does, he probably doesn’t have one.

Two minutes later my suspicions are confirmed.

Im sorry about I just come here!!!! I have

New text message

I have few months here but I really iterest in ur apt!!! Im a good guy !!! U gonna have the rent on time trust me

How the hell is this guy really iterest in my apartment? All he knows is that I have an apartment and by that logic he would be iterest in every person in New York’s apartment. As far as I’m concerned I’m not that special to this guy.

I feel cheap.

U gonna have the rent on time? TRUST ME? This guy could not be more of a stereotype if he tried. I know he only has few months here but is this guy negotiating everything like this?

Is he buying mozzarella at the market with a post dated check and saying:

You gonna cash this check on Tuesday and it gonna work. Trust me.

 I call on the depths of my Italian heritage and my College minor in the language itself but still cannot remember the word for “balls.”

I call Luigi on his bluff.

What is your salary?

Two minutes later…

2000 dollars a month!!!! But we r 3 persons so I don’t think that we gonna have anyproblem

One minute later…

What do u think about it????

What do I think about it? I think you have some serious issues conceptualizing the New York City housing market to start. I also think your punctuation use is driving me batshit. And last but not least I think you are out of your damn mind if you think that you can survive in this city on 24,000 dollars a year.

Just to confirm, you want a one bedroom apartment for three people?

Two minutes later…

Actually we are two guys only!!! But my friend just came to visit me!!!!

Now I’m positive I don’t want this human anywhere near my apartment. So I just text him back to get rid of him.

 I need a tenant who makes at least 60,000 a year

Fourteen minutes later he responds.

Thanks so much im not the right persone!! I just came!!! I don’t make that money yet!!!!!

(Side note: He used 5 exclamation points for this statement, the most of any of his sentences which I thought appropriate considering I felt it really was the most important of all his texts.)

I hope u find some one !!! If u don’t find  no body let me know!!

!! Thanks have a great day

I did have a great day. And I really hope I don’t find no body soon.

The Great GoogaMooga


This is such a Brooklyn conversation...it's so disappointing.

That’s what one guy said to his friends. He was standing in front of us in line for a Food and Music Festival in Brooklyn. It was at that exact moment that I realized the day would be filled with many ridiculous things said. And that’s when we decided to capture them for memory.

The festival was called The Great GoogaMooga. 'GoogaMooga' means "Giant food clusterfuck." 

Or something like that. 

Brooklyn gets all kinds of reputations for different reasons. Be it Mommies or Hipsters or whatever, I had a strong feeling we would come across all of them and more. Not just because we were in Brooklyn, but also because we were at an all day food/music/wine festival in Brooklyn on the nicest Saturday of the year and well… it’s was ripe for ridiculousity.

And people were already in a spicy mood when they got in because to start, the festival gates opened 30 minutes late, which in New York equals 5 hours. So there was that to season the mood.

The longer you are single the more you care about music festivals.

The same group of friends said that while waiting to get in. They were referencing their 35-year-old friend who thought it made sense to pay five thousand dollars for the VIP section at some music festival. They were right.

I am 28 and I enjoy music but care very little about music festivals. Way less than a large majority of my friends. Mainly because I’m afraid of the sun and I think spending all day out in a dirt field in a tank top and using a port a potty should be a once a year kind of thing. But that’s not something that repels everybody.

But if I don’t enjoy festivals now, I can’t imagine being 35 and thinking “Ya know what? I’d really like to start attending music festivals!”

Eventually the gates opened and we got inside the festival where we immediately started purchasing every delicious gourmet food item we could find.

Seeing as this was a pretty hyped up festival, and it was in Brooklyn, and the time we live in, everybody was taking pictures of everything, myself included.

People would buy food and then immediately have their friend take a picture of them eating it. Like this bacon wrapped hot dog with guacamole and sour cream for example.


No filter, extremely delicious, I’m tagging it.

That’s what somebody said while eating a chicken wing. No filter meaning she wasn’t going to alter the photo. Which if you are taking a picture of yourself eating a chicken wing, you shouldn’t need to doctor it to make people understand how much you enjoy said chicken wing.


See? Happiness.

Hot Dogs, Chicken Wings, and duck, holy crap the duck. It seems like everything was made with duck. Duck in dogs, duck in donuts, duck just… being itself. It was ubiquitous. Which prompted one of the food vendors to drop this bit of gem on a seemingly confused patron.

If you’re a vegetarian, honey, this is NOT the place for you.

And boy was he right. There was so much meat that at one point we needed to lie down on the grass and take a nap.

Well, I mean, the lay down on the grass part was intentional, the taking of the nap just kind of happened. But when I woke up 3 women instantly tied me into a conversation taking place across from me.

They were the kind of women that one might start to instantly dislike for no good reason. I’m not saying I felt that way, I’m just saying, ya know, people.

It had a lot to do with their conversation actually. And even though I listened to their conversation for a solid 20 minutes, I still had NO idea what any of them were talking about. Mainly because they all seemed to be talking at the same time.

What’s that album that says don’t put your hand in the béarnaise sauce?

This preceded a lengthy discussion about a guy, presumably one of their boyfriends, having actually put his hand IN the béarnaise sauce, which was apparently some sort of egregious transgression which was unforgivable.

I, on the other hand, couldn’t even understand why somebody would have an album that referenced béarnaise sauce.

And the next day he went down a slip and slide, a SLIP and SLIDE. AAAAAAAA slip and slide.

Girl number three said this as the other two continued talking. I couldn’t figure out if she was emphasizing slip and slide to get their attention or if she was trying to convey that a slip and slide was a bad thing. Has any adult ever caused an argument by going down a slip and slide? I can’t speak from experience.

Eventually I had to get up and walk away because if I didn’t leave then I might never have. It was like watching trashy TV.

So we wandered in and amongst the thirsty patrons waiting in line for the limited supply of poorly organized alcohol distribution. I won’t go into the details but when the line for tickets to purchase alcohol is longer than the line to actually get said alcohol, you have a serious problem on your hand.

The people who were lucky enough to purchase tickets in a timely manner quickly burned through them in an attempt to take advantage of alcohol’s rumored effects.

Let’s get another beer that’s anything besides this one.

Also a challenge was choosing the right thing to drink, because while you could sample everything, that would cost you tickets. And getting tickets was only slightly less challenging than bringing the one ring to rule them all back to Mordor.

But the lack of alcohol didn’t really bother me because I was too elated to be full of mud pudding, and fried cheesecake, and all other manner of goodness.

Take care good luck and keep the faith.

Oddly enough we heard somebody say this about an hour into the festival. But it made just as much sense seeking out the food as it did leaving it behind. 

A New York Story


It was a Saturday. My friends started showing up a little before 6:30 pm. They were gathering at my apartment to do a reading for the web series I’ve been working on. After almost a year of delays we were getting the cast back together, along with some new additions, and I was very excited.

It’s the kind of gathering that drives my soul. Take one part creativity, five parts friends, three parts wine, and you have a tremendous evening on your hands.

As I opened the door to let my friends into my apartment I noticed there seemed to be a scent of bad cooking in the air. I am very fortunate to live above somebody who frequently cooks delicious smelling meals. However, every once in a while they have a miss and what they prepare smells less than extraordinary. I though it unfortunate that it should coincide with my reading but once in the apartment we couldn’t smell it anymore.

The reading goes tremendously. There is laughter and stories and more laughter. A couple of people take off early but we sit around drinking and talking.

At around 10:30 my buzzer rings. Through the peephole I can see police officers. I am confused because we aren’t being that loud at all. I open the door and the officer asks me if I know the person in the apartment across the hall. They point to the apartment of the guy who I’ve seen maybe twice. The guy who plays his TV way too loud.

No I say, I don’t.

He says my neighbor called them because there was an awful smell coming from his apartment. He tells me that heard us talking in my apartment and wanted to see if we knew anything. I tell him no and he wishes me a good evening.

The evening continues. We joke about the smell. We make extremely lewd jokes about it. The jokes continue as everybody files out and heads home.

The next morning, slightly hungover, but extremely satiated from wonderful time with my friends I am awoken to the sound of drilling.

I make my way to my door and look through the peephole to see my two Supers drilling into the apartment across the hall.

It is at this point that I realize the smell is much stronger than the previous night and has infiltrated my entire apartment. It’s not just bad it’s excessive. Somewhat like rotting fish but far more significant, as though this smell has the ability to reach more corners of my nose.

On my way out to get a bagel I ask my Supers what’s going on but they don’t respond, caught up in their seemingly amateur approach to opening this door. Why don’t they just call a locksmith? Wouldn’t that be simpler?

As I walk out of the building I pass my neighbor who called the police. I ask him what’s going on.

The smell is awful, it’s gotten into our kitchen, and it stinks.
Well, I’m glad you called the police then.

And then I am off to get my bagel.

I return about 90 minutes later. And since I have recommitted myself to living a healthier lifestyle, I climb the six flights of stairs to my apartment. By the time I get to my floor the smell is just as bad if not worse, and my supers are still there however they have stopped working.

Their tools are on the ground.

The lock has been pushed through the door leaving a hole no more than three inches in its place. And Raul, in his mangled English, calls to me.

Richie, look. Look here.

He points to the hole in the door. He gestures the way you might tell a child to look into a bird’s nest to see the new eggs. I lean over slightly to look through it. He urges me on again.

Look, look!

Hesitant I inch closer, feeling slightly like this is some sort of antique peep show where you pay a quarter to look at a strange picture inside of a box.

Bending over to peer through a tiny hole, which leads to the location of an unbearable scent makes me physically, visibly nervous. I hesitate again before getting closer, not sure what to anticipate.

But I do get closer. I bring my eyes to the level of the hole in the door. And I see it.

A body.

Lying on it’s back, visible from knees to chest, belly protruding from the shirt.

Dead.

He dead Richy.

And then it hits me; the worst fear of some of my friends, something that we laugh at it when we see it in movies has come true.

Suppose nothing happens to you? Suppose you live there your whole life and nothing happens? You never meet anybody, you never become anything and finally you die one of those New York deaths where nobody notices for two weeks until the smell drifts into the hallway.
-Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally

I’m suddenly part of an urban legend, the plot line of an episode of Law and Order. Overheard in the city. All of that. Except real. Realer than I could ever imagine.

I move quickly back into my apartment. Trembling. Shaking. I call one friend, I text another. I chat with others online. Somebody contextualize what this means. Somebody explain this.

The smell is no longer just bad it has taken on a whole new level. It haunts me. It makes me over think things. I am spooked. I am disgusted. I am terrified.

I light candles. One, two, five. I spread them around the room. They don’t mask the smell with it. They mix with it. Infuse it. I try to sit next to the window. I make phone calls. I try to distract myself.

