8.31.2006

MY TRIP TO FLORIDA (IN PICTURES) PART 1

Greetings from Orlando, Florida - The Cheesiest Place on Earth (TM)!

I have gotten an early start to the big Labor Day holiday weekend here in O-Town with Maggie, my ex-girlfriend and travelling companion. Our eventual destination is Ft. Lauderdale, where we will visit with my family and celebrate my sister's birthday.

And you, dear previously owned reader, are invited to share in all the excitement.

My journey began at the Jet Blue terminal at John F. Kennedy International airport. What better way to begin a long day of travelling than with a hearty (and over-priced) breakfast.

Bacon and eggs! Yummy. Can't you just feel my arteries clogging? I love bacon because it reminds me of Wilbur the pig, my favorite character from the beloved children's classic Charlotte's Web.

I was a bit nervous about flying, what with the Color-coded Freakout Level (or whatever they call it) raised to level Orange. But luckily I was accompanied by an member of the world-famous Hawaii Five-O! You know what tough guy cop Steve McGarrett used to say: "Book 'em Dan-o!" Evil brown people beware - we've got a guy in a baseball cap and gym socks to foil your murderous plans.

Here I am in Orlando on the courtesy shuttle to the Hertz car rental office. I always sit in the back of the bus in tribute to Rosa Parks. I shall overcome!

I am a Hertz #1 Club member! You know what that means? My car is ready and waiting the minute I arrive. You know what else it means? I am better than you.

See? There's my name on the board. I bet they don't do that at Alamo, or wherever poor people like you rent your cars.

Because I am a long-time Hertz #1 Club Gold member, I got a beautiful, red 2006 Pontiac Vibe. It's sort of like a mini-SUV, but what do I care? I won't be doing any of the driving. That's why Maggie is here.

Vibe - it sounds like a car for rock stars. Luckily I smuggled some coke on the plane. (But I won't tell you where I hid it!)

Wait a minute! My 2006 Pontiac Vibe has Texas plates! No wonder the car is red!


Soon I will be driving around in a red SUV from Texas. Oh well! Sorry Al Gore...

8.30.2006

"30 DAYS" SEASON FINALE TONIGHT ON FX

Morgan Spurlock, the filmmaker who lived, and almost died, on a McDonald's-only diet in the 2004 documentary Super Size Me, is the subject of tonight's second season finale of 30 Days on the FX cable network.

In the episode entitled Jail, the 35 year-old creator and host of 30 Days spends a month behind bars at the Henrico County Jail in Richmond, Virginia, enduring solitary confinement, manual labor and the opportunity to share a 10' x 8' cell with as many as three other inmates.

Spurlock was also featured in a standout episode from the show's first season, attempting to spend a month living in America on minimum wage. (He couldn't do it. No surprise there.)

If you've never watched 30 Days, do yourself a favor and tune in tonight. This show is consistently one of the most watchable, insightful and moving programs on television today. It is brilliantly cast, expertly produced and refreshingly unbiased in its storytelling. There is no propaganda, no moralizing, no preaching; just an honest, unflinching portrayal of human beings and their prejudices, and how those prejudices can be turned upside down in only one month.

This season has matched the brilliant inaugural series in terms of quality and originality. I just wish that Spurlock would produce more than six episodes per year. But the good news is, the first season of 30 Days has just been released on DVD to tide us over until next summer.

Your assignment: Watch the season 2 finale of 30 Days tonight at 10 p.m. (E.T.) on FX. And add the first season DVDs to the top of your Netflix queue. (Or buy them from Amazon.com for the absurdly low price of $13.47!)

If you don't agree that 30 Days is one of the best shows on television, I will eat my hat - which is probably a lot healthier than a Big Mac.

For more information on 30 Days, click here.

8.29.2006

ENERGY CRISIS (second rewrite)

One out of every three Americans has received some form of spiritual healing. About a year ago, I became one of them. But I didn’t plan it that way.

I’m a not a New Age kind of guy. I don’t do yoga. I don’t meditate. I don’t believe in karma, Eastern religions or the power of crystals. And I certainly don’t have a life coach, unless you count my ex-girlfriend, whom I call at least five times a day so that she can talk me off the emotional ledge. I’m an angry, skeptical, carnivorous New Yorker with a big ego and a tiny apartment, which I rent. Some people believe in the power of positive thinking. I live on caffeine, nicotine and thinly veiled contempt.

Our story begins on a Friday night in New York City. I’m a reluctant participant in an after-work gathering at an annoyingly trendy, faux dive-y bar on the regrettably gentrified Lower East Side. I’m struggling though mundane small talk with co-workers, wondering how something so unpleasant can be referred to as Happy Hour, when I recognize a twenty-something girl who has been temping at my office. She is dressed entirely in black, with long, dark hair, black nail polish and pale, white skin. Her name is Irina, but she looks like more like Morticia from The Addams Family, only younger, hotter, and in living color. I think she is Russian, or from the former Yugoslavia or maybe she is just an American with a weird name and a sour puss. I’m not sure. All I know is, I am enjoying the whole package.

“You look like you could use a drink,” I say to her, borrowing a line that always seems to work on Turner Classic Movies. Five minutes and $18 later we’re chatting over two glasses of Stoli Bluberi, which tastes tart, medicinal and over-priced. I ask Irina what she does when she is not answering telephones in random offices.

“I am a practitioner of craniosacral therapy,” Irina answers, with an accent reminiscent of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. “It’s a holistic healing technique that improves central nervous system function, eliminates stress, strengthens immunity and enhances your overall health.”

“Wow,” I say. “Nice job memorizing the brochure.” Irina ignores my attempt at witty repartee and continues her sales pitch, explaining that craniosacral therapy heals with nothing more than light touch to certain points on the head. Then she mentions that she is licensed and works in her apartment.

Works in her apartment
is all I need to hear. I ask Irina for her number and promise to call.


“I want you to do that thing with my head,” I say to Irina’s voicemail a few days later. “I’ll pay you whatever it costs.” At that moment a cartoonishly obese woman sitting next to me on the bus removes her hamhock-sized thigh from my lap, where it has been an uninvited and unwelcome guest since 2nd Avenue. As she waddles across the aisle with a tsk-tsk, it occurs to me that my treatment hasn’t even started and I’m already reaping the benefits.

Irina calls back, and the next day I'm knocking on the door of her East Village apartment. She greets me with a warm hug and a kiss on both cheeks. Still in the hallway and already at first base -- this is a good omen. Irina’s apartment is surprisingly large and bathed in mid-afternoon sunlight from two huge, picture windows. I wonder how a temp and part time craniosacral therapist can afford such swanky digs. Perhaps she does something else to make money? Perhaps something that ends happily?

