Archive for August, 2007

If Kat has a Marilyn Monroe moment walking out of a temporary sidewalk passage on 6th Avenue and no one was there to witness it, was it still sexy?

Note: This post contains a bunch of maps linked from Google. You may need to refresh a few times to see them.

Last night I ran my first Hash. The Hash House Harriers is a social group for runners that has a presence in most major cities. If you aren’t familiar with Hash, the FAQ on that site is somewhat helpful, if not entertaining. My favorite:

Q: Are you not listening to me?
A: Gus was talking to me. Sorry. What did you say?

Funny, I find myself saying that very thing… Yeah, these folks have my kind of attention span. It was actually due to my short attention span that I found this group. Long-time lover of Fark, I was whiling away the day reading random news articles, growing more and more ashamed of our current society’s rough draft of history.

I came across this story, further supporting my fatalistic attitude. A couple of runners are facing felony charges for using powder to mark their running trail. (Citizens of the US, can you call me when you’re finished being paranoid asshats please? KTHXBYE.) Someone in the Fark forum posted a link to the Hash House Harriers, internet magic happened, and thus I began a very long evening run, a.k.a. my first hash.

We started off at Vol de Nuit on West 4th Street. I don’t know why I was surprised it was a bar and not some kind of indie sports shop like Austin’s RunTex. Their slogan is “Drinkers with a running problem.” I was amply warned. Part of the draw for me was the possibility of finding people who like stay in shape as much as I do, but also share my penchant for alcoholic beverages.

I introduced myself to a group of people wearing running shorts and drinking beer. I made efforts to engage in their uncomfortable small talk (cringe) until it was time to go.

“So you brought your walkman in case we’re boring, eh?” said one of the guys. I explained that I ran there from 33rd and 3rd and the comment died.

“That’s hardcore. Must’ve been like pinball.”

Indeed it was… I left my house a little after 6 and tried to run on the least-trafficked avenue I could find. Park Avenue worked okay, but I still had to do quite a bit of people-dodging. Once I got past Union Square, I gave up and walked the rest of the way.

My route, more or less:

View Larger Map

A short while later, the 40 or 50 of us moved to our official starting point at 4th and 6th. One of the leaders, or “hares” gathered the newcomers (of which there were at least a dozen–sweet) to explain what was going to happen: A few sprinters had just started running. They would mark their path with arrows and the group was to follow them. He drew several symbols on the sidewalk and explained their meanings. It wasn’t going to be easy, and we would probably get lost. We were given a number to call in case we got really lost. We weren’t told how far we were running or where we would finish. I asked if we would at least end up somewhere in Manhattan. The guy shrugged. Good thing I brought my walkman, er–iPod (cringe-cringe). Unfortunately, it was the only thing I brought, not knowing they had a bag drop, which was provided by some nice person who didn’t mind hauling a bunch of stuff across the city.

We took off running in smaller groups through the Lower West Side, searching for arrows. I joined and unjoined and rejoined various small groups, surverying the troops for folks who looked like they knew where they were going. The first half hour was a mess and we were sort of like this:

And from an aerial view, we looked like this:


View Larger Map

Finally, someone yelled, “On-on,” meaning they found an arrow and decided to follow it. Moments later, we were running up West Side Highway, which was cool because I don’t get out to the West Side much. The highway has a trail that runs along the water and there is some aesthetically pleasing vegetation to admire.

Our somewhat larger group had been pared down to a half-dozen people or so. I spent most of my time running with a talkative girl named Joanna. She was from Miami and New Jersey (kind of in the same way I’m from Austin and Chicago), and seemed to like her sports. She was a nice person, but once the name and location of our final destination had been disseminated, I was ready for running to be personal again. I put on my headphones and took off. I did it in a really non-offensive, I-just-wanna-do-this kind of way. Really.

The end point was Jake’s Dilemma on the Upper West Side. I really dig the bar, but the location ensures that I won’t be back for awhile. I waltzed my non-ID-having ass right on in and mingled with the early finishers. As the rest of the group arrived, people were complaining about how rough the run was. And about how they were getting carded when all their stuff was clearly right inside. I didn’t think it was that bad. Maybe it’s a sign I’m getting good at this. (Both running and inconspicuous bar-entering.)

