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Come Into My Parlour

Recently, I revamped my links section. I love to organize, so it was fun. In keeping with the theme of hagginess and fagginess, I made titles that fit this idea.

I felt the need to create a whole separate category for my dearest friend, g8s, because we have sort of entered this blogging life together. We have been friends for about 12 years and have a shared history, so a lot of my stories are his and vice versa.

Today's post from g8s is The Story of Coney Island. He and I lived there together when I first moved to the city so it will always be special to me. It is the beginning of my history as a New Yorker.
It is a beautifully written and photographed story and, I urge you to see for yourself.

Wherever you are, if you are feeling the need to escape to a sunny isle somewhere, ot if you love a good New York story click here -- you won't regret it.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 11:29 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 11:29 PM   |


School Mistakes Huge Burrito for a Weapon

I would love to be the person who gets to write these kinds of headlines. They're the kind of headlines that don't need a story, so much. You can just make up your own and it's probably just as good as the truth.

Here, though, real life is pretty damn funny.
From the Associated Press:
Someone called authorities Thursday after seeing a boy carrying something long and wrapped into Marshall Junior High in Clovis, New Mexico. The drama ended two hours later when the suspicious item was identified as a 30-inch burrito filled with steak, guacamole, lettuce, salsa and jalapenos and wrapped inside tin foil and a white T-shirt.

In the meantime, more than 30 parents, alerted by a radio report, descended on the school. Visibly shaken, they gathered around in a semi-circle, straining their necks, awaiting news.

"There needs to be security before the kids walk through the door," said Heather Black, whose son attends the school.

After the lockdown was lifted but before the burrito was identified as the culprit, parents pulled 75 students out of school, Russell said.

Russell said the mystery was solved after she brought everyone in the school together in the auditorium to explain what was going on.

"The kid was sitting there as I'm describing this (report of a student with a suspicious package) and he's thinking, 'Oh, my gosh, they're talking about my burrito.'"

Afterward, eighth-grader Michael Morrissey approached her.

"He said, 'I think I'm the person they saw,'" Russell said.

The burrito was part of Morrissey's extra-credit assignment to create commercial advertising for a product.

"We had to make up a product and it could have been anything. I made up a restaurant that specialized in oddly large burritos," Morrissey said.

After students heard the description of what police were looking for, he and his friends began to make the connection. He then took the burrito to the office.

"The police saw it and everyone just started laughing. It was a laughter of relief," Morrissey said.

"Oh, and I have a new nickname now. It's Burrito Boy."

Miss Hag. urges you to insert your own joke here.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 6:08 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 6:08 PM   |

Janet's Nipplering Still Piercing Our Subconscious

I have cherished memories of reading the newspaper. One of the happier moments of my youth is the weekly arrival of the newspaper supplement, "The Mini Page." It thrilled me to read a whole section of the paper expressly written for young minds craving knowledge.

Oblivious to the function of news media, I looked at the arrival of the daily paper as a learning experience. Something fun. Today, I am a culture whore; devouring all types of media from magazines and newspapers, Air America radio and NPR, ezines and blogs. However, reading the paper today inspires more anxiety than elation. I vacillate between fear, disgust and fury as I learn about the myriad battles waged against personal liberties every day.

As I'm sure you know, the House of Representatives recently passed legislation that greatly increases FCC fines for indecency in broadcast programming. The Senate would like to widen the scope of this measure to include cable and satellite radio as well as the internet. According to the Federal Communications standards:

"Obscene speech is not protected by the First Amendment and cannot be broadcast at any time. To be obscene, material must meet a three-prong test:

* An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
* The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and
* The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

Even these guidelines are inexact because it does not specify what an "average" person's standards would be. Nor does it seem clear that there is a specific way of defining whether or not something has artistic merit. The appropriate question to ask ourselves is not "what" is indecorous; rather, we should wonder "who" we are afraid of offending and "why" something is deemed abhorrent.

A common answer to the question of "who" seems to be "the children." Recently, I listened to a talk radio discussion about the imposition of fines by the FCC for inappropriate use of foul language. Currently, a broadcast (radio or television) of a single usage of the ever deplorable F-word wears a price tag of a quarter million dollar fine. The guests speaking on the radio show kept using "our children" as the impressionable audience by which we need to judge the material of every day communication. It seems as though the final decision on decency comes down to the members of society who do not even possess the money to buy a television or radio.

When the taboo of an image or word is removed, it loses its power to pervert. Instead of fervently sanitizing mediums of expression, we should educate forming minds on how to impart reason in determining right and wrong. This ability to ascertain nuance comes from exposure to a variety of things, not homogeny.

If we coddle children into submissive thought we cannot promote the maturity of reason that will make them into tolerable adults. When is it too early to learn that it is inconceivable to live in a world void of nipples and sarcasm? I should not have to live in a dumbed-down version of a world with fuzzy images and bleeped language, a world with a ten-second delay, because somebody else does not know how to properly instruct their own children.

Our collective unconscious is being swept clean of images and words that someone believes we should fear and avoid. However, the enrichment of any society's culture comes from the creation and proliferation of its art. Are we supposed to be inspired by bland interpretations of music and words?

Of course there will always be certain boundaries of taste that we feel the need to define. However, it is undiscerning to apply universal truths to such individual determinations. In order to evolve as a society and also protect the liberty of true free thought, we must not allow antiquated obstinance to champion the cause of morality. The revolutionaries of American history fought for the cause of free speech. It is no longer a question of whether or not we should have freedom of expression. The war is now about virtue, the worth of each act of expression.

The casualties of the war on our minds will be the inextricable confines on aggregate thought. How far can the mind expand when the act of its expression is constrained, or worse, removed?

I do not ask that every person believes as I do. But we must not allow our way of life, our opinions, the paradigm by which we measure the content of our culture to be decided on our behalf. The future of forward-thinking and revolutionary thought depends on a mind that is allowed to be exposed to all elements of expression, even those that seem inappropriate.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 2:59 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 2:59 PM   |


Impress a Filipino

(Click for larger view.)

