Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A cold in the head causes less suffering than an idea.

While we've already established that some folks in the South still like their mammy-themed restaurants (and Aunt Jemima, as astute reader KB points out), I hate to dwell on the negative. God knows I am nothing if not a ray of sunshine, correct? (Ahem.)

So let's move on, shall we? One of the things I like best about our southern citizens--in addition to their fine food offerings, linguistic innovations and general geniality--is their propensity to abandon their picturesque homes. A big chunk of William Christenberry's career has been devoted to examining such spaces, and I found one of my own right outside Aynor, South Carolina.

After driving down a dirt road with Scrawny Bits by my side (Scrawny Bits is generally amenable to photographic sidekickery, but this day was a little cranky and yelled "I don't like suffering!" when I started to sing in the car), I quickly came upon this place, tucked back in the trees a bit, and just waiting for investigation:

And investigate I did. I am generally intrepid, but this place was spookier than average. Maybe it was the clock laying on the floor in the front hallway (photos of that came out a bit blobby), the abandoned (and empty) box of chocolates, or the spine-tingling way the floorboards creaked. I made it as far as the kitchen:

before I got creeped out. I felt a little rude as well, as I had clearly interrupted someone's sweeping.

The rest of my explorations were thus confined to the outside:

where I had brief thoughts of somehow trying to transplant that spindly bush into the courtyard of my Manhattan apartment building.

Returning to the dirt road, my journeys then carried me into Aynor itself, which was hosting its annual "Harvest Hoe-Down." There was no hoe-down that I saw, and very little that indicated a harvest...but there were Ned Burgers:

Ned's was kind of the high point of this day's trip though--until later that evening when Scrawny Bits (who had apparently recovered from the suffering she endured at the sound of my voice) decided that she wanted to go to a nearby amusement park.

I remained quiet throughout her ride on the horse's ass, just so you know.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A peach, a wig and a dream.

After a nail-biting cab ride to LaGuardia airport yesterday evening, I arrived down in South Carolina to find much warmer weather, sunnier skies, and this gentleman, who greeted me upon my first jaunt out of the house this morning.

He was joined shortly after by a line of marching ducks, who seemed quite intent upon arriving at their destination...although it wasn't totally clear where that was.

This part of the South is full of chock full of Nature (although I have yet to see an alligator, much to my continuing disappointment), and also has its share of spooky trees:

Local hang-outs where beer is on tap and grits are served all day:

Where dudes play arcade games year-around:

Even after the tourists have gone home.

There is a thriving wig industry:

And even the light poles have style:

Some things, though, remain a little behind the times:

I know I am a Yankee and therefore hopelessly ignorant...but weren't mammies sort of, um, abolished in 1863?

Friday, September 08, 2006

No children were harmed in this post.

Lest I depress anyone, I think it might be time to update that somewhat downbeat post I made last Monday night. Even though I have still heard no updates on the poor girl's condition (somehow I thought that the power of the blogosphere would come through there, and someone would post a dispatch from Coney Island Hospital. Alas, not so far...), I'll move on.

The horrifying incident did put a damper on what was otherwise a very fun-filled day at Coney, which started with a viewing of everyone's favorite gender-bending politicos, Circus Amok:

They danced on platforms:

They flew through the air:

And they marched around in pink tutus while paying homage to Latin American leftist political leaders:

What more could an audience ask for? (Answer: Nuttin' Especially because it was free.)

Following this fine performance, I drank a smoothie, checked out the Bump Yer Ass Off! bumpercars:

and pondered receiving a homemade tattoo:

Then there was the ill-fated visit to Totonno's (which was still amazingly good, despite the fact that no one really felt like eating after the mishap noted in that downbeat post of last Monday...)

Following our pizza, I bid goodbye to my pal, and hooked up with another group of friends. We sat on the shore, watched the sun go down, and pondered whether we'd had the Best Summer Ever, or just a regular summer. (Consensus? Just a regular summer, although plenty good enough.)

We rounded things up by drinking a couple of beers outside Nathan's, where I spotted these two fellows, who reminded me that mackin' ain't easy. (Or so their jackets said. I was trying so hard to secretly photograph that I didn't have a chance to pose any queries regarding the difficulties of mackin'.)

