10.31.2006

2006 GLAMOUR WOMEN OF THE YEAR AWARDS

The 2006 GLAMOUR Magazine Women of the Year Awards were held last night at Carnegie Hall in New York City. I covered the event, for the second consecutive year, interviewing award recipients and presenters on the red carpet.

In addition to bold-faced names like Sandra Bullock, Queen Latifah, Emmy Rossum, Rosario Dawson and Catherine Zeta-Jones, I also had a chance to interview some fascinating and heroic women, including:

--Environmental activist Laurie David, co-producer with former Vice-President Al Gore of the documentary An Inconvenient Truth;
--Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth, a female combat pilot who lost both legs in a 2004 bombing near Baghdad, and a current a candidate for congress in Illinois;
--Somali-born model Iman, founder of the AIDS medication charity Keep a Child Alive;
--Tennis legend Billie Jean King, who broke records and barriers by fighting for equal rights for female athletes;
--Cambodian women's rights activist Somaly Mam, who has saved 3,000 women and girls from the rampant sex trafficking industry in Southeast Asia, and who herself is a survivor of sexual slavery;
--Journalist Mariane Pearl, wife of murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl;
--Cecile Richards, daughter of the late Texas Governor Ann Richards;
--Iditarod winner Rachael Scdoris, the 21 year-old, legally blind winner of the 1,100 mile dog-sledding race across Alaska;
--Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and the first woman to lead a major Christian congregation;
--Author and activist Gloria Steinem, the feminist crusader who got her start as a columnist for Glamour in the 1960s.
--and the token male, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has devoted his life and career to fighting for the environment.

It was very cool to have the opportunity to talk with so many amazing and inspirational people.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

10.30.2006

"DEATH" BECOMES HIM

If I were President Bush, I would stay away from Chicago on October 19th of next year.

That is the date (and the location) of the "assassination" of the 43rd president of the United States in the fictional documentary Death of a President which opened in theaters on Friday.

Directed by British documentarian Gabriel Range, the controversial film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10 and is being released in the U.S. by Newmarket Films, the company that distributed
Passion of the Christ.

Like Mel Gibson's film, Death of a President has generated more than its share of debate. In addition to the expected vitriol from Republicans, Democratic senator Hillary Clinton has called the film "despicable," CNN and NPR have refused to air commercials promoting it and the Regal, Cinemark and AMC theater chains have banned it from their combined nearly 15,000 movie screens in the U.S.

All of this political posturing has done nothing more than provide free publicity, which will undoubtedly result in the sale of more tickets.

I saw Death of a President on Sunday at the Angelika Film Center, the independent film mecca that lies on the border between the ultra-liberal New York City neighborhoods of Greenwich Village and SoHo.

And, as Secretary Rumsfield might say, everybody should just back off.

There is no anti-Bush political agenda in the film, nor is there any implication that offing the president would be a good idea, or that he "gets what he deserves."


The film accurately characterizes the divisive, highly charged state of the current political climate in this country. Through "interviews" with actors playing Secret Service, FBI agents and presidential advisors, Bush is treated with respect and admiration. His assassination by a sniper's bullet is presented as the tragic result of politically troubled times, not as retribution. In a perverse sense, the assassination transforms Bush from bumbler into martyr; a man who dies fighting the good fight for a cause in which he firmly believes.

By heroicizing Bush, Death of a President redeems our Dear Leader from his policy failures, and elevates him to the rarefied company of other U.S. presidents who have died in the pursuit of an unpopular cause: George Bush as the Abe Lincoln of the new millenium.


The problem with this film is not that it's overtly political. It's that it's overtly boring.

The first half hour is intense and riveting, updating us on the deteriorating political climate of the near future, the increasingly violent war protests and the President's unrelenting devotion to staying-the-course. But then Range makes a crucial mistake. He kills off his star.

Once the shooting has occurred, and the president has gone to the Big Ranch in the Sky, all of the drama and tension in Death of a President are gone.

The movie does an adequate job of faking a PBS documentary-style deconstruction of the convoluted events that led up to and followed the assassination, but who cares? It's sort of like having King Kong fall off the Empire State building, and then spending an hour explaining how and why it happened. After the shooting, all that is left is detail of events that never really happened, and never will. We have no investment in learning this detail, and it is not presented in a way that made me care.


That said, I still recommend seeing the film.

I believe in free speech, and in battling the evil forces of political correctness. I believe that people with their own agendas shouldn't condemn a film that they have not seen for their own political gain. We live in scary times and it is the responsibility of artists to challenge and provoke us and to tell stories that some poeple would rather not hear, even if they fail.

