Monthly Archives: July 2014

Last night I climbed to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge and planted a pair of white flags

Last night, while everyone was asleep, I snuck out of my house in Astoria and rode my bike over to the Brooklyn Bridge. My goal was straightforward: to climb all the way up and plant a pair of white flags at the top. And I did it. Everybody’s talking about it, on the Internet, on the news.


I’d been meaning to climb to the top of the Queensboro Bridge ever since I saw Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. But upon executing my plan, I figured that the Brooklyn Bridge is definitely more iconic, and thus a better target for mass media attention.

At first I wanted to just keep it to myself, my own little joke, I’d hear people talking about who could have pulled off such an incredible feat, and I’d laugh to myself, ha, you fools, if only you knew that it was me, that I’m standing right here.

But the spotlight is too great to ignore. I find myself compelled to confess to the world, to the Internet, that it was me. I did it. Nobody else. If anybody else comes forward and says that it was they who did it, they’re lying, and I’m telling the truth.

My reasons are myriad. I originally got the idea when I saw a post on reddit a few days ago celebrating the anniversary of the moon landing. I thought about the flag that the astronauts placed on the surface, and I remembered how I read something somewhere that said that by now, the unfiltered solar radiation would have bleached all of the pigment away. So that’s why, if you look closely, it’s not a totally white flag, it’s an American flag that I whitewashed, for the whole moon effect.

Pretty cool, right? So yeah, there was that. But I also raised the white flag to represent surrender. As in, we as a society finally have collectively surrender, to everything bad in the world, right, like foreign wars, right, and the Illuminati, they don’t want you to hear about these flags, right, and the media, man, we’ve got to, like, stand up, OK, like to the media.

No I’m just kidding, it’s not about anything political. I just wanted to show everybody that I’m capable of climbing up to the top of a New York City bridge. I tell people all the time, stuff like, “I really could do it, I’m in great shape, I’m not even trying to mess around here, I could totally pull it off.” And people don’t want to listen to that sort of nonsense.

No, they want to see it. You’ve got to speak with your actions instead of your words. Which is why I did it. And nobody even saw me coming, or tried to stop me. I’m like that guy who climbed to the top of the New York Times building a few years ago, or the two guys that copied him later that week. I hope people start copying me. I hope I started a trend here, of people climbing up to bridges and planting flags.

Well, I guess I don’t have anything more to say, not really. Just know that it was me. OK world? It was me, Rob G. I climbed up to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge, and I planted those flags. It was like one giant leap for a man. Me. Literally. On my way down, someone knocked over the ladder I used to reach the very bottom, and so I had to jump down like twelve feet. It was a giant leap, and I’d never attempted anything like that before, but I remember watching some YouTube video a while ago of some kids in the Midwest that used a rolling technique to safely jump from the roofs of their garages. And so I executed those giant leaps from memory. And it worked. I did it. Me.

I wish

I wish I were better at drawing. I always liked to draw, but I never really put in too much practice, the kind of dedicated time and effort needed to take any sort of talent or hobby and turn it into something better. And so every once in a while I’ll find myself in front a pad with a pen or a pencil in my hand, and I don’t really know what to do, it’s just this amorphous energy that doesn’t know how to express itself through my hands, and I always wind up drawing the same picture of Spider-Man that I taught myself how to trace from memory when I was in the fourth grade.


I really wish I were a professional hockey player. I played hockey all through grade school, never really any good. I didn’t make my high school’s team, and so I had to play for the town league. I remember my first shift from that first game back when I was fourteen. I was on the ice maybe twenty seconds when I intercepted the puck, skating by myself toward the opponent’s net, sending a wrist shot sailing past the goalie, I had scored. Everyone thought I showed a lot of potential that day, the coach, my parents. I disappointed all of them, proving over the course of the next three years that my experience that day was pure luck, a freak accident where for a brief moment I tricked everybody, even myself, into thinking that I was good at hockey.

I wish I could lift up really heavy objects with my bare hands. Like a car, or giant boulders, really massive stuff that no other human being has ever been able to lift. And I don’t want to be really big, I’d rather keep my non-muscly frame, that way people would be even more shocked when they’d see me raise an entire pickup truck over my head. I wouldn’t have to worry about money, I could just participate in various weightlifting competitions whenever I needed cash, because nobody would pose any real challenge.