The last activity of the night involved a pee-inducing ride on the Wonder Wheel:

The Wonder Wheel completely terrifies me, every time I ride it. Sure, it's beautiful up there and all, especially with the Verrazano bridge gleaming in the distance....but danging hundreds of feet above ground, slowly, slowly swinging back and forth, just makes me feel like I'm gonna pass out and then die in a puddle of pee.

Luckily, I've lived to see another day. What's next, post-Labor Day? Well, I'm going to South Carolina next weekend to visit my momma (affectionately known as Scrawny Bits. You'll be hearing more about Scrawny Bits later, I assure you...), and I bravely signed up for adult ed German classes at the Deutches Haus. The autumn practically gleams with promise, I think--especially auf Deutsch. Macht schnell, mein Leser! Das Leben ist kurz....

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hang with me=recipe for disaster

Ever since my youth, I have been privy to a surprising number of car accidents, stabbings, random assaults, subway mishaps, beatdowns and other chaos. Perhaps I just hang with the wrong crowd...but lately I wonder if I am the wrong crowd. Or even the wrong sole individual.

I think this string of random acts of violence started when I was about 12 and witnessed a stabbing in Corpus Christi, TX. Then when I was 16 a friend and I were chased down a deserted street by dudes wearing shrouds (no, I'm not kidding. We escaped, and never did figure out if they were just pretend Satanist ritual killers or the real thing). We were rescued by a gang of teenage boys, then driven home by same boys who almost died--along with us--after steering wildly to avoid a car accident happening right in front of us. After doing a couple of doughnuts in the middle of the highway, narrowly missing the two cars that had already crashed, we skidded to a stop about a foot away from the highway's cement divider, then drove home like nothing ever happened. Ah, youth.

Things were mostly quiet in subsequent years...except for when a kid got shot in my yard. (He lived. We pulled a bullet out of the wall, and tried to figure out what to do with his shoes, which the cops and EMS had left on our front porch.)

A couple of years later a dude wiped out on his bike right in front of me, peeling off a significant amount of skin before coming to a stop right at my feet. About a week later, a lady driving a pickup truck slid on ice, and crashed into a wall right in front of me. At this point, friends started joking that perhaps I had a "reverse Midas touch."

Lately? Well, there was the time out in Queens when a guy took a swan dive into the subway tracks as a bunch of late night revelers, including me and a pal, stared in shock. Drugs, diabetic shock, drunk...all theories bandied about after a trio of quick-thinking men jumped into the tracks and hauled his ass out before a train came. He's a lucky sucka.

Shortly thereafter, I was driving home on the BQE, right around the Kosciuszko Bridge, when a speeding car banged into the rear of the car in front of me, sending it into a tailspin, debris flying, as I drove by unscathed, like I was heading to church on a Sunday morning.

Earlier this summer I was walking in Chelsea, crossing a crosswalk with a pal, when a woman driving a minivan tried to make a left turn. Problem was, a cab was already in the left lane...which she promptly bashed into, leaving my friend and I scrambling to dash out of the way before either car hit us, or a fender flew off and speared one of us in the head.

The most recent--and by far the most horrible--incident happened earlier today when I was walking with the same friend (coincidentally?) in Coney Island. We were heading for Totonno's Pizza, chatting away happily, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a little girl playing on her porch. "Cute," I thought, and was prepared to be bedazzled when the girl very suddenly began some type of acrobatic maneuver which involved jumping in the air, grabbing the metal hand rail on the end of the porch, and launching herself into the air in what was probably meant to be her rendition of a double front dismount onto the ground beneath. Trouble was, it didn't quite happen like that. In fact, it went horribly wrong, and the little sweetie instead basically just did a full frontal dive right into the sidewalk. It was at least a four or five foot drop, and she landed right on her head. I don't want to go into any details about this, but suffice to say, it was horrible. I started screaming like a lunatic, her mother ran outside, neighbors came running down the street, an ambulance was called, little girl was carted away to the hospital, still unconscious. I don't know what happened.

So, my question is: have other people witnessed this many random acts of violence and misfortune? Is this normal? Or should I just stay inside for a while? And does anyone with medical training want to assure me that the little girl is going to be okay? (Little kids are tough. Right?)