(Tak Toyoshima draws the strip, Secret Asian Man, for Boston's Weekly Dig. )

For those of you who didn't take a course on Philippine History, you may be like S.A.M. and wonder why your friend who says he's Asian has a name that is Spanish.

Spain colonized the Philippines for three centuries. They sent their missionaries to all the villages and changed everyone's surnames to Spanish names. They also gave them the gift that keeps on giving --- Catholicism. The Philippines is the only predominantly Catholic country in the Asian continent. Which is only one of many reasons why they are consummately screwed up.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 6:30 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 6:30 PM   |

Say Again?

If you visit Overheard in New York, you will find blurbs of conversations that people submit which they hear in passing. The site has postings that go back almost two years, and the sheer volume of such sayings may lead you to believe that people are just generally so damn witty.

My work puts me in contact with hundreds of people a week and I'm willing to take the opposing viewpoint on that stance.

That being said, I would also venture to say that if you can capture the exact words that come from people's mouths, at times you could encounter sheer brilliance. My friendly fag, Rob, stopped by for a stimulant klatsch (coffee...why?) yesterday afternoon. If someone followed him around with a taperecorder for a day, they might learn the key to divine enlightenment. And, they might learn that god can be a scary bitch.

Por ejemplo:


"Listen, honey. Judge Judy once said, 'If it doesn't make sense, it's probably not true. The truth makes sense.' I was trying to tell this new boy that! I told him, "Look, I was dating a hustler before you. A prostitute, I can take. A liar?! No."

link * Miss Marisol posted at 1:45 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 1:45 PM   |


Snippy Seen-It-All Goofballs Serving Food 24/7.

When I found out that Florent was being reviewed by Frank Bruni in the New York Times, I exhibited the same befuddlement as the people to whom I told this fact.

"Florent? They're reviewing....Florent?"

Usually, such ballyhoo is reserved for the places attached to a chef du jour: Tourondel, Takayama, Palaccio, Dufresne, Keller. You expect to see the names of the modern restaurateurs: Vongerichten, Boulud, McNally or Chodorow. New York is a town whose restaurant politics rival the drama at the state legislative level. Here, chefs are literally taste makers and not just cooking performers like the dolts on the Food Network.

Competing fine dining establishments compare stars like generals in a war. Unlike most restaurants put through the Times ringer, however, Florent's fate does not rest within the Dining In, Dining Out section.

For Florent to get ink at this point in his career is a feat as indomitable as the man himself.

A Fanciful Bistro, but Not Too Fancy
by Frank Bruni

About a year and a half ago, in a fit of unwarranted panic, Florent Morellet determined that he could no longer close his restaurant, Florent, between 5 and 9 a.m. on weekdays and had to return it to its original 24-hour schedule.

The trigger for that decision said everything about the evolution of Manhattan's once gritty meatpacking district. Mr. Morellet had heard a dread prophecy: that Starbucks, which already operated one store about six blocks away, might open another within a few hundred feet. And he couldn't abide the thought of too many more early risers going over to the dark side of skim caramel macchiatos.

To compete, he put green Florent logos on to-go cups.

"Always be positive and proactive," he explained during a recent telephone conversation, laughing a tinkling laugh.

An upbeat, mischievous spirit is much of what has propelled Florent, with its pink neon sign and red vinyl banquette, its goofball servers and eclectic clientele, through nearly two decades since it served its first steak frites in August 1985.

But despite its minor adjustment for a Starbucks that didn't come, it has less often bent to shifting trends and times than bucked them, staying largely the same while all around it changed, while the muscle of the Mineshaft gave way to the Manolos of Spice Market and risqué was usurped by chardonnay.

The secret to Florent's enduring success is its integrity, which has now brought it full circle. After years when it was a naughty urban adventure and years when it felt like a tired cliché, it is once again what it was always meant to be: a simultaneously sensible and kooky bistro with onion soup and escargots, boudin noir and burgers, crème caramel and chocolate mousse, at reasonable prices that underscore its welcoming way. Florent is open to all and it is open all the time.

I went at 9:45 p.m. on a recent Friday and found it jammed, but Darinka, who began working there 19 years ago and wears her hair in a retro beehive, promised me a table in five minutes. I arched an eyebrow.

"Would I lie to you?" she said coquettishly.

My friends and I had to wait only four minutes, which whizzed by as we surveyed the other diners: a lone fortysomething man reading The Economist at the Formica counter; a gaggle of thirtysomething Italian speakers at a round Formica table; smatterings of twentysomethings with bulky black eyewear, the training wheels of hipness.

Our food came almost instantly, and almost all of it was evidence that Florent was not coasting on mere nostalgia. The grilled tuna in a generous Niçoise salad was rare, tender and nestled beside a sliced egg that had not been boiled too long. A duck pâté delivered the creamy richness we wanted. Roasted chicken was crispy and moist. Many fancy restaurants bungle that.

I went at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday and chose a juicy, plump cheeseburger on an English muffin as a sponge for too much alcohol earlier on. It was gone in a flash, as was a friend's equally juicy, plump chicken breast sandwich. But we lingered in a happy crowd of young revelers, straight and gay, who canoodled in corners and tried to make the night last just a little longer.

And I went for weekend brunch, walking past the hordes clamoring for admission to Pastis. Florent had open tables.

There were tourists with maps but also downtown parents with strollers, and there was a younger waitress who might someday be Darinka. She didn't have the hair, but she had the arch attitude.

"Give me one second," I said as two friends and I glanced at menus.

"One second," she said. "Another second."

We ate an omelet, sausage, French toast and eggs Benedict, the bland, sticky hollandaise proving to be the lone false note. There were quick, regular refills on the coffee, which was seasoned with cinnamon, a trick I hadn't employed or experienced since college. It made me smile.

Florent has never chased sophistication or, for that matter, excellence. The wines in its limited selection are listed by region or grape, but not producer and year. Its desserts are uninventive and unexceptional.

Its shoestring fries, which are central to its mission, sometimes sag a bit. Its crab cakes, which are not, look and taste as much like falafel as anything born of the sea. Sane people don't go to Florent for them.

They go for the basics, expecting satisfaction, not bliss. They go for its frumpy individualism, which once made it a darling of the downtown art crowd and which it wears in too blunt and low-key a fashion to lapse into shtick.

