Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sign of the Times

While driving down a highway, you've no doubt seen those Adopt-a-Highway signs. It's not the program I take issue with. Adopt-a-Highway, which operates in some form or another in all 50 states, according to the New York State DOT website, is an admirable endeavor: a public/private partnership that aims to make our roadways cleaner. That's good stuff. Great stuff, in fact. It's the signs I have a problem with.

I ran by one such sign today on the East Side Highway. A big, rusty blue sign announcing that Gabelli had adopted the next mile of road. A gold star for Gabelli for sending someone out there to pick up trash four times a year. Does that merit a sign? No. The sign is just another unsightly bit of pollution that should be disposed of. Why is such signage necessary anyway? I understand that the various departments of transportation across the country want to entice businesses and civic groups to participate in these programs. But really. Does Gabelli, which has like a gazillion dollars under management, really need a huge sign to acknowledge its civic charity? Does the Hospital for Specialty Surgery? Does Trump? (Ok, dumb question.)

Why do we as a society need more pointless signs? As it is, we're crowded by them from every side. As if that weren't bad enough, sports franchises and landmark venues trip over themselves to sell off their naming rights to the highest bidder--or just to any two-bit bidder (hello Citi Field)--creating yet more excuses for signs.

The larger issue, in the case of Adopt-a-Highway, is that we're a society that needs acknowledgement to an obscene degree. Why can't we just show up somewhere and pick up trash on our own volition? Why does it have to be acknowledged with a big garish sign? Surely we can do better as a people, no?

And that includes myself, of course. Not only did I run by the sign today, I ran past all the trash that carpeted the grass alongside the road (bang up job, Gabelli). Then I came home and took the mightiest of all mighty steps: I blogged about it. Nice.

Fortunately, not everyone is like me. Because when I had turned around and passed the sign again, what did I see but a woman in her 50s or 60s, walking with her lumbering bulldog and slowly picking up trash along the side of the road with her bare hands. Like she was tidying her own backyard or something. That's the beauty of New York, really: Every now and again you see someone treating a public space so respectfully you'd think it was their own. And, of course, the point is that space was hers--and mine. Although I just ran on by.

Amazingly enough, she didn't need a sign applauding her efforts. She just did it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

All Hail the Boob Tube

If you’re like me, you’re eagerly anticipating the return of Mad Men, one of the best shows on t.v. What is going to happen to Don and Betty? Will he return home? Will she crumble like a dry cookie again and return to her housecoat-wearing, a.m. wine-drinking, chain smoking ways? Will Salvatore ever emerge from the closet? Will Joan find happiness? What will happen with Peggy? With Peggy and Pete? So many questions, so many cocktails—and it’s not even 9 a.m.

And then there’s that bit of Miami spy fabulousness that is Burn Notice. Michael! Fiona! Their friend with the enormous chin! I can’t wait for their return….christ, I watch too much t.v.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Not Exactly Grrrrrrrrrrreat!

I’m learning how to golf. I’ve been learning how to golf now for 20 years. Ok, two. But it seems like 20. Here’s the insane part of it all: I actually like it. Why is that insane? Here’s a typical outing for me at the range:

1) Remove pitching wedge from bag.
2) Tee up ball.
3) Realize I’ve forgotten glove, so go back to rummage around in golf bag to find it….oooo, gum!
4) Eat piece of gum.
5) Find glove, put on, set up over tee again.
6) Get nervous.
7) Step away from tee, adjust velcro on glove a la Mike Hargrove.
8) Chew gum furiously.
9) Decide need another piece, retrieve said piece from bag.
10) While working massive gum wad in mouth, approach tee again.
11) Stand over ball trying to remember how I’m supposed to move—arms first, or hips?
12) Wonder to self why am at range, feeling very self conscious around all the men who are swinging with grace and perfection.
13) oh god oh god oh god oh god (thinking to self).
14) Take what I’m sure isn’t anything that would be considered a golf swing.
15) Miss ball entirely.
16) Remind myself it’s ok, because I get three strikes before I’m out.
17) Repeat steps 6-14.
18) Strike two.
19) frakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrakfrak.
20) Man next to me looks in my direction and I realize my string of profanities wasn’t an internal monologue.
21) Chew another piece of gum. Like it’s my job.
22) Repeat steps 6-14.
23) Strike three.
24) Make like I meant to do that.
25) Gaze knowingly out at the range, the place where none of my balls have traveled to.
26) Walk with purpose to golf bag and retrieve 5-iron. Because, clearly, it’s the club.

