Monday, June 08, 2015

Sunday Morning

Sunday mornings are not for this. Sunday mornings are for staying in bed even when the sun is shining through your curtains and dancing on your eyelids. Sunday mornings are for poached eggs, hangovers, and animated discussions about Saturday nights. They are for strong coffee followed by painful shits that put dimples in your rectum. They are for awkward send offs to one night stands and, sometimes, a surprise blow job from your girlfriend. But perhaps most importantly, Sunday mornings are that beautiful, fleeting period of decompression before the wrecking ball of the work week reminds you just how long you have until next weekend. The Velvet Underground knew this and the NFL definitely knows this, and for the last seven years Max Greenwald was under the distinct impression that his girlfriend sincerely understood the sanctity of Sunday mornings.
Now at 8:48 am on an uncharacteristically sunny March morning, Max was walking to Whole Foods to spend over a hundred dollars on the week’s groceries. Laura had been stomping around their one bedroom apartment since quarter of seven, making loud cell phone calls and rifling through her closet. Her parents were coming and that meant that his Sunday morning would be spent exclusively preparing for Sunday evening. She sent Max to Whole Foods with a grocery list, a time frame, and stern instructions.
A young girl with long brown hair brushed passed Max on the sidewalk. She smelled like a mixture of tropical fruit, vodka, and wet dog. Max turned and glanced quickly at her ass. She was wearing faded, high-waisted jeans. Her ass sunk and bulged in the denim which reminded Max of pulling the lever and filling those thin plastic bags at Whole Foods with cashews and almonds.
He stared up the street and saw a group of three guys walking toward him. All three seemed slightly pudgy, with fitted J. Crew shirts, tapered jeans and virtually every possible facial hair arrangement. They were talking loudly and aggressively stabbing at the air with their fingers. Max was forced to tightrope walk that sliver of cobblestones that hugs the street. His anger seemed to grow with every step.
The 11th street Whole Foods occupies the entire city block between Wadsworth and Clarkson Street. It’s a mammoth structure complete with a sit down cafĂ© and underground parking garage. The sliding doors at the entrance are in perpetual motion as patrons continuously shuffle in an out of the store. During his first visit, Max realized that he had to move through the aisles quickly and purposefully if he was to have any hope of fulfilling his grocery list. There was an indefinable yet undeniable force at work inside the 11th street Whole foods. A simple chili recipe could easily morph into a terrifying soul searching journey inevitably ending in organic soaps and unpronounceable root vegetables.
Fortunately, Max did have a purpose for visiting Whole Foods on this Sunday morning. In seven short hours, Laura’s mother and step father would be pacing around their one bedroom apartment, making hollow comments about every stick of furniture and every design choice. He would anxiously stumble through conversations letting Laura’s step dad equate his life to the definition of mediocrity.
“So your group keeps convicted criminals from going to jail? I say lock ‘em up and throw away the key!”
“I heard the City is running a $5.2 million deficit, you guys nervous about funding?”
“When you say non-profit does that mean you get a paycheck?”
As he walked through the sliding glass doors, Max unfolded the canary yellow piece of line paper from his back pocket and reviewed the ten item list. Though Max was the first to admit that Laura had a noticeable talent in the kitchen, she only seemed to enjoy cooking on special occasions. Whenever an old college friend came to visit or a family member was in town, Laura would scour cooking blogs to find a trendy, seasonal recipe. She would then tear up the kitchen for three or four hours, using every pot, pan, and utensil in their apartment. Inevitably, she would forget some minor ingredient or overcook the garnish, blame Max for the mistake and profusely apologize to the guests declaring the meal a complete disaster. The steak and heirloom tomato salad with Israeli couscous seemed simple and straightforward. If he could stay focused and navigate the Sunday morning crowd, he would be slipping into some football commentary within an hour.
The vegetable section appeared to be completely clogged by post workout twenty-somethings, so Max headed for the meat counter. Before he reached the red meat section, he had to pass the refrigerated glass cases full of seafood. He stopped and stared at the bright oranges and pinks sitting softly on top of mounds of crushed ice. Brown lobsters face menacingly toward shoppers and whole silvery fish were neatly organized into rows. He was instantly transported to the Caribbean. Max and Laura had taken a trip to Puerto Rico several Christmases ago. It was the first time the two had traveled on an airplane together. He remembered how absolutely decadent he felt eating shrimp, lobster, and crab for breakfast on white sand beach. He also remembered Laura being energetic and playful. She was always touching his shoulder and getting down his hair. He felt a warmth move over his entire body and the frenetic energy of the Sunday morning Whole Foods seemed to fade a bit.
He motioned to the man in the white lab coat behind the counter and told him he was preparing a seafood feast. Max nodded as the man discussed the migration habits of Alaskan salmon and the prodigious impact of shifting tide patterns on the world’s shrimp population. He sampled a raw oyster and smiled as the mucusy piece slimed down his esophagus. After fifteen minutes of buzzy chatter and handshakes, Max walked away confidently with four plastic bags full of fish, crustaceans, and crushed ice. He circled back to the produce section which was not mostly empty. He filled a plastic bag with bulgy heirloom tomatoes and pushed his cart to the c

