Sunday, July 29, 2012

Shut Your Lazy Mouth and Watch the Storm

Here I am in Williamsburg, in the blue part of Brooklyn, going to a "meeting" of the book club known as Short Story Thursdays whose email address is  

Some trivia for you:  Brooklyn is the fourth largest city in the country,
population-wise, following NYC as a whole, Chicago and LA!
(Of course Brooklyn isn't really a city, it's a borough.)

Williamsburg has become famously known as the home for HIPSTERS.
From the Urban Dictionary:

The greatest concentrations of hipsters can be found living in the Williamsburg, Wicker Park, and Mission District neighborhoods of major cosmopolitan centers such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco respectively.

In case you're not familiar with hipster-ism, here's a helpful bingo game:

The game leaves out my favorite hipster attribute, the fedora, worn so well by
the ultimate hipster, the Chairman of the Board:

(But is this really a fedora?  It doesn't have the pinched-in sides.  
Do I know my hats from a hole in the ground?)

In this Rat Pack pic Frank wears a true fedora,  
although Sammy is wearing a derby, or bowler, hat, and 
a couple of pearl-handed six-guns behind his cigarette.
The guns are not very hipster-ish.

Here we are at the South 4th Bar & Cafe where the book club "meetings" happen every 
Thursday from 3 to ???, a very pleasant place described in a "Yelp" review as 
" laid back [with] not a hipster in sight."
It's also praised for its many board games.
But do they have Hipster Bingo, I wonder?
Plus they start serving alcohol at eight in the morning.  Along with breakfast foods.  
Just saying.

Centered above is J. D. Tomsky, founder and president of Short Story Thursdays.
He is the creative force behind the group, choosing the stories and sending them out every Thursday morning like clockwork.  The current pick is Ring Lardner's "I Can't Breathe."

(internet picture)
Ring Lardner would fit right in in Williamsburg.  Although his hat is a "boater," I believe.
However, I read in a blog that boaters may be worn by the 
"Culture Snob-Depressed Poet- Ethereal" type of hipster.

Here's a quote, spoken by the protagonist of today's story, an 18-year-old girl speaking 
about her aunt and uncle who are "over 35":
"I know they certainly couldn't have enjoyed their own dancing, no old people really can enjoy it because they can't really do anything."
I keep on looking unbelievingly at the date the story was written, 1918.  
It sounds so modern, so Valley-girlish regarding the young girl's ageism 
and breathy flightiness as she juggles her various young men, 
all of whom want to marry her at first glance.
She must be very cute.

This reminds me of when my grandfather first saw my 18-year-old grandmother and famously told a friend, in 1918, no less,
"That's the girl I'm going to marry."  
He did, and for the last fifty years of their marriage, they
Bob & Lill, circa 1975
barely spoke.  So much for love at first sight.  But then both of them were Aries, 
a bad fire-fire mix.

Then again, sometimes LAFS plays out.  
Andrew knew right away that Jennifer was the one; 
she took a while to decide vice-versa.
Here they are in Rhode Island, looking like the beach-blanket-no-hat-no-shoes
 type of hipsters.  They are Pisces/Cancer, a more amenable water/water mix.

Today is a big day for the book club:  it is being filmed for possible inclusion in a pilot
for a series of TV shows based on book clubs for public television.
Below is Kate Wood, Executive Producer, who is fascinated by the many book clubs proliferating
in our time, and the diverse roles they play in people's lives.

Here are Peg and Hannah, with whom I had a great conversation about the story, 

while being filmed outside.
Hannah lives in Williamsburg and Peg came to join her for the special meeting.

The camera man is Burke Wood of Burkewood Creative, in co-production
with WNET to produce the Book Club show, set to launch in 2013.

John, the sound man.

Back inside, Adam the bartender is illuminating the marvels of the SST 
(Short Story Thursdays, not the long-gone too-fast-for-its-own-good airplane).
Adam, BTW, got very good reviews in "Yelp."

At the bar, we speak of the coming storm.  Literally.
I worry because it's my plan to go to Chelsea after this, and visit
the studio of Linda and Mark, part of the evening's "Chelsea Walk."
See my former blog about my last visit there:

As I leave Williamsburg, I notice the clouds rolling in, 
and on Berry Street I see sneakers on wires, 
a common city sight.  Various urban myths say they symbolize gang territory, crack selling, 
bullying, boys losing their virginity, 
or just that your shoes are old and passé so why not thrown them over the wire?
Perhaps people over 35 belong up there, too?

On the subway, people pour in from the L-train, the busiest train in the entire NYC subway system, crammed with people going to/from Williamsburg and the outer regions of Bushwick, the last frontier.

Is that a hipster sneaking out of the picture, below right?

Back in Manhattan, I search 27th Street for 551, but 
no such building exists!
In the meantime, the sky is getting darker and darker, the clouds are boiling, 
the cabs getting scarcer and scarcer.
(I find out later that the correct address is 21st St., d'oh! 
I should start putting the little crosses
on my sevens like the clever Europeans so I don't mistake a one for a seven ever again
Or give up writing with a pencil - so 1918! - and go wholly digital.)

Unable to find the building, I take it as a sign that I need to get out of Dodge before I 
get struck by a stray piece of illegal billboard blowing about.  
I could dig out my iphone, find the email and check the address, but instead I panic and run. 

I flag down the last cab out of the city whose driver whines about having only
a half hour left and it's all the way to Brooklyn, sigh, blah, blah, blah, whine, sigh, but I
say "Please?" and wave my hand helplessly at the dark roiling heavens above, 
and he gives in.
The storm hits while on the Brooklyn Bridge and 
we can hardly see for the rain slamming down.
Like a cow pissing on a rock, as they say.
And as I've seen.

But I give the cabby a nice tip in spite of his continuing complaints, and all is well.
For me, anyway.  Who knows what his trip back over the bridge was like!
Oh, the poor thing, going back right into the teeth of the biggest
storm in years, what suffering he must be going through...

"I can't stand it!...
...I simply mustn't think about it or I'll die!"

(Quotes from "I Can't Stand It" by Ring Larder.)

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