Irina goes to the kitchen to get me some water and I notice that she is in the middle of reading a book called The Complete Diaries of Anais Nin. I’m not much of a reader, but I know that book has something to do with two chicks getting it on. I am a big fan of that sort of thing, particularly when I am involved. I wonder if Irina has a girlfriend waiting in another room, wearing only a towel, planning to join us when the moment is right. But you never really know in situations like these. I've gotten professional massages from pretty girls in their apartments with absolutely no funny business, and I’ve gotten a few with plenty of funny business. Thank you, Craigslist!

Irina returns and instructs me to take off my shoes and my sweatshirt - nothing more – and to lie on her expensive-looking massage table. I slowly lower my face into what looks like a black, upholstered toilet seat. It feels soft and comfortable, but oddly kinky.

“Now just relax,” Irina purrs, as she begins to lightly touch my shaved head with her fingertips. I feel like a grapefruit being inspected in the produce aisle. I wonder if she has ever done this to a guy wearing a toupee, or with a huge Afro. I bet she loves bald guys like me, because she never has to worry if we washed our hair. Maybe she has a fetish for bald heads, and this whole cranio-whatever thing is just a front. Maybe she’s getting off on this right now and I’m missing the whole thing because I’m blinded by the toilet seat.

I continue this perverted inner monologue for a few minutes, when all of a sudden I begin to feel very sleepy. Then everything goes black for a moment, and Irina wakes me and tells me that we are done. I slowly peel my face out of the toilet seat and look at my watch. Nearly an hour has passed. I have absolutely no idea what happened. I worry that she may have hypnotized me and harvested my pancreas. I nervously poke at my abdomen, until I remember that I have no idea where my pancreas actually should be, so I will have a hard time noticing if it is no longer there.

"Is that it?" I ask. It feels like the right thing to say.

"There is something else we could try," Irina coos, as my chakras begin to stir. "Have you ever had an energy reading?"

"No I haven't,” I answer. “But I'm totally into trying new things." This is a line that has worked well for me in the past.

Irina turns and walks into the bedroom, and I anxiously await the invitation to join her and her towel-clad roommate. But sadly, it doesn’t come. Moments later, Irina returns, carrying an antique armchair. She positions it in the center of the room, facing the large windows.

"Sit in this chair,” she says. “And close your eyes.”

I do, but I cheat. I peek. I don’t know if this girl is nuts in a good way or a bad one. If she's already got my pancreas, maybe she wants my kidney too. Through my squinty, half-shut eyes I see Irina orbiting my chair, wildly flailing her arms around me like I’m on fire and she’s trying to put me out. She looks like a drugged-out flower child at a Grateful Dead concert in 1968, only without the tie-dye and the peyote buttons. I marvel at the lengths I will go to just to be alone with a woman in her apartment. Next time I will try eHarmony.

After two minutes of nonstop flailing, Irina kneels before me and raises her trembling hands in the air, moving up and down my body like an airport security wand. There is a moment when not knowing what is going to happen next stops being exciting and starts being scary. This is that moment. As I begin to calculate the distance from my chair to the door, Irina slowly stands up and puts both hands on my shoulders.

“Okay, Will,” she says softly. “You can open your eyes now.”

I feel bad for peeking, but relieved that I am still alive. Irina guides me from the chair to the couch and sits down next to me. She takes my hand and holds it in both of hers. She pauses, as if she is about to tell me I have bad breath.

“Your mother had to give you away when you were a little baby,” Irina says, looking deeply into my eyes. “This has caused great pain for both of you.”

Wait a minute. I know I’m adopted, but I also know that I never mentioned it to Irina. Before I can protest, she continues her report. According to Irina, my birth mother had wanted to keep me, but her mother -- my grandmother -- forced her to give me up right after I was born. This decision apparently weighed heavily upon my mother and, as a result, she descended into a life of addiction and depression.

I sit there, stunned at what this stranger is telling me. I picture my mother, late at night in a darkened room, chain smoking, trying not to think about all the things her brain is forcing her to think about. Then I picture myself doing the exact same thing, last night. For a moment I feel like I might cry. Then the sadness turns to anger: at my mother, for passing her fucked up genes on to me; at myself, for being a self-fulfilling prophecy; but most of all at Irina, for making me believe -- or want to believe -- that all of this supernatural hocus-pocus might actually be true.

"Inside of you there is a scared little boy who is afraid of being rejected again" Irina says to me. "You have to help that little boy, or you will never be able to let go of those feelings. You have to stop running."

"I smoke cigarettes," I reply, interrupting her. "I don't really do much running."

"You need to make a safe place in your apartment for that little boy," she insists. "Think of it as an altar. Find things that were important to you when you were a child and bring them into your home. Do this as soon as possible.” Then Irina stops and asks me if I have any questions.

How about: Who are you? How do you know all these things? Why should I believe you? What have you done with my pancreas? And Where the hell is your towel-clad roommate? But I don’t ask any of those questions, or anything else. I just want to get out of this place. Irina asks me if I am okay. I lie and tell her I am, so I can leave. Then she gives me a hug and shows me to the door. I leave the apartment, walk down the stairs and step back on to the sidewalk. It takes me a moment to reacclimate myself to the chaos of New York City. I light a cigarette and call Maggie, my ex-girlfriend and amateur life coach.

“That is complete bullshit,” Maggie says to me, as I walk up Lafayette Street. “That girl is a phony and a crook.”

“If she’s a crook she’s not a very good one, “ I reply. “She never asked me for any money.”

A few months later, my parents sold the house I grew up in on Long Island and I offered to help them pack. It was the least I could do, considering that they let a strange kid live with them for twenty-two years. I started up in the attic, moved down to the basement and ended out in the garage. When I was nearly finished I found a dog-eared manila file labeled “ADOPTION” in black Sharpie marker. In it I discovered yellowing legal documents with answers to questions I had always just assumed were unknowable: the time of my birth (10:14 a.m.), my weight (6 1/2 lbs.), my height (19 1⁄2”). Then I found a typewritten report from a social worker that said “the baby likes to hold onto things, tightly.”

She wasn’t kidding. I saved everything when I was a kid. My baseball cards were organized chronologically by year and stored in acid-free boxes. My entire collection of more than 1,000 Richie Rich comic books was hermetically sealed in Mylar plastic bags. My finger paintings, report cards, sports trophies, pictures, love letters – everything was meticulously archived, as if it was being prepared for a presidential library. I guess that makes perfect sense for somebody named after William McKinley, the only U.S. president who didn’t have a biography in my school library.

"What are you going to do with all this stuff?" my dad asked me as I was loading up a rented U-haul.

"Somebody told me I should bring it home," I answered, leaving out who that somebody was.

And that's what I did. I carried 32 boxes of my childhood up two flights of stairs and into my tiny studio apartment. And I went through every single thing in every single box. I laughed at the bad pictures and got choked up at the tormented letters from my first love. And, for the first time, the orphaned baby named Christian, the adopted kid named Billy and the middle-aged cynic named Will all shared the same home.