Monday, July 28, 2014

New Year's Day

We didn’t walk over to Second Street until two o’clock in the afternoon. The day before, I had watched men in coveralls set up the barriers. A long line of silver metal stretched from Washington all the way down to Oregon Avenue, separating the street from the sidewalk. I was expecting the wood barriers I had seen at Memorial Day parades back in Connecticut. The type that fit together like Lincoln Logs and always seem to linger days after the parade. According to Don, my cubicle mate, the City had made a decision three years ago to phase out the wood barriers in favor of metal ones. Apparently young children were slipping under the wood planks and joining parades. Don had even witnessed his nine year old niece disappear behind a float two blocks from City Hall. He said it ruined his New Year’s.
I spent the previous New Year’s at my girlfriend’s house in Burlington, Vermont. By “her house” I am referring to the house of her childhood, where her parents still reside. Her mother, Nan, cooked a thick puttanesca sauce, and talked incessantly about her students at the University of Vermont. Her dad drank a large glass of Scotch and fell asleep in his leather La-Z-Boy. Charlene and I were able to sneak away around eleven and watch the fireworks over the lake. We kissed at midnight and shared some cheap champagne. When we returned to the house, all the lights were off but the dinner dishes were still sitting on the table. We fooled around quietly in her twin bed and then talked a bit about moving to Philadelphia. I remember going to sleep smiling into my pillow.
By the end of January we had signed a lease for a one bedroom apartment on Federal Street. Moving had always seemed like a dirty and sticky experience, so I was happy Charlene and I had found a place during the winter. Unfortunately, the Sunday we decided to move was cold and rainy. At some point I dropped Charlene’s oil painting in a puddle. She had made the painting for her senior project. I thought the damage was minimal; however, the event initiated an hour of silence where I dubiously placed books and dishes in the new apartment, only to have her move them within seconds of me leaving the room. When she finally addressed me, she characterized my fumble as a larger issue stemming from my anxiety with the move and my inability to commit to any woman other than my mother. Once everything was unloaded and the UHaul returned, we passed out on the bare mattress, fully clothed.
We didn’t have a housewarming party until late spring, when Charlene was finally satisfied with the artwork on the walls and the layout of the kitchen. I think it was my friend Tim who suggested we have a New Year’s Day party. “You guys have the perfect location,” he said, almost as if he had been planning the party since he heard about the apartment. “Bloody Mary’s, Mummers, drunk girls.” He smiled and patted me on the back. It seemed like a great idea. It would be “our” thing, and maybe even turn into one of those traditions like shore house weekends or Sunday dinners. Charlene was on board.
So we planned and promoted our little party. When the mid-August humidity was turning our one bedroom apartment into a middle school locker room, we pictured the party. We thought about stumbling onto Second Street with a drink in a plastic cup.
On New Year’s Eve day, I gathered all the supplies. Ever since we first discussed the party, I had envisioned a lavish spread full of deli meats and pickled products. I stocked the bar and made sure we had plenty of Bloody Mary mix. Charlene complained that I had overspent on the party. “We just don’t have that many friends,” she said and feared most of the food would go to waste.
We heard brass instruments and string bands early in the morning, but the parade didn’t snake back to Second Street until the afternoon. Face painted Mummers dressed in sequined, flowing costumes invaded South Philadelphia. Some of them danced and locked arms. Others staggered down the middle of the street yelling to people behind the guard rails. Box trucks blasting bass heavy dance music coasted in front of each brigade. An old man in a feather cowboy hat was selling boiled hot dogs. I was drunk and the scene was starting to swirl like an ocean. I grabbed Charlene and we ran back to the apartment. All our guests were outside. We mixed two drinks and stared at the mounds of thinly cut turkey and corned beef. It was our first New Year’s in Philadelphia.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sully's Offer

My grandfather loved to tell old jokes. The types of jokes that don’t have owners, just tellers. They just sort of waft through the steamy air of men’s locker rooms and Passover tables. Always getting passed down and retold.

