Monday, June 22, 2009

My Father's Day: Surely Better Than Yours

Father's Day means a trip to the Brooklyn Shrine of St. Barbaralletta: Patron St. of Brooklyn Dads. Typical offerings include sheep's balls pounded flat and set ablaze at the fabled statuette's feet.

I won't do anything as cliche as tear this bogus holiday a NEW ONE... Because it's such an easy target, isn't it? This day, vulgarized by the evil empire (Hallmark), on which we pat ourselves on the back for doing what simple decency expects of us. It's so American. Look at me! Look at me! Buy me a new tie!

Still, I must say, when the Life Force Sucker came home from preschool and presented me with a card and a multitude of sweet-mouth kisses, my heart did melt. What sweetness--mouth kisses from my Mini-Me. Mwa mwa mwa mwa!

So, you are wondering, what did Mrs. Unit Parental do or get for me? Did I get mimosas in bed? Was I awarded that elusive bit of conjugal affection all fathers call "The Golden Ticket?" No, I got something better...

Yesterday morning, upon awaking, I was greeted, as usual, by the Life Force Sucker's patented armpit tickles. And then Mrs. Unit gave me my present, wrapped and boxed.

I rubbed my hands together? What could it be! 24 karat golf tees (I don't play!), the new iphone (there's a recession on!)... Oh what! Oh what!

I tore apart the Diego gift wrapper (all we had, apparently) and pried open the lid of the box.

Inside I found a black t-shirt. Okay, I said to myself. A t-shirt. (Boxers would have been better, I started thinking; my collection of Old Navy knickers is in various states of disintegration.) I held up the t-shirt, expecting some cheeky and hipsterish Brooklyn design: like a cherry tree growing out of the burnt out carcass of a 1976 Chevy Nova on blocks... But instead, I saw on this t-shirt the words "self" and "absorbed" printed on the front in blocky white lettering, separated by the cruelest of hyphens...

Good God, dear readers! What a Father's Day morning I had. First, molested in my sensitive armpits by my little sadist. And then shown a most unflattering reflection of myself in what was, unfortunately, NOT a funhouse mirror, not a FAT mirror, but rather, I was shown a reflection of myself in the mirror called love. Because what is love, my dear readers, if not honesty.

Was she right? Was I "SELF-ABSORBED?" I am sorry to say I, the Unit, have been! Guilty! Mea culpa! I am a blogger after all, and therefore, by definition an exhibitionist who wants you to watch as he/she picks at his/her profound navel!

I'll spare you the details of my self-absorption, save to say that it was getting to big-yellow-contractor-sponge proportions.

THE GIST: So, to my dear Mrs. Unit Parental, my Life Force GIVER, the better half in this lopsided three-legged race we're in, I.E., our typical American marriage, I thank you for this gift of bone-crushing honesty. And to the Life Force Sucker, I appreciate the handmade card, even if your teacher wrote all the accurately spelled words inside it--I know you feel love for me in your small, fast-beating heart. And, oh, I appreciate the little mouth kisses! And even the bruising 5:30AM armpit tickles! Extra high-fructose corn syrup for you this week, in whatever highly concentrated and processed form you like!

So, to all, a belated Happy Father's Day! And if you are not one of my international readers, if you are not one of my San Francisco followers, if you are, say, one of my fellow Ditmas Park residents, then you might see me along Cortelyou Road this week in my brand new DUNCE SHIRT...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Cool 'Hood: Ditmas Park

House porn: She likes her gutters cleaned regularly.

Holler and represent. That's right, we live in Ditmas Park. Take the Q-Train, motherfucker, or the B. Step off, and drop your jaw at the giant houses. Worship at the stately Victorians. Bring your camera, and you can snap off some house porn...

Then, come down to the wine shop and talk to my man the WINERATOR, who'll point you to a fine vintage, the drinking of which will be like "sucking on stray cherry pits as a diminutive nun beats you about the spine with a long chalkboard ruler from high school." Ouch! Sign me up for a case of that fine moonshine!

Yup, that's how the WINERATOR is. Descriptive...

