Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hello cutie pie!

I can't help it, but this is the phrase that pops into my mind whenever I see my car. I don't drive every day, indeed sometimes once a week if at all. When I'm walking toward where I know it is waiting in the parking garage, it is usually hidden from view behind other longer cars. So after I pass the giant SUV that often parks nearby there it is! Staring out at me like a cute puppy.

Since my last gushing post about my car, I have not yet had to refill the gas / petrol / benzine... So since October 1st, I have filled the tank only once.

(Needless to say, that isn't actually my car, but I've only every taken one picture, which I've already posted.)

All this leads to the very natural question of why I own a car. It's true, I imagined I would have more places to go. But at the moment, I drive it to work, which is a 8 mile round trip drive. Now, if you're sharp on your maths, then you'll have figured out by now that I don't drive to work everyday. That's because, in the manner of a modern flugelbinder, I work from different office on different days. Some of those are walking distance from where I live, others require a plane ride, occasionally but not often I work from home. So I suppose on average I make the trip less than twice a week.

I suppose I could cab it everywhere. But taxis are expensive in Boston, closer to London prices than New York prices. So I had figured that it was roughly break even between cabbing it everywhere and owning a car. But this misses two important facts. First, I still end up taking more than a few cabs, especially to and from the airport. Second, as they say, I have option value. Or to put it my way, if I had somewhere to go, I would be there -- and in style.

Actually I did use the car a bit yesterday. I drove to Symphony Hall. On a nice night I might have tried to walk, but it was too cold and it is difficult-to-impossible to get a cab after the symphony. Initially I used to use the car to buy groceries, but that struck me as undignified in my own I-wish-I-were-living-in-a-cute-European-town but-am-not but-will-continue-to-behave-as-though-I-am sort of way. Does Hannah drive a car for her groceries in Venice? No. Did I when I lived in London? (Lola, what about you?) No. Do I when I am in New York? No. And what about Lucia in Rome, and Clementine in Paris, and G in Berlin? No, no, no. (Nancy, tell me you walk to the traiteur on the corner and return with a baguette tucked under your arm...)

As I digression, I must confess that I do use a car for groceries when I'm Bombay. But that's just because friend, relatives, neighbors, and bystanders on the street think I am mad to do otherwise. It's really quite walkable if you don't mind breathing pollution and dodging buses, which really I don't.

So back to the car... Why do I have it then? I suppose after all is said and done, it's that puppy-in-your-face look it gives me after I've been away for a few days. Priceless, really.



Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday the 20th Movie Marathon

I was flying back from Tel Aviv to New York today. It's a 12 hour flight. Wait, let me try that again. It's a 12 hour flight. You can guess what I was thinking. Perhaps you're thinking it too. Twelve divided by 2 equals 6. But of course no one can watch 6 films in a row, but I did make it up to four. Of course you might recall my New Year's Eve Movie Marathon...

But first a digression. I do feel a little bad about not reading a good book. I had a good one with me, some short stories by Roberto Bolano and some poetry by William Merwin. Regular readers might recall I was reading the same two writers over Christmas in India. But I had spent five full days working 12 hours a day with almost no going out. I had woken up at 6.30 and had been grilled by airport securuity for a full hour.

A brief digression within the digression. For reasons I have never fully grasped, they grill you even more thoroughly when you leave Israel than when you leave from this end or arrive. I've done this before and don't really mind too much, since the people questioning you are young and lively college students or recent graduates. But at some point they asked me to turn on my computer and actually show them the work I had been doing. Needless to say, they couldn't make much of the flugelbindery (either)...

But getting back to it, I was ready for a break so I set aside the book and turned on the screen.

I wonder whether I should try to justify my choices somehow -- by explaining that although there were many choices there weren't that many good films. Actually, the selection was strongest among Hollywood classics.

