concrete trenches
sometimes more feet than shoes.

Monday, September 29, 2003  

Dressing to the leftDressing to the left

Ah, NPR. I've missed having a radio in the living room. Now I can listen to the news and get angrier and angrier and angrier . . .

| posted by christopher | 6:07 PM

Sunday, September 28, 2003  

Sunday, September 28, 6:08 am

Two sleeping figures are seen, lying in their bed. Suddenly...

Booooooooowp! Booooooooowp! Eeeeeeeeeegonnn! Eeeeeeeeeegonnn! Waaaa-waaaa-waaaa-waaaa-waaaa-waaaa-waaaa-waaaa!! Wooooooooooooooooooop! Wooooooooooooooooooop! Wooooooooooooooooooop! Gnnnn-gnnnn-gnnnn-gnnnn-gnnnn!


Booooooooowp! Booooooooowp! Eeeeeeeeeegonnn! Eeeeeeeeeegonnn! Waaaa-waaaa-waaaa-waaaa-waaaa-waaaa-waaaa-waaaa!! Wooooooooooooooooooop! Wooooooooooooooooooop! Wooooooooooooooooooop! Gnnnn-gnnnn-gnnnn-gnnnn-gnnnn!

(repeat 'til insane)

I'm thinking of writing a nasty note on the car across the street with the magic go-off-for-no-reason-and-keep-going-off alarm. Yes, a nasty note, written with my house key.

| posted by christopher | 9:46 AM

Friday, September 26, 2003  

The remarkable RocketThe Remarkable Rocket

George Plimpton has died. I had a little bit of an intellectual crush on Mr. Plimpton, and I'msorry to see him go. So many greats are falling lately, it makes me wonder who's in line to fill their void.

The link is to the New York Times web site. They want you to sign up to read their stuff, so sign up. They've never sent me one bit spam.

| posted by christopher | 4:55 PM  

To the Kiwi

Dear Visitor from New Zealand,

Thank you for your interest in concrete trenches. I regret to inform you that we are unable to facilitate your search for information regarding "sugar mistaken for explosives." We also apologize (but in no way mean to imply responsibility) for Mr. Google directing you to our site.

Thank you for visiting concrete trenches, and we hope you will visit us in the future.


| posted by christopher | 12:39 AM

Wednesday, September 24, 2003  

The GripThe grip

BG: You need to make the decision that being out of work will motivate you.


Four shifts in the next three days. Five auditions in the next six.

I want to go to a class, somewhere, and get my mojo back.

Today I read Mr. Bush's Tuesday speech to the UN. Seriously, are there only, like, twelve people in the world who see through this viper? If we shaved his head, we might find the mark of the Beast. Even the devil can quote scripture to suit his needs.

| posted by christopher | 11:20 PM

Tuesday, September 23, 2003  

Say what?Say what?

The manager at the Bar is an odd fellow. Strange enough to be restaurant owner, in fact, but he's apparently just the owner's son. Some of his more charming eccentricities would be: his predilection for mentioning what Catholic Feast or Saint's day it might be today; his wearing of shorts, everyday, even in the pouring rain; his habit of disappearing for hours at a time.

Today, he corrected my pronunciation of the word "Calf's," as in "The special today is calf's liver sauteed with onions..."
He asked what the specials were, I told him, he grunted, and went to leave. Just before he left the bar, he laughed to himself, but loud enough for me to hear some thirty feet away, and said "It's 'KAVES' not 'KAFS'."

I realized later that this is the second time he's done this. He corrected my pronunciation of "Ballantine Ale" last week. I hope this isn't a trend, because it's really fucking irritating.

| posted by christopher | 7:54 PM

Monday, September 22, 2003  

Who will buy?Who will buy?

I'm strapped for cash. Man, oh man. Once upon a time I was poor. Then I was married. Then I wasn't poor anymore (well, not cash poor, anyway). Now . . . poor. Really poor.

Really poor + girlfriend moving in = internet yard sale!!

Except, damnit, I can't get anyone to buy my freakin' stuff. OK, one guy bought an old keyboard, but he lives in Louisiana. It's good stuff, too. If I learned anything being not poor, it's that there's good stuff out there. Or in here, I should say, since I can't get anyone to buy it. It's disconcerting. If I were buying stuff, I'd want the stuff I have to sell.

