Tag Archives: marijuana

30 awesome things to do in Astoria, Queens

1. Hanging out at my friend Bill’s place, drinking beer and playing Call of Duty online multiplayer until like two in the morning.


2. At like two or two-thirty, throwing out the question, “Do you want to get something to eat?” before opening up the Seamless App and realizing that all of the restaurants that you want to buy food from closed at like ten.

3. Remembering, wait a second, Bel Aire diner on 21st Street is open 24 hours. Let’s just order from there.

4. You realize that you really want a burger and fries, but doesn’t diner food always taste a little weird in a take-out container? Not weird, bad necessarily, but not great, not like sitting at the diner, getting a fresh burger. It’s the fries, yeah, they’ve got to be crisp. They can’t sit there steaming in a to-go container, everything gets all soggy. Rhe lettuce and tomato on the burger, that gets soggy too. You guys are really stoned and this food should at least hit some of the right buttons.

5. Bill says, “Let’s just go to the diner. I mean, it’s open all night.” And you’re like, “Yeah, that’s a good idea. Let’s do it.”

6. And then you sit around for like two more hours, playing some more video games, but your fingers hurt, you’ve lost that video game spark, and you’re just kind of mindlessly moving through the maps, not really making any contribution to the team kill count, passing Bill’s little pipe back and forth.

7. It’s the same with the pot. It’s like, smoke all you want, at this point in the night it’s not doing anything, you’re not getting any higher. It’s just making that metallic taste in the sides of your mouth more pronounced.

8. You’re like, “Hey Bill, weren’t we going to go to the diner?”

9. And at this point, you don’t even want to go anymore. It’s close to four-thirty, the sooner you get to bed, the sooner you can get up tomorrow and start nursing that buzzing hangover already starting to give birth at the sides of your head, the one that’ll insist on you streaming all of your favorite Netflix shows while you lie stunned on the couch, while simultaneously making it impossible to really absorb or digest what’s happening on screen. So while yes, you’ll technically be able to say you watched all of House of Cards season two, you won’t really remember what happened, or who did what, and when everyone talks about it at work, you’ll just try your best not to look confused.

10. But Bill is finally like, “Nah man, we’re going. Let’s go.” And he gets his coat on and you’re like, OK, I guess we’re going.

11. Bel Aire diner is much farther away than you remember, and it’s always pretty depressing walking this west of Broadway past one or two in the morning. That buzz of life and activity that defines your mental definition of Astoria, you question whether it ever existed in the first place as you gaze out at the desolate parking lot on the corner of 21st and Broadway, the Rite Aid, the Post Office. What happened to the White Castle?

12. But you go inside and, seriously, you didn’t expect it to be this crowded. Where are all of these people coming from? Why doesn’t anybody else look as dead as you feel on the inside right now?

13. They seat you right away and, even though you knew you just wanted a burger, this menu is huge, and maybe you want a milkshake, or a waffle, or some fried calamari.

14. You ask the waiter for just another minute, and he disappears for twenty. Actually getting food feels like an eternity. You have all the time in the world to mull over what you’ll order.

15. And when the waiter finally shows back up, you surprise even yourself when the words, “I’ll have a Monte Christo please, and a Coke,” come out of your mouth.

16. When Bill says, “What’s the Monte Christo?” you don’t even remember, and the waiter already took the menu away, but it must have looked really tasty.

17. And while the walking to the diner took forever, and the ordering took half a lifetime, the food shows up two and a half minutes later. It’s the Monte Christo. It’s French toasted challah topped with hot turkey and ham covered in melted Swiss. The waiter gives you a little monkey dish of butter and maple syrup, again, you had no idea, but you think, whatever man, he gave it to me for a reason.

18. And then you blink and you’re walking out of the diner, only having the vaguest idea of having devoured something delicious, the corners of your lips coated with the residual stick of mapley deliciousness.