There is nothing on the planet powerful enough to distract me from the smell of a dead body. Words flash through my head.

Rotting.

Corpse.

How long was he there? How long had he been dead? Was it drugs? Alcohol? Certainly not foul play since the door was still locked. It takes the coroner 7 hours to finally remove the body from the apartment.

In that time no less than 3 different detectives and police officers ring my bell. Two different ones ask me questions; one asks to use my toilet.

They ask me if I knew anything about my neighbor. I tell them all the same thing, only that I never saw him but he played his TV loud all the time.

And that’s when it strikes me. Of all my neighbors he was the only one I thought about every morning when I left for work and every night when I got home.

What is he watching? Why is it so loud? Why is he watching TV so early? Every day, never a change.

His body leaves and eventually so does the scent, replaced with a broken door with a duck taped over hole, and a green sticker that seals the door and reminds me that where I live, yet again, will never be the same.


The Crappiest Criminal - Part 2


A couple of weeks ago, on a particularly frigid night in New York City, I was on my way home to Queens.

I was going to have to change trains at some point in order to get home. I could have done it at 4th, 34th, or 42nd street. However my train philosophy, and really my general travel philosophy is “get as far as you can on the vessel you are on before you change.”

And generally it works out pretty well for me. But for whatever over thought reason, I got off the train at 34th to change.

At the risk of sounding insensitive I will point out that when it gets really hot outside, or really cold for that matter, you tend to see more homeless people on the climate controlled trains.

But a subway car is a closed space and it is quite frequent that the homeless individuals who have settled in smell less than ideal. Often if I board a car that smells awful or I am aware of somebody who might smell, I’ll move to the next car.

According to the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority, moving between cars while the train is in motion is illegal. However it is something I have done dozens of times. Many people have. It is something that happens every day in every single car of every train I have ever been on.

Sure it’s illegal, but so is jaywalking, and who gets arrested for jaywalking?

Upon boarding my train, I noticed a pair of homeless individuals, and realizing I had about 30 minutes left before I got home I decided not to risk the smell and moved on to the next car.

As soon as I walked in the next car I saw 7 police officers. My first thought was that I had walked into a murder scene, which made me panic. Then I thought one of the officers was talking to me, which also made me panic.

But he wasn’t talking to me so I just sat down and put my headphones in. Thirty seconds later when we got to the 42nd street stop and the doors opened, one of the officers signaled to me to get off the train.

 Could you come here for a second?
Shit.

The officer was one of a group of three, all who appeared to be fresh out of the academy. He told me that walking between cars is illegal, and asked me if I knew that.

I told him I did.

He asks for my I.D., which I give to him. We are underground one of the three officers has to go upstairs to call it in to make sure the yuppie with the newsboy hat and duffle coat isn’t actually an arms dealer.

I’m standing on the platform, freezing, because I don’t have my gloves on, because they are inside my coat, which I don’t think I’m allowed to open because they don’t know I’m NOT an arms dealer yet. I go to put my hand in my pocket which the officer asks me not to.

Great, first I get pulled off my train, and now I’m going to get chapped hands.

It takes no less than 10 minutes for the officer who took my license to come back. In that time I stare at the floor. I stare off into the distance, at the other people who are now staring at me because I am standing against a wall with two police officers blocking me from moving in any direction.

Some schmuck keeps looking over and smirking. I want to kick him in the junk. I want to push him onto the track. But then I realize he doesn’t know that I got busted for walking between train cars. For all he knows I COULD be an arms dealer… A very preppy arms dealer.

Finally the third officer comes back. And that’s when the officer who asked me to step off the train, the one who looks about 23, reaches into his pocket and pulls out his pad.

I’m going to have to give you a summons.

Which is a lie. You can call it whatever you want, you can call it a Bagel Dog. It’s not a summons. It’s a ticket. A ticket for 75 dollars.

It was at this point that I wanted to yell at him.

Are you kidding me? Look at me? Do I look like a rule breaker? How about you do something about the guy I saw on the train last week who was peeing himself while he was on the train? Or the people who lay across 4 seats to sleep? Or how about the people who panhandle on the train, which is illegal by the way, and then walk between cars, which is also illegal as you know, so they can do more illegal panhandling in the next car they illegally entered. Why can’t you arrest them? Or the people who shout at me to repent for my sins while I ride to work? Or the kids who sell candy for their “basketball team?” How about you give ANY of them a summons?

And this is when I realized, I am not meant to be a risk taker. I can’t even lead an exciting enough life to possibly expose myself to the risk.

I’m the kind of guy who would go to jail for an overdue book, or for putting gum underneath a table. I constantly think about what it would be like to be one of those people who just goes where life takes them, who ignores conventions to just do whatever interests them.

But I can’t even do that because the laws of the universe refuse to even allow me to move away from odiferous transients. How can I break the rules if I can’t even break the smell barrier?

It takes the officer forever to write the ticket because he’s obviously never done it before. So it takes the three of them 15 minutes to read their rulebook, consult each other’s intelligence, and fill out a half a sheet of paper.

I want to argue but everything sounds cliché`. And as a writer, I hate cliché`s.

Give me a break, come on, seriously, and all the rest of that sounds so already used up that I can’t bring myself to say any of it. So I just stand there in silence as he writes my ticket, my ticket for what is officially denoted as “unsafe riding.”

Which if you look at my history of police infractions, pretty much every single one can be classified as “unsafe riding.” Which in and of itself is pretty pathetic sounding. Not even “dangerous riding.” Nope, unsafe. And I guess that’s me.

Rich Boehmcke: Not dangerous just... Unsafe.

20 Something Summit – Part 2

I live in New York but I was in Chicago this past weekend for the 20 Something Blogger Summit. I met people from all over the country but nearly everybody I met from Chicago asked me the same question:

What do you think of Chicago?

They asked me as though embarrassed or ashamed, anticipating that I was going to say it disappointed me or paled in comparison to my far larger and more impressive city. This really surprised me because I am in love with Chicago and have been for some time now.

I fell in love with Chicago the way 12 year old girls fall in love with teenage pop stars. I gush about it. I am effusive to the point of obnoxious. I shout out "I LOVE THIS @#$@IN CITY" while cool breezes tousle my short brown locks as I stand on the bank overlooking the river.

I love the layout, and the restaurants, but most of all I love the architecture. I also love the perspective and space between streets and buildings which allows me to appreciate the architecture. I'm not going to argue that New York or Chicago has better architecture than the other. For arguments sakes let's say New York did. You wouldn't be able to appreciate it as much because the buildings in New York are so close together that it is challenging to fully absorb their presence and their footprint.

It's like seeing a person in profile only. You don't get the full picture of what they really look like.

Chicago gives you perspective, you have space and room to look and absorb and ingest and love.

The other thing I love about the Chicago architecture is something I found out on the boat tour I took from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The buildings of Chicago are not insular as so many of them pay tribute to each other in one way or another. By referencing elements from the buildings next to them or mimicking a similar element or just stopping at the same height. The buildings aren't just independent individuals, they are a part of a community. It sounds silly to say that about inanimate structures. But it is true. The buildings don't compete for your attention. They reflect, and feed off, and truly support each other.

I went to Chicago for this summit not quite sure what to expect. I was excited that I was a panel moderator, but outside of my sole duty from 2:15 to 3:15 pm on Sunday afternoon, I wasn't quite sure what else to would come my way. I didn't know anybody, I had never really interacted with any of these people before, and this would be my first blog conference.

When I arrived the first night for the cocktail party (a situation which I thrive in) I was caught a bit off guard that so many of the bloggers seemed to know each other already, had been to conferences together, or fostered relationships before meeting in person. There weren't a tremendous amount of people there, perhaps less than 100, but yet I couldn't help but feel a bit like an outsider.

An outsider with a Fancy Pocket square mind you, but still, an outsider.

The next day brought sessions, speakers, forums, and a tremendous sharing of knowledge and experience. While I do (still somewhat reticently) refer to myself as a blogger, I really had no idea or concept of people in the same space. You see blogging is a lot like dancing alone in your bedroom in your underwear. You might do it every day, you might tell people about it , but it's very easy to think that you are the only one who does it, and CERTAINLY the only one who does it the way you do.

By the time it came for sessions I fully expected to be listening to speakers with hundreds of thousands of followers who would tell me just how backwards and misguided my approach to blogging was. But instead what I found, were men and women who I had far more in common with than I could have imagined.

They weren't talking about numbers, and in fact, numbers rarely came up. They talked about love, they talked about passion, and they talked about sharing who they are.

That first day, I actually showed up to the first session without a pen and paper, not really expecting to take notes. My half assed brain apparently thought that if I really needed to take notes I could just write them on my phone.

But I immediately regretted my decision to fore-go a pen. I found myself grabbing my phone every couple of minutes, writing down jewels and gems that I just wasn't quite expecting to hear, but was fully committed to remembering.

And as the weekend went on and one session turned into two and then six, every speaker used different words but essentially said the same thing.

Do what you love to do. Find a way to do it more often. Open yourself to the people who love what you love and you will see a windfall of the unexpected.

Speakers constantly referenced other speakers, and then eventually when it came my turn to speak, I did the same. What everybody had said was true. Maybe these positive inspiring quotes and stories were brand new. Maybe I had already heard them in some form before. Or maybe they were things I had already believed in my heart of hearts. But hearing those things out loud from somebody who had found success, reaffirmed those beliefs in a way that might have never come naturally.

On my best days, I tend to think nobody else does what I do, the way I do it. On my worst days, my thinking is far more self destructive. Leading up to the summit I kind of expected there to be an air of competition.

Oh what platform do you use to blog?
How many followers do you have?


Etc. These were all things that I had never concerned myself with before I started blogging but had somehow regularly obsessed over since.

But there was none of that in Chicago. There was talk of a whole lot of social media, mentions of tools I had never heard of, and tweeting beyond what is probably healthy. But there was a genuine interest in furthering and helping not just selves, but others. I left every session having learned something, even  if it wasn't something I was going to pursue. Even if it wasn't something I necessarily was interested in learning more about, it still helped frame, contextualize and and support the beliefs and ideas I was building and developing.

People rarely asked about what I did for a living, they asked what my blog was about. They asked how I ended up there. They asked me questions I rarely get asked in my daily life. Questions that felt kind of refreshing.

And that's when I realized that the 20SB Summit was a perfect fit for the city of Chicago. Just as the buildings paid tribute to, reflected, and supported each other, so did the bloggers of this conference. Whether you were there to talk or learn, whether you cared about photography or monetizing, there was an interconnectivity you could not deny.

