NEW YORK CITY
I love New York; that being said, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. There was a period in my life during which I drove into Manhattan from Connecticut nearly every weekend. Like all other drives, these ones concluded with me parking my car. Although this task often cost a considerable amount of time and mental health, I could always find a Prius-sized slot in the West Village to call my own for the time being. Before popping up to my buddies’ apartment, I would grab my bag, lock the doors, and stand back with a feeling a relief as I watched my car cool off and settle in to its weekend home. I remember thinking how New York City made me appreciate the little things in life such as parking spaces, and feeling happy about that. Looking back on it however, I cannot help but debate whether or not a parking space really deserves that kind of appreciation, ever. The city’s comically dense population lowered my qualifications for appreciation so much that a 60 square foot area of asphalt adjacent to a seven inch tall curb felt like some sort of oasis. Of course, once I entered the apartment I would have an objectively great time, every single time, but I cannot help but reflect on this and think that there is something abnormal about that place and its conditions.
I am strangely curious about the number of french fries I have eaten throughout my life, so I will now estimate that figure. To begin, I will stop at a fast food restaurant (I will not reveal which one exactly, but here’s a McHint) and order up some fries. Since estimations are all about averages, I will order the medium size since it has a pretty average vibe going on. How many fries are in this serving? 56. All fries longer than one inch were included in the tally, while all fries under one inch were excluded yet still consumed. Now for the magic number: how many times a week do I throw a batch down the hatch? Well, I ate a lot of fast food as a kid, and as a teenager, and as a young adult, so I am going to say that I have a lifelong average of about 4 orders of fries per week. Multiply that by 56 fries per order, times 52 weeks in a year, times 24 years (my age minus the years of infancy when I was only eating tater tots) and we get 279,552. Wow, a quarter-million french fries. Glad I figured that one out.
Two great things that have yet to be combined: a sense of community, and good personal hygiene. Since I fail to see any sense in continuing this commentary without proposing a concept for such a combination, here it is: First, I will locate a lovely city park and pick out two trees within said park that have a fair amount of unobstructed distance between them. Then I will run a line of dental floss from one to the other, the vertical position of which matches that of the average adult’s mouth. With this in place, I will encourage members of the community to start their mornings off with a cleansing stroll along my public dental line. Together, folks will hook in tooth after tooth, step by step, until their mouths are completely flossed and ready for the day. Night flosser? No problem; the dental line glows in the dark for maximum ease of use during nighttime. Replacement of the floss will occur either daily or weekly, depending on the amount of tax dollars allocated to this program. Once this novel implement proves its success, more similarly spirited things will be installed such as the mile-long comb, the deodorant slide, and the pomade pool. Soon enough, nearly everything you can do in your bathroom can be done right here in the park, so let's do away with privacy and get public.
Every color in the visible spectrum, when isolated and therefore uninfluenced by any other color, is beautiful. If a color appears unattractive or distasteful, it is because surrounding hues are creating poor context for the color at hand. A color may also look unpleasant due to an association with an unsavory object or substance that emits said color. Understand that such unpleasantries are not inherent properties of the color itself, but rather byproducts of nature's rules or mankind's decisions. For instance, the color brown had no say in whether or not it would be the designated hue of excrement - the universe just took a certain course, processes were developed, and there it was: brown. But when brown is left alone to simply radiate its handsome wavelengths directly into my pupils, I cannot deny its attraction. It is deep, it is rich, it is pure, it is chroma, and I love it.
If one were able to traverse the surreal landscape of my mind, he or she would eventually come across a fortress. Not a terribly threatening or defensive one, built to deliver and withstand explosions and other forms of attack. On the contrary, this fortress is more in the vein of a protected courtyard, with tall stone walls and a quiet fountain in the center. Within it, one would find musicians wandering about - perfecting their crafts, progressing their styles, co-creating the gorgeously abstract art form that is music. Oh, what a wonderful place this is and will aways be. Unfortunately, I am not to be found anywhere inside the fortress, nor do I even possess a key to the gates or know the password to shout up to the guard (Buckethead). This is because I am not a musician and have no understanding of what is truly occurring inside the fortress; therefore my presence inside would be not only pointless but also distracting. However, I do have access to a very high perch, the base of which is situated just outside one of the fortress’ walls. From this viewpoint, I am able to gaze down into the courtyard so that I may see, feel, and appreciate the musicians’ works to the utmost extent. Although I am very happy with my perch, it does not keep me from dreaming about being in that courtyard, communicating with these extraordinary people through melodies and rhythms. I suppose that I could construct a fortress for my own kind - us visual composers. But no; one fortress is enough for a single man’s mindscape, so I’ll just continue sitting up here and admiring what is below.