19. And then you blink again and you’re back at your place, you’re lying in your bed trying to go to sleep but, even though you couldn’t keep your eyes open toward the end of the night at Bill’s, now everything’s kind of buzzing. But it’s not a buzz, buzzing, it’s like just enough of a buzz to keep you up. And the sun’s starting to come up and that’s not helping you drift off either. All you’re thinking about is how you overdid it, how you were looking so forward to this weekend but now it’s over, and tomorrow’s shot, and maybe some of Monday too.

20. You wake up in the morning and the hangover is soul shattering.

21. There’s nothing in the fridge. You place a takeout order to Brooklyn Bagel, and the guy has you on hold for like fifteen minutes. You know that this is only the tip of the waiting-around iceberg here. You’re on the phone, lying in your own misery, while the rest of Astoria is out and about, they’re all awake, they’re all currently standing on line at Brooklyn Bagel. They take the priority, OK, take out calls for lazy assholes too hungover to put on a pair of pants, they’ve got to wait.

22. You order your two everything bagels with bacon egg and cheddar, you’re half gallon of Tropicana Some Pulp OJ, and no, you’re not being obnoxiously over-specific, it’s the take out guy. Everything you order has at least two or three follow-up questions. Cheese: what kind? OJ: what size? How much pulp?

23. And what time is it anyway? Twelve-thirty? That’s actually not too bad. Maybe some of Sunday night can still be salvaged here. I mean, it’s still kind of late. You’re not going to go running in Astoria Park or anything, but maybe drinks later at The Strand? I’m just saying, it’s not like it’s three, or four. Twelve-thirty, you can still get breakfast at twelve-thirty.

24. And then the food finally shows up, you hadn’t anticipated the shame of having to confront another human being in your current state, really hung over, disheveled, desperate for food. All while this other person is, what, he’s on a bike delivering the food that you couldn’t get yourself to get dressed and wait on line for like everyone else? Maybe if you just give him a big tip, like a seven or eight dollar tip, maybe he won’t think you’re such a loser. He must party every once in a while, right? You guys are just on different schedules. Just like an eight or nine dollar tip.

25. The food, it’s great, but it’s just like your grandmother always said when you were a little kid, that thing about your eyes being bigger than your stomach. Because yeah, you were really hungry, and sure, two bagels seemed like a good idea at a time. But two bites into that second sandwich and it’s obvious the extra money that you’ve wasted. Maybe you’ll eat it later, but probably not. More than likely it’s going to sit there for the rest of the day, a cautionary tale, a reminder when you go to order dinner that, hey man, just take it easy OK? Maybe you only need four tacos from Los Portales, OK, not eight. That’s just excessive.

26. And when Bill calls you up at four and you’re like, “Bill, did you just get up?” and he’s like, “Yeah man, when did you get up?” you don’t have to be honest, you can just say that you don’t remember. But take a look, OK, that’s a guy who doesn’t have his shit together, OK, you can’t sleep until four in the afternoon, man, this isn’t college, all right, this shit isn’t cute when you’re almost thirty.

27. You’re starting to feel better about yourself, but you remember all of that pot Bill bought yesterday, how you guys barely made a dent last night, even though you just kept smoking, over and over again, you can still feel it on the back of your throat.

28. “Hey Bill, you want to get together and watch some House of Cards?”

29. “Yeah man, I’ve still got all of that pot. You want to grab some beers and come over?”

30. Bingo. And then you head over to Bill’s for a nice, easy Sunday. Nothing crazy, nothing like last night. Maybe just Corona, you know, nothing crazy. And bring the bagel. Someone’ll eat it. Just enjoy it man, you’re still young, just put on a clean pair of pants and go to Bill’s. And fucking House of Cards man, that show is the fucking best, you gotta savor that shit, because you know you’re going to blow through, if not all thirteen episodes, at least six, at least a solid six or seven hours of once-a-year, quality TV.

Forced birdwatching with my uncle

One time when I was in high school my mom made me go on a bird watching trip with one of my uncles. He was a member of some ornithological club, and every time I’d see him, he’d be like, “Rob! What’s up buddy? You’ve got to come bird watching with me and the boys this weekend. Come on, it’ll be fun! It’s always good to pick up a new hobby, what do you say?”


