Archive for January, 2011

The Pretzel Burger and The Bucket List. #MDBP

Posted in Uncategorized on January 30, 2011 by SLUTLUST

“The burger itself is quite a behemoth, most certainly deserving of its place on the PYT “Hall of Fame.” The bun is soft and pliable, but at the same time, retains the dense elasticity you would expect from a good pretzel. The steak kind of gets lost in the mix, but the cheese wiz and the mayo sauce lend a quirky tanginess to the taste. The patty becomes kind of an afterthought in the big picture, but at the very least, it doesn’t detract from the overall flavor profile, and it adds a nice plumpness to the texture. I feel like this is an interesting combination of components, but it might be a tad too much for someone just looking for a good burger.”

Seriouseats.com

This was the summer of my digestive discontent. The July heat and my balls were in the middle of a nasty divorce and the very air needed no breathe was selfishly cock teasing my lungs. A trip to the bodega was A TRIP TO THE BODEGA. Even the loosies from the Arabs on Union Ave. looked limp, dying like a dry flower in a microwave. Welcome to summer NYC 2010 OJ, your first official summer back from your stay in San Diego, here is your host: Fire hydrants and humidity.

I just couldn’t figure it out. I didn’t know whether if it was the pollution in the air or the pollution in my nightly itinerary. My chest felt like I was courting the one girl from Precious and she somehow convinced me to allow her on top. Compounded with the heavy breathing I did whenever I got anxious, I was beginning to feel like Fred  from Sanford & Son whenever he was asked to do anything.

“Elizabeth I’m coming to join ya!”

My girlfriend thought I was soft as shit. Pampered like a little child, my latin lover “hey mami”  looked more like a child asking for his mother. It didn’t help that I tried to turn every whine into a free back rub or a get out of sex free card. Don’t judge me: it was way too hot to fuck that summer, and hot enough to manipulate your significant other into small favors. How she still gets a “beaner” (a female boner) for me couldn’t be figured out with an abacus.

After exhausting every medical option taught to me by a lack of a good health plan and the motivation to wait in a virus filled free clinic, mainly waiting my ailments out, I went to the internet. Reading this one would assume my first stop was WebMD or a random medical advice dispensing blog. No. I went with Facebook and Twitter. After 140 characters of an impassioned plea to my digital nurse I got my answer in a one Mattie Safer.

Mattie invites me to his humble abode in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and after a brief investigative exchange writes down what appears to be witchcraft or a menu for ovulating farm animals. He then takes me to meet his “Guru”, a vocal coach who if I dropped his name it would be like spilling a gumball machine full of celebrity names. We meet in midtown in a place that’s either a dance studio or a gym. The Guru gives me a huge bottle of smart water filled with what I think Kool-Aid would be if the Kool-Aid pitcher guy was the Swamp Thing. I chugged my sea moss milkshake and express my awkward gratitude in one to many handshakes goodbye. I walk to the train station and somewhere in-between home and humility I let out a sitcom level impressive fart… followed by a few more. Soon it’s a marching band of farts loudly joining the commuters around me. To my girlfriends’ complete delight, my ailment was gas. My gas had gas. My month long battle with my chest was a pocket of gas trapped in my intestines by boogers, solved by something you would only learn if your Santeria doing grandmother really liked you and taught you a thing or two.


“Vegetables

Tomatoes – cherry or plum only

Lettuce bell peppers

Cucumbers

White onions

Portobello Mushrooms anything but Shitake wild rice

Celtic salt grey salt

Limes are ok……”

This is part of the diet Mattie handed me along with the “maybe you should slow down” every responsible friend is required by law to give one another. OK sure Mattie I’ll slow down on the Big Macs and my love affair with Artichoke pizza. No OJ lets throw in the drinks and the drugs too. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh yeah, OK. Uhhh, yeah OJ give that a shot.

I hug Mattie like a brother when he’s headed to war, my new diet and vitamin mineral thing he gifted me with in tow. This is a good thing. I can do this. I try to convince myself over and over while every single fast food vendor ever forms before me like an obstacle course in Hell. Eat like a grazing cow? Yeah for my health I can do this I’ve tangoed with discipline before. Now if I was sucessful that’s up for interpretation. Not get wasted for a while? Yeaaaaaahhhhhhh I got this… fuuuuuuuuuuuccckkkkk nooooooooooo. The Mad Decent Block was a week away in the city of Philadelphia. I was planning to lose my shit there!!! I cross my fingers behind my commitment to trying to take better care of myself and prayed the Guru had more green sea moss fart juice.

Click to see children crowd surfing.

The Club Quarters Hotel phone in our room is ringing like a Monday morning alarm clock. Oh cool we are late to check out of our hotel. Again. Did a tornado host a after after party in our room while we slept? No, all signs point to us after a night on the town, or painting the town red, or whatever euphemism kids use to call what can only be described as ripping Philly a new asshole. The next 15 minutes are spent hiding any incriminating evidence while packing our sweat and dirt torn garments and  juggling several social media networks for a brunch spot before we leave the city of Brotherly Love. Kara decides to go with last night’s make-up while I wear a shirt I found at the block party the day before. Secretly I suspect it belongs to Roofeo from The Death Set and can’t wait to post a Twitter picture of me wearing the shirt. Maybe I’d even do a hostage post like when I stole The Noid from the Trouble and Bass studio. A text message from Sarah Lee snaps me out of my douche-bag fantasy; we are meeting at PYT on North Hancock Street.