If only I could train that family of raccoons that comes out every night from inside of the tree in front of my house. I’ve already given them names, but all of my attempts to domesticate them have proved fruitless. And besides, each time that I see them, I can’t remember who is who, and so how are they supposed to remember what I’m calling them if I can’t even tell them apart? I’ve had dreams where I’d send them on errands, teach them to use their little paws to sweep up the leaves in front of my house. But it’s not happening. They don’t understand that the food I’m putting out for them is supposed to reinforce positive behavior. And honestly, I get a little creeped out how they hiss at me whenever I get too close.

I wish that a Carl’s Jr. or an In-and-Out would open up on the East Coast. All of the West Coast people would be like, “Oh my God! You guys have no idea what you’re in for! Fast food is so much better in California!” And there’d be a huge line the first day, everybody waiting for their animal-style burgers or whatever you’re supposed to call them. And then after like a week or two the crowds would thin until, finally, at the end of the month, they’d run the numbers and realize that they didn’t make enough money to cover rent, that their numbers are all horribly in the red. And so they’d be forced to close up shop, proving once and for all that West Coast fast-food chains are mostly just a lot of unwarranted hype.

I wish that I had ice powers, like Ice Man from the X-Men. That way I wouldn’t have to waste all of my fridge space holding cans of soda and bottles of water. I could just keep them all at room temperature and then shoot them with an icy blast of cold right before pouring them into a frosted glass. All of my glasses would be chilled, and I’d never need to use an air conditioner either, I could just fill my house with a frigid breeze. If anybody ever told me to chill out, I’d make a little snow cloud appear above their head, and I’d laugh as they tried to brush off the snowflakes slowly accumulating on top. I’d say, “No you chill out!” And I’d laugh and laugh.

I’m glad the future didn’t turn out like it did in Back to the Future II

I’ve been seeing it every once a month or so for the past several years, someone posts a picture on the Internet, it’s a screenshot of the clock inside the Doc’s DeLorean. “Today is the date that Marty McFly visited in Back to the Future II!” and, the first time I saw it, I thought it was really cool, but then it kept popping up, someone just photoshopping a new date to match the current one. Super lame.


But it does raise some interesting ideas. Back to the Future II is a movie made in the eighties that attempts to portray what life in America should look like right about now. Obviously there aren’t too many similarities between the real world and that fantasy land where every homeowner has access to his or her personal flying car. But it’s a movie. That’s one idea of what a future might look like.


It makes me wonder, which version of 2014 is better, ours, or the one imagined way back when? While there’s a lot to consider, I’d have to say that the real 2014 has shaped up to be far superior in almost all respects to the one from the movie. And yes, I’m taking into account the fact that mostly everything made in the eighties looks super cheesy in hindsight. But even after acknowledging and compensating for that handicap, the real future is still so much brighter.

That’s not to say that they got everything wrong. I’m obviously talking about Hoverboards here. And while this futuristic neon pink play toy only had a minor role in the movie, it’s lasting grip on our collective imagination only serves to underscore its very noticeable absence from the future that we inhabit today. Yes, the flying cars were also pretty cool, as were the sneakers that tied themselves up with a push of a button. But come on, why do we not have Hoverboards yet? It’s almost enough to make me want to rule in favor of the eighties future, if only to encourage us to realign our modern priorities, shift away from whatever it is we’re currently working on and reorient our goals to making Hoverboards a viable consumer technology.

Almost. But the rest of the eighties future is depressing enough that I can forget for a few moments that I live in a world where Hoverboards remain a distant fiction. Which is weird, because from a cursory glance, the future in Back to the Future II looks bright. Everything is clean and hi-tech, people seem to be happy, in essence, it’s not Mad Max or Robocop or any of the dystopian visions of the future commonly portrayed in the eighties.

But it still kind of sucks. Marty McFly had dreams of becoming a rock star, but in 2014, he instead finds himself living in some highly automated cage where his foreign boss can appear anytime he wants on giant wall mounted TVs. When they decide to fire McFly, it’s not enough to just tell him that he lost his job, they start streaming in commands to all of the printers around the house, “You’re fired!” printed in giant type for his whole family to read. Talk about lack of privacy, I’d rather have the NSA reading my emails than my boss having the ability to weasel his way into my off-the-clock hours.

And speaking of work, why does everybody in the eighties future have to wear two ties? In my version of the future, we’re all wearing less ties, zero ties, not an additional tie. A tie is the stupidest must unnecessary piece of clothing currently in every man’s closet, and yet it’s somehow required for any sort of formal event. What’s the point of looping a piece of fabric around our neck? It’s just dumb. Dumb, dumb, dumb. And yet someone who made this movie thought it would look a little more advanced if we all got to wear an extra.