This also marked the first day of my fourth master cleanse, so I had to forego the beer and just drink a few glasses of water instead. It sounds counter-intuitive, but being on the cleanse made this run possible. I usually hate running at night because I can feel everything I ate that day bouncing around in my stomach. Thanks to the cleanse, no food-jumbling was involved. And per the cleanse’s main promise, I had lots of energy.

This energy made it possible for me to run from the Upper West Side to Gus’s work on 59th and Lex…


View Larger Map

And then walk home with Gus…


View Larger Map

…without dying.

I think over the course of the evening, I ran a half-marathon. Heh.

I’m officially a dork. Well, that’s not really news, but the reason why has changed again.

Ever since my introduction to LOLcats, I can’t let them go. (There is another LOLcats website, but the previous link is better. See? I’m even turning down some LOLcats for others. I’m becoming a LOLcats connoisseur! Argh!)

Just about every time I want something now, I put it in the form of I can has cheezburger?, regardless of whether anyone around me will get the reference. Not that I need it, but anyone who doesn’t understand my jumbled mutterings can use the LOLcats Translator to figure it out, and say something equally nonsensical back to me! Hooray!

Dees R mah LOLcats!!!! Im showin U them nao!!!!1

LOL!! CATS!! OMG!!

(I am so getting dumped in a post-it note today. And not just by Gus. I think I’ve forsaken half of my friend base with this blog post.)

Everyone knows I hate hipsters.

But these people take hipster-bashing to a whole new level, pitting them against each other in the cradle of their smug, dumpster-diving civilization: Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. I have traveled to this eastern mecca, and upon carefully observing the population and acclimating myself to their eager-to-seem-understated ways, I reached the following conclusion: “So this is where art students go to die.”

Sadly though, I missed this year’s Hipster Olympics. Like most events in New York, if it’s more than 10 blocks from my place and no one dragged me there kicking and screaming with promises of ice cream, it probably wasn’t worth the hassle. I can always catch up with the contenders the next time I’m in the Bedford area. From the looks of the video, they’ll still be there. It’s like someone uprooted a bunch of fringe LSU students and tricked them into thinking they had a purpose.

Surely, I jest. But it takes true non-believers (and dear friends of mine) to be the first and perhaps the last users of PlatKat’s Ministry Services. However, if you happen to be one of the handful of athiests in Oklahoma City looking to be married by a secular minister, I’ve got a book and page number all set; just be ready with my fee.

Performing Jim and Adrienne’s wedding was actually one of the highlights of my summer. I was unbelievably excited that they asked me to do it and somewhat nervous at the thought of messing up their special day, but I think they were happy with how things went. Or they are very good actors.

I liked this wedding because not only did I get to talk really loud and force a room full of people to listen to me, but the ceremony itself only lasted a few minutes. All we did the rest of the time was eat and drink. And drink and drink and drink… Yay!

I was afraid the older fam would be put off by my pink-and-blue hair coupled with my brazen, outgoing personality which is sometimes horribly misconstrued as being thundering and obnoxious. Fears were quickly dispelled when one wedding guest taught Adrienne’s entire family the “shocker” hand signal and took some pictures.

Like being the second-prettiest girl at the bar, being the second-loudest kid at the party has its advantages. All the fun, none (well, less) of the drama.

Here I am ministering!

And here I am not doing the shocker!

Here are some pictures Charlie took. After a few glasses of wine, I’ll do just about anything… including the shocker.

And here are the rest of the pictures that I “took”. (In this case, “took” has more than one meaning. But as you can see from Jim’s face in one particular pic, I don’t need to be giving money to that douche photog.) Sidenote: If you want to be flickr friends, befriend platkat.

I know, I know… Original content. I’m trying. This was just too funny.

Ghetto mama: Gimme some of yo’ Skittles, boy.
Little boy: No, they be my Skittles.
Ghetto papa: Boy, you best to give yo’ mama some Skittles or yo’ ass is nevah gonna taste that rainbow again.