And they go because Florent is more than a restaurant. It's a piece of social history and an ode to Mr. Morellet, 51, a transplanted Parisian so famous in some circles that his last name is as unnecessary (and unknown) as Bjork's. She, of course, has come to his restaurant many times.
He put it in the meatpacking district because he romped in the gay bars in the area at the time. He took over a Greek luncheonette, with its shiny aluminum and careless lighting, and he never changed the layout or cosmetics all that much.

But he sprinkled it with his brimming wit and his quieter sentimentality. Among the unmarked maps of unidentified cities on the walls are three imaginary ones, which he drew, and one map of a country, Liechtenstein. It hangs above the spot where the artist Roy Lichtenstein, who died in 1997, used to sit.

On the menu board are ever-changing lists, such as a spring to-do list ("abolish Congress") and ways to survive 2005 ("vacation outside the U.S."). The unexplained numbers on the bottom track Mr. Morellet's T-cell count, which he said has been improving with new medications. He tested positive for H.I.V. in 1987.

His restaurant, like him, is a survivor, and it has adapted, but not so very much. That Niçoise has been supplemented with a seared tuna salad with wasabi aioli. That roast chicken is now free-range. The baguette that used to cradle that chicken sandwich has been replaced by seven-grain bread.

And then, of course, there are those cups with green logos. Just don't expect Florent to be filling them with frappuccinos anytime soon.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 3:21 AM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 3:21 AM   |


My First Baker's Dozen

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

FROM: Baker's Dozen.
"The Idea:
Realizing that my local bagel store has Baker's Dozen specials on Mondays led to this. It has become a weekly thing that others want to participate in,too. The idea is to come up with twelve thoughts and one pic to describe your weekend. Try using quotes, events, blog entries, whatever. Post a link to your entry when you're done."

1. It's not your birthday if your friends don't make you do something embarassing.
2. Almost anyone looks good in a pink shimmery cowboy hat.
3. Turning 30 is less climactic than turning 29.
4. Men who sport hair down to their ass probably have a warped view of masculinity.
5. People hate it when you pronounce "schedule" like "shed-jewel."
6. It is possible to mix different alcohols (wine, beer, hard liquor) as long as you space it out over several hours.
7. New York state wines are far superior to California wines. Gulp!
8. Duck mousse pate and mimosas taste fantabulous at 6 a.m.
9. I'd rather be surrounded by too many gay men than too many straight men.
10. There's never enough time to sleep.
11. I hate bowling.
12. I'd rather walk.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 9:23 AM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 9:23 AM   |


Zaftig Schmaftig

"American women, I believe actually feel the same as Hispanic women about weight. A desire for the comfort of fullness. And when that desire is suppressed for style and deprivation allowed to rule, dieting, exercising American women become afraid of everything associated with being curvaceous such as wantonness, lustfulness, sex, food, motherhood. All that is best in life." -- from Spanglish.

Recently, I viewed the movie, Spanglish ,in which the young Mexican-American girl narrating the film describes this particularly succinct observation of the female body image. This voiceover related a theme in the storyline of a Mexican immigrant, Flor Morena, and her relationship with the women in the white American family for which she is a nanny and housekeeper. Flor is shown secretly altering clothes purchased for the slightly overweight daughter in the family, Bernice. The young girl's mother, Deborah Clasky, buys clothes for her daughter in a size she knows Bernice cannot fit. Her hope is that the clothes will motivate the girl to lose weight. She tells her daughter encouragingly, "You are gonna do it and you are gonna look beautiful!"

Understandably, Deborah's "support" is not viewed so innocuously and is exposed as the ruse that it is. In an attempt to boost Bernice's self esteem, Flor takes out the seams of the clothes and encourages the girl to, "Just try it on!" This act endears Flor to the daughter and sets her in the role of the mirror that the young girl needs to see -- one that reflects her beauty as it is, not as it might be.

Physically, Deborah Clasky is a typical portrait of new American motherhood. A successful and prestigious mother of two whose body is toned to a sculpted perfection by intensive yoga and morning jogs that involve a competitive screaming of "Left!" as she passes her fellow joggers.
Deborah represents the image of what we have recently become familiar with as the image of mother via the trend of Hollywood's mothers. Tabloid magazines splay photos of American celebrities in svelte gowns and tailored pants just weeks after they have given birth. The headlines tantalize readers with secrets for how they, too, can have postpartum perfection. They display these women as proof that they can have their cake, eat it, and look like they have not.
It seems to me that now, it is not just that women suppress their desires for "everything associated with being curvaceous." Now, women indulge in their objects of desire, but maintain the physicality of one who denies indulgent pleasures. Notedly, certain shapeliness has entered into the modern image of womanhood due to the influence of the famous rear ends of Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce. And, of course, large breasts have always been de rigueur. However, these curves are always balanced by the omnipresent taut belly -- a potent symbol of discipline and denial.
There will always be unnecessary demands on women to obtain certain body representations. Certainly, it is healthier for the body and mind to be fit and trim. However, it is a sad state when what women are working to achieve is not a healthy body to accomplish their work as mothers, but as a means to represent a woman who looks like she never gave birth.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 10:04 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 10:04 PM   |


If you see something . . .

