A Walk in the Storm

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Manhattan Revisited — An Awesome Morning at Bryant Park 

I had it in my itinerary to visit the area where Nikola Tesla and his justified paranoia called home. Or at least somewhere around there. I was looking forward to visiting Manhattan’s biggest library and updating my journal. Bryant Park is a nice looking place with a myriad of activities all year round. I took a picture of Nikola Tesla corner and went to make my way into the park by what seemed to be a side entrance. 

A middle -aged African American and his friend were chatting drinking what seemed to be a smoothie,  something that really didn’t suit people of their generation. Luther started chatting me up and asked me to play chess with him for 5 bucks a game. He said he usually played for 20,  but he’d give me the tourist-on -a-Tuesday -morning discount. I felt bad not accepting, so I did. Luther was from the Bronx and said he made it down to Manhattan every day to spend the morning and play some chess. He eventually beat me but took back many moves and pointed out mistakes along the way.  I balked at another game and his friend told me to give another 5 for the lesson. “Don’tlisten to Ross, ” Luther said,  “he’s a hustler. Keep your money and go spend it on a sandwich for a sexy Latina. You’re Latino, right?”

“No, and I prefer black, ”

“No, you don’t. Why do you think I’m down here every morning? ”

They laughed. They joked about the endless chores their black women gave them. “Take care, my boy, ” Luther said. He waved and I was on my way. 

I went to Le Pain Quotidien and had a nice cucumber soup with a sandwich and ginger ale. 

People were reading almost nude while others were taking a walk with colleagues eating an organic hot dog. They seemed to feel they were doing something smart. I was thinking that a hot dog is still crap, organic or not.  It was almost noon and the crowd was getting bigger. I started logging a journal entry when a university girl asked if she can sit with me. There were plenty of empty seats still, but I said it was OK. She said her sorority friends had dared her to find someone older to kiss on the lips and she figured I wasn’t that old and looked clean. I refused to participate. I felt used. 

“I’m gonna kiss someone. Why not you?”

“It’s not embarrassing enough. They want you to be embarrassed. Are you? ”

“No. I don’t wanna be embarrassed. ” She was very good looking. She said she was from Nebraska. 

“Ok then, ” I said, “but there needs to be serious tongue action for 5 seconds. ”

She agreed. There was serious action for a few minutes. I went for the grab and she let it be up to a certain point. She stopped and touched my bulge for a brief second. The dare was to get me excited. People watched and slowly turned away. 

Believe it or not, no pictures in the library. 

Orellia came over,  said she hopes that I wasn’t offended. She invited me to a comedy club just the 2 of us somewhere in Greenwich Village that night. 

It was shaping up to be a nice full day in Manhattan. 

Silence at High Dawn

 It’s just so quiet in the early morning before the sun goes up. There is the moon battling to leave at the same time as the street lamps just about see the end of their work shift.

It’s frigid yet off to work I go. The beginning of another week of office cubicles and chairs unhealthy for the back, neck, and digestive tract. 

A parking spot. Beat the traffic.

Slow Whole Locavores —For Body and Mind 

#locavore #slowfood #wholefood 

As many people know, stress and diet are directly related to digestive health. The better the food, the better chance of stress triggers for indigestion going down. The more managed the stress,  the better chance of the food being digested properly. There are further factors,  namely environment and exercise, that further affect our overall health and adaptive defense mechanisms in our immune systems in combating disease and infection.  For now,  let’s focus on the calming effect of good food choices. 

LOCAL FOOD 

Canada has harsh winters which make it difficult to eat local during the winter months. Those intent on it have to live on a repetitive diet that local growers offer of cabbage,  beets,  potatoes  turnips, etc. Others incorporate pickled or smoked or fermented goods. But we can cheat and it won’t hurt. 

We need a balanced diet made up of local foods in order to avoid packaging and the preservatives and chemicals that come with it. 

WHOLE AND SANE 

Another advantage to eating local is that it’s good for the environment. There’s much less pollution caused by transportation. There’s a faster path from grower to consumer. We get the immediate nutrition in its basic  (read : unadulterated ) form.  The nutritional value is increased. There is the good argument that food frozen at the source is just as good,  and I would agree. But that food is not plentiful. If you want the equivalent of local,  frozen is the best way to go. 