Since that day I've made more money, done more writing and had more sex than I ever have before. I’ve reconnected with old friends, and made new ones. I feel hopeful and optimistic – so much so that sometimes I look in the mirror and expect to see somebody else looking back.

Is there a connection? Did Irina actually read my energy? Is there something to all this New Age stuff? I don't know, and I probably never will. But I do know one thing. I need to look for a bigger apartment, and my birth mother. I'd like her to know that everything turned out okay.


As for Irina, I never saw her again. I never even tried to call her. Maybe I was afraid of what else she might tell me. Every now and then I walk past her apartment and look up at those two big, picture windows, wondering what it was that I left up there, and feeling happy that I stopped holding on to it so tightly.

8.28.2006

HOW I SPENT MY WEEKEND

Chillin' with Count Petofi and more than 1,000 of our closest friends.

8.27.2006

SUMMER RERUN: NO THANK YOU!

Remember when you would go into a store and buy something and the cashier would say “thank you” after the transaction?

When did that stop happening?

Last night I went into a deli and bought a pack of M&M’s. I handed a dollar to the Asian gentleman behind the counter. He handed me back twenty-five cents. I waited. And waited. And waited.

He said nothing. He just looked at me.

I have a policy. If I give you money - for any reason at all – I expect you to say “thank you.” And I’ll say “thank you” in return.

Not only did the guy not say “thank you,” he kind of scowled at me, like he was mad at me for taking his candy.

Everybody loves M&M’s. I understand that. But if you have a store and you put them up for sale, eventually someone’s going to buy them. It’s supply and demand. It's not my fault M&M's are so delicious.

So I mumbled “thanks” and I left with my M&M's. But when I got outside I thought to myself, “Why did I just thank that guy?” So I went back inside.

“I’d like my ‘thanks’ back,” I said to the cashier. “You owe me a thanks. I said ‘thank you,’ but you didn’t. That means our relationship is short one ‘thank you.’ So now it’s your turn.”

He looked at me. He looked at the M&M’s. He handed me a napkin.

“I don’t need a napkin!” I yelled. “M&M's melt in your mouth, not in your hand! Don't you watch the commercials? Don’t you know anything about the products you sell? Don't you know the basic rules of commerce? I’m waiting for a ‘thank you!’ A THANK YOU!”

“You’re welcome,” he replied, with a smile.

8.26.2006

SUMMER RERUN: YOU CAN'T TOP THE CARROT!


When was the last time you ate a carrot?

If your answer is “for dinner” or “at lunch” or “last night, at my Nicotine Anonymous meeting” then I say, “Kudos to you!” But if you can’t remember the last time you enjoyed nature’s perfect food then you need to review your life choices.

Why do I love thee, carrot? Let me count the ways.

First of all, you can grow your own. And it’s perfectly legal. No federal marshal will bust down your door and confiscate your hydroponic grow lights. The carrot does need to be manufactured by a faceless, multi-national conglomerate, or shot up with hormones, or pasteurized, homogenized or processed. The carrot doesn’t even need a package! All you need is a peeler and you are good to go.

Carrots are good for you, and they’re good for the environment.

There are so many ways to enjoy the carrot. There’s carrot soup, carrot cake, carrot salad, carrot jam, carrot juice, even carrot wine. Imagine the fun of a game of “carrot pong.”

You can eat the carrot raw, and say things like, “What’s up, Doc?” while chewing with your mouth open and fondly remembering your misspent youth.

You can steam the carrot, and feel less guilty about that Bamboo Steamer you bought from the late-night infomercial when you were drunk.

You can mash the carrot and silence your screaming newborn, or your toothless grandma.

You can peel the carrot and make a lovely, edible garnish. Take that, parsley! Get thee hence, oh bitter herb.

You can cook the carrot, and actually increase its nutritional value. Because beta-carotene is heat-resistant. Further proof that the carrot is the super hero of vegetables. It’s invincible!

Beta-carotene is transformed into Vitamin A once inside the body. And Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. So the next time you see a little kid with thick glasses, give him a carrot. I’m sure his Mom will thank you!

And while you’re at it, give Mom a carrot too. Especially if she’s pregnant. And African. VAD often occurs in poverty-stricken countries during the last trimester of pregnancy, when demand by both the mother and the unborn child is greatest.

But the best thing is, the more carrots you eat, the more your skin will turn orange. So the next time you have a big date, and you’re thinking about a visit to the tanning salon, why not eat a carrot? Or one-hundred carrots, in one sitting.

You’ll save money and avoid the costly inconvenience of skin cancer.

Love the carrot, and the carrot will love you back.

That’s all, folks!

8.25.2006

PLUTO OUT OF A JOB AS MICKEY MOUSE'S DOG

Associated Press
Pluto, beloved canine best friend to cartoon star Mickey Mouse for more than 75 years, has been fired.

The animated bloodhound has been demoted from his longtime role as Mickey Mouse's dog and will be phased out of future cartoons, it was announced today.


"All of us at The Walt Disney Company acknowledge Pluto for the fine work he has done over the years, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors," Disney C.E.O. Robert Iger said today in a conference call with reporters.


Disney executives maintain that the decision not to renew the madcap pooch's contract has nothing to do with yesterday's ruling by the International Astronomical Union, downgrading former planet Pluto to the category of "dwarf planet." But animation experts, like 47 year-old DVD collector Dwight Reynolds, disagree.

"Pluto the Pup was introduced in the 1930 film The Chain Gang, released only months after the discovery of the planet by an American astronomer," Reynolds said toady. "The character has often been used by schools to teach young children about the planets, and Disney is clearly looking to distance itself from potential lawsuits."

When not watching one of his 267 DVDs featuring Pluto, Reynolds manages an on-line petition designed to convince Disney to reinstate the plucky pup.


"I've heard from fans from all over the world," Reynolds added. "They all agree that what Disney is doing is unfair. This is nothing more than an animated lynching."
But even Reynolds acknowledges that time may be running out.

Disney announced that they will be holding nationwide auditions for Mickey Mouse's new, unnamed dog this fall, and Pluto is rumored to be in negotiations to join the cast of the daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.
All of this leaves fans like Reynolds feeling left out.

"Pluto has been my favorite character since I was three years old." Reynolds wrote on his website recently. "I feel like Disney is trying to rewrite my childhood."

If Disney does not reverse their decision, Reynolds has announced that he will lead a protest march in Orlando next month, which will require him to leave his parents' basement for the first time since 1997.

8.24.2006

LUCKY TO BE AN AMERICAN

If, like me, you are a young and stylish American you have probably heard of Lucky Brand Jeans.

Some of you might say that Lucky is just another trendy shop for overpriced t-shirts and pre-damaged denim. Oh how wrong you are, you stupid Gap-shopping, McDonald's-eating, Starbuck's-coffee-drinking motherfucker.