Miss Hag. just returned from an overnight trip to Philly with my lover man. More on that later.
Right now, I would like to relay an incident that happened as we were on the Greyhound bus, waiting to return home to Manhattan. There are a litany of examples to support why I usually choose not to ride Greyhound which I may get into later. A lot of it has to do with just being crushed into a small space with equally unhappy people for a long period of time with no escape pod.
Jason and I chose the first seat in the bus so we could exant immediately. Behind us, sat a young Asian girl and an old Jamaican woman. I hadn't been paying attention to their conversation until it escalated into a loud verbal sparring. The Jamaican woman had made a comment about the Asian girl "talking Chinese" and even used the phrase "talking that ching-chong-ching-chong." To which, the Asian girl calmly explained that the Jamaican woman was racist and how dare she just assume she was Chinese.
The Jamaican woman's response was that she could not be racist because she was black and if anyone was racist it was the Asian girl. She said, "Why are you so nervous? Are you scared to sit by a black person?" The Asian girl replied that she was not afraid, but that she was annoyed because she had to sit by someone so ignorant.
This is the type of situation that Miss Hag. will not avoid getting involved in and so, I turned around to join in the defense of my Asian sista.
As the bus pulled away, the Jamaican woman became very worked up and started yelling at the Asian girl. Here, the kindly bus driver jerked the bus to a halt and threw the old Jamaican woman out -- leaving her to complain to Greyhound security.
Miss Hag. felt badly for the Asian girl and asked her if she was all right. Most of the passengers around us just shook their heads in disbelief. An African-American woman behind the Asian girl piped in that the best course of action for the Asian girl to take would have been to just ignore the old bat. She said, "I live in Massachusetts and I couldn't possibly begin to confont all the crazy people I encounter there."
Still filled with the adrenaline of one confrontation, I responded to this claim by informing her that I live in New York City, the Capital of Crazy, and if some one started talking "Ching-chong-ching-chong" shit to me, you are damn straight I'm gonna say something.
Yes, my friends, you have to choose your battles, but if every intelligent person just lets the crazies get away with spewing their ignorance, the idiocy won't go away. Sure, it's probably best to let most of the bullshit roll off your back. But, occasionally, when you are face to face with some truly ugly facet of humanity, I highly recommend squaring off with the truculent beast of imbecility and giving it a verbal beat down.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 6:47 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 6:47 PM   |


Not All of My Boyfriends Are Gay

July, 1993. July, 2003.

I could easily live forever being loved solely by gay men. However, five years ago I re-chose to pursue a more traditional relationship with a man -- one that involves sexual intercourse.

Around the time that I thought I was falling in love with my best gay male friend, I realized that perhaps I was looking for a partner in life. And that maybe that wasn't such a horrible thing to want.

I re-found an old friend to give it another shot. For the first 6 months, I couldn't even admit to myself I was in a relationship again. I introduced Jason as my "roommate" when we first moved to Key West together. For the years that I was single, I worked hard to program myself for invulnerability. I was a student in the house of Jong, studying for a degree in the zipless fuck. I couldn't commit to a brand of shampoo, let alone be a girlfiend. A man in Key West who was not shy about showing his interest in me got so fed up that he finally said to me, "You know that guy's not just your roommate, right?!"

It's over five years later and we're still trying to define the modern relationship, and we're still trying to do it together. Nothing about what we have feels "traditional" but it is . . . well . . something. Whatever it is (and is not), it can feel really good. Sometimes, it feels like they're the only arms I've known.

Photo by g8s. Key West, 2000

link * Miss Marisol posted at 1:10 AM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 1:10 AM   |


Ju-bi-laaaa-tion . . .

Last night, I walked into the restaurant at the start of my shift to hear a familiar opening chord. The bright bleet of a synthesized horn signaled and a honey perfect voice intoned, "Clock strikes upon the hour and the sun begins to fade . . ."

I made the rounds of greeting my co-workers and positioned myself on the very last barstool at the back counter to sing along with Miss Whitney's, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)." After it ended, I was treated to the power duet (and also parenthetically titled), "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" from Aretha Franklin and George Michael. At the start of my shift, I usually make myself an iced coffee drink that consists of about 6 shots of espresso, a shot of chocolate syrup and a touch of skim milk. Even though it is midnight when I walk in the door, typically, I will not have been awake more than a couple of hours. The espresso is a quick antidote to my grogginess.

But Aretha and George's duet distracted me from my sleepiness. Next, the tremor of a simple bongo riff poured out of the speakers. The soft shake of a rattle followed and the inevitably singable refrain, "Cee-lia, you're breaking my heart . . ." The trio of lovable hits had me energized before I took the first sip of my caffeine overload beverage.

I stopped Diane, the Sunday night dinner mistress of ceremonies and told her how much I was enjoying her mix. She thanked me and told me the story of the name of the mix;
"My mother, who will be 90 years old soon, is a crazy character. She has insomnia and stays up late into the night. Recently, she e-mailed all of the family during another sleepless night. She sent us the message, 'Get the hell up! There's more room at night!' So, that's what this mix is called."

A few years ago, I started working the graveyard shift at Florent. Often, people will ask me about what it's like to stay up all through the night. But, for me, it is not really that much of a strain. On my nights off, I will usually begin to write around 2 or 3 in the morning. My thoughts become pliable and unhampered. I can breathe.

I am not exclusively a night owl, though. I enjoy to be out in the morning, when people's faces are bathed in the sheen of daylight's natural optimistic glow. I love the afternoon. I love dusk, when the pupils relax into sunset's languid striptease.

It is difficult for me to reconcile my desire to be awake and conscious at all times because I love to sleep as well. Consequently, it has been my great fortune to have a life in which time is immaterial, as it should be. More often than not, I show complete disregard for the constricts of 60 minute hours and 24 hour days. This is not to say I am always late for meetings, etc. On the contrary, I show great respect for other people's perception of scheduled time. However, I do not base my own life on when it is appropriate to do things. I sleep when I tire. I eat when I'm hungry.

But, if given the choice, I will revel in the life that can be lived at night. Diane's mother certainly has it right. There is more room at night. More room to walk the streets. More breathing room. More taxis. More empty tables. More room to dance.

More, more, more . . .

link * Miss Marisol posted at 3:37 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 3:37 PM   |



APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,

And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.

Posted by Hello

Everyone is made to read T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land eventually. Sad English teachers try to get their students to derive meaning from this painfully long poem. Most get lost in Eliot's obscure allusions and bizarre German asides. Although I have a degree in English, I have never pretended to understand our great works of literature any more than your average man.

However, it seems pretty obvious what Eliot's going for in this long tirade just from reading the title.

I'm feeling a little Wasteland-ish today and not just because I'm a wee bit hungover. April is cruel and I feel it a bit more today than usual. Sometimes, you wake up and realize that you should have just stayed asleep. There doesn't have to be any discernible reason for your melancholy. It just is. It's in the soil. It's in the way your mind skips from word to word and never really connects to the sentence. The sun may be glaring down on your shoulders, but you could still be feeling like it's raining. This feeling is not necessarily cause for panic. It's part of being alive, feeling an unnameable sorrow.

