Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: June 2009 (page 1 of 2)

Iron Chef, Los Angeles

Any fans of the original Iron Chef? I loved that Japanese cooking show because the chefs really took the competition to heart, as if their honor was at stake. The American version is lazy because you know Bobby Flay doesn’t give a flying crap whether he wins or not. The original show had drama, because I was always half-expecting Chef Masahara Morimoto to stab himself with a carving knife in Kitchen Stadium after losing the artichoke battle of skills.

A few years ago, they opened a sushi bar down the block from my house in Los Angeles. It was fairly expensive for dinner, but they offered a bento box luncheon for seven dollars. It included some spicy tuna rolls, salad, soup, salmon, and rice. It was a good deal. Sophia and I used to go two or three times a week. The chef, Paul, could be perfectly cast in a Hollywood movie as a old school sushi chef. He stood tall in his white unform, and rarely spoke, concentrating on his work behind the counter. He would call out a greeting and farewell in Japanese whenever a customer entered or left. His wife was one of the servers. If he was in a good mood, he would serve little treats in decorated seashells to select customers, or give away some sake. It was our favorite restaurant.

The Japanese are big on honor. On the wall behind Paul was a multi-colored chest with compartments for sturdy, bright chopsticks. Each pair of chopsticks was in its own elaborate box, each with a traditional design. Each box had the name of a customer assigned to it. These chopsticks were for the “high-rollers,” those who came for dinner and said, “Serve me WHATEVER,” and had no problem spending $200 for dinner. The ordinary diner just got the regular chopsticks wrapped in paper.

After about a year of eating lunches at the restaurant, Paul came over to our table. This was very unusual, because we never saw him leave his position behind the bar. In fact, he could have been without pants for all this time, and we would have never known.

“This is for you,” he said.

He handed us each our own chopstick box. The special boxes! Our first names were written on the side. He presented it along with some unique appetizers. All of the other customers looked our way in envy, especially the Japanese diners. This was SHOCKING to them! No one gets the special chopsticks for just ordering the lunch special!

This was a highlight of our dining lives.

As we ate our feast, Sophia noticed that Paul had different “good luck” symbols on his back wall, not only Japanese oriented, like the waving cat, but examples from other cultures. Were they gifts? We decided to give Paul a gift for his honor, as is expected. Sophia went online and ordered a Hamsa (hamesh) hand amulet that is still used for “magical protection” by both Jews and Arabs. Paul proudly put it on the wall, next to the other gifts.

hamsa

This was about a year and a half ago. As readers of this blog know, I have been bouncing back and forth from New York for the last year. My life with Sophia has been unstable. We have not had the time or inclination to go out to sushi for lunch. Today, I suggested that we go to our favorite spot. Sophia said she hasn’t been there since I left for New York, since she doesn’t like eating out by herself.

We walked into the sushi bar and immediately saw Paul behind the counter, busy at work making his famous volcano rolls. He did not yell his traditional greeting. Sophia called out to him.

“Hello, Paul!” she said.

Nothing. That was strange.

Sophia turned around and noticed that our hamsa was off the wall. His wife came over and gave us a sympathetic smile, and then placed two cheapo paper-wrapped chopsticks in front of us.

After not showing up for lunch for a year, we had been demoted from being special customers. There were no free appetizers. Even our lunch portions were smaller. And he charged us extra for the rice. We were dead to him. Paul is a true Iron Chef.

Michael Jackson Post from 2007

Dear Michael from October, 2007.

Keeps On Ticking

This weekend was Father’s Day and my father’s birthday. My father passed away a few years ago, during my first year of blogging. I started to write a sentimental post about my father tonight, but then I stopped. I was writing it more for YOU than for me. I was faking my sentimentality. I don’t feel it. This is the first year I feel more angry over his death than anything else. It would be nice to talk to him during this transitional part of my life. Why have people alive if they are only going to die?

During my father’s last moments in the hospital — I stood by the bed with my mother, Sophia, my uncle, and the rabbi. The young doctor in his care at the time, overwhelmed with too many patients on a busy afternoon, took the respirator off of my father and we waited for my father’s last breath. Sophia came over and held his hand. But then something happened — the heart monitor kept on beating. And beating. For longer than it should have continued. We all stood there, during these painful moments, stuck in limbo. What was going on? Was he still alive? Or not?

“Does the patient wear a pacemaker?” asked the clueless doctor.

Nice. The medical staff had forgot to turn off my father’s pacemaker, so it kept on beating even after my father’s death, like the Timex watch with the metallic watchband that my father always wore on his right wrist, and which I still keep in the drawer in his memory. If it wasn’t such a gross error by the medical staff, my father’s last prank on the family would have been amusing.