–1 train

Yesterday’s explosion totally killed my news, which is that I’m now licensed to ride a motorcycle. In this post, “yesterday” equals “over a month ago,” since even an obvious backpost is too obvious now.

So! Onto the rundown of what I can remember about motorcycle school.

Class was two full days, a Tuesday and a Wednesday, if memory serves. The morning portion of each class consisted of classroom exercises, and the afternoon portion was all riding. Class began at 7:30 and it was made rigidly clear by the school and past students that no matter what, two rules must be followed: bring all your gear and DON’T BE LATE. If you’re late, you forfeit the rest of the class and the fee you paid to be in it.

Gear includes gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, a bandana if renting a helmet (and I was), ankle-covering footwear, and sunglasses. If you’re missing any of those things, they don’t let you ride, so I made sure I had everything set out the night before. They also suggested bringing food and water. Being a primarily indoor-kat not used to dealing with the elements for extended time periods, I brought as much as I could carry.

I take punctuality seriously when I don’t know the other party, so I left home very early to take the 6 train to the Bronx. I wasn’t sure how long it would take the train to get there (the jury’s still out on whether it would have been worth it to take the 4 express), and I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to walk from the 138th Street stop to the school’s location. Needless to say, I left way too much time and got there before most of the class.

When I arrived at the small trailer parked on a giant paved lot, I wasn’t even sure if it was the right place. Then I saw a short, butch woman across the lot opening a storage unit full of bikes and decided that I was. I tried to go over and talk to her, but she wasn’t having it. Okaaaay. Back to the picnic tables outside the trailer I went. Then I waited… and waited… People started to show up, so I listened to people make small talk and light cigarettes while I read Wired magazine.

Once inside the trailer/classroom, the 12 students sat at three round tables. We took care of some administrative stuff and then we had to do the first-day-of-school thing that I absolutely hate: pick a partner, ask him some questions, and introduce him to the class. I’m sure some educational theory lists the invaluable benefits of performing introductions this way, but I still think it’s uncomfortable. We’re all adults, and the class is only two days. Why doesn’t, “Hi, I’m Kat, I’m from Manhattan, and I’m new to riding” suffice?

Anyway, my partner was an older black man with mutton chops named George. He, like most of the class, had been riding for awhile but needed to get a license. George had family in Houston, so we talked about Texas since a conversation about bikes would have been one-sided.

Also at my table was a guy who worked for the New York Post. I asked him about working there, assuming he was a writer in some capacity. He had me believing that until I point-blank asked him what he did there, and he said he was a security guard. It reminded me of a certain Fark-induced meeting with a young man who worked in a bar. A bar called Genius. Did I happen to mention I’m exclusively a PC-user? He had me believing he was a bartender until the last hour of the night. What is up with people?

Anyway, the last table-mate was my favorite. A Hell’s Angel named Spike, he was by far the oldest person there, and well out of the demographic of dudes who would hit on me. We became friends quickly. He had been in an accident several years ago involving him, his bike, and a two-foot pothole on the Queensboro Bridge. Two feet is likely an exaggeration, and the story changed each time he told it, but regardless, it was deep enough to throw him from his bike and send him into an eight-month coma/vacation. His somewhat lightheartedness about the whole situation probably had to do with a large settlement he received from the city, which allowed he and his wife to live out the rest of their days in reasonable comfort.

Spike wore a leather jacket and had a generous variety of tattoos, one of which was a red, old-English “666” tattooed on his bald spot. He liked to tell stories, which seemed to bother Angela, the only other female in the class. She was black and maybe just a little older than me. She had enough hair on her face to make me wonder if she was taking steroids or something. A perfectly nice person, but the hair was too hard to ignore. A little superficial of me, but I have a thing about hair.

The instructor was an ex-Olympic athlete named Lorelei who also taught at a private French grammar school somewhere in the city. She had a backbone without acting bitchy, and I appreciate that. Sometimes she randomly spoke French, but managed to do it in a non-alienating way. I think there are times when an idiomatic expression in another language better expresses anything you could say about the same concept in English, so it’s good to go ahead and get it out. It’s like when I say, “Vamos a la chingada.” It means, “Let’s get the fuck out of here” in Spanish, but it kind of takes the edge off of hearing sweet, innocent Kat say the word “fuck.”