What, internet, it isn't good enough for you? Hmmm?

| posted by christopher | 6:16 PM

Sunday, September 21, 2003  


BG's stuff came yesterday, carried up the stairs by two grunting Russians. The next time I have to wait for the cable guy to show, I want him to be a grunting Russian, because the movers showed a half an hour early. That meant 8:30 am, though.

Besides moving a box load more stuff into the apartment (including my bike, which I just put together and am about to ride), my grunting Russian comrades were able to translate the USSR era poster that hangs in my apartment.

The poster was found hanging on a wall somewhere in the former Soviet Union by X's parents. They took it down, folded it into a pocket sized pouch, and smuggled it out of the country, circa 1965. In a word, ballsey. X never liked it, but I think it's great. It's a skull and crossbones motif with a mushroom cloud and military helmet for the skull and two ballistic missiles with "Made in USA" for the crossed bones. One of the missiles is spewing a bilious yellow gas. Scratched across the top, in red writing is something I can't reproduce well with this keyboard, but is roughly "Bahandi XXBeka."

One of the grunting Russians spoke much better English than the other. He squinted at the poster. Finally he said, "Vell, 'XX' is 'Twenty.' 'XXBeka' is 'Twentieth Century.' 'Bahandi' is, ah . . . a barbarian does this . . . he . . ." and here he started to slash his hand through the air, like clubbing a man to death.

"Pillages? attacks? rapes?" asked BG, helpfully.

"Da! It says 'Rapers of Twentieth Century."

| posted by christopher | 1:37 PM

Saturday, September 20, 2003  


My first out-of-the-blue theatre call came yesterday. Yay!
It's a company that doesn't pay a whole lot and tours. Boo!
If they hire me, I get at least six more months of health care. Yay!!
I would be in a Christmas Musical. Boo!
It would be another New York credit. Yay!
At a theatre that's on everyone's resume, and is widely regarded as the easiest place to get one's AEA card (read, working with beginners). Boo!

Would I take it? Yea!

| posted by christopher | 3:22 PM

Friday, September 19, 2003  

Ultimate Government Sanction

I'm pretty sure this is a typo, but Feds Considers Barring Qwest From Future is a little harsh, no?

Not to mention the whole plural thing.

| posted by christopher | 9:16 PM  

There's a hole over here

Tomorrow the apartment aquires a least two-thirds again as much stuff. Spent the day making more space. More space, more space, more space. Where in the hell is it all going to go?

| posted by christopher | 5:33 PM

Thursday, September 18, 2003  


There were the older people: forty, fifty, maybe pushing sixty. Sitting for hours on the morning sidewalk waiting to get their two minutes to shine. There were very pretty men and women, not very pretty men and women. There were journeymen (and women) paying their dues; good at the craft but waiting for their break.

Above all, there was the woman in the cream colored dress. She was about forty-five, lank black hair, deep circles 'round the eyes. She was standing at the door, her moment near upon her, going over her piece one last time. Her face danced it's choreography: look left, look right (figuring out some puzzle), slight pause (almost there), eyebrows up to feign surprise, eyes straight forward to let us in on the discovery, finish, curtain. Her arms jutting out from the shoulder like two frozen eels the whole time. For all the eye hockey, she was expressionless. I felt a swell of pity. She suddenly turned to the wall, placed both her palms against it, hung her head and let out the harshest breath. Perhaps it was meant to relieve her tension, but it sure sounded tortured to me.

She knows she's bad, I thought, yet there she goes. as the door closed behind her.

| posted by christopher | 10:15 PM  

Crack Your Cheeks

Getting a little windy out there. One thing going for the Evil West: no hurricanes. Of course, they do get tsunami.

| posted by christopher | 3:37 PM

Wednesday, September 17, 2003  

The comforts of home

I feel like I've been walking through a cloud of bleach and bar scum.

Very boring day, made wore by doing "busy" work of cleaning a bar that hasn't been cleaned since Tammany Hall days.

It was nice, though, to be walking home through the nabe, watching a glorious sunset over the Manhattan skyline, and think that I was on the way home, to where BG is.