I was inspired by the things other bloggers were doing, but also humbled by their warmth and their openness toward each other. At times it made me feel like a self centered narcissistic coot, somebody who wasn't nearly as open or supportive as he claimed to be. And yet by the time I actually had to physically walk away from the last remaining group at the conference, I felt sadness. Sure there had been awkward, frustrating, or uncomfortable moments, but when searching for adjective, incredible was the only one that felt appropriate.

There are millions of bloggers that can exist in this same space and not compete. Nobody needed to defend Chicago just as nobody needed to defend being a blogger. This particular weekend in Chicago, everything was working together rather than trying to outdo.

There's no limit to the amount of words a blogger can use, nor the amount of bloggers that can exist in the world. Indeed, there is enough love, passion, and support to keep everybody loving and blogging for a very long time.

Free T.V.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Brooklyn lately. Now even though Brooklyn and Queens both qualify as outer boroughs, they are very different places from each other. It’s kind of hard to explain the differences in mentality, but there are some specific behaviors that are a lot easier to pinpoint.

For example Queens tends to throw out its trash, while Brooklyn tends to, well… give it away.

Maybe this is because people in certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn are a lot more giving with their belongings. But when people in Brooklyn no longer need something they don’t put it on eBay or have a garage sale, they just… put it in front of their house… like a gift.

On any day of the week, on any block in Brooklyn, you can find random items that you can take with you as long as you want them. What is available runs the gamut: trinkets, tapes, fondue sets, and books. Oh lord can you find books. If you are in the market for a forgettable novel from 25 years ago, the streets of Brooklyn are your paradise.

It’s like a library, if a library didn’t require a membership card and was more like a scavenger hunt where you could play “book roulette” at every stop as opposed to an actual physical location.

Several weeks ago I even came across a pair of tiny pink wooden chairs just sitting outside someone’s house, as though there was a dwarves’ tea party that had just let out. I sat in them for a while before I decided they weren’t for me.

Because I’m not a dwarf.

And I don't have tea parties.

But after several blocks of the usual brick-a-brack, I came across this note card just sitting in the middle of a sidewalk:


I looked around but there was no T.V. in sight, which led me to believe that this sign had been on a T.V. and that T.V. had been taken.

Frankly the sign caught me a little bit off guard.

Imagine you have a T.V. you need to get rid of. You don’t want to put in the effort to sell it because you don’t think you’ll make much money. And you don’t want it to just go in the trash because you feel like that is a waste because the T.V. might be worth something to somebody.

So what do you do?

Well if you live in Brooklyn you put it out to the curb of course. But how can you ensure somebody takes it, how can you make sure that this is something that somebody will want?

Why not tell them “it works?”

Now I wonder what the conversation was like with the couple that took the T.V. I picture a nice husband and wife walking by on a spring evening when they come across the Television and the husband says:

Oh my gosh! Lucinda, look, a television set!
So Herb?
So? We were just saying how we want another television for our home.
Yes, but we want a television we can watch! Not some piece of junk off the street.
Lucinda you are not looking, look at the sign. This T.V. WORKS!
Ohhh it works! Every other T.V. we passed had a sign that said “piece of shit” or “friggin useless” but if this one works…

What surprised me was that Herb and Lucinda didn’t choose to bring that note card with them when they took the T.V. set. If that were me, I would have taken that with me as a voucher/receipt.

Because let us say that Herb and Lucinda bring that T.V. home and it doesn’t work. Then what? Well I imagine they'd want their… time back, don't you? I would want to march right up to the home I found that T.V. in front of and say to them:

Excuse me. I found this T.V. outside your home with a note on it that said “It works” but we brought it home and it doesn’t work. Can you please provide us with some sort of retribution? Like… an apology? Or maybe just a note that says "we lied... it doesn't work."

It’s like some sort of renaissance bartering agreement strategy. The sign is the promise. Once you put it in writing it must be true! It wasn’t the first time I had seen a note next to an item on the street. Usually the note just says “free books” or “washed baby clothes.”

Though I truly believe even if a sign says something has been washed, there is really no harm in washing it again. Just to be sure.

But the “it works” signage is brazen. Because if you leave a T.V. outside in the elements for an indeterminate amount of time, there is a very good chance that when a stranger picks that shit up and brings it home… it doesn’t works.

There is an earnestness to it, a sincereity, almost like… an unspoken code.

There is no mandate that you put a sign with your items, though it might make for more interesting perusing.

Tiny Pink Chairs – Will make you look ridiculous
Fondue Set – Completely unnecessary
Books – Unreadable for the last 25 years

But I myself like this strategy of putting your crap out in a box for anybody who wants to take it. I mean let’s be honest, there is very little difference between putting it out in a trash can and putting it out in a box with a sign.

The biggest difference is you save somebody the time of digging through your trash. I remember when my parents moved out of their house and they would put stuff out to the curb on trash night, nearly every single time somebody would come by and take the furniture we had put out.

But what if we could save people time and money by allowing them to have our old shit… I mean treasures. What if instead of just considering everything waste, we could allow others to judge for themselves? Wouldn’t that make everybody’s life a little bit better?

I think it would. So I encourage you to do the same. And if you doubt that it’s a good idea, well you shouldn’t…

It works.

Train Pain

The subway train tries to keep you informed. And this is a good thing, but this wasn’t always the case. Years ago if the train stopped or was moving slowly, you had to just assume their was a rat parade on the tracks and you had to wait until it passed before you could continue moving.

There was no information, no knowledge shared.

But the subway system in New York City has been better the last couple years about informing riders about what the hell is going on. It does this through 4 or so canned messages that are either delivered by their automated system or in a muffled lazy barely audible manner by the conductor.

These messages have become quite routine and it is not uncommon to hear all of them during one morning commute.

My favorite is when the train stops in between stations and you hear over the loud speaker:

We are delayed because of train traffic ahead.

Well yes train traffic ahead would make more sense than train traffic behind us wouldn’t it? But train traffic? What train traffic? You have a finite number of trains in the subway. Every single choo choo has a conductor on it and should be accounted for. It’s not like people can drive their own train onto the track.

Hello folks, yea, it looks like we got about 20 or 30 trains that we have never seen before on the tracks this morning. I know we are on the A, C, E line, but in front of us we have a P train, a 12 train, and a train that appears to just have a picture of a monkey on it. So we’ll go ahead and get you moving just about as soon we figure out what the hell is going on.

Train traffic. The whole idea of the train is that we all travel on the same effen translocational vessel, upon the same track, so we don’t HAVE to worry about traffic.

That would be like driving along the highway and seeing a sign that said:

This next 5 miles is only open for you Steve.

I apparently have no concept of how trains work, because I thought it was some sort of a scheduled type of thing. I thought you had to take a certain amount of time, and that all conductors knew how long that trip should be and they could arrive at each station at a certain time.

But no, instead we hear announcements like:

To maintain even spacing between trains, this train is being held in the station.

That means that somebody is driving their train too fast. Why are you in such a hurry? Drive at the same damn speed and we won’t have this issue. You realize what happens when you get to the end of the track, right? You have to just turn around and come back.

But again that is the opposite of:

We are currently waiting for connecting passengers on an arriving train.

Of course when you hear that announcement you are always waiting in the train, trying to get somewhere on time because you are already late. But it seems whenever you ARE on that connecting train, the train across the platform is doing its damndest to see if it can get out of the station before you get on it.

But all this presumes you have actually gotten on a train to begin with. It seems like the MTA has pretty much given up telling you when and where specifically they will be doing construction and have adopted the… “this is just going to suck” approach, as seen by their latest signage.


Deciphering when and where the trains may or may not stop on a particularly construction heavy weekend has not gotten easier with the new signage used. There are now more colors, numbers, and pages to sort through.

Instead of all that crazy verbiage, I’d almost rather just show up to the train station and see a donkey with a saddle and a sign that said “good luck.”

But sometimes you do make it on to the train and you don’t like the car you are on, but of course:

Ladies and Gentleman, it is against the law to pass between cars while the train is motion.

Excuse me, if I get onto a train and there is a “human” clipping their nails sitting next to somebody who is loudly describing the specifics of his manhood, there is a very good chance I am going to move between cars while the train is in motion.

Or another reason the train stops, according to the announcement is:

Excuse me ladies and gentlemen we are stopped because we have a red signal. We’ll be moving as soon as we can.

Ohhh OK a red signal. Considering we can’t see the signals we just have to go ahead and trust you now don’t we.

It’s like if you stopped your car at a green light and while everybody was busy beeping at you, you stepped out of your car and said:

Excuse me friends, the reason I am not currently driving is that my gas pedal fell off. As soon as I manage to put it back on I will drive away.

Right.

But sometimes there are situations that are beyond anybody’s control, like when there is a sick passenger on the train. You usually know this because the conductor says:



We have a sick passenger on the train.

And then you know, oh ok, well, something we could not foresee has happened, and now we are aware of it. But last week, when I was on a train with a sick passenger the conductor actually said:

If there is a doctor on the train please report to the second car we have a sick passenger.

And the response from the cramped car full of people was as if the conductor had asked everybody to get off the train, jump on to the tracks, and push the train to New Jersey.

It’s a sick passenger people! Somebody who was probably sick before they got on the train. It’s not like the conductor was walking through the train handing out arsenic gum to willing individuals.

Because if you are not nice, I can imagine the next announcement I will hear over the loudspeaker will be something like:

We are delayed because the passengers in car 7 are all a bunch of a-holes.

In which case I’ll just ride that donkey to work instead.

Twentease - The Pilot Webisode!

Here’s the timeline of how it happened:


First, I didn’t like my job. And desperate to find a way out, my mother emailed me a link to a video contest to win an amazing job. Make a 60 second video and submit it.

I had never done anything like before, but we learned on the fly and I became a finalist. I didn’t get that job, but I started doing video contests so that was cool.

Next, I was doing a favor for a friend of mine acting (which is to say pretending to be a 12 year old in a pit stained white tee) in a one-act play about the 60s. And while running around the stage firing an imaginary toy gun at another actor who was taking this way too seriously I thought two things.

1.    I am the worst actor in the world and don’t want to ever act again.
2.    I could write something better than this!

And so I got to writing my first plays and put them on later that fall. I didn’t become wildly famous from them, or wealthy, but I still got to put them on and I found something new that I loved, so that was cool.

And most recently I was sitting around in my apartment with a friend of mine after some very cheap wine and a dinner that had roughly the same amount of garlic as a vampire defense kit, and we were talking about some ideas I had for future projects.

And as we chatted without directly facing each other to avoid what is known as an “exhalation assassination” I spoke of the idea I had for a future play about people in their twenties not really making it in Manhattan. It would be like a cross between Sex and the City and Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.

We both agreed we liked the idea, and then retired to our respective abodes to sleep off what I refer to as an Italian hangover (wine and garlic).

So the idea was ruminating in my head while I was getting ready to start making for short videos to enter into contests so that I could continue financing my vacations with free trips to exotic beach locales.

