Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Myths of the City

After that a weird thing happened: I ate something that disagreed with me and I got really sick. So sick that I spent the afternoon of Tuesday in orant pose near a toilet, and I cancelled my other two look-sees. And that’s how I wound up with the apartment I have. There were eleven others on my list that I didn’t even see. That’s been my experience with New York so far: it’s a zillion times easier than everyone warns you.

Example: Everyone was helpful. Absolutely everyone. During my five-day stint I saw only one rude New Yorker, and he was provoked. He was trying to back up in a tiny street, and the woman behind him had blocked him while she tried to back her minivan into a Honda-sized parking space along one side. “What the fuck are you doing?” the guy yelled. “Who the fuck taught you how to fucking drive? Jesus fuck!” And so on. (Technically, the sentence should have been “Who taught you how to fucking PARK,” but I’m not an English teacher anymore, and I let the lexemes fall like unswept shrapnel.)

Another example: Everyone has warned me, “Things are really expensive in New York City!” And yet on Tuesday night, I went to my favorite Chelsea-area bar—a country-western dive in the saucy-hot-female-bartenders-dancing-on-the-bar genre called Red Rock West. You know how much I paid for a rum and coke? $4.50. That’s what I pay in Tallahassee. On the way home, I stopped in a 24-hour Quick-E-Mart-type corner store and saw that they were selling Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies for $2.99 a package. You know what they cost in Tallahassee? $2.99.

Admittedly, the high end is really insanely high, particularly at trendy clubs that have $20 entry fees and such. But if you choose your restaurants, the sticker shock is nonexistent. For example, I stopped in at one of my favorite Chelsea restaurants—a tidy little hole in the wall called F & B, which sells gourmet fries and hotdogs. (“Frittes and belges,” as they’re apparently known in Europe.) So where I normally pay $2.50 for a plain hotdog with ketchup from the Florida State on-campus hotdog vendors, I was charged $3.25 for these gourmet hotdogs.

Sound outrageous? Not to me—particularly when you consider that they sell salmon hot dogs, pork and cheese andouille sausage, and smoked chicken dogs. And instead of ketchup, you have your choice of garlic aioli, horseradish, remoulade, sweet Thai chili, or roast red pepper. And for no extra charge, you can forgo the home-made standard french fries in favor of fried green beans or sweet potato fries, in addition to the usual onion rings or chicken fingers. When I was there I had a Swedish meatball roll—a hotdog bun with a bunch of small meatballs served with traditional sauce and lingonberry—and a “top dog”, which is a hotdog topped with spicy mustard, sauerkraut and bacon. Bacon! I practically slapped my forehead. Of course! Hotdogs are tref anyway, so what’s a little bacon going to hurt? It’s worth 75 extra cents just to celebrate simple ingenuity like that.


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