Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Targeted Advertising

Normally, when I'm on the subway, I've got my head in a book or magazine, iPod plugged into my ears, and I'm trying my best to ignore all of the craziness that may or may not be going on around me. But, for some reason, I decided to look up and survey my surroundings.

Advertising 101 teaches you that knowing your audience is important. Advertisers will only place their ads where they will reach their intended audience of consumers. That's why you're not going to see ads for makeup in Men's Health or ads for Speed Stick in Cosmopolitan. It's common sense. So, in surveying the ads that are placed strategically around the subway car, the only thing I can conclude is that advertisers think that people who ride the subway are a bunch of non-English speaking, abusive relationship-having, jobless, borderline illiterate, foot fungus-plagued scumbags.

Here's a list of the ads appearing in ONE subway car:

-Free abortion alternatives
-Birth control
-English as a Second Language classes
-Cheesy paperback romance novels or non-sensical thrillers
-Get a job parking cars!! Tips included (side by side with a Spanish version of the ad)
-Housing discrimination is illegal!
-Apex technical school and various trade and community colleges
-Divorce attorneys (my personal favorite, 1-888-MARGARITA)
-Doctors for various weird ailments such as foot pain, facial scarring and impotence (Oh hey, Dr. Zizmor)

For Christ's sake, advertisers, it costs $80 for a one-month pass to ride the subway. I may take the crazy train, but I'm not crazy. And, I can definitely speak English. Take that.

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Because Abi lives in Hoboken and I live in Brooklyn, at the end of a work day, it's easiest to meet in Manhattan for dinner, slam down some drinks, talk some shit, crack some jokes, and head home—her going uptown, me going downtown.

How poetic.

As someone who spends a great deal of her life on the subway, or on the subway platform, it's comforting to be able to look across to a different track and see a familiar face every once and awhile.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

And the Winner is...

Zac Efron, for somehow convincing America that he is relevant enough to not only attend the Oscars with his teen-whore girlfriend, but to perform in a ridiculous musical number and present an award.

The loser? Us. All of us.

Although, I have to say that the crack about the "Craig's List Dancers" in the opening number was pretty funny.

And my Tina looked fab.

Everything else? BLEW.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Crack a Bottle

My boss let me blow off work early on Friday to go to Boston for the weekend with Tim to visit Scott and Gabe. In the car, I get an email from her that says, "This proposal looks great. You should go to Boston
more often." As we got closer to our exit, we called Scott and he announced that we would drink like freshman this weekend. "So, does that mean I'm going to have one shot of vodka and end up crying in the corner?" I asked. We were greeted with hugs all around and a 30 rack of Keystone Light.

Whenever I leave New York, I am amazed by how inexpensive everything is. I spend exactly how much money I would have spent going out in NYC, but I get much, much more—I mean, 16 oz. Bud Lights served in huge, frosty mugs for $1.99? Who am I, Rockfeller? Keep 'em coming.

We end the night in Scott's basement watching "What Not to Wear" on mute and adding in our own commentary. Scott falls asleep sitting up on the couch. We are surrounded by empty cans of beer since he insisted that we finish the 30 rack.

We get brunch at a country diner that has folksy wall paper and doilies everywhere. The breakfast combo is $5.95 and consists of two eggs, bacon, two pancakes, toast, and home fries. I think of the brunch I had last weekend in Brooklyn that was $18.95 for 1/3 of the amount of food. I love New York, but that bitch's prices be killing me.

We end up in a bar in Boston around Faneuil Hall, we're buying rounds and reminiscing. As we watch the bartender pour vodka with an incredibly heavy hand, I look at Tim and say, "See you later."

We meet up with Gabe for dinner at McCormick & Schmick's steakhouse. Scott says he's "gonna make it rain," and we all order food and drinks like our salaries aren't laughable.

We spend the remainder of the night in another bar. I talk to an old man sitting at the bar by himself after I saw him looking on and smiling as we took a series of three shots. "I used to drink like that," he says. "Can't do it anymore."