Today, this memory makes me angry, not at the doctor, but at the whole concept of living and dying. Takes a licking, but keeps on ticking. That is a lie for anything other than Timex.

Words Cannot

Words cannot capture the energy I feel around me, all the time.

But I do not believe in those things. I cannot. I am a skeptic. I do not believe in ghosts or talking to the dead. I do not believe in astrology. Psychics are frauds, as are county fair hypnosists. No one loses control and starts squawking like a chicken within five minutes time. I will not squawk like a chicken for you. I am controlled and logical and organized, like my writing.

A memory. I am drinking my first bottle of Coke. I am ten. I have only had Coke in an aluminum can or in a paper cup from the pizza joint. A Cuban woman gives me a Coke in a bottle. It is so cold and the glass bottle feels so adult in my tiny hands, and I gulp it down like a beer, like a man, and I enjoy that carbonation burn in my throat. I want to have that sensation again. That time of youthful pleasure before I retreated behind the safety of words, of abstractions.

I’d much rather play my guitar for you, than write. If only I could. I would be on stage, the quiet light beaming onto my face, and I could finally be myself, floating on waves of melody, free of the rules of stern, bespectacled English grammar. Words are like stale bread, or an old man in a wheelchair waiting for the silence. Music can kiss you on the lips or fuck you.

Words cannot capture the energy I feel around me, all the time.

The Night Chicago Died


The Male Attendees of BlogHer ’09

For four years, every summer, I have been running a BlogHim on my blog, as a David’s slingshot’s response to the Goliath of the annual BlogHer Conference.

During this time, the men have grown stronger, as the female bloggers have been weakened due to their internal strife and own greed. Moms vs. non-Moms. Working Moms vs. SAHM. We deserve some credit as well. This year, the men, being the smarter gender, have easily manipulated the emotional women through a carefully crafted social media campaign, stirring up hatred and dividing the women.

Now is the time. Our time. BlogHim and BlogHer, face to face.

I booked my ticket to Chicago for July 23rd. I have been in contact with the other men attending the conference. We all agree — it is time to show the female bloggers how things are done.

Next month, Chicago will never be the same.

Who will I know there? Is there someone who is not going who wants me to send them a postcard from the Sheraton? I remember how much I hated when everyone was going to some conference, and everyone seemed to be partying and going topless except for ME! “Boo-hoo, I suck,” I would think. But you don’t have to worry about feeling like a loser. Just send me your address and I will even try to get some big shot blogger like the Pioneer Woman to autograph the postcard for you (if I can get her to talk to me)!

Feeling Up

(fictional)

Westchester, NY  –  Tuesday night

I went shopping for some bread and juice.  Afterwards, I sat in my car for two hours playing checkers on my iphone.   My foot had fallen asleep.  I hobbled out of the Prius and entered the house.  She was watching All My Children on Tivo.   She had just taken a shower and was wearing a towel.  I walked over and put my hands on her breasts.

“What are you doing, Matthew?”

“I want to feel you up.”

I pulled the towel down and covered massaged her breasts with my hands.  I was rougher than usual.

“What are you doing?  Stop it!”  she said.  “How about a hello?”

“Can’t I feel up my own wife whenever I want?  Isn’t that in the marriage contract?”

“I’m watching TV.  Don’t grab me,” she grumbled, as she pushed me away.

“C’mon, Beth.  I really want to feel you up.  I need to feel you up.”

On All My Children, Stuart Chandler had just died, and mega-millionaire bad guy Adam Chandler was grieving.  Stupid soap opera.  So unrealistic.

I grabbed her breasts again.

“They’re not bicycle horns that you squeeze.  Be gentle.”

She told me to sit down, like a teacher instructing her student.

“Sit behind me and you can feel me up as we watch the soap.”

During the commercial, I rubbed against her.  I was hoping that she would reach for my hardness.

“You want to fuck?” I whispered in her ear.

She swatted my nose.

“Don’t say that.  It sounds disgusting coming out of your mouth.”

I found that insulting to my manhood.  She curses all the time.  I should be able to say what is on my mind.

“I want to fuck you now.”

I bit her neck.

“Stop it.  You don’t know what the hell you are even doing.”

“You know, screw you!” I screamed as I slid from behind her like a snake.

Orange peels were scattered all over the coffee table.  This bugged the shit out of me.

“Why don’t you throw out the orange peels?”

