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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Just Like Heaven: My Trip To Philadelphia Traffic Court

Enduring crippling and awful public situations ranks as perhaps my favorite thing in the world. And today I had such the experience as I went to Philadelphia Traffic Court in an attempt to have several tickets I recieved cancelled. (I received four tickets after making an illegal left/not having the right paperwork in the car and was pulled over after I was forced by Em and Tab to drive them home as part of my job as their sexual manservant.)

Philly Traffic Court is located at the beautiful intersection of 8th and Spring Garden, conveniently located near Philly's best restaurant, the Spaghetti Warehouse. I drove around looking for a non-metered parking space and eventually found one underneath one of the dozens of "rape tunnels" populating the area just to the west of Northern Liberties.

Upon entering traffic court, patrons are forced to go through a metal detector. When I was in line, a woman of unclear ethnicity cut me in line and started screaming at one of the court officers about her lost pair of scissors. They were returned to her which caused her to explain, "Yo, I need these real bad just in case something happens, y'know?"

After making it through security, I entered the main lobby of traffic court. I immediately wished that I, too, brought a sharp pair of scissors with me because the likeliness of "something happening" was through the roof. The crowd had a terrific combination of natural violent tendencies mixed in with the constant agitation of dealing with shitty city government services. The eyes of traffic court employees told the story of a people resigned to employment in the worst place possible while enduring the constant threat of being punched in the throat due to the impoundment of a car.

I then went to the room to get my tickets cancelled. The clerk was busy on her cellphone, chomping gum, and finished up her giggling conversation. I handed her my summonses and told her that they were to be cancelled. She looked at them and then at me and said "I can't fucking help you with this shit."

Next, I went back to the main lobby where I had to go to customer service. A big sign warns patrons to have their ID present with them. This is so when you show a clerk your ID card she can order you to go to the broken down and outdated photocopy machine as they will only accept a copy of your license. The copier requires fifty cents to operate which, naturally, I did not have.

Luckily, a change machine (which takes ten cents of your change as a "service charge) sat in the front of traffic court. However, it was inoperable. I then bought a delicious Coca-Cola from the machine and tried to return to traffic court. The officer refused to let me enter, telling me I had to go through the metal detectors again and that I was also not allowed to bring in my delicious Coca-Cola. I had to hide my drink behind the vending machine in order to enjoy taste satisfaction later.

I now returned to the customer service line. Here, I waited behind a 65-year-old man who started shouting to the clerk "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? MY NAME IS TONY FERGLETTI!" repeatedly. The clerk said she did not know who he was. "MY EX-WIFE IS SUZANNE LUPICA! SHE WORKED HERE FOR THREE YEARS? DO YOU KNOW HER? OH. WELL HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF HER? I KNOW CLAUDETTE!" This remarkable conversation lasted for 12 minutes while I waited and watched.

When I went to the clerk with my summonses, she stared at me and asked if my car was impounded. I told her it was not. "Well it should be!" she yelled, cracking up one of her skanky co-workers.

She then asked me for such things as my birthday and address (even though I wrote them down for her) and yelled at me when I did not give her an immediate response military style. This was a refreshing change of pace of how I am usually treated by people. Under most circumstances, I am granted both dignity and respect by others. But the clerk at traffic court took the time out of her day to scold and mock me in a public setting.

She also told me she could be of no help to me. So she gladly gave me a court date in October.

I then decided I wanted to see what traffic court was lke. There are a few courtrooms in the facility with actual judges and everything. I saw a chamber where a case was being decided. I sat down and then listened to the sad tale of a 26-year-old wearing a t-shirt with explosive airbrush writing on it who claimed his belief he was suffereing from cardian arrest caused him to go over 70 MPH on Broad Street.

The judge turned to me in the middle of the hearing and asked me who I was. I told him my name and that I had a date in a few weeks and I wanted to find out what to expect in court.

"You can expect to go to jail," he replied, cackling with the power of a low-level municipal jurist. I then returned to the rape tunnel and drove home.

