Thursday, September 29, 2005

Ralph's Grocery Store, corner of Doheny and Beverly in West Hollywood, California. The "Express" 15-items-or-less lane.

A 40-something man in all black pays for some cat food, then asks the cashier:

Man: "Do you guys sell stickers?"
Cashier: "Stickers?"
Man: "Yes, stickers. With pictures on them, or designs?"
Cashier: "I don't know."
Man: "How can you not know?"
Cashier: "I don't know."

Moderate pause; Man leaves with no further discussion.

The next customer, an elderly woman buying produce, begins to write a check for her purchases.

Cashier: "Paper or plastic?"
Woman: "What?"
Cashier: "Would you like paper bags or plastic?"
Woman: "Are there any other choices?"

Extremely long pause, until a bagger appears at the end of the conveyor belt and begins to put the items in a plastic bag, with no comment from the older woman.


Monday, September 26, 2005

These contributions come courtesy of Speakingcorpse. I will confess to not understanding exactly what happened in the first one, but it's so vivid - to paraphrase Tom Waits, he "gave that story a zip code" - it feels as though I am almost there, amongst the curvy academics, drunken bluebloods, and ruddy Irishmen.

1) Outside of a bar in the East Village last night, I was talking to two friends, one of whom happened to be an attractive, voluptuous woman. The other was a young man. My two friends were smoking cigarettes. A short, semi-fat guy marched past us. He was wearing a knit pullover and a white collared shirt, blue jeans, and loafers. He seemed to be a resident either of the Upper East Side, or of the Connecticut suburbs. He turned around and said, with unnecessary assertiveness, "I need a light." As my male friend reached over and lit his cigarette, the guy began to sing, to the tune of the Guns 'N' Roses hit, "Take me down to the Alphabet City, where the grass is green..." He then paused, pulled on his cigarette, pointed at my female friend, and completed the verse: "...and the girls are pretty." He then spun around and walked off.

As my companions finished their cigarettes, we began to chat about academic matters--literary theory, Biblical allusion in Romantic poetry, etc. A severely inebriated man then approached us quickly, and asked if we knew about "Hans John Gammagrodhldjez." The guy was fatter than the first guy, obviously Irish, with a pockmarked face and an expensive but too-big collared shirt stuffed into loose jeans, which were tightly pulled around his belly by a leather belt. He swayed a bit as he spoke.

"Do you mean Hans-Georg Gadamer?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said.

"No," I replied.

He nodded and walked on.

2) Seen on the announcements board outside of a Baptist Church on 6th Ave. in Park Slope Brooklyn: Can't sleep at night? Try counting your blessings.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

At 7:45 in the morning, at a 7/11 on Hollywood Boulevard at the entrance to the 101 North Freeway, a middle-aged man in a sleeveless flannel shirt with a gingham pattern taps his foot impatiently as he waits his turn in line. He holds an empty, massive 64 ounce cup, and huffs a series of irritated sighs, as the transaction before his plays out very slowly. Finally it's his turn, and the older employee running the register offers a polite "How are you, sir?" The man in flannel slams the empty cup on the countertop, and seems to summon a great deal of righteous anger as he actually bellows:

"I'd be doing a helluva lot better if the dispenser on the goddamned Wild Cherry Slurpee machine was working!"

As the employee goes to fix the machine, the thirsty customer appears to be shaking and shuddering.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Scats also submitted these; some 'Rejected Snapshots' that didn't quite make the grade. Think of them as a sort of "DVD extra" for the blog, if you will.

1) While waiting in an elevator in the Conde Nast building I noticed this exchange take place, much to my amusement:

"Could you, um..."

"Sure, which floor?"


"No problem."

(He pressed the fifth floor button)


"Have a good one."

"You too."

(Exits on the fifth floor.)


2) Standing outside my local bodega was a bearded man handing out flyers saying, "Did you vote today?"

A pedestrian stopped, looked at him and said, "Yes. I did."

The bearded man replied, "Ok. Take care."

The pedestrian resumed walking.


3) Overheard at the local coffee shop:

Woman: "Did you see 'Brothers Grimm' yet?"

Man: "No, I want to but just haven't gotten around to it."

Woman: "Oh, well check it out if you have a chance. Its better than it looks in the trailer."

