Category Archives: Oddness

A discovery

I can stay home all day and find the willpower to drag myself to the gym. I can go to work and go to the gym afterward. But I cannot go to work, come home, and then find the willpower to drag myself to the gym.

Oh, well — I tried. If by “tried” I mean “thought about it for a few minutes.”

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Gone Serf-in’?

Serphin Maltese is, thankfully, not my state senator, but he does represent some of Forest Hills as part of his oddly shaped district (warning: PDF), which bizarrely includes some but not all of Forest Hills Gardens, about as cohesive and homogeneous a neighborhood unit as I can imagine. In one of the great paradoxes of local politics, he’s widely known as one of the most conservative members of the New York State Senate despite representing one of the most liberal districts around — he’s been in power since 1989 and has been re-elected nine times. But the tide might be turning. (Oh, God, must resist making horrible “serf/surf” pun.) In 2002 no Democrat deigned to run against him, and he ended up getting a dictatorial 94 percent of the vote. But last year, facing an underfunded unknown whom the Democrats would barely acknowledge, he barely scraped by just 783 votes.

Now rumor has it Eliot Spitzer has decreed Maltese is going down in 2008, and he probably will. But my big question: What took so long? It’s truly amazing how people will continue to vote for someone who doesn’t share their interests or values just because he shows up to cut ribbons and shakes their hand. But that’s politics, isn’t it?

Now to think up a title for this post. No! Can’t use a surf pun! Can’t do it! Can’t do it! Must resist! No — resistance … weakening … I must … but I cannot …

Damn.

Suburban Southeastern Queens is hot hot hot!

I have a hard time thinking of a neighborhood less fashionable than Locust Manor, Queens — even the name is terrible — but these days, even Locust Manor merits sexy new condos worthy of being advertised alongside all the Hudson-adjacent Jersey megaplexes in today’s Metro Wednesday real-estate section. Things I especially like about Locust Manor Estates:

  1. The gutsy phone number, 888-FOR-LOCUST
  2. The logo, which seems designed to convey the message, “We’re talking about the tree, not the horrifying swarming insect”
  3. The existence of a “Senior Living” page on its website, which you can bet fellow Metro Wednesday advertiser Trump Tower Jersey City‘s site wouldn’t offer, despite its video of a pretty abysmal-looking Donald on the homepage
  4. The spelling of “Comming Soon” on the aforementioned page

Most of all, though, I like LME’s page on “The Community,” which looks unappealing enough that maybe they just should’ve discreetly left it out. Particularly great is the “Entertainment” section — and yes, those are sarcastic quotes — which lists seven attractions, including a batting range conveniently located right behind my old high school and nowhere near Locust Manor.

Next up to get luxury condos will be — oh, wait. I don’t think there’s anywhere left.

Top of the what?

A couple of years ago, I remember hearing a few scattered panicky reports about the impending sale of naming rights to subway stations. Everything is for sale these days, so instead of getting off at, say, Astor Place, you’d be at Starbucks Junction. The 79th Street station on the 1, 2 and 3 lines could be FreshDirect Central Terminal. (Eat it, Zabar’s!) 71st/Continental Avenue-Forest Hills might become, oh, I don’t know, Stolichnaya Station.

People around these parts talked about it for a few days, like people are wont to do — I’m sure there was no shortage of hysterical phone calls to boring NY1 phone-in shows — and then, like many things, it died out. But a few months ago, I started noticing something, something kind of subtle that I haven’t heard anybody mention. When my morning F train rolls into 47/50 Street-Rockefeller Center, the conductors no longer stop at the name of the station. Inevitably, they announce:

“47/50, Top of the Rock.”

It happens every time. I pass this station every single weekday and many weekends, and I can’t think of a single time since I started paying attention that the conductors have failed to announce Top of the Rock. Sometimes they go into explicit, tongue-tying detail: “This is 47/50 Street, Rockefeller Center, Top of the Rock. Change here for the B, D and V trains.” Sometimes they make do with a near-unintelligible “Mumblemumble Top of the Rock mumblemumblemumble.” Sometimes — I dare say often — it’s just, “Top of the Rock,” as if that says it all. Why, it’s almost like somebody instructed them to always say “Top of the Rock,” or else.

And what is Top of the Rock? An observation deck on the 70th floor of GE’s famed 30 Rock building, it’s a major tourist attraction. But there are much bigger tourist attractions in the tourist attraction capital of the world, and they generally only get mentioned at subway stops by completist conductors like the one I caught announcing incorrect directions to a Long Island Rail Road station last month. The Empire State Building and Macy’s rarely get mentions at 34th Street-Herald Square. Heck, Top of the Rock isn’t even the biggest tourist attraction at its station — Radio City Music Hall is a much bigger deal, as are the famous ice-skating rink and Christmas tree in the winter.

But what makes this a really obvious shill to me is the fact that Top of the Rock just reopened a year and a half ago after — get this — a 20-year hiatus. Its revival was much celebrated — in advertisements. The kind of people who run the subway and make the subway run couldn’t have cared less.

So even if nobody’s noticed, it certainly appears that subway sponsorship is here and most likely here to stay. And considering that Top of the Rock isn’t exactly a brand to rival Coke or Microsoft, my guess is it’s coming cheap. If it were going to be much of a financial drain, why would NBC throw away its money promoting New York’s second-highest observation deck when it could promote NBC?

This is only going to get worse, of course. It always does. What’s next? ESPN Zone? Mars 2112? I’m hoping standards continue to drop — maybe then we can get ourselves a Nuts 4 Nuts stop. It’ll smell better than the others, at least.

Wyoming fact!

There is only one four-year university in the entire state of Wyoming. The whole state!

Can’t say I don’t have hobbies

Should I be a little embarrassed that I’m obsessed with German propaganda?

I like the Communist stuff as much as the Nazi stuff, if not more. As nefarious propaganda goes, it’s very accessible. It’s in the Latin alphabet in a language closely related to English, so you can kind of tell what’s going on, and it goes all the way up to 1989, making it so much less distant. As an American, it’s a lot easier to imagine yourself living in the GDR than in the Soviet Union. And I love their Orwellian attempts to seem warm and fuzzy and peace-loving.

Plus there’s the excellent site at Calvin College — I haven’t found a suitable equivalent for any other country’s propaganda (unless you count whitehouse.gov — hardy har har). The Calvin guy needs to update more, though. C’mon, I presume he’s getting paid for it!

It took me more than two years to realize …

… that the tile place a few blocks away from my apartment is owned by the same people as the video-production place next door to it. It even has the same name, though I guess it was understated enough that it slipped my notice every time I passed by. The video place came first. Opening up a tile business seems like an odd attempt at diversification.

Also strange: They have another video location in Astoria, which I’ve run across before despite the fact that I’m rarely in Astoria and it’s not really located anywhere you’d likely run across it, even if you lived in the area.