Tuesday, October 19, 2010

When would you choose?

This has nothing whatsoever to do with parenting, but it was written by my friend Jeff which means it's guaranteed to bring the comedy:

"First of all, if you're not checking out The A.V. Club at , you should. Best pop culture site out there, in my opinion. On Fridays, the contributors take up a question, usually related to pop culture, but several weeks ago, they had something different. Here it is:

Everyone says things like “Oh man, how cool would it be to be in Dealey Plaza during the JFK assassination, or see The Beatles during one of their Cavern Club concerts, or witness ancient Rome?” Well, what if you were given the chance?

Here are the conditions.

You’ve been granted a hypothetical ticket to live, in comfort and coherence, during one five-year time period. Maybe you want to be in New York or Chicago during Prohibition, or Victorian London, or France right before the Revolution. (Or during—no judgments.) You’ll be able to understand and speak the language (if needed), have enough disposable cash to live at leisure, and experience whatever you want, with no need for a job. You’ll have a comfy apartment or house to return to, full period wardrobe, and as much time as you need before making this trip to study up on the period you’ll live in.

But you must stay within a five-mile radius of where/whenever you choose to live. Thus you can’t go see the Kennedy assassination, then go zipping around the world to London to watch the birth of the British Invasion, or New York for the early years of Greenwich Village. Want to see the Kennedy assassination? Fine. But then you’re stuck in Dallas for the next five years.

What historical period (and place), in your opinion, offers the most enticing experiences in one five-year period?

It's a question that has stuck with me, and I wondered what you would choose. I had a hard time with it, but I think I finally decided that I would choose to be on the moon from 1969-1974 - just to scare the living shit out of that motherfucker Neil Armstrong."

Monday, October 4, 2010

This has nothing to do with the fact that I didn't learn how to ride until I was 14.

In the past two weeks I’ve almost died five times. Not from subway muggers or falling cranes, or any of the other exciting ways my mother warned me about when I first moved to the city. My wannabe executioner? Bikers.

I want to love them. I really do. Cyclists are environmentally friendly, they’ve got excellent quads, but crossing the street is hard enough without the threat of being taken out by a guy (it’s always a guy) who thinks red lights are for wimps. This is not the Tour de France and you, dude, are no Lance Armstrong.

It’s not like they don’t see me. More than once I’ve been yelled at by an overtanned thirty-something in wraparound shades for freezing in terror as he barrels towards me. Apparently I’m supposed to do – what exactly? Run? But in which direction? How do I know that they’re not going to swerve the same way I’m trying to go? And did I mention that I HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY? I once got clipped by a hipster speeding the wrong way down a one-way street. It took every ounce of strength not to kick his customized tires. I’ve seen bikers riding on the sidewalk, messengers acting as if they owned the road. (Don’t get me started on the delivery guys.) Sometimes it’s hard to remember that bikers are supposed to be a force for good in this world.

I have several friends who are avid cyclists. They are smart, conscientious, and generally concerned about the welfare of their fellow man. But not one of them stops at red lights. When I reminded them that they are required to stop – like, legally - I was met with blank stares. I can’t really blame them. It’s hard to think of bikes as moving vehicles until you get mowed down by one.

I’m not saying that pedestrians are saints. We dart out in the middle of the street and dangle off curbs. We rarely pay attention to what’s around us and take up an inordinate amount of space in intersections. Bikers often say that they have just as much to fear from pedestrians as we do from them, and that’s probably true. Of course, we’re much less dangerous to people who don’t run red lights.

We’re all in a hurry. Everybody cheats the light a little. But there is an expectation that vehicles – even ones with cute little baskets – will respect the rules of the road. I don’t need you to stop every single time, but if you see me hauling my stroller, Speed Racer, could you just slow down a little? Because if not, next time I might see what happens if I stick out my foot.