My back feels like shit slipping out of the cab. What did I do to myself the night before? We arrived in Philly around 4pm and went from our hotel  to dinner to the block party to every single after party and after-after hour offered by the Mad Decent contingency. The last thing I remembered was Dirty South Joe’s smile while he leveled a warehouse with The Captain from Trouble & Bass.

So.

Much.

Wobble.

And.

Bass.

The vibe in Philadelphia was electric that weekend, soulful like a bowl of gumbo mixed with Dancehall, Merengue, Kuduro, Electro, Punk, and Dance Music providing the sound track. So much jumping and fist pumping you could have sworn Diplo was the father of some sonic revolution. I’ve never seen a stage bounce so hard or a city respond so adoringly to their hometown hero’s and their extended family. Everyone lost their shit but maintains their composure. Then the Death Set came on, and composure took a back seat to what resembled a gladiator ring of a mosh pit. The Death Set lived out their namesake. I had never been in a mosh pit, always on the sidelines with Oh My God plastered all over my face. I’ve never been in any rush to jump into street fights with strangers and moshing seemed like the closest thing without being angry. I had no plans to enter that punk hurricane but Kara kept inching me closer and closer. Before I could even suggest cowering in the safety of the Diesel photo booth I was being bounced around like a human handball.

BUCKET LIST.

By the time Roofeo tossed his drum kick my blue Keds were dirt brown and my t-shirt was nearly see through from sweat. I never once dropped my camera or fell down. My lungs took days to recover my breath. Fun and air are sworn enemies in my life.

But that’s not how I hurt my back.

About a month before the block party I was involved in a hit and run car accident. I was crossing four lanes of traffic when a Toyota Camry cut the curb at about 40mph. I was 3 steps from completely crossing the intersection when it knocked me back to the starting point across the street. My favorite memory after I regained consciousness was standing up after I was hit and watching a crack head screaming at me to lay down while demonstrating exactly how I should lay down. All of the witnesses one by one telling me how I should be dead, making wild hand gestures in an attempt to describe how bad my hit was. Soon the cops arrived asking me if I wanted an ambulance and/ or to file a report in the most apathetic tone known to a dictionary. My mind was a snow globe; all I saw was cops and the joint hidden on me. I limped away from an accident that should have taken my life.

There I was in the middle of a Ninjasonik set in this shoulder to shoulder, over capacity, hole in the wall in Philadelphia. The energy level was up to any number you can imagine plus one. Roofeo is beating the turntables like drums and Bathroom Sex can’t stop talking shit to the crowd. Jah Jah is leaning on a bunch of raised hands holding him up like some black skateboarding punk rock Jesus. People are climbing and flying off the stage like flies do when they land on shit. The one time I’ve ever wanted to crowd surf or stage dive was back in Woodstock 99 during the Red Hot Chili Peppers closing set. I pussied out and opted to smoke my last blunt instead. Part of me died seeing the red neck in front of me get hoisted up into the air, riding this wave of pure rock jubilee while photographing himself. Then Woodstock was set on fire while the band performed the song Fire. How could I have not seized that moment?! I wasn’t going let that happen twice.

The crowd parted like they were the Red Sea and Moses was performing on my first jump. I Went straight to the floor and landed flat on my back.

I fared much, much better my second try.

BUCKET LIST.


We beat Sarah Lee and Emily Rabbit to PYT only to be confronted with a free mimosa until 2pm curfew. It’s 1:30pm. 3 quick trips to the bar solved that problem. When the girls arrived they are surprised with a table holding about 12 glasses. We do not offer to share one glass. That’s the surprise.

Time to order.

WTF is a pretzel burger? On paper it sounds like the worst thing ever. Like who would combine a cheeseburger with a cheese steak and a pretzel? This has to be the fattest shit ever since The Turdunken or the KFC Double down. I can’t eat this. Mattie gave me this diet and I have to go through with it. You don’t waste people’s time like that. Your chest just stopped hurting. It’s bad enough you spent the night raging, chill… nah fuck that. I can start my diet again on Monday… shit I’ll start right after this burger. Is that Woodstock burning again? Can I even put this on my bucket list? I just discovered this thing.

It wasn’t until 4 hours after my car accident when I realized how lucky I was. It was my light when I crossed that eventful street. I followed all the rules, and still flipped over a car like a bullfighter in a chicken fight with a raging bull. There I was under a cat scan counting my blessings like a cashier counts money, carefully trying not to under or over value anything. Are we a collection of completed ideas, stacked one behind the other like pages in a flip book? How fulfilling were the moments permanently trapped on those pages? How many of those ideas where even mine? Can you control and edit the content of the pages in your flip book? Up until that accident I was just the stoner who really really wanted to but didn’t crowd surf during “Under the bridge”.

The Pretzel Burger was a tidal wave of the best thing ever.

My chest pains never returned.

BUCKET LIST.