Or traipse on over next door and see the friendly moms at the realtor's office, for some hot real estate action. Now, there's nothing like looking at some smokin' hot real estate with friendly local moms, is there?

Or go next door to the Mimi's and get some gourmet humus with whole wheat pitas! Cuz that's how Mimi's rolls! (Don't ask her for falafel. You've been warned.)

Or go down to The Farm for a world-class meal, or Picket Fence for some of the Life Force Sucker's fave smoked gouda mac and cheese. (What a Brooklyn babe, no! He likes his mac and cheese with gourmet fromage! )

Or go visit our Anarchist Cafe for some beer and popping jazz after hours. What, you heard the place was closed? You're dead wrong. It's very open again, and there's a new sheriff in town; her name is Debbie. And word is, aside from managing the Anarchist Cafe, she also manages the Freakin' Mermaid Parade down in Coney Island. Now how capital C cool is that?

Park Slope don't got that. Uh-uh. All the women folk over there are doing what? Doing what? That's right, they're running Credit Suisse, New York Division. They're pulling in the bucks, they're the ladies of FINANCE. But they don't run the Freakin' Mermaid Parade, no they do not.

Now, I am sad to report I do not live in one of the big houses. Instead, I live in one of the battleship-like brick coops that, if I lived in one of those houses, I would call a blight on the landscape. But here we are. What are you going to do? It is what it is. At least we got our sun-blasted patio on which the Life Force Sucker can peer down to the street and at his own mortality. (Standing out there with him makes me nauseous.)

But seriously, let's discuss today's topic. To be a cool Brooklyn Dad like yours truly, you got to live in a cool 'hood. Here are formerly cool 'hoods that, according to the website, have lost their designation as cool:
  1. Williamsburg
  2. Park Slope
Here are the three cool 'hoods remaining in all of Brooklyn:
  1. Prospect Heights
  2. The Gowanus
  3. Ditmas Park
Prospect Heights is just cool. Vanderbilt has like mad bike lanes and Soda Bar and Zaytoons and that French restaurant without the real kitchen and no ventilation. Cool.

Gowanus: Anyone willing to live next to the biohazardous Gowanus qualifies as brave enough to be cool.

And little old Ditmas Park...

Now, I'll be honest. I wasn't sold on this neighborhood when we moved here X years ago, during the Great Artistic Migration of the Early 2000's, when hardworking folks who, unfortunately were not working in finance or as lawyers, strapped their painting easels and guitars to their backs and fled Park Slope, like refugees getting bombed out of their homes. (But we ourselves aren't innocents swaddled in cottony whites are we? We displaced some local residents as well. Just bowing my head to history, for a second here. To the TRUTH...)

What I miss most about Park Slope is the culinary convenience. I mean, to this day, I find myself craving Red Hot Szechuan like crazy--cheap, filling, fast delivery. In 6 years in the slope, Mrs. Unit and I spent $6,000 at Red Hot, give or take. (Yes, I did the math.) Kung Po chicken. Spring roll. Maybe even a steamed pork bun fresh out the oven... And wonton soup. Hmmmm...

But Goddamn, this place has grown on me. Ditmas Park. Love it. Just glad I didn't pay half a million for 500 square feet. Even if that 500 square feet is next door to Red Hot Szechuan...

Ahhh, the 11218... Represent!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Appollonia Strikes Back

Some months ago I tore some childless West Coast friends, as well as the entirety of the Bay Area, a NEW ONE in a post entitled, "Facebook is awesome for keeping up with faraway childless friends."

The thesis of that post was that San Francisco is full of overgrown, self-coddling perpetual children. Naturally, as is my style, I supported this thesis with rigorous logic and mountains of evidence. Not only was this post my most Supreme Court Majority Ruling-like to date, but, looking ahead now, at that inevitable point in cosmic time, when the universe has cooled and slowed and I have said all there is to say, I believe this yester-post will make the fat volume known as, The Best of the Unit Parental.

Yes, Unit, yes, that was a genius post. But why do we have to go back there, to this post you wrote, like, A Couple of Months Ago, B.C.? Can't you tell us about TODAY?

