I just realized I never put a link up to this article, written about me and my good man and fellow cartoonist Michael Crawford. I guess I just figured the New York Times was coverage enough! Anyway, here it is: Where Punchlines Pay The Rent. And no, there’s no audio of me playing the banjo badly! Phew!
Archive for the 'NYC' Category
Who? Me? Gloat?
(I’ve argued at length about this with those folks! TimesSelect, I hate you!)
Astroland. (Polaroid by carolita johnson)
Take a book, bring a sweater, and get on the subway (D, F, N, Q) to the newly renovated Stillwell Avenue. Options for the long ride include getting on your knees on the seats and looking out the window while singing “chim-chimeree” and looking for Smoky the Bear on the rooftops (my mother’s ploy for keeping us busy when we were kids—“Ooh, look, it’s Smokey the Bear!” “Where? Where?”), or sleeping upright in your seat once you’ve finished the paper or tired of your book. When you wake up (but do try not to fall asleep before you get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty in the distance), get off the train and go straight to Nathan’s where, whether you’re on a diet or not, you must have a hearty meal of a hot dog and those nice thick fries complete with little red plastic pitchfork.
Make sure to finish the fries, each fry is like a little radiator that will keep you warmer that much longer. Get back outside while you’re still hot. It may be spring, but it’s the seaside, and it’s colder there.
It hasn’t been the same for me since the carousel closed (hopefully it will be back, since Bloomberg bought it at auction last year), and it will never be the same after this year: Astroland has been sold and is opening for its last season this Sunday, April 1st.
If you’re feeling extra-hardy, take a walk along the boardwalk to Brighton Beach and have some vodka or a hot meal at my favorite varyniki place: Varenichnaya (or â€œBapehuku,” as I used to think it was calledl!)
Gothamist: Astroland gets ready for last opening.
I’m going Saturday morning with my little tree! Click on the image for the Parks Department info by borough.
The view from my kitchen window, when I lived in Washington Heights, last year.
If you’re looking for a Halloween party, see the post from yesterday!
Have fun, kiddies!
But it’s emdashes’ day! Check out the launch of the fresh new emdashes.com!
My life is still a bit like the above raw scan of random drawings I found on my hard drive. Except my life is a lot messier, as I’m up to my ears in boxes, and am slowly chipping away at the whole unpacking process. Which would be easier if the previous tenant had vacated the last third of his belongings, ahem. I have only just been able to find my modem and set it up with DSL (no thanks to JosÃ© of Verizon DSL’s technical support, who was completely useless to me), and I’ve just been greeted by The Cockroach (there’s always one of particularly generous dimensions to great one upon moving in), who is testing my territorial limits.
(I haven’t unpacked my bug spray and industrial strength roach killer that the exterminator gave me as a going away present yet (oh, yes, my exterminators always bask in the appreciation I shower them with, and they take good care of me), but wait till I do. It’ll be a fine how-do-you-do for mister yucky under my chair here. Apparently it will kill him and put a curse on all his sons and daughters, biblical style. He knows who I’m talking about.)
This image is from a movie I first saw in Paris. See below for a clue.
I wasn’t here on the original September 11th. I was in Paris, teaching a coked-up French booker how to use her database software when a friend in Germany called to tell me to get to a TV. “Why? Are you on TV?” I asked. I spent the afternoon trying to reach my New York colleagues. Our developper, holed up in the office, wrote me an email to say he’d seen the first plane’s impact from inside the subway as it crossed Manhattan bridge and entered the tunnel, on his way to work. Mentioned he’d likely be taking the rest of the day off.
I went to the WTC about ten years ago on a visit home from Paris, determined to go to the top and have a look around the city. But when I got there, I looked up and shuddered at what I took to be two freakishly tall, thin black buildings. It was windy and cold on the plaza and I could swear I saw them swaying. Maybe it was me. Childhood memories of what happened when I got too ambitious with my Lego sets flashed to mind. I just said to myself, hell, no. Those buildings had gone up way too quickly for my liking, and my impression was that surely someone had forgotten to think of something important, and that they were likely to fall one day, maybe that very day, with me in one of them. I got right back into the subway and visited the Empire State Building, instead.
Little did I know.
This is the only image of the Twin Towers (which I never got to know and love as well as the Empire State Building) that I have a personal relationship with, and that’s because it’s from the beginning of my favorite movie. I shot it with my Spectra Polaroid while watching it on TV in my tiny “studette” in Paris. I painted the scene, and ironically enough, someone stole the painting while I was packing to move back to New York. Anyone welcoming a distraction from today’s unabashed media exploitation of the honest grievers can tell me if they recognize which movie it’s from.
Fashion clue: the main character’s wardrobe is provided by Emanuel Ungaro.
For a special treat, see John Mavroudis’ website, where he describes the process leading up to the 9/11 cover of The New Yorker, via Drawn.
