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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Piece of Chicken" $1

Tonight was incredible in so many ways, but please allow me to share one with you. I keep passing by this place on 45th Street near 9th Avenue called "Piece of Chicken". It caught my eye one night a few weeks ago because the sandwich board out front says simply, "Piece of Chicken $1". Is this the chicken on a stick I see at every corner halal stand? Is this really all they sell? It wasn't a handwritten sign, it was official. It appeared to just be a kitchen. It was all stainless steel and didn't look as though it was an actual restaurant. I was intrigued, but there was nothing in their menu box, so I kept walking. The next time I passed by there were menus, and people inside ordering. The menu boasts 8 chicken/salmon/fish types and 7 side dishes, all just $1 each. This sounds amazing! Especially if it's any good. I was hungry, but felt like going home to eat, not knowing quite what to expect. I may have passed once or twice more and my curiosity grew every time. So tonight I was starving and with no particular meal plans I decided to give it a go. I ordered a piece of fried chicken, a side of blackeyed peas, and 2 small corn muffins, all for $3. As I was waiting for him to package up my food...I noticed servers coming in and going back into a different room with plates of food. I was standing in the kitchen of the restaurant on the corner! I don't even know what restaurant that is, whatever is on the corner of 9th at 45th Street. Whose idea was it to open up a storefront and sell fried chicken and sides for $1 each? This is absurd, and brilliant! Why doesn't everyone do this? Well it isn't the ideal place to go as there is nowhere to sit. I think they have a table or benches out front for the warmer months (not tonight with slush everywhere). So I didn't know where to go with it and knew it'd be cold by the time I got back to Astoria. I ducked into a McDonalds and ordered a diet coke and some heavenly chocolate chip cookies and took a seat. It was actually pretty damn good. The blackeyed peas had a little kick to 'em, and the chicken was tasty and all white meat, which I love. I probably could have eaten another piece of chicken though, as it was small. The corn bread was...well...corn bread is always good to me. Perhaps next time I'll try the BBQ salmon and macaroni & cheese. So next time your starving and short on cash, check out "Piece of Chicken" on 46th and 9th. As I enjoyed my meal I gazed out at the slushy sidewalk and was glad to be taking a break from trying not to slip. My soundtrack tonight was a combination of Amy Grant's "Baby Baby" and the homeless guy having an endless conversation with himself behind me. I love New York.

You should be dancing. Yeah.

Well last night was a friend's birthday, and since he has been on a huge salsa/swing dancing kick over these past few months, he had people meet him at The Copacabana. I had never been there before and technically have never gone Salsa dancing either. One time I ended up at SOB's for a promotion last winter and even though I was working I got to dance a lot too. On very few occasions do I get to do any of that kind of dancing, but when I do I always love it. Depending on who I am there with I generally find that there are plenty of guys around who are looking for dance partners and suddenly I feel like I have stepped back in time to an era when people went to dance clubs to dance with each other, face to face, her hand in his and his arm around her back, leading her around the floor. It is so very different from the generation I was brought up in where you would go dancing and stand in a clump with your friends shakin' your ass and having a ball. If a guy wants to dance with you he just grooves up behind you and starts grinding. If you are interested in anything about this person and are drunk enough, you grind back. If you are not interested, you politely remove your ass from his pelvic region. I also spent a great deal of my best memories dancing at raves not too long ago. It was here that I really understood the value of my own dancing and how much I enjoyed being all alone while doing it. I didn't need my friends around me on the dance floor to enjoy myself, though if I had a bunch of my brilliant dancer friends nearby, it always made life that much more fun to have them to look up and exchange smiles with. You could always tell when you were around people who just didn't get it when you would be there in your own world getting your groove on and having more than enough fun when suddenly some skeevy guy would start grinding up against you. He wasn't dancing AT ALL the way that you were and you gave no indication that you needed or even wanted a dance partner and suddenly he would throw off your whole moment. I would just have to keep removing him from my body and sliding over hoping he would get the hint. I didn't come there to grind against anyone at all. Even if a guy was hot, that was immediate grounds for dismissal, since he was obviously stupid. There was only a very short time in my life that I welcomed that type of behavior in a club, and it has long since passed. So being at places with people salsa or swing dancing is like a whole other world in a totally different time. If you aren't dancing, no matter who you're with, there is a good chance a guy will ask you to dance. Imagine that...they ASK you if you want to dance. Weird. I don't get the feeling that they are asking you to dance so that they can ask you on a date or get your drunk and sleep with you. They are generally asking you to dance because they actually want to dance. They have some moves, and they want to twirl you around the dance floor. I have found myself dancing with lots of people I would never grind up against, not even in a nightmare. I have had husbands whose wives are perfectly alright sitting out while they twirl me around the floor. I don't really know what I'm doing, but with a guy who does, they just toss me around and give me a twirl and suddenly I feel like I'm a pro. A smile permanently across my face and wishing I was wearing a twirly skirt, I am happy. I wonder why more men don't know how to dance like this and why more people don't go dancing to this music. Sure the other stuff's alright, but there is nothing like this world where it isn't implied that you want to fuck a guy just because you allow him to twirl you around the dance floor. It's a place you could go alone if you just felt like dancing, and you would never have to worry about filling the next spot on your dance card.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Doctor Groove....and I digress...

