Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What the heck is DeeDee Ramone doing at Marianne's wedding?

That is what you'll be saying to yourself this weekend if you find yourself at the Holiday Inn in Clarksville, Tennessee, and see me from the back. You may then wonder "Isn't he dead?" followed by "Why is he wearing a bridesmaid's dress?"

I dyed my hair last week, and the outcome ain't pretty, considering I'm taking the pictures this Saturday that will be in the family album for All Time, not performing at the national air guitar championships.

Unlike Frankie from Real World San Diego, I'm not too punk rock for this. I'm not punk rock enough to be employed at the Gap. And yet I find myself with jet black hair.

I had some angry words with the people at the Clairol help hotline (1-800-Clairol, if you need help too. Not that you do; you look great.) She was not impressed by my plight. I clutched feebly the top of the Hazelnut Medium Brown, with its promise of suburban acceptance.

Yes, I told her, I followed the directions. Although I hadn't dyed my hair in months, she said the fact that it was dyed at all was the problem. Apparently it was too light for the shade I chose. That is counterintuitive, I told her. If it's lighter to start with, it should stay lighter, not look like the boy behind me in a one-room schoolhouse dunked it in the inkwell.

She's a trained professional, so she wasn't moved, although she said there's a refund check in the mail.

The upside is that I've finally got a little street cred in Williamsburg. Too bad I'll be states away, ruining my sister's wedding.

Things I saw today:

* A man wearing a T-shirt showing a man holding a knife. It warned that so and so was "Fucking crazy." I panned up to the wearer's face and it was the same as the face on the shirt.

* A woman with what must have literally been Double Q breasts.

* A taxi with tricked out rims.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The girls in the hood yellin' "50 you hot!"

To start off, please note that I finally remembered a title. Now, on with the show.

Saturday in NYC: Wake up, head for train station, get stopped because they are shooting the 50 Cent life story on my street. There were signs warning us about this the week before, then broken down cars from the '70s started lining the street. Next came the large white trailers with the character's names (Junebug, Charlene et al.) People on my block don't miss a marketing opportunity, so all the cars soon had flyers stuck under their windshield wipers.

Happily, they had to dirty the street up a little with fake graffiti and broken windows. Since Fitty grew up in one of Queen's toughest neighborhoods, it would have been a real kick in the head if they could have shot it untouched. Or, as my brother, Kevin, put it, if they'd looked around and said, "It's almost TOO crappy, let's clean it up."

My neighbors were not taking kindly to waiting behind barricades to get to the station, so they kept walking past the shouting guards. I don't think they'll be filming the sequel here.

50 himself wasn't there, but apparently there was a fight under a train overpass near a barber shop at some point in young 50's life. The kid who played young Fitty was standing there with The Club as a shirtless man and others over-acted to a fight happening off camera. I had a front row view of this, so if you go see the movie with me, I am going to be obnoxious about it. Just a fair warning. At this point I'm planning to yell, "That's my street!" but I may settle for offering unnecessary commentary such as, "It doesn't really look like that" or "They put up fake signs and added graffiti" just so others in the movie theatre can feel like they were there too.

I'm helpful like that.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Ohmigah! Ed Helms!

New York, it randomly smells like urine. That teaches you to be a little guarded when walking down the street or embarking on the subway, and it's a good metaphor for life here. You don't want to jump into something without giving the area a little preliminary sniff first. You are constantly reminded of others. You learn to move quickly away. All good things to keep in mind.

The urine smells (also applicable to blood spots and other assorted goodies) are worth enduring, because New York brings you to the party. It may or may not surprise you that my hometown is not where the eyes of the world are focused. There are no celebrities, although Duncan Hines (yes, THAT Duncan Hines) lived there several decades ago. His memory now lives on with the annual Duncan Hines festival/world's largest brownie/beauty pageant. (A winning combo.)

Taking advantage of all (the free things) New York has to offer, I wanted to find the Daily Show studio to ask about tickets, so when I caught Jon Stewart talking about it on the 3 a.m. Oprah rerun, I took a note. The next day I went down there and was making the rounds of phone calls to those at home who might care that I was right outside such holy grounds when who should walk out but Mr. Ed Helms. I was across the street and made a mad stealth dash to catch up to him, talking to my dad the whole time.

My dad is not like most men who work at NPR, in that he limits his wearing of sweater vests and doesn't eschew pop culture (there's something equally endearing and disturbing to have him ask about Outkast lyrics). He loves the Daily Show as much as I do (or did, in my previous cable-filled life) so I asked if he wanted to say hey to Ed.

It's the curse of my family to not put things in the mail. Gifts will be purchased, they will be wrapped, addressed and given the appropriate amount of postage, and they will languish by the front door awaiting the final shove into the mailbox. I mean, honestly, gravity does most of the work at that step. His Father's Day book had fallen victim, so I was hoping Ed could pick up the slack for me and deliver a personalized Father's Day message.

Problem was, Ed was on the phone, possibly arguing. I heard him say "We'll talk about it when I get home" as he lingered by the opening to the subway. Why Comedy Central would make a bit player in a basic cable show take the subway I have no idea. Ed talked, I stalled with Dad. Ed paced, I bought carrots from a vendor. Ed descended the staircase, I followed.

Now came the tricky part, how to not look crazy. I nonchalantly seated myself on the same car he did, choosing a respectful distance. Another man recognized Ed. When you spot a celebrity, try to not open with the line "My wife says you ruined our sex life." Ed made the best of it.

I then explained my idea, highlighting the fact that the present was purchased, but not mailed. Sure, Ed said, "But I'm headed to Brooklyn."

That's where I had been all day, and couldn't be further from my house.

"Hey! Me too!" I piped up.


The only city on the line that I knew was Williamsburg.


"Cool me too."

Ed was a great sport and made conversation the whole way, although I could see him eyeing the New Yorker he had in his backpack.

We got to the 'Burg and bolted upstairs, where he spent a few minutes chatting with my dad. I could picture him in his grilling apron, sitting on the couch.

"...She says she's bought one, but it's not mailed yet." Ed gets off and goes on his merry way, satisfied with a job well done.

I waited until he was around the corner to call dad back. He was over the moon. I wouldn't want to be my brother or sister trying to top that.

The only sour note was that my dad couldn't brag to anyone at work about it. They were all busy picking lint from their sweater vests to have ever heard of the show.