Monday List


There’s no way I could/would shell out USD$450 for a chess set, but this Pentagram designed rosewood/maple set is very, very nice. (And my skill level at chess suggests that I don’t deserve to play on anything nicer than Milton Bradley-grade equipment.)


One of the advantages of living further out in the borough is that it’s generally quieter. But there are two exceptions: car alarms and assholes on motorcycles. I don’t know what happened to this alarm ordinance, which may be the only good thing that John Liu was ever involved in, but I spent much of the last hour listening to a neighbor’s alarm blaring incessantly and while I’ve never been tempted to commit violence against an automobile before, I just came very close. The¬†motorcyclists were worse when I lived in the West Village and they’d come roaring through, well above the 82 decibel limit at all hours–but there have been quite a few here, too. I have to wonder just how big of an asshole you have to be to be to get off on disrupting the lives of people who’ve done nothing to you. I’m a healthy person who doesn’t have kids, and it infuriates me, so I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who’ve just finally gotten their infants to sleep, or are dealing with illnesses and need rest or anything where that kind of noise seriously screws with their ability to live their lives in peace in their own neighborhoods. How little empathy do you have to have for other human beings to be that much of a jerk? Maybe I’m just getting old, but my patience for it is pretty thin at this point. So be forewarned: if you come roaring through my neighborhood at 100 decibels, Grandma Spiers is going to snap a photo of your license plate and send it to the cops. (Presumably, Chief Broken Windows occasionally enforces things that cause broken eardrums.**) And if that doesn’t work, she may hunt you down and park a car with an unstoppable shrieking alarm in front of your house at 2 in the morning.

AFTER HENRY, by Joan Didion

I just read Joan Didion’s essay collection, After Henry, which includes, among other work, her essay “Sentimental Journeys” which is nominally about the 1989 Central Park jogger case and the five kids who were accused of raping and beating her. The essay first appeared in The New York Review of Books, and is referenced in Martin Scorsese’s excellent new HBO documentary on TNYRB, The 50 Year Argument. You can read the entire thing online, and if you haven’t and you live in NYC, you probably should. It’s not a pretty New York story, but it’s an essential one–about inequality in New York, the way the narrative of the city is constructed, and how the latter conspires to obscure the former.

** In my experience, the perpetrators are usually middle-aged white dudes, and I’d imagine some of them are biker cops, which may have something to do with the lack of enforcement.