Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Room With a View

When you live in Manhattan, you put up with a lot: congestion, noise, a city that is unrelenting in every way. But when it comes to real estate, you’ll put up with anything.

The building where I used to live had an elevator that was small. Smaller than your usual small elevator. So small that I had to have my brand new couch sawed in half in order to stuff it into said elevator.

My apartment wasn’t much bigger than that elevator, mind you. It was a studio and, as far as studios go here, on the cozy side—real estate parlance for “uncomfortably small.” No matter, it was mine. I didn’t care that I had to climb up to my bed, or that my refrigerator was so small you had to bend down to open it. Or that I had to pay two broker's fees for 250 feet of personal space.

And this is why.

This view.

This building.

This roommate.

For a slice of sky like this, you’ll do most anything.

Including cut furniture in half.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Make It Right Already

BP’s spectacular futzuppery throughout every moment of the Gulf crisis had become the stuff of legend. Horrible, cataclysmic, environmental legend. The degree of criminal ineptitude, the callous disregard for entire ecosystems and human life, as well as the failed handling of every aspect of BP’s “response” is hard to quantify. Much like the amount of oil spewing from the underwater oil geyser that the company unearthed.

There are 5,000 barrels of oil gushing per day—no wait, make that 10,000. I mean 12,000. That’s wrong, it’s more like 15,000. Hang on, multiply the first number by 2. No, I mean, 6. Make that 12. To be precise, the daily amount of oil furiously pushing up from the Gulf seabed is in the neighborhood of HolyChristAlmightyThisIsn’tReallyHappening. Give or take a few thousand barrels.

We’re in week eight of the worst environmental disaster in US history. BP’s response? It has thrown golf balls at the oil. It’s tossed garbage at it. It’s circled ships around the general vicinity of the underwater oil volcano—not in any manner that’s made a lick of difference in stopping the mad, underwater crude flow, mind you—but, hey, those ships are out there. It started a blog that's all about how they're going to "Make It Right." It told the public that it wasn’t a big spill, that there wasn’t a plume of any sort and that, at the end of the day, that oily vomiting gash in the ocean’s floor wouldn’t affect much of anything. The ocean, you see, is a very big place.

In recent days, we’ve learned about BP’s cutting of corners, the neglected safety measures and the permitted lapses that could very well have prevented this “nightmare” drill site from becoming the environmental nightmare that it is today.

But this horrific disaster is but an aberration, according to the oil patch fat cats who descended upon Washington D.C today to point fingers at BP and tsk tsk their way out of having their operations watched or regulated. Safeguards are in place, they told a Congressional panel. The need only be followed and that unfortunate bit of business that befell BP’s oil rig would be avoided, they assured.

Thing is, those so-called safeguards that the industry puts in place on paper are identical. One Congressman read each company’s plan prior to today’s hearing and noticed that they even use the same wording. Why? Because they’re all outsourced: The paper safeguards are scribbled down by some paper-pushing firm who Xeroxes the “safety plan” and mails them en masse to oil companies, which in turn put those “plans” to use. As paperweights. Or doorstops, I’m not sure which. From what I’ve read, they probably aren’t even good for such pedestrian tasks.

One thing is certain, those plans aren’t much use in preventing the kind of widespread devastation that we’re seeing down in the Gulf. Sadly, we have proof of that.

For this post’s kicker, I defer to Aziz Ansari’s recent performance.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Good Walk Spoiled

It’s that time of year again, the season where it’s reaffirmed that I’m the worst golfer on the eastern seaboard. How bad, you ask? Let’s go to the tape.

Notice the purposeful approach, the patient, quiet swing and the utter grace exhibited. It’s not like this video happened to capture some rare “Oh my God you’re not going to believe this” occurrence on the course. This kind of stuff happens on every hole I play, no matter where I play. Mini golf included.

Soon I shall begin taking lessons—again. I will vigilantly practice some more. And after a few months of hacking around, chewing up each fairway with a five iron or a hybrid—or a five iron hybrid, if such a thing exists—a video will be shot of me playing only slightly better than what you’ve just witnessed.

In retrospect, I think maybe Mark Twain was right.