“They were here this morning.  Why didn’t you throw them out?”

“I didn’t eat the orange.  You did.  Are you waiting for me to throw the orange peels out from the orange that YOU ate?”

She pointed to the remote sitting on the coffee table next to me.

“Can you pause the TV.  I’m missing the soap because of you.”

“Screw you.”

“No, screw you!” she said as she reached over and threw an orange peel at my chest.

I considered that an ultra-violent act, and I thought about retailiating, but couldn’t think of anything appropriate other than pulling her hair, which would just be too girlish for my ego.  I imagined punching her.  The horror of the thought brought shame.

I quickly gathered up all the orange peels and huffed and puffed my way into the kitchen to toss them into the overflowing trash can, filled with all sorts of crap, none of it sorted for recycling like I wanted.   My bad.  I just couldn’t concentrate on being green this month.  Fuck the environment.  Let the normal married people worry about the planet during their happy little lives.   I decided to take out the garbage, but my body could not move.  I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of seeing me do it, walking past her with a sack of garbage, smiling in that ass-kissing manner of a maid in the Sheraton Hotel.

Dirty dishes were in the sink, and I hate unwashed dishes,  with the smell of moldy leftovers filling the air, so I would wash the dishes.   That, I would do for MYSELF, not her.

I turned on the water to wash them.  She immediately called out from the living room.

“What are you doing?”

“The dishes.”

“Can you do them later?  I can’t hear the soap with the water running.”

I turned the water on higher.  I am spiteful.  I know.

“I’m doing the dishes now.  Sorry.  Didn’t you ask me to do the dishes?”

“No.  I didn’t ask you to do the dishes at all.”

“Well, ONE of us has to do it.   Is it going to be YOU?”

Fighting words.

“OK.  OK.  Do the dishes. ” she said.  “I’ll pause the TV again.”

Good.  I won the battle.

I could hear the TV sound stop in mid-sentence, as I returned to the dishes, the hot water burning my hand, but somehow enjoying the pain.

She entered into the kitchen, naked, smiling.   She always has that contented look when I am doing the dishes.   But I don’t find it sexy at all.   It feels manipulative, like I am caving into the master.  I want to be loved all the time, not when I am doing stuff for her.

I could feel her breathe on my neck as I scrubbed the burnt rice off of a pot that has been sitting in the sink for two days.

“Let me kiss you,” she said.

I half-turned and gave her a small peck on the lips.

“No, a REAL kiss.”

“I’m busy.  I’m scrubbing shit off this post.  I don’t want to kiss.”

“Well, put down the pot and kiss.”

I turned to the naked woman and we kissed.  I had an intense urge to finish cleaning the pot.

“Don’t you know how to kiss?” she said, with a tone of disappointment.

“I don’t want to kiss.”

“So why were you feeling me up before?”

“Because I wanted to feel you up.  Not kiss.”

“Well, if you’re not going to kiss…”

“Forget it.”

“You just wanted to fuck me on the couch without kissing?”

“I don’t want to kiss or fuck ANYONE who leaves their orange peels on the living room table and waits for me to clean it up.”

“Why don’t you go upstairs and go back on Twitter and fuck someone on there.”

“You’re a bitch.”

She spit on the floor, which I always assumed was some insult from her homeland.

Later on, we went out for frozen yogurt and played Yahtzee on the iphone, and never mentioned what happened before.  Which is not unusual.

I won both games of Yahtzee and that made me happy.   We slept in separate beds.

Motherhood Advice

For years, I have been jealous of the power of the mothers online. Why do they get all the attention and freebies?  I’m a competive person, and I’ve been scratching my head for months, trying to come up with some gimmick that would beat these arrogant bloggers at their own game.  And then. the idea came to me.  Eureka!  Why not start a mommyblog, make it 100x better than everyone else’s, sell advertising, and become a big success?

I can hear you laughing.

“He’s not a mom!” you say, snickering.  “How can he compete with ME and steal my advertisers?”

Here’s where I pull the rabbit from my sleeve.

Her name is Elaine Kramer.  She is a mother.  My mother.

Compared to your measly knowledge of motherhood, she has DECADES OF EXERIENCE.  If you need a heart transplant, do you want the fresh-faced kid one year out of medical school OR the VETERAN who has seen and done it all?  Mommybloggers love to give advice, when in reality they know SHIT.  Big deal — you can pick up some poop.  My mother knows about picking up the poop, sending her son off to pre-school, being a WAHM, being a SAHM, arranging birthday parties, dealing with a husband, catching her son playing with himself in the bathroom, seeing a child going off to college, seeing him getting married, AND seeing him getting separated?