So without further prevarication here is the list:
  1. Quantum of Solace. I had missed it in the cinema. It wasn't ideal for the small screen, but Daniel Craig is growing on me.
  2. All About Eve. One of those true Hollywood classics that I had never seen. It's not light viewing at all -- all about ambition and age. A fantastic set of performances.
  3. Bullitt with Steve McQueen. McQueen is growing on me as well. There are these names that were huge stars in their day, but some aged well and not others. Elliott Gould for example I don't quite get. But Steve McQueen I certainly get, laconic, steely, and cool. The film is famous for the classic car chase of cinema, and the original San Francisco car chase sequence that all others are trying to best.
  4. Pillow Talk with Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Another pair of big stars from their day that I'm still coming to terms with. This will seem unfair, but when I see Rock Hudson, I cannot but think of Silvester Stallone. I think Doris Day was perfect in this role. And as I've mentioned before I love films set in New York where you can really get a sense of the city in a different ere. I must watch this on my projector when I'm back in Boston.
A digression again -- Aren't you simultaneously annoyed and enchanted at the musical interludes in older films? These changed over the decades. For example, Doris day always had to get her bit of singing in from what I can gather. But by the early 1970s, you have these films where the characters go to a restaurant or club and all dialogue stops for about 5 minutes while the music plays on. In Bullitt the music was by Lalo Schifrin, with jazz flute. Now there's another wonderful throwback, the jazz flute. Actually one of my favorite jazz musicians was a master both on saxophone and flute, Eric Dolphy, and one of my favorite tracks of his is where he is backing up John Coltrane on a version of My Favorite Things, except that at some point he switches to the flute. (Not quite it, but take a look at this and this. Wait! Just found it: here.)

After all of this my brain was a bit fried, so I didn't do too much in the 3 hours of the flight that remained. All right, I'll admit it. I watched an episode of NYPD Blue...

I feel a little embarrassed admitting my binge behavior... I'm not much of a binger in other things, but there are times when there is nothing better than a movie binge.

Now I'm back in New York, trying to keep up so I can adjust to the jet lag... Hmmm, perhaps what I need is another movie marathon.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A day without advertising...

would look like this...

(Did I post this already -- perhaps a year ago? Well, posts, like reruns but unlike bread, improve with age...)

(Was inspired to post this by Famapa's wonderful pictures and post on this theme.)


Monday, March 16, 2009

BB meet Bibi

Some on the road flugelbindery this week. More when I'm back or hopefully sooner (if I can figure out how to switch blogger back to English from Hebrew!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

NY w/e

Green means go and...

Red means stop...

(How many traffic lights can you count in the second picture? Click and it will get larger!)


P.S. Also went today to see this interesting art installation in progress

called Big BambĂș...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Friday morning in New York: Watching people work

There are days when New York seems to me a magical place, when I recover that sense of wonder that I used to have when I was visiting rather than living here. There are days, now that I live here, when it seems like a sad, lonely place. And there are days like today when it is both.

I wasn't in the best mood this morning.* Nothing too serious, but, you know, one of those grey days in my mind at least. I decided to go the gym around 10 am. It was a sunny, mild day. Most office workers had already rushed off to work, but everyone on the street still seemed purposeful: movers, the local grocers, restaurant food deliveries. But then as I look again I saw others talking their strides more slowly. A woman walking her dogs. An older woman being rolled a long in her wheelchair by her nurse. Some tourists with a camera.

And my eyes open a bit wider . I breathe in the mix of commerce and charm of the New York street, and I am happy to be here.

* * *

* I wrote this post a few Fridays ago, but didn't get a chance to post it until now.

I've realized that time is flying by these days. I post and then tell myself I'll put up a new post in a few days and then I realize that a week or more has gone by. Perhaps it is the days of undifferentiated grey we've been having recently. But that's not true, since Friday it was beautifully sunny. Perhaps it is that feeling of late winter, when you wish spring would come. And it comes for a day, teasing and tantalizing, only to disappear again and be replaced by the cold disdain of a late winter storm.

Perhaps it's the realization that the break I've been longing for - some travel, time away from work and without always worrying about the next work message to land in my inbox with a thud - will not come any time soon.

Perhaps it is existential. [Insert and delete lengthy ruminative paragraph here.]

* * *

But then any city, any place, has its rhythm, the ups and downs, the lulls and doldrums, and the peaks and thrills. And if I am waiting for the sun, then I am happy to wait for it here.

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