But then something happened.

I saw a contest for a web series pilot. The contest was based around decisions and the winning pilot would win 25 thousand dollars and the ability to make 6 more episodes. And I had one of those moments where your heart starts beating really fast. When that happens my first instinct is usually oh shit, I screwed something up.

But when I realized I hadn’t done anything wrong in days, I realized I was excited. This contest was perfect for that play idea my friend and I had talked about. So I put all of my other important obligations (laundry, dishes, dusting) aside and got cranking on a script.

I wrote it in one very neurotically and obsessive-compulsive weekend. And my friend and I spent the next 3 weeks editing it and trying to gather a crew.

We had to hustle because the deadline was only a couple of months away and Thanksgiving was fast approaching which meant people would be pretty much booked straight through to the end of the year.

And we didn’t just need a couple of actors, we needed:

5 Actors
A director of photography
A cameraman
A producer
An editor
A musician
Five locations

And the only thing I had… was an actor.

And while we were able to fill almost all of those needs in several weeks, I decided, against the better judgment of the universe, that since I knew I needed something specific for the lead role. I would just play it myself.

Is it considered nepotism if you give the role to yourself?

Oh wait, I forgot, that’s just called narcissism.

I hadn’t had a critically acclaimed (Read: Teacher Supported) performance since my turn as the Cary Grant role in the play Arsenic and Old Lace. And that role, which I played in 8th grade, was not uncomfortable at all seeing as I had to make out with a girl 5 years older than me on stage in front of my parents.

Noooo, not uncomfortable at all!

My theatrical roles in high school consisted of people who were either careless, emotionally exposed, or completely out of control. So I thought I was pretty well poised to play somebody in their twenties.

That and the fact that I am in my twenties. So… ya know… I could just be myself.

So that was it. We found a location that was willing to let us shoot before they were even open. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that fabulous place here.

Wine Bar
65 Second Ave
Between 3rd and 4th Street.

A great place for wine, laughter and friends.

That’s not their motto, but I think it should be.

So we had a location, we had actors, a crew, and a date. And we went and we made it happen!

Oh yea, and then I spent a million hours editing it using software I didn’t know how to use, bought DVDs to burn copies so I could submit it, then went to submit it in person but accidentally went to the wrong building and spent 20 minutes there before I realized I was an idiot, went to the correct location, dropped it off, then got an email saying none of the DVD copies worked so I went and bought new DVDs, re-burnt the series, snail mailed it, emailed twice to make sure they got it and found out they did.

Ta-Da! Easy enough. Now all I had to do was wait until May so I could get that 25 grand and make an amazing web series and become wildly successful.

Naturally we found out last week that we didn’t win.

::Deep melodramatic sigh::

But it’s cool, because in the mean time I wrote the rest of the episodes, which we can start shooting. And now I can finally show the pilot to my friends instead of fearing that I was breaking contest rules and hording it like some kind of troll.

So without further ado I present to you a show about people not quite making it in their twenties. All I ask is that you share it with your friends, post it on Facebook, tweet it out and whatever else. Let’s make this the most significant event in my life since that time I made out in front of my parents.

36 Hours in London - Part 1

It’s 6 am. I am at the Newark airport which is in New Jersey. I have just spent 75 minutes in a taxicab with a driver who though unfailingly polite, used the break way too frequently.

I stumble into the airport where I am greeted by a beautiful attendant from Virgin Atlantic. What service I think to myself.

Can I help you?

I go to respond but then I see my boss standing on my left.

No thank you. I’m meeting him.

I walk over, still nauseous and tell him how glad I am to not be in a cab. He says:

Don’t get too comfortable; you’re about to get back into one. Our flight has been cancelled.

No! It can’t be! This is my first business trip! The first time I was going to be sent to a place other than the Bronx on the company dime! London! LONDON! Sure it was only going to be for 2 days but still! I love London!

LONDON!

The morning had started out so perfect too. My car service had been right on time. Which, if you order a cab to pick you up at 4:45 in the morning, you’d hope he didn’t have something else to do.

And even though the roads were clear, my cab driver’s GPS seemed to insist he take local roads from my house to the airport. And by the time he finally did get on the highway every exit meant slowly alternate pumping the brakes and the gas.

I slouched down in my seat and tried to focus on the horizon because I don’t do well in cabs to begin with.

So by the time my boss told me I was about to get back in a cab I just about puked right then and there. Apparently our plane had never left London the night before.

What were we going to do? We were only to London for 2 days to begin with. Was it worth it to go? Luckily the airline gives us a 10-dollar breakfast voucher so we can mull over this important decision at 6 am with a muffin and a bagel respectively.

We decide, this trip is too important, we must venture on! We tell this to one of the lovely Brits who does her best to rebook us and assure us we should have plenty of room on the flight out. Thus we were promptly rebooked on the 9 pm flight, again out of Newark, which is still in New Jersey.

She then asks us if we have a place to stay until our flight.

Now, had I been thinking clearly I would have said no, and gotten some sort of a voucher to stay at an airport hotel nearby where I could nap and then just head back to the airport easily without worrying about traffic or cab nausea.

But I was operating on 4 hours of sleep and wasn’t at my mental best, so I said “oh I’m fine I live in the city.” Never mind that it would mean another cab ride across 2 rivers to get there… in morning rush hour traffic.

Damn it.

So she writes me a voucher for a cab. This is a local cab with no meter and no GPS. Though very kind he has no idea where I live. I ask him if he knows where LaGuardia airport in Queens is, he says yes. Perfect. That’s where I live. Wake me when we get there.

So I close my eyes for a little snooze but I am quickly punched in the eyeball by a fat ray of sunshine that will stay stabbed through my retinas the entire trip home, which will take an hour and a half.

So I wrap my scarf around my head like some kind of nap swami and pray for sleep. And praying was quite fortuitous because my driver listened to the Bible radio station the entire trip.

Now while that is not my normal auditory choice, it actually worked out well. I found the children’s chorus harmonically spelling out B-I-B-L-E after each commercial break to be quite soothing. And I passed out.

And I slept somewhat pleasantly. That is of course until my cab driver woke me up with a frantic:

Sir SIR! We are at LaGaurdia!

Oh ok… keep driving, it’s a little bit further.

Oh OK, I thought we passed it because you said you live near the airport.

So polite my cab driver was.

So he drops me off at my apartment. I take a nap. I watch a movie. I call another cab which picks me up about 7 hours after my last cab drive.

It is now 5 pm. And while I am excited to get on an airplane, I am not excited to be in a cab. In the heart of evening rush hour traffic. To once again drive to Newark, which is still in New Jersey.

My third cab driver of the day once again attempts to take local roads most of the way before getting onto and off highways so frequently I have no choice but to close my eyes and pray to not vomit.

I miss my bible radio.

But the eyes closed method would have worked had my cab driver not subscribed to the “OH SHIT” method of using his brakes. Several times I wondered if I would make it to the airport at all.

Luckily I had 90 minutes to contemplate this, especially the 30 minutes I spent at a stoplight in lower Manhattan because my cab driver thought the fastest way across town was on a one-lane cobblestone street.

But finally, 11 hours after I first arrived at the airport, after 4 hours of cab rides, not enough sleep, and one outfit change… I am back at the airport.

I check in, go to the gate and have a seat.

But now I had a new problem to deal with: My propensity for feigning a British accent… to people who actually have British accents.

To be continued…

Musical Stinkeye

Nothing makes me more likely to give somebody the stink eye than overhearing their mp3 player blast music at ridiculous volumes while I am riding the subway.

Now it’s not because I don’t like music. In fact I love music. I loooooooove music. It helps me write, it helps me think, it is fantastic. But that is my music. Not your music.

The longer I live (and subsequently the closer I come to being a crotchety old man) the more it seems people are listening to their music at absolutely intolerable levels.

It’s usually pretty easy to tell who it is too. It’s not the person grooving around and jiving in their seat. No, that person is just crazy. I’m fine with them.

The person blasting a concert into their noggin is the person who is completely still and facing straight ahead of them barely even acknowledging that there appears to be a live performance going on in their cochlea.

Logic says that if somebody is doing something that annoys you, you should say something. But I don’t use a logic based approach, I use a fear based one. And the fear based approach says don’t say anything because this person might stab you.

Even though it’s quite possible this level of volume is affecting many people not just myself. So why should I be the only one who gets stabbed? But then, if the person did stab everyone on the train, then I would probably be held responsible, and that’s just something my conscience can’t take.

But my desire to make it stop has actually been replaced by a different desire… to ask them if it bothers them.

Listening to music at that level can’t be enjoyable can it? Unless they are dead. And judging by the lack of movement that’s entirely possible.

Because I just honestly believe there isn't a need for 285 decibels of meringue music at 7:15 in the morning. But hey maybe I'm the crazy one. I want to say:

Excuse me sir, but you are going to go very deaf very quickly! For your own sake you should turn that down.

I mean it’s not that I don't enjoy hearing a tambourine from 50 feet away (honestly it’s great, thank you for that) its just, well, is it really necessary?

I can understand how people may not always want to listen to other people’s conversations or hear the sound of the train on the tracks. But its 2011, and while the train can be noisy, and at times, very screechy, there has got to be a better answer than hearing somebody rap so loud it makes my clavicle shake.

Sometimes I do want to hear music that loud. Maybe say, when I am dancing out the weeks frustrations at 2 am. But there is a huge difference between 2 am, and 7:15 am.

How come the person blasting their music is never listening to like... Beethoven or... a really hilarious comedian, or.... sounds of the enchanted rainforest.

No its always like, 'guy screams curse words outside an exploding car horn factory.' Just once, ONCE, I would like to hear a waterfall, ocean waves, hell I would settle for 'sounds from a leaky pipe' if just to get a bit of variety.

But knowing my luck I would probably get the guy who bought ‘dogs barking at nothing' because he misses his time growing up next to the pound.

Isn't music supposed to relax us? Frankly it seems like the people on the train who are listening to music are trying to get amped up for something.

But what? We are all trapped on this same tramped train for the next 45 minutes. We are not going to start moshing. There will be no tickle fights. What are you getting so excited for? Relax. RELAX DAMN IT.

The sheer volume and duration of exposure has to be harmful. I mean, it has to be causing brain damage... right? I mean in 5 years you almost are going to have to be stupid. I mean, I know you are in high school but by the time you get to college I have a feeling you won't be worrying about things like passing calculus you will be worrying about things like… how to zip up your pants. I can't imagine brain damage is going to be cool. I imagine these individuals saying things like:

Look how much times I can shut the door on my hand without cryings.

I have yet to mention the people who listen to music on speakerphone. They don’t even utilize their headphones. They must think to themselves:

Hey ya know what? I like bad music. I bet everyone else on this train does too!