After the introduction phase of the class was complete, we watched some videos, did some written exercises, and ate lunch. A girl from the deli down the street made deliveries, which would have been nice to know before I packed enough food for a small army, but oh well. After everyone in the class (except me) had at least five more cigarettes, it was time to ride.

I was the only person in the class who had never ridden a motorcycle, and it showed. I was issued a Kawasaki Eliminator with a stiff clutch and a loud motor. When instructed to put the bike in neutral and walk it, I was slow and confused. Gear-shifting? Foggeddabouddit. I was only slightly embarrassed though, since I was clearly inexperienced but trying.

The riding portion of the class was team-taught. This is where the butch woman from earlier made her appearance. Her name was Gale, and she was thoroughly annoyed by my mere presence and wanted to kill me. I know this because she said, “I am thoroughly annoyed by your mere presence and I want to kill you.”

I didn’t go into the class expecting anyone to be nice to me, so I was more than ready to deal with the fact that everyone was nice to me but her. I figured if she wanted to get mad every time I fucked up (which was often), it’s her own blood pressure on the line. In efforts to level with me, she said at one point, “You’re listening to all the voices in your head and trying to think about what to do. You need to stop listening to those voices and just do what we tell you to.” I know what she was trying to say, but the fatal flaw within her statement was the assumption that I understood anything about bikes beyond whatever I managed to retain that morning.

My clutch-popping and bike-stalling continued throughout the day, but Lorelei took some time to go over the components of the bike with me, which made a tremendous difference. I still did almost everything wrong, but at least I was a little closer to understanding why.

Lorelei had hinted to the class a few times that Gale was a pain in the ass, and it was nice to know it wasn’t just me who noticed. At one point, the class was on break, and as we watched Gale set up cones on the track and holler something indescernible at Lorelei, Fernando, one of the more
vocal young men in the class noted, “She seriously needs to get fucked.” Some of the guys laughed cautiously, wanting to agree without sounding like follower-pigs. I said, “You can try to take one for the team, but I don’t think she’s into that.” And everyone really laughed.

At the end of the day, I was a sweaty, smelly, sunburned mess. I think some lady mistook me for a homeless person and glared at me the whole ride downtown. A homeless person on the 6 train! Well, I never!

The next day, I came prepared with sunscreen, as my face had turned cherry-red from the exposure. I was not prepared, however, for the torrential rainfall that occurred that morning. It was just drizzling when I left my apartment, and I was almost positive that if went back upstairs to get my umbrella, it would make me late and I’d be screwed out of several hundred dollars.

Once I made it to the Bronx, it was raining hard. The nearly-deserted streets I walked the day before were now completely deserted. I was so soaked the first second I began walking, an umbrella would have done little good.

I made it to the trailer (early, of course) and found Joel, another young man in my class, crouching under the A/C unit of the trailer. Indeed, it was the only coverage on the lot, aside from the two portable restrooms, one of which contained Spike smoking a cigarette.

Before I could decide what to do, Lorelei rolled up in her jeep and said, “Kat, get in.” I hopped in, joining two guys from a silmultaneous class that was supposed to be riding while we were doing classroom stuff. We waited out the rain and the late students, and the late instructors for that day who were supposed to open up the trailer. (Lorelei didn’t have keys.)

Spike was really pissed off that the late people were still admitted to the class, as he had made a good effort to get there on time… soaking wet on his bike, no less. I’m glad he said something. I took public transportation, so initially I had no car to sit in either. It would have been nice to show up an hour late, and dry. But oh well. Not worth making a stink about; I just wanted to get through the class at that point.

Once finally situated in the classroom, we were encouraged to buy rain gear, since most of us had none. I was soaked to the bone already, so it seemed pointless. But after a couple hours of shivering like a wet chihuahua, I bought the plastic rainsuit and a t-shirt. Joel, who was late because he attempted to ride his bike through Manhattan, was also drenched and had taken off his pants to wear only the rain pants.

“Just take off your pants!” he said.

“I’m not that easy!” I replied.