A guy gets off work and decides to have a drink at the bar across the street from his office. Within a few minutes he is approached by a drop dead gorgeous blonde with a plump, tear drop ass. She’s wearing a sequined dress cut so low you’d think she was on her way to feed a nursery full of hungry babies. The blonde dips her glossy lips inches from the man’s ear and says, “Baby, I know what you like,” and drops that plump teardrop on the stool next to him. The man just spent twelve hours at the office, getting chewed out by his boss for last month’s sales numbers. He is not amused by the blonde’s proposition and tells her he’s not interested. “C’mon Daddy,” she says, “one hundred bucks and you got all of this.” The man is unfazed and keeps his eyes on his drink. The blonde leans in again and says, “Daddy, I’ll do anything you want.” She slaps her tongue against the bottom of her mouth to accentuate the “T.” The man loosens his tie, shifts his weight and stares into her green eyes. He leans in closer to her and says, “You’ll do anything, I want?” Sensing a new customer, she moves in again and in that soft staccato that only a lady of the night could master, she says, “A-ny-thing.” The man leans back in the stool and drains the rest of his drink. He digs in his pocket and comes up with five crisp twenties which he puts under his empty glass. He leans back towards the blonde and says, “Paint my house.”

The joke always got laughs. Even my grandmother who hated dirty jokes liked that one. It works because the buildup is so carefully crafted, and the punch is so unexpected. It’s not a deep belly laughing sort of joke, but one of those long sustained laughs that makes the teller look like the smartest guy in the room. Anyways it always stuck with me.
My phone started ringing just as I merged onto Hoover Drive. Hoover was by far the most scenic route home but was a virtual parking lot between four and six. Sully was calling. He probably wanted me to pick up something at the store. I let it ring four times then answered.
“Wow four rings, eh? What’d you want to finish up your post work pump up before talking to me?
“Fuck you, what do you want?”
“All right, all right don’t let the elastic waistband of your greasy sweats snap back on your tiny dick.”
“Sully, I had long day. What the fuck do you want?” Sully and I had known each other since freshman year of college. My university assigned roommate had expressed suicidal urges in the first week of class, and the Eagle Scout RA named Todd had him shipped back to Long Neck before rush. Todd was eventually accused of sexual harassment by two eighteen year old freshman boys. Last I heard he had a burgeoning sports betting business in the suburbs. Sully and I did not meet until October. He had managed to sleep with both his roommates’ girlfriends and Todd gently asked to him to move in with me before midterms. We stayed in touch throughout college and when we both found jobs in the City after college, we decided to once again be roommates. The thing is, Sully is a real piece of shit. He’s not one of those charismatic assholes from a John Hughes films that waits till the eleventh hour to conjure up that respectability that had been masked for years by fag jokes. Sully was not that guy. At his best, Sully was a duplicitous snake, who would betray his mother for his own good. At his worst, he was the bottom feeding sewer rat that somehow got promoted to the human race. I did not trust one word that spewed from his filthy mouth and was counting the days until I could move out of the apartment. If Sully was drowning in a sea of medical waste, I would not so much as through him a pool noodle. Fuck him.
“Listen I got good news, I got an offer.” I loosened my grip on the steering wheel and looked to my left. A middle-aged woman was driving an SUV. A boy, most likely her son, was sitting next to her playing a video game. That’s what normal, respectable people do, get jobs, meet their mate and make a family. They move up the social ladder, buy a house and surround themselves with people who support them. Why can’t I do that? Why must I always fuck life in the ass rather than slip it in gently? I stared at the cars that expanded in front of me.
“Ok Sully, don’t do anything without me. I’ll be home in a half hour with some beer.”