You Wanted Arts and Crafts? Well Here's Some Arts and Crafts!

A lot of people have been coming up to me on the street lately and saying, "Hey, Gregg, I understand there's a new Sixth Borough show coming up, and I understand it's going to be awesome, but exactly how awesome is it?"

We will be twice as good as The Who's "A Quick One" on the Rock and Roll Circus.

(I used that title because it's a line from Weezer's new single "Troublemaker" and I think I'm back in love with Rivers Cuomo.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fashion Update: Diarrhea Is the New Black

Hey ladies! Here's a fall fashion preview!
The word on the street is Diarrhea is the next big look for fall.

Whether you're subtly dabbing a bit on your eyes, or strutting your stuff in your brand new Diarrhea-rinse jeans, this runny stool is a MUST HAVE for Fall '08.

"The nice thing about Diarrhea is that it's affordable, yet sophisticated."
-Bobby Brown, makeup artist.

Diarrhea is super easy to coordinate with your neutral metallics, also a fall essential. Diarrhea goes great with Uggs, Crocs, and whatever other really cool shoes you want to wear!

Just remember, the one thing Diarrhea doesn't match with is fat.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

On The Scene: Flirting With Nancy Pelosi

Yes, Madame Speaker. Oh, god, yes Madame Speaker

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is arguably the most powerful woman alive. And, tonight at the Free Library of Philadelphia, I totally hit on her.

Pelosi was in town to sell and plug her book entitled "Know Your Power," which is an inspirational message to the daughters of the world. She spoke for an hour about the importance of motherhood, some discussion of politics (heavy on spin, naturally) and things of that nature.

Afterwards, she was signing copies of her book. On my way into see her speak, I managed to actually steal a book from a desk in the library.

I waited in line for about ten minutes. First, some person involved in the proceedings asked me who I wanted the book made out to. I answered "Future Mother." The lady flinched, so I explained to her how my wife was pregnant (not true, thank god) and I called her that as a pet name. This was written down on a post-it note.

Later, another person with the same duty inquired about Future Mother. I explained to him it was for my cousin who was three months pregnant.

I was chatting with the girl ahead of me in line. She writes for OP ED NEWS and had some questions to ask Pelosi about intelligence/war related issues. She lasted about ten seconds before she was pushed out.

Finally, it was my turn! I was finally going to have the chance to meet the person third in line for the presidency!

So, she began signing my book. She flinched at the name "Future Mother."

I explained to her my half-sister was pregnant and it was a nickname we had for her. She asked me her name, I said Ilana (my wife's name) and she signed my book Future Mother Ilana.

When she was signing my book, I told her "Madame Speaker, I found your message of the importance of motherhood completely inspiring. I'll never know what motherhood will actually be like, but I still found it inspirational." She looked baffled but slightly entertained.

Then, I said...

"Before I go, Madame Speaker, I just have to tell you... you look SO good in person. You're absolutely beautiful."

Pelosi, along with the rest of the room, started laughing. Then the Speaker of the House grabbed my right hand with both of hers and started CARESSING the top of my hand.

"What's your name?"
"Thank you for coming out tonight, Gregg. I'm thrilled to have met you."

I then sheepishly left the room.

Honestly, in person, Pelosi's pretty MILFy. She's 68 years old and looks really good in a cream-colored pantsuit.

This was one of the proudest moments of my life -- hitting on the Speaker of the House and having her enjoy the compliment.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Almost Famous, Part 1

I never acted before I joined the Sixth Borough. However, I did make an initial attempt to become an actor about five years ago when I signed up to take acting lessons at a community theater located in North Jersey. I did not learn too much about the craft of acting in this class, but I did learn that weird people in uncomfortable situations makes for a great time. As such, I took copious notes of my experiences in this class. Here they are, for your public consumption.



“I’m here because there’s this one movie that I love? And I wish I could always be in i? And I never knew if I had what it takes to make it? The movie’s called Steel Magnolias?”