My dear readers, may I remind you that when you come to my blog, you are stepping into, in essence, the French bistro where I work. Hence, I am your host and can do what I like. I am, therefore, like a cantankerous French waiter who, not dependent on your paltry tips, will bring you water avec gaz when you order a Coke. In short, je suis le roi, motherfuckers.

Furthermore, I am going backwards in time for your benefit. To remind you that before THE INTERNET, there was generally speaking a connection between the past and the present. This connection was called HISTORY. This connection was palpable (that means, it could be felt), undeniable, and profound.

And so, let us turn the atomic clock counterclockwise! Let us hit warp speed and slingshot this glorified tin can around the massive gravitational pull of the sun! In short, let's dial this shit the fuck back!


"I'm sorry," says le roi de SF.

So, onto this post on San Francisco.... To expound further, my thesis was that San Franciscans are overgrown children who fritter away their lives doing arduous arts and crafts for their endless cycle of theme parties.

In this post, I also castigated my college-era friend Appollonia Reflexia, who moved to the Never Never Land of San Francisco like ten years ago and has spent the entirety of that time slurping at the Bay Area's Kool-Aid of Nothingness.

Well, lo and behold, Appollonia has since got wind of this post about her, in which I reprint word for word a heated Facebook exchange between us. And so, months later (e.g., The Other Day, B.C.), she, Appollonia Reflexia, commented thusly:

Dear NYC Mom and Mr Unit. Please stop your jealous whining. I have no sympathy for parents- you both chose a difficult path, becuase it's what you wanted. My path will bring me different challenges. I think I do understand how difficult and frustrating parenting may be,which is why I choose not to do it. You are completley nuts if you think I am interested in babysitting for your over-induldged childred in your antiseptic households. I have too much going on, and not a moment of free time. Unit, your blog is pretty effing funny, and you are a fabulous writer, but please stop prostelytizing - I am not likely to convert, With Love, Appollonia

(Thank you, Appollonia, for saying I am a fabulous writer. Now, I'm not one to bring attention to compliments paid to me or my highly-regarded prose style (specifically, when you said my writing was "fabulous" and my blog "effing funny"); only the immodest or insecure would go there. But I thought it would be uncouth not to thank you.)

Onto the meat: Yes, you are correct, Appollonia. You are right. Mrs. Unit Parental and I did choose our lot. We chose to have a child. But just because we chose to do it does not mean we have no right to complain about it. I mean, what is more American than complaining!

  • Ooooooh, I took all the equity out of my house!
  • Ooooooh, I went salmon fishing in Norway and paid for it with my Visa Card.
  • Ooooooh, [FILL IN THE BLANK]
In essence, by writing my blog, I am being patriotic.

But let me also be clear: We would not undo this thing we have done, which is to embark upon the diaper-strew seas of parenthood. We love the fucking Life Force Sucker to death! Was not that evident when you saw us recently? He, the Life Force Sucker, is the "over-indulged" king around here. Il est le roi! (It's just that Mrs. Unit Parental and I were hoping that at least ONE set of our friends would have some fucking goddamn kids already.)

Now for the kicker: I no longer believe that everyone should or must have children. Do you hear me? I'll say it again--I've become wiser than to insist that all my friends breed. And so, like a great character in a great novel, I, the Unit Parental, have evolved. I have experienced change in my human soul. Cross out the following from my mission statement:
  • Shame self-coddling friends into having kids.
This change of heart arose for the following reason: when I am on Facebook, looking out at the wise-ass profile images of my stunted, self-indulgent friends, I become very afraid. I begin to forecast a vast killing field strewn with the carcasses of ruined marriages. I do not believe the fragile bonds there can stand this ultimate test of selflessness. (Reverse psychology! Can you resist it?)