Death of a President does not fail, at least for the first half (or so). And half of a thought-provoking movie is better than all of an insipid one.


So go to see Death of a President. If you're bored, walk out in the middle. After all, you already know how it ends: President Cheney.

If those two words don't keep Bush from actually getting assasinated, nothing will.

10.29.2006

I AM A PUBLISHED WRITER

I have a story in the current issue of Chelsea Now, a weekly newspaper serving the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

The piece is a review of
The Liar Show, a monthly storytelling series at The PIT Theater (which, coincidentally, is located in Chelsea).

Chelsea Now
is available in sidewalk boxes from 14th Street to 34th Street on the West side of Manhattan. So why not take a walk (or a train or a plane) and pick up a copy? Or, if you're lazy, just click on this link.

And by the way, I got paid. Yay me.

I have written many things over the years, but my goal for this year was to make my first sale to a print publication. Now that that goal has been achieved I plan to take the rest of the year off. See you in 2007!



10.26.2006

DON'T HATE THE PLAYER, HATE THE SIGN

One of my favorite blocks in New York City is West 14th Street.

From Union Square to 8th Avenue, 14th Street is littered with check cashing places, shady electronics stores and third rate clothing shops. West 14th Street is a low-rent bazaar of inexpensive knock-offs and faded awnings.

It's cheap and crowded and dirty, just how I like my women.


One of my favorite shops on 14th Street is Pretty Girl, a fancy women's clothing shop on the north side of the street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

Everything about the place screams class. Whether it's the weeping sign, or the harshly lit interior or the racks of clothing on the sidewalk, Pretty Girl is the place to go for 14th Street couture.

Who knew that you could buy a woman's blouse in New York City for less than a six-piece order of Chicken McNuggets? Or how about an entire week's wardrobe for less than $10!

The dream becomes a reality at Pretty Girl!

At Pretty Girl they don't waste money on things like fancy signage. That means they pass the savings on to you.

Just don't go into the fitting rooms without asking!

They have a lot of cool clothes at Pretty Girl, all at everyday low prices. But one t-shirt really caught my eye.

What's cooler than a t-shirt that says "100% Cool?" I'll tell you what. Nothing!

But if you want to know what Pretty Girl is really all about, take a look at the lovingly hand-drawn sign in the window.

That's right - no playing. Selling high fashion at low prices is not a game!

So remember, the next time you're in New York City, stop by Pretty Girl for the finest in under-$2 clothing.

Because at Pretty Girl -- when it comes to cool clothes at hot prices -- we ain't playing!

10.25.2006

HIV IS SO INCONVENIENT!

Those of us who live in New York City are bombarded by countless advertising messages every day. It's the visual white noise of big city life.

When I first moved to the Manhattan I was struck by the ubiquity of advertising. It was relentless and overwhelming. Over the years I have developed a tolerance for it, to the point where it has become practically invisible to me.

But one ad I saw recently in the Rector Street subway station really caught my eye.

The ad is for Truvada, an HIV medication manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Inc. That alone is odd to me. I didn't know that HIV positive people decided on treatment strategies for their fatal illness based upon ads in subway stations. Apparently they do.

But that's not the point. The point is the content of the ad.

The ad proclaims, in bold, red type:

You've worked hard to get where you are.
So why settle for an HIV med that's twice a day?


Are you fucking kidding me?

I have no problem with advertising AIDS drugs. I'm a free market capitalist. If it makes good financial sense, do it. But trivializing the tragedy of a life-threatening HIV infection with a stupid tagline about inconvenience? That is absurd.


But that's not all. I think the thing that bothers me the most about the ad is the model.


You want to go stereotypical and pick a muscular, gay-looking black dude with hoop earings and well-defined biceps? Fine. But the guy is smirking. It's a slight smirk. But it's still a smirk. This guy is lounging on his expensive Vespa motorcycle, looking all smug and complacent and smirking while the HIV infection inside his body is slowly killing him.

HE SHOULD NOT BE SMIRKING ABOUT THIS!

I'm not gay. I'm not black. I don't have HIV. But I am still offended by this stupid, insipid, patronizing advertisement.

If you want to talk about how Truvada is the #1 HIV medication in the world, fine. If you want to talk about how combination therapy is safer, because you'll be less likely to forget to take a pill, fine.

But a smirking man lounging on a Vespa with a trivial tag line? This is not fine.

At least as far as I am concerned.


10.24.2006

MY PROBLEM WITH THE SUNDAY NEW YORK TIMES

I bought The Sunday New York Times on Saturday at 6:30 PM.