My blogging compadre, g8s, recently started developing old rolls of film that he had been holding onto. He has posted these photos periodically on his blog. Images from college, his travels in Europe, our old home in Coney Island. As times puts distance between us and the past, it becomes more dificult to capture the essence of a memory. We look to devices like old pictures to jar our senses. Photographs have a wonderful quality of transformation -- transforming forgetting into remembering.

g8s has also been putting up old photos from his collection as an ongoing series called; "What You'll Miss With Your Digital Camera." In this age of digitized images and instant gratification, it becomes less necessary to try to really capture a moment. Now, we can take a thousand pictures instantly and choose whether or not to store them away as keepsakes. I'm not saying I have not enjoyed the convenience of digital photography. The rapid accelaration of technology always causes us to consider what we leave behind in gaining such amenities. The marked difference between old photographs and new has certainly put my mind to thinking.

As I stare out my window today, feeling the weight of another spring being lifted out of the ground and into the atmosphere, I can't help but wonder if I will remember this feeeling. If I will remember the cool air on my legs from the window I have cracked open, allowing the extended rays of sunset to bow out gracefully through my bedroom. Will I remember this melancholy and yearn to have the luxury of such a graceless emotion when I am old and consumed by the weight of a rapidly shortening tomorrow? Or will I simply store it away with the millions of other deleted moments and erased images of my life?

Posted by Hello

link * Miss Marisol posted at 5:25 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 5:25 PM   |


29 going on . . .?

It's no secret that non-human animals envy our ability to accessorize. Not long after homo habilis conceived the earliest tools, Mrs. Homo Habilis was sporting the original bling and full-length pelts.

Last night, Jason and I went to Bembe in Brooklyn. He recently got a spot spinning records there and our friend, Nnadi, is the bartender. We have to ride three trains to get to that section of Williamsburg and we were running about 10 seconds behind the schedule of the subways so there was a lot of running towards a leaving train. We just caught the F and as I stood in the doorway catching my breath, I noticed immediately that there was something different about this car.

It was rush hour, but the mood was genial and quiet. The air smelled like baby powder and new plastic. I looked around and saw that half the car was occupied by little girls, all about 5-8 years old. Most wore dresses and had their hair tucked neatly behind their ears or pulled back in curly ponytails. They all also had dolls who sported the same neat dresses as their owners. These were American Girl girls.

If you do not yet know about the American Girl doll phenomenon, you will. This franchise sells dolls that little girls can customize to look just like them. They sell matching outfits so little girls (and their moms as well) can match their dolls. The stores double as cafes where little girls can have very expensive tea parties. They also have a doll salon for doll hair emergencies.

As I scanned the crowd of young girls chatting happily, I spotted a flash of hot pink and lime green. Upon closer inspection, I saw that this blip of neon color was actually a pair of pink sneakers decorated with fluorescent green laces. I pointed this out to Jason who just shook his head and smirked. You see, I own the same pair of sneakers.

These shoes were a purchase I made for this past New Year's celebration. The theme of Florent's party was "1985" and nothing says 1980's like glow-in-the-dark accessories. I really wanted to get a picture of this little girl and her tres fashionable sneakers, but I hesitated.
As we left the F train to run and catch the JMZ, I thought about an episode of Sex and the City in which Carrie et al. are confronted by a trio of born in Manhattan pre-teens wearing outfits not unlike their own. Decked in skin-tight leopard pants and carrying Hermes purses, it was difficult to tell if the girls were trying to dress like grown women or the other way around. Seeing a little girl in shoes that sit in my own closet certainly gave me pause. Oddly, instead of feeling closer to this small version of myself, I felt further away. I was hit with a realization that I would never again be a little girl dressing like the older women I looked up to.
In a few weeks, the first of my best friends is taking the leap into our 30's. Think what you will about getting older, but you will still see us traipsing around the city in bold colors and covered in glittery dust. It's not about recapturing lost youth. It's just a matter of running with time and hoping to never catch up.

This is the Marisol American Girl Doll. She has caused a lot of controversy an only my namesake could do.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 1:17 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 1:17 PM   |


Another Reason NOT To Leave Manhattan . . .

West Virginia legislators slyly inserted a provision of ignorance into a seemingly innocuous bill about parks and recreation. The amendment to House Bill 2782 adds the following provision:

"English shall be the official language of the State of West Virginia."

Apparently, there is even a group called "U.S. English, Inc." dedicated to the preservation of the "unifying role of the English language in the United States." One might assume that such a group was started by some crazed white supremacist. However, the group was founded in 1983 by, Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa. The propaganda on the US English website refers to Hayakawa as "an immigrant himself." After a long career as a professor of English and semantics scholar, Dr. Hayakawa was elected to the US Senate. He was the first to introduce the English Language Amendment saying, "Bilingualism is fine for an individual but not for a country."

I attended a college whose motto was, "The World is Our Campus." Some of our matriculation requirements were not only to attain reasonable proficiency in another language but also to study abroad for a semester. Today, I live in a city where it is possible to walk down the street and hear every language spoken by contemporary man. It is one of the reasons that New York is not just an elegant and wonderful place, but the thriving hub of a truly global economy. Multilingualism is a foundation for success. Aptitude in language allows people to communicate and relate.

This kind of legislation comes from the unfounded belief that immigrants to the United States will not learn English unless the government enforces it. Not only is this untrue, it also signals the presence of the deep roots of fear and ignorance that fuel American sensibilities. I have witnessed Americans in foreign countries act indignant when natives of these countries do not speak English. Concurrently, I have seen immigrants in this country being belittled for speaking English with an accent.

However, my experience with the average American is that most do not read or write English above a 6th grade level. How can we enforce English as an official language when most Americans themselves are not proficient in their "native" tongue?