And perhaps the worst of all are the people who don’t have headphones or even have a song to listen to. So instead of just engaging in something productive like thinking or drooling, they take the time to cycle through and test (aloud) every single frigging ring tone on their phone.

Seriously? I mean are you completely unaware of your impact on the universe. I surprised that you are not also walking around with a bag full of live squawking parrots while blowing a whistle.

I am sure you had a rough day madam. And that sampling all of the ringtones on your pink bedazzled phone that looks like it belongs to a cacophonous 14-year-old girl relaxes you. But ironically and amazingly it does not relax me. In fact it does very much the opposite. It makes me to rip the sparkles off of your phone one by one and then check your phone into the sea.

But hey maybe I just don't understand the future. I mean it’s quite obvious I don't understand the present. I can hear it though. That is for damn sure.

A Love Letter to Bread

Dear Bread,

This is long overdue. I know we have been together for some time now but it appears I have been taking you for granted. To be honest it isn’t until you go away (unexpectedly) that I become aware of how in love with you I am. You are never gone for long, but those moments are always tough for me. I would like you to know that I appreciate you in all forms. Sure some people may call you carbs or some other nonsensical terms, but I know it’s you. How do I love thee? Well, let me count the ways.

Let’s be honest, you are breakfast. Eggs and bacon are wonderful things but they are the flashy superstars of breakfast. If breakfast were a football team, you would be the offensive line. Going to battle every single morning in a thankless way. There would be no breakfast sandwich without you, there would be nothing to shovel our food together with. Bread, you are undervalued for all you do in the waffle, pancake, and muffin categories. It is you all along bread. You.

People laugh at me when I double up on an order of you for breakfast (Challah bread French Toast with a side of Rye Toast) but they don’t understand us and the way we work. They think that since you are both toast, you must be the same. I think not. Do they put syrup on rye toast? Do they put jelly on French Toast? Of course not. To call these 2 items the same would be like saying Bed Bath & Beyond is the same as Target.

And if I want to order pancakes and crepes with a side of German pancakes on the side, I will do so. Ya know why? Because those are all different kinds of you. You are so multi-faceted bread. How do you do it?

I know when my love affair started with you. It was in the kitchen of the Boehmcke household in the carb filled weekends of my youth; weekends that I thought were normal up until others called into question those most sacred family traditions.

It would start on a Friday night. As you remember, Friday nights in our house were Pizza night. Dad would bring home a pie from Umberto’s and Angoletto and what started as ½ of 1 slice, slowly evolved to a whole slice, and then 2, and sometimes 3. You worked so hard to keep that cheese and sauce on top of you. You did such a good job.  Every Friday night you made the weekend happen.

Saturday mornings Dad would again supply our home with bread – rolls from the local bakery. I would slather you with enough butter to grease a jet engine and consume you in 5 bites. You were light and fluffy and sometimes sprinkled with seeds.

Sometimes you would work double duty, serving as a lunch transportation vessel as well. Oh how well mustard would coat your airy interior. Hams, cheeses, vegetables, they all worked so well within you. How did you get so good at working with all foods? You are a master of teamwork bread. Damn your perfect social skills.

Sunday Mornings you arrived in a more robust form. Bagels. A dozen from the local favorite. Oh how varied and different you could appear. Covered in poppies, sesames, or infused with raisins, or dark as night in that rebel known as pumpernickel. HOW DO YOU DO IT?

Cream cheese, butter, peanut butter, you accepted all friends. You were so mother *#(@$@# tasty! I can toast you, though most times I opt not to as I am opposed to tanning and feel you should be the same. You don’t need to change for me bread. I have experimented with the many kinds of bagels you explore, except everything of course, but I don’t fault you for that will love you fresh, I will love you stale. I’m not sure what happens to you outside of the New York Area, but you don’t taste quite the same. Perhaps because you don’t feel like quite yourself.

Maybe that’s why I indulge so intensely in you here. Your bagelocity is brilliant.
One for breakfast, one for lunch and perhaps part of one to help with dinner where you had already arrived…

As pasta! Yes you remember Sunday night pasta nights in our house. Covered in marina sauce you worked your skinny, many faceted shape to the best of your ability. You really did the trick. You said, “Rich, this is home, this is love.” Or something like that.

And I know the whole time you were wondering to yourself bread, is this boy an athlete? Does he run marathons? Does he expend great amount of energy lifting heavy weights above his head for long periods of time?

Of course not bread, I just love you.

And it is from those weekends in my house to my life today that I embrace you so tightly. I would gladly lay down on a bed of sour dough and wrap myself in a warm tortilla before laying my head upon a fluffy soft biscuit. You have treated me better than any woman I have ever known. You have never made me feel guilty or wrong.

Sure a couple of times you have made me nauseous. And I will admit I have nobody to blame for that except myself. I tried to force too much of you in myself. It is not my fault, I have 3 stomachs. One for food, one for dessert, and one exclusively for you bread. You have your own place in my heart. Well, I mean, and stomach too.

Thank you for being a part of my past. And please know you always be a part of my future, regardless of what that $*(@)%!# Dr. Atkins says.

Love Always,

Richard

Cooling Down to Heat It Up


Fall has descended upon my fine city. And that means the rapid approachment (don’t question my grammar) of the Holidays and much chillier temperatures. This is my favorite time of year in Manhattan. I have a buddy who just moved to New York who told me that he keeps hearing 2 things from people who lived here for a while.

The first is that the next 2 months in Manhattan are magical. I have to agree.

And the second thing he keeps hearing is that once colder weather comes, single people start hunkering down into winter relationships the same way bears look for caves.

I have to say, I’ve seen this happen as well. Though I’m still not quite sure how it happens because we males are pretty much clueless when it comes to anything except fantasy football.

But it is much easier to fall (pun intended) into a relationship at this point in the year then say, oh… the summer.

During the summer there is a lot of interaction with considerably less clothes. Like at the beach.

It is there that us men make our most courageous attempts to talk to members of the fairer sex. The beach is a funny place to hit on people, because you are essentially wearing what you want those people to see you in if you are successful wooing them.

When you are in a bathing suit you really can’t hide anything. There can be no cognitive dissonance on the girl’s part of; “Maybe he looks good under that shirt?”

There is no shirt. There is only you my friend. And you look infinitely more awkward talking to a girl in your underwear than you do in clothes.

Does any man anywhere know how to talk to women? I certainly don’t, that is why for the larger part of my life I either acted like an idiot in front of females (not a good tactic) or just looked on longingly from across the room (also not a good tactic).

But as I get older, watching guys talk to girls is perhaps the most painful/entertaining thing in the world. We really have no idea what we’re doing out there. It’s a battlefield and we are over matched. It is like Saving Private Ryan with perfume and Cosmos.

Last summer at the beach I watched a guy run into a girl he knew and say;

Oh how come you didn’t tell me you were coming out here this weekend?

Well Topless Guy, I believe it probably had something to do with the fact that she did not want you to know that she was going to be there.

And here’s another knowledge fiesta for your synapses. If you are standing there in your bare chested glory, and the hot girl in the bathing suit who did not tell you she was coming out to the beach is sitting in a beach chair and does not stand up to put her arms around you, thereby forcing you to bend down awkwardly to give her a kiss on the cheek to greet her… you don’t have a chance.

Men don’t really have strategies for talking to women. We might say we do, we might think we do, but we really don’t. In kindergarten you would hit a girl you like and then run away from her as fast as you can. High School brought the slander and slouch, when you would make fun of the girl you like and then eliminate all manner of posture and turn away to appear like you didn’t care about the girl’s opinion.

College brought the drink and shoot. With the addition of alcohol the strategy was basically just consume until you have become brave enough to accost any and all women within spitting distance.

And that’s about all we got.

I have a good female friend who was recently on the receiving end of a brilliant strategy. A gentleman who had been sitting next to her handed her his iPhone and said:

Do you want to play this game?

So he tried sharing his toys, that IS nice, but ya know… you are an adult. Try using something other than video games as your opening statement.

Now I am no Don Juan, heck I’m not even like… a Bob Juan, but I gotta believe I would never use video games as part of my dating repertoire.
           
And let me be clear, up until recently I was very uncomfortable around women. In fact the first time I tried to ask someone out I was in my sophomore year of college. I found myself sitting in front of a Phoenix Suns dancer in my public speaking class. I had high blood pressure for the duration of the semester as I tried to come up with conversation topics so I could turn around and engage her with something slightly more interesting than my impression of Donkey from Shrek.

We eventually went on a date. And now we’ve been married for 6 years.

No just kidding, after that date I never her saw her again. I am apparently very good on dates.

I recently heard a story about a girl who was dancing at a bar and making out with a guy she had just met. They seemed to be getting along very well. She was really digging him until he dropped this little nugget on her;

You’re cute, but you’re a little chubby. You should try eating more salads.

Wow.

Never mind the fact that this poor girl wasn’t even chubby to being with. At what point does telling a woman she’s chubby seem like a good idea? The only living creatures I have ever told were fat are dogs.

Like my friend Sophie's dogs:


THEY could use a salad.

But even if you women decide to date us men (and really I’m still trying to figure out a value add we have for you aside from bug killing, which as you know, I really don’t do) we don’t even know how to talk about you.

Recently I have heard more guys refer to their “Lady Friend.”

This gives me the willies. I don’t like the sound of it. It sounds like you have some kind of woman of the night who comes to your chambers with wine in a calfskin thermos.

Yes Lady Friend, please avail yourself of some of my fine champagne and drape yourself upon my velvet chaise to the sounds of my harpsichord.

This is why I pretty much no longer talk to women. I communicate exclusively through acts of chivalry, small gifts, and wiggling my ears.

And that is tough to do with a winter hat on. But if you do see it, trust me, it’s magical.

I Quit, You Win


I am, what some cultures refer to as, a “quitter.”

That is not to say that I quit everything I do, but I am pretty easily swayed to. I’m not real big on “overcoming adversity” or “trying really hard.” I’m more of a take it as it comes kind of guy. And if that thing is too difficult... meh. I'll just try something else.

Like tonight. I’m pretty much out food in my apartment except for some frozen chickens and vegetables. So instead of making something elaborate like pasta, or doing something difficult like defrosting chicken, I just went downstairs to the bodega in my building and bought milk and Cinnamon Toast Crunch to eat for dinner.

This give-up-type attitude is not something new. This has pretty much always been my modus operandi. In pretty much every grade I was always a straight B student. You need somebody to get an 82 on your test? I’m your man.

There is probably no greater example of my commitment to mediocrity than when I worked as a furniture deliveryman at the Oak and Brass House.

I was 17 at the time, and my job was basically to assist my boss in delivering enormous pieces of wooden furniture that needed to be assembled on site.