It’s just a subtle way of showing how maybe their future wasn’t meant to be as appealing as its glossy coated exterior made it appear. Everybody in the house is working. Work, work, work. Everybody’s so busy that they barely have enough time to feed themselves. They can’t cook dinner, they don’t even have time to go out for a bite to eat. No, instead, Marty’s mom comes over and rehydrates a Pizza Hut pizza in some futuristic kitchen appliance. So not only are the people of the twenty-first century forced to eat dehydrated junk food, they have to fit their houses with expensive appliances that deny them even the ability to enjoy their fast food outside of the house.

And why do Marty and his future son appear to be identical twins? It’s too easy of an answer to say that they just wanted Michael J. Fox to play both roles. No, I think that in this vision of the future, gene therapy has advanced to a point where parents could customize the DNA of their offspring, mapping their appearance to the most minute detail. Of course, Marty being a total self-absorbed rock-n-roll wannabe narcissist, he basically molds his son into his clone, ensuring and predicting a perpetual stagnation of the human race, of eighties American decay, endless suburban sprawl, and lame retro-themed diners.

Yeah, the real future is so much better. Seriously, they didn’t even predict the Internet. How do you not predict the Internet? And the further we march ahead, the sillier Back to the Future II looks in the rearview mirror. I say we leave it all behind, stop airing Part II on TV, and try to forget all of those unexplained temporal paradoxes (Like, when Biff steals the time machine, he comes back to the future after having dropped off the sports almanac, but nothing’s changed yet. Why? Shouldn’t he have come back to a future continued by the timeline in which he’s a ruthless billionaire? It doesn’t make sense.) Except, let’s not forget about the Hoverboards. I’d really, really like a Hoverboard. But I said that already.

Just get lost

I was waiting tables the other night and I went up to these two ladies finishing up their glasses of wine, I said, “So, is there anything else that I can offer you tonight?” and this one lady just looked up at me and said, “Will you just get lost? Can you please just get lost?” And I was like, “OK.”


And I walked away. And I’m still thinking about it, because I have no idea what prompted her to tell me to get lost. Everything about the service was as polite and as pleasant as any customers could have wanted their restaurant experience to be. I mean, sure, I had an inkling at the beginning of the interaction that perhaps these two particular ladies weren’t in the mood for many pleasantries. I could tell by the way they purposefully left their menus untouched to the side when they sat down, how, after I told them the specials, they didn’t even look at me when they said, “Thanks,” before returning to their conversation, still not making a move for those menus.

After they finally ordered, when they were in the middle of their chicken salads, I noticed the guest sitting at position one, how her glass of rosé was empty. “May I offer you another glass?” I asked her, to which she replied, “No.” OK, so I went in to take the empty glass off of the table, but she stopped me, she said, “I’m not done yet.”

OK. And then after everything was bused off of the table, after I had offered them dessert, after they declined dessert, I thought, well, I guess that’ll be it then, right? I guess maybe you two will leave and I’ll get to make another ten bucks or so from the next two-top to sit down and order chicken salads and glasses of wine.

But as I went in for that, “Anything else?” the lady at position one gave me a really crooked smile and sad, “You know what? I think I will take that second glass of wine.” “Of course,” I told her, and got her another glass of wine. I’m not sure if she drank the wine, or if the alcohol in the glass eventually evaporated, but about an hour or so later, it was pretty clear that the glass was empty again. And so I went over once more.

“Is there anything else I can offer you tonight?” and that’s when she told me to get lost. And I just said, “OK.” I’m still thinking about what went wrong, at what point this lady decided that I needed some sort of a verbal dressing-down. Every customer has this weapon at their disposal, the ability to be rude and mean for no reason at all, knowing full well that they’re never going to be held accountable, that we’ll just have to smile it off or, worse, argue back and risk getting into a whole confrontation probably involving at least one manager.

I dropped off the check and watched them sit there at their empty table for another half hour or so. I’m sure I could have kept going over, “Anything else?” all of the passive-aggressive tricks I have at my disposal, I could have wiped down the table, or refilled their water glasses every time I saw them take a sip, all the way to the brim, almost overflowing, maybe even overflowing just a few drops.

But whatever, I didn’t care, I don’t care, part of me hates this lady for telling me to get lost. I’m talking real hate here, like the kind of emotion that, left unchecked, eventually amplifies into something twisted. But I don’t want that, not for me. Let this lady keep all of it. I know for a fact that I was polite and pleasant and I smiled the whole time. No, much better to go home, get on the Internet, and write about what a fucking loser that lady was.

