14 August 2006

Downtown, Further Downtown And All Around

Okay, Tuesday. Yes, almost a week ago. That was my big walking day, and it seems to have left me drained and enervated ever since.

I started out at the gym, where I did 4.2 miles on the cross trainers. I don't know how accurate those things are, because I've never run that far in real life, but it made me tired anyway. Then it was off to the city, where I was to meet Mr. Blackandgold, who I only know from the Pop Punk Message Board. I'm pretty sure his screen name comes from a fondness for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the only team whose games were shown on the one channel that reached the tiny West Virginia mountain holler where he grew up, and I assume he also has a real name, but after spending a large part of the day with him and covering some ten or fifteen miles on foot, I still have no idea what it is.

After a little confusion in finding each other - "I've never been on a train before," he told me, which I thought was downright exotic and/or mind-boggling - we started out from Union Square and wandered through the Lower East Side and all the way down the East River till we got down near the Brooklyn Bridge, at which point we zigzagged back and forth across Manhattan until we wound up at Battery Park, where he tried to take a picture of one those ridiculous living statues - in this case a flag-draped Statue of Liberty - who indicated in no uncertain terms that he'd better cough up some bucks if he wanted a photo. That made me all the more determined that he should take a picture, whether by hook or crook, because if you dress up like a complete bozo and then stand around in a public place, how can you possibly say people don't have a right to photograph you? Even Madonna doesn't try to get away with that, does she?

But Blackandgold turned out to be far more moderate than his online persona, which is stroppy, right-wing, and borderline racist. If I hadn't sensed that most if not all of that was a put-on, I might have been afraid to meet him, but as it turned out, he was so pleasant and mild-mannered that I was almost - almost, I stress - disappointed. True, he had planned one really annoying prank for New York City: making a sign that read "Iraq Vet, Homeless, Please Help," with which he was planning on begging in front of the World Trade Center. Well, what was the World Trade Center.

I strongly advised against this, not just because of its obvious reprehensibility (need I state that B&G has never been in the military, let alone to Iraq?) but because of its potential consequences. In a city the size of New York, I asked, how long do you think it would be before a genuine Iraq vet came along and started quizzing you about what unit you were in and if yhou knew so-and-so? Or how about some tear-streaked old lady coming up and saying, "My boy died over there, God bless him, so please take this money, it's the last of my pension, but I've got nothing to live for now, so you might as well have it."

I don't know if Mr. B&G took my protests to heart - at the time he merely made jokes about them - but he didn't end up doing his begging stunt. Maybe he just forgot, or maybe by the time we'd taken a long, circuitous meander back uptown he was just too plain tired. Anyway, he was a good and erudite walking companion, and I only feel bad that many of the places I led him through weren't all that distinguished or historical as opposed to a lot of big buildings with traffic running between them. But then that's a big part of what people come to New York for anyway, isn't it?

I was on my way back home to rest when, wouldn't you know it, a call came from Aaron Cometbus inviting me to, what else, go for a long walk around Brooklyn. It's seldom enough that I see him, especially now that he's in the midst of producing the first new issue of his magazine in quite a while, so I didn't want to pass up the opportunity. It was a full moon, and a perfect night for walking, so we covered a lot of ground, finally ending up in McCarren Park as it was getting on toward midnight, only to find the place absolutely crammed with people running laps, playing games, or (mostly) just hanging out. I told him about how I'd been there the previous Sunday and discovered a disturbing (or perhaps charming, depending how you look at it) new trend: youngish Williamsburg hipsters taking up the sport of bocce ball, normally played by grumpy old Italian men. I couldn't even tell if they were being ironic or serious, and wouldn't be surprised if they couldn't either.

We still carried on for another mile or two after the park, as there were a lot of earth-shaking subjects to be discussed and settled, most of which ended up having to be postponed for another day or until new information comes in. But overall, a great conclusion to a great day, except, as I said, I've been tired ever since. Not a good sign, I would think; on top of that, I wore out my only pair of shoes, and have been sitting in the house all day waiting for UPS to deliver my new ones. It's now 5:03 pm and UPS can officially be declared unreliable flakes. That's all for now.


Patrick said...

So he (Mike) came to NY and didn't tell anyone other than you?

Larry Livermore said...

Apparently so.

Naw, I just made the whole thing up.

Larry Livermore said...

So he (Mike) let you know his real name and didn't tell anyone other than you?

Patrick said...

He posted it on the board when I asked him what his first name was.

ted said...

Not to be shoe gazer-ish, but I wonder which kind of shoes do you prefer to walk in? I trek two miles to work each day, so I'm open to comfortable recommendations from a 20 miler.

Mark said...

"I couldn't even tell if they were being ironic or serious, and wouldn't be surprised if they couldn't either."

This has caught on among some of the people I know, and it seems that it begins as an attempt to be ironic, but quickly turns into a serious hobby. It's a bit creepy, really.