Whole foods then are obviously the way to go. Again,  they are unadulterated. The above food pyramid shows which foods are musts and which ones we need to be careful about.  The pyramid can be modified to correspond to your needs, but the fruits and vegetables are unquestionably the most important. I believe that the middle of the pyramid contains foods that are good snacks and great alternatives to what we usually eat at work or on the go.  

These foods being raw sounds dangerous to some. But upon closer examination,  there are few of these you’ve ever cooked anyway. We don’t realize how much we eat raw. And for the most part,  anything outside of main courses should be raw. 

SLOW

There is no easy way to define slow food but to say it’s a combination of wholesome and local foods. It is a sustainable way to exist within your community’s food output distributed among its citizens. Think of a communal farm with all the inhabitants being fed. It’s the emblem of sustainable development at the grass roots level and needs to exist for a community to advance. It is the foundation of sustainability in a more global sense. Here’s an example from Italy.

Local is said to be the new organic. While I believe local is great, organic is just as needful for good nutritional value. Organic should be synonymous to local, but it often isn’t. And we need to eat organic as much as possible. Especially with meat and fish. The health of the animal becomes part of our health, mental and physical. 

So go to your farmer’s market and your organic marker and empower yourself by empowering your body with the best quality food. 

Stand Up Comics as Tragedians — The Fine Line That Never Was 

The CNN series got me thinking. Highly recommend it. 
Since my beginning of my literature studies,  there was always a link between comedy and tragedy. The comedy was veiled,  feigned even.  It was often one and the same.  The mask served as a way of reminding us what we were actually watching.  

Then I moved to studying the exemplary James Joyce and came across Dubliners and noticed that farce, comedy, tragedy, and sarcasm were intertwined. It is shown mostly in The Dead where the situation, like the snow, was general all over the world, not just Ireland. 

Then there was Six Feet Under, the amazing HBO series that shot a dose of reality on TV as banal as reality at home. The point is that there exist comedy and tragedy simultaneously all the time in some perspective. 

ONE IN A LIFETIME 

It was an afternoon of lounging around that introduced me to George Carlin. I remember him answering the Proust questionnaire on the last page of Vanity Fair. I remember him being asked who his hero in real life was. He answered something like “nobody should have heroes. That’s a terrible thing “. Carlin was a realist at a post -Lenny Bruce era that was adorning all the fluff. Carlin was a unique sort of comic. He did the usual shtick but also put enough social satire to make him a legend. He incorporated fears and yearnings into a comical package that made you laugh hysterically but made you think long and hard afterwards. But the reason he was the most unique was his longevity. He was not the usual tragic comic that died young. He lasted and played till his dying days.  Longevity, timeliness,  and stability are a triumvirate hardly ever achieved. This is why he is the greatest. The God of comedy. But don’t ever let him know I said that. Perhaps he was stronger than most. Perhaps he had better coping mechanisms. No matter, he outlasted all his counterparts. 

THE HIDDEN ANGST 

The Guardian explain that comics die young. Lenny Bruce and Robin Williams are attestations to this. Thereis often addiction involved. In Bruce’s case, there was the alcoholism, the alleged drugs, and his unending trouble with the law that got him into taking the tragic route out. Robin Williams was depressed,  as I’ve found out many are. 

I love the above quote. Very true and globally so.  This was once the funniest man in the world. Depressed. Took his life. Unlike Carlin, Williams,  unfortunately,  is more of a typical version of a successful comic.  Even of a successful artist. They want to make you laugh because they usually can’t laugh themselves. Not internally anyway. Not where it counts behind the adoration of the crowd.  

A DOSE OF REALITY 

And then there’s the enigmatic Marc Maron,  who reminds me of myself. I got to see him through his IFC series and then listened to his entertaining podcast. In real life, Maron has been an addict. Though I have never been addicted to drugs or alcohol,  I have vices difficult to take care of.  It is a win at a time with a few losses in between. But Marc hangs in there. And through difficult moments, it is someone at your wave length that you have laughed with that’s the saving grace that keeps you chugging along. 

For the, George and Marc are people I always fall back on because I need a dose of reality. 

Die Till You Bleed 

#parkextension #winter #epiphany 

ALMOST AS GOOD AS PROZAC 

When I was in high school, we often went to Jarry Park when juking class or just during lunchtime.  There was a pedestrian overpass that took way too long to walk to and over the tracks to the other side. We settled for just ripping an opening through the fence, as pictured above. The time saved was considerable and it made you cool instead of a nerd if you used the shortcut. 

Today I found out that there are so many of these passageways. Illegal at that. They take you to your destination so much more quickly and give you a great scenic experience. It was quiet. There was only the background noise of faraway traffic.  Being seen driving through alleyways leading to the tracks felt as if you were part of some kind of deal. Or some kind of intelligence sharing. Suffice it to say I just came across 2 other cars whose drivers seemed confused. Things had changed a lot since I was a teenager eagerly trying to find a private spot to make out. It was my first time here with snow on the ground. The whistling of the wind made it a film noire waiting for a bittersweet epiphany to happen. It was a wilderness of placated fear that had now become commonplace frustration. A frustration that takes place when there seems to be nowhere to go beyond the borders of your immediate existence.  Trapped? Perhaps. Cheated? More so. But you tend to repeat to yourself  “every day above ground is still a day of hope “.  Yet there’s this filial disharmony that keeps things together. And since it’s Sunday,  you figure it’s better to wait till the next day before thinking of things like life passing you by. You take small comfort in this and trudge through the tracks until there’s a sweat inside your 4th layer of clothing that emancipates all this. Better than the gym. Almost as good as Prozac. 

BRIGHT COLOURS 

These were the first pictures I’d taken of anything in a long time. If memory serves me right,  thsee warehouse doors used to be a gloomy industrial grey-blue hue.  Nothing like a cheery orange to liven up the employees. This was my first entrance into railroad tracks outside the back of high school. And Cassidy was the one who had taken me there. It was the place to make out that wasn’t that popular yet. Cassie was a beautiful girl who had no father and a mother with stage 3 cancer. She had this unbelievable spirit that always made her bright smile radiate. And she knew that she was precious and people liked her because she was very giving. We were behind a couple of trees next to the tracks and she wanted to be pleasing. It’s hard to say no to such a girl. She worked had and made sure I had a smile on my face while she was pleasing. She wouldn’t stop till she thought I was satisfied. The relationship evaporated after her mother died and she took up with Chris,  a dealer she had always been pleasing. I remember her saying “you are really so nice. But I don’t feel pain with you. ” I remember her departing while I looked at the fascinating graffiti across the tracks. 

DIE TILL YOU BLEED 

I had a ski jacket and ski gloves on so I decided to lie on the tracks and close my eyes. I’d heard people felt alive doing this. There was a sort of interlude to accepted madness that apparently made the rut come out. John once told me he liked the danger of laying there and getting out of the way at the last possible second. “I figure I’m dead inside until the danger excites me. It’s as if I escaped from something inescapable. You’re dead till you bleed. Know what I mean?” I understand what he meant now.It touches me like a Bukowski poem on a sunny Sunday afternoon in August. It sort of hits you without warning. I lay on the tracks. I got cold, got up, and left. Am I not deep enough to understand this? Undeserving? Perhaps I was lucky enough to stop the bleeding. 

You tend to feel relief and shame at the same time. Like survivor’s guilt. My small tour of the borders of Park Extension was enlightening today. Although the demographics have changed so much, the same feeling is there. There is hope and there is comfort. There is no other urban area anywhere that is so underprivileged yet so unified. You’re never alone here. But somehow, due to human nature, you want and yearn to leave. But you visit often. You take pics, have a double medium Greek coffee, and write blog posts. 
Copyright Ted Kouretas,  2017 

From : Enlightenment and Glory 

Ich Will — New Karaoke Mission


The preliminary Rammstein song Du Hast was a bit embarrassing to actually choose to karaoke because of the simplicity of it. So I have chosen Ich Will. Lots of German lyrics and at a fast pace.  