I think the following quote from the Our Vision section of the Lucky Brand Jeans website sums it up:

Lucky Brand Jeans is about a moment in time, about America, youth and courage.


That's right. It's about
courage.

Let's say you are a young man or woman in the American heartland and you've just turned 18. You can waste your moment in time by enlisting in the United States Armed Forces and fighting the terrorists that threaten our nation. Like a pussy.

Or you can spend $110 on a pair of blue jeans manufactured in Macao, a tiny protectorate of the People's Republic of China. That is true American courage.

I know what you're thinking: China is a Communist nation that routinely violates basic human rights and floods the world with cheaply produced goods.

Of course they do. And that's exactly my point.

You could buy a pair of jeans manufactured in the United States of America, but what good is that going to do? Give a fellow American a job? Allow a fellow American to feed his or her family? Maybe even send his or her kid to a good college?

That, my naive friend, is Pre-9/11 Thinking.

The United States of America is on a crusade to bring freedom to the suffering and oppressed nations of the world. And, as many Country Music stars have said over the years, freedom isn't free. For example, at the Lucky store, freedom costs $110.

Sure it sounds like a lot of money, but that $110 keeps a sweatshop full of child laborers in Macao off the streets, where they would otherwise be spending their time hating us for our freedom. The 10 cents per hour that those workers earn may not sound like a lot to you, but to them it's a king's ransom. You can live a very nice life in Macao on *$1.60 a day. And that $1.60 a day keeps the unwashed masses in Macao content and loving the good old USA.

Now listen up American politicians, because this is how we can win the war in Iraq and save the Iraqi people from plunging into the great abyss of sectarian violence.

If American clothing retailers (such as Lucky Brand Jeans) open manufacturing plants all across the newly democratic nation of Iraq, it will be a win-win for everybody. The Iraqi's will get good jobs, we will get nice clothes and - most importantly - nobody will get blown up. Because if you are working you don't have time to make martyrdom videos, improvised explosive devices or jihad.

It's basic logic!


Everybody needs a job: Sunni, Shia, Kurd, even Commie. And we can make it happen. As the Lucky website says, this truly is a moment in time for a new generation of young Americans.

Show the courage to go and seek out cheaply manufactured
clothing from foreign lands. And wear it proudly.

It's up to you, America. The life you save may be your own.

*This theory is based upon the assumption of a standard 16-hour workday with no breaks. Because breaks are for pussies.

8.23.2006

MY TRIP TO THE BASEBALL GAME (IN PICTURES)

Last night I went to see the New York Mets play the St. Louis Cardinals at Shea Stadium.

It was a packed house - 49,661 fans cheering on the most exciting Mets team in a generation.

One of those fans was named Ian.


Ian is my ex-girlfriend Mary's son. I started dating Mary when Ian was 5. In two months Ian will be 25. Writing that makes me feel really old.

I took Ian to his first Mets game back in 1988, and we've been going to baseball games together ever since. Even though Mary and I broke up almost ten years ago, Ian and I are still close.


As always, I kept score in my souvenir program. This is why I don't drink beer at baseball games. I must maintain complete clarity and focus so that I can score properly.

I love to score and I'm really good at it. Just ask any of my ex-girlfriends.

Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado hit his 400th career home run in the second inning, and then he slugged a monsterous grand slam in the 5th.

I once had five RBIs in a Little League game back in 1981, and nobody put my name on the scoreboard. But my coach bought me ice cream at Carvel, so it all worked out for the best.

The Mets were losing 7-6 in the bottom of the 9th inning, until Carlos Beltran slammed a two-run, game winning homerun over the the righfield wall. Yes, everybody on the Mets this year is named Carlos. !Si los Mets hablamos Espanol!

It was a great game and I'm glad I went.

And I'm really glad that, after twenty years, my sort-of-former-unoffical stepson Ian and I are still good buddies.

I just have to come up with a less-wordy way of introducing him to people.

8.22.2006

BACK TO PAK

Last Friday I wrote a story about how a guy in Pakistan had inadvertently stumbled upon previously owned while cruising the Internet for "sexy nice cute gays from Karachi Pakistan."

Well, today he came back.


At 12:48 (E.T.) this morning somebody from the exact same I.P. address once again Google searched for "sexy nice cute gays from Karachi Pakistan." And, once again, he followed the link to previously owned. Last time I was fourth on the list of search results, but this time I jumped to second. I believe congratulations are in order.

You would think I would be ranked first, considering that my story quoted the exact search terms that our horny Pakistani friend used. But you should never assume, because it makes an ass(lover) out of u and me.

This time around I jumped ahead of an "international escort service" called Girl Directory, a dating service from Croatia and a worldwide gay personals site. I am some elite company there, don't you think?

Number 1 on the list of search results for
"sexy nice cute gays from Karachi Pakistan" was a post from a blogger in Karachi about the most popular search terms in Pakistan. That is some bullshit. If you fill your page with popular search terms, of course you're going to get tons of hits! If you don't believe me check out the previously owned post from last October that has received more hits than any other.

I never considered the possibility that the exact same guy would do the exact same search and end up at my site again. If I had, I might have left out certain details about him, such as the real name of the company where he works (which is visible to me on my web counter).

Let's just say that this guy hit my site again last night and saw the post I wrote about him. And let's say he freaked out because I may have potentially outed him to all his fundamentalist co-workers. And let's say that he didn't find my jokes about Allah to be particularly funny, because radical Islamists tend not to have a good sense of humor about that sort of thing.

There is a very good chance that I am a dead man.

I hope you all of you ungrateful fuckers have enjoyed the last 385 posts, because there might not be a 386th.

I wonder...if I die in the name of Allah, does that mean I'm eligible for the 72 virgins? Honestly, I'd be happy with just two or three. Because 72 seems like a lot of work. Seriously, have you ever had sex with a virgin? They have no idea what they're doing. It's like teaching a cat how to use the toilet. It takes forever.

Okay, I have to go write my will now. If anybody wants to inherit 1,246 mint condition Richie Rich comic books sealed in acid-free plastic bags, just send me an email.

But you better hurry. I'm afraid this may be a limited-time offer.

8.21.2006

BOXERS OR BRIEFS? THAT IS THE QUESTION!

My underwear situation is currently in flux.

Historically, I've always been a briefs guy. I started with a navy blue pair of Batman Underoos back in 1970s and I've never looked back. Ever since then it's been white cotton briefs every day for more than three decades.

This all changed when I met Jenny.

Jenny and I were working together on the production of a large pharmaceutical sales meeting in Las Vegas. We started madly flirting with each other the minute we met and ended up in bed together on the last night of the job. But it wasn't just a one-nighter. We decided to spend two extra days in Vegas together, and a few weeks later we enjoyed a long, romantic weekend at a little bed & breakfast in Key West. Jenny and I dated for a few months, but unfortunately it didn't work out because she lived in Washington D.C. and I live in New York. And because she liked to drink. A lot.


