Friday, July 07, 2006

Grand Central Responds

Joe -

Thank you very much for your note. The commuter weigh station is located on the lower level dining concourse right near Two Boots Pizza. We encourage passersby to stop in, particularly during bathing suit season.

Of course, I’m kidding. Thank you very much for pointing out the error on page 14. I can assure you that you are not the first person to have spotted the mistake (we spotted it internally shortly after publication), but we do appreciate your scrutiny of our work.

I hope this unfortunate instance of homonym confusion does not preclude your enjoyment of the After 5 Guide. We’re very proud of the publication and hope it will become a valuable resource for you and your colleagues. If you would like additional copies, please either let me know or visit our online order form here.

Thank you again for your note and best wishes for an enjoyable summer.

David Roskin
Director of Public Affairs
Grand Central Partnership

JMG: Grumble, grumble, funnier than me, grumble, Grand Central guy, grumble.

Goyz In the Hood

My 'hood, the Upper East Side, is a very Jewish neighborhood in a city with the second largest Jewish population in the world. It is home to two major landmarks of Jewish culture, the historic Central Synogogue on E. 55th Street and the Prada flagship store on E. 70th. Or as it is known to my mailman and the other 6224* people who live on E.70th Street, United Jerusalem Place. (*As per the 2000 census.)

Of course, I don't live on the Prada end of United Jerusalem Place, I live on the hospital end, the part of the Upper East Side that probably has more hospitals beds that most states. If I ever stroke out, at least within staggering distance I've got New York Presbyterian, Cornell Medical, Sloan-Kettering, the ominously named Hospital For Special Surgery, and others. Do Jewish neighborhoods create more hospitals? Or is it the other way around?

And speaking of doctors, boy if you wanna really feel middle-class poor, come live on the Upper East Side. My zip code, 10021, contributed the most dollars to both the Gore AND Bush campaigns in 2000. The people in my zip code also report among the highest personal incomes in the United States, although I imagine that it would be even higher, if not for all their live-in help and people like me dragging down the average. Way down.

And speaking of live-in help, it's sort of fascinating every morning to watch my neighborhood change complexion. Literally. On my way to the subway, I pass a lot of very posh luxury buildings, like Trump Palace. I watch the Leaders Of American Commerce rush into their waiting Town Cars as their servants walk their dogs and their nannies herd their children towards the exclusive private schools that dot the streets around Park Avenue. At 68th Street, all us (mostly-white) middle-class folk stream down into the subway as the station disgorges thousands of black, Latino and Asian workers who head for their jobs in the hospitals, restaurants and tony shops of the UES. At the end of the day, the colors reverse direction.

When I first got to the Upper East Side, back in 5765, I bemoaned the decision. Here I was in the most exciting, most gay city in the country, and I had moved to the least gay, least exciting, blandest of Manhattan neighborhoods. Trust me, nobody says, "Hey, let's go clubbing on the UES!" At least, nobody I know. There are a few gay bars on the Upper East Side and I take a taxi right past them every weekend on my way downtown.

Last month, my houseguest ran into a guy moving out of the apartment above mine. My friend immediately offered his help in moving a loveseat down the stairs, because he is a Southern Gentleman, and not because my upstairs neighbor is smoking hot. Right. He came back and reported that my neighbor had told him that in New York City, the greatest mitzvah was to help somebody who lives in a walk-up building move, and my friend wanted to know what a mitzvah was. Of course, I was able to tell him, seeing as how I once scored 29 out of a possible 30 in the Miami Herald's Yom Kippur Test Your Yiddish Quiz, missing only shtetl. (I know, such a shandeh!) I also told him he was just lucky we live inside the Manhattan eruv, or he might not have met my hot neighbor at all, since it was Shabbat. He gave me the funniest look.

So the point of this post is this: Yesterday I got my lease renewal for my apartment. But this time, I'm not even gonna cruise Craigslist for the shouda, coulda apartments downtown. I'm kinda comfortable here. I no longer hear klezmer music and think "Oh, that's klezmer." And this year I wasn't surprised by the Purim costumes on the kids, I kinda dug it. It's nice living in a neighborhood where the doormen are out hosing down the sidewalks every morning. OK, not my doorman, cuz I don't have one. But after living in the Village and Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen, where the garbage on the main streets can be ankle-deep in the gutter, this is...nice. I just hope I'm not becoming boring in my middle-age.