I was good enough at the job, I mean as good as you can be at carrying heavy things upstairs. But where I didn’t excel was the “how are we going to do this” part of the job.

Often we would be moving a dining room table, a bed, or some other massive object and arrive at a challenging point of entry. Perhaps we would have to move around a tight corner, down a narrow staircase, or over a ridiculous couch. And the conversation would always go the same way.

Boss: Hey Rich do you think we will be able to fit this?
Rich: No.
Boss: What if we angle it?
Rich: I don’t think so.
Boss: Do you want to try?
Rich: Not really.

But because this was his business and not my own, we would always try to make it work. And you know what? It fit.

Every. Single. Time.

So you can imagine my attitude when it comes to things like marathons. I have a friend who ran a marathon a couple of years ago and afterwards he said to me:

Rich, you have to run a marathon.

No actually. I really don’t.

There are many, many, MANY things I would rather do than run a marathon.Things that I hate with a fiery passion that burns like a cosmic ulcer in the soul of my soul.

So when my friend Sophie told me she would be running the New York City Marathon this weekend, you can imagine my excitement at being a part of one of New York City’s finest events, without actually having to participate.

What could be better than cheering on your friend while she runs around the 5 boroughs of New York... on purpose!

I was pretty pumped; this gave me a really good reason to watch a classic New York tradition. I was also really attached to it because I had a horse in this race. Not that my friend Sophie is a horse. In fact, she is quite the opposite of a horse. And its not so much a race as it is a massive army trotting into war, like the Crusades.

So basically it's like your friend is in the crusades. So I was very excited. Seeing as Sophie was participating in one of our civilization’s most incredible feats of health and fitness, I made sure to counter balance that by setting up shop at a pub along the route and drinking beers from 9 am until I saw her.

Now people had told me that the race was emotional.

Yea right, emotional. It’s people running. I see people running every day. I have literally seen a person running in every place I have ever been.

Except maybe church. People don’t run in church. But I did see an altar boy show up late once, so no, my original statement stands.

But running is just really fast walking. If I need to be somewhere fast, I don't run. I take the train, or a cab... or I just don't go.

So people running? 26.2 miles? I mean does anything sound more boring to watch in your life? Maybe if there was a stampede involved, and the people running had to run to avoid being impaled by a rhinoceros or a stegosaurus, yea, now that sounds like damn good entertainment. But just running?

Well, after only 20 minutes of race watching I already felt the rush. This was exciting.

We were set up along 1st avenue, which starts mile 16. We were inside the bar drinking and eating and we would pop out when a crowd came by. The first people we saw come by were the wheelchair racers. They were incredible. The feat of strength it took for them to complete the marathon was amazing in and of itself.

But I across the way from us there were roughly 25 Spaniards set up with banners, and pom poms and a huuuuge Spanish flag.

So when we saw a wheelchair racer with the Spanish flag roll by I knew it would be an awesome reaction. I didn’t expect to feel emotional. But I did. And watching the racer pump his fist as he passed the crowd, well, it kind of choked me up.

And after a half dozen more experiences like that throughout the day, I realized, I was involved in this race. And we hadn’t even seen Sophie go by yet.

 You hear it in anecdote, you see the stories in the news, but for so many people this isn’t a race, it’s a battle. A personal triumph. A vindication for a past loss. A tribute to close friend who passed away. The looks on the faces of the people who run past tell the entire story. There is nothing I can write that could possibly elucidate the significance of this race for the people in it.

They wear their names on their shirts so you can call them out and cheer them on. You scream out their country, or shirt color, or once, “HEY GUY IN A CHICKEN COSTUME!”

It’s exciting, it’s enthralling, and it’s impressive.

So by the time Sophie ran by, deep into the 16th mile of the race we were elated and super excited to see her, and vice versa. Heck, she even leaped into a beautiful jump of smiling joy when she saw us.

And while I have extremely impressive friends who do incredibly impressive things, I had never been more proud of my friend in my life. Here she was, after 2 hours of running, looking amazing, looking like she had hardly just begun.

She finished the race at a personal best that blew away her last time and we were all so excited for her.

And while it was extremely cool just to know somebody who ran the whole marathon, it is even cooler knowing that somebody did something so incredibly physically difficult and mentally challenging... and didn’t quit.

You rock Sophie.

Is That A Camera In Your Pocket?


The shift from summer to Fall in New York City is always different. Sometimes it is abrupt, sometimes prolonged. But one thing always makes it easy to tell that summer has left is the fact that the 750 Billion tourists who visit New York with their cameras, are gone.

I’ve been doing a lot of filming around the city lately. Not in the touristy way of “Oh my gosh those people are doing hip hop dancing on the street, I have to film this!” And not in the “QUIET ON THE SET” type of way either. The filming I have been doing is more project based. Videos for contests, friends’ companies, and things like that.

I mean I still stop and watch the hip hoppers, I just don’t film them.

Filming in the city is a very interesting experience. If you spend any amount of time walking around the city you will see 2 things. The first is a movie set. You see them all over the city. I have seen the set for Gossip Girl nearly a half dozen times… which is kind of unrewarding because I don’t even watch Gossip Girl.

Seriously I don’t. What? Stop looking at me like that.

But if it’s not professional big budget movie/tv sets that you see, its amateur photogs, film makers, and students shooting every square corner of this fine city. I suppose it makes you feel like you are really somebody walking around the city with a camera. But as a passive observer, when you look at some of the other people walking around this city with cameras, you realize carrying a camera may not necessarily make you look like somebody.

The amount of tourists that roam around the city in Summertime seems to increase every year. But the amount of tourists that meander around Manhattan with digital cameras that cost thousands of dollars appears to have dramatically increased in the last couple of years.

And its not just expensive cameras, it is the expensive cameras with gigantic telephoto lenses attached.

Now you might be saying, but maybe they are press. Maybe they are here to take pictures of professional athletes. Maybe they work for the news.

I considered that. But press photographers typically don’t walk around 5th avenue with 7 Abercrombie bags wearing an I Love New York shirt and a camera lens so big it looks like it could tell the last time there was a high tide in the Sea of Tranquility.

What is so far away that they need to be taking pictures of? The whole point of coming to New York City is so you can see these things up close. Who comes to this city to get pictures of things that you want to stand far away from. That’s like going to a strip club to stand outside. I mean, like, other people. Not me, I’m, ya know… uh… moving on.

Like this guy whom I saw outside a taco shop near Union Square.


He stood there for a good 10 minutes looking around with his monstrosity hanging from his neck. I’m not sure if he was lost or just looking for something to take a picture of. Maybe people from other countries have stronger neck muscles than Americans. I don’t even like having change in my pocket. Anything heavier than a granola bar and I want a wagon to pull my stuff around town.

I mean lugging a 4 pound camera around a city all day just doesn’t seem like my idea of a good time. That is why I bought a video camera that I can fit in my back pocket.

Well, I mean that and the fact that I don’t have a couple of thousand dollars.

It is with this camera that I have recorded the last 6 or so videos I have posted up on my YouTube channel.

Recently I was working on a video in Central Park. Now I haven’t filmed a video in a park since the very first video contest I entered.

And the main reason is I am terrified of being arrested. I mean currently I owe the library some money and that is causing me massive stress. And that’s just the library. But New York City has very specific rules about filming in certain places and requiring permits for certain types of filming in specific locations.

So the last time we went to film I was very discrete about my tiny little camera and my cast of 7 that I was filming with. No giant telephoto lenses for me. It was guerilla film making at its finest. Well, as much as you can call 7 people lounging in the middle of the Sheep Meadow on a September day “guerilla.”

In fact the greatest threat came not from Johnny Law himself, but of the Asian Jungle Jim who was throwing a rather large glider plane around the meadow. He was dressed in a vest and explorers hat just hanging out by himself throwing a plane around, nearly hitting small children and unsuspecting loungers. He didn’t hit us but he came close.

But filming with a pocket sized camera doesn’t make you feel like some kind of fancy professional. It actually makes you feel kind of goofy. Like you are trying to fool people into believing you actually have a camera. Which in some cases, actually enhances the quality of your work so that you're not focusing on trying to appear like some fancy pants, but rather actually trying to make something decent.

But we actually succeeded in completing our Central Park project. I was happy with the way it came out. Hopefully it will lead to more projects doing videos for companies. And that way, maybe I too will be able to afford a 4 pound camera. And a wagon. I will need a wagon too.

But either way, enjoy the end result.




Different Down South

On its best days, there is not greater city in the world than Manhattan. On it’s worst days, this city can make you want to walk through the streets screaming expletives and throwing manhole covers at tourists.

That is why it is always a good idea to get out of town for a little while, if only because manhole covers are expensive to replace. I enjoy heading down south to visit my parents a couple of times a year. I refer to their house as the “South Carolina Writer’s Retreat.”

I call it that because the pace of life is so much slower down there that I have a bunch of time to work on whatever writing project I am currently focused on. But since life slows down so much when I visit I am also able to pay attention to just how different life is down there.

Like when I get off the plane at the Savannah airport I am greeted by a sign advertising robotic surgery.

Now I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure that guy isn’t a robot. But maybe my robot knowledge isn’t what it should be?

I have mentioned that people in my parents’ area call it the “low country.” Now I think this was a geographic nickname but I think low stands for a couple of other things. Like a low interest in healthy sandwiches.

For example, New York is so health conscious that they post the calories for food on the menus, and they don’t allow you to fry foods in oils with trans fats. And there certainly are very few restaurants in New York where a “fried sandwich” would be featured prominently on the menu.

But after I landed and my parents and I stopped for lunch near the airport… that is exactly what I found. So naturally I ordered it.


And it was just as amazing as it looks. I thought it came with a side of fruit…


I guess raspberry dipping sauce counts right? The whole weekend down there was pretty much one big commitment to “low” health standards. I don’t keep cookies in my house so of course I harass my mother as soon as I walk in the house that there are no cookies in the jar. So she went out and bought 3 packages… that I promptly ate.

My parents have their friends come and visit so staying in the guest room there is kind of like staying at a cozy bed and breakfast. The bed is super soft and the room is very comfortable. So comfortable that when I walked in and tried to turn on the lights, I actually got to second base.


I accidentally groped this metal mannequin my mom has in the room. Over the course of the weekend that mannequin and I would have quite the weekend tryst based on how many times I felt her up trying to turn on the lights.

I do love that room though. When I fall asleep there I wake up never knowing what time it is. I don’t mean in the sense that time just seems to stand still.  I mean literally.


The clock doesn’t work so I have no idea what time it is when I wake up.

I roll out of bed when I’m finally rested and then stumble into the kitchen to raid my parents’ cabinets for all the food that would normally last them 2 weeks, but that will now be gone in 18 hours.

