Wednesday, March 30, 2005

New York Kills Me, It Really Does

This morning I was thinking: There must be a million and one themed tours you can do around New York City. However, as far as I was aware, no-one had yet created a Catcher in the Rye tour. Others may aspire to salivate at the window displays of overpriced shoe boutiques favoured by fictional newspaper columnists with Tardis wardrobes, or to seek out the subway grate made famous by a certain 20th century blonde pop culture icon, but personally I would much rather prefer to recreate Holden's lonely journey through the streets of Manhattan, pondering the seasonal fate of Central Park's ducks.

Of course, these days the moment you think you've had an original idea you go to Google and find that somebody else has beaten you to it. A lady who goes by the name of Suzanne Morine has built a really cool Catcher in the Rye Photo Tour website, complete with maps and URLs, detailing each place or landmark mentioned in the novel.

There was nothing more to be done except print off the map and start touring. Yippee!

I'd just finished breakfast at Eisenberg's Sandwich opposite the Flatiron, so instead of going chronologically I decided to work my way up on the map. Now it would appear that Holden was a bit of a posh chap- he never wanders south of Grand Central Station in the book (except once, when he goes to a jazz club in Greenwich Village late the first night). So that was going to be my first stop. Alright then, fine, but first I had to find a date to take skating at the Rockefeller Plaza. I tried hanging out at the dog run in Union Square.

No luck though. Apparently it's only good for picking up in the evenings. Fine, I thought to myself. Not having a date won't detract from the essential Holden experience per se. So I caught the subway up to Grand Central by myself to the first stop of the tour, sitting in one of the cars that had been very nicely decorated to advertise the new HBO show Deadwood.

I spent the rest of the day in character, wandering the streets in a deep existential funk. I won't bore you with the details. As Holden said, don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody. So instead, I'll leave you with a picture of me outside Radio City, where in the book Holden endures a bad movie after fleeing a phony Christmas show.

On my way through Central Park I went off the tour path for just a minute, to see the Dakota building, peeping up at the grand edifice through a forest of Japanese tourist ankles. The guards were eyeing me up a bit, but don't worry- I didn't have a copy of Catcher in the Rye on me.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Littlest Hobo

I was getting a bit fed up with all the New York cabbies honking at me (clearly, a toy dog with 2 and 1/2 inch legs is not going to be able to cross the road as quickly as the other pedestrians), so I decided to take a break and hitchhike it upstate, on Long Island. Remind me never to do it again- or at least to wear more than a wee scarf next time. Honestly, at times I was quite afeared I was headed for the same fate as Sir Robert Scott's poor dogs back in 1912- to be found dead in the snow by another dog, torn from limb to limb, and devoured by my own kind like a particularly scrumptious piece of Battenburg cake.

I eventually made it up to Orient Point, the northernmost tip of Long Island. Yippee! I had a thirst something fierce after frolicking on the windy seashore, which I intended to quench with a tall glass of the local iced tea, but unfortunately the only licensed establishment within a 10-mile radius was closed.

By hanging onto the underside of somebody's SUV, I was able to sneak aboard the ferry to take me across the sound to New London, Connecticut. From there, it was just a quick train ride up to Boston, home to les adorable Boston terriers avec leurs squishy, pushed-in visages!

Actually, to be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect in Boston. Bands like the Scud Mountain Boys make you think that practically the whole of Massachusetts is populated by emphysemics wasting away in dead-end jobs, but then you have TV shows like Ally McBeal where everyone looks like they're from Manhattan and have gorgeous apartments.

On my way downtown from the train station, I met a chubby old Labrador Retriever eating Chinese takeaway scraps outside of the YWCA on Berkeley Street, who was of a religious bent; he told me that if I only did one thing in Boston, that thing should be to visit the statue of our patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi, in the courtyard of the Old North Church. He even said he'd take me there himself after he finished his egg foo yung. I would have been a wicked heathen to refuse such a kind offer, so off we went to pay our respects.

Apparently if you whisper your wish into Frank's ear, it will come true. Yippee! My first religious experience.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Art in the Age of Anti-Geometry

You can very easily get art-ed out in New York. It's not just the number of galleries and museums in the city (I heard 120 from one source, but there must be a gazillion galleries in Chelsea alone, clustered between 9th and 10th avenues like fleas on a mutt's juicy backside), or the distance you have to schlepp to get to each one of them, but the complete bollocks you have to listen to from guys ('I love his anti-geometry; it's like the explosion of jazz and the big bang combined') trying to impress their dates as you try to get a glimpse of your favourite paintings.

I eventually caught the Chinatsu Ban show, which had a strong elephants and underpants motif, and was captivating in that whimsical cutesy Japanese way- you know what I mean, where you have papier-mache elephant turds delicately painted to match the delicately-painted patterns on the papier-mache elephants and their papier-mache babies. The gallery staff saw me creeping about, but they didn't give me any trouble at all; evidently I blended right in with the art.