“Get out of town. Just get out of town RIGHT NOW! That’s my favorite movie, too! And I wish I could have been in, too!”

The following exchange occurred between two middle-aged, Interchangeable Housewives. They were sitting across from me in the leaky, asbestos-filled basement of Montclair, NJ’s 12 Miles West Theater. And the reason I overheard this exchange was because we were taking an acting class together.

I guess some of my classmates were taking the class because of a craven, misplaced and desperate desire for fame. Others were just looking for fun. Me? The reason I was looking to take this acting class was for the sole purpose of attempting to get laid. This was from looking at the experiences of my brother. He looks like me, we have the same sense of humor, but he slept with a lot of girls. Me? Not so much. And the one difference between us – he’s a professional actor, and I’m not.

And within the first 30 seconds of taking this class, I was confounded with a question. Was this class the biggest mistake of my life? Or was it the best decision I ever made?

Our instructor’s name was Bob, an even more flamboyant version of Jm. J Bullock. He talked like every audience member of Behind The Actor’s Studio – that annoying, super-serious “artistic” voice. After introducing himself to us, he began to speak in a series of New Age Platitudes such as “We are on a journey to find ourselves and each other” and “there is something we need to get out of this, something we may not even realize we need.”

We sat around in a circle, where after Bob’s introduction we introduce ourselves. There were a few other people in the class with me. I have to refer to them by their nicknames because, apparently, it’s not a good teaching technique to know the names of your classmates. They were, in order:

THE INTERCHANGEABLE HOUSWIVES – the aforementioned Steel Magnolias fans. One wore a shirt with a cat on it, the other spoke like every sentence was actually a question? There was no other way to tell them apart.

THE CUTE GIRL – A very cute girl in her mid-20’s. She looked kind of like the WWE’s Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, except without the years of cocaine-fueled sex romps.

THE VOICE BOX GIRL – Another girl in her mid-20’s who sounded like Fran Drescher with a throat cancer box.

THE HEMAPHRODITIC GERMAN – A German woman missing breast tissue, giving her a haunting transgendered appearance.

THE OVERLY COMPETITIVE HINDU – An Indian man in his 40’s who, when asked why he was taking the class, responded by saying “My 12-year-old son acts at his middle school. He’s a good actor. But I know if he’s good, I can be a great actor.”

THE CLASS JUNKIE – An older man in his 60’s, grey-haired and bespectacled who described himself as a “class junkie” because of his love of various classes offered in community centers located throughout suburban Essex County. This piqued my interest and, later that night, I looked into taking a ceramics class at James Caldwell High School. (I didn’t.)

And a few other people whom didn’t say anything particularly interesting.

After our introductions, Bob instructed us to focus on a certain, exact point in the room and breathe. And breathe. And breathe some more. And then, he said, for all of us at once we had to say what we were looking at. I thought this was a chance to make The Cute Girl laugh.

“I see the face of the Virgin Mary.”

She didn’t.

Bob then told us to pretend we were getting into our car, taking a trip to the grocery store, where we were to purchase an orange and then eat it. Then, he asked us how we felt about this experience.

“It really affected me,” said The Overly Competitive Hindu he said in his “o” voice. “I’m a real orange guy. I mean, I eat oranges alllllll the time.”

Bob then told us visualize ourselves in our “personal fear zone.” Everyone had to say theirs at once. Naturally, I did not say anything (as I am a man without fear) and instead eavesdropped on others.

The Voice Box Girl was the easiest to hone in on. “I’m in a bedroom. There are books by Jay Leno all over the place.” I started to laugh. How do books written by Jay Leno cause 20-ish girls panic attacks? She heard me laughing at her and then gave me a dirty look.

We then returned to our chairs to discuss our personal fear zones. The Hempaphroditic German said she thought of laughing children playing in her driveway. Class Junkie said he couldn’t think of one particular place, but instead thought about the time he battled prostate cancer.