As always, I woke up very early the next morning. I have a promotional post card f
rom Beefeater hung up above my desk at work. It says "If you're too tired to go out tonight, think about how you'll feel when you're 80." Scott is snoring on his bed, Tim is on an air mattress, wrapped in a ridiculous fleece blanket covered with golf balls and tees. I wasn't going to come to Boston this weekend because I had too much work to do—but as I get older, I realize how important it is to have weekends like this.

The work will never end, but the weekends will.

I should take more pictures.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Weekend in Food

My father came up to visit this weekend to celebrate my birthday and as we always do, we spent the weekend eating, drinking, and shopping. Who could ask for anything more?

Grimaldi's Pizzeria: This Brooklyn institution is found right underneath the Brooklyn Bridge in DUMBO. In the summer, there are lines down the street, waiting to get a pizza (they don't sell slices). Made in a coal-fired brick oven with real Buffalo mozzerella cheese, the pizza here is to die for when you get it, and even better the next day.

Superfine: Also found in DUMBO, this bar/restaurant is decked out in local artwork, blue, blinking Christmas lights, features a free, orange felt pool table, and plays jazz round the clock. This is the type of bar you can sit in all day and get drunk with your friends (or father) on the cheap—beers aren't more than $5 a piece, and happy hour features $3.50 Stella Artois drafts. If you're feeling hungry, you can come in for lunch or dinner—the Superfine fries are outstanding. Come in between 4pm and 6pm when the kitchen is closed? It doesn't matter—someone had a pizza delivered. The bartender even let my father and I make a beeramid on the bar with our 15 empty Heineken bottles. The epitome of laid back—this is my new favorite bar.

Moutarde: Located in my neighborhood on Fifth Avenue's "Restaurant Row," step into Moutarde and you're instantly transported to a cafe in Paris. The food was outstanding the first time, so much so that we went back a few nights later for dinner again. The problem was, we went back on Valentine's Day night, and apparently, this laid back little French brasserie simply cannot handle more than 6 or 7 tables at a time. The food was lackluster and the service was terrible.
You can't win them all.

Bar Boulud: Renowned chef Daniel Boulud is known for his high-end chartucerie plates, but when we went to this restaurant located on Broadway near Lincoln Center, we ordered the scallops cooked with green apples and roast chicken with polenta—awesome.

Stone Park Cafe: One of my favorite restaurants in Park Slope, Stone Park Cafe is the place where Scott and I spent 10% of our bi-weekly salaries on dinner. Yeaaaaah, about that. The food is that good. Unfortunately for me, we went here after our beeramid antics at Superfine and I was not feeling too well. Way to throw up in the bathroom of a fancy restaurant, Amanda. Full of class, you are. Luckily, the music was loud.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Tracy Morgan should let Tina Fey Write all of his material

When I was a freshman in college, the big activity was free stand-up comedy in the Student Center on Friday nights. They would provide free pizza, we would watch some stand-up, and then go back to our dorm rooms and get drunk on a pint of vodka split seven ways (oh, the times of no tolerance).

Eventually, there was a contest for students to perform their own stand-up and the winner would get to open for one of the real acts. One of my friends tried to convince me to do it.

I didn't. Why? Because there is a distinct difference between someone who is funny in life and in conversation, and someone who is funny alone, standing on stage with one a microphone.

Let me say this: Tracy Morgan should get on his knees and thank God for Tina Fey.

I went to see Tracy perform stand-up last night at Caroline's and he was AWFUL.

Here was his set:

-Obama jokes
-OJ jokes (we're STILL talking about OJ?)
-Not paying bills
-Raunchy sex jokes
-More raunchy sex jokes

I don't know what came next because we left. It was THAT bad. And I'm not a big prude, or anything, but when you're carrying on about porno, anal sex, etc. for over 20 minutes, it's obnoxious. It's not funny, it's not smart, it's just appealing to the fratty, stupid, lowest common denominator. The dregs of society, if you will.