On the way back to retrieve our overnight bags from our hotel concierge we come across The Forum, an old school adult movie theatre. Sara Lee can see the machine turning behind my eyes and offers to sit quietly in the back if we paid her way in. She is such an amazing wing man. The inside of the theatre is everything I had imagined, dark with a dim movie screen and a weird old hand job smell. I was too young to go into those types of theatres when they existed back in Times Square before Rudy Giuliani gutted the old New York with ordinances and police riots.  How could I not enjoy this relic from an era gentrified by the Rockefeller laws? This had to be the only movie theater in on the eastern seaboard patrons were allowed to smoke cigarettes and bring in their own booze. The seats were worn in and warm like someone had just stood up. The porn star skillfully acting in the movie had pubic hair and the screen flickered like it was a projector running on VHS. The smoke in the air was the icing on a birthday cake thick to the point I couldn’t see the other movie goers nor the person I was standing next to. How gay Philadelphia “cruises” in this a place showing old and poorly shot straight people porn was beyond me… but I can see how, with the shady camel lights cigarettes and cheap vodka ambiance. All I could think about was all of the lonely that came here looking to fill the void with cheap and dangerous sex.. everyone just looking to get close real fast…

BUCKET LIST.

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A Brooklyn Pool Party: Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized on January 19, 2011 by SLUTLUST

August 23rd 2010. 9:15am: Monday morning at my imaginary water cooler.

Sometimes I wish I had a regular job. A job with a water cooler and some co-workers. I would hang out there and listen to people gossip about their lives. The latest movie or some fab new diet they were trying out: all the things that would make you want to kill yourself or kill myself I’m so sorry maybe you like those things. They might even be talking about the other co-workers, the office is soooooo crazy. I can talk sitcoms but once I get to the E Channel of things I shut off and have less use than a leather jacket lying on the couch. Can’t someone pick up and put that shit away? Why else did we buy that coat rack?

Maybe the office would have little hints of tan and brown splatter over what could have been an old Butter Fingers commercial with a peppering of manila folders everywhere. So many file cabinets, this place is a dust bunny’s dream. Hopefully one co-worker would have a mustache and the other one could be fixing up an old Camaro. Yeah you make that Camaro your identity, buddy. I mean we are miles away from your garage but everything in your fucking life revolves around that piece of shit car. It doesn’t help that we have only two females in the office and only one is bangable, the other one is married to a cop. I’ll have a well closeted contempt and utter disgust for every single one of them. It wouldn’t be because of the private dignity of settling for a beige routine that I could smell off them, it would probably due to the fact we all worked in Sales or something.

My favorite would be when we reach the “So what did you do for the weekend” part. Everyone would be so judgy, leering into you like you were the new Christmas Display at Tiffany’s. Oh you went to a spa? Oh when did you become so Jewish? We already know that other fuck was fixing his Camaro. Oh-no he wasn’t? He was just looking for parts? Shocker! Then the boss would come over and stand there with his military navy blue suit with the sharp cuffs and his perfect cup of coffee. Man, fuck this dude.  What are you drinking even? Folgers Crystals?? He would talk about some yacht on some Rivanda or is it the Riviera? Everything is fancy dinners with his stunning wife and the Johnson’s in some cosmopolitan restaurant where people still smoke cigars. I would imagine his wife blonde dripped in a gold happy new year’s outfit. Yeah she can bite it too. I worked too many hours to have to tolerate the boss and his big dick of a weekend. Plus this is the 3rd time he’s asked to tuck in my shirt and not come to work in Chuck Taylors. But yeah I’m going to ask him anyway… I want to hear how he snobbishly describes boring. Why? Who knows maybe it’s the orange juice or egg and cheese stain I’m trying to hide under my cardigan or the bitch in accounting that keeps fucking up my check. The water cooler will now be the side by side bathroom urinal challenge.

“So… how was your weekend?”

I’m so glad you asked (cocksucker). It went like his: I met up with my brother early Saturday afternoon and me and my girlfriend went to the homies crib for a pool party. A pool party? Yeah a motherfucking pool party… in Brooklyn. The shit had bitches it had beer it had beats. The shit was so sick it had AIDS. Fun AIDS like when comedians do it on cable TV.  We’re in Greenpoint at that. Everyone out here owns a bike and has a beard. Even the bitches had beards. Nah, nah, not like that. Like, I’m wearing Maui, they wearing Mishka, everyone is wearing flannel it’s like 1000 degrees on a grey day.  Whatever we riding bikes out this bitch like after schoolers and the G train wasn’t running so we had to take the shuttle and when we got there POW!!! DJ Lucas Walters looking like a grizzly ginger bear curating the vibes. This was like an ironic Snoop Dogg video shoot around 94 but with real New Yorkers in 2010. People casually cooked up whatever meat they could find at the 7-11 and shit there wasn’t any lines cuz people in Brooklyn don’t eat but everyone drinks and dances and makes out and shit. A fat fuck in Brooklyn does Yoga and gets pussy, real talk. We even had the two girls going at it behind some bushes under the stairs. What!? All girls in Brooklyn kiss other girls and the ones that don’t, date them.

Everyone owns a unicorn. My Japanese friend had on leather shorts at a pool party but who cares we in Greenpoint and someone else is wearing a lazy stocking cap with a “That was so yesterday” attitude but motherfuckers is having fun. Soooo loose, paper plates and 40’oz bottles all over a Brooklyn realtor’s wet dream of a property. At one point my brother pulls out the Veuve Clicquot and the only thing that’s missing is Diddy singing “Bad Boy, come out and playyaaaaayyyy”. My life will eat your face off. DJ Schoolboy spun, Lee Trice spun, Dances with White Girls was there and he spun it out and we all got dizzy and a lot of us threw up. Fuck your suit and tie life. No fights or controversy, everyone co existing like Complex Mag had Benetton money with Levi’s doing the casting and co-opted by Paper magazine. Sexy young America in Brooklyn, USA. Some did eight balls others did cannon balls while they drank their high balls but when the Push Out Posse wrapped it up everyone played ball. So fucking cool, like a caviar Slurpee.

