Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Heroes

Check out this wicked piece about Wallace Shawn on the New Yorker Books blog.

And get set for Baby Dee's new CD, A Book of Songs for Anne Marie. This article, in a Minneapolis paper, and her MySpace page (left), give dates of Dee's upcoming tour. New York! London! Berlin! Cleveland!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Well, the system has broken down. I spent New Year’s Eve in Rockaway, ingesting pulled pork, Mud Slides, prosecco, beer, Bellinis, and other drugs (one of my neighbors has invented an astonishingly effective pipe, a kind of snorkel-bellows hybrid, made from hospital parts, including a big blue rubber bulb that looks like a magic lamp), and camped overnight in my frozen bungalow, then took the train home in the morning, leaving the car in my neighbors’ care. Parking is much more intimate in Rockaway than it is in Manhattan. I knew whose house I was parking in front of and whose car I was parking behind (the Catwoman’s black Mustang convertible). I informed T. & T. that the spot was good until Tuesday, January 5th.

Then came Epiphany, and I celebrated Russian Christmas with my friend G., watching two Hollywood extravaganzas about Russia, one with Marlene Dietrich as Catherine the Great and one with three Barrymores—Ethel, John, and Lionel—about Rasputin (whose beard apparently inspired the Marx Brothers shtick about the three Russian aviators in “Night at the Opera”). G. served borscht and complained the whole time about anachronisms in Hollywood’s version of Russia (though even she fell under the influence of Rasputin’s glittering eyes). Also that day I bought a ticket to see the Shostakovich opera based on Gogol’s “The Nose,” at the Met in March. I don’t know what set off this Russian kick—it was either travelling with Dostoevsky or seeing Alan Miller’s documentary (“You Cannot Start Without Me”) about the conductor Valery Gergiev.

The next day, I heard from my neighbors in Rockaway: the Éclair got a ticket. On Tuesday, the man whose house I was parked in front of, the Napoleon of 101st Street, recognized my car, saw that it hadn’t been moved for the street sweepers, and called first the Catwoman and then Mr. T., who rushed to the scene but did not get there in time. “It’s not much,” Mrs. T. wrote, but they felt bad and insisted on paying the ticket.

I blame myself. It had occurred to me to remind T. & T. that the car needed to be moved on Tuesday morning, but I thought that Mr. T. might actually be using the car, or that he would at least see it. When I parked on New Year’s Eve, I could have gone around the block and seen if there was a space on the street with no signs, where it would be good all winter, but I was lazy. Anyway, I consider the occasional ticket the price one pays for parking on the street. And I certainly don't expect my long-distance valets to foot the bill.

Meanwhile, we were amused by the drama of it all. The Éclair continues to have adventures, even without me in it. I was in a good mood anyway, because someone had sent me this link (thank you, Silvia) to a story about "Lady Parking": a garage at a shopping mall in China with extra-wide slots for women who have "a different sense of distance."

Monday, January 4, 2010


Dear Alternate Side Parker:

Why is it so hard to park behind an S.U.V.?

Dear Reader:

Funny you should ask. I recently parked in a tight space behind a blinding white Yukon XL. A friend in the passenger seat covered her eyes as I began my approach, but not before noticing that the Yukon's license plate began with the letters "CRK," an onomatapoeia for the sound of parallel parking.

The main problem with parking behind an S.U.V. (or van or pickup) is that you can't see around it. You tell yourself that it has the same footprint as an ordinary car—it's just taller—and you follow standard procedure: pull up along side it; back up, turning the steering wheel (and hence the rear of your car) toward the curb until your rear window aligns with the parked car's bumper; then straighten out and gradually turn the steering wheel in the other direction while backing into the car behind you. Crk.

At this point, as you put the car in drive and straighten out, you will notice that the S.U.V. is not only taller but also wider than your car by at least a foot. You may also notice that it is parked a foot from the curb. No wonder this is so difficult! But with the right combination of faith and skill, you, too, can successfully maneuver to within two feet of the curb.