Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nothing Is Still Something

"I can see why people from New York come to DC and think it's so clean."

So I commented to the Object on our Vampire Weekend. In the 90 degree heat and humidity, DC may be stifling, but New York is straight-up fetid. The height of the buildings crowding the sidewalks turns the sidewalk into a graveyard for dead air, and with green spaces few and far between, doorways reek of stale urine. It's a filthy city whose residents have decided is the greatest place on earth and spend their time bullying you into admitting that the grime is charming, unique, and special, an idea that makes the hot air blowing up from the subway grates seem refreshing.

As we strolled through Washington Square Park, the Object countered, "Yeah, but I can see why New Yorkers come to DC and think that it's boring and the people are ugly." We had decided after the long bus ride and in light of the blazing sun, we'd rather spend the afternoon doing nothing in the park. To our left, a group of Hamptons exiles lounged in their hideously expensive beach chairs, reading Oprah's latest book club pick. On our right were a small group of friends practicing their sword fighting for the stage. A group called SPARK had set up several massage tables, and were waving their arms over the people lying on them. A woman noticed my curiosity and asked if I would like an energy adjustment. "We're offering them free today as a public service." I balked, being the sort of person who likes my aura more or less unprodded. I moved on to watch the ballers in the bocce court, enjoying the scene until the yipping of the dogs in the chihuahua run across the path became more obnoxious than the designer outfits the overgrown rats were dressed in.

We paused at the plaza with the chess tables, taking in the scene until I told the Object I was ready to move on. "Nooooo!" He whined. "I'm pretty sure those guys are going to fight! With big bike chains!" Indeed, two decrepit old men were having some sort of territorial war over the unwritten rules of chess table proprietorship. At one point, the greasy Italian man stood up and whipped from his neck a huge chain, the kind you might see associated with a tractor trailer in winter, and rattled it, taunting the greasy black guy. This held the Object's attention for a considerable amount of time, but I was distracted by the disheveled middle-aged woman wearing only a ratty white shirt and big pink granny panties curled up in a fetal position on a tall, narrow ledge. She sang to herself as she rocked back and forth, and I marveled at how she had the wits not to tip herself off her precariously balanced position, as though she could perfectly balance her nuttiness.

When it became clear that the two men were just posturing and the chain rattling was probably an everyday affair, the Object and I moved on, perusing the wares of the Saturday market vendors. Passing by one table, we did a double-take in unison. "Is that what I think it is?" The Object asked. An energetic young man introduced himself and confirmed that yes, the works of art that we were looking at were indeed portraits of the sock puppet world he had created. We spent at least a half an hour sorting through the characters, getting their full stories from Marty. "That's Puppyface 5000. He's from the future, where barking is the new opera." I have been wanting a puppy lately, so we bought several portraits for ourselves and a choice connoisseur of art back in DC.

At another vendor's table, I saw a gorgeous Italian leather fringed bag. As I considered whether I loved it enough to pay full price, a couple argued in front of me until the man passed out at my feet. His companion kicked in the general direction of his limp body, slurring her words as she called him a worthless drunk. I decided on the purse, and the Object and I moseyed out of the park. We headed in the general direction of his uncle's rent controlled apartment above the New York College of Dog Grooming, our afternoon of doing nothing over.


Anonymous Chris Chan said...

So, why exactly was this a "Vampire Weekend?"

2:46 PM  
Blogger The Goo said...

Because we went up to New York specifically to see a band called Vampire Weekend- I wrote about them some time back, and they aren't playing in DC anytime soon, so we went to New York.

It was a good concert- the Object was unimpressed, but I thought they did a good job considering they're pretty young and they don't have an album yet. The opener opener was awesome- the Naysayers. The downside of the concert is that all the band's fratty little popped collar friends from Columbia University were there, and they made the show REALLY fratty.

4:08 PM  

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