And what was I going to say? I couldn’t be like, “No, I don’t want to go bird watching, that sounds boring, all I want to do is stay inside and play Nintendo 64,” because you can’t talk to adults that way, especially not your uncle, my mom would have been pissed. So I did what probably any other teenager in my situation would have done, I gave a really unenthusiastic non-committing response, a, “Yeah, maybe, that sounds cool,” and then I’d just answer every follow up question with simply a yes or a no, making sure to pause at least two or three seconds in between each answer, trying really hard to make it look like I was just barely paying attention.

But I guess my uncle either couldn’t take the hint, or he took it and he said to himself, nah, I’m not going to take that hint. He probably thought, sure Rob doesn’t want to go bird watching, but that’s because he doesn’t realize how much fun it is. I know, I’ll go behind his back to his mother and make plans for next weekend.

And you know, being fourteen is probably the worst age any human can be. You have pretty much all of the mental faculties that you have as an adult, like, I can remember all of my high school years as if they happened last year. You think for yourself, you have your own opinions. In any other time in human history, fourteen year olds were not only expected to be completely independent, but they were most likely already parents themselves. But when I was fourteen, for some reason it was totally acceptable for my mom to shout up to my room on Friday night, “Robbie, you better get to sleep, your uncle’s picking you up for a bird watching trip early tomorrow morning.”

My fate was sealed. “What?” I could scream and protest for as long as I could sustain my pleading, “You made plans for me to go on a bird watching trip?” it wasn’t going to change anything. And sure enough, before I knew it, seven o’clock rolled around and I was being forcibly dragged out of my bed to take a drive up to some remote bird sanctuary near Tarrytown, NY.

I had expected my uncle and all of his friends to be this bunch of nerdy looking doofs, but I got in the car, there was my uncle and two guys that, I don’t know how to describe them exactly, but they didn’t fit the description of what I had imagined a birdwatcher to look like. One guy had a black leather jacket, the other guy was wearing a knit cap, it wasn’t even that cold out.

And then, once we got going, nobody talked, there was no chit-chat. I’m thinking about my life right now, if I went on some sort of a trip with a bunch of my friends, and one of them brought along his fourteen year old nephew, I’d at least try to make conversation, “What’s up champ? How’s high school? You play any sports?” basic small talk, it’s not that hard. But this was awkward, no radio, the guy riding shotgun was chain smoking cigarettes with his right arm resting on the open window.

Finally we got to this wooded area, I’m not sure if it was a bird sanctuary, I didn’t see any signs, and what happened next always made me doubt if we were where I was told we would be. We hiked around for a while, my uncle had a map but wouldn’t say where we were headed, after about an hour or so we came upon this big tree.

“All right boys, this is it,” my uncle said as the other two guys started unloading a bunch supplies. Grappling hooks, lots of rope, some weird manual drill looking thing, besides the binoculars, none of this stuff looked like anything I’d associate with bird watching. “Don’t you guys usually carry giant books with drawings of birds and stuff?” I asked nobody in particular.

“Can it, kid,” did that guy just tell me to can it? “You’re the lookout.” I asked, “The lookout for what, aren’t we all lookouts? Aren’t we looking out for birds or something?” The other guy said, “Don’t be a wise guy, now just keep your eyes open.” I looked toward my uncle for something, I don’t know, reassurance, maybe a little information as to what was going on, but he just handed me a small backpack, he said, “Just hold onto this for a second.”

And then they all put on these harnesses and started climbing up the tree. I had no idea what was going on, but like half an hour later this park ranger shows up. The guys had pulled up their ropes so, unless you were looking straight up, you’d have no idea what was going on. “What are you doing out here?” the ranger said, “This is protected land. What’s in that backpack?”

I didn’t know what to say. I only hoped that my uncle had prepared me for this, that that’s why I was holding this backpack. I handed it over and the ranger undid the zipper. He fished inside for a few seconds and came out with a small pipe, a lighter, and a dime-sized bag of pot. “All right buddy, you’re coming with me.”