Subject: times select needs reform
Dear Mr. Calame,
I’m a reader of the NYTimes, who has refused to sign up for Times
Select for the good reason that I buy the paper version of the
newspaper quite often already, and do not wish to double-pay for
articles I already have access to. Further, the online version often
doesn’t satisfy me in terms of graphics and photos the way the paper
version does. Lastly, I cannot sit on my computer in Central Park,
whereas I can sit on my paper on the Great Lawn.
I’ve been patiently hoping that the NYT would finally become
reasonable and offer single articles the way iTunes offers single
songs. If you use iTunes, you’ll have noticed that a single song
costs 99 cents. For 99 cents I can listen to a song as much as I
want, save it onto my computer, and transfer it to my new computer
when the time comes.
But Times Select seems to think that $4.95 is a reasonable price to
pay for the reading of a single article! What level of presumption
makes the NYT think that one article is worth nearly five times a
song, which is actually the result of talented writing, plus all the
production costs, and the work of more than one person?
When is Times Select going to become more reasonable? $4.95?????
That is simply obscene. The more I learn about TS, the more I refuse
to join in.
I’m an artist, a writer, a blogger, and I’m waiting for the NYTimes to
stop being an elitist newspaper. The introduction—and evolution—- of TS seems to indicate a setback in that dream. What you have is
online readers of first class and online readers of second class, not
a very gracious situation.
——————————————————————————————————— “NYTimes.com Billing Help”
Dear Ms. Johnson:
Thank you contacting The New York Times on the Web.
At this time, our readers who purchase The New York Times at newsstands are not eligible for the free subscription to
TimesSelect. However, we are looking into ways for these readers to have access to TimesSelect in the future.
Currently, we are offering a 14 Day Free Trial of TimesSelect. We hope you will decide to take advantage of this offer
to try the service. For more information, or to subscribe, please visit:
In regard to your comments concerning single article purchase, we would recommend a monthly subscription of TimesSelect. At the monthly rate of $7.95, you would be granted access to up to 100 articles free for the month. With that subscription, the single article value would be closer to .8 cents at the monthly rate or .3 cents at the annual rate of $49.95.
This is inarguably a better rate than Itunes.
With this concept, TimesSelect subscribers wouldn’t pay $4.95 for an article, only non subscribed customers who wish to purchase a single article. We believe TimesSelect offers a great value to customers interested in our Archives as well as our expanding unique content. Also, we have recently extended TimesSelect access to include articles dating back to 1851. Previously TimesSelect content only included content between 1981 to Present.
We deeply appreciate your readership, both online and off, and we hope you will continue to be a frequent user of our Web site.
Actually, Mr. Salinger, the monthly rate is great for anyone who
EXCLUSIVELY uses the online version of the NYTimes, and NEEDS to look
at a hundred articles a month.
That is simply not the case for someone like me, who uses both online
and the paper version of the newspaper. So the 99 cents option is
still more attractive to me, the punctual user of the online version.
If I ever needed to look at more than a hundred articles a month, I
might think of upgrading from a cheap 99 cent a cart rate. But 4.95
is ridiculous. You have to admit an article by Maureen Dowd isn’t
equivalent to a song by David Bowie, even if you don’t like David
Bowie. A lot more work went into that song. (And talent, but that’s
only my opinion!)
Think about it.
You should offer both options.
Carolita johnson———————————————————————————————————Reply“NYTimes.com Billing Help”
to carolita More options 9/7/06
Dear Ms. Johnson:
Thanks again for writing.
Both an article and a song/composition are considered intellectual property. Our intention is not to purport that our archive pricing reflects a greater artistic or financial value. However, the business model of a print organization cannot be examined in the same way.
You may also note that other online news organizations charge within the same range for archival purchases.
We do however appreciate your feedback and will share it with our colleagues.
We hope this helps.
to NYTimes.com More options 9/8/06
Dear Mr. Salinger,
Just for the record, I did take up the free trial offer of TS, and
found it was not worth the subscription price. I found that the
character of TS pieces was not very edifying. In particular, I was
rather offended by Joyce Purnick’s appeal to the public (through
TimesSelect, which isn’t available to the entire public!) on behalf of
two murdered Chinese women who she felt had not received enough
attention from the press, in comparison to murdered white women.
Why would she go TS in a bid to reach more people, when less people
can read it? Being in TS is like being in someone’s cozy living room,
safe from everything real, listening to some insulated journalist feel
free to blather on how he or she pleases, confident that someone has
paid to listen.
Yes, I have noticed a few other online news organizations charge
within the same range, but I don’t think they’re right either. I
think that online news organizations are not doing as well as they
could, and the reason is because someone thinks that charging a lot
for access (or making double-payers bear the burden of paying your
bills) is going to somehow make up for the drop in readership that
most newspapers are experiencing in modern times.
