Today, I sit watching low, dark clouds scudding across the sky, while I contemplate the Jungian duality between our higher natures and baser instincts, and how that applies to Campbell's mythic archetypes. Yeah, none of this makes sense. Which means I need vodka. And I don't even drink vodka.
Today, ladies and gentlemen, finds me in the great city of Albany. This is what may become the first of many Confessions posts from this locale. To be brutally honest, I'm considering relocating the Fortress of Solitude to upstate New York. Do you have any idea how high the property taxes are on a giant secret base in the heart of New York City? And there are many things to recommend Albany over Manhattan -- fresher air, friendlier strippers, and cigarettes are cheaper.
Ok, I lied. The air isn't all that fresh.
So here, I present to you, my initial impressions of Albany. Now this isn't the first time I lived here. I moved up to Albany about eight years ago, when I worked for Eden Studios by day and managed a diner by night. I have fond memories of Albany. However, after having lived for the last seven years in NYC, coming to Albany is a bit of a culture shock. Sort of like dropping Snookie in the middle of a Mensa convention.
First of all, there are no bodegas. If you live in New York City, you know the importance these small corner markets, often open 24 hours, have in the life of a New Yorker. It's 3 am and you discover you need toilet paper. You go to the bodega on the corner. Need mac and cheese? Go to the bodega. How about rolling papers, condoms, and Twinkies? Bodega time. I can't tell you the number of times I've discovered I needed something at odd hours, and found them in a bodega. They're magical places that manage to stock an entire grocery store's worth of stuff in a space the size of Leona Helmsley's closet. But here in Albany, you get everything from 7-11 style places miles from anywhere. I had to walk three blocks today to get a pack of cigarettes and some Colt 45. Three blocks! In New York, there would have been 12 bodegas within three blocks. This place is not conducive to my hip, modern, Twinkie-eating lifestyle. Also, they didn't stock forties of Colt 45. They only had Budweiser. And I hate Bud.
Second, everything seems to be miles from everything else. You drive your car to the Best Buy, so you can get your DVD of season four of Lost, and now you need some fortified wine to go with it. So you get back in your car and drive to the liquor store. On the way, you realize you have a burning desire to read the poetry of Rimbaud. Now you've got to drive to the Barnes & Noble. Can't these places all be close together? They are in Manhattan. I can get Burger King, porn, and pick up my dry cleaning all within a three-block walk from my apartment door. (Actually, I lied about one of those three things. I wouldn't be caught dead eating Burger King.) But out here, they apparently said to themselves "hey, we have miles of open land here. Let's put everything as far away as possible from everything else." Seriously, there is no reason I have to drive to one mall to go to Target and drive to a completely different mall to go to Super Cuts.
Which brings me to my next observation. Public transportation blows out here. All they have are buses. Long time readers of this blog already know of my love of buses. It's right up there with having my scrotum shaved with a weed whacker, listening to Celine Dion, and Hitler. Not only would I have to depend on buses, which are required by law to never run on time, and are filled with smelly people who randomly demonstrate their mental instabilities, but these buses also stop running at a certain time. That's right. I would have to organize my social life, by which I mean taking the bus down to the liquor store to buy fortified wine, around the public transportation schedule. God forbid the movie lets out at 12:15, because then I'm stuck walking home. And girls generally don't kiss at the end of the date when you've made them walk five miles home. Because I don't drive.
Fourth, as I walk through suburban Albany (see above, hatred of buses), I notice everyone has these giant swaths of green in front of their houses. I'm told these are called "lawns" and that everyone has them. Wouldn't it be more efficient if they were to collect all these giant patches of grass into one place? This way, instead of everyone hiring Mexicans to mow their lawns, you could hire one Mexican to mow the giant field of grass. I've always been confused by lawns, because everyone's so proud of them. I walked past one house where the owner was watering his lawn with sprinklers, only it was about to rain. How much water does one lawn need? Isn't the water falling from the sky good enough for your lawn, dude? It seems to me if we eliminated the lawns, the houses and stores could be closer together (see above, everything's too damn far away).
Despite all of this -- the lack of bodegas, the public transportation, the inefficient land use -- I like this place. And it's not just the friendly strippers. It's the quality of life (which I suppose includes the friendly strippers, but is also made up of so much more). Now, if I can just find out the zoning issues involved with keeping wild dingoes and peacocks, I'd be set.