Of course, if anybody knows of a nice apartment opening up downtown, it'd be meshuge not to go look. Otherwise, I'll be here until 5768.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Merriam-Webster is giving a sneak peek at some of the "new" words being added to the 2006 Collegiate Dictionary, due at the end of summer. Mo's must be running that joint because words being added include: unibrow, drama queen, assplay, supersize, big-box, polyamory, and himbo. All of which were clearly culled from Manhunt profiles. Not making the cut: versabottom, UB2, fistpig.


Dear Grand Central Partnership,

Thanks very much for the cool restaurant guide that you guys were handing out this morning. Quick question. It says here that Grand Central is more than "just a weigh station for commuters." Hey, where are the scales?

Joe, The Pedantic Blogger

The United States Of Christ

This is the new America.

It's what's coming for all of us. We may as well get ready for it. The democratic election process? Fucked. Constitutional protections? Fucked. Respect for sovereign nations? Fucked.

Get ready for life under the Christianists. Start sewing that red, white and blue burka. Thanks to their fraudulently installed government, we're already more than halfway there. Wiretaps, phone records, warrantless searches, imprisonment without trial.

We've got exactly the government we deserve.

Open Thread Thursday

Tell me where it hurts.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Note Of Thanks

To the tall queen seated in Section 228, Row D, Seat 17:

I just want to thank you. You, the tall queen seated directly in front of us at Madonna's sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. You, the tall queen with the fauxhawk, the popped collar, the capri pants and flip-flops. You, the spastic tall queen who flailed arythmically and screamed approximately 1500 times during the concert.

I mean, most people would think that for $170 a pop, we in Section 228 would be more than happy with just seeing Madonna's onstage carnival: her part Cirque du Soleil, part roller-disco, part strip-club melange of krumping, parkour, strobing video montages, and numerous half-naked muscle boys.

But not you, Tall Queen. No, you decided that we in Section 228 deserved a special show of your own, fueled by (by our count) about 8 glasses of white wine and spurred on by the approval of your much younger Latino date. So for the 100 times you screamed before the house lights even went down? Thank you. For calling out to your friends on the other side of the arena and jumping up and down and screaming because they could actually SEE YOU from 300 feet away? Thank you. That was totally awesome that they could see you from over there!

Hey Tall Queen, do you remember that sort of elderly obese man that was seated to your left? The one wearing the red string on his wrist? My friend and I had named him Mr. Pinky. You know, from Hairspray? Mr. Pinky didn't really seem to be happy to be at Madonna, I mean, he hardly even stood up! What's up with that? Maybe the temple made him attend? Anyway, on behalf of Mr. Pinky, thank you, Tall Queen, for providing him with an upclose and graphic look at homo-lovin'. Straddling your date in his seat in a reverse cowgirl and humping him? That was awesome! Licking your date all over his face and screaming into his open mouth? Also awesome.

And thank you, Tall Queen, for calling everybody in your cellphone directory and screaming "AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!" to them. I bet they loved that. You know they were jealous bitches because you were at Madonna and they weren't. I was so jealous myself, because you must have at least 200 friends in your directory! We didn't mind at all, your screaming when Madonna was talking. Or your screaming when she was singing. Or your screaming continuously during those curious long periods in which she wasn't even on the stage. Seriously, that was awesome. We didn't mind not hearing her. Hey, did you know that you screamed exactly 49 times during the 6 minutes of La Isla Bonita? For real! We were counting! By the way, we decided that La Isla Bonita must have been Mr. Pinky's favorite song. He was totally snapping his fingers!

But at least Mr. Pinky could keep the beat! Seriously, Tall Queen, as awesome as I'm sure you know that you are, you really do need to look into something called "keeping the beat". Did you know that all those thousands of times you were clapping your hands over your head (while screaming, of course) that you never once clapped on the beat? Although, come to think of it.... statisically speaking, you should have accidentally clapped on the beat at least once or twice every minute. Ok, yeah, forget I said anything. I've lost my mind. All that bad rhythm? Definitely awesome!