For example, in West Virginia, according to National Institute of Literacy, 20% of West Virginia adults function at Level 1, compared to the national average of 22%. Generally, those adults who score at Level 1 have difficulty performing such everyday tasks as locating an intersection on a street map, reading and comprehending a short newspaper article, or calculating total costs on an order form. The state of West Virginia ranks 33rd in overall adult literacy, tied with three other states.

There is far too much legislation being enacted that, on the surface, claims to defend and protect the lifestyle and identity of Americans. Bills like the one in West Virginia and the recent legislation that requires all people from Canada and Mexico to have passports to enter the United States only foster an environment of hatred and ignorance. It also prevents the United States from evolving into a truly welcoming multicultural society. People believe the government is protecting them from terrorism and the encroachment of outsiders. This is not true. This kind of legislation is simply promoting an agenda of exclusion that benefits no one.

I've said it before and I'll say it again . . .

I'll take Manhattan. Viva la revolucion!

Oh, and by the way . . .

link * Miss Marisol posted at 4:43 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 4:43 PM   |


Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.

Click for larger detail.

My darling, g8s, alerted me to this wonderful blog, PostSecret. The best blogs, it seems, have an interesting concept and this has a painfully riveting subject matter. PostSecret is an ongoing collaborative art project. People from around the world share their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard and Frank, the blog keeper, posts the cards he receives.

Some people's secrets are funny and touching. But, most have a certain darkness that makes you gasp and say, "Nooo. . . " I imagine the people who submit their secrets depicting this sadness on a plain card, attaching a stamp and releasing it out into the mail system. Maybe when they close the mailbox slot door, they, too, let out a gasp as their secret is released into the realm of the public. And the obscurity of their sadness evaporates into the nebula of our collective unconscious.

What's your secret?

link * Miss Marisol posted at 9:23 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 9:23 PM   |


I Was Hoping, But You're an Amateur . . .

I came to a well-rested realization today. Last night, my brain fried. Every moment of my being at Florent was physically painful.

Then 6:04 a.m. broke.

I have a special relationship with the last call for night. It has a little bit to do with the color of the sky and a lot to do with the people heretofore known only as, The Boys.

6:04 a.m. at Florent is no different. It's the point of night when my mood shifts drastically, because the most painful, stressful, potentially harmful hours are over (3:00 a.m. - 6:00 a.m.). The glass is half full. The usual suspects walk or crawl in or, if we are lucky, give us runway. *Serve, Eduard!* I also get to see people who are family to me come in. The Saturday morning brunch crew.

There is a small crew of industry folk who stop at Florent before crawling home to bed. Those who have been battling the inebriated masses all across the same meaty stretch of the West Side Highway armpit. Folks from the Maritime Monolith and the Gansevoort Demilitarized Zone. APT movers and Cielo shakers. Survivors of One, Rhone, the Park nos soeurs de Pastis. You know who you are. Miss Hag. loves you because we are veterans of the same war.

Only amateurs come to Florent before 6:00 a.m. That's when we're not just serving. We serve it. Work!

link * Miss Marisol posted at 8:51 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 8:51 PM   |


Think Gay!

"For a blog called 'Miss Hag.' you write very little about gay men and their beeotches!" -- Thought to Self.

When I first moved to the city, I worked out at a gym across the street from what I would eventually learn is the oldest gay bar in the city: Julius. The first time I went there, it was afternoon and I had just spent a painful hour battling a Stairmaster. I decided to reward myself with a post-workout cocktail and chose Julius for its proximity to the gym. I had often peered inside at the dark wood bar and the wagon wheel chandeliers and thought, "I should have a drink there."

After positioning myself on an empty wooden barstool, I ordered a glass of the house red. I lifted the glass to my parched lips and allowed a tiny sip of wine to sting my tongue. Looking up, I caught the bartender's eyes and realized that he might be waiting for me to approve the wine.

"This is great, thank you," I whispered politely.

"Great." He paused. "Excuse me, but, are you sure you're in the right place? Are you waiting for someone?"

His concern was genuine, like a kindly Samaritan assisting a lost little boy in the mall.

I stammered for an answer, wondering what he could possibly mean. To my left and right, stools spilled over with trim, handsome men. They had lightly greying hair cut short and neat. They all wore casual but impeccable clothing. They smoked cigarettes and carefully contained their ashes and butts into the glass trays provided on the bar. Their conversations were quiet discussions about politics, art and interesting social events.

Understanding dawned upon me and I smiled brightly back at the bartender and beamed, "Sir, this is like home to me!"

Fag hags are fashionable. Every good pop diva knows that. By the end of the last millennium, the gay male/straight female relationship became the hottest combo to hit primetime thanks to Will & Grace. As soon as homosexuality acquired a commercial value, everyone began to capitalize. An offshoot of this cultural trend is the highlighted relationship of fags and their hags. It is a simple and fulfilling relationship that has all the benefits of a traditional relationship minus most of the neurotic questioning. When Carrie Bradshaw met Stanford Blatch, it didn't take years of missed connections for them to realize it was true love. When I first met the man who would eventually become my homosexual life partner, I had no idea it would one day be so trendy. I was merely looking for a good friend.

I moved to the city to live with a gay man and ended up living with three. Six years later, we may have parted domiciles, but they remain the center of my social circle - my innermost realm. Through the years, I have acquired many men of the same persuasion. It is an easy and satisfying relationship to acquire. One subset of this faction of my life is the middle-aged male homosexual. My junior high therapist would probably say that I am filling a gap left empty by my erratically tempered and emotionally unavailable father. It never occurred to me that I would have difficulty with men because of our precarious relationship. Never knowing the formula to win his affection left me with a distorted view of male relations.

Flirtation was a simple power that I wielded easily. I understood that it was improper to exact such force over certain men such as teachers and fathers of my friends. I remember having meetings with my fourth grade teacher, Mr. Veit. He had a mustache and a deep, soft voice. He loved that I loved to read and encouraged me to push myself further in my literary adventures. I would stand next to his desk and shuffle back and forth from foot to foot trying desperately not to jump out of my skin. It embarrassed me to have a man pay such care and attention to me without provocation and I didn't know where to place his affections. They were completely non-sexual, but I didn't know how else to receive his attention.