Then bang, wifey goes one way with her friends and I go another. Next thing you know I’m at my home girls Rachael’s street wear themed birthday party. Nooooooo it’s not racist at all. Rachael runs with Never Scared aka the kick ball team I’m on but have never played a game with. My dude it’s like a costume party but with stuff we brought that really wasn’t costumes at all just the everyday shit we wore and secretly still enjoy.  Think Helvetica with a heavy rotation of patterns and neon. It’s basically what happens when rap music and graphic design students hang out. They smoke pot and put neon on everything. They also have a shitload of stickers. Stickers are the gateway drug of graffiti. At times I can’t tell if Never Scared is a lifestyle brand or a graffiti gang. Every Sunday I’m too drunk to tell if they are playing kickball or just hanging out in the park. All they do is win. Anyway the cops came. Talk about giving a street wear themed party credibility. Then the cops left and we had fun with cake. Birthday cake is always the shit no matter how old you are.

At this moment my boss would start to look at me like I’m a little crazy. There will be certain cues in his demeanor that would suggest he’s trying to get me to shut up in order to save myself from the firing he’s considering. His cup of coffee isn’t perfect anymore as traces of it start to stain the white porcelain from the slight twitch his once perfect cuff has. He secretly hates the Riviera. His wife makes him go so she can show off money she didn’t make. My little one bedroom doesn’t seem as stuffy as last nights dinner with the Johnson’s or the conference he had to attend earlier. My weekend now looks like a beautiful liability. Who lives like that and stays gainfully employed and yet isn’t this what we all work for? To have fun with the little time we have that isn’t even guaranteed? My commute is no longer the drab slave shuttle he thought it was. Maybe my wage servitude has some dignity dipped in this defiant jubilee against the status quo. No, he’s pretty sure he hired a maniac and a pathological liar, wishing that his coffee cup came with a button to alert security. No one can possibly do all of that in a weekend. And that’s when I turn it up like fuck it:

Fast forward, we move the party to the next stop. Some Brooklyn ware house these kids call the Shank. It was crazy kids were riding bikes around some while some dude dripped in black and metal was playing some electro rockabilly pop dance shit. That party must have gone on till like 10am. Craaaaaaaazy huh? You ever heard of Hussle Club? It’s like a heroin addiction on Ritalin or cutting yourself and a rainbow comes out of the gaping wound. Yeah, well I was rolling with them doing the shit rock stars used to do before they had real responsibilities like mortgages. We are rock stars that rent and couch surf doing things that can easily fuck up our rent or burn the bridge to the couch. Fuck that, worry about that shit tomorrow, right? Somewhere along the line I pick up my girlfriend from a local hipster drink & stink and take her home. She walks right into the floor. Exactly how it sounds is exactly what happened. Her bruise will take a lifetime to heal. We call those night life tattoos.

Anyway the next day we meet her best friend and have a screw driver infused brunch. We leave the other brunchers with a vivid memory of an obnoxious threesome breaking a plate or two while chirping and gurgling what could be an interesting conversation if not for the sound effects and the talking over each other. I don’t think we stopped laughing once. Shit I can’t believe the best friend likes me. You know the best friend holds the key to the girlfriend vagina jaw bridge, if she doesn’t like you then good luck crossing the friend shelf moat buddy… I’m sure the staff at the Rabbit Hole would love to have us back, for a private lynching. I was not trying to wait if they enjoyed their tip. We ran out of there and I ran out of film and can’t remember shit. I just woke up to tell you this, right here at this water cooler, Boss Man. Now I’m going to use this water for the Aspirin on my desk, don’t expect much out of me today.

Needless to say that man is going to fire me the minute he turn his back, only to find out I quit last Friday.


“It was like a corny Will Smith music video from -96, only this was in Greenpoint New York 2010 and it wasn’t staged; even the part where me and my boyfriend licked my best friend’s fake tits…. It felt like the most exclusive non exclusive party I’d ever been to. People passing by outside had no clue there was a real life video playing out right there in the backyard.”

Jonna Mayer

“Pool party etiquette: never leave early. ..and always get in the pool”

Kelly Frank

“I almost died”

Michelle Salem

“I wish I could remember more…”

Brooke Broccori

“I don’t know, I was blacked out”

Alexandra Garces

10

Posted in Uncategorized on January 10, 2011 by SLUTLUST

(In honor of his 10th birthday, these are 10 of my favorite pictures. The first one is my flight information and the last one speaks for itself. Enjoy.)

“Until you have a son of your own . . . you will never know the joy, the love beyond feeling that resonates in the heart of a father as he looks upon his son. You will never know the sense of honor that makes a man want to be more than he is and to pass something good and hopeful into the hands of his son. And you will never know the heartbreak of the fathers who are haunted by the personal demons that keep them from being the men they want their sons to be.”

