Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy New Year!

Don't have plans yet for the big night? No worries, R&R r here to help (assuming you're located near us). Based on your tolerance for loud noises, large crowds, cold weather, your demeanor when unable to catch a cab, your physical condition, your ability to smile through the blisters, lecherous advances, drunken revelers, the stench of vomit, the feeling that you're being price gouged and your ability to dance to the worst song of 2005, we've come up with a few ideas for you to celebrate this most enjoyable night of the year!

Midnight Run in Central Park - No, seriously, some people really do this.

JIVAMUKTI 17TH ANNUAL NEW YEARS EVE CELEBRATION - Apparently people do this, too. Here's what their website promises: Jivamukti opens its doors to provide a yogic place of refuge for all. Mauna, the yogic practice of silence, (yes that's right: no talking) will be observed from 9:00pm-12:00am. All the practice rooms will be open and available to provide a space for individual reflection on this special evening. At midnight we will break the silence with chanting and elevated messages lead by Sharon Gannon, David Life, Kristina Pao Cheng and David Gluck. The Famous Jivamukti News Years Eve Yummy Vegan Chai will be served, along with assorted vegan snacks. (Ed: we assume "yummy vegan chai" means grain alcohol)

New Years Eve on the Water - No kidding, the name of this cruise ship company is "Affairs Afloat," and really, what better way to ring in the new year than sea sick and poised to wind up on Gilligan's Island when the three hour cruise goes horribly awry.

My friend Jann's party - He's thrown this gargantuan party at rotating big club venues for the past 10 years. He manages to make all his income for the year to come on this one night, that's all I'm saying.

Times Square, baby - I've done this. Stop snickering. It was fun. At least that's what I'm told.

But whatever you end up doing on this most unholy of hyped nights, we wish you a wonderful, happy and healthy 2006! We'll see you on the other side...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Funniest News Story 2005

Phew, they got it in just under the wire! From yesterday's NYT headline, New Theory in Phone Case, you wouldn't necessarily suspect it. That's why occasionally it is important to read beyond the bold print, if only to spot a gem like this. The first sentence begins, "A woman who the police thought had tried to swallow her cell phone in an argument with her boyfriend last week..."

Here's a question: what the hell would make the police think a woman tried to swallow her own cell phone?!? Now sure, you're thinking, well, a woman with a celly stuck in her throat might have a tough time answering that question. And ah, the irony, because clearly this is a woman who likes to chat. Talk about the gift of gab.

But what sort of ace police work forces an officer to tell the paper of record that the initial theory on the case had been discredited because, "It appears she didn't voluntarily swallow this phone"? I'm no Miss Marple, and I'm aware of the theory of Occam's Razor (Numquam ponendo est pluritas sine necessitate, duh), but really, this is not some stupid Verizon commercial wherein the angry dog swallows Master's phone while he's roaming and on hold with Tokyo during daytime minutes. This is a woman with her cell phone stuck in her mouth.

Still, it's stories like these that make this unpaid, unappreciated blogging gig--a gig more akin to a gurgle really--worth doing. So here's hoping that 2006 will not only be a happy, healthy year for one and all but that stories like this continue to proliferate in all their raging stupidity.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Missed Connections

You picked me up--well, not you exactly, I believe his name was Kahliid Xamaqqethaqraxyz--but you scootched over and muttered, "This is bullshit!" when I got into your cab at Houston and 6th Avenue the other day. Me, lion-maned, Wet Seal-clad artist-type. You, business be-suited, Crackberry talking, derivatives-hocker.

I giggled when you said to our co-driver, "I'll throw in an extra twenty if you toss her out of the cab and get me to Wall Street ASAP." When the driver shrugged, his lovely rose colored turban wobbling back and forth just like the Christmas tree air-freshener dangling from his rearview mirror, you cursed a blue streak then turned to me and said, "Listen bitch--" and I replied, "You had me at 'bitch'."

I let my fingers play mischievously along the hem of my skirt and upper thigh as your foot pounded rhythmically against the dirty floor mat. I batted my eyelashes as your right eye twitched. I smiled with all my teeth as you snarled back at me. I mentioned something about how wonderful it would be if this transit strike led to the birth of our children as you got out your mace.

And when you practically blinded me then threw me out of the moving vehicle, the whole time me singing the words to Natasha Bedingfield's "These Words (I Love You, I Love You)", I think you forgot to give me your business card. So consider this my message in a bottle, my mean-spirited, bile-spewing fellow traveler. Just know, I'll be waiting for you in a yellow-colored chariot, waiting for further mistreatment, complete disregard of my feelings and a refusal to acknowledge my humanity. Seems like we've known each other for an eternity already...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ms. Subways 2006

Just last weekend I mentioned to a group of friends that I'd really like to be the next Ms. Subways, a largely ceremonial office here in New York, one akin to the Vice Presidency in years when someone competent runs the Oval Office. And as some of you readers may recall from a recent posting, I never met an election I didn't like. So the more I've been thinking about it as I've been forced to hoof it around the city the past few days (thank you, Roger Touisant!), the more it makes me realize that run I must. Yes, dear reader, you may consider this the official announcement of my campaign to be Ms. Subways 2006!