It was so disappointing because 30 Rock is absolutely my favorite show on TV right now, and it just goes to show you how important good writing is—some performers can't do it on their own.

Suck it, Morgan.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nobody Likes You When You're 23

Yes, everyone. Yesterday was my birthday and I turned 23. I would feel old, if not for the fact that everyone at work freaked the fuck out when they found out how old I was.

"We're all going to the bar later to celebrate—Amanda will be using her fake ID," was declared.

My birthday celebration began on Sunday, when I reunited with my friend Marie for a 4 hour brunch that involved many libations, and birthday truffles from the restaurant in which we were brunching.

I went into work the next day, to find that my boss has made me a cake. My own mother has never made me a birthday cake.

My parents sent me flowers with a note that says "We wish we could be there to party with you." I also came home to a package my mother sent including a red Polo shirt (completing my collection), bags of Sunflower Seeds, and an iTunes gift card.

And then the someecards started rolling in:

Oh, what's up, recession? I got this card from 17 different people.

From a co-worker (appropriate)

After work, a bunch of us headed to my favorite bar in the East Village for buy one, get one free beers and baskets of fries. After a shot or two of jager, it was smooth sailing.

"What about 22-year-old Amanda is going to change with 23-year-old Amanda?" was asked.

Nothing was my answer.

Pay cuts, high rents, crazy train subway rides—they don't matter.

I love every moment of my stupid little life.*

*No, I'm not on any mood-altering drugs. Amanda's happy—get over it.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

An Open Letter to Key Foods Produce Department

Dear Key Foods Produce Department,

What the fuck?


Every week, I peruse you, hoping to find some quality vegetables and fruit that I can take into work with me to stave off the desire to raid the vending machine.

I buy neon green, ridiculously unripe bananas because a.) that is all you have to offer and b.) I figure, hey, they'll ripen up.

Within 24 hours, the neon green bananas are black. The ripening process has been sped up ten fold, and I know it's not my kitchen environment—it is your crazy bananas (yes, I just realized that the phrase "crazy bananas" is quite redundant).

Also—$2.50 for ONE red bell pepper? Are you for realsies?

I get annoyed when toothless yokels sue fast food places for making them morbidly obese, but honestly—when I can buy two cheeseburgers off the Dollar Menu at McDonald's for less than it costs to buy one small bell pepper, there is an issue.

Don't get me wrong—I am broke, but not destitute. How can you choose quality over quantity when you are trying to find the cheapest way to keep yourself fed?

You heard it here first, Key Foods: I am turning into a socialist. Thanks a lot.

I hate you so much,


PS: Where are the grapes? Why don't you have grapes? How can you not have grapes? What a terrible excuse for a produce department you are. I'm just gonna buy this case of Ramen. Thanks for NOTHING.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Night of Altercations

I had written a freelance piece for my magazine on where to get an authentic Jamaican experience in New York City, and although it was difficult to track down any Jamaicans to interview ("everyting's irie, mon" loosely translates into "I will never call you back because I am too stoned to care/use the phone"), everything all came together, just in time for Bob Marley's birthday. I had recommended the High Times Cannabis Cup Band's show at BB King's this weekend as a place to go to get great reggae, and thus, I got comp tickets to last night's show. As per usual, debauchery ensued, and altercations arose.

Altercation 1—Us vs. the NYPD: After work, I headed to a show venue to see one of my clients and schmooze. She hugged me twice and insisted that I drink two glasses of wine, because she is pregnant and I needed to have one for her. We said goodbye and I passed out my business card to various new people I met (schmucky, I know) and left with a co-worker who insisted we have another wine for the road.