Kent Nerburn

I was so young and stupid when you came into my life. I was dragged into fatherhood kicking and screaming. I was not ready, and as much as she wished, your mother wasn’t ready. She was in Pittsburgh giving labor while I was stoned with my friends on the cold Lower East Side streets of Manhattan. It must have been at least 4 in the morning when I got phone call. I didn’t even have the money to pay for the flight being that I burned through my severance pay from that bad idea of an internet company I worked for. Every day was a constant sabotage in hope that this whole thing was a dream. Diapers, cribs, apartments, bills, sickness, money, and does this girl even love me?…  An overwhelming tidal wave of responsibility I wasn’t mature enough to handle. And there I was, on an 11:40am flight my mother paid for with only about 40 dollars in my pocket. Your grandmother picked me up from the airport. By the time I got into the car you were nearing your first hour alive. I was late, no surprises there. It was the first time we had ever met. As pleasant as she was she was also wary of me, over protective over her daughter and judging the man who impregnated her 19-year-old. We would later fight over her driving my new-born in a car she forgot to put the gas lid on. It was the first time I made your mother cry as a mom. I wish I could take that all back but being a father or a man doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Unfortunately I probably still make her cry. I’m so fucking stupid. A self fulfilled prophesy of all my childhood insecurities and a practitioner of the victim mentality. I promised myself everyday to grow and right the wrongs I’ve allowed myself to stumble into, but if you make enough rights you’ll wind up right where you started. And it’s not that I didn’t love your mother, but I couldn’t believe anyone for the matter could love me. That insecurity was a cancer that turned my respect into petty jealousies and redundant outburst of mixed and twisted emotions. Soon I accumulated enough fuck ups to banish me to the bunk bed I grew up on. No more making you breakfast or taking you to Day-Care, it was done and I was out. I went dark. I no longer had my sun.

There I was in the basement of the Mckibben Lofts in Brooklyn. I had nothing. I did the unspeakable. An Ambien nap and a fuck it all to hell attitude stuffed in a few empty baggies and a couple of drained liquor bottles. But what do any of us have? You belonged to the world more than you could ever belong to me. Your eyes are going to move mountains and your smile is going to melt the ice surrounding many hearts. How could I not stay awake and see that? Sure I didn’t have you physically but you where not mine to begin with. You are the gift that God passed through me to give to this universe. How could I not be here to live on the Earth your light will illuminate? I wanted to feel the same rain that trickled off your umbrella, breathe the same air you filled up with words and ideas, and bask under the same sunlight you’ll thrive under. You taught me how to look. The shelter that turned into our first Brooklyn home and the food stamps became our lottery money, we made it work. We had too, everything that we had against us on paper looked amazing in reality. You taught me how to see the world as an illustration of life and I took pictures of everything in our shared existence. This was your world I wanted to preserve and record. And here you are at 10.

10.

Strong .

Healthy.

Beautiful .

Years.

You like your Skecher strap on sneakers more than the Jordans I got you and somehow became a Yankees fan even though the 1st game you ever saw was the Mets. You have a slight slur and still walk on your tippy toes just like your dad did. Your jokes are as shy as they are silly. I take ownership in my genetics only. Your mother continues to do an amazing job and I thank her with all my prayers. I have all but reduced myself to a few wrapped up gifts and the occasional sleep over. Your mother struggled for your life. She had the foresight for the amazing adventure you would become and the optimism I lacked. One day I know I will beg you to  forgive my shortcomings and I promise to save you the excuses. I only blame myself. Your father is still a work in progress, but every day I inch towards a better me. I never knew my father, just a couple of men I remember hurting my mother more than actually loving her. Your mother had to leave me if she was ever going to be happy, and I accept that. I was just a stupid young boy with no real gauge as to how to be a man. But I’m learning, and growing.

I know I have to do this for myself, but when I get it done know I did it all for you.

I love you.

Happy birthday Chance.

thank you.

ICELAND Day 5: Back To The Future

Posted in Uncategorized on January 6, 2011 by SLUTLUST

Is this what it feels like? White noise? Our alarm has been going off for 30 minutes now. The light in the room is blurred. The sound in the room is blurred. The blur in the room is blurred. We’re late for check-out. Our flight is at 4pm but check out is at 10am and we are at a 3 in motivation at 9:45am. What the fuck are we doing with these bags again? Move. I can’t find my socks. I can’t find my gloves. She’s annoyed. I’m frustrated. More white noise. Louder and louder and LOUDER… Does everything fit? Do we have everything? Empty the drawers, check under the bed, look behind the doors, GET OUT OF THE WAY. Sorry sorry SORRY. OK drop off the universal converter and get our money back. Drop our bags off at the front desk-wait a minute AJ is coming?! Oh yeah he’s gonna take us to the flea market. Can we get coffee? When do we call the bus to pick us up? Where do we get breakfast do we have our airplane tickets last night was really fun oh my god my brain is foggy what do you need you need money I need to go outsideeeeeeaaaaaannnnnnnnnndd POP!

The cold air reminds me of the first bite off a fresh apple. I breathe it in and quickly kill the inspiring sensation with a drag from a Camel Blue. I can’t tell which has me more catatonic, the brunch with the milkshake in the middle of the plate or the hangover in the middle of my face. Both of them were sumo wrestler heavy. Inside the restaurant is a painting of Superman hovering behind Stalin. Why wasn’t Superman there for us during the cold war? Superman was a hero for us but what was he for the rest of the world? Was Superman Stalin for Europe? This is stupid. This painting will haunt me for the rest of my life.