I do not think becoming greedy is going to help the situation. Maybe
I’d pay 4.95 for ah archival piece, but not for a piece that is out on
the newstands right now, today. That is TS. That’s just greedy.
I think that the new business could learn a lesson from the music
business, which finally sought a broader market by lowering its
But I appreciate you allowing me to engage you in this argument, since
there is no “fat chance” button on the Times Select page that offers
me a chance to pay or subscribe.
I bet this model was really happy to get this career-starting gig.
Wear these “underarm perspiration shields,” and no one will suspect you’re actually a living, breathing human being! (Found this, and the “Time-saving coin sorter wallet,” in a catalogue I got in the mail.)
Alternatively, for the more proudly human, I’d like to suggest wearing sleeveless tops and using a Sharpie to draw smiley faces in your armpits that will show when you reach for the handrail in the subway! Maybe a smiley face in one armpit, and a “hello, there!” or “hot enough for ya?” in the other. Like this:
(This is a quick sketch based on me and someone much more goodlooking! Asleep standing: that’s the part that’s based on me.)
To fry an egg on the pavement, that is? I decided to give it a try. Brought a couple of expired eggs I found in the fridge this morning with me on the way to The New Yorker to drop off my batch, and in the company of Sam Gross and Marisa Acocella Marchetto (who also had nothing better to do, you may be thinking—but we’re a curious lot, we cartoonists, and indulging our curiosity is part of our job) and an intrigued onlooker, cracked an egg in front of O’Lunney’s Pub on West 45th street.
Well, it didn’t fry! In fact, the sun above it seems to have caused a slight congealing on top, but nothing from the pavement. I guess it’s just an expression.
Anyone else try it with any success?
Lying here aching and sweating, unable to breathe through my “dose” (that’s rhinovirus for “nose”), I have come up with a solution so that others may avoid similar, needless suffering. With a little genetic engineering, we can arrange things such that whenever someone catches a cold they develop a colorful, striking pattern across their face. Like plaid, or gingham, paisley, or florals, what have you. The more severe the cold, the tackier and more tasteless the pattern. Read the rest of this entry »
Well, don’t! Look at this picture. You’re looking at thousands of galaxies. Can you imagine the possibilities? Gazillions of life forms on zillions of planets, zillions amongst them no doubt broke and forlorn, and not on vacation, working all summer, thinking their bosses are dumbasses, wondering what the meaning of life is, asking themselves if there’s anybody out there… Kind of makes you feel silly, doesn’t it? If only we could have a party and invite them!
This site, “Discover the cosmos,” posts photos of our universe (and others’) every day. Some are as objective as the above photo, and others, like the one below, are more personal. Yes, today, if the clouds clear, this is what we’ll be able to see in New York City at sunset tonight! (That is, at 8:27pm). We’ll be our own Stonehenge. Click on the photo for more information about this wondrous phenomenon.
The Alaskan Volcano Eruption (taken from outer space)
The thrilling and terrifying image of Bruce McCandless floating in space 100 meters away from the cargo bay of his space shuttle. (Click on the image when you get there, for the full, panoramic effect.)
Update: looks like Gothamist found this website today, too! Here’s their lowdown on Manhattanhenge, with more photos.
I normally don’t find anything worth repeating in the New York Post, so when I stumbled onto this photo of one of my favorite Coney Island personalities, I had to point it out. It was a rare moment of beauty in the rag: Coney Star Shines
Also, I love Coney Island—the old Coney Island, the less lonely than aloof, desolate, mysterious Coney Island—and am pleased that at least a few of its original monuments is being preserved as it proceeds to become (most likely) Disneyfied.
I was getting wet, with several rainshowers punctuating the game (Serge, of La Esquina, kindly handed out several umbrellas and a tarp to the unequipped cupsters—the hipsters had umbrellas, or stood under the awning). And I was getting bored, all those sort-of-near-goals, nothing ever really getting too close or unblockable, the crowd seeming desperate to get excited over something, even the not so close shaves—Germany and Italy were that well matched.And then came that first goal in the last ninety seconds! I slowly walked around the cheering crowd to the other side for a better view. By the time I arrived at the east corner, the second goal had just penetrated the now loosely knit, still stupefied Germans and basta!
I managed to get a shot of the crowd’s pleasure (even the German I was standing next to was happy for some reason). See it above. The hipsters do like sitting and cheering with the cupsters, I think it makes them feel authentic. (Nothing more important to a hipster.)
There was a guy there who I thought, “Hey, he looks like Moby,” and who I didn’t think was actually Moby till he acted skittish when I got my camera out to capture the crowd. Was it Moby? Who knows? Who cares? If it wasn’t, that guy should rethink his look.