The first time Jenny and I hooked up, she looked at my underwear and said "I didn't think of you as a tightie whitey kind of guy."

Maybe it was just the beer talking, but it disturbed me for a number of reasons.
First, you never want a new paramour to be unpleasantly surprised when you remove your clothing. Maybe it's just me but I like to hear entirely positive comments the first time I take off my clothes in front of somebody. Like wow or nice or Oh my God, you're so big!

Jenny said that she had expected me to be wearing boxers. I did try boxers about ten years ago, but it was a failed experiment. It felt way too crowded, like I was wearing a bathing suit under my jeans. I honestly don't know how guys deal with all that material bunching up in their pants. I like to keep it simple down there, and I prefer the feeling of support that briefs provide. I don't like my business bouncing around when I'm trying to go about my daily life.

The implication of what Jenny said was that briefs were somehow less masculine than boxers. She never used the word "gay" but I felt like she was hinting at it, particularly when she described my underwear as looking like "little Speedos." In fact, they were medium sized white Hanes briefs, but once you have planted a bad seed in my psyche it will grow into a massive tree of self-doubt.

So I decided to give boxers one more chance.

I stopped by the GAP and began to inspect the underwear selections. As I was standing there, an attractive, twenty-ish Hispanic girl asked me if I needed assistance.


"I'm having an underwear problem," I said. "And I need your help." I told her about Jenny, the whole thing that happened in Vegas and my problem with the boxers.

"Have you ever tried boxer briefs?" the salesgirl asked. "A lot of guys are wearing them now. They have the same support as briefs, but they are not bikini cut."

"Did you say bikini?" I replied. "Have I actually been wearing a bikini for 35 years?"

"Well, sort of," she said. "Most briefs have the same cut as a Speedo." Speedo! There was that word again.

"What do you think of briefs?" I asked the barely-out-of-her-teens clerk.

"I think they're kind of gay," she said. My greatest fear had been realized.

"If you were hooking up with a guy what type of underwear would you like to see him wearing?" I asked.

"Definitely boxer briefs," she said with no hesitation.

That was all I needed to hear. I bought a medium-sized pair of gray boxer briefs with an orange waistband and I raced back to my apartment to try them on. (Strangely enough they don't let you try on underwear at the GAP.)


It took some getting used to, but I kind of liked the boxer briefs. So a few days later I headed back to the Gap to stock up. Unfortunately my friend the Hispanic underwear consultant was nowhere to be found, so I was left to fend for myself. I went to the shelf where I had found my boxer briefs, but they were no longer there. I looked at the reorganized wall of underwear and noticed that there were numerous styles of boxer briefs.

There were mini-striped boxer briefs, basic square cut boxer briefs, trimmed square cut boxer briefs, and more - and each one appeared to be cut differently. When did buying men's underwear become so complicated?

I thought about asking another salesclerk for help, but they were all guys and talking to another dude about underwear feels a little gay to me. So I grabbed one pair of every boxer brief variation and brought them home.

Here's what I learned: not all boxer briefs are created equal.

The mini-stripped boxer briefs were really, really long. Ridiculously long. It felt like I was wearing a pair of olde-fashioned knickers. I thought about putting on a tweed cap and selling newspapers on the corner.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! 37 year-old man has no idea how to buy underwear!

The basic square cut boxer briefs were also way too long, and much tighter around the waist and thighs. When I put them on it felt as if I were wearing a corset. All I needed was a powdered wig and I would have looked just like an old-fashioned English dandy.

Tis foppery Sir William, to make the blood curdle!
When I look upon thee, strapped tightly in thy girdle!

Finally I tried on the trimmed square cut boxer briefs and they fit perfectly. They were not too long, but not too short. Not too roomy, but not too snug. They were just right. I felt like a bald version of Goldilocks.

I immediately ran back to the GAP and bought up every pair of medium-sized
trimmed square cut boxer briefs they had (except the one with the little duckies). I am set for the immediate future.

So, as of this moment, I am a boxer briefs guy. Maybe I should give Jenny a call. I could really use a drink just about now.


8.19.2006

SNAKES ON A PLANE

Yesterday afternoon I called my ex-girlfriend Maggie and asked her if she wanted to see Snakes on a Plane.

"What's it about?" she said, with absolutely no sense of irony.

"What's it about?" I replied. "It's about motherfucking snakes on a motherfucking plane!"

If, like Maggie, you are a young, internet-savvy consumer and you haven't already heard way too much about this movie, you are in the minority. Well, the moment every MySpace user has been waiting for has finally arrived. Snakes on a Plane opened yesterday (there was also a special preview showing on Thursday night in selected cities) and, for something that has been so over-hyped, the buzz is actually pretty good.

Like a good American consumer I did what I was told and I went to see SoaP with Maggie on Friday night at the Union Square theater in New York City. The crowds were huge and every show appeared to be sold out well in advance. As I was walking in to the theater, the previous show was letting out and a large, middle-aged black woman yelled out (to nobody in particular) "You will not be disappointed by this movie!"

And she was right, for the most part.


If you want to see a great film, look elsewhere. (I highly recommend the indie film Half Nelson, about a crack-smoking school teacher.) But if you want to have a great experience, see Snakes on a Plane in a big, jam-packed theater on opening weekend. Wherever you are in this country, people under 30 will scream and yell and clap and make hissing sounds. They will come with rubber snakes and perhaps even dress up as flight attendants. This movie is not about the movie. The movie is secondary. It's about the experience.

That's not to say it's a bad movie. It's not. Well, it is, but it wants to be bad. It wears its badness like a badge of honor. And the audience (at least the one I saw it with) was with the movie all the way.

Unfortunately, I was not. I love bad movies, particularly the cheesy, exploitive action films of the 1970's that SoaP emulates. But the difference is (and it's an important one) those movies didn't try to be bad. They just were - and that's what made them so good. I feel the same way about the cheesy horror and sci-fi films of the 1950's. People like Ed Wood and every under-funded, would-be auteur of the last half century, used every available resource to make the best film they could make. But low budgets, bad scripts and terrible acting only goes so far. And the result is often enjoyable for all the wrong reasons.

SoaP had none of these limitations. In fact, as the buzz grew, the film was almost guaranteed of delivering a huge return on New Line's investment. But instead of using the ample available resources to make the best bad movie in the history of bad movies, they just made a bad movie. Okay, a bad movie with some good special effects and a few laughs. And Samuel L. Jackson. But the movie never achieved that moment of transcendence that it could have - and should have.

