October 28th, 2005


NBC stick

I moved to Carroll Gardens over 8-1/2 years ago. My block, Carroll Street, is primarily old school Italian. In fact, Carroll Gardens used to be a part of Red Hook before real estate decided to rid this section of its historical relation to Al Capone, gangsters, and ship workers, by letting the BQE [Brooklyn Queens Expressway] divide the neighborhood. This happened again recently when Red Hook lost its grip to another portion of its landscape when real estate decided to dub Columbia Street "Columbia Heights."

I used to walk down my block and get the hairy eyeball from old Italian men with walking canes who's faces looked like wrinkled up baseball mitts covered in wool caps. Sometimes I'd hear a grunt or a poorly disguised cough that declared me "yuppie." If only they could see my bank account. I still don't have health insurance and they never let me forget that I wasn't one of them.

One brisk winter day, when the leaves had left their tree branches, I noticed a broomstick handle stuck up inbetween the branches within a hop of arms reach. As I walked down another block, closer to home, I saw another broomstick handle stuck up inbetween the branches of a bare tree. I couldn't make any sense of it. One of the old Italians saw me studying the broomstick handle and pulled me to the side. This was my first encounter with a member of the tribe and he gave me the hard impression that I found something I wasn't supposed to. I asked him what the broomstick handles stuck up in the trees were about? He sized me up and said "Those are NBC sticks. Leave 'em be." I asked him "What's an NBC stick?" He looked at me like I was stupid and said "Nigger Be Cool stick." Later on, I learned that neighborhood kids would plant one broomstick handle per block within a certain radius of their turf so as to ward off black people and anybody else who didn't befit their criteria.

A few years later I got friendly with the Polish plumber who sat disheveled and swathed in grease on his stoop everyday stinking up the brownstone with his coffee and cigarettes while his double parked van awaited radio call for the next clogged toilet or burst pipe. Our casual nods graduated to an actual "hello" and finally to conversation about the weather. When the weather was too nice to complain about he would complain about the government. When 9/11 happened he got real pissed off when most everybody taped paper made American flags to their windows and windshields. I asked him why he was so angry about that? He said "Paper flags are bullshit. If there's two things everybody should own in their home it's the bible and a real American flag made from cloth." I said to him "But...I don't hate black people."


SBX and I shared a LOST weekend. Literally. Last weekend, we spent the largess of our time watching season one of LOST. We fell in love with the premise and the characters and the narrative structure. It sparked many philosophical discussions, especially ones about god and how past actions inform present decisions. It created that water cooler atmosphere for soap opera hyperbole and second-guessing that we miss now that we're both working fulltime freelance from our respective homes. There were many times when our eyes burned from indulging hours of tv pixel radiation but we just had to watch the next episode! We had a blast. So much so, SBX paid for and downloaded into her laptop all episodes of the second season to date, so we could catch up and watch the rest of the series as it unfolds with the rest of America in the coming weeks.

Except for 24, The People's Court, and the occasional terror inspired news on CBS, I am no slave to modern television. In fact, I don't have cable and my antennae is sometimes aided by a coat hanger for stormy nights. SBX is morally against television. She'd rather read literature than be seduced by the trite predictability of situation comedy and melodrama. The stuff that lets many a fried mind escape from their daily perdition. So, it was a cool way for us to bond over a popular television show and find much food for fodder.

Our "Lost Weekend" consisted of just hanging around and not doing much of anything. Which, if you know either one of is a preposterous proposition. Our minds race and we analyze everything. We're quite annoying in that way. I'm always behind on some deadline with too many ideas I want to bring to fruition while SBX has too many responsibilities between career, motherhood, and maintaining a home. It's rare for us to sit idle and let the hours tick by. Being lazy is not our forte and neither is camping out in the confines of my living room and bed. However, we realized that this was important for our mental and romantic health. She even pulled out a couple of naughty standards to keep our couch potato laden loins in practice. And, when SBX left for her abode on Tuesday morning, it was a culture we didn't want to let go of.

Hitting the art able, I got back to work on my current projects while juggling a week of many late night social events. The stuff a mother of two young daughters can't attend unless she's made of money for baby-sitters and doesn't have the senses-shattering wake up call of 6AM to scuttle said daughters butts off to their respective schools. I'm starting to get used to the pros and cons of SBX's schedule [as does she mine] while making myself present at important functions and social events sans partner-in-crime until our schedules loosen up in the coming years. Which means, I often crash at home so I'm not the sassy boyfriend crawling into bed late at night waking up a noise sensitive house.

Like I mentioned before, this week was packed solid with nocturnal affairs and my boyfriend duties were compromised. So, I woke up where I usually wake up during the work week: in my bed. And, like I always do when I wake in my apartment alone, I stare out my window. It's the first shaft of light I confront for the oncoming day. Only, something was different this week. Something that made me think about SBX even more than usual and got me all randy before I brewed my first cup of coffee. I couldn't put my finger on it until this morning. Four mornings went by before I noticed something dangling in front of that first shaft of light. A carrot of sorts meant to tease the cockles as my body shook awake and I rubbed the sand from my eyes. A garment to keep me in check. To remind me of how everything around me, like the tv show LOST, is in the details.

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