I had two 4th of July BBQ’s to attend, so I walked around the corner and bought some wine at Wine Therapy (Elizabeth Street), where I found two excellent and not so common Italian wines to celebrate.
Tomorrow: Allez les bleus!
Related: newyorkette’s previous coverage of Cupsters at La Esquina.
World Cup Hipsters at La Esquina
I was on Prince Street Friday, with an hour to spare between my fitting and meeting a girlfriend to go to the beach, when I started hankering for some rice n’ beans. So I walked down to my favorite taqueria, La Esquina. As I approached the corner (la esquina), I observed a huge crowd gathered in front. No, I thought, they can’t all be lining up for tacos, my taste buds already bereft at the idea of not getting what they were expecting (the “Plato Julia,” with cochinita). But upon arrival, I was intrigued to see that the crowd was actually composed of a comely mix of hipsters and sports geeks gathered around a flat screen TV attached to the side wall, watching the last moments and penalties of the Argentina-Germany World Cup game.
I snapped a few pics, as you see above and below. Aren’t they cute, little hipsters, when they’re all full of suspense and praying? I didn’t think they had an earnest bone in their bodies till now.
Below is the moment just before Allemania scored their winning goal. Allemaaaaania! Allemaaania! Thank goodness, because the last game I saw Germany lose in the World cup (2002, I believe, I was in Paris watching Germany-Brazil), left the Germans so abject as to make me wonder if they warranted medical attention. One simply refused to come back out of the basement, and we left him there while we drank sangria. I don’t know if he ever came upstairs before I moved back to New York.
The view on the other side of my Mango juice:
I went back again today, but had just missed the French victory over Brazil (I was dawdling at home, gloating over the Mets vs. the Yankees in the 7th inning). “The French were beautiful!” said Serge, from La Esquina. “They played just like Brazilians!” said Michael, the photographer friend.
To watch the semi-finals (France-Portugal) (Germany-Italy) with the cupsters go to:
106 Kenmare St
New York, NY 10012
Cross Street: Lafayette Street and Cleveland Place
Directions: 6 at Spring St
Also, check out Austin Kelly’s World Cup Newsletter, complete with illustrations by the inimitable New Yorker cartoonist, Marshall Hopkins, here.
Spotted on the downtown A train this morning, a mermaid (on her way to Coney Island to march in the parade? or just on her way to work?), reading The New Yorker.
Or is that a broad generalization about mermaids? Okay, let’s justs say that at least one mermaid reads The New Yorker!
(Snapped in Corona, somewhere on Northern Blvd. perhaps near 103rd Avenue? Will update when I’m in the area this spring doing my Parks Department “Trees Count” volunteer work, which I never finished last summer (shame on me!), and have volunteered to finish up this spring and summer.)
My kind of sermon!
Shut yer pie-hole a’ready! (image: carolita johnson)
There’s a mockingbird singing it’s ass off in a tree near my window tonight. People think mockingbirds are romantic. They imagine that they sing at reasonable times of the day or night. But they’re not romantic. And they tend to start singing at 1am in the morning and not stop until I become unconscious from lack of sleep. And this is what they sound like:
Tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet.... pyu-pyu-pyu!.... tree-tree-tree
kiyupkiyup-kiyup! .... doowee-doowee-doowee?....
It’s like hearing a bird on speed in the tailspin stages of his nervous breakdown.
To kill a mockingbird… what does it take? Surely it’s been done before, otherwise whence came the title of Harper Lee’s book?
Here are a few fantasies about how I’d kill this mockingbird.
1. I get Maximilan Schell to yell at it like he yelled at Judy Garland in Judgement at Nuremberg. He’d simply scream: DIE! And it would. Die, I mean.
(I’d also pay good money to see him make oysters open themselves that way: OPEN)
2. I persuade Jack Bauer that it is about to detonate the remaining scintox nerve-gas cannisters from atop that ailanthus tree. Bam! Off come it’s kneecaps!
3. My pent-up rage from all those years being called Ape-Face Johnson finally explodes through my eyes as twin laser beams and blows the unsuspecting, happily chattering mockingbird into the sky in a mini, bird-sized mushroom cloud, leaving the tree on fire, with embers like black snowflakes drifting down to the alley below.
4. You kill it for me. (I’ll need it to look like an accident.)
They did it their way. (Like the rest of us!)
Some inconsequential uproar and controversy has been brewing about the new spanish-language version of the United States’ national anthem. See Michelle Malkin’s lowdown on “Nuestro Himno”. Or WaPo’s: here.
I don’t know what the fuss is about. Everybody knows that the real national anthem is “My Way!” (Is there anything more american than appropriating and translating everything into one’s own idiom? Not to mention the complete assimilation of the capitalist ideal: 9 of the ten dollars they sell the CD for go into their own pockets, with the remaining measly one going to the effort they’re supposedly supporting.)