The flea market looks like any other flea market in the world, Just one person trying to push his or her junk on someone else at a profit, trading the words “old” and “used” for “antique” and “vintage.” I assume most people who shop at markets like these are romantics, looking for a fairy tale in a wool scarf or adventure in an old army backpack. I run my fingers through an old rack of post cards while my girlfriend holds a Nordic Christmas sweater AJ convinced us to buy. I look at the back of this one card and I see it’s dated 1918. Is it a love letter? The handwriting on the back of the postcard is calligraphy perfect. Whoever wrote this took the time to make sure the message was clear and as perfect as a typewriter with spell-check. I wonder if the author knew what the future of his postcard was. If he would ever imagine that a tourist from New York would pay 5 dollars to own it. Did they even write back?

AJ drives us to the airport. If you ever want to impress someone you just met, a ride to the airport or offering to help someone with a move is better than home-cooking. The soundtrack is Old School House Music with a little bit of 90’s Rap. I can tell he misses New York but is excited about his life in Iceland. He then tells me about a food hustle he was with the some edibles him and his fiancé cook and how he moves dresses and women accessories. I fight back laughing because the first thought in my head was the scene from Baby Boy when Tyrese was slinging Liz Claiborne at the local beauty shop. My second thought was how global he was and how could I get down??? We talk about meeting again in Thailand next April for a monk ceremony as we arrive to our final arctic destination. Yeah I can dig this. My first time out of the country and… yeah. I hug him goodbye like I would hug a friend going off to war. The adventure was over. My flight would leave at 4pm and would arrive in Newark at 6pm from a 6 hour flight.  So confusing, I left New York City on a Monday afternoon and got to Iceland Tuesday morning. For all I knew I was in Iceland for 6 days. I just needed some REM sleep in EST… I was going back to the future.

Thank you for your hospitality Iceland. I pray we meet again. Maybe during jacket season.

ICELAND Day 4: The Cave, The Shark, And The Only Girl in The World

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2011 by SLUTLUST

“It was the extreme eating challenge that saw even Gordon Ramsay crumble. Hákarl, Iceland’s Viking dish of fermented shark, inspires F-words in almost everyone but the locals, who see past the ammonia whiff to the dish’s surprisingly mild flesh. Made by burying basking shark meat underground for three months, then hanging it to dry for five, Hakarl forms part of the midwinter Thorrablot feast (alongside pickled ram’s testicles) but can be found at supermarkets year round. A shot or five of brennvin, the local spirit, supplies courage.”

Hilary Armstrong, MSN Travel contributor

THE CAVE

I wish I could remember our tour guide’s name. I’m pretty sure it sounded like a Swedish cough drop after a giant stomped on it. He stood about 5 ft smaller than me, blond surfer type crossbred with a garden gnome. He already had most of his cave hiking gear on like had he just woke up wearing it. Who is this prepared at 8am? This Norwegian guy… A low talker who was giving me back pains from leaning in to hear his cave dwelling wisdom. I was excited as I was scared, Kara was just excited, smiling from ear to ear like someone had masturbated her Pokemon. How was this little blonde hair ball wearing Patagonia hiking gear going to rescue us if this cave caved in or some Nordic volcano wolf attacked us? Kara and I were the only two people on this tour. No witnesses! I’ve seen True Blood before and this was not good. After surveying the surrounding area I was convinced absolutely nothing was alive anywhere near where we were for miles, just a vast volcano field with mountains and moss as its only active resident. Now Kate Moss would have been cooler, but I doubt she would ever come to Iceland. Scoring here was as easy as a man in child-birth.

“So there’s nothing alive around here?”

“Just Trolls…”

“EXCUSE ME?”

“See the patterns of molten rocks? When settlers would travel from town to town at night they thought those molten formations of rocks where trolls frolicking in the fields…”

“Oh…”

Kara is just bobble-heading along. We adjust our spelunking gear and begin to follow the surfer gnome down the cave.

“You see Iceland has a rich history of mythology and stories based around trolls, witches, and fairies…”

That was probably the last word I heard being that our guide’s idea of sharing information was whispering it. The cave was immaculate… at first. Then it started to get tiny. The vast opening we entered started to look like if we had just died and were walking away from the light. We went from standing to walking crouched down to being on our knees to doing the worm on our bellies. Soon the only thing we could see was whatever our uncomfortable head light would show us. Ohhhhhh look stalagmites. Ahhhhhhh sedimentary rocks. Ooooooooh some dead mangled animal bones in the corner…

“!!!”

“Hahahaha don’t worry that was probably a pony or a dog that came down here years ago to escape lava or some other animal…”

“But I thought you said nothing lives out here???”

He gives us a award-winning gnome smile, pulls out a thermostat, and pours us a cup of hot chocolate. I’m amazed how hot it is considering that he must have filled it at least 4 hours ago and it’s about 30 degrees outside. A supernatural thermostat! He then asked the both of us to turn off our headlights. I’m apprehensive at first but looking at my bobble headed girlfriend, who is way to thrilled to be human, I man up and do so. Soon enough the conversation got weird… in the dark weird.

“…So the settlers would travel from town to town during really harsh winters. Every once in a while they would come across a dead traveler along the road. Now it is customary in Nordic tradition not to leave the body on the road. You were to take them home and wait till the priest came by to give it its last rites. After a couple of hours the host would wake up to a rustling in his house and discover the dead traveler moaning and rummaging around… ZOMBIES.”