Do you understand what I am telling you? I bought the Sunday paper on Saturday. That's unnatural. You're not supposed to be able to buy tomorrow's newspaper today. It completely disrupts the time/space continuum. It's like an episode of The Twilight Zone.

The Sunday New York Times costs $3.50. That's a lot of money. Obviously some marketing whiz realized that if you sell the paper for two days instead of one, you'll make more money. It's avarice at its most base, from the most trusted historically significant journalistic voice in the world.

But at least you get your money's worth. Have you ever seen The Sunday New York Times? It's gigantic! It's the only newspaper that has to be carried in its very own bag.

Old people cannot read The Sunday New York Times. They can't lift it. And what happens if they drop it? They might break a hip.

Did you know that an average copy of The Sunday New York Times weighs in at a bulky 9.6 lbs? It's true. The newspaper weighs more than your baby. Is that right?

No it is not.

Look at that stack. Who has time to read that? No wonder they sell The Sunday New York Times on Saturday. It's so big, you need a day and a half to read it.

Sunday is supposed to be my day off. Why do I always have to feel guilty because I don't have time to read 10,000 pages of news?


Of course the truth is there is very little actual news in the The Sunday New York Times. I guess that explains how they can print it a day early.

The first thing I do when I get The Sunday Times home is to separate the parts that I don't read from the parts that I do.

On the left side are the sections I don't read, such as Real Estate (I'm broke, so it's meaningless to me) and Automobiles (see: broke) and Travel (again, broke).

On the right side are the sections I do read, like Sports and Arts and Leisure. Notice that the right side is smaller than the left. I'm wasting half my money! That's $1.75 I'm throwing away every Sunday!

I only try to read half of The Sunday New York Times every week, yet I still fail. I don't even get close to finishing everything I want to read. I can't do it, even when I start on Saturday. The minute I buy the paper I feel overwhelmed and anxious. Sometimes I hide it from my view, so I won't obsess about how I should be reading it.

Smart people read The Sunday New York Times. I've seen them in the TV commercials. They're all well dressed and they have nice houses and smart, obedient kids. The Sunday New York Times is must reading for successful, intelligent New Yorkers.

I want to be a successful, intelligent New Yorker!


So until somebody develops an implantable chip that can transfer all the words directly into my brain, I will continue to try to read The Sunday New York Times each week.

And I'll continue to be late for work on Monday morning.

10.22.2006

I WENT TO "JESUS CAMP"

Last night I saw Jesus Camp, a fascinating documentary about a fundamentalist Christian camp for children in North Dakota. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City earlier this year and is currently in limited release around the country.

Directed by filmmakers Rachael Grady and Heidi Ewing, Jesus Camp follows three young children from their conservative Christian homes in Red State America to the Kids on Fire summer camp run by Pastor Becky Fischer in the ominously-named town of Devil's Lake. The kids featured in the film -- twelve-year-old Levi, ten-year-old Tory and nine-year-old Rachael -- are all well-educated, well-spoken and well on their way to being soldiers in "God's army," the stated goal of Pastor Fischer's ministry.

Jesus Camp has generated a lot of controversy, much of it stoked by the Evangelical pastor Ted Haggard of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Haggard has accused the filmmakers of an anti-Christian agenda, and has objected to his portrayal in the film, as well as to the suggestion that he has special influence with President Bush and his advisors.

The fact is, the film does a remarkable job of objective reporting on a topic that is at the core of the Red State vs. Blue State sectarian conflict that currently divides this country. Although the film has been compared by some to the work of Michael Moore, Jesus Camp does what all great documentaries do (and what Moore's screeds do not): it presents the facts and leaves the opinions to the viewer.

And the facts are indisputable. Last week the population of the United States surpassed 300 million. 70 million of us are Evangelical Christians. We have seen the power of this movement, and it will only increase as the geopolitical lines between good and evil continue to be drawn in the blood of American servicemen and women.

As a New York City liberal, I was horrified by the brainwashing techniques used on these adorable, freckle-faced kids by Fischer and her emmissaries. But as a product of twelve years of Catholic school, I found the experience of the kids in the movie to be not so different from my own.

My religious indoctrination failed miserably. I don't go to church. I don't follow the teachings of Catholicism. I fornicate, abuse legal and illegal drugs and break as many of the Ten Commandments as I can on a regular basis. My sister, a product of the same environment, has chosen the opposite path, raising her children as practicing Catholics and dragging them to church every Sunday.

If you're scoring at home, that makes my parents one for two.

The children who go to Jesus Camp will eventually grow up and be free to explore their belief systems and to try on other ways of living, just as my sister and I did. Some will stick with it and some will not.