The audience didn't seem to care, though. They were barely paying attention, focusing more on cracking up their friends and catcalling the screen with every imaginable variation of "snakes on a (fill-in-the-blank)." And I can't really blame them. Today's teens and twentysomethings don't have the genuine popular cultural touchstones that the previous generation had. The original Star Wars, Superman, E.T,. Star Trek, Raiders of the Lost Ark even TV events like a once-yearly primetime showing of The Wizard of Oz or A Charlie Brown Christmas - these type of organic experiences no longer exist in a media-saturated, on-demand world. Movie theater attendance is down. Primetime television ratings are plummeting. Popular culture in this country is more diffuse then ever before. A new crop of young people desperately crave that shared moment that can unite a generation, and create a memory that lasts a lifetime.

And I'm not going to rain on their parade.

So go see Snakes on a Plane this weekend. You'll have a good time. But if you're older than 30, you will sit there the entire time and think, "You kids have no idea what you missed." And it may make you feel a little bit wistful for the past. Until Sam Jackson yells, "I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane."

Then you'll laugh, and play along, at least for a little while.

8.18.2006

PRAISE ALLAH AND PASS THE GAY PORN

One of the many ways people learn about previously owned is by doing a Google search.

Sometimes those people are old friends looking to reconnect with "Will McKinley." Sometimes they are new friends looking to find out more about "previously owned blog." And sometimes they are gay Pakistani dudes looking for "sexy nice cute gays from Karachi Pakistan"

Today at 1:48 AM, a gentleman at the Pakistan Petroleum Company in Karachi typed those words into Google. And guess what? previously owned was fourth on the list of sites that Google suggested he check out. Here's what he saw in Google's search results:

previously owned
I’m in a mood to play with a guy with nice long sexy hair. ... 310 local versions of the Craigslist homepage, from New York, New York to Karachi, Pakistan. ...
willmckinley.blogspot.com/ - 108k -Cached - Similar pages

This is just great. Now millions of gay Pakistani men will think that Will McKinley "is in the mood to play with a guy with nice long sexy hair." My email is going to be inundated with love letters from longhaired Pakistanis looking for the love that dare not speak it's name.

Here in New York City, we can speak it's name. We call it ass fucking. But you can't say ass fucking in Pakastan. They don't appreciate that kind of talk. That kind of talk makes people mysteriously disappear.

Karachi is the largest city in the largest (in geographical terms) Muslim theocracy in the world. It you're a guy in Pakistan and you talk about fucking another guy in the ass, they will burn you on a funeral pyre. It's not technically a funeral pyre, because you are not dead when they tie you to it. But it becomes a funeral pyre when the flames of Allah burn your sinful body, and your ashes are thrown in the sewer (If they have a sewer, which they probably don't). There is no discussion, no court case, no appeal. If you're gay they burn you on a pyre.

And guess what else they do in repressive Muslim theocracies? They monitor the websites that people look at. That is bad news for me.

So let's review what I have to look forward to:
  • Every horny gay man in Pakistan visits previously owned;
  • The government convicts me in absentia for crimes against Allah;
  • Some mullah issues a fatwa calling for my beheading;
  • I have no head.
Somewhere in Pakistan, an angry young man is sharpening a jewel-encrusted saber with my name on it.

So let me take this opportunity to present:

The Top 10 Reasons Will McKinley Should Not Be Beheaded
1) I have recently converted to Islam (tonight, actually)
2) My new Muslim name is Willeed bin al McKinley
3) I do not condone homosexuality (unless it's two chicks)
4) I just uploaded my martyrdom video to You Tube
5) I totally agree with Mel Gibson
6) My #1 Myspace friend is Sheik Hassan Nasrallah
7) I shave my head in praise to Allah
8) I think the Koran is the best book ever written - with the possible exception of Are You There God? It's Me Margaret
9) I have a bumper sticker that says My Other Car is a Katyusha Rocket Aimed at Haifa
10) I believe George W. Bush is on a crusade to destroy Islam

By the way, that last one is totally true. So this is my message of peace to the Muslim world:

Let's bury the hatchet. Just not in my neck!

Praise Allah!

8.17.2006

GIVE AN INCH, GET A SMILE

Hey guys, are you manscaped?

If you've ever watched Queer Eye for the Straight Guy you know what I'm talking about. Manscaping is the practice of shaving, waxing, trimming, removing or otherwise maintaining male body hair. Apparently, all those stories you've heard about the declining approval ratings for bush are true.

Manscaping has always been standard operating procedure for bodybuilders who wished to show better muscular definition, swimmers and bikers who wished to increase their speed, transvestites and transsexuals who wished to reduce the appearance of masculinity and, of course, for gay dudes. But traditionally, if a guy was not an athlete, a trannie or a Queer, he wouldn't touch the hair below his neck. It never would have even occurred to most of us. Maybe your wife or girlfriend might shave your disgusting back hair periodically, but that was for her benefit, not yours.

Guys are hairy. End of story, right?

Not anymore. For a new generation of young, sexually active men, body hair maintenance is an integral component of personal grooming. And many women are probably saying, "It's about time." The pornographication of American culture has created an expectation of the perfectly groomed female with very little - or no - body hair. Any woman can tell you that this can at times feel like a full-time job, and many have turned to day spas, where bikini waxing has supplanted manicures and massage as the most sought after service.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. (I'm not sure which is which, but you get the point.)

It's arguable that the unfortunate lifestyle trend known as metrosexuality has taken a dip on the cultural radar since the premiere of Queer Eye three summers ago. There has even been a bit of a backlash, as more men have chosen to forgo expensive skincare regimens for decidedly heterosexual scruffy facial hair. (If you don't believe me just take a trip on the L train). But maintenance of body hair is one component of metrosexuality that has continued to grow unabated.

There is a moment when a trend transitions from the faddish fringe to the mainstream, corporate capitalist selling machine. That moment often occurs when Madison Avenue co-opts a trend for their own. And now, it looks like manscaping has hit the big time.

Recently I visited the men's room of a bar on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Above the single urinal there was an advertisement, mounted in a Lucite frame. I've learned to tune these annoyances out, as I do with most of the ubiquitous advertising that assaults my senses on a daily basis.
It's the white noise of life in a big city. If you don't like it, move to Amish Country.

I've never been comfortable with the concept of being forced to stare at an ad while I relieve myself, but what are you going to do? But as I stood there I noticed that this advertisement was different than the usual ones. It wasn't for Axe bodyspray, or Mitchum cologne, Trojan condoms or any of the accoutrements of the young single male. In fact, I had no idea what this advertisement was advertising.

The ad was a picture of what looked like two kiwi fruits, placed next to each other on a plain background. Beneath the picture was the tag line Shave Everywhere and a web address. I thought about it for a moment, and then I looked down and had an epiphany.

This ad was telling me that I need to shave my balls.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must report that I have been trimming the hair in my pubic region for some time now. I am very hairy by nature (except on my head, ironically) and there are many good reasons to keep it close-cropped. Initially I tried to use the same electric razor that I sometimes use on my face, but this was a flawed plan. I forgot that electric razors are designed for short, coarse hairs, not for longer, curly ones. Instead of shaving my pubes, the razor yanked out each hair individually. This was followed by an entirely non-masculine shriek and a bit of a pain dance, not unlike an Irish jig.

