Tag Archives: Jerks

Better dead than (Marlboro) red?


It isn’t really that I even feel attached to the nicotine anymore. I started smoking early on in college, standing around at parties after the beer ran out and needing something to do with my hands. I wanted to look cool for this girl I liked and something about a menthol Camel seemed to do the trick. While it wasn’t much longer before I gave up on the idea of girls, the cigarettes have managed to stick with me years later.

Frat party or not, I still have a need to look detached and derelict if not outright dangerous. Days may go by without cravings, but as soon as I need some stage business while I wait for someone outside of a bar, I reach for my cigarette case (another affectation to try to appear interesting) and light up a five-minute cure for social anxiety.

When you get up in the morning, putting certain things in your pockets—keys, wallet, phone, Xanax—eventually gets burned into your muscle memory. Because I’m not a consistent smoker, a lighter hasn’t quite made its way onto the list of things that will end up in my jeans after I’ve sleepwalked through my morning routine. Inevitably, this means I’ll have to ask a stranger for a light while I’m  filling empty time loitering on the street.

As conversations with strangers go, this one should be fairly simple. Smokers aren’t uncommon, but they still conduct themselves as members of a kind of implied social club—kind of like Jews or Wes Anderson fans. They don’t usually consider the request to be an imposition since they’ve surely been in a similar position before and will be again. Nevertheless, despite a smoker’s willingness to accommodate his tovarishch, the exchange typically reveals the fundamental lack of trust that exists between New Yorkers.

After the brief “where did I put my lighter” dance, your new friend will reach out, cup his hand and attempt to light your cigarette for you. The frustration on his face is evident as he futilely tries to start a fire in a wind tunnel—it’s difficult to light your cigarette on a breezy fall afternoon in the city and virtually impossible to light someone else’s. Still, he isn’t trying to be neighborly, rather that he’s so concerned that you’ll abscond with his precious blue Bic that he’d rather turn a five second transaction into a Sisyphean trial.

Dude, really… what the fuck do you think I’m going to do?

gypsies1Is that my game in your mind? I walk around with a pack of Marlboro Ultra Lights preying on naïve simpletons who didn’t get to the “Protecting Your Valuables” chapter in The New Yorker’s Handbook before they hit a bump and fell off the turnip trick? Did Nancy Grace expose a community of grifters canvassing the city collecting half-beat Texaco lighters before convening in a caravan parked on the outskirts of town? Even if she did, that woman is insane and so are you for listening to her.

There’s no such thing as The Zippo Gang so just let me hold the lighter, asshole. This is an insult to us both.


A Christmas miracle?


They played this commercial in November, December and a little bit of January:
A young woman who probably owns a cat approaches her favorite newstand in the dead of winter to purchase a stack of lottery tickets from the proprietor who looks like Papi from Ugly Betty. She takes the tickets, gets in her car and stuffs them into a Chrsitmas card that she then turns back and gives to the old man as a gift. Papi gazes at her in awe as if she just handed him a key card to Fort Knox and she looks extremely pleased with herself. Viewers are then encouraged to throw their money away on the New York State Lottery, a concept that my high-school Calculus teacher* used to call “a tax on being an idiot.” 
Are you fucking kidding me?
Lottery tickets? You’re going to give a guy who sells lottery tickets a bunch of lottery tickets for Christmas? Lottery tickets that, statistically, are probably worth less than the paper they’re printed on? Lottery tickets that, if they’re winners, may get him into even more trouble for trying to cash in since they came from his own stand? Lottery tickets that, if they’re losers, will only serve as a depressing reminder of his terrible luck? Is there any worse possible gift than one that you can only receive after winning a nearly impossible game? It’s like spending Christmas with Mr. Burns; she would’ve been better off just putting a twenty in the card and keeping it moving.
The ad was quite heavily featured over the past few months. Worse yet, it frequently popped up as the mandatory add on Hulu anytime I tried to watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia since I was logging in from a New York IP. After having to see it so many very times, it even took on a vaguely racist subtext, joining “stupid” and “deceptive” to hit the Terrible Commercial Troika. I’d like to think that I’ll never have to see it again now that the holiday season is firmly over but I have the feeling it’s been playing for years and will be back in November. 
I mean, seriously… lottery tickets? 
*Tom Madre, who led one of the best classes I ever failed. I still learned enough about statistics to know that a lottery ticket is a terrible, terrible gift. I’d be so mad…

An open letter…

172127__cedric_lDear employees of the On The Run a couple blocks from my place,

You don’t have to keep explaining to me how to use the debit card thing in that condescending voice you always use. They’ve got those everywhere and I know how to read.


A grown-ass man

A one-act play: Impasse




A former FRAT BOY in a Northface jacket is standing on the inside of the turnstile shouting at the man in BOOTH. The MTA employee seems uninterested in the argument which, judging by the expressions of the many other people on the platform, has been going on for quite some time.

Oddly enough, the Frat Boy does not appear to be intoxicated–he’s merely lost his tenuous grip on the control of the pure, red rage that constantly bubbles beneath the surface of his soul. 



Two As went by without stopping! You need to make an announcement and tell people what we’re supposed to do.


You need to take the E to 42nd Street. The A is not stopping at this station.


There’s no C and the sign says to take that A so I need to take the A.


You need to take the E to 42nd Street. The A is not stopping at this station.


Then you need to make an announcement and tell us what to do.


I’m telling you to take the E to 42nd Street. The A is not stopping at this station.


Then make an announcement so we know that! There’s no C and the sign says to take that A so I’m standing here waiting to take the A!


There is no A. You need to take the E to 42nd Street. The A is not stopping at this station.


Fine, then make an announcement! Two As went by without stopping! You need to make an announcement and tell people what we’re supposed to do.


There is. No. A. You need to take the E to 42nd Street.


The Freat Boy finally gives up and walks away.



[muttering to whoever] They need to make an announcement. How am I supposed to know what’s going on?