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Since its inception over five years ago, the Chronicles has tackled a variety issues ranging from full frontal male nudity tothe magic forces of Janet Reno's neck skin. We work hard to provide a viable alternative to main stream media's hollow rhetoric as well as a dedication to topics that play important roles in our daily lives. We get a lot of criticism for our opinions but you know what they say, "You can't make an omelet without sleeping with a vegetarian." Nonetheless, there are certain times when we have to take a stand on larger, even poplular subjects. Let me reiterate that the Chronicles is apolitical and only concernced with the personal opinions of our writers.

That being said, our Philadelphia office has been flooded with phone calls, letters, and even pop-ins by people expessing their feelings about the Eagles' acquisition of acclaimed mobile quarterback and PETA enemy (sorta like getting dissed by members of The View, not too serious) Michael Vick. In the weeks leading up to preseason, they were completely consumed by the news. People even went so far as to abandon the team they had loved all their lives and toss out their Eagles apparel with the weekly trash. Dog lovers criticized the franchise and local businesses advertised anti-Eagles stickers in their windows. In the last two weeks of August, it seemed that every asshole at the bar wanted to talk about Michael Vick and argue about animal rights. Heat makes people crazy, and Michael Vick's presence sure wasn't helping.

All the yelling and screaming got me thinking about what was really going on. Loud-mouthed bozos are about as hard to find as double chins at a Boy Scout Jamborees so I wasn't really concerned with these slobbering hacks. The ones that really got me thinking were these uptight activists that really seemed to get pissed about the issue. The ones that lectured me about the need for compassion in our greed driven culture and the sanctity of animal life. But what I was truly struck by was the hysteria surrounding the issue. Every media outlet had a segment on Vick and the Eagles and every keg party was buzzing with conversation. There are few things in this world as satisfying as watching people getting pissed off and arguing until people around them actually feel awkward. I tried to find example of other people in our society that had garnered as much notoriety as Mr. Vick. Why do people condemn some celebrities for their personal lives while easily forgive others.

Just when the Vick pandamonium died down I was hit with some startling news: acclaimed director Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland. Roman motherfucking-Chinatown Polanski. Didn't that dude make a bunch of classic movies like thirty years ago? Wait, why haven't I heard about him lately? Oh yea, that little sex scandal business. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Polanski's indescretions, we're not talking about some hazy case where a desperate fan was trying to get money by falsifying a few facts. Actually, in 1977 when Polanski was 44, he invited a 13 year old girl over for a private photo shoot. No he was not creating a middle school yearbook or even writing an article about a field hockey team, he was being straight up creepy. Polanski then fed the young girl champagne and quaaludes and forced himself upon her against her will. After Polanski was charged, he fled to Europe so he could avoid jail time.

In 2002, Polanski released The Pianist and was hurled back into the limelight. The film was so successful, that Polanski won an Academy Award for Best Director and received a standing ovation at the ceremony. Was Polanski at the Academy Awards? No because if he set foot in the U.S. he would have been arrested. Hmmmm........

So let's recap. Michael Vick gets arrested for killing dogs, serves jail time, is publicly humiliated, takes a huge pay cut, makes public apologies, does charity work for animals, and will always be labelled as a degenerate, heartless murderer. That's fine, I don't really give a shit about Michael Vick nor do I enjoy or endorse the killing of dogs. Oh yeah, he killed dogs didn't he. Don't we keep dogs as pets? Don't dogs eat their own shit and chase after balls? Aren't hundreds of dogs "put to sleep" because people don't want them. Don't we cut of dogs' nuts off so they won't hump our legs, and don't we make dogs sleep with dogs that don't even look like them just so we can have a funny looking animal?

Now let's look at Mr. Polanski. He drugged and raped a thirteen year-old girl. Rather than face the consequences, like Vick, he went to another country and continued doing his job. Further, he has been rewarded and complimented for his artistic achievements since he fled.

Obviously these two people don't really have much in common. Further, there is over thirty years between the two arrests and time definitely promotes forgiveness. Maybe Michael Vick will better accepted and receive awards thirty years from now. We are not really equating their crimes or discrediting any of Mr. Polanski's work. We just find the two cases interesting.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I have recently begun research on a new project that examines the relationship between food and dreams. Every night before I fall asleep I eat or drink a unique substance. In the morning I record my dreams. Here are some preliminary findings:

Glass of milk: Standard erotic fantasy but for some reason there is always wall to wall carpeting.

Pickle: Life threatening situation where I wake up the second before fatal disaster.

Pickle dipped in glass of milk: ?