Next I tried a regular old pair of scissors. Before you ask, the answer is yes.

Of course the question is, Were you nervous maneuvering a scissor around your penis, scrotum and rectum. You bet I was nervous, but as a single man in new Millennium, you have to take some risks! This technique has worked for some time now, with only one small incident of unintentional bloodletting. Luckily there was no permanent damage, and the healing process was speedy. A female visitor to my private area did inquire about the "wound," but once I assured her that it was not transmittable, the fun was back on track!

But back to the ad.

I stood there staring at it, knowing it would be the first thing I looked at the next time I was in front of a computer. I didn't even need to write down the web address. How can you forget a tag line like shave everywhere? When I got back to my apartment I fired up the Powerbook and typed in s-h-a-v-e-e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.com

I arrived at the site and was greeted by video of a tall, good-looking, twentysomething, white guy clad in a terrycloth robe.

"Hi there," he said. "If you're here you probably know that body grooming is a sensitive issue. Shaving your back, chest, bleep and bleep demands a certain delicacy that may have been hard to attain. Until now." Anyone with basic lip reading abilities would realize what the genial spokesman was saying under the bleeps: balls and ass.

During the first bleep, a graphic showed the two kiwis from the ad I saw in the bar restroom. During the second bleep, a graphic of a peach was shown. The peach was presented in such a way where it appeared to have two cheeks, separated by something of a crack around the circumference. Balls and ass.

The guy in the bathrobe then went on to introduce - on a Roman column with a silky pillow - a new electric shaving device called The Philips Bodygroom.

Finally, I knew what I was being sold. But it was about to get better.

In addition to taming "those scruffy underarm hairs," our host continued, "The Philips Bodygroom will add an extra optical inch to your dick." Of course, "dick" was bleeped out, but a graphic of a ruler made sure that I got the point about increased visibility. The site then went on to offer a heavily bleeped tutorial on how to shave your privates, and a constant reinforcement of the idea that use of the Philips Bodygroom adds an "optical inch" to your penis.

Wow. That's all I can say after looking at this site. We really are living in a different world. When two large corporations like Philips and Norelco can partner to manufacture and market a product designed to make your dick look bigger, we have truly passed over to the other side of the looking glass.

So what did I do? I bought it, of course! Today I ordered The Philips Bodygroom from amazon.com and I requested RUSH overnight shipping. After all, the weekend begins tomorrow and I want to be ready.

Take a number girls. At this time tomorrow my cock is going to be HUGE!

Thanks Philips Bodygroom!

8.16.2006

WINE WOMEN AND SWEAT

There was a wine tasting at my gym last night. What a great idea. Nothing goes together like alcohol and lifting heavy weights.

Unfortunately, a few idiots overdid it. One guy got drunk and fell down the Stairmaster. But I feel better today, now that the swelling has gone down.

Honestly, I think I did have a bit too much wine, because by mistake I ended up in the ladies steam room. Unfortunately alcohol makes me sleepy, so today I look a little bit like Keith Richard - all wrinkley and with a big bruise on my head.

Speaking of Keith, I'm going to suggest to gym management that next week they have a cocaine tasting.

Why waste your time with Red Bull? Everybody knows that coke is the
original energy drink. And doing coke is just as good as working out. It increases your heart rate and it keeps you super thin.

If you don't believe me, just ask Kate Moss, and the Olsen Twins, and Lindsey Lohan and my mom.
+++

To manscape or not to manscape, that is the question.
Check out previously owned to find out more!

TURN ON YOUR HEART PANTS

Pajama bottoms courtesy of Gap Body.

8.15.2006

ENERGY CRISIS (rewrite)

About a year ago somebody read my energy.

I'm not talking about the electric company guy who looks at the meter in your basement. I’m talking about a person who interprets the energy that lives within you, and emanates from you.

Normally I would think this is a lot of New Age nonsense, designed for people with too much free time and disposable income. I am not one of those people. I don't do yoga. I don't meditate. I don't believe in karma, or past lives or Eastern religions. I live on caffeine, nicotine and thinly veiled contempt. An ex-girlfriend once told me that I was “an asshole and nobody liked me.” Some people would have been hurt by a statement like that. I considered it a compliment.

In my defense, I didn't plan to have my energy read. It just kind of happened.

I met a girl at a party. Her name was Irina and she was dressed all in black, with long, dark hair, black nail polish and pale, white skin. She looked like Morticia from The Addams Family, only younger, hotter and with more piercings. I think she was Russian, or from the former Yugoslavia or maybe she was just an American with a weird name and a sour puss. All I know is, I was enjoying the whole package. So I start chatting her up over a couple Michelob Ultras and she mentions that she is a practitioner of something called craniosacral therapy. I say something witty like “wow” and ask for more details.

Irina tells me that craniosacral therapy is a holistic healing technique that improves central nervous system function, eliminates stress, strengthens resistance and enhances overall health, simply by touching certain points on the head. Then she mentions that she's licensed and works in her apartment.


Works in her apartment was all I needed to hear. I asked for her number and promised I'd give her a call. And a few days later I did.

“I want you to do that thing with my head,” I said to Irina’s voicemail. “I’ll pay you whatever it costs.” At that moment the woman sitting next to me on the bus got up and changed seats, which was a nice surprise because she was really overweight.

So Irina calls back, schedules a session and the next day I'm knocking on the door of her East Village apartment. She opens the door, greets me with a kiss on both cheeks and invites me in. The apartment is large, well appointed and bathed in mid-afternoon sunlight from two huge windows. Irina goes to the kitchen to get me some water and I notice a book called The Complete Diaries of Anais Nin on her coffee table. I am cautiously optimistic. I've gotten massages from pretty girls in private apartments before, with no hanky panky. I know it's not always about a happy ending. But sometimes it is. I read Craigslist.

Irina instructs me to take off my shoes and my sweatshirt - nothing more. Then I lie on her fancy massage table, placing my face in what looks like an upholstered toilet seat. Irina then begins to lightly touch my bald head with her fingertips. I feel like a grapefruit being inspected in the produce aisle at Food Emporium. This continues for a few minutes, when all of a sudden I begin to feel very sleepy. Then Irina wakes me and tells me that we are done. I look at my watch. Nearly one full hour has passed.

I have no idea what she did to me for that hour, or how I lost consciousness.
Maybe I was just tired and relaxed. Maybe she put me in some kind of wrestling sleeper hold. Or maybe she hypnotized me and harvested my pancreas.

"Is that it?" I ask. It felt like the right thing to say.

"There is something else we could try," Irina replies, with a smile. "Have you ever had an energy reading?"

"No I haven't,” I said. “But I'm totally into trying new things." This is a line that has worked well for me in the past.