At home in New York my life moves so fast and is so hectic sometimes that I don’t spend a lot of time just sitting on the couch eating cookies or sitting on the porch taking a nap. I mean, I also don’t have a porch. And taking a nap on the fire escape outside my window really isn’t the same.

The only time I fall asleep is on the train, and falling asleep on the train doesn’t really count as a nap, that only happens out of necessity. It’s usually all I can do to keep from drooling on the stranger next to me.

Eating is always a strategic affair as friends and I are always picking specific times we have to eat for dinner, rushing to meet up, texting to coordinate. When I visit the retreat, nobody has anywhere to be so we just eat when we’re hungry. And I just leave my phone on my bed. What do I need it for? If it rings its just going to wake me up from my nap.

But its not just the slower pace of life that catches me off guard, it’s the interactions I have when I visit stores and restaurants. Like when a server asks me if I want some coffee or tea after my meal, sometimes I order a tea, or a chai tea if I’m feeling adventurous.

I have ordered chai tea before from many nice places and chain establishments like Starbucks. I usually have a level of expectation of what I’m going to receive. Never does that level of expectation involve a teakettle wearing a dress.


Things are just different down there. I really miss it when I accidentally end up in SoHo during Fashion Week and nearly punch a sea creature in the face. (She wasn’t an actual sea creature, but she was so awful she might as well have been.) Not one of my finer moments.

Anyway, my point is for as different as it is down there, I love it. Even just writing this is making me long for the time I get to visit, albeit with a couple less cookies maybe. In fact I think I will go make myself a healthy dinner… with a side of raspberry dipping sauce.

CRAP!

The Sky: Home of fluffy white clouds, sunshine, and Superman.

But there is one thing that comes from the sky that I am not OK with. Something that happens millions of times a day all over the world, which you don’t think about it, until it affects you directly.

I speak of course, of pigeon poop.

I’m not sure if my mother actually believed this, or this was just something she made up to prevent us from crying, but she always used to say it was good luck.

I think the first time she said this was when my sister and I were really little and my sister got pooped on in the backyard. If you don’t know the feeling well, lucky you.

When you are a kid you don’t realize excrement can fall out of the sky. Rain, acorns, things like that yes. But poop? What precedent is there that a poop bomb is even a possibility?

I have been lucky enough to travel to different countries around the world and the one consistent thing that I come across in every single country is the effen pigeons. They are everywhere. I swear when the apocalypse comes and giant aliens eat all of the people on the planet, all that will be left are pigeons and cucarachas.

I can see those frigging cucarachas now, riding their pigeon planes through the sky.

Cucaracha: Dive Sebastian, dive! The skies and land are ours!
Pigeon: Victory is ours Benjamin!

Gross. I hate them all.

Pigeons hit their high note in terms of coolness the first time I was in Venice when I was in high school. This was back before the city of Venice changed the laws, and vendors were still allowed to sell bird food in the Piazza San Marco.

Tourists from all over the world would pay old men with bags full of bird food. And then you would dump it in your hands while pigeons molested you so your friends could take pictures of you looking like Lord of the Birds.

To be honest when I did it, I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. Even when that pigeon landed on my head and grabbed a…. um, claw, full of my hair.

Have you ever looked at a pigeon’s foot before? They are awful. They are so often mangled and dirty and tied up with dental floss and other trash they can’t get rid of because they don’t have hands.

Because they are pigeons.

Upon my return to Italy in college, that delight at the hilarity of pigeons quickly disappeared as being exposed to 40 million of them every day, every place, as they try to land on your pizza, and steal your gelato, quickly gets old.

As much as I hated them I tried not to piss them off. They outnumbered me. My roommates in Italy didn’t feel the same way. One of them, lets call him Rob, had what I can only describe as a karmic experience with pigeons.

We were visiting Sienna for a day trip, checking it out and exploring the sites when we had sat down outside a church to rest for a bit. It was there that Rob began an interesting interaction with a pigeon.

Rob: I really want to catch a pigeon.

10 Minutes later

Rob spits on a pigeon

20 Minutes later

Rob: Oh man I just got shit on by a pigeon.

It seemed like poetic justice to me, something that Rob deserved. The story I am about to relate to you though, has no justification in it whatsoever.

It was in June of this year, several weeks after I had started my new job. The weather for the summer hadn’t yet turned to unbearable. I was excited to be heading in to a job that I loved. I emerged from the E train out into midtown.

The sun was shining, the air was crisp, I was in the best possible mood. I took a look up at the sky and said aloud:

What a beautiful day!

And then I took about 10 steps before somebody threw an entire cup of soup on me.

At least, that’s what it felt like. I looked down on my arm and saw that was in fact PEA soup. Gross. Green pea soup all over my shirt, which thank god was a long sleeved one I had rolled down.

I looked up in shock. Who had thrown this soup on me?  Surely somebody had seen the culprit. But nobody seemed to care. How could nobody have seen the… oh I get it.

It quickly dawned on me that it must have been a pigeon, a pigeon that had eaten a bean burrito for dinner.

Great, my arm now covered in bird shit I couldn’t tolerate it, I had to find a fix and quick. Lucky for me, midtown is chockablock with bodegas trying to sell tourists t-shirts that New Yorkers wouldn’t be caught dead wearing, unless of course, that New Yorker had been shit on to start his day.

So I bought the only shirt that seemed appropriate after being pooped on coming out of the subway.


I then walked into an alley and took my shirt off because I couldn’t have the poop sleeve touching my skin anymore, I was starting to go mental. I put on my new t-shirt and then walked directly into a Dry Cleaners and told the nice lady at the counter my story as she began to touch my shirt. (This brought me an instant flashback to an early blog.)

I was pooped on.

“What?” she said.

A bird pooped on me, just now, outside.

Needless to say she slowed the pace at which she was folding up my shirt. She asked me to spell my name about 7 times before giving me a receipt for my shirt and telling me I could pick it up in a week.

Well, we are going on 3 months now and I still haven’t picked my shirt up. Maybe it is because I am so grossed out by that shirt that I can’t wear it in good conscience any more.

Or it could just be that the shirt isn’t actually mine.


I don’t know who that Rich Poehncke is, but I wouldn’t want his shirt. I hear there’s poop on it.

Mad Men... Myself - The Conclusion

So after 30+ pictures I finally called it quits on my roof. Now you might think 30 pictures doesn't sound like too much. But it was

1. Hit menu
2. Select timer
3. Line up shot
4. Press the button
5. Go pose and wait
6. Review picture
7. Restart

Add into the fact that halfway through the shoot my batteries were almost dead, so I had to stop and charge them for like... 4 minutes so I could continue being a narcissist on my roof. I also kept panicking that my whiskey bottle was going to fall off the roof and kill someone walking by and really, I would have no good alibi there.

At one point after taking so many pictures I started taking swigs from the bottle. And let me tell you...  old Jim Beam does not taste as awesome as.... well, nobody probably think old whiskey tastes good. Yea that one was all on me.

Anyway, after I finished I spent 3 days sorting through the pictures, asking people's opinion, cropping, moving, and stressing over which one to pick.

The fact that every single person I asked like a different photo certainly didn't help either. But I was able to choose one after narrowing it down to this batch.

The Executive


The Suspicious


The Dreamer


The Desperate


It is amazing the differences of opinions. Some people are very vehement about which pictures I submit to contests I probably don't have a chance to win. So which one did I eventually choose?

Well I'll tell you. But only if you promise to vote every day!

See the final photo here:



Does This Man Look Crazy?

I called 911 last week because I saw a crazy person.

I live in New York, no big whoop right?

OK well I didn’t call 911 exactly, but rather I was transferred to them. Here is how it happened.

I was leaving work on a summer Friday and was strolling along Central Park South, enjoying the sunshine, heat, and smell of horse manure from the handsome cabs lined up to squire tourists through the park.

I was walking amongst said tourists when I saw him heading my way. It was obvious he was very out of place.

He was a tall fellow, with long hair, a beard, and eyes that did not seem to be in agreement on which way to look. He was shuffling his feet and appeared to be extremely out of it.

What was most noticeable about him however was the fact that he appeared to be wearing 2 hospital gowns and he had a very recognizable hospital bracelet on his arm.

I couldn’t help but stare at him as he shuffled toward me. In passing I was able to absorb everything I just mentioned, while also at the same time taking an extra step or two away from him because the guy just looked crazy.

I passed him in a few seconds and looked over my shoulder to stare for a few seconds more. The hospital gown in and of itself could have just said homeless person to me, but the bracelet, that really through it over the edge.

And I started wondering if I should do something or call somebody.

Now, New York promotes safety and awareness by proliferating the phrase “If you see something, say something.” It is a great slogan, but this is a busy city. There is a LOT to see. So much so that it becomes hard to distinguish what you should actually say something about.

There are many things to see in New York. For instance, when I saw that man who was walking a dog who had a cat sitting on its back who had a mouse sitting on it’s back, I felt inclined to say something.

The time I was walking through Times Square and the black superman selling t-shirts pulled me in for an unexpected hug and I accidentally bit his head, I felt inclined to say something.

And recently, and perhaps most horrific, was the 300 pound woman I saw in Brighton Beach wearing a bikini. That was like 5 something’s, and I really wanted to say something.

But a man in a hospital gown with a hospital bracelet? Now that seemed like genuine cause for alarm. You don’t see that every day on Central Park South, or anywhere for that matter.

I had walked another 2 blocks before my paranoid conscience got the better of me. I figured it was best to do something as opposed to just wondering if the guy shuffling down the street was a violent criminal.

So I called 311.

For people living in New York, 311 is like the Google of questions and complaints. New York City promotes the number as pretty much a go to for anything and everything. Need the city to fix a pot hole? Call 311. Not sure when the buses are running? Call 311. The posters are everywhere.

So I figured I would call them.

After a fairly rigorous automated menu I finally got an operator. Seeing as this was my first time calling 311 I tried to keep a pretty level head. The conversation went something like this:

Operator: Hello 311 assistance how may I help you?
Rich: Hi, I was just walking on Central Park South and I saw a man in a hospital gown with a hospital bracelet and he looked pretty out of it shuffling along and I didn’t know if that was something I should tell you about.
Operator: You saw a man who looked like he escaped from a mental hospital? Yes absolutely.

So immediately I got a little nervous because the operator was kind of putting words in my mouth. I myself did not know if he had escaped per say, but rather, just maybe he was just not in the hospital where he should be currently residing.

Maybe he was one of those patients they let out for walks and he just got confused and walked out an open gate or something.

So the operator asked me some more questions before deciding that this was a police matter.

Operator: OK this is a police matter so I’m going to connect you to 911 and speak when they pick up and transfer it to you.