/sappy mode

| posted by christopher | 7:18 PM

Tuesday, September 16, 2003  

Mock Star

So, first day at the Bar not training, and I may not be as much of a super hero as I thought. The golden key, the First Rule, of waiting tables: don't care. Sometimes I care about getting peoples stuff out on time, or I care about being super efficient, and that'll sink me.

In related news, BG had her first taste of New York the Cruel City when she tried to get tickets for a rock concert tonight. The venue apparently had no box office, and then she couldn't find the uptown train entrance. She blew a big part of the day running a non-errand. I told her to cut herself some slack, she's only been doing this a couple of days

Just like maybe I should take my own advice.

| posted by christopher | 5:24 PM

Monday, September 15, 2003  

The price of lazy

Negotiating the selling of ones personal belongings is tricky. Should I be cheesed off, for example, that this guy wants $40 for my headphones if he has to come get them, $50 if I bring them to his neighborhood, and $45 if I bring them a few blocks from his neighborhood?

| posted by christopher | 12:04 PM

Saturday, September 13, 2003  

In with the new

Tonight I trained another shift, and should be flying solo the next time I work, next Tuesday. When I came in tonight people said "Oh, yeah the new guy. I've heard about you." It's funny, when I'm in a restaurant I'm far more gregarious than in real life. Maybe it's the part of "The Waiter" that I'm putting on, and I'm acting the part well. I do know that I feel far more comfortable with the denizens of a bar than I do on the 23rd floor of an office building copying someone's budget reports.

I left the Bar and headed to Union Square. The streets were wet from the intermittent rain, giving the city that shiny quality that you see in all the movies. I felt like I owned the town.

Tomorrow BG gets in from the Evil West to begin her new life in New York. And cohabitation begins. I hope I'm good at it. I hope she's good at it. If we could get through Scotland, we can do anything.

| posted by christopher | 10:00 PM

Friday, September 12, 2003  

Pouring Rain

This morning my temp agency calls me, finally, to ask if I'm available to work. But I'm not, because I started my new job today. And here's how I got it.

I was trudging through the Flatiron, looking for 119 West 18th Street. There's a restaurant there looking for a server with "some" bartending experience. Except there is no 119 W. 18th St. One phone call later, I'm trudging to 119 East 18th St. and I pass a little pub with a "Help Wanted" sign in the window. I keep walking. I get to the South Western restaurant, and the position is filled. (well, who wants to work for someone who doesn't know what STREET they're on?). On a whim, I stop into the bar with the help wanted sign. This is an old time, mahogany covered New York Bar. The kind of place that's sixty percent regulars. I talk to the Boss, who takes twelve seconds to peruse my pathetic excuse for a resume and says, "Can you be here eleven o'clock tomorrow?"

Just like that, right place right time, boom, job. A good, honest, no-fucking-tie-wearing job. And waiting tables after ten years away? Like falling off a log, I tell ya.

| posted by christopher | 10:23 PM  

He walked the line

I assumed you'd always be around, just like you've always been around. But you are gone.

Goodbye, Mr. Cash.

| posted by christopher | 7:41 AM

Thursday, September 11, 2003  

There's nothing that can be said

| posted by christopher | 11:11 AM

Wednesday, September 10, 2003  

Bar Fly

I was standing down the street from a bar yesterday, screwing up the courage to go inside and ask for a job. My mouth was parchment dry and water wasn't helping. A cloud of voices flew around my head: "You can't do it! What makes you think they'll want you! You haven't opened a beer for money in ten years! No!"

The dry mouth was replaced by a thick film. I spat it out, thinking if I swallowed it the voices of doubt would win. Courage firmly attached to the sticking place, I made my way into the pub and sat down. The manager was talking to a prospective employee, and I was the only other person in the room. The smell recalled the many times I've opened a bar. Closed bars have a certain smell. When it's 11am there's a sharp, citrus quality to the air. Like a spoiled lime soaked in old beer.

I'd like to say that after my moment of discomfort I went in and thoroughly dazzled the manager. I'd like to say I got the job. Neither of those things occurred. What happened instead is I sat looking at the taps and bottles and listened as the guy before me talked about the places he's tended, and the crowds he's drawn, and how he has a "following" and will be able to bring in business, and how he has a theory of bartending, blah, blah, blah. I left.