By the way, Tall Queen? Did you like that video montage where they intercut photos of famous dictators? Idi Amin, Kim Jong-Il, Adolf Hitler and then George Bush? And then when Madonna ad-libbed during I Love New York that "If you don't like New York, you can suck George Bush' dick"? I figured you liked that because that's when you turned around and grabbed your crotch and screamed "SUCK MY DICK!" Which was awesome. Tall Queen, I hope that all six or seven times that Madonna berated the crowd for having low energy, you KNOW she wasn't talking about you, right? Like when she said, "You are some tired motherfucking assholes!", she totally did not mean you.

I hope you don't mind that I stepped up into the aisle to take this picture of you. I waited until you had your hands down and were between screams, because we wanted to remember you. I mean, since your screaming and flailing and bad dancing and boyfriend-macking were far more a part of our experience than anything Madonna and her dozen dancers were doing. So thank you, Tall Queen. Madonna: Good. But YOU? Awesome!

HomoQuotable - Barney Frank

His Excellency Vladimir V. Putin
President of the Russian Federation
4 Staraya Square
Moscow 103132 Russia

Dear President Putin,

We write as members of the United States Congress to express our dismay over the riots and violence against gay and lesbian marchers in Moscow during a gay pride parade in late May.

It seems to us evident that any government of the people would seek to protect all people, so we were very disappointed that Moscow mayor Luzhkov claimed in denying the parade permit that he would not be able to ensure the safety of the marchers.

We believe that the mayor's public statements and his banning of the parade itself--as well as the fact that provocative and violently anti-gay statements by religious leaders and others went unrepudiated by elected officials--helped create a situation in which violence against gay and lesbian people was in fact more likely to happen, if not inevitable.

In fact, given reports that some police stood by while gay and lesbian marchers were attacked, it is difficult for us to believe that the police were unable to protect the marchers, but instead were simply unwilling to do so.

We hope you agree that violence against people based on sexual orientation--people who are doing no harm to anyone else--is outrageous and not acceptable. We urge you to publicly make clear this sentiment to those who would seek to do harm to gay and lesbian individuals, to public officials and civil leaders who provoke or inadequately respond to such violence, and to the gay and lesbian citizens of Moscow and beyond who deserve to live, gather and associate without fear of violence.


JMG: The above letter was co-signed by 49 other members of Congress. (via-

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Rules Of Friendship #17

Friend: You think my boyfriend is stupid, don't you? Honestly, is he the dumbest guy I have ever dated?

Joe: Oh...don't make me choose.

The Homo Land

"This is not the homo-land, this is the Holy Land." - New York-based Rabbi Yehuda Levin, head of a pan-faith coalition working to prevent World Pride from taking place in Jerusalem next month.

Last fall, I happened to be seated next to the representatives from Jerusalem Pride at the plenary session of InterPride's annual convention. I sat there taking notes while the reps from various Pride committees from around the world introduced themselves at the microphone, a long and rather tedious ritual.

But when the young woman from Jerusalem Pride spoke of their determination to proceed despite threats of violence, despite that the Jerusalem police had warned them not to expect protection, there was an odd reaction. There was a nice round of applause, sure. But there were also some wet eyes, as a couple of hundred jaded gay activists were suddenly reminded that their own dilemmas about beer sponsors and disco entertainers and radio headsets were a extravagant luxury, almost laughable problems to have in a world where merely walking down a street will get you stoned by religious extremists.

Later this week, the Jerusalem police will issue their decision as to whether World Pride can take place, based on their assessment of the potential for violence and their ability (or desire, I fear) to keep the marchers safe. Regardless of their decision, I imagine that there will be a march of some sort and that there will be an ugly confrontation. I'm thinking about that brave young girl that I met. And I'm worried.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Paul struggles to push his way through the crowd at the Dugout to speak to me....

Paul: Hey Joe! Did you see that song I is feeling my ass.

Joe (looks over Paul's shoulder): Oh my. He's hot, actually. You should totally arch your back!

Paul: Oh, I already am!

Filed under: I love my people.

Nickel For Your Thoughts?