What I'm saying is, if you want to spend the rest of your life engaging in your San Francisco activities, then do it. You have my blessing. It is in the end your precious time on this earth. But please allow me to play the devil's advocate. Do these San Francisco activities really constitute a full life, Appollonia? Is this it?:

  1. Tramping into the redwoods with your man the reluctant Sperm Donor, tent and cook stove lashed to your backs, to barter for hobbit tea from that ancient and magical forest's impoverished halfling denizens.
  2. Watching your man the reluctant Sperm Donor celebrate his 41st birthday by spending the entire day in red tighty-whiteys, his ingenious and toddler-like rebellion against his "legal" age. Because in San Francisco, you are only as old as you refuse to act!
  3. Donning a floppy hat, an unnecessary monocle, and dangling an unlit pipe from your lips, all to go to a friend's backyard brunch! (Good God, it's three props too many!)
  4. Paying some artiste $350 dollars to tatt' your own genitalia on your forehead, because you are so bloody anti-corporate and different!
  5. Having your burly friend, the one with three Ph.D.'s and who is also a blacksmith, hand hammer you a replica of Princess Leia's S&M regalia from Empires Strikes Back. Because, goddamnit, this Halloween you will... not... be... outdone...
  6. And throwing those damned San Francisco themed parties.
Why have children when you have each other.
Not Appollonia. But actual Oakland wanker friends of the Unit Parental.
(Photo digitally altered)

Appollonia, do you not see what an empty life you are leading? I say, abandon San Francisco. Or rather, abandon its war-torn suburb, Oakland, where you live. Go forth from there! Free yourself! And leave behind the unnecessary monocle, leave behind the virgin pipe, the stingy-brim fedora, and the rest of that crap in your CLOSET OF MEANINGLESS PROPS. Be YOU!


Now, of course, I realize that the city in which I live, New York City, is not without its faults. If San Francisco is infested with self-coddlers looking for ever newfangled ways to prove their individuality... Then New York City is full of self-centered careerist TOOLS... you, dear reader, and me.

But in terms of lifestyle, I prefer it here, on the East Coast. I guess I will take drudgery over soul-crushing frivolity.

Now, I'm not saying that, if I moved to San Francisco, you would not, in five very short minutes, find me at some barbecue to which everyone brings their own stuffed quail and favorite Chardonnay, and I would of course be dressed like some cast member from Hair. I would also be unbathed and pretty much blotto by 10:30am and practicing free love with whatever inanimate object is interested or nearby... all the while the Life Force Sucker would be playing in the compost bin just to my right... My God, Appollonia, it sounds tempting! ...


But there, Appollonia, I've said it. Have children, or not. But please, please, as a wise man once said, consider this: the unexamined life is not worth living...

Ponder that the next time you sit at your window, in your quiet house, sipping at a steaming cup of hobbit tea...


Can we stay with you when we visit next year? Drop me an email...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Father's Survival Kit #12: A micro-affair of the heart

Wikipedia is not all that. I mean, sure, you can look up such pop cultural tidbits as "Snake Plissken" and such literary beacons as "Milan Kundera." But I dare you, dear reader, to look up "micro-affair of the heart."

Well? Is it there? Is it... ?

No, it fucking is not.

This goes to show how so far out on the bleeding edge I am. It's lonely work out here, classifying cultural flora and fauna that social scientists haven't even imagined yet... Oh, my dear readers, if I may wax Homeric, I am like some long-line fisherman out in the cold reaches of the Atlantic, hauling in the night's prized catch by moonlight--swordfish, say!--and throwing back such bug-eyed and whiskered freaks that ichthyologists haven't even dreamt about!

Oh, Unit, quit dazzling me with your linguistic pyrotechnics! Just tell me what a "micro-affair of the heart" is?

My answer... Ask your wife. I'm sorry to say that she, like all women, is master of this act of infidelity. What, she won't admit it? Surprise surprise...

So, in the end, it's up to me, the Unit Parental, oracle and truthsayer, to enlighten your clueless, Original Pengiun-wearing ass:

The micro-affair of the heart is, to put it bluntly, the only affair you will allow yourself to have, if you value your wife and Life Force Sucker. It goes like this...

You are in your respective Brooklyn neighborhood, Prospect Heights, say, pushing the Maclaren along Vanderbilt, passing Bicycle Station and then Zaytoons.

