Monday, February 20, 2006


Yes, Lord Zim is back. And with so many questions, so little patience. Let me just say, by way of crediting where credit is due, you folks have been fantastic. I know, I know, I went away for a while and left you high and dry, but hey! I'm back! More important -- so much important -- YOU're back. Yes, you. The curious, the invisible, the inscrutable mysteries of Lord Zim, you semi-anonymous readers who make me wonder and make my day.


It's 4am in NYC, but I'm still abuzz from one of the most narcissistic escapades in recent memory. A private karaoke room for two. Self-absorption a deux. It was kind of nerve-wracking, truth to tell. No time to lay back and let the rest of your self-indulgent pals soak up the limelight. No sir -- get that song ready, crank it, kick it, go go go! But it was a nonpareil way to reconnect with a close friend from 20 years ago. That's right. We hadn't talked for 20 years. How does that much time flit by? You forget. You just forget how much a close friend means, because you take her for granted when you see her all the time, and then you move away. 3,000 miles away. And then she disappears down a rabbit hole of bad habits, and you both, wrapped up in your picayune pursuits, let it all slide. But then you move back and miracle of miracles you meet and wow, it's like yesterday, as Karen Carpenter used to sing, once more. Shoo bee doo bee wah.

We found we both like dogs. A lot. We oohed and aahed -- well, me, mostly -- over a pair of matched Great Pyreneeses waiting patiently outside a posh restaurant. The cold didn't seem to bother the super-furry animals, but they looked really bored. Kind of like supermodels. Shaggy, four-footed supermodels. On leashes. Drooling.

That's Mr. Dog on the left.

A minute later, we stopped in a 24-hour "gourmet" grocery and it was M's turn to go nuts over a big beige pitbull. She walked right up to coo over the affable beast, so I waded in to give equal time to his lunchable companion dog, a Shiba Inu puppy one-tenth his size. Frisking around in the warmth of our attention, the purebred Mutt and Jeff nearly destroyed hundreds of dollars in cut flowers. Their mistress had a mixed time of it, happy to see her dogs appreciated but worried she'd be ejected for -- oh, any number of reasons. Health code violation, for starters. Yet the counterman fixed us with a sphinx-like gaze and held his tongue. The dog lady eventually became a little overwhelmed, and we all unwedged ourselves from the tiny space between the bouquets and the canned goods. "I'm used to it," she asserted. A minute later, her dogs' leashes encircled my legs. Classic pincer maneuver. Israel used it in the Six-Day War. She freed her hands to untangle me by literally throwing a can of evaporated milk onto the counter, where it rolled right across and off the back. The counterman's sangfroid was much diminished when he stood up again, can in hand, so we left as soon as my doggy bondage session was over.

OK, obligatory Lord Zim kulchah roundup: Our evening started at a Tribeca theater, where we watched the last performance of a run by Lava, a dance troupe run by M's friend. A second before my shutter unshut to create this curiously cinematic image, only two of the 12 feet pictured were on the ground. (A sports photog I'll never be. Not with this damned slow camera.) One woman was supporting the other five. This was not the high point, but it was the most anticipatable feat, which is why I had the camera out in time. The show overall was a mixed bag. Very organic, earthy, even crunchy stuff, plus some breathtaking two-woman trapeze hijinks, impressive acrobatics, poetry, and a lot more humor than lesbians get credit for. M, a professional dancer herself, chimed in with comments like, "Ouch!" and "Yeah!" Afterward, the two of us had dinner in a once-famous Tribeca brasserie, then met the dancers at a bar nearby. I was shocked when someone countered the compliment "You've got a mind like a steel trap" with MY line, "... more like a steel sieve." Is that catching on? What's happening out there? Am I impinging on the Zeitgeist? Why can't I ruffle the Weltschmerz?

After the dancing and the eating and the shmoozing and the karaoke, I walked M to her E. Village crash spot and then kept on going crosstown. It was cold, but I didn't mind. Much. Halfway across, a bizarrely well-tended collection of cans stopped me in my tracks ... a vision in garbage, OK, don't take my word for it. Look.

Some 8th St. eatery separates its refuse into picturesquely consistent cans so a private truck can come along at 2am to whisk it all away for composting in New Jersey. As I stopped to stare at a can full of nothing but pomegranate rinds next to matched bins of wilted lettuce, fruit salad, white rice, chicken parts, and more, the very truck rolled up (note it there in the background) and two guys -- the most personable sanitation engineers ever -- hopped off to elucidate. They seemed very upbeat about compost. And why not? It's putting their kids through charm school. Then they dumped all the different types of refuse into the one hopper on their truck. I left as they were still at it.

Hooray again. A compost heap grows on Eighth Street.

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