My first successful karaoke experience that drew more than polite applause was Green Day’s Basket Case. It was only a bit melodic and with little difficulty you can talk or yell your way through it. Grunge was befitting of my voice. So when I branched out,  I decided to make it a language rather than a genre change. Okay, the genre may differ a bit,  but it was  all about Edith,  my Bavarian professor,  always praising my great pronunciation of the Bavarian tongue. She never said German.  Just Bavarian.  Seems like they see themselves as distinct in Bavaria. So Du Hast it was. 

Except for a few lines somewhere in the middle of the song,  it was pretty much 

Du 

Du hast 

Du hast mich 

Du hast mich 

And I was so good at pronouncing the -ch in “mich”. They must have thought I was German, or at least Bavarian. But other than that,  it was a lame choice.  So now we get into the nitty gritty of Ich Will. Good luck Ted. 

Ted Becomes a Politician 

Che was my reason for signing on as a Green Party candidate. It was quaint and left you with a lot of latitude. The party that is.  13 years ago, I was an ambitious idealist. I saw through the party facade and would just use it. No problem. But I liked the people there. Jim Harris was a nice and bright guy. Way too honest to be a politician. I remember the inaugural meeting and how he gave a great speech that ended in us having to wear oxygen masks to breathe.  Not far from the truth if you change “breathe ” to “stay healthy “. Then they took my pic and put this poor excuse for a bio that I wrote.  No money for editors. No speechwriting. Hell,  there was almost no media connections. Which brings us to the crux. Of this writing at least. 

That mug is my first political pic. 

I received a call from a Madame Laporte from a French -language paper. I needed all the media exposure I could get so I agreed to meet her on a Monday afternoon. 

We met at a local bookstore or library that was in the same building as the newspaper office. Yes,  they still existed back then,  not having been eaten up by the Web yet.  She suggested we go to the courtyard.  There were some nice trees and lots of dry grass to sit on. The weather was a perfect 20 degrees Celsius. She was a thin girl. Kinda tall. She said she had moved down from Quebec City.  The questions were run of the mill. My favourite one was “what will you do that’s different? ” to which I responded “try to bring democracy and awareness to the normal citizen. Empower them.” The last question had to do with what I personally bring to the campaign. I responded  “a fresh face ” and she stopped the questioning. She noticed me looking just above her chest and she said that the best places to go for a drink were more north. She’d be at one of those bars tonight. 

I continued west and took out my signature form. I needed 100 signatures to officially become a candidate. No help. Not one registered Green in the district.  One lady thought we were a new beer,  an extension of Labatt Blue. “Don’t try and fool me, ” she said. In the rich section beyond the bushes,  a woman told me to wait so her son can see me. “You see,” she told him, “stop being an unemployed loser and do something worthwhile, ” she said. He was 18 and I got a signature,  even if it didn’t count later because he wasn’t a registered voter. Then I met Mr Lord, who was about 70 and started telling me how great the History Channel was  (it was pretty good back then). He spoke of war and the lack of fair reporting by the media. We sat on his stoop and I felt too sad to tell him I had to get more signatures. So I listened. It must have been a long time since someone listened to him with apparent interest who didn’t have anything to gain.  Like an inheritance. I only wanted a signature and he finally signed. Ironically,  Mr Lord had to go watch a Hawaii 5-0 rerun. That was the funniest part of my day. 

I had amassed 43 signatures in 2 hours and my feet hurt. I walked back to my car and called it a day. Madame Laporte,  or Julie,  called me the next day to tell me she was publishing our interview. It felt good. She invited me to play pool. It also felt good. 

I then got a call from the Greek weekly radio show. Another non -English interview. I learned that Saturday that I had brain freeze when realizing I was being listened to by a large audience.  Madame Laporte was moving back to Quebec City on the weekend. My interview was her last Montreal assignment. I never met anyone quite as entertaining as Mr Lord during that campaign. But I did get to travel to Winnipeg with a bunch of other candidates to speak to the students at UofM. 

Che who? Politics isn’t what we think. It’s a racket. But a racket that brings out the worst in most. My worst wasn’t that bad. No corruption. I was just becoming holier than thou.  I even had 3 groupies. Imagine if I were running for the Liberals?