I should have said something, I should have told the ranger to look up, but I froze, I didn’t know what my uncle was doing with those guys up in that tree. Years later I read some article about egg-snatchers, how in the United Kingdom there was this weird secret society dedicated to collecting various types of eggs.

But I never got to connect the dots. The ranger called my parents, they had to drive north to pick me up, my uncle played dumb, giving my mom some bullshit like, “Well, we were all watching birds but Rob said he had to use the bathroom. We looked everywhere for him but he disappeared. Thanks for ruining our trip!” and then when my mom turned to yell at me, he kind of gave me a wink, but not a nice wink, like a threatening wink, like you ever tell your mom about this, a misdemeanor marijuana charge will be the least of your problems.

Seventh Heaven is the worst show in the history of television

I’ve been thinking about Seventh Heaven all day. It came out of nowhere. That stupid theme song just popped in my head, kind of in the background at first, like I don’t remember when it actually started, but it must have been imperceptible, gently blending in behind all of my other thoughts, slowly working its way into the forefront of my consciousness. And then it was all I could hear, that, “Oooooooh Seventh Heaven,” over and over again. It’s terrible.

And I haven’t thought about Seventh Heaven in forever, so my mind, while chewing on the never-ending theme song stuck on loop, it’s been digging up basically every Seventh Heaven related memory I have stored inside my brain. After having not thought about it in years, I can’t believe how terrible that show really was. Even worse than I remember. I can’t believe I actually watched it.

It started airing when I was in seventh grade. Seventh grade. Seventh Heaven. I’m trying to think of some sort of a connection, but I think that’s it, really, and it’s not even much of a connection at all. Or it could be a sign, from God, telling seventh grade me to watch Seventh Heaven. Seeing as how the show is all about cookie-cutter morality all draped in a semi-religious backdrop, I guess that makes about as much sense as any.

Who knows why I started watching the show? When you’re twelve years old, you’ll watch anything. It was on regular TV. It was on at like eight at night. What else would I be doing? Homework? Please. I never did homework.

Growing up, we weren’t allowed to watch a majority of what was on TV. No Fresh Prince. No Blossom. All way too mature I guess. Whatever, part of me wished my mom had banned Seventh Heaven, if only to spare me the nonsensical bullshit of the Camden family every week for the next five years of my life.

The dad’s a minister. The Reverend. As Newt Gingrich told Mitt Romney last year, “Enough of the pious baloney.” The whole premise of the show was a constant stream of black and white, good and evil garbage. On especially bad episodes, they whole program would basically turn into an hour long PSA. Forget plot, forget characters. Just get to the pointing of a random topic and start sermonizing about it.

There was a video game episode. One of the kids got a Game Boy but the parents tied the whole thing into a culture of desensitizing violence. There’s an episode where the brother starts smoking cigarettes. There are bullies at school. Cutting. Bulimia. Drinking, drugs, fireworks. Vandalism. Acne. Literally, just name some random topic, some random ill of society, and on that given week, every single member of the family will independently be confronted with and will have to deal with that specific topic.

Everything, every problem, every question, there’s always a clear-cut answer. No in betweens, no halfway, no gray areas. And while there’s always a lesson to be learned, usually coming right at you directly from the Reverend’s pulpit, they’ll always manage to dramatize the situation even further by demonstrating at length why good is good and just how evil all things evil really are.

One week the older brother Matt gets tempted with marijuana. He never smokes it, of course, but he drops the joint accidentally in front of his house. The mom finds it. The kids find it and think it’s the mom’s. Everyone in the family is all at the same time talking to each other about the evils of marijuana. The whole thing comes to a climax in the form of a good old fashioned family meeting. After the Reverend threatens to drug test everyone in the household, Matt admits it was his, at which point the little brother Simon flips out, starts crying, screaming about how his older brother really let him down.

In the world of Seventh Heaven, the act of simply considering marijuana makes you a full-fledged junkie. One sip of beer makes you drunk, and getting behind the wheel after that one sip makes you a felon. And don’t think you can get away with anything, because the Reverend owns the police. He’s got Sergeant Michaels on speed dial, ready and willing to do whatever it takes to maintain peace and harmony.