Urban Dog Etiquette

If you don’t have a dog and you don’t live in New York, you might not be aware of urban dog etiquette. But there is such a thing. And all owners would do well to adhere to it. A few tenets of said etiquette follow:

First, don’t let your dogs go sniffing around other dogs’ behinds when they’re in the midst of serious business. And by that, I mean pooping. You just can’t throw another pooch off his game like that. Think about it: How would you feel if someone barged into the bathroom at the crucial point in your morning sitdown? Started sniffing and nosing around your bum? It could throw off your whole day. If you have an older dog and that happens, forget about it—he needs to start the entire poopy process all over again. In fact, he might not be able to muster up that poopy feeling anymore, which means he’s going to be impacted all day long. Have a heart, owners, keep your dog away from another dog’s butt when he’s in mid-poopy. For everyone’s sake.

Second, and this one is for the male dog owners out there who are blatantly using their dogs as pickup devices, do not follow a woman walking her dog and try to make small talk with her when she’s clearly not interested. Just don’t do it. Among other things, it’s creepy. And when she’s made it clear to you that she doesn’t want anything to do with you, don’t pepper her with questions about which dog runs she takes her dog or what routes she normally walks her dog. Does someone really need to tell you that this is double creepy? Yes, Midtown East Golden Lab owner, I’m talking to you.

Third, don’t let your dog get near another dog and start sniffing before you declare with a smile, “Sometimes he bites.” Thanks. You know what? Slap. Sometimes I hit.

Is This Thing On?

I know, another blog...exactly what the world needs. I was told by a prescient man years ago--years, mind you--to start blogging. Today, I'm finally getting around to it. What can I say? An early adopter I'm not.

Anyhoo, thought I’d use this inaugural posting to discuss, what else, but the Utter Awesomeness That Is LeBron James And The Cleveland Cavaliers. For those of you otherwise engaged in watching Dancing with the Stars last night (and really, why?), you missed King James leading the Cavs to a victorious sweep of the Atlanta Hawks. Granted, the game would never be described as their best. Not by a long shot. There were bouts of outright sloppy offense, but the Cavs kept digging in and fighting and that’s what made the game great. It’s a good metaphor for Cleveland, come to think of it...economic times being what they are and all.

Speaking of Cleveland, I’m running a half marathon there next weekend (not the full, mind you, the half). I should have run more/worked out more/stretched more/eaten fewer chocolate chips in preparation for the Big Run. However, as the days have slipped by and the race date has neared, I’ve come to fully embrace the theory that resting as much before the big race is the best approach. I’m on week three of rest.

My sister, on the other hand, is running regularly, mapping out the miles she’s racking up on her GPS-enabled super computer. Basically, preparing for the race like any sane runner should. (Note: There is really no such thing as a “sane runner”—just ask any runner.)

I don’t know why I’m so blasé about the race. Actually, I’m not blasé about the race, just the prep. I’m really excited for the actual race: It’s going to be a good time, it’s a great course (my sister and I ran it last year in the pouring rain and it was still frackin awesome) and it’s in our hometown. She comes in from Chicago, I come in from New York, we pack about eight day’s worth of carbo-loading into a 24-hour period and then we go out for a 13.1-mile jog. Afterwards, we get massages. In other words, it's a perfect couple of days. So why haven’t I prepared more? Maybe because after running two marathons and countless long runs in preparation for said marathons, the half marathon (which is shorter than many of the long runs you do before a marathon) feels more manageable. More fun. Less serious and stressful than the full. And that’s what the half is: fun. Then again, that’s coming from a runner, so consider the source.