The New York Times recently reported that due to rising zinc prices, the cost of manufacturing a penny has now risen to about 1.4 cents, giving impetus to the decades-old movement to abolish the penny. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Arizona) is resubmitting his 2002 bill to kill the penny and force all retailers to round to the nearest nickel. (Guess whose home state would benefit by the need to suddenly mine enough copper for several trillion nickels?) And as you'd expect, there is a counter-movement to save the penny. Bizarrely, their celebrity spokeman is Mr. Britney Spears. I guess K-Fed isn't interested in using his millions in the same ole tired way that other celebrities do. Cuz ya know, hunger and disease? That's so been done. I say we put both the penny and K-Fed out of our misery.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Instant Disco History #7: New York City

New York, New York, big city of dreams. But everything in New York ain't always what it seems. You're no tramp but you're no lady. Talkin' that street talk. If you wanna please me, I don't mind if you tease me, just take me for a night in New York. New York City is the hottest place for a honeymoon in a hotel room.

Since New York City is a former capital of the United States, in honor of this holiday weekend, here's a handful of great disco songs about New York City, the capital of the world.

Metropolis, I Love New York, Salsoul Records 1978

Mixed by the legendary Tom Moulton, about whom I should devote an entire post, I Love New York was immediately loathed by the critics, who saw the track as a lame attempt to cash in on New York's then brand new tourism slogan, which of course it was. More favored was Metropolis' Greatest Show On Earth, from the same album. However, time has tempered opinons on I Love New York and it is now a mix-show favorite on NYC's disco oldies stations. The words are easy and the harmony is sweet.

I Love New York by Metropolis (download).
Salsoul's Greatest Hits Volume 2 (purchase).

Andrea True, NY You Got Me Dancing, Buddha Records 1978

Porn star Andrea True followed up her massive hit pean to getting fucked on camera, More, More, More , with another tribute record, this time to the nightclubs of Manhattan, as she name checked some of the popular clubs of the day, including legendary gay hotspot 12 West: "At 12 West, the sound's the best." Not as catchy as her first single, NY You Got Me Dancing still reached #27 on the Billboard Hot Singles chart and got a later bump when it was selected for the Boogie Nights soundtrack.

NY You Got Me Dancing by Andrea True. (download).
More, More, More: The Best Of Andrea True (purchase).

Odyssey, Native New Yorker, RCA Records 1978

One of the most poignant and melancholy of disco songs, a genre not typically known for introspection, Native New Yorker is perhaps the most widely loved song about New York (Liza notwithstanding), although I've always suspected scant attention is being paid that the singer is lamenting a wasted, lonely life as she finds herself with no man and no prospects at age 35, yet still hopes for someone to "set her free from New York City." Yes, honey, where DID all those yesterdays go, when you still believed love could be like a Broadway show? With the backing of the New York Philharmonic, Native New Yorker was produced, arranged and conducted by Charlie Calello. Odyssey, while not considering themselves a disco group, went on to have several more club hits, most notably Use It Up, Wear It Out.

Native New Yorker by Odyssey (download).
Odyssey: Native New Yorker (purchase).

A Night In New York, Elbow Bones & The Racketeers, EMI Records 1983

Produced by the legendary August Darnell, he of Kid Creole, Machine, and Cherchez La Femme fame (and far too many groups to list here), A Night In New York is my favorite song on this list, as its lush orchestration and retro big-band arrangment beautifully evokes the glamor and sophistication that so many imagine New York club life to be. Elbow Bones was just another one-off from the prolific Darnell and this was the only record under this name.

A Night In New York by Elbow Bones And The Racketeers (download).
Elbow Bones And The Racketeers: New York At Dawn (purchase).

New York New York, Nina Hagen, Columbia Records 1983

Some disco purists would object to this track's appearance in this post, but under my generous definition of "disco", almost any song that packed the dancefloor of a disco is a disco record. And man, did this track from German punk/opera singer Nina Hagen blow the roof off the mutha! Listen as she namechecks Roxy, Mudd Club, Pyramid as well as David Bowie. Produced by Giorgio Moroder, New York New York is a hilarious and scary electro/punk/opera/ romp and a stone classic of the New Wave period.

New York New York by Nina Hagen (download).
14 Friendly Abductions: The Best Of Nina Hagen (purchase).

Kreme Kraving

Can it be coincidence that the History Channel runs a documentary about (of all things, of all times) Krispy Kreme donuts on a Sunday morning? That's a pretty, um, sweet slot, isn't it? But I'm not a hater. Not AT all. If I'm ever on death row, Krispy Kreme will definitely be part of my final meal. Um...and my next one.