You can lead a kid to Jesus, but you can't make him pray.

The free will with which we are born disappears almost immediately after our birth -- and it remins dormant for at least 18 years. As kids, we are guided toward certain beliefs, practices and behaviors by our parents, our schools, our churches and our peers. And, although I may lose my ACLU membership card for saying this, I don't believe that religious training for young people is a bad thing. Within reason, of course.

Without a doubt, the practices depicted in Jesus Camp go too far. But those practices are still in the minority in the United States. Most kids in this country grow up with a moral core instilled by their parents based upon their parents' religious beliefs. And the kids are free to completely ignore those beliefs when they go off to college, which the majority of them do. But a lot of them come back to those beliefs when they settle down and have kids of their own, and the circle begins anew.

If and when I have kids I plan to raise them as spiritual beings, with an understanding and appreciation for the beliefs of all, but without the dogma and fear that it so often the product of organized religion. Of course, that will be harder than it sounds.

In the meantime, my liberal brethren can sit in a darkened movie theater in the decadent East Village of New York City and snicker at the religious nuts depicted in Jesus Camp. Then they can leave the theater with a sense of smug superiority -- and resume their lives in a country run by an Evangelical Christian.

These people and their belief systems are not going to go away. The only way that we can prevent the kind of madrassah-like religious training depicted in Jesus Camp is to work toward a society where all beliefs are respected and accounted for in matters of public policy.

This is a two-way street that begins at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Your assignment (if you choose to accept it): see Jesus Camp to gain a greater understanding of the mindset of our nation's Evangelicals.

Then go out and get Senator Barack Obama's new book The Audacity of Hope for a primer on how a diverse country like the United States of American can live in peace in these challenging times.

Hopefully, two years from now, Senator Obama will have a new address - right at the begining of that two-way street.

10.20.2006

I WAS IN THE NY DAILY NEWS (SORT OF)

My interview with my new best friend Drea de Matteo (Adriana from The Sopranos) was excerpted in yesterday's New York Daily News.

Click here to see it! (Scroll all the way to the end.)



THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!

The bad news: the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Mets 3-1 last night, taking the National League Championship Series 4 games to 3.

The good news: I am back on the road to emotional stability.

10.19.2006

BACK FROM THE BRINK

The New York Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 tonight at Shea Stadium to force a deciding Game 7 in the National League Championship Series.