My senses are turned up to 10. I can smell the rocks and sense their locations. In my head I can hear the zombies hobbling through the cave coming to get us… I saw those bones, they didn’t belong to the Elephant Man that’s for sure, or maybe they did?! You would think the entire world would open up once the absence of vision kicked in but no, the cave was now my coffin. I squeezed the shit out of Kara’s hand. Way to go OJ, your first overseas trip and you get killed by a Zombie from your overactive imagination.

“Soooooo Iceland had Zombies?”

“No, it was all just hypothermia. This is before medicine was as advanced as it is now. The settlers would constantly think they were under attack by the undead. Soon they stopped waiting for the priest and would just bury whatever body they found along the road. Then they learned about hypothermia. Still they weren’t convinced that the “dead” was just people in a cold coma so they would bury them with a string attached to their wrist. The other end of the string would be tied to a bell above ground so if the dead person was just a freezing traveler and woke up they would move their hands (from that good old “I’m being buried alive!” panic I assumed) ringing the bell set next to their grave.”

“So that’s where…”

“Saved By The Bell came from? Yes, some say it is…”

Kara and I let out a matching “ooooohhhhhhhhh.”

“So question? When we turn on our lights back on… What would you rather have? An extra person here or one of you two missing?”

Que the theme song from Friday the 13th please, it’s time to go.

THE SHARK

Time Warner cable has about 2000 channels. Some of them are High Definition copies of regular channels and others are just plain foreign or full of sports. Sunday nights at our apartment usually consist of wasabi peas and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s mixed with the occasional funny cigarette and the usual what the hell are we watching tonight. I’m more Family Guy on TBS to her Gangland on the History channel so you can see were finding a fair compromise can be an exorcise in commitment. The end result is usually one of us on our cell phones or the other pretending to watch while they steal an evening nap. This one Sunday we gave the fine art of channel surfing a shot. In between the crumbs on the couch and the newspaper spread all over the entire living room we laid in our blankets and one by one critiqued everything we saw. Bollywood? Bullshit. Sarah Palin’s Alaska? Sarah couldn’t pay me in Alaska. Porn? Pass. Cinemax? Cinnabuns.

Then we wind up at the Travel Channel during this delightful little show called Bizarre Foods. This could have been an episode of Jackass for all I’ve known the host is talking about eating a rotten fermented shark. I rewind, throw up a little in my mouth, and rewind again. Kara has this wild look in her eyes. Where do we get this again? Iceland!? We book a flight and are there about a month later.

“Yeah he’s a rapper”

Maybe I shouldn’t have worn my shades. Aviator sunglasses tend to make me feel a bit douchey anyway. Kara is making fun of me to some little Icelanders while I leave my tag on one of the columns in this small Nordic graffiti shop. I spot a tag by a rap producer from New Jersey and a South Pole flannel shirt on a rack. The Swedish store keeper tells me about her sister and her African husband with his dreads and all of the hip-hops. I buy a marker and spot an awkward pair of Adidas in a glass case. The place reminds me of some of the shops I’ve seen in San Diego and Philadelphia, a caricature of what street culture was in the 80’s without the spray paint locked up behind a cage or the crack epidemic.  It’s like The Source magazine curated this hip hop heaven where no one stole and everyone asked permission to tag up, gangs were known as crews and shoot outs were dance offs.  This lady probably still thinks break-dancing is the shit, an art form I tried to imitate growing up in the 80’s but by the 90’s I had shunned it because it was too soft and “played out”. I was as old as the KRS-1 playing in the speakers and as colorful as the ink on the walls. I was that authentic New York shit that this “Swedestafarian” worshiped and all I did was criticize it in 140 characters or less. Instead of being proud of seeing this lifestyle I knew and lived first hand having a platform in the arctic circle, millions of miles away from the Writers Bench on 149th Street in the Bronx, I was a little embarrassed. Is this what the world thinks about my life? Why is it we never felt Yo MTV Raps was as relevant as Video Music Box? MTV did its part in spreading the culture but why wasn’t it was real as Ralph McDaniel interviewing at the Tunnel Night Club or filming at Rutger Park in Harlem? Not many urban movies successfully capture what life was back then and I felt like this was another failed attempt at accuracy.  I love that it was there, yes we made it, but really wished it wasn’t.

New York City: glorifying, confusing, then eating its creative young since 1624.

Speaking of food, it’s our last full day in Iceland and we still haven’t found our shark.

Kara slips into her Henry Holland stockings while I pull my khakis over my black thermal underwear. She puts her fox fur on while I wrap my Manchester United scarf over my tan Uniqlo trench. We both take shots of overpriced Jameson before we flask it while I load up my beat up Polaroid camera. Our exhausted Hostel Concierge points us in direction of our coveted old shark barf. It’s Friday in Iceland and tonight the bars are usually open until 5am with some of them serving till sunrise. PARTY. TIME. I finally get in contact with AJ, a childhood friend of my dude Paulie back in New York, and he agrees to meets us at the Icelandic bar also known as the Islenski Barrin. This is the place our concierge told us we would find our shark. Pooooiiifect. My stomach gurgles out a “fall back” which I ignore and we head out into the winter, Jameson and stomach in tow.

“So wait what’s all this?”

