“A Bronx man was arrested Thursday in connection with a portable power saw attack on another man in an Upper West Side subway station early this morning.
Investigators say 33-year-old Tareyton Williams has been taken into custody in connection with the attack on a man at the Cathedral Parkway and 110th Street station around 3:30 a.m. Thursday.
According to police, 64-year-old Michael Steinberg was attacked by Williams, who was yelling and waving two power saws in the air. The attack was apparently unprovoked…”
Thanks to my friend Todd for sending me this story. 110th was my subway stop. This is what NYC does to you. You live like a rat in a dark, noisy place for long enough and you end up running around a subway station waving not one, but TWO power saws.
In other news, protein shakes are kind of gross.
But they are a crucial component to my new, superficial approach to life. I go to the gym a lot. I work on my tan. And I flirt with a lot of men. I also spend a lot of time on the back deck with my growing garden. I can stand there for hours just staring at my little plants. I put out a bowl of water and I’ve seen the same dove land there and drink every morning this week. This thrills me. Sometimes I think I’m an elderly retired lady trapped in a young, studly body.
But it gives me a sense of purpose, something I’ve been lacking now that my coursework is done. My book should be giving me that sense of purpose, but between you and me, it’s an awfully abstract concept. And lest you think that I’m engaged in entirely petty concerns, I managed to drag myself to a panel in the Marina put on by Media Bistro a couple of weeks ago.
The Marina is one of those neighborhoods I rarely visit, full of nice homes populated by a large chunk of the city’s young professionals. They come home from the law office, throw on fleece vests and t-shirts from old Bay to Breakers races, and speed-walk resolutely through the fog down to Crissy Field with smooth little Vizslas trotting at their sides. Last week I finally met a gay person who lives there, and this made me feel better. Still, the whole neighborhood is erected on land fill, and it’s not where I’d like to spend my final moments when the Big One hits.
But I had lived in San Francisco for seven years and never made it to Fort Mason, and this was my chance. The panel was held in a renovated firehouse down at the water’s edge, with a killer view of Alcatraz just outside the front door. The panel was for people interested in becoming freelance writers. They were giving out free copies of a new book, Getting a Freelance Life, a title which had associations I preferred not to dwell on. There were several professional writers on the panel, handing out the usual combination of inspiration and depression (i.e. don’t think you’ll get published in The New Yorker. Also, making a living is rilly hard).
One piece of advice we were given: make sure you have a nice, fully equipped home office. Now that is an idea I can totally get behind. You get to buy things and, like going to a panel or reading a book, it gives you the feeling that you’re working when you’re really not being at all productive.
More advice along the same lines; familiarize yourself with the magazines where you plan on pitching stories. More shopping in the guise of work! Awesome. So I took myself to Tower Video, which has an entire wall of magazines. So many magazines, in fact, that my hopeful little brain couldn’t focus on any particular title, and I fell into a catatonic state. Several minutes later I snapped awake and took myself across the street to Books, Inc, which has a much smaller selection. They have a nice window seat where I perused a number of titles. And slowly I realized something that I once knew and kinda forgot: I hate magazine writing.
All of those lists! Five ways to flatten your belly for summer. Seven absolutely essential items you must buy for your dog. Ten people who we promise will be so big next year that every time you hear their name you sort of die inside.
And all of those breezy articles written in the same smarmy, pseudo-savvy voice. Like you’re all in on the joke together. The men’s magazines are the worst. Here’s an example from Men’s Health:
“Road Biking Cultivates Cooperation:
Bikers call it ‘drafting.’ We call it a spectacular excuse to appreciate your lady’s spandex-wrapped caboose.”
Literally everything in the magazine lends itself to bad sex jokes. Always straight sex jokes, like the entire men’s magazine industry has a horrible case of gay panic and wants to prove how hetero they are on every. single. page.
Of course the gay magazines do the same thing; they just change a pronoun or two. Then they gush every time an attractive, straight celebrity says something remotely open-minded. OMG, David Beckham likes his gay fans! Isn’t that cool?!? And here’s some hot, HOT photos of him!!!
So I’m a little cranky. And unfair, singling out a few egregious examples and overlooking fine writing and insight available in tons of magazines. To be honest, my research day was short-lived. I was easily discouraged. Where was my niche? Those damn freelance people kept telling us to Find Our Niche! Write For That Niche!
I didn’t know what my fucking Niche was. “Write about your passions,” they kept saying, and I sat there, blinking and confused. My passions? My whole life had been about one thing for two years, one thing that knocked everything else off my list of passions. I couldn’t remember what they were.
After a couple of hours I ended up with only one magazine; BUTT. Is BUTT my Niche? What does that say about me? And could BUTT possibly pay a dollar a word? I mean, BUTT now features full-color ads from Marc Jacobs. And BUTT advertises on Manhunt. Not that I was looking. In the end I bought BUTT (one of the great things about a bookstore in the Castro is that they put a display of BUTT at the cash register. You will not find this in the Marina, trust me.) and walked home in a kind of daze.
My magazine research day reminded me of one of my more immature qualities. I have a few of them. Like with my mother; it’s been four years since she died, and apparently one is supposed to move through those stages of grief, you know, denial, bargaining, anger, acceptance, blah blah blah. Well I’m still stuck at anger. Can’t get past it. Can’t really accept that she’s gone. Still mad that we got cheated out of a good thirty years together. Being a kind of brat about the whole thing, but because she’s my mother I feel entitled. Joan Didion had her year of magical thinking. This strikes me as incredibly short.
Another immature quality that is still kicking and screaming within me is my reluctance to Face the Facts. Most people make a compromise when it comes to paying the rent. They do work they probably don’t love in order to pay the bills. I’ve done the same thing; we all have. And really, are those top-ten-list-writers writing that way because they want to? No! They’re making compromises. They are smart, lovely people who would be absolutely thrilled to engage in a discussion, rife with subtlety, on a thousand different topics. But readers love lists. So magazines love lists. So writers write lists.
I’ve done my share of list-writing, in one form or another, since I was 15 and worked in a yuppie pizza joint in Minneapolis. And yet, for the next twenty years, no matter where I worked, I never quite got over the fact that I had to do something I didn’t love in order to make money. This also gave me a tiny problem with authority.
“Fuck America!” I thought. “They don’t support the arts! And artists! They only care about money! And sports! Why wasn’t I born in France?!?”
Yeah, sure, Joseph Campbell said to “Follow Your Bliss,” but that just brings us back to the whole Niche thing. I think. To be honest I’m not still a little confused by this whole transition period. Which is why I go to the gym a lot. And flirt with men. And think that maybe I should go into teaching instead.