Since I didn't eat dinner and had a paltry Lean Cuisine for lunch, I was already half way in the bag after multiple glasses of wine. This is good, because, BB King's, located in the heart of Times Square, charges $7 for a Bud Light. Normally, I couldn't afford that. Now with the 5% pay cut, I really can't afford that. So, I do what any business lady on a budget does: I duck into a bodega and buy a 24oz tall boy of Coors Light for $2.50. Abi is standing outside of BB King's, on time for something for the first time in her life, and I approach, drinking beer out of a bag like a homeless person. She laughs, and immediately grabs for the can. I complain about her lip gloss residue. This goes on for about 5 minutes, until we are approached by two members of New York's finest—the NYPD.

"Busted," Abi says.

"Busted is right," the Cop says. "You're drinking in public."

I ask if I can throw it away and he says if he were any other cop, that he would give me a fine, but since he is also an alcholic, he won't. True story, for realsies.

As we're walking into BB King's, Abi says that she would have paid the fine if the fine were to hook up with the cop. "He was cute!" she yells.

Altercation 2—Us vs. The Coat Check Girl: While the Cannabis Cup Band was indeed jamming, they were playing a lot of Bob Marley songs from his really religious period–every song they played was about how Ja (the Rastafarian God) will provide. Also, I am bitter about my pay cut, so I'm pretty sure Ja is providing me jack shit right now. I tell Abi that the members of the band would probably kill me if they knew I was gay (most Jamaicans and all devout Rastafarians are notoriously anti-gay). We left after the first set. When we had arrived, I had checked my bag and my coat. Apparently, the girl was supposed to give me two tickets. She only gave me one, and of course, she went off-duty and a new girl was working the coat check when we came back. She gave me my bag, but said that I couldn't have my coat back because I don't have a ticket. I believe "I AM NOT LEAVING WITHOUT MY COAT" was shouted. Abi went to get the manager as I brooded about my coat being highjacked. The manager came back and let me into the coat check to pick mine out. Later, Abi told me that she name dropped my magazine in order un-highjack my coat. Stealth.

We ended the night with cheeseburgers and beers from the obnoxiously fratty, but reasonably priced, Brother Jimmy's. I resisted the urge to take a cab, took the F train home, and passed out in my bed, vowing to sleep forever.

Unfortunately for me, I cannot let myself relax for more than a few hours. I woke up at 9am and went to the gym for 2 hours and then came back and pitched more freelance article ideas to my editor.

Why, God, why, am I like this?

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A Day Without the Internet is Like a Day Without Alcohol

Toothpaste For Dinner

9:30am: I walk into work and am informed by the receptionist that the Internet is down. This happens all of the time, so I figured that I'd be checking email within 10 minutes.

10am: I am not, in fact, checking my emails. This is mildly irritating, but I hold out hope the situation will be rectified soon enough.

10:30am: I get an email from the Help Desk with a lot of technological speak that I guarantee no one understood, except the part that said we would be without the Internet for 2 more hours.

10:35am: So we can't send or receive email or go on the Internet. There is literally nothing we can do. I begin to contemplate how reliant we are on Internet access and how useless computers are when not connected to the Internet.

10:40am: Bouncy ball fight!!!!

10:50am: Okay, seriously?

11:15am: I'm putting together a distribution plan for a guide we're producing and doing research on potential venues on my iPhone. Hello, ghetto.

12:30pm: Well, I guess we should go out to lunch or something.

1:45pm: Back from lunch, still without the Internet. I contemplate assembling an army of carrier pigeons to do my bidding.

1:55pm: It's hard to catch pigeons, let alone give them directions.

2:07pm: My 17th bathroom break of the day.

2:15pm: My coworkers continue to bitch excessively about the situation. It is like the goddamn 1800s up in here.

3:30pm: I have cleaned my desk and my boss's office. There us nothing else I could possibly do sans the Internet.

4:00pm: The Internet is back! I run into my boss's office screaming "Internet! Internet!" only to realize she is on the phone.

4:03pm: I have about 700 emails in my inbox. Wonderful.

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