Whoa! 911? Really? Did we have to call them right away? That seems pretty serious. Couldn’t they just send over an intern or somebody in one of those 3 wheeled police cars to check things out?


I mean it’s not like the guy was running anywhere, he was just… shuffling.

So the operator connects to 911 and immediately starts off by giving them my phone number.

Now I’m really panicking. What if they can’t find this guy? What if they do a couple laps around the block and decide this was all a hoax and then track my phone number to my apartment? Then what? Am I going to be arrested for… I don’t even know what!

Fake seeing an escaped mental patient?

So the 911 operator comes on and now it’s my turn to speak. I give my spiel again and tell her it looked like this guy was out of it.

911 Operator: So you saw a man on drugs.

Whoa operator lady! Again, stop with the putting of the words in my mouth. I did not say he was on DRUGS, I just said he was out of it.

I mean there have been a couple of times I have walked around this city after a night on the town when people could have said I looked out of it. Maybe a little bleary eyed, limping a bit from dancing too much, and wearing a drink bracelet and some shirt that looks a lot cooler at 11 pm than 9 am.

Person: Yea I want to a file a report.
Operator: What did you see?
Person: Well I saw a fairly gangly German walking up 2nd avenue in what appeared to be a sparkly shirt carrying 2 umbrellas.
Operator: Yes that’s definitely something you want to report, tell me your location.

I know nothing about drugs. I don’t know my opium from my oolong. So now I’m stuttering.

Rich: Well I mean, I don’t know that he was on drugs, just, I mean, like, he just looked out of it, and I mean I just saw him in passing, but…

I started looking around me halfway thinking I was going to be the one they were looking for.

911 Operator: Alright we are going to see an EMT truck to that location and have them check it out.

At least I had been downgraded from a police officer to an EMT person. I was pretty sure an EMT couldn’t arrest me if the situation called for it.

Did they ever find that possibly crazy man? I’ll never know. But I can be proud that when I saw something, I said something.

And also that nobody has reported me to the police… yet.

The Year in Rearview

I have reached a wonderful milestone. Today is my 2 year Blogaversary.

Let’s go ahead and pretend that actually is a word.

On this date 2 years ago I started Boehmcke’s Human Condition. And over the course of that time I have written over 100 posts that have been seen over 12,000 times in 82 different countries. And I think that’s pretty cool.

So a big thank you is owed to everybody that has been reading and providing the great feedback. I love to hear what you have to say and I love to write so hopefully we can keep that nice little relationship going.

I also hit another interesting milestone recently. I have now officially been out of college longer than I was in college. (And for those of you doing the math, yes that does mean I did 4.5 years at college thank you very much. And just so you know, it was a CHOICE to stay an extra semester.)

But it is now over 4.5 years since I was a full time student with all of the trappings that went along with that title.

It is a surreal thing to realize that being in college is a rapidly receding memory in my head. I think perhaps because college was a time of clearly defined achievements and landmarks. College had smaller indicators of where you were and how you were doing. There were individual denotations of success or failure. Grades, tests, homework, rankings, etc.

The most clearly defined time markers in college were those built into the calender. Your life is broken up into semesters, and breaks, and levels, and years. Whereas once you get out into the non-university world, there is no more structure. We are all operating in our own structures, in our own timelines, in our own little sphere of influence.

Being a student means a year full of quick starts and hard stops, abrupt course corrections that let everyone know exactly where they are at all times.

I used to be able to quickly and easily say; “Oh that happened junior year,” or “This happened during Spring break.” But no longer. Now it’s, “I think that was last Fall” or “Was that really 3 Christmases ago?”

Since I have graduated from college I have worked at 4 different jobs, for 4 different employers, in 4 very different industries, in 4 different parts of Manhattan. Those jobs essentially have become my freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years.

So for me keeping track of time has been a very physical and spatial relationship. I have been able to recall memories by the office I was sitting in, and the people I had around me, or where we went after work for drinks. I’m not sure how my friends who have worked the same job for so long keep track of time. I wonder if it just blends together for them

I think that is why time after college seems to slip by so seamlessly. We ask ourselves where did the time go because we really have no idea what we have done. We have no grades, projects, or tests to show for it.

We remember our marriages, births, and deaths - actual huge physical changes that relocate you or detach someone from you. But those become the only signifiers on our road of life from college on.

I think that is what has frustrated or scared me about living in the adult world. That unless you create them for yourself, your road will be devoid of landmarks minus the ones that other people put there.

When I was in college people used to love to tell my friends and I about “the real world.” Those older than us would tell us things are really different in the “real world.” And it’s not all sunshine and roses in “the real world.”

I never understood that.

For so many of my friends who worked full time and went to school, or supported themselves, or had a spouse, or a child, all while in school, how much more real could it get?

I think what I’ve come to realize is that leaving college doesn’t put you in the “real” world, it just puts you in the “adult” world. I know plenty of people who graduated college and quickly slipped into a very unreal world of irresponsibility, pure dumb luck, and blatant stupidity.

So this real world? Well, I’m not even sure what you are talking about. But this adult world. It’s different. I realize that having no homework has been the greatest burden off my life ever. But I also realize that nobody is going to remind me to pay my insurance, seek me out to offer tutoring, or check in with me to make sure I’m on the right career path.

This adulthood thing, it seems to be about self actualization. Nobody pushes you or pulls you along. If you are lucky, you have friends and mentors who will be there for you. But the only person who is going to be extremely invested in your success is you. And I think that’s an easy thing to forget as we slip into our relationships, jobs, and never-ending routines.

The time I spent in college was filled with tremendous growth but probably not as much exploration as I would have liked. It was probably because I was scared or still getting used to operating in a new environment as my own capable being.

But this time since, this batch of years afterwards, has become a time of rapid exploration. I feel like  I am truly taking the reigns of my own life, truly trying to plot a course, whereas in the past I kind of just felt like I was always along for someone else’s ride.

Does this make me full of advice? No. This makes me full of learnings. All I keep learning is how little I know. If I really think about how much more there is to know, it’s quite depressing. So I try not to think about how much thinking I have ahead of me.

Who knows, maybe I will be full of advice eventually. Maybe the future will see me do things I never even considered. And maybe then I will have insight to share. But just to be sure, maybe check back in another 4.5 years from now.

Hot Town Summer in the Subway

With the temperature about to top 100 degrees in New York this week, denizens of this fine city, and those visiting are about to get a Howyadoin pimp slap in the face of what it is like to ride the subway in the summer in this town.

And it ain’t gonna be fun.

Throughout the year the train is a place of delays, reroutings, failures, breakdowns, and other such happenings. But in the summer, oh boy, the summer is when people go 7 kinds of bananas on the train. And that is when things are going RIGHT!

For the most part, people try to get out of the city in the summer. People with houses in the Hamptons, or a yacht, or a yacht named “The Hamptons” go do fancy shmancy things.

I do not have such luxuries. So I am subjected to the wall-sized-map-wielding tourists, and sweaty New Yorkers that cram the train for a ride to anywhere but here.

I would say for the most part, the subway in New York is well air-conditioned. It is often way colder than it needs to be. I’m fine with that. I have no complaints. It feels great when you’ve been outside in the ridiculous heat to step into a Dentyne Ice commercial.

Another fantastic thing about the New York subway system is the trains are equipped with windows. It is because of this tremendous value-add that all people on the subway platform can tell whether the train pulling up to the station is a half empty one you want to get on, or one so crammed with people you want to place a hex on it, hoping you never have to ride such a cattle car.

And you would think since its cramped full of squishy, hot, sweaty, smelly humans that people would not want to be a part of that. You would think that people would be so turned off that they would wait until an empty train came along.

You would think that and you would be wrong.

No matter how packed you may think the train is, there is always one person at the next stop who really wants to be a part of your sardine convention.

It never fails, that any time I am the last person to board a packed train I have no choice but to get on, and the doors close behind me nearly amputating my ass… some lunatic with 11 shopping bags, a stroller, and a backpack full of monkeys comes running for the doors as though someone announced that THIS was the train taking everyone to Tahiti for a month of massages and fruity drinks.

I understand that New York City is a place of very busy people on very tight schedules; I even like to pretend I’m one of them, but the trains come every 4 minutes during rush hour. How can every single person in the entire city be late every single morning? Are any of you reading this that excited to get to work that waiting another 4 minutes would absolutely kill you?

Here’s a hot tip for you: Instead of thrusting your now glistening corpus onto the train like its an Olympic event, why don’t you take the next 4 minutes to A. Catch your breath on the train platform, and B. Stop. Dripping. Sweat.

I understand people sweat. I admit it all the time. I am a sweaty human. It happens. I am not cool. I do not have dry armpits in times of great duress. But for the love of Snuggles, can you please turn the faucet off on your leaky face? I know to allow myself some extra time to cool off before I start sharing my salty epidermal rejection with 250 strangers on a shaky cart that makes Disney’s Runaway Train, look like a Radio flyer pulled by a mere cat.

Nobody is happy on the train. And the closer you get to your stop, the crazier you get. Everyone is breathing way too loud for everybody else’s comfort, people continuously touch your butt accidentally, and even though you know it was probably an accident, it still freaks you out and makes you want to scream like you were stabbed with a katana.

Even if you don’t get bumped into or touched, you are still pressed up against other people so you just start hating them. If there is a girl with a ponytail in your face, you start thinking every horrible name to call that ponytail. If she has a purple clip in her hair you start imagining 2012 like scenarios where that purple clip will cause cataclysmic events.

The other reason I have deduced that people love crowded NY subways in the summer, is the fact that even when a train has no air conditioning, that train will be completely packed.

Sure there might be one or two people who step on and then step off, but the rest of the people continue to stand on the train while fanning their faces so intensely you believe it is only a matter of time before there hand snaps off and smacks you in the face.

Nobody would stay in a hot sweaty room with no air conditioning, so why do people stay in a hot sweaty room on wheels with no air conditioning?

But for as bad as standing on that train is, it is far more dangerous actually trying to get off that train. People panic so instead of just an “excuse me kind sir, would you mind relocating your body so I might gingerly slide past you?” I get shoved so hard I am surprised the person behind me doesn’t get a penalty for an illegal block in the back.

It just becomes a big shove fest, and nobody can move fast enough. It makes me crazy I just want to leap off the train and scream at them that I am sorry I did not launch myself off the train like I was shot out of a potato cannon. I am man, not potato.

All insanity considered it is amazing people don’t walk more. But the possibility of a seat and some air conditioning is enough to make people forget rationality.

You would save more energy and stress by walking calmly in a straight line than running up and down stairs to spend time on a fully clothed Turkish bath wagon that will only make you more stressed out. So the next time you find yourself in such a situation, please, I beg of you, just wait for the next train.