An ode to New York City’s new traffic-safety campaign:Oh please, a gimmick?! Why not just look both ways before Crossing the street?
Archive for November, 2011
When I moved to West Virginia, one of the very first weekends I was there, a co-worker loaded a bunch of us into his car and drove us to White Sulphur Springs. White Sulphur Springs is famous for exactly two things: the Greenbrier Hotel, with its Dorothy Draper kaleidoscopic design, and the decidedly more utilitarian and monochromatic bunker underneath the resort. We didn’t have money for a night at the hotel, but we did pony up the entrance fee to tour the bunker, which had been built in the depths of the Cold War as a massive fallout shelter for Congress in case of a nuclear attack. Presumably, before the bombs began to fall, lawmakers would be shuttled to Southeastern West Virginia by train, where they would run whatever was left of the country from deep underground.
What was amazing about the Greenbrier bunker was that it remained a secret for as long as it did. (The Washington Post exposed it in the 1990s.) The bunker itself was accessed through Lost-like metal doors in a clearing on the hotel property, construction of which surely required massive earthmovers. And part of the hotel itself was actually part of the bunker proper, to be sealed off by sliding doors in an emergency. It was no coincidence that the ampitheatre had precisely 535 seats!
Really, of course, the secret bunker was an open secret locally. After all, someone had to build and maintain the structure, and those someones all had family members. But if it was an open secret, it was also an unremarked-upon one.
You can’t exactly say the same for the giant pit currently being dug on the White House lawn, between the West Wing and the Old Executive Office building. Indeed, a friend and I were just remarking on it this weekend. Apparently, we’re not the only not-exactly-eagle-eyed observers to note the construction project, which surely can be seen from space (or, at least from spy satellites). I’ve always assumed there is a robust network of structures underneath the Federal City, especially near the White House, where smoke-billowing grates don’t seem to match up with the Metro tracks.
Utility upgrades, say the White House. I guess they don’t want to make the effort to come up with a better cover story.
From an article about the woman who allegedly pepper-sprayed Black Friday shoppers jostling for video-game consoles:
Black Friday shopping was marked by violence in at least seven states, including California.
I totally understand coming to blows over really cool merchandise like, say, Cabbage Patch Kids, but over an Xbox?!
Seriously, this is some kind of national embarassment. You’d think they were fighting over goddamn food rations in a displaced-persons camp.
Everyone has their hobby: stamp collecting, volleyball, bug eating.
Me, I accumulate photos of amusing signage (there’s some here and here). Some of it is quirky, some of it is contextually humourous, some of it is guffaw-worthy. Now, my friends even send me snaps of funny signs they’ve spotted, which is cool, in a really, really dorky way.
Anyhow, I’ve been hoarding up pictures from my travels, so I thought I’d share:
Okay, Times dining section, I really don’t know if I can accept that some of the Thanksgiving Help Line questions are on the up-and-up. Sure you’re not making some of these up:
- Is it inappropriate to watch football while eating Thanksgiving dinner with my family?
- How do I not lose my marbles stuck in a car with my father-in-law?
- Is it safe to cook a Reagan-era frozen turkey?
- Can I make turkey on the stovetop?
- What can I drink at Thanksgiving besides wine?*
Or perhaps they’re the ones being punk’d.
Anthony Bourdain, in talking about why he hits up local dives in foreign cities, pretty much sums up why I travel:
I mean, if they don’t speak your language, there’s nobody like you, and it seems to be popular with the locals, you’re already on pretty solid ground, even if you don’t recognize the food. It’s gonna be good. You know, you’re getting something real. You’re getting something unique to that area. Isn’t that what travel’s all about? To see how other people live, where they live?
Not that it worked out that well for me recently.
A few years ago, I spent a week in (Greek) Cyprus. I was not super-crazy about the country’s vibe, which combined the style of a fourth-tier British high-street with the service ethos of the Greeks. But really what bugged was the guidebook, the only one I could find. It was absolutely exhaustive, with great detail about every hamlet, hillock, and hangout. Seriously, I stayed in a tiny village, of a couple hundred people max — and the book reviewed the local coffeeshop, which was open about five hours a day and seated as many. It was so comprehensive to be incomprehensible.
Still, one piece of interesting, if not especially useful, information I gleaned from the guide was that spies in the heavily-Russki-fied city of Limassol liked to use a TGI Friday’s overlooking the beach as their rendevous point. Frankly, it seems like as good a place as any in that dour city.
The American agents allegedly compromised in Lebanon, however, have no such excuse:
According to the source, CIA case officers met a series of Lebanese informants at a local Pizza Hut, allowing Hezbollah and Lebanese authorities to identify who was helping the CIA. U.S. officials strongly disputed that agents were compromised at a Pizza Hut.
I’m linking to this round-up of the best places to grab a bite during a layover not because I have anything clever to say about it but so I will have it on hand the next time I get stuck at O’Hare. (And there will be a next time.)
I do love, though, that the shot at Toronto Pearson includes a Tim Horton’s, even though the entry is ostensibly about another restaurant.
M., I’m sorry, but it seems you’re still out of luck in Bangor.
Do you have one of those friends who gets in the way of herself? You want to be sympathetic to her, you think she has a good point, and then — she pushes things too far and she totally loses you. Instead of the boy who cried wolf, it’s the girl who cried stupid.
If you don’t, consider adopting Katie Roiphe. Who, in a commentary in last Sunday’s Times, made a very good point about sexual harassment, one that I guarantee you was overlooked by 9 out of 10 readers. Or it was dismissed because of the utter outrageousness of the rest of her piece, in which Roiphe argued that, really, sexual harassment is just a figment conjured up by oversensitive, hysterical feminists:
Show me a smart, competent young professional woman who is utterly derailed by a verbal unwanted sexual advance or an inappropriate comment about her appearance, and I will show you a rare spotted owl.
Apparently, if the comments are to be believed, they’re coming back from extinction.
Roiphe’s seeming inability to admit that the world isn’t always black-and-white (Does one have to be “utterly derailed” to be harmed, after all?) undercuts the rest of her thesis: That harassment, like all speech, is near-impossible to legislate, and that attempts to do so inevitably set us on a slippery slope. “I know it when I see it” is no approach to regulating speech, or much of anything else.
I so dislike The Office. I may be a bitch, but I don’t see how laughing at, as opposed to laughing with, someone is funny.
Still, I think that Mindy Kaling may be my new girl crush, even if she is kind of responsible for the show’s not-so-funniness. I mean, I think she is funny, just maybe not when she is channeling Ricky Gervais.
There are many reasons for my crush, of course. I like Steve Martin, too — who can resist a man who plays the banjo? Like Kaling, I wear yellow. We both love chicken pot pie. (Not to digress, but the thing I’m looking forward to most about Thanksgiving is turning the leftovers into my very own homemade Dean & DeLuca pot pie. Modestly, I kill it.)
But what I like, or perhaps appreciate, about Kaling is her impatience with the notion that if one is girly one somehow can’t also be smart. Like it’s not possible to talk about lip gloss and Deweyian educational theory over the same meal. If one is both feminine and feminist, my god, the world might explode. From Kaling’s A.V. Club interview:
I do think that if you like lipstick or watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians while you do the elliptical machine, and you’re willing to admit to any of that, that there are people who think you’re letting down women or something. Which is just a bunch of bullshit, and can make me kind of angry…. [T]hat I’m somehow not a feminist, or I’m selling out women. I’m really impatient with that. I think it’s crap, and arbitrary.