Then I caught a subway uptown to the Natural History Museum. No pretentious men there, but lots of kids with sticky fingers instead (yikes). I was right in my element though- floor upon floor of stuffed animals! I was so excited at first, but unfortunately none of the animals were much up for conversation. It must have been the thick plate glass separating us. Disappointing, but I did come away with a new respect for cats.

Friday, March 18, 2005

King of the Heap

Ooh, day three in New York; I'm as happy as a pup can be.

My mistress was delayed in the customs queue coming into JFK which was
very opportune for me as I snuck out after the suitcase got out onto
the carousel, after which I made my way in on the subway. It was a bit
scary and grim at first, especially being a little white-dog, but
attention was conveniently deflected by a 16-stone, topless, homeless
guy soliciting for donations.

Yesterday I caught the early morning Staten Island Ferry to see ma
belle Liberty- she's a lot shorter and stockier in real life.

Staten Island looked boring so I went straight back to Manhattan on
the return trip. I tried to make friends with the NYPD dogs, asking
them no-brainers like how the donuts were in Manhattan compared to,
say Queens, but they weren't having any of it. Apparently the only
soft toys they have dealings with are inevitably stuffed to the
earholes with cocaine! Ooh-er! I wished them a good day and went
quickly on my way.

I spent a few hours noseying around Chinatown and watching the old men
play Chinese chess in Columbus Park, surrounded by the smell of
boiling dumplings. Then back up town via Union Square- where there was
still enough snow for snow dogs! Brrr...

Must rush off now- I'm off to see Chinatsu Ban's show at the Marianne Boesky gallery in Chelsea.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Later, Mofos

Sunday, March 13, 2005

2 Sleeps Till Brooklyn

I was eavesdropping on my mistress on the phone this afternoon- and would you Adam and Eve it, she's off to New York next week for a holiday! At first I was a tad disgruntled that she hadn't invited me along, but after a moment's contemplation (although, I am ashamed to admit, not before I had resentfully laddered her favourite pair of patterned tights), I realised it was probably to my advantage. It'll be much easier to get out and about in the city if she doesn't actually know I'm over there with her. Otherwise she'd end up stuffing me into the bottom of the suitcase so the hotel cleaners wouldn't see me. I've no idea why, but apparently it's not very cool to be 26 years old and travelling with a stuffed toy.

Once I had made up my mind, there was not a minute to be wasted. I grabbed the Hip Hop dictionary off the shelves and got to work straightaway. Fo sheezy, I'm gonna ass out, find me some trills, and get jiggy with all the slammin' candy bars in the hood. Bust this!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

SAD Puppy

Blah. Springtime always saps the motivation out of me. While the rest of London celebrates the return of sunshine this week by rushing to the nearest green space and taking their tops off, I've been stagnating in a state of soporific solar inebriation. Young men's thoughts may be turning lightly to love, but mine are kind of contemplating the ice-cold water at the bottom of the toilet bowl. I know I said I wasn't the most winter-loving pup the other day, but at least I get more done when it's below freezing outside and pelting down rain.

Don't get me wrong, I'm dying to get a tan. I also love the birds twittering distractingly outside my window (in my more limber days, I would have been itching to chase after them), and there's suddenly loads of really nice-looking bitches out walking down the street with their owners.

The sudden appearance of all this lovely stuff means I've been more inclined to spend my days flat on my back, with a tall shot-glass of fruity mocktail within arm's reach, than do anything else. That's not a bad thing in itself, but me, I hate sitting still. The only problem is, blogging in this weather makes me work up a sweat faster than you can say 'Fire Hazard: Keep Away From Heat'. So I try to sit still. Look at me, I'm so rigid with the effort of enjoying myself that if I had teeth you could practically hear me grinding them right now.

Maybe I have the obsessive-compulsive, overachieving, toy dog variation on SAD, which is the seasonal affective disorder that's become the official reason for why English people are so grumpy all the time. It's driving me nuts. Although, I think I'm definitely a bit browner now- when I take off my scarf in the mirror I can see a little white ring around my neck.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Boohoo Boho

Me, I'm not the most winter-loving pup by a long shot, but this year there's one thing making me wish it stays cold right through till next winter.

That thing is, of course, the Boho trend that is very apparently going to be The Look for spring and summer this year in London. If that's not causing excrutiatingly loud alarm bells to go off in your head immediately, let me elaborate: tiered ankle-length cheesecloth skirts, tan sandals, high-school art teacher jewellery, and more peasant-style stuff on the high street than you can poke a hippy at.

Dear Reader, I'm quite aware that you're probably questioning my fashion credentials right now. I'm just a toy dog whose entire wardrobe consists of a yellow dandy scarf; what would I know? Well, I'll give you that first bit about the toy dog and the wardrobe, but I do know what I'm talking about- God knows there's enough disastrously-dressed women passing by my front window each day.