THE REST OF YOU ARE POSEURS compared to my mother!

Have any parenting issues?  Get all your answers at my new blog, Motherhood Advice.  THE BEST AND MOST COMPLETE MOMMYBLOGGING BLOG IN THE BLOGOSPHERE.  Don’t be a sucker and read blogs by neophytes who don’t know a a mother’s tit from a teenager’s fit!  Why not choose someone with years of experience?!   My mother!

Advertisers welcome.  Please attend the Motherhood Advice Party at BlogHer, sponsored by Streit’s Matzoh.

(I probably am too lazy to actually start this blog, but ask my mother a puzzling parenting question and I’ll get her to answer one of the questions for you in the next post)

Dear Sarah G

One of my favorite people, Sarah G, wrote this comment on my last post —

Okay.   So you lately have all of these kinds of posts. So I stopped coming by all of the time and stopped commenting as often.   Not important; but.. are you serious that these are your plans?    Does that mean the chances with Sophia are over?   Cause if they’re not..how do these plans help those?

Otherwise; you’re probably right about social media. So make it count 🙂

Sarah, you are one of my long-time reader and I truly appreciate your comments.  It touches me that you care so much about my marriage with Sophia.  I know you are a spiritual and caring individual.

I can definitely understand you not coming by as often. I can be pretty dumb in my posts.  I’m not sure why I am so attracted to writing such silliness.  I think I enjoy the immaturity involved, as if I am embracing another side of my personality.  I know the “story” of my life can be confusing at times, and it is hard to tell when I am joking or not.  What is real?  What is not?  If I get to to do this “Storytelling” session at BlogHer, my first rule would be to tell others to NEVER do what I do on my blog.

After four and a half years of blogging, I still have no idea what I am doing here, not only in a monetary way, but literary.  What is Citizen of the Month about?   What’s the point?   What is it saying about me?  Do I like what it is saying about me?   How is it helping me?   Sometimes I try to write something good or meaningful, but mostly I just want to amuse myself, or others.  I rarely want to change your minds or educate you.  Getting a woman to laugh at some sex-related post is a virtual turn-on for me.   It is like I gave her an orgasm, and I can walk to the supermarket with my head held high.

Maybe if I stop trying so hard to please others, I could write differently.  Or express other things.

I’m not a diarist and always wonder why blogging is so tied to “reality.”  Is it that everyone wants to be Dooce?  I don’t even like novels that are completely rooted in journalistic detail.  I’m the type of person who lives in my head a great deal of time, so writing about the activities of my life kinda bores me.   It is the embellishment and the pondering about the subject that captures my character.  So, yes, in the last post, I did wonder what it would be like to have sex with someone at BlogHer and be a shitty lay, and have everyone else find out on Twitter.  Why not?  There is more “reality” there than in most of my journal-type entries.  What anxiety!  Drama!  Fear!   I am very aware of my relationship with Sophia, and I would hate to hurt anyone’s sensibility, or do something hurtful in my own life.   It doesn’t mean it isn’t on my mind.  Humor is greatly underappreciated as a source of reality.  This is how I think in my head.   It is when I am writing something poetic or literary that I am lying to you with fancy words.

How Social Media is Ruining My Plans

For four years, I have been writing jokes about BlogHer, fantasizing about my dream to go to the conference and finally use my blogging popularity for some legitimate purpose — getting some hot action from some starry-eyed female fan.  For twelve months a year, I work hard on my writing, and I deserve to be compensated somehow. Unfortunately, every year something happens that screws up my chance to attend the conference.  Last year, was an infamous case involving a free ticket from JCPenney/Dockers which went sour.

This year, I have a ticket to BlogHer.  I have a new haircut.  I have bought new shoes.  I have flirted with all sorts of attractive women online.  I have made lists of women in my google reader categorized by DEFINITELY WILL DO ME, POSSIBLY WILL DO ME, and DO NOT READ OR COMMENT.  Today, I was goofing around on Twitter, trying to ease some of the excitment building inside of me with only a month left to go, when I came face to face with the enemy. And it was Twitter itself, Facebook — social media in general.

Let me explain.  Pundits and marketers are wild over social media. President Obama was able to rally large groups of supporters by using social media.   A movie on YouTube can get a million hits within days.  When a tragedy hits, online citizens worldwide can come together in support and organization.

But do we really want information spread so quickly ALL THE TIME?  Do we want our lives to go viral, even the bad things?  The very thought of being in the middle of 1000 gossipy female bloggers has given me pause over my plans of “getting it on” with some hot babe in her hotel room.