10.18.2006

TRANSCRIPT OF MY PHONE CALL TO TIME WARNER CABLE

Time Warner Cable: Good evening. Thanks for calling Time Warner Cable. Ask me about the Triple Play, with cable, high speed Internet and digital phone, available now at a one-time low price. This is Dan speaking. How can I help you?
WILL: I’m having a problem with my Video-on-Demand
TW: What is the problem?
WM: I can’t order a movie.
TW: Is this from one of the basic on-demand channels or one of the premium ones?
WM: It’s one of the pay ones.
TW: Which channel is it?
WM: Channel 330
TW: What is the name of the channel?
WM: It’s the Adult Channel.
TW: And what title are you attempting to order?
WM: Real College Confessions Volume 36. I really enjoyed Volume 35. I think the series has really hit its stride.
TW: May I ask who I’m speaking with.
WM: Whoa. You mean to say, “with whom I am speaking.”
TW: My name is Dan.
WM: No. I know that, Dan. I was just correcting your grammar. You don’t want to end a sentence with a preposition. It just sort of leaves you hanging, kind of like when you’re trying to order an adult movie at 2 AM and you end up talking on the phone to some dude named Dan while your pants are around your ankles.
TW: Yes sir. So I am speaking with who?
WM: No you’re not speaking with who. You’re speaking with me. The correct way to say it is, “May I ask with whom I am speaking.”
TW: I don’t use the word whom.
WM: You don’t use…Why not?
TW: It sounds gay.
WM: Are you allowed to say gay on the phone?
TW: I just did.
WM: Dan, this conversation has taken a turn for the weird. I think I have a past due balance on the account that I would like to clear up, so I can order my movie.
TW: May I ask with who I am speaking.
WM: My name is Will.
TW: And your last name?
WM: Um. Stone. It’s Will Stone.
TW: And your relationship to the primary account holder, Maggie Stone?
WM: I’m her husband.
TW: Okay Mr. Stone, you have a balance of $462.78.
WM: If I pay that off can I order my movie?
TW: Yes.
WM: Okay.
TW: Will you be paying with a credit card?
WM: Yes.
TW: The name on the card.
WM: Um…It’s William McKinley.
TW: Is this your credit card?
WM: Yes.
TW: I thought you said your name was Will Stone.
WM: It is. McKinley is my maiden name.
TW: Your maiden name?
WM: Yes. I changed my name to Stone when I married my wife Maggie. I just haven’t had a chance to change my credit cards.
TW: I’ve never heard of a man changing his name when he got married.
WM: Well, I’ve never heard of a man who thinks whom sounds gay. So I guess we’re even.
TW: Okay Mr. McKinley --- I mean Stone -- I will be charging your credit card $462.78. Now all you will need to do is enter your pin number and the on-demand channel will be unlocked.
WM: I don’t know the pin number.
TW: It’s four digits.
WM: That narrows it down.
TW: Well, maybe your wife will know.
WM: You see, that’s my problem right there, Danny Boy. If my wife were here I wouldn’t be ordering Real College Confessions Volume 36?
TW: Why not?
WM: Because she’s already seen that one. She really enjoyed it.
TW: Oh.
WM: Look Dan. You’re a guy right? Maggie is my girlfriend. She’s in Chicago for work. I’m just trying to take care of business so I can relax and go to sleep. How about you help me out?
TW: I’m sorry Mr. Stone.
WM: Dan I already explained to you, my name is not Mr. Stone. We’re not married. Actually she’s not even officially my girlfriend. She’s my ex-girlfriend.
TW: So why are you at your ex-girlfriend's apartment at 2 AM?
WM: Because I sort of live here.
TW: You live with your ex-girlfriend?
WM: No. Not officially. I just haven’t slept at my apartment since May.
TW: Why not?
WM: It's a long story. It was hot and I didn't have an air conditioner. And I also have a gas leak that might blow up the building.
TW: You should really get that fixed.
WM: You know what I should get fixed? My ex-girlfriend's Video-on-Demand!
TW: Look, the best suggestion I can make it to go to Cinemax On-Demand. It’s free and there’s a movie called Cancun something or other. The sex is fake but the girl has a really hot ass. I like a nice, big ass.
WM: Dan, this call has been the single biggest turnoff of my entire life. So thank you for that.
TW: Is there anything else I can help you with?
WM: Not unless you have a sister in college.
TW: Can I tell you about the Triple Play?
WM: No you cannot.
TW: Please? Nobody ever asks me about it.I've been practicing in front of the mirror.
WM: Sorry.
TW: Okay. Thanks for calling Time Warner Cable
WM: You’re welcome.


CARDINALS BEAT METS, TAKE 3-2 LEAD IN NLCS

10.17.2006

WHO DID WILL INTERVIEW?

Last night I did another of my red carpet celebrity interviewer gigs.

I don't usually pose with the celebs, but this time I made an exception.


Do you recognize my new best friend?

10.16.2006

METS WIN!

The Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 12-5 tonight, to even the National League Championship Series at 2-2.

I feel better now.

Vamanos Mets!

10.14.2006

BEAT ME IN ST. LOUIS

The Mets have lost two games in a row to the St. Louis Cardinals.

They now trail the Cardinals two games to one i
n the National League Championship Series. But I'm not worried.


Really. I'm not.

10.13.2006

(DON'T) TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME

First the good news. The New York Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series last night.

Now the bad news. I could have been there.

I left work last night and headed over to my ex-girlfriend Maggie's apartment to watch the game on her big TV in her comfortable apartment.

At 7:30 PM I tuned in the Mets pregame show on SportsNet New York. I began preparing my dinner and, just to make sure that I had no distractions during the game, I turned off my cellphone.

At 7:32 PM I received the following message from my friend Karen.

"Hi Will. It's Karen. I wanted to know if you wanted to go to the Mets playoff game tonight. I have and extra ticket and you could have it...totally free."

I say I received the message at 7:32 PM. However I didn't listen to the message until 11:04 PM, at which point the game was long over.

In the words of the immortal Homer Simpson, "D'oh!"


Wouldn't you know it. The one time in my life I am not obsessively checking my cellphone and it comes back to bite me in the ass. I actually thought about going out to Shea Stadium last night and trying to scalp a ticket. Had I gone I would have been there when Karen called and I would have seen the future Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine pitch a masterful game.

But no. Instead, I got to watch it on TV. Alone, in my ex-girlfriend's apartment.

Here's the moral to this story: If you're going to invite me to a Mets playoff game, please do it more than 47 minutes before game time. Otherwise it's just a cruel joke on me.

Thank you.

10.12.2006

A MESSAGE FROM THE NEW YORK METS

Due to yesterday's rainout of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series between the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals, only tickets to Game 2 will be honored for tonight's rescheduled Game 1.

Your Game 1 tickets will get you into Game 2, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday and is currently scheduled for some time on Friday. We don't know what time yet, because it might snow in Detroit. So, if it snows in Detroit, your Game 1 tickets will get you into Game 2 in New York on Friday at 8 PM (the game actually starts at 8:19 PM). If it doesn't snow in Detroit then your Game 1 tickets will get you into Game 2 at 4 PM (actually 4:19 PM). If it snows lightly, we'll get back to you.


Game 3 remains scheduled for Saturday night in St. Louis at 8 PM (again, 8:19 PM), assuming it doesn't rain again tonight or tomorrow in New York. If it does, then Game 1 (or Game 2) will be played on Saturday during the time that Game 3 was supposed to be played.


We hope that clears it up for everybody. Let's Go Mets!


10.11.2006

I'M A SUBWAY SELLOUT

I made $5 on the street today. I didn't find it. I earned it.

It was lunchtime and I was visiting my local Subway Restaurant on 14th Street, just west of Union Square.

I had enjoyed a lunch of Pumpkin Bisque soup at Cafe Medina on 16th Street and, on the way back to work, I stopped off at Subway to pick up a Diet Coke.

I have previously written about my dislike for coffee. Diet Coke is my delivery method of choice for the precious elixir caffeine, but I can only drink Diet Coke when it's very, very cold. If my Diet Coke is anything less than frigid, I find it completely disgusting. Even cold it's pretty disgusting, but it does the trick, so I ignore the toxic chemically taste.

I like to get my Diet Coke at Subway for one reason: the self-serve soda fountain.


Some people prefer to have their beverages prepared by a minimum wage employee, rather then serving themselves. Not me. I like to be in complete control of my Diet Coke experience.

At Subway, I can decide how much ice I want (a lot) or if I want to go crazy and mix my Diet Coke with another soda. For example, I like to spike my Diet Coke with a shot of non-diet Dr. Pepper. It really takes the chemical edge off. And sometimes, if I'm feeling particularly daring, I'll add a few squirts of a
third flavor, such as Root Beer. Because I'm a rule breaker.

With the self-serve machine at Subway, I am the master of my own Diet Coke destiny!

Over the years I have developed friendly relationships with the proprietors and employees of many Subway restaurants in New York City: the one downtown on Greenwich Street (near my ex-girlfriend Maggie's apartment); the ones on 14th Street & 8th Ave and 13th Street & 7th Avenue (both near my place) and the aforementioned location near my office in Union Square.

I begin each day with a chilly 32 oz Diet Coke that I purchase from the Greenwich Street location. I love to ride the subway while I drink my Subway soda. It burns ever so slightly as it goes down - an apt metaphor for life in New York City.

For the last few weeks, Subway restaurants in New York have been serving their large sodas in commemorative New York Mets and New York Yankees cups. Of course, I insist on the Mets cup emblazoned with the smiling face of manager Willie Randolph.


You would not believe how many times I have had to argue with a Subway employee to get the Mets cup. No Mets fan will drink from a Yankees cup with Joe Torre's face on it! That would be like the Subway Restaurant in Tel Aviv handing out commemorative Sheik Hassan Nasrallah cups. It just ain't kosher, Jackson!

I hold on to my Mets cup when I am done with my morning soda, because once you have that cup you can pretty much stroll into any Subway location and fill it up. You just have to be subtle about it. The great thing is, you can't go a block in this city without finding another Subway restaurant. You can refill it all day long. It's like buying an unlimited Metrocard.

Even though I find myself in a Subway restaurant just about every day of the week, I don't actually eat the food there. What I'm saying is, I do not buy sandwiches at the Subway Sandwich Shop. I find the whole place to be a bit gross. All the meats, vegetables and condiments are just lying out there in a trough, without any refrigeration, inches away from the unwashed masses. The whole thing feels very unsanitary to me, particularly in this post-killer-spinach world.

At the Subway location near my ex Maggie's place, the air conditioner broke down in June and the place still smells like sour mayonnaise.

I have eaten at Subway a few times, when I was very broke. But then I realized something. Subway is not any cheaper than the local, independently owned deli. I always assumed it had to be, being a national chain. But it's not. To make matters worse, the portions at Subway are far smaller than those at the average Manhattan deli.

And the meat at Subway? Well let's just say they might consider changing their advertising slogan to Subway:
Eat Fresh Rat. I can't say for a fact that they sell rat meat at Subway, but I think it's a distinct possibility.

