A Dance Parade, Protesters, Painters & People Stealing Garbage

People protesting something going on in Turkey.
People protesting something going on in Turkey.
A crazy guy dancing with a toilet seat. He usually does this by the large black cube at Astor Place.
A crazy guy dancing with the molding from a van window, I think. He usually does this by the large black cube at Astor Place.
This guy was taking a break from dancing to the tune of a nearby Buddhist meditation group. Shortly after this, he took a bag of trash from the public bin and walked away with it.
This guy was taking a break from dancing to the tune of a nearby Buddhist meditation group. Shortly after this, he took a bag of trash from the public bin and walked away with it.
This is Francis Virella. He wants to make it big as an artist.
This is Francis Virella. He wants to make it big as an artist.

Today, there were all sorts of things going on in Union Square. We just happened to be walking through and saw a crazy guy dancing, another crazy guy stealing a bag of garbage from a public trash can, had a conversation with a guy that wants to make it big as an artist, and then wandered into a dance parade. It was a lot of fun, and the random, amazingly entertaining things that you can just stumble into is one of the reasons I love New York City.

You can see the rest of the parade photos, in a higher resolution in my Flickr gallery by clicking HERE.

Ripped Books

I’d like to take some time later to write a long post about my experiences over the past week in Lower Manhattan in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but I want to mention something I saw today that made me realize that some things in New York City never change.

When I was on my way home, I saw an older man pushing shopping cart down the street. He stopped by the trash can, peered in, and then reached into a box in his cart.  He pulled out a book, looked around as if he were making sure no one was watching him, and then ripped the front and back cover off the book and tossed it in the trash can.  He then reached into his box and pulled out another book.  At this point, he saw me watching him and turned away from me and hid clutched the book to his chest.  He looked over his shoulder at me and then ripped the covers off the book.  He tossed the remains of the book into the trash can along with the first one and then hurriedly crossed the street, where he peered briefly into the trash can on the corner before moving on, presumably to find more suitable trash cans to receive his defaced books.

I had stopped to watch this guy, so I’d missed the light to cross in the direction I was going.  When I did cross over to the other corner, I found a man in dirty, rumpled clothing singing to a pile of dirty clothes in a shopping cart.

Last week, Lower Manhattan was very dark and the streets were relatively deserted.  Thinking about it now, I don’t remember seeing anyone … weird… out there.  Not weird by NYC standards anyway.  But now, the power is back and the crazies are out again.  Some things just don’t change.

I am now a stalker, says the crazy neighbor.

After getting off the bus, I turned the corner and started walking up the street towards my mom’s apartment building.  Just after turning the corner, I saw the woman that lives next door to my mom.  She stopped for some reason and turned around and when she saw me she threw up her hands and made a weird noise.  She’s deaf and doesn’t speak, at least not intelligibly, so I went past her and kept going.  I wasn’t trying to be rude, but I just didn’t know what she wanted or if she was even attempting to communicate with me.  She suddenly rushed past me and kept looking over her shoulders, making a ‘no no no’ gesture with her finger in front of her face while mumbling.  She rushed off at full speed to the building where my mom’s apartment building is.  Some of the people in my mom’s apartment building are disabled, so I didn’t think much of it.

I entered the lobby just in time to see the elevator door close.  The door on the second elevator was opening though, so I got on and rode up to my mom’s floor.  When I stepped out into the hallway I could hear her making a lot of noise.  I looked, and my mom’s apartment door was open.  She was gesturing wildly and making plenty of loud noises that neither my mom or I could understand.  I walked down the hallway and when she saw me she got even more agitated.  So, I stood there with my mom trying to figure out what her issue is.

Through a combination of hand gestures and her very strained attempt to say the word “following”, we finally concluded that she is freaking out because she thinks I’m always following her.  The fact that there is only one way to get to my mom’s apartment from the bus stop, only one set of elevators and only one hallway that goes to my mom’s apartment, which is right next to hers, seems to have totally gone over her head.  The fact that we’re bound to run into each other in those areas, seeing as how we’re typically going to be heading for that same floor and two adjacent doors in the hallway, well that seems to have gone over her head too.  She’s outright convinced that I’m stalking her and that I’m out to get her.