Seventh Heaven was terrible, a truly awful, awful, terrible TV show. I can’t believe it was shown to a national audience. A bunch of bullshit ridiculous preachy sermonizing from a totally unrealistic family set in a town that doesn’t resemble any real place I’ve ever been to in my life. You want to watch TV and get lectured? Not me. I want to watch crime and space travel and really stupid funny stuff. Fucking Seventh Heaven.

I’m all for it

Here’s a tip. Whenever somebody uses the phrase, “I’m all for ____,” they’re not really all for it at all. They’re really all against it. One time I heard a commercial on the radio for an SUV. The narrator was some mom, and she said, “I’m all for the environment, but safety is my priority when buying a vehicle.” You have to get past the fact that, this lady isn’t who she says she is, she’s an actress. So it’s really the car company itself speaking directly to you, telling you that they’re all for the environment. But what they’re really trying to tell you is, “We don’t care at all about the environment. And you shouldn’t either. Buy our Canyonero.”

I’m all for healthy eating, but if food companies want to use trans-fats, who are we to say they can’t? I’m all for portion control, but I don’t want the government telling me what size soda I’m allowed to buy. I’m all for gun rights, I just don’t think that people should be allowed to buy semi-automatic firearms, stockpile hoards of ammunition, or carry concealed weapons. See what I did there? I don’t care about gun rights at all. What I was doing was stating my argument while at the same time countering any arguments that might say that I’m anti gun rights. Which is false. It’s just a clever trick of the English language.

But you can use this trick in a more abstract way. You can make a really broad general statement, like, “I’m all for personal liberty.” And then you can follow it up with a statement that has nothing to do with the first part, thereby invalidating whatever you’re talking about. I’m all for personal liberty, but I’m don’t think New York Jets fans should be allowed to wear any team merchandise in public. I’m arbitrarily slamming an entire sports franchise and its fan base while at the same time standing up for something vague and general, in this case personal liberty. Who is going to argue against personal liberty?

When you’re engaged in an argument, or you’re making an argument, you’re always supposed to maintain some sort of civility. It’s just nice. When I’m arguing, I like to say stuff like, “Well, I disagree,” instead of saying, “No, you’re wrong.” That way you can get your point of view across without alienating whoever you’re engaging with. “Well, I would argue that …”

So on the surface anyway, “I’m all for,” really should be a nice thing to add to a conversation, to a disagreement. And maybe it was when it was first used. But whenever I hear it being thrown around, it’s always in a way to trivialize whatever it is being argued against. Go back to my SUV example and the woman on the radio. “I’m all for the environment, but what I care about is safety.” What’s going on here? To me, what I’m hearing is, “The environment? That’s cute. OK, sure, we’re for the environment too. Having said that, it doesn’t matter. Safety.”

That’s another trick. Just say safety. Arguments for safety basically trump anything. Why don’t high schools or colleges sponsor ski trips anymore? Why is marijuana illegal? Why did we go to war in Iraq? Safety, safety, and safety. But the safety excuse isn’t even applied universally, because we still encourage kids to run at each other headfirst every single day at football practice, we still allow people to buy and consume unlimited quantities of alcohol, and there are still a ton of other despotic countries in the world that we aren’t invading and overthrowing. Look, I’m all for head injury awareness, but football is ingrained in our culture. There’s no way we’re ever going to change anything. Look, I’m all for the free market, but we cannot stop until the war on drugs is won. Look, I’m all for diplomacy, but listen up Saddam, you have twenty-four hours to get out of Iraq before our tanks start rolling in towards Baghdad.

And seriously, nobody really needs this detailed of an explanation, but I’m running out of things to say here. I had something to say, and yeah, it took me a little long to cut to the chase. Or, it didn’t really take that long, but I added a bunch of unnecessary words. I’ve never really figured out how to be concise. Something about ten words where one will suffice. But listen, if you’ve got any advice, how I can tighten all of this up, let me know. I’m all for some constructive criticism.