Walking down Steinway Street in Astoria, I stumbled upon an establishment I have grown to love, the Salvation Army Store. You can’t pass the Salvation Army Store and NOT go in – you never know if you’ll find a Ukrainian unicorn place setting. So I did go in. Pretty rapidly I realized there was nothing there of immediate need (out of place settings). However, I did browse the books section and found this gem: Leading With My Chin, a collection of stories by Jay Leno spanning from his childhood to the time he officially took over as permanent host of The Tonight Show. The sign on the bookshelf read “All hardcover books – $1.” I looked inside the cover: “US = $22.” Booyah! This is what I live for! THIS is why I go to the Salvation Army Store.
I was at a crowded open mic on a Friday night – the last one of the night that everyone who doesn’t have a show goes to. A friend I had made a few days earlier (say, Jess) made her way up to the stage and started her three-minutes set. It was early in the night and so the majority of the comics were in the room paying close attention. She told a couple of new jokes that didn’t go over so well, so she asked the audience of comics “why isn’t this funny?” It was a genuine question, although it was definitely rhetorical. She was just wondering aloud.
“You’re not being silly!” Someone shouted from the back of the room. Everyone looked back. It was another comic known to be brash at open mics, let’s call him Ryan.
It was my last night in New York City. I had spent the whole summer going to stand up comedy open mics. I was leaving the next day for my hometown in the Chicago suburbs before heading all the way back for my last year of school in California just a few days after that. It was late at night, probably 1:00 in the morning and no one was out. I had just finished my final mic which started at 10:00 PM Saturday night at the Irish American Bar & Pub. My set was okay: I had a couple good jokes, but I went up late and everyone was tired. Typical. I always went up in the last group at that bar. At least, that’s the way it seemed. My friends and I had been sitting around the bar for three hours until all the comics had gone up and performed their sets. And we had gone to two other mics earlier that evening. As it turns out, that mic ended up leaving the Irish American to be hosted at another bar. And so it was not only my last mic in New York for the summer, but the last mic at the Irish American for anyone.
I was at Jamba Juice and I ordered a Peanut Butter Moo’d.
And the girl was like, “Ha! A moo for you!”
So I was like, “And my name is Stu!”
And she was like, “Uhh…”
And I was like, “Triple rhyme!”
And she was just like, “…have a nice day!”
This is why I never talk to strangers.
One night just before I graduated college, I got home late from an event or a function – I can’t recall which. My girlfriend at the time and her family were out of town, so I was taking care of her dog in my dorm room. Technically not allowed, but I’m a rebel. Especially when it comes to diabetic dogs.
Since I had been gone for most of the evening, I took the dog out to the front lawn so she could sit outside instead of inside for a while. She wasn’t a fan of moving. The energy of the campus matched that of the old dog; it was unusually dead for 2AM in the morning. There was no one around. It was peaceful and refreshingly breezy out.
I’ve been watching the show Mind of a Chef, a fantastic show on Netflix narrated and produced by Anthony Bourdain. It follows a series of chefs, each of whom get their own eight episodes focusing on a range of different topics and themes within the world of cooking. For example, “Noodle,” “Southerners,” “Roots,” and “Latitude” are some of the episode titles. The host of the show changes, giving each half of the season a different feel. However, the format of the show remains largely the same: the host meets up with different chefs, farmers, butchers, etc. and cooks delicious-looking dishes that, for whatever reason, the camera never shows being eaten.