I’d noticed previously that she would always rush into the elevator and close the door before I could get to it, or if I got in the elevator she would wait for another one rather than ride in the elevator car with me.  I never really put it together, but the idea that I’m following her around intentionally is ludicrous.  It never ceases to amaze me, the kind of fantasies people can create for themselves and live in.  Of all of the women in the street, why would I choose to, as she seems to be implying, stalk a late 40s, overweight, deaf woman that lives next door to my mom?  Besides the fact that I’m married, I’m really not interested in old disabled women.  Even if I were a stalker, as she seems to think I am, well, it’s summer in NYC.  There are plenty of better looking women to be following around.

I just hope that this woman doesn’t completely flip out, because there’s no way this will be the last time she’ll see me going in and out of the building.

Do You Have Your Life Vests And Boats Ready For May 21st?

Lady in Union Square train station with a sign stating the world will end on May 21, 2011.

This lady, or someone like her, has been in the Union Square train station fairly regularly over the last week or so.  When I first tried to take her picture, she was leaning against the side of the pole to the right.  She moved,  so I moved too.  I wonder if it’s because she has some doubts about what she’s promoting and is concerned about potential embarrassment when she wakes up on the morning of the 22nd to see clear skies and just another Sunday?

I say clear skies because the reasoning behind this theory that the world will end on May 21st, 2011 is that God said that “Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made” (Genesis 7:4) and He also said “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).  Apparently, May 21st, 2011 is the day God was talking about, and never mind that whole story that follows Genesis 7:4 about Noah in the ark.  That was just a prequel for the real event.  Or so they would have us believe, I guess.  There’s also some special numerology that they’re using to explain why they fixed on exactly May 21st that involves numbers with traditional symbolism and the number of days between the Crucifixion and that day.

Sign saying the world will end on May 21st, 2011.

I’m not going to hold my breath.  Like every other end-of-the-world theory that’s come before this one, this will end in disappointment and tears, and maybe even some embarrassment.  But, on the off chance that the world actually is flooded on the 21st, at least I won’t have to do finals for this semester.

Weird Emails–One of the Risks of Blogging

I meant to post this quite a while ago, but I kept getting distracted with school work and other things to blog about.  Back on the 11th of February, I wrote a post that was inspired by something we were discussing in my anthropology class, a possible connection between the ancient Egyptians and the Olmecs in Central America, as evidenced by similarities in their cultures.  On the 15th of March, someone left a comment on the blog post.  In the comment, it said to not reveal his information, which was in the comment, on my blog, so I deleted the comment.  Shortly after that I received an email through the blog’s email address, which is listed on the contact page.  This is what it said:

Weird email.

Dear Brad

  I was doing research on Olmec and seen your site and Sertima info. The only reason I am contacting you is that it will take young educated people like you to consider all the archeology Facts to reveal the Truth of ancient History to the world.

  I have been collecting artifacts for about 7yrs that will show absolute artifact Proof that the Egyptians and Olmecs have the same origins from a much older ancient advanced civilization that existed before Pangea when the continents were one Super continent. I know this sounds far fetched but please keep a open mind. The discovery I have made has been suppressed ignored and covered up by the authorities so for at least 3 yrs I have not contacted authorities or updated my site because they refused so many times to not examine NOT ONE ARTIFACT. They just say they are not artifacts!  I am sure of a cover up. So I have collected for the last 3 yrs in secret have and have learned incredible facts of the ancients.

  I did not know how to contact you except through your comment site! will you please take my contact to you off your site before someone acts as you to contact me.

  To make a long story short if you want to see some of the artifacts I have a old site and my opinions but a lot has changed since then. If you are interested contact me Michael Ellis  xxxx@xxxxxxx  I have far more than you will see on the website.


Michael Ellis

This email is just weird on so many levels, the biggest one being the credibility of someone who would approach a subject this way (emails to random students who have no real say in the field concerned).  If his work were truly credible, it wouldn’t be getting ignored by these mysterious “authorities” in the first place.  If there’s anything I’ve learned from the anthropology class I’m taking, it’s that damn near any theory is entertained, with sufficient evidence, until proven invalid.  Besides that, if someone is doing this sort of research, which has to involve a lot of archaeological expertise, then you’d think they’d have enough computer sense to know the difference between a comment form and an email.  Not to mention that the level of education required would require someone to have a better command of grammar, punctuation and spelling.  The overall effect is that this person comes across as paranoid and delusional.