I went next. I wanted to say what I was thinking: “My fear zone is being trapped in a basement with you people.” Instead, I made up something about the dark woods behind my grandfather’s house.

The Cute Girl said her fear zone was her ex-boyfriend’s house. I took that as a sign that she wanted to sleep with me.

Class concluded with all of us having to say what our “dream role” was. After the Interchangeable Housewives both admitted their love of Sally Field vehicles, the Hemaphroditic German said she wanted to play a villainess “in anything, whatever.” The Overly Competitive Hindu said he wanted to play Samuel L. Jackson’s in Pulp Fiction. (The foot-rub debate scene would have been awesome with this re-casting.)

I said I wanted to star in a Vagina Monologue. Not one of my classmates laughed, even though some of them had vaginas.

Bob, the possible life-partner of Tim Gunn, said his dream role was to play the “American James Bond.”

After I left class, I wondered if I wanted to return. The Cute Girl was pretty cute and, most importantly, seemed emotionally vulnerable due to her fear of her ex-boyfriends house. However, she said that she wanted to star in a musical, and the last thing I ever wanted to do on a date was watch Newsies. And sitting in a poorly lit basement while I’m forced to do karmic breathing wasn’t exactly my idea of a fun Tuesday night. I would never use any of these relaxation techniques if I ever needed to clear my head at home. After all, that’s why God allows us to masturbate to Telemundo soap operas.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Get To Know Philadelphia Neighborhoods: Chestnut Hill

Where People Better Than You Live

Get To Know Chestnut Hill
Have you ever dreamed of being someone's servant? Take orders from a child who snaps their fingers at you like you're a dog? Wanted to be constantly reminded that you're barely fit to lick the dirt off of a rich person's shoes?

Then Chestnut Hill is the neighborhood for you! Located in the far northwest corner of Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill is the ideal place to be treated as a human ashtray by your social superiors.

Etiquette In Chestnut Hill
There are rules to follow for non-Chestnut Hill residents when entering the streets of this tony neighborhood. First, always cast your eyes downward when you see a resident of the neighborhood. You'll know when you see a resident of the neighborhood because they're better than you. Second, always make sure you curtsey before a female resident of Chestnut Hill, even (and especially) if she's a pre-teen. Always remember -- while you may not currently work for a resident of Chestnut Hill, someday these people WILL employ you, thus make sure you get on their good side now.

Shopping In Chestnut Hill
Are you a wealthy matronly lady approaching her menopausal years? Germantown Ave, Chestnut Hill's main shopping corridor, has both a Chico's AND a Talbot's, giving you ample opportunities to by shawls, pant suits and tiarras.

Dining In Chestnut Hill
Chestnut Hill is home to several of the city's finest restaurants. At the top of the list is The Melting Pot, a foundue restaurant where diners can take food in their fat, filthy hands and dip it into scalding, broiling cheese.

Escaping From Chestnut Hill
When enslaved by a Chestnut Hill family, try using a spoon stolen from one of your master's many china sets to dig a hole from the dark lair you're kept in at night.

Liquid Gold: A Video Look at the Jersey Shore


As you may know, I am completely fascinated with the culture of the Jersey Shore. My obsession with The Shore comes from a North Jersey childhood where much of my time was spent in classrooms with "guidos" -- a New Jerseyan with Italian-American heritage, large muscles, predelictions towards house music and expensive hair gels. West Orange (my hometown) had a sizeable guido population, which made my adolescence hellish -- imagine gym class with kids who wear "ITALIAN AND PROUD" tank tops to school on a regular basis -- enough. But I can't even imagine how awful it must be to not be a guido in a true mecca of guido life such as Totowa, Wayne, Clifton, East Hanover or Whippany.

The video above captures the lifestyle perfectly, as unsuspecting guidos and guidettes are interviewed at the Surf Club in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. (A classless Wildwood.) The other great piece of guido video literature is that MTV True Life with "Tommy Chesseballs" who attempts to kill a man after a line dispute at an all-night eatery.

- GG