The Fat Apple and Oscar Wao

The Fat Apple and Oscar Wao

Oscar Wao

So…I woke up at 3am this morning in the armpit of New York City (aka Jersey City) to catch a 6am flight departing from Westchester Airport in White Plains, NY.  I now sit here in the A at my crib at 11:30pm – exhausted.  I just got back from watching Batman.

I went stag to a movie for the first time in my life.  Most of my friends had went to see Batman over the weekend while I was getting my SirenFest on in Coney Island, so I had virtually no one to watch the movie with when I got back to the A today.  So, I went alone.  It felt somewhat liberating.  Plus, the movie theater is literally a 2-minute car ride from my joint, so it was too damn convenient of an opportunity for me to pass up.

The Dark Knight did not live up to the monumental hype.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie was good, but $155 million good?  I’m not so sure.  But I will agree with all the folks that said Heath Ledger absolutely annihilated his role as the maniacal Joker.  The movie was all about The Joker.  I actually found myself rooting for the villain.  The Joker had way more charisma in this movie than “The Batman”.  I’m not sure if his performance was Oscar worthy, but I can’t disagree with those folks who feel that it was.  I think that if I watch this movie again when it comes on DVD, then I will appreciate it more.  I remember when I saw The Departed, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about.  But then, after watching it a few times on HBO, I started realizing how great of a movie it was. Maybe it’s kind of like if a friend of yours hooks you up with a supposedly “smoking” blind date, but she turns out to be just above-average attractive.  You’d be disappointed on the 1st date, but warm up to her on the following ones.

Sometimes, as hard as I try not to, I have unreachable expectations for movies.  In my mind, Batman didn’t stand a chance from the opening score to live up to my expectations.  The bar was set too damn exceedingly high.  But, it was definitely an entertaining flick worth the price of admission.

I find it hilarious when I’m working out and my iPod shuffles to a garba song.  I’ll be in the middle of arm curls and I’ll suddenly hear “tara veena shaam ane…ek ladoo lage…raas ramvane velo aavje” (play below).


Don’t get me wrong – I love me some garba…but…it ain’t exactly the best music to workout to.  The traan tali garba (as much as I love it) isn’t exactly conducive to bench presses. It ain’t exactly “Eye of the Tiger”.

I am set to close on my condo at the end of August.  So, if things go well, I may be a homeowner before the 1st of September.  I have a week to decide on a mortgage lender.  These lenders ain’t got shit to do but harass the hell out of you.  I put my information up on a few websites – and less than 15 minutes later, my cell was flooded with phone calls from nondescript numbers.  It was a little much.

But, I have to decide on a lender this week, so I’m going to have to do some diligent research this week.  I’ll be relieved when all this is over.

NYC was a lot of fun (but honestly, when hasn’t it been?).  It was a short trip, but a lot of fun.  Once again, I got to go to some new places.  I have been to The Fat Apple so often that I can’t even remember how many times I’ve visited there.  Yet, there is so much left for me to see in that city still.  What an amazing city.  One of my favorites.  I ate at the first pizzeria in the United States last night.  Lombardi’s.  It is over a hundred years old.  Great pizza that actually tasted as delicious as advertised.  It quite possibly may have been the most aesthetically attractive pizza I have ever laid my eyes on.  I don’t exactly know what it was about it, but it just looked right.  You know how they say that you “just know” when you are in love?  Well, I “just knew” that that was what a pizza should look like.  (Did I just compare love to a pizza?  You bet your culinary ass I did).

What I liked the most about the pizza was its simplicity.  The base of the pizza was made with mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and fresh basil.  And we ordered extra toppings of fresh mushrooms and oven roasted red peppers.  The pizza was cooked in a coal-fired oven, so you could taste that smoky, almost burnt flavor in the crust.  It was good stuff.  The pizza wasn’t inundated with toppings and cheese.  It wasn’t heavy nor greasy (two very positive things).  The flavors were subtle and the ingredients fresh.  I don’t know if it was the best pizza I’ve ever had (Chicago deep dish pizza still holds a special place in my heart), but it was on par with any other pizza pie I’ve stuffed my face with.

I hate yogurt…which is why I hated PinkBerry.  Apparently, this franchise is big in New York and a few other states.  My Asian Persuasion co-worker was raving about it a few months back and even went so far as to say she was interested in opening one up in Atlanta.  I…was not impressed.  I went there after Lombardi’s and was greatly disappointed.  If you are into yogurt, you would probably love this place.  You can get your yogurt with anything from chocolate chips to sliced kiwis.  I know this is going to sound odd…but…I like yogurt that tastes like Ice Cream…not like yogurt.  It tasted like the kind of yogurt people eat out of plastic cups from their refrigerator.  I tossed it in the basura half eaten.  A sin of immense proportions…I know.  I will ask for forgiveness in my nightly prayers.

I am a neck scratching, nose sniffing fiend for falafels and kati rolls – so you know damn well I had to get my falafel and kati roll fix in.  The first night I was there, I grubbed on a falafel from Mamoun’s and nibbled on my cousin’s Achari Paneer Kati Roll.  You can get a hummus falafel pita sandwich for $2.50 from Mamoun’s.  $2.50!  In Manhattan.  I still can’t get over that.  If I said this once, I must’ve said this 347,000 times…but why the hell aren’t falafels more popular down here in the south?  They’re friggin’ delicious…and cheap!

Mmmm….I wish we had as many gastronomical options in Atlanta.  And late night options.

I finished A Thousand Splendid Suns.  Great book.  As good as The Kite Runner?  I’m not sure.  It’s hard to compare the two, even though they share similarities.  Both are emotionally gut-wrenching and both I can identify with.  I can definitely identify with the ignorant male bravado and sense of entitlement that detrimentally sculpts the lives of the two main female characters in A Thousand Splendid Suns.  I think that so much of who I am now has so much to do with me NOT wanting to be like my pops.  I think my friend Fareed Abdullah stated it best when he said that it was like The Kite Runner, but “more…more”.  The book revolves around two women whose lives intertwine through marriage.  I think for those unitiated to the male driven culture that unfortunately defines much of the Brown hemisphere, this book will come as a unwelcome shock to a unprepared mind.  But, since I’m part of that very community which chooses to perpetuate the persecution and oppression of women, I was not shocked by anything I read.  We brown folks harbor as much kindness as we nurture ignorance.  It is our one great fault as a community.

I started The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.  It is a refreshingly urban novel that intertwines slang, spanglish, and prose.  It is a unique way of writing that I can identify with.  It’s a fun book to read.  The slang, prose, and unabashed humor jump out at you.  He doesn’t sugarcoat.  It is an amazing thing to have a writer describe someone in honest, almost obscene terms…and you nod your head in approval because you couldn’t have thought of any better way to put it.  Here’s an excerpt from the book that shows you what I’m talking about:

“Our hero was not one of those Dominican cats everybody’s always going on about – he wasn’t no home-run hitter or a fly bachatero, not a playboy with a million hots on his jock.”

I’d like to think that there is a little bit of his style in my writing.  Junot’s success (he won a Pulitzer for this novel) shows me that a writer can actually be successful incorporating gritty vernacular and cultural slang in a novel.  He writes the book as if he’s telling the story to his boys.  You can almost imagine him reciting these pages to his boys outside on the playground.  It has that feel to it.  I commend him for staying true to his writing style and seeing his vision through.  There is much to be said about that.

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