Archive | City Matters

A League of Our Own

I’ve always liked my manicurist a lot even if we’ve had a hard time communicating beyond the basics; her English isn’t very good and my Korean is nonexistent. A few weeks ago, we had a breakthrough, though. An animal rescue commercial came on the salon TV, and, from our shared reaction, it became immediately apparent that we both spoke the International Language of Cat Lady. Now, once we establish my nail color of the week, that her children are doing well, and how terrible I am for eating my cuticles, we converse solely in meows and purrs. Naturally, everyone around us thinks we’re batty once they realize we’re the cats they are hearing and, naturally, this only makes us meow more. It’s the nature of the beast. (Pictured here: Another member of our secret feline and fancy nail appreciation society.)

Neil Gaiman & Daniel Handler: Of Magic and Racist Jokes

They promised swordfights in their conversation but what we got was almost as good. At Tuesday night’s “En Garde! Gaiman and Handler,” authors, screenwriters, and general bon vivants Neil Gaiman and Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) convened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House for a ninety-minute dialogue covering everything from the existence of magic to writing advice. Most notably, the friends and occasional collaborators also addressed Handler’s racist joke at last fall’s National Book Awards. It was a lively evening.

Perhaps to head off any unpleasant confrontations, the question-and-answer portion of the evening veered from BAM’s usual format: Audience members were encouraged to jot their questions on index cards upon their arrival rather than querying the authors from a microphone stand. Throughout the evening, the writers then answered the submissions of their choosing. Both men are terrific wits, and for a while it seemed Handler would circumvent the controversy entirely. Continue Reading →

All We Ever Wish For

It was one of those days that just kept going and going, and the whole time I had to be on in a very public, TV lady sort of way. By the time I headed home, it was late, and my sense of humor–already eroded by the Winter That Will Not End–had evaporated. Still, when a woman on the subway platform pointed out she had the same hat, I couldn’t help but smile. It’s rare to find another adult who’ll wear the blue-dyed rabbit fur I refer to as my Muppet bonnet. The two of us struck up a chat while her boyfriend–tall, broad-shouldered, with a knitted brow–stood by, clearly not thrilled that his companion’s attention had been diverted. I knew his type well, had made the mistake of dating men like him when I’d been naive enough to conflate size with stability. After a bit it came out we all had been at the same event, and she and I compared notes while he continued to glower. Talking to her while he steamed reminded me of the conversations my mother used to have with female neighbors in the 1970s, all of them talking in lowered voices while glancing over their shoulders lest their husbands catch them lollygagging.

Finally he burst out: “I don’t judge.”

If I’d hadn’t been so fried, I would’ve let his comment go. I saw the quick hunch of her shoulders. Instead, I said, “You can have an opinion without judging.” Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy