Archive for the 'New York City' Category

21
Mar
11

More Sleep Shows Announced, More Doom-heads Happy

The universe seems to be trying to forgive itself for a) it being Monday b) it snowing where I am and c) making me miss Sleep’s reunion tour in September. Because recently Sleep has announced that they’re coming back for more this summer! Continue reading ‘More Sleep Shows Announced, More Doom-heads Happy’

20
May
10

Ever have one of those days?

Dear Internet,

I haves a confessions to makes. I’m a clumsy kid sometimes. Most of the time. So it should surprise very few people that I shut my middle finger in a door today. It’s currently making typing this article a case of hunt and peck trial and error and ohh fuck I just typed the e in error with that finger oh it hurts! AAAAAAAAnyway, after crushing the damn thing in the door and doing the obligatory shake the injured area and jump around dance that you do when you hurt yourself I debated going for the classic Peter Griffin as I began to walk to work at Red Music. And the more I shook my rapidly purpling finger I just had to laugh thinking about how weird I must look to everyone else. Here’s this dumbass in a coat on an 80 degree day shaking his finger and hoping. Pretty funny. I would challenge you world , instead of getting on the pity train when things go wrong to find the humor in your own misfortune. It’s pretty fucking hilarious to the rest of us.

11
Mar
10

Immigration and Identity

So I’m feeling lazy and tired today. I’ll probably post my wrap up piece on the Drag Race after Italian but for now sink your minds into this paper I wrote for a class on the subject of Immigration and Identity. I think it’s interesting.

In my brief and inconsequential life, I have constantly searched for an experience of that which is most different from myself. I’ve always attributed it to a certain distaste for the culture in which I developed, that of partial inclusion. My Italian-American identity is quite rightly hyphenated; I fall somewhere in between having aspects of both but fully belonging in neither. I identify with the passion and realism instilled in me by grandparents but at the same time am mired in the fantasies and escapism of modern American society. I seek to destroy the boorish American of European comedy but also look with hatred upon the “guidos” of the Jersey Shore. The conflict of these seemingly unreconcilable ideas and portrayals have only heightened a feeling of inner strangeness. In the inability to understand and control my own Identity, I have come to feel a foreigner in my own body. This feeling of isolation has prompted me to seek out a knowledge of the “Other” in all cultures; of that which runs entirely against the “real boundaries between human beings” (Said 233) that have constrained my conception of myself. It has been my hope that in these experience I may come to shape a post-modern hybrid identity of my own creation.
This desire was part of what brought me to Brighton Beach in search of the Russian-American community. Although I have no real recollection of the Cold War, I had been raised in the fear of Soviet aggression that characterized it through sensationalist films such as Red Dawn and Rocky or countless video games. Russo-American cultural exchange seemed limited to fists and bullets and hardly a humanizing portrayal of the “Other”. But these conveyed ideas on a group of people did not ring true in the light of actual experience. My mentor in my fraternity, Dimitry Ekshut was the greatest counterpoint I knew to such martial stereotypes. A brilliant Jazz guitarist and articulate conversationalist, Dimitry had often told me in broad strokes of his brief time growing up in St. Petersburg and his bilingual life as an immigrant. I had come to admire him to see him as someone who “could…outdistance the organizing claims on him of his origins” (Said 234). He had often told me about Brighton and wished he went there. He therefore would be the perfect guide for the community I wanted to see; one that is thriving, vibrant and blended. It was my experiment, my study to adopt the clinical method of the orientalist, to observe how he reacted to and explained this culture to an outsider and thus gain new perspective on how I met with my own.
It is ironic that for all my self-isolation language, linguistics and communication are so interesting to me. From when I began deciphering Attic Greek in high school to my recent study of Italian, I have found the interconnections and diversity of language fascinating. In their vocabulary, phrasing, tone, and other subtleties, a speaker conveys so much about their way of thinking and the culture that raised them. So in this respect, when Dimitry gave directions to an old woman in flowing Russian when we left the B train in Brighton that cold January he hardly seemed out of sorts. He spoke in the same long meandering sentences he always did with the same Meter as his American voice. Curious. What made the exchange more interesting was how the woman responded. She did not cut him off or rush to speak like so many of our brothers would. She replied with Dimitry’s longwinded nature that was such a hindrance to communication with our other brothers seemed normal here, necessary. In something so simple as sentence construction, Dimitry had wedged himself between his two cultures. While he lacked a discernible accent speaking English, his mother tongue betrayed him to us with every paragraph long sentence he uttered. I felt this myself when I lived in Firenze every time my mouth crunched down on a long beautiful Italian phrase. I conversed and worked with Florentines but by my American accent I could never pass as one. I was caught again in the middle.
Continuing on, the slow onset of Russian signs signaled my shift into otherness. As I struggled to read by comparing the characters to their Greek and Latin counterparts, I recalled from my knowledge of Catholic history how St. Cyril had created Cyrillic precisely so that the Catholic Church could translate the Bible for the Russian people. This “bridge” between East and West was seemingly out though; I could sound out next to nothing. Turning one corner onto Brighton Avenue yield a strange sight, shops lit up with Russian signs filled both sides of the street and the sound of the foreign tongue reached a crescendo. Russian culture had muscled its way into the outer borough structure. I had felt this way in the Bronx as a child, looking at the same buildings with signs that read in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic. Here was an enclave, a bastion against the subway overhead, the way the very buildings seemed to jostle each other on the cramped street, and the deposits of salt making every street a dull gray slush.
Walking into a deli Dimitry pointed out I wondered how the culture had resisted so long. The shelves and counters were laden with sweets, drinks, and foods I had never before seen. Dimitry chatted away with the clerks about their wares as I stood feeling as illiterate as a child. How had this place resisted the pull of American culture so greatly? “It’s the distance,” Dimitry told me later as we sat down to lunch in a cafe “Could you imagine tourists taking the subway all the way out here?”. Of course it made sense, I knew from my own life it did. Brighton was still Russian for the same reason Arthur Avenue is the true Italia Piccola, Isolation. A distance of both words and streets had kept both locations closer to their homeland than the new American culture.
Yet even Brighton is caught in the middle I thought as I opened my English menu. Dimitry had hoped we could have gone to one of the many dance and dinner clubs that played a mix of Russian and American music but this lunch would have to suffice. Tearing into my whole chicken, the grease dribbling down my satisfied mouth I was filled with more questions than answers. I wondered if I could ever achieve the balance of culture Dimitry had, if such a thing was even open to me. How could I by nature of birth am “more American” ever find a balance between my two identities?

Bibliography
Said, Edward. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books, 1978.

04
Mar
10

Only in New York

I took this walking to chapter meeting this weekend. New York City just wants to confuse me.

28
Feb
10

Il lato Italiano

I’ve wanted to use this blog to discuss how I’m striving to become bilingual and in the future I’ll feature writings in Italian (probably by the end of tonight)

For now a little gag from our trip to build an Igloo in Central Park.

Quindi, Inizia la parte in Italiano!

26
Feb
10

Blizzard Bonanza

The Snow that began last night has turned into a blizzard such that even the miserly NYU had to give us a snow day. Two in a year is absolutely unprecedented in my time at the school and has made today and awesome one so far. I’m really looking forward to snow ball fights near the courthouse and a brother’s party tonight but this snow makes me just want to stay in and be warm.

Here’s a vid I shot on the ol’Blackberry Tour:

And some stills from upstairs :



25
Feb
10

Hand Dryer Horror

The Terror, the sheer mind splitting terror.