Irina turns an armchair toward the large windows and invites me to sit in it. "Now close your eyes," she says.

I do, but I cheat. I peek. If she's already got my pancreas, maybe she wants my liver too. Through my squinty, half-shut eyes I see this crazy Russian (or whatever) girl circling around the chair, wildly waving her arms around me like I was on fire and she was trying to put me out. She looks a little bit like the coyote in the Road Runner cartoons, after he realizes he's stepped off the cliff. After a few minutes of this she stops flailing and tells me to open my eyes.


Irina asks me to move to the couch, and she sits down next to me, takes my hand and holds it in both of hers. She tells me that my birth mother was forced to give me up when I was a little baby. Of course, this doesn’t come as a surprise to me. I know I’m adopted, but I had never mentioned it to Irina. Then she continues.

My birth mother, she explains, had wanted to keep me, but her mother – my grandmother - forced her to give me up right after I was born. This decision weighed heavily upon my mother and she descended into a life of addiction and depression, problems I have struggled with for my entire adult life. Apparently there is some truth to that cliché about the apple and the tree.

"Inside of you there is a scared little boy who’s afraid of being rejected, like you were when your mother gave you away" Irina said to me. "You have to help that little boy, or you will never be able to let go of those feelings. You have to stop running."

"I smoke cigarettes," I said, interrupting her. "I don't do much running." Irina ignored my punch line and continued.

"You need to make a place in your apartment for that scared little boy," she demanded. "Think of it as a safe place, almost like an altar. Find some things that meant a lot to you when you were a child and bring them into your home. Do it as soon as possible.”

Then we were done. Irina gave me a hug and showed me to the door. I left the apartment, walked down the stairs and jumped back into the steady stream of madness that is New York City. The energy reading had lasted no more than five minutes. But somehow, by waving her arms like a crazy person, Irina was able to see something. Maybe she was a really good guesser. Maybe she was a phony. If she was a crook she wasn't a very good one. She never asked me for money and I never heard from her again.

A few months later, my parents - the people who adopted me when I was an infant and raised me as their own - sold the house I grew up in on Long Island. I spent weeks neatly packing up my baseball cards, Richie Rich comics, Star Wars toys, love letters and just about everything that had any significance to me in the first 22 years of my life.

"What are you going to do with all this stuff?" my dad asked me.

"Somebody told me I should bring it home," I answered. And that's what I did. I carried 32 boxes of my childhood up two flights of stairs and into my apartment - my tiny studio apartment.

Since that day more than a year ago I've made more money, done more writing and had more sex than I ever have in a twelve-month period. I’ve reconnected with old friends, and made some new ones. I feel more hopeful and optimistic than I have ever felt. Is there a connection? Did Irina actually read my energy? I don't know, and I probably never will.

But I do know one thing. I need to look for a bigger apartment, and my birth mother.


I'd like her to know that everything turned out okay.

8.14.2006

WILL McKINLEY, HOMELAND SECURITY

One day last week I was exiting the subway station at Union Square when I noticed a slower-than-normal flow of foot traffic up the stairway. When I got to the top of the stairs I realized why.

A middle-aged man in a khaki-colored bucket hat was pulling little plastic bottles of something called Zico Pure Coconut Water out of a picnic cooler and handing them to subway riders as they made their way out of the station.

If you're like me you're asking yourself "What the fuck is Zico Pure Coconut Water?"

I have no idea, and I suspect neither did any of the people who were lining up to take a free bottle. One thing you should know about New Yorkers is that we love free shit. It doesn't matter what it is. If you're giving out something for free you are the most popular guy in town, unless it's a flier. We avoid those guys like they have leprosy. And I should know, because I used to be one of them. (I mean a flier guy, not a leper.)

Union Square is a popular place to promote your product or service with a free giveaway, mostly because there are thousands of young, creative, upwardly mobile professionals who work in the area. But the free giveaway is usually something that is enjoyed outside the body, like a magazine, or a key chain or a t-shirt.

Watching my fellow Gothamites desperately grab free bottles of a consumable food product and, in fact, consume it shocked me. New Yorkers are notoriously suspicious people, but apparently that suspicion doesn't extend to a guy in a floppy hat handing out free bottles of Zico Pure Coconut Water.

What made this guy qualified to distribute liquid consumables in Union Square? Where was his certification? Where was his license? Where was his I.D. These were questions that should have been asked, but weren't.

So I grabbed one of the bottles and looked at it. The packaging looked legit, no problem there. The label said it was 99.9% pure, but who knows? I can create a label just like that in Photoshop and slap it on a bottle of dirty toilet water. I still felt like this was a dangerous proposition, but I had no hard evidence to go on. Then I found it.

The Zico Pure Coconut Water that this guy was handing out was expired. The expiration date on the package was July 27th, but the date of this free giveaway was August 9th - almost two weeks later. This guy was handing out an expired food product and people were grabbing it up like it was Paris Hilton's cellphone number. Clearly, something had to be done. And I was the man to do it.

"It's expired," I said to the man in the floppy hat.

"What are you talking about?" he asked.

"The stuff you're handing out...this Zico Pure Coconut Water...it's past the expiration date," I answered.

"That's not true," he replied, dismissively as he continued to distribute his expired product.

"What day is today?" I asked, as I pulled a bottle out of his cooler.

"I don't know," he said. "August something."

"What does it say on this bottle?" I asked, pushing it close to his glasses so he could read it.

"July 29th," he said.

"July 29th is not August something," I proclaimed. "If you had been handing out free Zico Pure Coconut Water on July 29th everything would have been great. But it's not July 29th. It's August 9th. On July 29th you would have been doing a real service for the community. On August 9th you're handing out rotten water."

"Water doesn't go bad," he replied, as he continued distributing his wares.

"It does when it comes out of a coconut!" I said. "It's not really water, anyway. It's coconut juice. They just call it Water because nobody is going to buy something called Coconut Juice. It sounds gross."

"Have some. It tastes great!" he said proudly.

"I don't want any expired coconut juice!" I yelled. "I don't consume expired food products handed to me by strange men in the park. It's sort of a personal rule of mine."

"But it's free!" he proclaimed.

"So is cancer," I replied. "But I don't want any of that either."

Soon after this exchange the man in the floppy hat ran out of expired Zico Pure Coconut Water, closed up his cooler and prepared to leave. By that point he had distributed hundreds of bottles to unsuspecting denizens of the Big Apple.

"I've got my eye on you buddy," I said to the man as he disappeared into the crowd. "I don't know what your game is, but I'm putting a stop to it."

I just hope Osama bin Laden wasn't behind this. Why should al Qaeda go to the trouble of recruiting jihadists, hijacking planes and flying them into buildings when one guy in a floppy hat can take out thousands of New Yorkers with a tasty beverage?

Pay attention New York. There's a war going on.