I have written recently about my love for Quiznos, which I find to be a much more pleasant dining experience than Subway. The average Subway restaurant looks as if it was set up in a broom closet in an hour and a half. Most of them can only seat 8-10 people. Quiznos has a much nicer ambience and better quality meat, as well as more sanitary storage and preparation protocols.

All of this is my way of saying the following: I only go to Subway for the Diet Coke.

Which brings me back to today.

As I was exiting the Subway restaurant, sucking down my Diet Coke in the limited edition Willie Randolph cup, a young man with a videocamera and a microphone approached me.

It always surprises me how excited people get when somebody wants to interview them on camera. Maybe this is because I have been on the other side of the camera so many times. But even so, I was flattered to be approached.


"If you have a minute I'd like to talk to you about Subway," the guy with the camera said.

"I don't know if I'm the best person to talk to about Subway," I replied. "I don't really like the food."

"I'll pay you $5 to say something good," he shot back.

"Cash?" I asked. He nodded his head. "Okay, I'm in."

I then proceeded to tell him -- on camera -- just how much I loved every little thing about Subway restaurants: the food; the ambience; the price and the fact that you can actually see the sandwich artist prepare your meal, right before your eyes!

"Okay, last question, " he said after five minutes of my gushing. "What's your favorite thing about Subway?"

I thought about it for a minute. Then I answered.

"Subway is healthy, fast and cheap. Just how I like my women."

HOME RUN! That has got to be the best $5 Subway ever spent. I fully expect that to be the new slogan for Subway. It certainly would go over better than Eat Fresh Rat.

So look for me in Subway commercials any time now! I'll be the guy in the Mets cap drinking a gigantic cup of Diet Coke.

In closing, I would like to apologize to my friends at Quiznos for dissing their slow service in one of my answers. But if you guys ever want me to change my story, just break out the cash.

Give me $5 and I'll say whatever you want.

10.10.2006

HAPPY BELATED COLUMBUS DAY

Apparently yesterday was Columbus Day. I had no idea!

If I had known I would have mentioned it. My sincerest apologies to all my Columbian readers for this entirely unintentional slight.

As we all learned in grade school, "In 1942 Columbus sailed the ocean blue!" And it's true. Sixty-four years ago yesterday Christopher Columbus sailed three boats simultaneously from Columbia, South America to Ohio, where he founded the city that today bears his name.

Columbus Day is a sacred day for Columbians, Ohioans and all people who love three-day weekends and white sales at Macy's. Again, my apologies to all those people for not properly honoring the day.

Happy Belated Columbus Day!

10.09.2006

WILL YOU DO ME A FAVOR?

Back in the old days, a baseball team would advance to the playoffs and put tickets on sale at the stadium box office. Loyal fans would fill up a thermos with hot chocolate, break out their Boy Scout sleeping bags and camp out in line for a night, or two, or whatever it took.

That's why they call them diehard fans, because they were willing to die from exposure or hypothermia to get tickets to see their favorite team in the postseason. (Yes, it's 80 degrees in New York City today, but you get the idea).


Today there is no more waiting in line. Now you wait on line. In order to see a Mets playoff game at Shea Stadium you must visit the Mets website and register for the opportunity to buy tickets for both rounds of the playoffs (NLDS and NLCS) and the World Series.

Of course I registered early, and begged everybody I knew to do the same. I even set up a few bogus email addreses (I know, poor sportsmanship) to increase my odds.

Unfortunately, I didn't win, but my ex-girlfriend Maggie did. That's how we got a chance to attend Game 2 of the National League Division Series at Shea last Thursday.

Now the Mets are headed into the second round of the playoffs -- the National League Championship Series -- and I appear to be shit out of luck.


None of my email addresses, nor those of my friends, have been selected to purchase tickets to this series. I checked out Craigslist last night and people are asking ridiculous prices for their tickets. And you never know if you are buying real tickets, or something that some dweeb made in Photoshop. It appeared that all hope was lost.

But then I visited the Mets website and saw that they will be giving away a pair of tickets to Game 2 of the NLCS on Thursday night! That's right, giving away. For FREE.
That's free, like in you don't have to pay for them!

Of course, I immediately registered (again) and asked everyone I know to register (again). But now I am out of friends and/or email addreses.

And that's where you come in.


You enjoy reading previously owned each day, right? And you enjoy the fact that it's free, right? That's a nice thing to do for somebody, isn't it? Give them free things to read while they're trying to kill time at work? Good. I'm glad that we're in agreement on this.

So now you can do something for me.


Go to the Mets website and register to win tickets to the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. According to the official contest rules, you must pick up the tickets in person at Shea the night of the game. That means you must register using MY NAME (so I can pick up the tickets) but YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS (because multiple entries using the same address are invalid).