Man: "That's what I heard."

Woman: "So how's everything else going?"

Man: proceeds to relate recent events in his life.


Submission courtesy Scats:

In the local video store the other day I asked the owner if he was carrying the new "21 Jumpstreet" DVD. He immediately retorted with irritation bordering on anger:

"No! I mean, where would it end?!?!"

"Excuse me?"

"Where would it END?! I mean, TELEVISION!? I'd have to get a whole 'nother store!"

"But you have 'Six Feet Under' and 'The Sopranos' on DVD." I pointed out."

"Well, sure. Some cable shows maybe. But television! It would never end. No."

Uncomprehending, I observed that even stocking only movies he could still easily have more than would fit in his closet sized store.

"No. I'm not doing that. No. No television. No. It would never end."


Monday, September 12, 2005

Outisde the Glendale Galleria shopping mall in suburban Los Angeles, a bright-eyed early 20-something mans a Honda kiosk in the shadow of the mall's food court. As an average-looking 40-year-old guy carrying an "Abercrombie & Fitch" bag starts to walk past the display, the kid launches into his spiel: "Sir, if you test drive a Honda today, we'll give you 2 free movie tickets to any AMC theater..." The older man cuts him off, saying: "I got my license suspended for drunk driving." The younger man looks absolutely shattered, and visibly gulps. "I see," he says quietly, as the older man continues on.


Friday, September 09, 2005

In the crowded men's restroom of the Laemmle Sunset 5 theater in West Hollywood, following a screening of "Grizzly Man," a 60-something man in high-waisted khakis and a pastel pink polo shirt leans into a urinal, propping himself up with an extended left arm against the wall. He alternates at least 5 loud, pained declarations of "Jesus fucking Christ" with an equal number of breathy, rubbery farts, shaking his head the whole time in apparent mournful disappointment.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Submission courtesy Speakingcorpse:

A used bookstore on the North Side of Chicago, mid-August. The previous day, I had been browsing there, and I had found a book in which I was interested, on the history of the modern papacy. I ended up not buying the book because I was short on cash and didn't have time to go to the bank. I asked the clerk to hold the book for me. Now, I returned to the store and went to the counter. "Hi," I said to the clerk, "do you still have that book on the papacy?" At this point, a short, stocky, moustached man, resembling one of the sausage-eating Bears fans in the old SNL sketches, walked past me. Without looking at me, and with a straight face, using an inscrutable tone of voice that seemed to combine contempt and conspiratorial knowledge, he yelled out, to no one in particular, "The papacy!?! Spoken like a true Jew!"


Monday, September 05, 2005

Coffee shop patio, Los Feliz, CA:

A group of 5 or 6 men and women of varying ages eat scones and leaf through the newspaper, gathered around a single table. One of the men (in a t-shirt reading "If hell freezes over... I'll ski that too!") discusses his life's ambitions with one of the women at the table:

Man: "I would love to see all of the 8 wonders of the world before I die."

Woman: "Aren't there just 7?"

Man: "I don't know... the Taj Mahal... the Grand Canyon... is the Eiffel Tower one? What's the 8th?"

One of the other men at the table lowers his newspaper and offers: "Barbara Streisand?"

Cue UPROARIOUS, table-slapping hysterics, including another woman at the table spraying coffee through her nose, and everyone repeating the punchline at least six times.


Submission courtesy Alwswrite:

On a flight from D.C. to Boston, I opened my backpack to look for a snack. My 17-year-old brother, unschooled in the ways of women, spotted my baggie of tampons and asked if he could have some of my string cheese.


Saturday, September 03, 2005

Westwood, California. At a newsstand about 10 paces from a Rite Aid, An elderly couple approaches a 20-something man who is talking loudly on his cell phone about purchasing a house boat. The older man interrupts:

Older man: "Do you know where the Aid is?"

Young man: "The Aid?"

Older man's wife: "It's called Rite Aids, Don."

(young man thinks)

Young man: "I think that's just an East Coast thing."

Older man's wife: "Oh dear."

(happy ending: the couple eventually found the place after asking the security guard standing within the automated doors of Rite Aid if he knew where Rite Aid was)


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Los Angeles City Bus, heading East on Hollywood past Orange, August 31st.

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