Twenty years later, I have found what I wanted for so long with gay men. Completely unsexualized attention. Affection and kindness and intellectual nurturing that is not plied by my own whimsical coquetry.

The owner of the restaurant at which I have been employed off and on for about five years is a benevolent and socially active gay man. Florent Morellet is the premier Meatpacking District celebrity whose influence in the New York cultural scene is broad. He has been HIV-positive for almost two decades, a tan and vital man by any standard. His philanthropy attracts many people to the restaurant. Many of the daytime regulars at his Florent fit the prototype of a man I can truly love: intelligent, well-read, socially active, mature and gay. They are well-groomed, traveled, unpretentious and polite. I know what they like to drink and how they like their food prepared. When the restaurant swells to its busiest and fast-paced moments, I make sure to serve them first. To treat them as family.

Recently, I have been thinking of one of these men in particular, Larry Vrba. Larry has been a good friend to me since I started working at Florent and I look forward to seeing him on Saturday mornings. He greets me with a warm, strong hug and it always makes my job more bearable. Larry sits patiently at the counter and reads the paper: first the New York Times for the real news, and the Daily News for the trashy gossip and the comics. Sometimes, when it is quiet in the restaurant, I will review the headlines with him. When I first started getting to know him, I wanted so desperately to say something smart and important about the events of the world. I was like a child again trying to win the intellectual approval of a kindly teacher.

Larry always brings a small carton of soy milk for the chef to cook his steel-cut Irish oatmeal that he eats every week with walnuts, raisins and a small ramekin of brown sugar. Larry takes his coffee black. I bring him a glass of tomato juice and say, "You need some vitamin C this morning." He always responds, "You're good to me."

It is the kindest, most consistently pleasing relationship I have some days. When I left the city to spend a season in Key West, I sent a postcard to the restaurant and told someone to send Larry my love. In return, he sent me a homemade postcard. I tacked it up on one of the termite ridden Florida pine walls of my conch cottage.

People often remark how hard it must be to meet people in this bevy of eight million strangers. If you stay in one apartment for a while, you will start to recognize the same people: at the deli, at your favorite restaurant, selling scarves on the street. There are endless promises of potential friendship, and an equal number of dead ends. If you are lucky, you have a few close friends whom you are sure will always love you. And if you are really lucky, you may meet a few satellite souls, like Mr. Larry Vrba. People who know you in intimate ways and also not at all, and who keep you from feeling all alone.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 12:17 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 12:17 PM   |


MJ Part 1.

Posted by Hello

I am going to get a pedicure, but I want to start this dialogue first before I go.

Here's my take in the Michael Jackson case.

Whatever Michael is, whatever he has become, whatever he has done or did not do -- It is because of us. We are all guilty of Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson was not meant for this earth. If you ever listen to old Jackson 5 recordings, you'll hear it in his voice. There is something transcendent and pure about MJ's voice. Something irreplicable and perfect.

From five years old, he has been the world's performing monkey. Get up and dance, Michael. Sing us a song, Michael. Entertain us. Be everything we want. Be what we need, what we want, what we desire.

He's never known reality as we do. He has never existed in the realm of "normalcy" that most of us purportedly know. If he has done anything inappropriate or illegal, it is because we have always put him above the laws of reality and society. And suddenly, we have all turned on him. He stopped producing hits years ago. We have found other monkeys that we love more than him. And now, we want him to suffer.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 5:15 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 5:15 PM   |


A Reason to Feel Good

There ain't much in the headlines inspiring me to feel good. It's a beautiful day and I am downtrodden about the myriad bullshit spewed out of the news wires.

So, I decided to shut off Air America and turn on some music. I opened my legal mp3 downloading site, Real Rhapsody. On the home page, they always feature new releases to mp3 land. Today, I learned that Stevie Wonder is putting out his first studio album in a decade. The lead single is called, "So What The Fuss".

Guess what folks? It's good.

Prince guest stars on guitar. Stevie sounds as golden as the first 45 seconds of Innervisions. The driving force of this track is the bass. It's like that first thumping twang that started playing in 1973 and never stopped delivering the funk. Add a chewy sweet singable chorus, Prince's teasingly brief guitar break and a whole truckload of Hoooooo Haaaaa, Child! Then, get up off your seat and thank the gods of all that is funky.

The best part? It's 6 minutes and 8 seconds long...unheard of in modern radio. Most music is 3 minutes and 40 seconds long in time and negative twenty years in inspiration. Don't worry, my friends, Mr. Wonder will tell it on the mountain. You, fall back in love with music.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 1:58 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 1:58 PM   |

Letter to the MTA

I wrote this letter to Lawrence G. Reuter, President of the NYC MTA a year ago. I had a particularly awful subway ride and did what my mother always told me to do -- Write a letter to _____ (fill in appropriate complaint receiver). I never sent the letter because of its violent nature and because we as a people can be very sensitive in this post 9/11 world. However, I found it today and think it's still quite funny. Since I am prone to taking cabs now, it is no longer a pressing matter in my life. Nonetheless, any of you who ride the subway between 3 and 7 p.m. will know what I mean.

Lawrence G. Reuter
President, Department of Subways
MTA New York City Transit
370 Jay Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Dear Mr. Reuter:

I will be the first to admit that there are greater problems in the world to consider than the quality of service on subway trains in New York City. Having said that, I also believe that New Yorkers too often just accept the circumstances of their surroundings and assume that their individual voices do not matter. Not being of that nature, it is my personal quest to speak up against injustices and annoyances that occur in my immediate world.

It is important that I first say, in general, I am satisfied with the quality of my experience with the Metropolitan Transit Authority. However, there is a significant problem that should be addressed and I do not see anyone else acknowledging this scourge in our lives. It is one of the every day aggravations that mature adults in the city seem just to tolerate. Some of us avoid it by simply not riding the subway at certain times, but as I am sure you can discern, that is not always an option. Nor, should you want that to be the choice.

You must know what I am getting at. It is The Children, Mr. Reuter. If you are a parent, perhaps you should pass this along to someone on your staff who is childless, because my opinion may offend those with a conflict of interest (Read: Breeders).