Also, I just wanted to point out that when the continents were one “Super continent” it was called “Pangea”, so it doesn’t make sense to say “before Pangea when the continents were one Super continent” because they both mean the same thing.

NYC Crazy: “Don’t Sit On My Legs”

It seems like there’s an endless number of crazy people in New York City, and an endless variety of the types of craziness they may be suffering from.  I encountered another one tonight on my way home, on the train this time.

I had to stand for the first leg of the trip, but when we reached the 1st stop, a seat was freed up, so I moved to sit down.  It was one of the benches at the end of the train car, where there are only two seats in the row.  The other seat, the one closer to the front of the train car, was occupied by a small black lady, dressed fairly regularly, gnawing on a lollipop like a crazed beaver trying to gnaw down a tree.  I figured she looked harmless enough so I took the other seat.

I’d barely sat down when the woman said, “Oh you can sit down, but I have big legs so watch that you don’t sit on my legs.”

I wasn’t sure I heard her right, so I asked her if she could repeat herself.

“I have big legs.  You can sit, but you have to be careful that you don’t sit on them.”

I looked at the woman’s legs.  They were shorter than mine and no bigger than any other average sized person.  She was actually a small woman.  So, of course, I realized she’s crazy and I had to defuse her craziness so that she wouldn’t turn into a violent lunatic and make the next few minutes on the train unpleasant.

“Oh, don’t worry.  I won’t sit on your legs.  I’ll just mind my business over here and play a game on my phone.”

I had indeed been planning to play a game on my phone.  I’d downloading something during my break where you try to free a particular block from a puzzle to clear a stage.  I had my phone in my hand already and had opened the game.  I was hoping that this would cause the woman to realize that I didn’t want to bother her, and that I was preoccupied and not ready to talk to her.

Instead, it backfired.

“Oh, games! I like games! What game is that? It’s some new one huh?”

She then proceeded to reach over and start pushing buttons below the screen on my phone.  I thought about getting up and moving away but you never know what might happen, what a crazy person might say, do or have on them that could be potentially lethal to the innocent sane people around them, so I decided the best way to get past the problem was to just humor her.

So, I sat there, trying to explain to her that she had to use the touchscreen to move the pieces.  I didn’t let go of my phone of course, and it was sort of amusing to watch this old woman getting pissed off over a touch screen game where the blocks only move in certain directions.  She couldn’t seem to figure that out.  Horizontal blocks only move horizontally and vertical blocks only go vertically.

“What the fuck? You do this. Move that motherfucker right there over that way.  Get that block out of the way. How the fuck does this thing work? This shit won’t move!”  She was stabbing at my phone with her bony fingers, cursing, getting irritated, and still gnawing on her lollipop.  I saw several sprays of saliva fly from her mouth, thankfully onto the floor, and just as I thought I was going to have to risk her flipping out and accusing me of everything from picking on an old lady to racism to having a magic game that fucked her over, or perhaps swinging at me with her bag, the train pulled into the next station, my station, and I excused myself and got off the train.

As I exited the train I heard the woman say, “You have to be careful with your bags if you’re going to sit down. I have big legs.”

And a woman replied, “Oh, did I hit your legs with my bag? I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s just that I have…” I heard her saying, and then I was too far away to hear.

I think from now on, I’ll just stand.  Or at least not sit next to anyone past the age of 40.  It’s only two stops anyway.

NYC Crazy: “You need to back the fuck up off me, bro.”

Today, on the way home, I got another dose of crazy while using public transit.  While I was standing on the platform, waiting for my train to show up, I saw a coworker, so we started talking about some crazy stuff that had happened during the day.  When the train finally arrived, we snagged some open seats and talked until we got to my stop, Union Square.