The bar was too far downtown anyway.

| posted by christopher | 10:17 AM

Tuesday, September 09, 2003  

Goce de su visita appears to be a Spanish language search engine. Someone got here from there searching for "Urine Festival."

| posted by christopher | 10:34 PM  

Future Past Tense

In the future, when I look back on early September 2003, I will remember it as The Dark Time. I will remember how I wished I'd been more frugal when I had that lump of divorce money. I'll remember how the joy of BG moving in was tempered with the crushing anxiety of unemployment and Scottish Debt. I'll remember eating food I haven't contemplated since college. I will recall the dread of feeling unqualified and ill equipped.

But when I'm looking back, things will be better, right? Right?

| posted by christopher | 1:01 PM

Monday, September 08, 2003  

Pounding the pavement

If anyone out there has leads on a good job with great pay and flexible hours in the New York area, I'd sure be grateful if they'd pass it along to me. This job hunting thing is not on my top ten.

To make myself feel better, I'm making cookies. And smoking a big fattie.

| posted by christopher | 9:14 PM

Sunday, September 07, 2003  

Welcome home Har Har Har

The bus from JFK to Kew Gardens was running behind, and the F train went express before my stop and totally skipped the station where I transfer to the 7. When scouring my apartment for food, I discovered a couple of funny bugs in the cupboard. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that the sublet tossed the food I had left (which I'd told him he could eat) on top, and they became infested with bugs. Little black bugs and some kind of larva-looking things that squirmed and left their casings behind when it was time to move on. I spent an hour removing packages of flour and pasta and ramen with tiny holes and what I'm sure was an entire colony of insect life and then washed the cupboards with bleach. When I splashed some of the bleach on my shirt, I left it in the bathroom sink under running water and promptly let the sink overflow and spill all over the floor and needed to use every clean towel in the apartment to clean up that mess. Also, my cable modem won't power up and the tech people won't be here until Wednesday so I have to use the clay tablets and smoke signals of a phone modem.

God, it's good to be home.

| posted by christopher | 3:46 PM

Friday, September 05, 2003  

Last Days in the Evil West

Tomorrow night, I will sleep in my own bed. And then sell it.

BG is moving in, and I need to make room for her. She wants to keep her bed, which is almost exactally like mine but was her first "big purchase of furniture" and so wants to keep a hold of it. I also have to chuck one of my ulgy dressers to make room for her ugly dresser.

We've been sleeping in her parent's bed, which is two beds shoved together to make a king sized bed and should have it's own zip code. I wake up in the morning and it feels like I'm waking up alone (the point, according to BG).

I've been a little grumpy and depressed of late. Sleeping semi-alone doesn't help. Nor does the fact that sleeping in your girlfriend's parent's bed makes you feel less than sexy. Also, I've spent all my money on the artistic failure of a trip, and now have no job, no savings, and no theatre work to look forward to.

| posted by christopher | 10:36 AM

Thursday, September 04, 2003  

No reply

No one is writing to me, or calling me. I've left messages and send emails. I called my parents from London, because my entire family was supposed to go South for the long weekend. Got the answering machine, and no return call. I emailed my golf buddy, no reply. I emailed my theatre pal, no reply. I sent out messages to my two temp agencies saying I coming back to town, nothing.

It is startling to discover your absence leavs no void.

| posted by christopher | 12:06 PM

Wednesday, September 03, 2003  

Almost There

It seems hard to believe, but I'll be back in Queens on Saturday night. Finally. Finally finally finally.

I'm cleaner than I've been in the last six weeks, having showered in the BG's folks double-headed shower with the groovy-woovy bath prouducts bought in the UK. Honey soap. Yum. Staying here is like the best bed and breakfast, ever.

Nine hours of post travel sleep after 24 hours of straight awake-ness and I feel like a new man.

| posted by christopher | 3:30 PM

Tuesday, September 02, 2003  

Flying high

I wish. But I am flying . . . off to catch the plane at the Copenhagen airport and on to the Evil West. New York under my feet on Saturday. It's nice to be coming home.

| posted by christopher | 8:57 AM

Monday, September 01, 2003  

... On a Jetplane

Tomorrow, 9:30 AM. Evil West by 4:00 PM local time. Goodbye, UK. You've been fun. It's time to go home.

| posted by christopher | 4:43 PM
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