For years, I have been writing about my amazing sexual prowess, I have written about giving women orgasms by merely looking their way.  In post after post, I give oral sex for three hours straight and entertain woman with a penis that sings, dances, and tells borscht belt Yiddish jokes.

The truth is, I have been with one woman, Sophia, for over a decade, and even that has had its ups and downs in the bedroom.  If opportunity would arise, it might take a few tries before I get back into the groove, much like the Tin Man needs Dorothy to squirt some oil onto his joints before he could tap dance again.

But now I worry more about my reputation than actually getting laid.  If I did get lucky, and I wasn’t very good, how long would it take before this information would spread across the blogosphere?  Can you imagine how this would hurt my street cred?

“Hey, isn’t that Neilochka, the blogger/premature ejaculator?”

Let’s do a little social media experiment here. 

Ms. Sizzle and V-grrrl are long time blogging friends of mine who don’t read each other’s blogs.  As a trial run for BlogHer, I want to see how long it will take for news about my performance in the sack to go from blogger to blogger, from Ms. Sizzle to V-grrrl.

Remember, just to be scientific about this — Ms. Sizzle is attending BlogHer in Chicago.  V-grrrl is not.  Ms. Sizzle lives in Seattle.  V-grrl lives in Virginia.  They do not know each other.

Here is the scenario.  It is July, 2009.  Chicago.  BlogHer.  Ms. Sizzle and I are at a party Saturday night, both of us drinking too much.  I “accidentally” spill some wine on her skirt, and then accompany her to her hotel room to “change” while her roommates are downstairs.  I compliment her beautiful glasses, and before we know it, we are in bed together, throwing the Harry met Sally “friends shouldn’t do this” rule to the wind.

Three seconds later, it is over.

“Oops, sorry it was so quick,” I say, sheepishly.  “It must be the jetlag — you know, being in a different time zone.”

“Sure, sure, I understand,” she says with a warm smile, lying through her teeth, like most women do. “It was great.  You were wonderful!”

“Really?” I say, my ego stoked.  “I knew it!  I really know how to please a woman sexually!  I tell myself that all the time.”

I look down at my penis.

“You hear that buddy?!  We rawk!”

“Excuse me,” she says politely, as she heads for the bathroom.

Once in the bathroom, Ms. Sizzle, quickly takes out her blackberry out from inside her pocketbook and sends a text message to Kris from Not a Girl, Not Yet a Wino, who is her roommate in the hotel.  She is partying downstairs.

MsSizzle:  I just slept with Neilochka!

theWino:  Oh my god!  How was it?

MsSizzle:  Awful.  They’re gonna have to change Superman’s motto from “faster than a shooting bullet to Neilochka f**king style!”  It’s taking me longer to write this text message than for him to finish.

theWino:  Holy shit!  Who knew?  I always fancied him a total stud.

MsSizzle:  I know.  Me too!  But he’s still a friend.  So, please don’t tell anyone downstairs or Twitter about this to anyone or put this on Facebook or IM with anyone about it.  OK?

theWino:  Of course not.  I’m a woman.  Women don’t gossip!

OK, now here is the experimental part —

Remember the game, “Telephone?”

Who would theWino immediately tell about Ms. Sizzle and me, and how many degrees of separation would it be before V-grrrl received the information that I sucked in the sack via a DM on Twitter by someone else?

I say, it would take one hour.

The Power of Social Media.  Screwing Up Sex Plans since 2008.

Thinking About Money

bofa
Is it that bad for Bank of America?!  (actually a bank in a Los Angeles supermarket)

With friends and family members getting laid off and the economy growing sour, I think a lot more about money lately, and how important it is to have a decent amount of this precious commodity if you want to live a certain lifestyle  (like LIVING IN an apartment in New York or LA).

My trip to Las Vegas last week was enough to remind me what it is like to stay at hotels, eat and drink well, go to expensive shows, and have to pay for it!  Even BlogHer will end up costing a $1000 dollars, right?  How do some of you afford to go to a different online conference every other week?

I used to make fun of your constant advertising and pimping, but maybe you are the smart ones.  Your main priority is to your family and self.  What’s the point of doing anything if it isn’t helping you get front row seats to Cirque de Soleil?

Of course, I’m not sure I believe any of this — that’s the problem — or else I wouldn’t have to write this here making believe I do.  I have a habit of writing things I don’t believe in an effort to force myself to accept it, as if I repeat it over and over, I will hypnotise myself into submission.

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