This is where things took a turn for the bizarre.  As the train pulled into the station and started to slow, I stood up and crossed to the side where the doors would open.  I gripped the rail with my right hand, the one that runs from the floor to the ceiling at the end of the row of seats, and I held my hat in my left hand.  There was a guy standing in front of me.  He was a black man, and well dressed.  When the train stopped, the doors didn’t open right away.  He looked over his shoulder at me.  Then he shifted a bit and turned half towards me and mumbled something.  I didn’t quite catch it so I just ignored him and put my hat on, so my hands would be free for the climb up the stairs from the platform into the station.

When the doors opened and we started to get off the train he said something to me again, but I still couldn’t hear it over the noise, so I leaned a little closer to him and said, “Pardon?”

“You need to back the fuck up off me, bro.”

Uhhh.  Well, we were walking with the group of people all rushing for the stairs, so I didn’t give it too much mind.  It’s not like a person can expect to have a lot of free space in that situation.

When we turned the corner of the rail and started up the stairs, the guy looked back and when he saw me, he jumped a bit, like he was surprised, and then bolted up the stairs, taking them three at a time.  When he hit the top, he took off at a dead run through the station.

The woman next to me gave me a questioning look.  I shrugged and said, “Crazy fucker.  He thought I was following him or standing too close to him or something.”  She just smiled and shook her head, as if she’d seen it before herself.  I suppose she had.  New York City seems to be half full of crazy people at any given time.

I understand that people have a desire for personal space, and that desire is magnified when living in a congested city, constantly surrounded by people, but this guy’s reaction was unreasonable given the circumstances.  I wonder what exactly set him off this time?  I was dressed in business casual, chatting with another person in business casual, and I didn’t act oddly when I positioned myself to exit the train at a stop, so it’s not realistic for him to have thought I was a potential robber.  It’s also not reasonable to expect to have no one behind you when exiting a train at a station, or when climbing the stairs to the platform.

In any case, this just reinforces the fact that when you’re in New York City you have to stay aware of the people around you.  You never know who might snap, or when, or why.

I Finally Met New York City Crazy And It Was Old And Wielded A Cane

Yesterday was Black Friday, a day notorious for being a retail hell, with people going crazy over sales.  The shops weren’t the only place that crazy was breaking through to the surface though.  After a long day at work, I was on my way home.  I had just gotten back downtown and was waiting at a bus stop to transfer onto a cross-town bus for the last part of my trip.  When the bus pulled up, a few people got off and then a woman went up the steps and started dropping change into the fare box, so I followed behind her, ready to dip my card into the machine.  When the woman ahead of me finished, I dipped my card and paid my fare and right as I did, a woman with a cane pushed past the first lady boarding the bus and started shouting, “Getting off the bus!  Getting off the bus!”

I stepped back as far as I could to give her room to get by.  Now, I assume this woman was nuts, because instead of stepping past and going down the stairs, she spread her arms out and pushed up against me, then hit me with her cane repeatedly, all the while shouting, “Getting off the bus!  Getting off the bus!”  She didn’t continue on.  She just stood there looking at me, whacking my legs with her cane.

Not being in the mood to be slowly bludgeoned to death by an old woman with a cane, I pushed her away from me and said, “Get off the fucking bus then.”  She started yelling at me and hit me in the arm with her cane.

Right away, the bus driver said, “Hey, why you messin’ with dat old woman?”

My first thought was, ‘Are you fucking serious?’ and I said to him, “Because the bitch hit me with her cane.”

The driver replied, “She’s trying to get off the bus.”

I told him, “That doesn’t give her an excuse to start hitting me with her cane.”

The driver said, “Well, you should have let her get off the bus before you came up.”

So I said, “I was already up here and paid.  I backed up and gave her plenty of space.  She had plenty of room to get down.”

He said, “Well, you could have gotten back down and waited for her to get off.”

At this point, I’d reached the end of my patience, with the driver being a moron and the woman still yelling at my back so I said, “Fuck no.  She had enough room.  She can go fuck herself and so can you.”

Then I walked back into the bus to find a seat.  As I was walking away, the woman yelled at me, “You asshole!”

So, I looked back over my shoulder and said, “Ya, fuck you!”  Then I sat down and waited.

It took quite a while for other people to start coming on the bus.  I guess the old woman was making a big show up there.  The buses are double length, with a swivel section in the middle, so I don’t know what, if anything, more was said.  Maybe she was being extra slow getting off the bus as her final act of retaliation for not putting up with her craziness.