OK, I suppose I should at least be grateful that it's not 'Pretty Khaki' that's going to be taking over the streets. But what will it take to convince English women that a ruffly skirt and fringed handbag do not a Sienna make? There's a reason La Moss looks amazing in shapeless sack dresses and flat Grecian sandals, and that reason has got something to do with the fact she's a gorgeous skinny model and you're not. Girls, you're barking up the wrong arbor and it's only going to end up making your legs look like tree trunks.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Bewdy Mate

World records amuse me no end. These days you can hold all sorts of records, simply by being the first one to think of actually doing it. For example, I'm quite certain that I am the holder of multiple world records, such as the number of words memorised from the Oxford English dictionary in one 24-hour period spent trapped underneath a table leg (51), the longest time spent staring at a blank patch on the wall (47 hrs, 12 minutes), or even the number of near-death experiences with small children and animals (25). However amazing these feats seem to me though, they admittedly pale in comparison to the latest achievement of our wonderful friends down under:

What's not to love about the Australians? Any nation that will specially build a giant surfboard to hold 40+ surfers in order to break a world record has a special spot in my doggy heart. Go you good things!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

I Heart Crisps

Being a dog, I'm hungry pretty much around the clock. If there's something to be eaten somewhere, you can bet I'll be lurking nearby. Fortunately my mistress likes her food almost as much as I do.

Yesterday was shopping day, which means the cupboards are currently fertile foraging grounds. Yippee!

After wading through a forest of dried herbs, I located some prawn-cracker style crisps with a Chinese Spare-Rib and Five-Spice flavour. Ooh-er, that's a bit fancy! I thought to myself. I wonder if they're any good?

Well would you Adam and Eve it- within ten minutes, I'd devoured the entire bag. I can barely describe how much I enjoyed them. So delicious! So more-ish!

I really admire what you people have created with snack food technology in the last decade. I applaud your achievements in overcoming xenophobic crisp-purchasing behaviour in the British public. I still recall the time when honey mustard ham was considered an avant-garde flavour, and when people shook their heads at the ill-conceived notion of prawn cocktail crisps.

It would seem that the industry is moving to achieve the inclusion of ever-increasing numbers of tastes combined within the same flavour. Generally speaking, the current limit seems to be two- albiet, complex- tastes, such as oven-roasted chicken and thyme, or chargrilled beef and peppercorn (although technically, spare-rib and five spice equals six individual flavours).

As a champion of experimentalism and pushing the envelope, may I be so bold as to put forward some of my own flavour suggestions. Perhaps one day, science will be able to realise my vision:

Full English Breakfast (beans, egg, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, toast)
Sunday Roast (roast beef, potatoes, pumpkin, parsnips, Yorkshire pudding)
Ploughman's Lunch (bread, cheddar, pickles, onions, chutney)
Pie and Mash (meat pie, mash, liquor)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Saturday Afternoon

I bet you nine-to-fivers out there think that others couldn't possibly appreciate the weekend as much as you do, right? Well, it's not true. My favourite time of the week happens to be Saturday afternoon. This is when my mistress, having bought her weekend newspaper earlier that morning from the corner off-license, leaves me home alone while she goes off to the local farmers' markets.

I rather like imagining her scrabbling around baskets of dirt-encrusted root vegetables as I relax with a civilised espresso and peruse the latest round-up of designer grooming products.

It warmed the cockles of my heart to read, on page 7, some good press about Pete Doherty. He's been incredibly prolific this week, performing with his band Babyshambles, appearing on BBC radio, and producing some rather intense art for a anarchic-sounding East End literary magazine. What's more, in between all this he even found time for a haircut!

I jest with affection, of course. I actually have a terribly soft spot for Mr D, and have really felt for him over these last few weeks. After all, here is a chap who, like myself, exists in the uncertain territory beyond the borders of what is deemed 'acceptable' and 'normal'. We wander like two l'étrangers in a metaphysical-philosophical desert, frustrated with the world, essentially misunderstood, yearning simply to be allowed just to be, openly and without questions or judgement.

Oh Mr D, champion of the outsiders! I dance to the poetry in my head and hereby toast you with the dregs of my Lavazza.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

No, Sarah Jessica, No!

Good Lord, what is going on with Sarah Jessica Parker?

I was intently enjoying my last 15 minutes of Desperate Housewives (a simply perfect little peach of a show, except for the fact that none of the so-called suburban households have dogs), when during the ad break, I witnessed a stomach-churning 30 seconds of TV footage that completely shattered my concentration for the rest of the episode.

I am, of course, talking about the new Gap 'Pretty Khaki' TV ad. I can just visualise some fluid-thinking ad exec coming up with the genius idea to rip off Bjork's video clip for 'It's Oh So Quiet', except with Sarah Jessica Parker in the starring role, running out of her pink-themed bedroom into the street to throw up a disgustingly twee bunch of flowers into the sunshiney spring sky in order to sell you khaki outfits with horrid girly trim.

Beware: this is one deeply, deeply, uncool advertisement.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Coachwhips in London

Ce soir, the spazzy-crazy San Francisco band the Coachwhips is playing at the Artrocker night at the Buffalo Bar in Highbury Islington.

Typically, while all this fun is going on, I'll be sitting at home, listening to them on the computer.


Purse Peekin

Yes I'm Down