Hold a small metal sphere in your fingers. Roll it around a bit, let it slide down into your palm. Grasp it, release it, shift it around some, then grasp it again. That is all for now - go ahead and set it aside so we can reflect. In my opinion, what you have just felt is the apex of equilibrium - perfection in a sense. No matter which way it was held, the sphere felt the exact same way; the weight, the smoothness, the shape - everything remained absolutely consistent throughout your handling of it.* Therefore, no preference can be held between one perspective of the sphere and another, and that is a beautiful thing. Whether or not we can learn something from this, I cannot say for certain. But what I can say for certain is that if I perceived other things in the same way that I do the small metal sphere, my quality of life would improve as a result.
*The single property of the sphere that was subject to change was its temperature, which is a direct result of your interaction with it.
FIRST BEARD PARTY
Aside from Bar Mitzvahs, there aren’t many ways for a fellow to publicly and honorably announce newfound manhood to his community. Even the ceremony I just mentioned has some questionable aspects in my opinion - I mean thirteen years old? Maybe for a few extraordinarily mature boys, but the rest of them - no way, they’re just kids with fresh envelopes full of cash.* It’s about time that we started accurately honoring an individual’s advancement in virility; therefore I propose the first beard party. It’s a simple concept really: when you become able to successfully grow an adequate beard, throw a party at which you debut it to your friends, family, and loved ones. It can be a simple get-together, or a full on ballroom blowout, just as long as you are newly bearded and there are eyes to behold you. A couple of guidelines to keep in mind: all attending guests are encouraged to be clean shaven as to not distract from the beard of honor, and beard related gifts such as grooming supplies and facial hair oils are more than welcome. Personally, I have come to the realization that I may never be able to throw a party of this type for myself, for I am still a baby-faced boy with stubbly dreams. But that’s alright; I will gladly show up at your first beard party and pay homage to your recently cultivated coarse facial coating.
*Before anyone gets his or her shorts in a knot, allow me to disclose that my father is Jewish.
During the course of a highway drive from Pittsburgh to New York, I noticed the traffic on the other side of the highway become tightly packed and nearly stagnant. As I continued my course, the opposing traffic appeared less and less dense until I saw nothing but open road. An oncoming car emerged from a bend, and I thought about the trouble that its driver was destined to encounter. I knew this person’s future, and I realized that he knew mine just as well. Where else but on the road do such prophetic passings constantly occur? When I made it around that bend, to where he had just been, a picturesque view was revealed; mountains, mist, fields, sky. I felt guilty for experiencing such a scene as he came to an aggravating halt, but we both knew it was all bound to happen.
TURTLES AND BIRDS
Through observation and generous justification, I have come to realize that turtles and birds are the same thing; more specifically, the same animal. While less than one percent of those who just read that would go as far as to say "I can kind of see that,” the rest of you are debating whether or not to close this page and clear your web history - so before we do anything drastic, allow me to try and explain myself — Picture a chicken for example, with all of its feathers plucked and its wings outstretched as if it were the Vitruvian Chicken. Now picture a large turtle posed in a similar manner, sans shell. Through my mind’s eye, their anatomies are very similar; their wing-like appendages, beaks, and tiny nostrils are all very comparable. I know, I know, it’s uncanny. Here's what must have happened: either they were originally shelled and one managed to pop itself out, or they were all flying around and one got jammed into a hollow rock. Regardless, they're both doing well these days despite the fact that neither species has plans to reunite with the other into one noble and proud genus.
WHEN PEople fall
I am a laugher. Almost anything, depending on its delivery, has the potential to yield at least a giggle from me. One particular thing however is fully guaranteed to result in explosive laughter: a person falling down. In other words, if someone spills and I see it, I just about lose my mind. This probably seems cruel and juvenile, but I believe my explanation of the occurrence’s humor justifies the laughter derived from it – we periodically stand throughout our lives without any issues, ever. In fact, we have so much experience in this field that we are certifiable experts in becoming and remaining upright. Now when someone falls, say me for example, this means that I failed at the basic task of keeping myself upright. Scientifically put, gravity got the better of me for a moment during which I had no counteracting maneuver, so I fell to the ground as a result. Something about this momentary malfunction is absolutely hysterical to me. If you are skeptical, then witness me fall, and I promise that you will see me on the ground laughing it out before I even consider resuming a vertical stance once more.
Here’s a fun way to pass the time: think about someone you know well; maybe not your best friend, but somebody you work closely with, perhaps a cousin you see every now and then. Now ask yourself, “can he or she juggle?” Regardless of what you may or may not know about his or her juggling experience, I am willing to bet my N64 that you answered correctly. What you experienced during the contemplation of your conclusion is referred to as the Juggler’s Vibe - a principle that I believe I have discovered. I wish I could further explain and/or define it, but perhaps I do not need to. All I really know is that jugglers juggle, and they make it known in abstract ways.