The next guy to get on the bus came and sat down across the aisle from me and said, “Hey yo, I saw that whole shit go down.  That bitch was crazy.  Fuck that driver.  He made an issue out of that shit because of the color of your complexion and that old lady’s complexion, tryin’ to make that shit all racial.  That woman had no business hitting you with her cane.  I saw it all man.”

Then a lady sat in front of me and said that the old woman is lucky she did that to someone with an even temper, because if I had been a “bad” person, I might have done something nasty to her.  She said the woman must have a problem with her head.

It’s true.  You never know what kind of person you’re talking to or what they’re capable of, especially in New York City, where crazy people are so common.  I’m not going to beat up someone that’s obviously mentally imbalanced, but I’m not going to stand there and let them assault me and then just smile about it either.

To clarify what the guy that sat across from me was saying, the driver was black and so was the woman with the cane.  I don’t know if it was a racial issue, but it seems odd to me that the driver just automatically assumed I was at fault.  He didn’t seem to have a problem with the first woman who got on the bus, who was also black and in the old woman’s way.  It was just me.

So, I guess you could say this was a double dose of crazy, crazy crazy and crazy racism crazy.  Like I said to the guy that pointed it out to me, though, this is just another day in New York City.

Crazy People on NYC Trains

Since I returned to NYC, I haven’t had the distinct pleasure of encountering any crazy people on the trains yet, but I haven’t given up hope.  It’s wildly entertaining, as long as they don’t turn violent, and there’s definitely no short supply of weirdos here.

In case you weren’t aware just how crazy they can get, I’ve pulled a few samples from YouTube, for your viewing pleasure:

(Warning: It’s not likely that any of these are suitable to be watched at work or around small children.)

On an early Sunday morning. The girl taking the video was on her way home from the club. At one point, she calls the girl taking the video a whore.
This woman sings a little song about lesbians and “batty boys”.
I think the caption on the video itself says it all.
Sounds like she really doesn’t like her mother, especially her breasts and her ass.
Crazy guy just acting weird.
Guy talking to himself, almost gets hit by the train as it enters the station.

Yup. It seems like this sort of craziness is part of the daily commute.  I’ve seen some weirdos, but not on the train yet.  My favorite was a meth head that was standing still and kept leaning forward until she almost fell over, then jerking back upright, over and over in the middle of the sidewalk near Union Square.  I can’t wait til I have a chance to upload some videos of my own to share!

Liberty Has Big Breasts

When I walked out of church last Sunday, there was a van parked along the curb almost directly in front of the doors.  I’m sure that was done on purpose, meant to catch the attention of people exiting the building.  The van had either Nevada or Colorado plates, I can’t remember which for sure, because what caught my attention the most was just how big and… droopy… Lady Liberty’s boobs were depicted in the paint job.

Lady Liberty has big boobs.

Apparently, you can write ancient prophecy in forgotten languages using a keyboard.

If you look at the coin in the first image, the one with those large and droopy boobs on it, you’ll notice that instead of saying “In God We Trust”, it says “In _ _ _ We Trust”.  I figured that meant this guy’s message was that he had some issue with religion, though I couldn’t quite figure out how dogs, keyboards and Lady Liberty’s boobs fit in with that.  Maybe the thing with the coins is meant to say that people are replacing God with money?

I decided to take some photos and when I got home I looked up the web address on the side of the van.  It leads to a long, rambling web page that starts out like this:

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

It quickly degenerates into something even less readable, packed with random text colors and highlighting and multiple paragraphs to express an idea that really only needed one sentence.  I got about halfway through it before I literally fell asleep sitting up.  It turns into an argument about how Jesus must be real based on Old Testament Prophecies, and how the politically correct idea of there being good in all religions is the work of Satan.  You know that idea right?  That we’re all worshipping the same God, just in our own ways and we’ll all wind up in the same place?

Like I said, I fell asleep reading it and have no desire to try getting through it again, so I might have missed some screwball ideas in there, but it reminded me of something great about the US.  Most of the time, we can enjoy our Constitutional right to Free Speech, even if no one agrees with us or wants to hear it.