Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chicken Takes NY by Storm

Hi World,

I'm in NY today writing from the Algonquin Hotel.  It has been snowing since I got here.  Thus the title.  I am not taking NY by storm, I just seem to have brought some northern weather JuJu with me. 

The Algonquin is a beautiful old NY hotel with a house cat named Matilda and a rich literary history.  For those not already familiar, the hotel was once the gathering place of young journalist types such as Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Franklin P. Adams, Edna Ferber, and others drawn back regularly, as the legend goes, by the free celery sticks and popovers provided to them by the hotel's General Manager, Frank Case.  These gatherings gave birth to the NY legend of the Algonquin Round Table.

The tradition of generous freebies appears to live on as for two nights in a row my favorite bartender ever has contributed to my drinking habit with complimentary wine. He's a smart guy, that Christian, because I'm not sure I could ever come back to NYC without stopping by the Algonquin to say hello.  And I hear his bartending partner Phil, who is as unassuming and quiet as he is gregarious, makes the world's best mojitos.  I think this must be true because the platinum blonde sitting beside me had obviously enjoyed several.  Possibly one too many.  I'm just being mean because she looked at my Bjorn waiter shoes and made a smartass comment and then flipped her scarf in my face and ignored me.  I hate that.  But she did make one comment about Phil's Mojitos being the reason Columbus was delayed in finding America. That was kind of funny but you probably had to be there to truly appreciate the comment, delivered, as it was, with a soft slur.

Speaking of shoes, I saw a girl today at the travel show who had on the best snow weather boots ever;  Bright yellow, to the knee, with a fashionable wedge heel.  I would have felt like Donald Duck in them but she looked fabulous and I was in awe of her snow boot presence.

Tonight I had dinner with people much smarter than I.  I'm used to being able to hold my own in most social conversations but when the talk turns all Techie, I would be wise to order another drink and nod as though I have a clue.   Of course, this is not my way.  What I do instead is order another drink and announce, in general, "I have no idea what you people are talking about.  Can we please talk about puppies?"  They loved puppies, as it turned out, and the conversation immediately turned to springer spaniels, kennel behavior, breeding, puppies in Belize.....

Yeah, puppies...brilliant, Chicken.

"I have no idea what you people are talking about.  Can we please talk about wine?"  I thought I was safe with wine.  Then my host said what is your favorite wine? Do you like the California varietals better than the Chilean?.....

How to say, "My favorite wine is whatever happens to be in my glass".

Sometimes you just need to know when to shut up and nod.

In all honesty, I had a great time with an incredible family.  Tremendously smart and accomplished, but warm and welcoming.  They all headed up to their rooms after dinner to work on their power points and speeches for the next day.  I went to the Blue Bar to visit the bartenders.  Sometimes you just need to be around your own kind. 

And I leave you with this, not because it is deep or inspiring or has anything to do with this post, but because it is funny:

From the Algonquin Service Directory:

"On a summer vacation trip Benchley arrived in Venice and immediately wired a friend:  STREETS FLOODED.  PLEASE ADVISE."

You and I might think of something equally witty, but we would just text it on our phones.  Benchley had to go find an office somewhere in Venice and pay to wire it.   That's commitment.

Take care,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nobody Puts Chicken In the Corner.

Hi World,

It occurs to me that you've never asked how I became the Chicken.

No worries.  I intuited your curiosity.

The story you are about to hear is true.  The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Once, a long time ago in a small town somewhere in New England a chicken story was hatched.  That is to say that I, delirious from a long day of meetings, the summer heat, and possibly a bottle of wine, sent a co-worker a story about a chicken I ran into on the way home from work.  The chicken, who spoke "Chickanese", a language in which I happen to be fluent, was down and out on his luck so I offered my assistance (as any good samaritan would do when happening upon a down-on-his-luck Chicken).

The Chicken had a thick accent, a fondness for alcohol, and a razor sharp brain on the lookout for any opportunity.  He was also mightily tattooed, had beady, laschivious eyes, and underneath it all, a heart of gold.  Chicken may have resembled several of my co-workers all rolled into one.

The story was well received (meaning someone laughed) and I continued the Chicken saga for quite a while.  Chicken's adventures included a trip to OZ, a stint in jail, a rise to glory through government service, and a secret mission to the North Pole.  He developed a life-long friendship with a penguin who also rose through the government ranks to become none other than the President of these United States and a close personal friend of Al Gore's. 

And through it all, I was the Chicken's Confidant and Advisor.  His Consigliere

I loved the Chicken.  I could have continued the saga forever, but the Chicken was not PC nor Work Appropriate.  People were starting to talk. The Chicken was unceremoniously dumped into the Witness Protection Program and moved to a Safe House. (which in my mind consisted of a really nice condo somewhere in Austin where tattooed chickens are accepted as part of a diverse culture).

Eventually, the Chicken moved to a treehouse in Brazil, began writing his manifesto, and took up with a beautiful Brazilian hairdresser.  Together they staged an underground investigation into illegal chicken trafficking which will be featured in a docudrama coming soon to a theater near you.  I knew all of this because the Chicken would NOT shut the hell up. 

I soon realized I needed a voice for this Chicken who had somehow become an integral piece of my personality.

So one Saturday morning, with a Patrick Swayze-esque determination (without the tight pants but with every bit as much hopefulness) I reached out my arm and yanked that Chicken out of his Brazilian treehouse and back into my life.  I started this blog and gave the Chicken free reign.

As I continued to write, I somehow became the Chicken and the Chicken became me.  I believe psychiatrists refer to this as reintegration.  The blog became my Consigliere.

And the World became my army.  Comment and I will make you a Capo.  You don't have to assasinate anyone or give me a cut.  It's all very friendly and above board. The Chicken is legit.  If anything happens to fall off the truck, it is totally yours to keep.  You're welcome.

Now go kick some ass, my soldiers, and remember to pay your taxes.  Because Chicken does not need scrutiny. 

This conversation never happened.