When looking at a piece of artwork, I find myself thinking the question, “who did this?”. In some cases I know the answer, in some I do not, but in all I am very curious about the decisions made by the artist when creating the piece, and how his or her experiences guided and influenced these decisions. With patterns however, I do not even begin to ask myself this question - the idea of a creator vanishes. Patterns seem to have a life of their own, as if they composed themselves of their own volition, using their own rules, and continue to live by those rules, onward for eternity. It is extremely difficult to describe why I feel this way, for any justification or reasoning that I can conjure up does not nearly encompass the phenomenon. This is a paragraph though, so I’m expected to try: perhaps this is because patterns consist of individual entities surrounded by complementary entities, coexisting in a network that feels too grand for one man to have created. Therefore, the whole thing must have just happened on its own through evolutionary circumstances. Similar to cells dividing and multiplying while forming an organism, it is a naturally occurring process, not a manual one. Anyways, if you share this perspective, I would be very interested to hear what you have to say about it.* That’s all.
When I was a kid, I could not wait to have armpit hair. Those mysteriously positioned tufts were the ultimate mark of manhood; a sign that you had what it took to treat a woman right and then some. I ended up waiting longer than most guys I knew to get the goods, and eventually I became desperate. One Christmas, the only thing I asked for was a little sprout in the pit.* Perhaps a divine gift was bestowed upon me that day, for I located my first dark, thick, man-caliber armpit hair in the left crevice. With my arm raised toward the heavens and my legs locked in a power stance, I executed an uncharacteristically aggressive fist pump — pure elation. Nowadays, after having cultivated these crops far beyond a lone filament, one would think the hair provides a constant source of exhilaration, affirmation, and confidence. Incorrect - somehow I have become completely indifferent towards my armpit hair and I feel that this as somewhat of a shame. Shaving it off could result in a newfound appreciation, but after all those years of awaiting its arrival, this stuff is staying intact.
*I didn't ask my parents per se; I just asked in a general way.
LETTER to the bald
To every bald man and woman on Earth who is distraught that his or her hair is gone, I am here to tell you that it is not. Yes, that is correct, your hair lives on. Although it may no longer be atop your head or whatever body part it was formerly covering, it is out there - somewhere. Consider the possibility that the majority of your missing hair has been swept away to the recesses of your home and is residing peacefully with you at this very moment. Perhaps a lock made its way out to sea through the drain and is now floating amongst exotic marine life. Maybe you once lost a strand while on board an international jet, and that hair continues to navigate the globe day after day. Even if some of your misplaced hairs were somehow burned, the resulting particles of smoke surely drifted up towards the clouds, broke through the atmosphere, and are bravely pioneering the unknown frontier, all on your behalf. Let’s face it, your scalp was a prison.* Sure those hairs looked really good on your head, but were they happy? Maybe so, maybe not, but I guarantee that they are enjoying their freedom. If this is too much for you, I urge you to recognize that no matter where your hairs may be, they haven’t forgotten about you, where they came from, and how to get back home, right under your cap.
*A hair on a scalp is what inspired Plato to write The Allegory of the Cave.
Ice is very special for a number of reasons, most notably this one: when ice is touched by someone, the person can be absolutely certain it is indeed ice that he or she is feeling. This may sound like a phenomenally unremarkable observation upon first read, but this quality of the frozen substance is quite rare amongst types of matter. We live in a time when an exhaustive variety of natural and synthetic materials make up our environments. Many things are engineered to feel like other things, many things just happen to feel like other things, and many things feel unique yet remain unidentifiable through touch alone. With ice, there is no mistaking that initial dry chill immediately followed by the wet depression formed from your digit’s warmth. After your finger settles in, explore the impossibly smooth surface as you generate more aqueous matter with each motion. If you are still unsure of what that is (not that you would be), give your finger a lick, and the pure untainted taste will tell you. Imagine a world where touch was mankind's only sense — in this place, ice is sacred.
When it comes to the apparel kingdom, the t-shirt holds the throne. A t-shirt collection reveals the owner’s cultural interests, tourist ventures, color preferences, and of course, artistic taste. Not to mention, they are affordable, easy to stockpile, and everybody looks cool in one. So yes, t-shirts are amazingly simple things, but one aspect of them often bugs me: graphic placement. You see, people have faces, and I strongly believe that our faces should be the frontside focal points of our bodies. T-shirts commonly sport their graphics in large format, front and center - so when worn, the graphic usurps the role of the wearer's frontside focal point from the face. Now look, I love graphics, but faces really deserve to be our frontside focal points for masking our horrifying skulls all these years. That being said, I can't think of a better backside focal point than a well crafted graphic, as the backs of our heads leave something to be desired from a visual stimulation standpoint. Simply put: face on the front, graphic on the back — balance.