I was riding the Uptown 1/9 train from 66th Street to 110th Street on February 6, 2004, at around 4:00 p.m. when I had reached my limit with this problem. There is a period of time directly after the schools let the youth of the city out onto the street until they are purportedly supposed to be back at their respective homes. This period of time is tremendously painful if you are riding any form of public transport. It has driven me to drink, Mr. Reuter; it is so physically agonizing. I kid you not, I am sitting here with a martini whilst writing this letter.

As I was saying, I was on the train for only a short amount of time, but the behavior I witnessed was appalling. These underage infidels ran amok through the cars, yelling and screaming and pushing at each other like animals. Today, I witnessed some of them riding between the cars and yelling. "I love pussy!" into the tunnels. The train had to stop for five minutes because the conductor was concerned that one of the useless brats fell onto the tracks. In the same position, I might have not shown such sympathy.

The adults are forced to sit through this tortuous behavior every day and we feel powerless, when really we are all big enough to smack them on the heads. But then, we would probably face lawsuits for assault and that would be even more of a hassle. Really, Mr. Reuter, it is ridiculous and we should not have to suffer anymore.

I suggest a simple solution. Would it really be that difficult to have police officers or rent-a-cops or perhaps even club doormen to patrol the cars during this unfortunate period of travel? Part of this job would be to scowl ominously at these worthless gutter rats. Additionally, I propose they carry handguns with tranquilizer darts, stun guns and tazers and use the following protocol:

1.) Large figure with gun approaches loud, misbehaving punk.
2.) Large figure points weapon at the head of misbehaving punk.
3.) Large figure menaces (or sneers or scoffs -- whatever s/he is best at, they can improvise that part) and says, "No one will be sad if I pull this trigger. In fact, I get paid to do this shit, so if you don't shut the hell up (or sit the hell down or calm the fuck down -- again depending on the situation) then Mayor ______ (insert name of present mayor) has given me the righteous duty to remove you from this earth and allow these quiet taxpayers to ride home in peace.
4.) Large figure snickers as the other miscreants pee in their little bitty pants.

Okay, maybe number four is unnecessary, but you get my point. We must be vigilant with these wretches because their parents are either afraid to smack them or don't smack them well enough. Perhaps with the success of this program, the MTA could also instigate a program to demonstrate acceptable ways every day citizens can smack annoying children riding public transportation. I have been assured by several other people that they would sign a petition to put my plan into work. In fact, I have a few unemployed friends who would gladly accept this position for the right salary if you need any references.

Mr. Reuter, I appreciate your consideration in this pressing matter. As you can surely tell by my letter, I have innumerable useful hints and ideas if you need any further assistance with decision making. For a small fee, of course.

I should addend this post. I do not dislike children. I like kids. I also do not endorse child abuse, but I do not think it is wrong for a parent to smack some sense into a misbehaving child. Or, as my friend Denise might do, give them a swirlie. As long as they also hug them immediately after and explain why things went so astray.

link * Miss Marisol posted at 12:36 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 12:36 PM   |



Exactly. Posted by Hello

Friday night, I said, "I have too much pride to work here." Jose Pita said, "Too much pride and not enough dignity."

Truer words were never spoken. It's one of those night when I am dreading going to work. One of those nights when I wonder if I can summon the energy to do it one more time. A downfall to having a job that starts at midnight is you have all day to think about how much you don't want to go to work. Don't get me wrong; I love my coworkers. They are like family to me. And sometimes, when all the elements are balanced just so, I even enjoy my work. But, usually, it just makes me want to pound my head against a wall.

If you were a little fly on the wall behind the counter at the restaurant (**wait...I thought we bombed those fuckers**), then you might overhear one or many people say something to the effect of, "I need to take a break." And by break, they do not mean "go out for a smoke" or "sit and have some food." They mean "month in the Caicos Islands."

Sometimes, it feels like your soul has been pulled from your body and trampled by millions of steeltoed boots. Eskimos have 72 words for ice. In Florent, we have 1124 words for tired.

Never that easy. Posted by Hello

link * Miss Marisol posted at 10:08 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 10:08 PM   |


Will the real Filipinos please stand up? Oh, you are standing? Wow. We really are a short people.

I am working on a story about relationships between different races and I started compiling data about the racial composition of places I have lived. According to the US Census of 2000, there are just over 10,000 people living in my childhood town, Sanford, Maine. Of these people, there are 9 Filipinos. I should tell my parents to find the other 7.

People often inquire about my racial composition and, typically I am evasive and sarcastic in response. Here's a typical conversation in my life:

Stranger: "Hey, where are you from?"
Me: "Oh, I live here in Manhattan."
Stranger: "No, but where are you from originally?"
Me: "Well, I've lived all over: Maine, Michigan, Chicago, Key West--"
Stranger: "Ha, ha. I mean, like, what's your nationality?"
Me: "Oh, oh, oh. Sorry. I'm A-mer-i-can."
Stranger: "But, what's your background?"

(At this point I turn around and look to see what, in fact, is behind me. In my background.)

(Uncomfortably long pause.)
Stranger: "Are you Filipino?"

If I actually admit my ethnic heritage, I get reactions that range from condescending to downright creepy. Some older men feel the need to tell me that they or someone they know were stationed in the Philippines. If I have had a few drinks, I might ask them how it feels to know that they belong to an organization that is responsible for raping so many Filipino women and leaving them to raise their bastard children alone on the other side of the planet. This is never well received.

More often than I care to share, some guy will bust out a phrase in Tagalog upon learning that I am Filipino. This phrase is ususally one of three things: Kumasta ka? (How are you?), Maganda (Beautiful.), or "Mahal Kita. (I love you.)" How useful.

I suppose I should be flattered that I get any kind of attention for how I look, and sometimes it feels good to be noticed, I admit. However, more often than not, the situation just disturbs me. People are often very excited when they have pinpointed my ethnicity. They'll say something like, "I knew it!" What does that mean? That I look like how I am supposed to look? Because, I've been to the Philippines and more often than I care to remember, the first thing I was asked when I met someone there was, "Where are you from?"

link * Miss Marisol posted at 4:51 PM * posted by Miss Marisol @ 4:51 PM   |