Heading towards you on the cigarette butt-littered sidewalk, you see a mom you know from the tot lot. She approaches you, in her sleeveless black cotton dress, a gold rope-style belt at her waist, the cherry red John Madden flats on her little white feet. Her name is Bethany or Hope or something like that.

Now, you and this blond Bethany or Hope have always been friendly. You two chat while your Life Force Suckers run around the tot lot. You exchange Life Force Sucker snacks and, on occasion, a cool moist wipey travels from her sweaty hand to yours. Or visa versa.

So now, as you approach her, you tip your head back in friendly greeting--you can't wave, because both manly hands are occupied with the dudely task of steering the Maclaren. (And let's just make this clear; you'd never be caught dead with a Bugaboo, because those are so Manhattanite and gauche!)

And then, when you are close to her, face to face, your Life Force Suckers looking disinterestedly at each other from their chariots, THE SHIT GOES DOWN...

She gives you a look that unmans you. It lasts less than a second--a stare that's bashful and naughty, fey and aggressive at once... Yes, you weren't mistaken. There was something there... It was fleeting, and it is most definitely GONE...

BUT in that dust spec of time, in that flutter of her butterfly-wing's lashes, entire worlds have collided. In that thin sliver of time, you two have done no less than boarded some time-warping future cousin of the Concord and... ...absconded to Paris, sans respective spouses, sans respective Life Force Suckers, and in some small walk-up studio apartment in the 9th arrondissement, you two committed all sorts of coital piggishness, right there, under the shadow of that windmill thing on Pigalle.

To be specific, in that aberration in the space-time continuum, you two did the following:
  1. Dined by moonlight on a riverboat on the Seine, the river breeze pulling at Bethany or Hope's blond tresses
  2. And, later, back in that little 9th arrondissement apartment, Bethany or Hope grabbed massive dollops of mold-ridden unpastuerized white cheese and spread that creamy stuff all over your under-exercized urbanite chest
  3. In the morning, you two split an eclair over espresso
Tourisme Francaise says: Consider Paris for your next virtual tryst

Shut up, Unit. How can all that happen, right on Vanderbilt, by the Zaytoons restaurant-front?

Yes, fellow unit parentals, it happens countless times a day. In front of Zaytoons. Or in the Unit's own neighborhood, Ditmas Park, in front of the Anarchist Cafe, in front of the Dollar Store cum veggie stand... It's like Secret Wars 1-12 (think back, Brooklyn hipster, to your nerd-cool comic book swilling days)... And what seemed like a 12-month battle between good and evil happened in the blink of the Beyonder's eye...

And here's the exact physics of it: It happens because women have something called imagination and using this power to see things that aren't there, they can get all the passionate succor that is missing in their Life Force Sucker-enslaved lives, just by dreaming it up. Add to this the fact that women have wisdom, that they can see things and people as they really are, and well, there you have it. She knows that imagining an affair with you is going to be approximately 1 mega-trillion times better than the alternative (I.E., getting embroiled in your manchild shit).

This being the case, this Bethany or Hope or whatever her name is is sated by your micro-one-night-stand of a Parisian micro-affair. And out there on the sidewalk, within breathing distance of her kid, she's already lit up an imaginary Pall Mall or American Spirit or Lucky Strike or B&H or whatever cool alterna-smoke she used to indulge in. Scandalous!

As for my own Mrs. Unit Parental, I know she has her own micro-affairs with a certain someone I'll call Studmuffins. And I'm okay with that! Really! I'm even a little flattered. Because Studmuffins is very much a spitting image of myself, save that he has all his hair, is slightly taller, and has a full-time job.

But what can I do about Mrs. Unit Parental's virtual strayings? I believe the First Amendment extends to a woman's filthy imaginings, does it not? I mean, if the First Amendment can't protect that, then throw the whole Constitution out the window, a la Bush W.

And that's all I'll say about micro-affairs of the heart. I've said it all.

But just let me point out again, Wikipedia ain't got nothing on me. They ain't even registering in my rearview at this point.!