Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pulp Stories

One of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons is the 21st episode of the 7th season titled "22 Short films about Springfield". Not only was it filled with numerous Pulp Fiction  references, but it was a feat in storytelling, cramming 22 separate, but related,  stories in to a 25 minute time frame. That episode is the inspiration for this week's blog post.

Bus Zed
It was my second week of being here and I decided to head to the local comic book shop to waste some time. After researching how to get there I determined it would be easier to take the bus rather than the subway. This was also my first time riding the NY bus, so I thought it would be good practice. Sounds great right? Well I walk to the bus stop and the first disconcerting thing I see was a no standing sign right above the bus stop, which was infinitely confusing. As I was pacing, waiting for the bus, a bus pulled up. I hopped on thinking "la la la... this must be the bus". Wrong. Evidently a renegade bus was in the neighborhood, or I read the sign wrong. Either way, I was now on the wrong bus heading in the wrong direction. Frustrated, I got off at the next stop and took the subway and just walked to the comic book shop. I made it a little later than planed, but made it. Everything seems resolved right? Perfect ending? 

Ezekiel 25:17
I loathe street musicians. It is said that on a good day a street musician can make more money than someone working a full time, minimum wage job. I have heard the street musicians and they are not good. You would think playing on the streets for hours upon days that these people would being to master their chosen instruments. No. Not so. To date of the hundreds of musicians I have heard, only 2 have I ever enjoyed, and only one have I ever paid. I made a promise to myself when I came here not to give out money to anyone on the street because, simply, I cant afford it. Well one night, after a particularly long day of work and rehearsal I was waiting for the subway in some random subway station. As I went to sit and wait, I could hear through my earbuds that someone was playing a guitar. As I usually do, I pause the ipod to check if they are worth listening too. Well this musician was a young female playing the guitar and belting her heart out. She was good. Her voice had that rugged beautiful quality kind of like Adele mixed with Carol King. But I told myself, "Stay firm, don't tip her, you are poor too." Then she played the acoustic version of Outkast's Hey ya, which moved my soul and filled my head with memories of home, but I said to myself", Resist, resist!" Then she sang a Bruce Springsteen song, and I thought "RESIST!", Then she sang The Animals version of House of the Rising Sun, and I broke. She was too good and too young not to help out. Just then the train pulled up and I had to act fast, so I grabbed some cash from my wallet, ran over to her, threw it in her case, and bolted to the train. I probably freaked her out, but I don't care. She earned the money.

Bus Zed is not Dead
So you probably thought the bus story was over didn't you? Well, guess again. After a pleasent evening at the comic book shop I thought to myself "Look self, maybe the first time with the bus was a fluke, try to take it home now, you will save time." By the time I left the comic book shop it was dark, but not quite night yet. The bus stop was only a few feet away from the comic book shop so I walked to it and waited. Sure enough the bus pulled up and I checked the number and it was the correct bus this time, so feeling confident in myself I hopped on. Then it drove the wrong direction, towards Brooklyn. I thought "Surely, it is just completing it's stop cycle, eventually it will be headed back to Queens." I waited, and it kept going. Deeper and deeper into Brooklyn, into increasingly sketchy looking neighborhoods. Then it pulled into a bus depot and I thought "Finally! It will being the trip back to Queens!" Then the bus driver said over the intercom "Last stop, everyone off." There I was, a skinny white boy deep into the sketchy parts Brooklyn at a nearly deserted bus depot. I started to get nervous. In between cursing the bus system and frantically searching for maps on my iPhone, another bus pulled up. At this point I didn't care where it was going, I just wanted to get out of where I was, so I hopped on. Instead of going deeper into Brooklyn, it went east, directly parallel of where I wanted to go. After nervously waiting and searching on my phone I found that this bus was only a few blocks away from the comic book shop. I knew if I could get there, I could get home safely. So I stepped out of the bus and stepped into a dark, deserted corner somewhere in Brooklyn. Instead of freaking out, I just put one foot in front of the other and started walking. I walked and walked and passed some very sketchy buildings and alleyways. I walked down dark streets that I will never visit for the rest of my life, and by buildings that looked dark and empty, but as if something was happening just behind the darkness. After what seemed like an eternity I finally made it back to the comic book shop, and then walked to the subway from there.  I made it home safely, albeit tired, and angry with the bus system, but safe. I vowed never to ride the bus again. Do you think I learned?

The Watch
I have made a friend in my neighborhood. His name is Good Luck. Good luck is a black cat I met one day walking to an interview, one of my first New York interviews for a part-time job (I think it was at Sears or something). Anyways, I was already nervous, and as I was walking to the subway I looked up and saw a black cat walk in front of my path. It was the cleanest, darkest, blackest cat I had ever seen. And for a cat on the streets of New York, it was quite hale and healthy looking. As soon as it crossed my path I started to think I was cursed, as if my interview was doomed before it began because a black cat crossed my path. I went to the interview and left not feeling good about it, and I didn't end up getting called back. But it turned out that it was ok because if I would have gotten the job, it would have closed off doors that I didn't even know were open to me. It all ended up working in my favor. I was going to an another interview, recently, and this Black Cat walked right in front of me. So instead of feeling cursed and negative, I said " Screw this, you make you're own luck." and I named him Good Luck. He goes by Mr. Luck at formal gatherings. The interview went great, and my confidence was never better.  So now whenever I see the cat, and I do quite frequently, I tell it that, "You make you're own luck." and I swear sometimes the cat winks back at me...

Bus Zed is Dead
OK, I am an idiot. I made the mistake of trusting the bus system. Again. A few nights ago I was coming home from rehearsal and got on the wrong train. Luckily it stopped a few blocks away from a train station with the right train I needed to be on. So I got off at the train station and walked to the correct train. Well as soon as I got there there were signs posted everywhere and it turned out they were making repairs on it at 11:00pm, and it would no longer be servicing. I looked down at my phone, 10:55. I thought I could make it. I took one step and heard what I thought to be the last train passing. I was far enough away that I couldn't just walk home, but close enough to make the whole thing frustrating. On these signs that said the train was not running at night, they suggested taking the local bus. I silently cursed the sign because I knew the taking the bus would be a mistake, but I had no other option... so I swallowed my pride waited for the bus. The bus came, and I got on. As I was getting on the bus I looked up at the train station and saw MY TRAIN, my phone said 11:04. It was, infact, running after 11:00pm for whatever reason, and if I had just stayed I could have been on the train home... But this time I was prepared for the bus and had my Google maps up and running so I could trace exactly where it was going. Well it turned out that wherever it was going, it was not going my way. It went north when I needed it to go east, silently taunting me and taking me further away from home. So I decided I would just get out and walk it. I wasn't going to try and figure it out and end up father away from where I needed to be, so I got off, and walked. Beings that I was in Queens, the neighborhoods were a little less scary than Brooklyn, but I was walking the streets at 11:45 at night in New York... still scary... I huffed and walked all the way back to Sunnyside from Astoria, where the bus had left me. As I turned the corner to arrive back in Sunnyside, I looked up at my home train station and what did I see? A train, my train, pulling into the station. I couldn't even be angry, I just laughed. Those signs we're horribly inaccurate and the trains were running all night long. Did I learn this time? Yes. I am never, ever, taking the bus again.

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go home and have a heart attack." -Vincent, Pulp Fiction

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