Our waiter is very patient with us. We are doing our best ugly American impressions while looking at the menu. Everything has an english translation next to it but we prefer the advice of this underwhelmed waiter as we are finicky in what to try first. Whale, reindeer, puffins, shark… SHARK.  Our waiter informs us that we can order a platter and try it all. We flex our tourist dollars and order it all. Our entre is presented to us in a manner expected from a classy pub. All the wood moldings and old world feel looks like I’m springing for a fancy Wall Street steak dinner, but no dinner, we are eating a children’s book. 250 dollars and a dozen funny faces later we are left with a half eaten buffet and a culinary experience we cannot describe in words. Rotten shark meat, the reason for our entire trip, is now off our bucket list, and I’m trying to keep it out of the toilet.

THE ONLY GIRL IN THE WORLD

Upon my return from the bathroom (I didn’t throw up) I peep AJ already at our partially devoured table. He’s nothing like we expected, in part because Paulie is more of an abrasive personality in contrast to AJ’s business like refinement. After our formal introductions we follow him into the night with the fresh sigh of relief a blind-daters would have after a family hook-up. I pull out our bottle of Jameson for a shot before we head out, he pulls out a tiny bottle of Brennivin, we are both wearing v-neck sweaters. This is going to be a great night.

I wish I could describe the night in all it’s vibrant and rich color. By the second bar I was as drunker than a goldfish swimming in vodka. We had started at the top of the main road, Laugavegur, and worked our way down from bar to nightclub to lounge. The coffee shops we had seen earlier during the day where now bustling with vibrant drunks in their Sundays best. The people reminded me of Wednesday nights at Marquee back in 2007 when the hipsters would party on the top floor while the sequined and button-down set brought bottles on the main floor below. Nordic sweaters and demin shirts mixed with European couture with fun overcoats and tights made to reveal as well as keep warm. Everyone was as nice as they were sexy and as brash as they were cocky. Icelandic blondes flirting with the blue-eyed German weekenders who would  fly there to party in excess while the fanny pack and ski jacket set talked it up with whatever old-timer willing to share the cities rich history. If you didn’t finish your drink the bouncers gave you a to-go cup so you could take your drink to the next venue. And everyone was dancing. Dancing on the line outside, dancing in the streets, in the bathrooms, behind the bars, and all I kept thinking was this is what the Smurf village would look like at new years if they were european and not blue. And the beat…

This.

Was.

The.

Coolest.

Shit.

Ever.

“I want you to love me, like I’m a hot ride…”

I had heard this song once. I must have been leaving a bar in New York at like 3am when I heard it. The way the bass played and danced around that familiar house music thump. When I first heard the song I thought it was the perfect big room banger that could be played at Pacha or Cielo. My head starts to nod to the rhythm with no control of my own. The liquor in my system is not allowing me to stand still. Soon me and my girlfriend are doing whirlwind spins on the dance floor. The only thing missing is the light up dance floor from Saturday Night Fever. We finish our round of drinks between giggles and stumbling dance steps before leaving for the next bar. The minute we step inside the new venue we hear it again:

Be thinkin’ of me, doin’ what you like”

OK, this isn’t weird at all. The same song is playing the minute we walk into the next bar? Whatever, by this time I’m offensively taking photos of the other interesting patrons. The marker I purchased earlier comes out and soon every available surface becomes our canvas. One of the bartenders tells me I’m not allowed to take photos. I respond by removing the flash and taking a picture of him. Everyone is fawning over Kara’s fur coat in an excuse to get to talk to her.  I stare in fascination at all of the model type locals casually hanging out like this was the back room at Avenue. My flash goes off by accident and I decide to leave before the bartender orders me to.

“So boy forget about the world cuz it’s gon’ be me and you tonight /
I wanna make your beg for it, then imma make you swallow your pride…”

I have now heard the same song three times in a row within the first three minutes of entering the last three bars. AJ and I forget whose turn is it to buy the next round so we have what is the equivalent of a water balloon fight but with shots of Jack Daniels. In the middle of the festivities I noticed he is paying a bit more attention to his phone, something to do with the wedding he was supposed to be involved with earlier that day. I’m totally distracted by the beautiful women around me, every single one taking a quick peek or sending me a quick flirt with their eyes. I start humming the words to International Playboy by The Smiths while holding Kara’s hand as if it was connected to an ego life raft. AJ stops my love fest to tell me he has to leave, being that he lives with his fiancé I respect that, and we bid him a hearty farewell. Soon everything around us turns into a blur of lights and sound. This is what it feels like to be wasted without the assistance of other stuff. We totally forgot that we were even looking. Kara is now the only girl I see in front of me and by the way we are dancing she is the only person in the entire world. Soon we leave for some fresh air and head to another bar down the road. By then it is 3am and the European soccer fans have taken it to signing drunken team anthems in the street. A few of them fuck with me because of my Manchester scarf. I politely explain it matches my Mishka hat and shrug my shoulders like Kanye West when he interrupted that country singer. I plant a sloppy but passionate kiss on Kara in the middle of the cold brisk nordic air. That’s when I remember the name of the song:

“Want you to make me feel like I’m the only girl in the world
Like I’m the only one that you’ll ever love …”

And here I am In my fourth bar of the night listening to Rihanna’s Swedish House remix of “Only Girl in the World”, with the only girl in my world, within the first three minutes of entering. Again.

If the universe was trying to tell me something, too late, I knew this seven years ago. Three times four is seven. OK I just weirded myself out.