You may have noticed a dearth of postings by yours truly. No worries, I am here to cradle your heads in my lap and whisper tales of the Far North into your shapely ears. Now you may be asking, but Olek, why Albany? Well, dear reader, it is the capitol of New York state and I am being employed by the state legislature to assist a Senator. The details of my assignment are extremely vague at this point (with overtones of personal danger), and they are dependent wholly on my assigned Senator, who will be revealed to me next week (stay tuned!), and my ability to effectively work in this environment. In typical governmental style, I spent my first day listening to authorities list rules for a few hours and how they relate to us, a 3 hour lunch where I was supposed to socialize with my fellow interns (ok, maybe not that typical), and a 2.5 hour session of filling out paperwork (I opted out of the medical insurance and retirement program). I took off for lunch to read a book.
The book I read was Gravity's Rainbow (by Thomas Pynchon) and it still is. It's a very disorienting read, but I only just started and a full review will be available upon my completion of the book. There is a story connected to the book, but first,
If a shady character asks you for the time, the correct response is “Sorry, man, I don't have a watch.” Do not take out your phone. This person does not care what time it is and is probably jacked up on all sorts of pills and booze. If you are caught off guard and do take out your phone, the shady character will ask to use your phone. Do not hand him your phone. The correct response is, “Sorry, man, I gotta watch my minutes.” I have been asked twice for the time by these fiends, it seems to be some kind of ploy localized to the thugs of Albany. This has never happened to me in NYC. Phone minutes are like a currency to these people [you can buy minutes for your Boost Mobile phone (who the hell uses Boost Mobile?) in the local $0.99 store (which isn't even a $0.99 store but I don't know how else to describe it)]. Remember when dealing with these characters, do not break eye contact, state firmly but kindly the stock responses and back away with the corners of your coat in your outstretched arms to appear as large as possible.
Now, the book was purchased in a hip used book store with all sorts of eclectic reading material stacked from floor to ceiling everywhere but the windows. I entered at a late hour on my walk back from Bomber's Burritos (the potential subject of my next O.A.S.G.C.U.F.) and shaking the snow off my head, I nodded at an older gentleman placing books on shelves. The place seemed empty. I wandered around, leafed through a copy of a Slang Dictionary, read the many different entries for bone (two pages!) and found my way to fiction. A copy of Gravity's Rainbow and a vague recollection of the title caught my attention. Next, a Vietnamese female by the name of Thao, pronounced like the Greek letter Tau, caught my attention. We discussed literature and Albany for a while. I got her number and she promised to give me a local's tour of Albany. Hopefully, I will be able to review Albany's nightlife by next week's update. Eventually, I went to buy the book and the owner of the store turned out to be a burnt out old man with a great deal of enthusiasm about books and a few misfiring neurons. He seemed like the kind of guy that you could learn a great deal from him if he could get a complete sentence out.
Well, that was my past two days in reverse chronological order. Albany is cold and foreboding at first glance, but I suspect that a bizarre, warm heart beats at the center of this city. Draughters, my mission is clear, to find this heart and stab it with a wooden stake, leaving a ruined shell of a town in my wake.
As always, I'm wishing you a bottle of scotch, a new hat and a diamond watch.