The entry form will also ask you for a mailing address. If you don't live in New York, you can use the following: Will McKinley, 45 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10014 (It's not my real address, so forget about trying to stalk me!)

If we (you) win, you can even come with me if you want (assuming that you're not a total nut or freak or weirdo). But keep one thing in mind, just because you take me to a baseball game does not mean I have to put out. Unless you are a cute girl, then I will be glad to put out. Over and over again.

So is it a deal? Of course it is!

Just click here to register to win tickets to NLCS Game 2 on Thursday night! And thanks!

Hook a playa up!

CONGRATULATIONS NORTH KOREA!

Congratulations to that crazy kid Kim Jung Il and all the gang back in Pyongyang on your first ever nuclear weapons test! You did it guys!

And congratulations to President George W. Bush on another foreign policy home run!

I think we finally found those weapons of mass destruction that we were looking for in Iraq. They were there all along, just in a different country. Opps! Sorry Saddam! Our bad.

10.08.2006

METS SWEEP!

Okay it's a Swiffer, but you get the idea!

The Mets take the National League Division Series from the Los Angeles Dodgers three games to none to advance to the National League Championship Series - on the same night that the Yankees are eliminated!

10.06.2006

MY TRIP TO THE PLAYOFFS (IN PICTURES)

Last night the New York Mets played the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of the National League Division Series. And I was there to see it!

I took the 7 train out to Shea Stadium, the home of the Mets since 1964. The subway was filled with rowdy, raucous Mets fans and many lingering scents, not all of them good. Actually, very few of them were good. Okay, none of them.

But that's the charm of the New York City subway system. It assaults all five senses in every possible way!

After a forty five-minute ride, my fellow Mets fans and I exited the subway at Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Association has spared no expense in their Shea Stadium station signage. A black and white sign over a garbage pail welcomes millions of New Yorkers to the home of the National League champion New York Mets!

If that doesn't get you excited, nothing will!

The game was a complete sellout and thousands of fans wearing all manner of Mets apparel made their way from the subway to the stadium.

I understand why fans dress up to support their favorite team, particularly during an important playoff game. But I've never understood why a grown man would wear a piece of clothing with another man's name on it.


The guy in this picture is not the handsome and talented Mets third baseman David Wright, yet his shirt says that he is. That's false advertising! I wonder if David Wright minds that a bunch of fat, drunken idiots are running around New York wearing his clothes.

If I were him, I would put a stop to it right now.

It's very hard to get tickets to a postseason baseball game, particularly in New York.

My seats last night were way out in Left field - section 44. I didn't even know there was a section 44! I walked so far I think I may have been in a different zip code. I actually pulled a calf muscle on my way to the seat.

I think I may be headed for the Disabled List along with most of the Mets pitching staff!


In thirty years of going to Mets games, I have never sat quite so far away from home plate.

"I'm afraid there must be some mistake!" I said to the usher as he seated me. "I'm Will McKinley from previously owned!"

Strangely enough, he had never heard of me. I guess they don't have the Internet way out in Queens.

As always, I kept score in my souvenir program. Keeping score at a baseball game is a dying art form, but far more people do it at the playoffs than at a regular season games.

The hardcore scorekeepers have their own spiral-bound scorecard books that they bring with them to every game, just like the pros. I've thought about doing that but I think I am dorky enough as it is. I don't really need any help in that area.

Future Hall-of-Famer Tom Glavine pitched a great game and the Mets beat the Dodgers 4-1, to go ahead 2-0 in the series. One more win and the Mets will move on to the next round!

I love going to playoff games at Shea Stadium. Being in a building with 57,029 like-minded people screaming and clapping and cheering along with you is an experience like no other.

Sure, many of them are annoying, ignorant drunks that I would never hang out with outside of the stadium. But that's the great thing about baseball. It brings a disparate collection of New Yorkers together to support a common cause.

And then we leave and never see each other again!

Of course, 57,029 people leaving the same place simultaneously can take some time, particularly when they are all squeezing into a tiny subway station. But at least everybody was buzzed and in a good mood. And that makes the long subway ride home a lot easier to take.

So why did the Mets win? I think it has a lot to do with me.

I may not have worn an expensive Mets jersey with some other guy's name on it, but I did wear my lucky Mets underwear with the blue and orange waistband!


I can't really tell you why I call it my lucky underwear, but I can tell you that it has something to do with the person who took all these pictures - my ex-girlfriend Maggie.

If my lucky underwear could talk it would say some very naughty things.

But right now it's saying just one thing - Let's Go Mets!