Well, I had a wonderful visit to my friend's place in Chicago this weekend. This morning as I rode the L from Ean and John's to Midway airport, I accidentally messed up one of my transfers. It was bitter cold there all weekend, and this morning was no exception. I hate this cold. It's that dry and angry cold that crystalizes the snots in your nose and makes your nostrils stick together. After waiting in the breezy bitter air on an outdoor platform, crowding under the heaters whose presence was just barely noticable, I watched two trains that were going the opposite direction come and go, and FINALLY jumped on the first one I saw on my side of the tracks...only to realize a second later that it was not the train I was waiting for. I had to ride to the next stop, where I knew I would have to get out and stand in the cold again, only to wait for a train to take me back to the other stop to get out and wait in the cold again. It also was a LONG ride to the next (wrong) stop. I was really happy with myself. My toes formed into a block of ice while waiting at this stop on the wrong line (no heater here) and I finally got back on going towards where I needed to get on the correct train. When I entered the train, there was an african american man standing at the door talking to the rest of the people in the car who all happened to be african american as well. They were all facing himand listening intently to every word. Were they just passengers on the L train like myself? Was he their tour gude? Was he a panhandler? Was he a pan handler? I seriously had no idea. Myself and another white lady, who made the same mistake I had, just walked into something, but we weren't quite sure what yet. He was speaking about Oprah, and how he hadn't originally cared for her because she used to seem to throw her money at problems and he wanted to see powerful african american people getting more involved with the problems they hoped to see changed, not just donating their money. He was speaking about what an excellent role model she is now with her donations for her school in Africa, and wished that more wealthy african americans were doing some of the same with their money and fame. As I looked around the train, it seemed that nearly everyone in that car was watching him and listening. It wasn't what I am used to in New York. You might see a few faces enjoying the music someone is playing for them, and the rest are usually doing their best to ignore it. There is a reason for this, of course. We have a lot of smelly crazies on our trains, and several who are less than talented musically. But even when there is someone a little more pleasant than most, none have ever had this affect. Every face was on him and what he was saying made sense. He told us he was going to recite a piece I will hardly do it justice here. It was rhythmic and poetic piece that empowered black men to take a stand. He told them to stop making excuses and allowing other people's excuses to be their own. He told them to be good fathers and good people and to stop thinking about jail as a hobby. Everyone on the train seemed to be listening, but when he finished, I wasn't sure what would happen. I have never seen a "subway performer/speaker" have this kind of effect on an entire car full of people. He offered the piece he had just recited, printed out for $1. He told us of his website. He explained of the work he does around the city for the community. Instantly people were pulling out scraps of paper to write his website down (http://docgroove.com/ ) , including the other white lady who had gotten on with me. At least half of the nearly full car grabbed some money to give him and accepted his printed out poetry.

I was completely struck by this experience. I am still not entirely sure what to make of it. I spent all morning wondering what was it that made his message so clear and presentable? Of course he was an intelligent and well-spoken man, but that can't be all. Are the panhandlers a lot less crazy in Chicago? Was it his audience? I don't feel like his message is anything all that new, but it is definitely something his audience could identify with and felt was very relevant. What if the car was full with people of every ethnicity? Would he have continued? Would it have had the same effect? Who knows what these people did after they went about their day?

I just can't help but think about all the things I wish I could say to a car full of people on the subway. There seems to be so much in this world that needs to be shouted at us, but most of the time people ignore these types of displays. Maybe it just so happened that everyone on that car felt exactly as he did, even if they didn't go around preaching it to people, so they respected someone who did and did it so well. But aren't there enough people feeling the same way right now to produce similar results?

This is what has been getting to me lately. People seem to be more and more aware of so many injustices happening around our country and beyond, but I am not feeling much unity and action about any of it.

What is getting to me even more lately than other people is what I'M not doing. My attention is being pulled in several directions and all of them feel so important to me. I want to find my own way to make something a little better in one or all of these areas, but no lightbulbs are appearing above my head. I am just getting more and more frustrated and antsy to make a difference, but I can't figure out how.

I feel like knowledge is something a lot of people are lacking about all of these situations and that if I can make more people aware of them, more people would feel similar. With all our digital television channels and all of the ways we can be connected to everything outside our own little worlds, it's incredible how much we don't know. We don't really want to know.

Our country is just SO self-absorbed. We have these myspace accounts where we can post 300 photos of ourselves or our family and friends, and log on every day to see if anyone commented on them. I feel like I am 11 years old putting together a scrapbook to show my friends when they sleep over at my house, only it is online and everyone who feels like it can find it and comment on it. Of course I enjoy it too, but it is just a huge distraction. It seems so easy to use it as a means to express who WE are as individuals, over and over and over again. We fill out surveys. We have blogs. You are obviously reading mine right now. Some people blog about their work or their social life, or what they are eating for lunch. People post very intimate details of their lives and then get angry when someone writes a rude comment about it. We don't have to put this stuff out there for everyone to see. I'm all for expressing ourselves but when does that ever end? That used to be something you encouraged your children and teenagers to do (hopefully) so that they would grow up to be brilliant and confident in the hope that it might help them to make the world a better place. Now it feels as though we are just in it to make a better (__insert name of networking website here__) profile.

Few people in the generation before ours are doing much to protect our world for us, and they didn't have all of the same distractions. What will our children and grandchildren have of their world but a time capsule of all of what made each of us "us"? How can we get the attention of a nation who can't stop pimping their profile? (by-the-way, check out my pictures from Chicago on my blog!)