He was right though. If I wanted to stop shaking, I had to remove some clothing. I was a little uncomfortable with this at first because I have a somewhat unorthodox underwear policy. The policy? I don’t wear it. So I went commando in a pair of yellow oversized plastic rain pants for the first half of the day.

“Better now?” he asked.

“I feel like a fireman,” I replied.

I took the written test and got a 94. One of the questions I missed had to do with how to ride a bike in sand. Sand? Let’s focus on the situation at hand: RAIN!

At lunchtime, Spike gave me a sticker that said “Satan’s Soldiers” and invited me to a party to take place the following Friday night. I also listened to Fernando talk about going to strip clubs and then back pedal upon realizing that females were present.

“It’s not so great… They’re like 10 feet away so you can barely see them anyway.”

I silently laughed at his sudden change of heart. Despite ridiculous experience-hindering New York strip club laws, they manage to stay open and make money somehow (Fernando). I’m indifferent about the whole thing. I possess the very precious parts that are beyond reach for the patrons of strip clubs. What’s it to me if some men want to blow their paychecks on a cheap look at someone else’s goods?

When the afternoon came and it was time to ride, the sun was out, but my clothes still weren’t dry. I almost didn’t change my pants, until a classmate advised me that the engine heat would probably put a hole near my crotch.

“Then we’d all see your underwear!”

No, then you’d all see my burning hair-pie.

So I changed my clothes again and they dried as I finished out the day. It was overcast, but the ground had dried quickly. The heavy rain didn’t stop the other class from riding part of the time, and I spent the morning really nervous about taking the test under those conditions and just riding a bike in general. I was afraid of falling, and riding over the slippery ground wasn’t going to help matters.

I’m happy to report that as the day passed, I improved a lot. The instructors for that day were Liz and Alex. Both of them were extremely kind and supportive. Liz actually asked if she could be perfectly honest with me, which is usually a preface for something terrible and biting. But all she said was that I appear to have so much fear, whether it be of falling or losing control or whatever, that it’s holding me back from doing anything. So, I just had to let go of that, not be afraid to lean, to speed, to look ahead, and everything would be okay.

She was right, of course. I decided that if I fell, I wouldn’t be anymore hurt than I usually am after a night of power-drinking. Thus, I leaned, I sped, I became comfortable with shifting gears… In essence, I rode.

Near the end of class was test-time. The sky wasn’t fully over its need to rain, and it had started to get darker. All of us were ready to get this show on the road because we didn’t want to make up the class on another day, and I really didn’t want to attempt a road test in the rain. I had improved, but not that much.

I was nervous, so I bummed a cigarette from a day-trader on Wall Street who earlier claimed to be playing hooky from work for the two-day class and couldn’t afford to miss any more work. Pretty much everyone but me said they’d rearranged their lives for this class and couldn’t come back another day.

We went through a series of several maneuvering tests and I somehow managed to pass. I think everyone in the class did. Still, I did very little to hide the excitement that I passed. Angela gave me a hug and everyone shook my hand.

I still need to take some more lessons before I’m comfortable riding on the street, but at least I can practice a little without enforced supervision. During the class and now among Gus’s coworkers, people keep asking me when I’m going to get a bike. The best answer is, When I can find a cheap place to park one. Owning a bike here is no big deal, but parking in most places in Manhattan is the equivalent of rent in most cities. Yuck.

So, how was the party with Spike, you ask? Well, I called Spike and found out that the party was at a motorcycle club, not his house (both are in the Bronx). Gus was not digging that action, so we stayed in Manhattan.

Instead of the motorcycle club, we went to some shitty bar in the East Village to celebrate Gus’s soccer-friend’s birthday. That place blew like a cheap, fat whore trying to spring her best friend from jail. It was crowded and boring, and it took 500 years to get a drink. Some random guy tried to high five me for no reason and I think I actually knocked him down with my invisible eyebeams. I don’t care what the Hells Angels were up to. They could have been maiming small animals and taking turns spitting blood and it would have been better than going to that bar.

Our night ended at Texas Rodeo Bar on Third Avenue, so it wasn’t all bad.

(Still a backpost… sue me.)