Well, maybe I can hang on to just a little bit. I don’t know what I want here, not revenge, I don’t want her life to be worse than it already is. But maybe she could get a taste of something great and lose it immediately. That would be OK, right? So I hope she buys a scratch-off ticket that wins a two-million dollar jackpot, and then I hope she loses it. I hope that her boss promotes her to head a new division of the company that she works at, but right as she shows up for her first day, she gets a call, they tell her corporate didn’t think the new division was such a great idea, that she’ll be returning to her old job immediately. I hope the next time she goes to McDonald’s, she tells them, “No pickles,” and after she goes home and takes her food out, I hope she finds extra pickles, like a whole cucumber’s worth piled up high under that bun. I hope she find the perfect dress on sale the next time she goes shopping at the department store, the one that she’d been eyeing for months, and just as she takes it out of the bag when she gets home, her cat comes over and pukes all over it, and she tries to get the puke-stain out, but it’s still there, she can see it, it smells terrible. And she’ll try to return it, but the clerk at the department store will clearly see the cat puke-stain that won’t come out, she’ll insist, they’ll both insist, finally the clerk will tell her to take her dress and get lost. “Just get lost, all right? Just get lost.”

Dear Taco Bell:

Dear Taco Bell:

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Last night my wife and I planned a taco night for dinner. It wasn’t Tuesday, but honestly, I’m feeling a little over the whole Taco Tuesday thing. Why should tacos be limited to just one day of the week? Is it really that important that taco and Tuesday both start with a T? And Tuesday kind of sucks anyway, as a day, it’s probably the worst day out of the whole week. The previous weekend and all the fun that came along with it is by now a distant memory, and the only thing you really have to look forward to is Wednesday, itself only celebrated for marking the halfway point of another miserable workweek.

I’m off topic already. I went to the grocery store for some taco supplies: ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, I haven’t made tacos in a while, but I didn’t want anything too Mexican. American tacos were my goal here, crunchy yellow shells, shredded yellow cheese, you know, Taco Bell style tacos.

And wouldn’t you know it, I made a turn right down the “ethnic” aisle at the grocery store and right there, right next to the giant bags of Tostitos chips and jars of Del Monte salsa, I found a box, a Taco Bell box. It said, “Taco Dinner Kit.” Bingo. That’s what I thought at least, bingo, here’s a one-stop Taco Bell taco shopping experience.

I looked at the instructions: “Just add ground beef and toppings.” And I kind of felt a little deflated. Because what is a taco without meat and toppings? It’s apparently the contents of your “Taco Dinner Kit” box, it’s some shells, a couple of packets of Taco Bell sauce, and a spice packet. It’s nothing.

And to make matters worse, I looked at the instructions printed on the side of the box, you’re telling me I need eight ounces of Kraft shredded cheddar cheese, one container of Breakstone’s sour cream. I’m sorry, Taco Bell, but if you’re not going to provide me with the tools I need to get the job done, you’ve ceded any position in which you’re going to tell me what brands I should buy to make my own tacos.

Look, I’m not suggesting you try to make your product something it’s not. I’m trying to imagine the logistical hurdles of including shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, grated cheese and sour cream to your box. You’d have to keep some of the ingredients refrigerated, and would the corn tortillas lose their crunch in the fridge? Like I said, it sounds like a lot of work.

But to call what you sold me a kit, it just comes across as disingenuous. How about just calling it, “Taco Shells.” The sauce? Don’t bother. You give that stuff away for free by the fistful every time I visit a Taco Bell location, and so there are always some spare Milds or Hots floating around my kitchen somewhere. The taco seasoning, what is it really, salt? Cumin? Just throw it in for free and don’t mention it.

And I get it, you put everything in a big box, you make it look really official. I just feel a little duped, is all. I can’t see inside, and so how can I tell if my crunchy hard taco shells are intact inside of that box? These particular shells actually made it to my house OK, but that’s not the point. How was I to know? I had to take a leap of faith, just kind of taking your word for it that the shells had made it in one piece from production to my kitchen, and I really don’t need that type of low-level stress when all I’m trying to do is prepare a really casual Taco Thursday.

In closing, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way. I’m a Taco Bell guy through and through, I stand by your products and, in the future, if I’m ever thinking about making tacos again, I want to let you know that Taco Bell brand taco products are still on my short list of preferred purchases. Having said that, I see plenty of opportunities for improvement. Get rid of the whole misleading “Taco Kit” verbiage. Maybe make the shells a little bigger. Maybe offer me some Doritos Locos taco shells. That would be awesome.

Taco Bell, I love you, your restaurants stand as a model for what American fast food strives to be. Your grocery store offering, however, well … just think about it, this is just something to consider, is all.


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Rob G.