Okay, truth be told I'm not entirely sure what the duties of Ms. Subways are. Still I'm pretty sure I can say, "Stand Clear of the closing doors... I SAID STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS!" with enough anger and irritation at the idea of not being able to retire at 55 to make you stand clear. And I can certainly snarl at tourists who know not their uptown from their downtown because my pension* isn't gigantic enough (*but before I continue, can someone explain to me what a pension is?... see as a freelancer who works in the private sector, the notion of getting any pension at all is amazing to me -- let alone the idea of getting a big fat one.)

But unlike Teddy Kennedy, I won't blow the "Why do you want to be ______" question. I really do know why I want the job. I want to be Ms. Subways because I LOVE riding around on them. Seriously. When I descend into that netherworld, it's my chance to see people of every shape, size and color. People watching doesn't get any better than on the NY subway system, the whole world is down there. And damn, it is efficient (when it's running). You don't get stuck in traffic, no lights, no resentful waiting for the person in the wheelchair to board the bus--then feeling bad that you've just cursed someone who's handicapped--it's just whizz-bang and you're there. I even love the graphic design of the subway map! Matter of fact, a larger plasticized version of it hangs as my shower curtain.

Some say that the idea of a Miss Anything pageant is demeaning. To them I say, "Lighten Up, Uggos!" I want this for all the right reasons: glory. I'd be a breath of fresh air! I have opinions! I have diplomatic skills, albeit poor ones.

Since this is just the beginning of my campaign, though, I am going to need a few catchy slogans to assure my victory. So I hereby announce a campaign slogan contest! Winner gets a re-gifted Secret Santa prize. Come on, people, I need your help. Epstein for Ms. Subways 2006 just doesn't cut it... Contest ends when the strike is over... whenever that turns out to be...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas Wish List

Yes, Jewish, thank you, I know. Still, a girl can dream can't she? To wit, my Christmas wish list (and not to be pushy or anything--ha, who am I kidding?--but there are only 3 1/2 shopping days left!)

To hell with your Treos, I want a Princess Phone - Never got one as a child. Never too late to start healing that unsightly scar.

The Prince Box Set - I don't even know if he has a box set, but he should. Damn, that little sexually-freaky weirdo can really get a party started. I want to party like it's 1999. Why? Because I was much younger then and could party much harder and much longer.

...and speaking of sexually freaky weirdos...

Prince Michael - I've always considered adopting a child in need, and really, what child could be more fucked up than the son of Michael Jackson. By the way, if you haven't seen the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog bit outside the Michael Jackson trial, you must: (*it does take a bit of time to load even with a fast connection, but stay with it, it's hilarious.)

My Prince - Sure, I keep hearing that some day he'll come, and I know there's a transit strike going on, but damn man, hurry it the hell up.

I know what you're thinking, there might be a theme here, and I don't deny it. The answer is yes, I am aware that there are some key words in my selections and, as a result, I'm coming across as... well, as a selfless hipster. But know what? Sometimes stereotypes do have some truth to them. Yes, I think that's our lesson for the day. That and the transit strike needs to end because you people have some shopping for me to do!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

We Are Not In A Good Place

A looming disaster threatens to cripple our fair-yet-freezing Gotham City! Thankfully this potential atrocity is not weather related like those that have savaged so many cities of late. Rather, a man-made disaster in the offing -- I’m talking Transit Strike. And if it happens at 12:01 tonight, no doubt about it, it’s gonna suck hard.

Not only will a transit strike leave people stranded in Brooklyn (The horrrrorrrrr!), it will leave even more slow-moving holiday tourists on our city streets! I have nothing against the tourists when they're out of the way in a subway car--watching them jostle around like weeble-wobbles is actually pretty good sport for the duration of a ride--but when they clog the streets, stopping short directly in front of me, my first impulse is to take those lumpen visitors out at the knees. But most importantly, a transit strike will prevent people from getting where they want to go, and getting where you want to go is why most people move to New York in the first place.

Mayor Bloomberg has proposed an emergency contingency plan to contend with the possible walk out. But as a resourceful New Yorker, I'd like to propose some contingencies of my own:

Piggyback Rides - This one has the advantage of allowing you to meet potential mates while getting you where you need to go. If the dude can't get you to Tribeca off the sweat of his back, is this really who you want as a life partner anyway?

Pedicabs - Not just for people exiting Mama Mia! anymore.

Rollerblades/Skateboards/anything with wheels on the bottom that allows you to roll while you're hanging on to the back of a car - Not only will you look like a badass while doing it, the cool exhaust pattern that will imprint on your shirt and your lungs will be a one of a kind "I survived Transit Strike '05" tattoo.

Tobogganing - Perhaps not one's first choice, but don't you think after tobogganing in to work you'd arrive there with a smile on your face (in additon to a few bruises on your rear)?

Bicycle - And when you get doored, you'll get to ride in the city's fastest taxis-- an ambulance--not only getting you where you need to go (hospital) quickly, you'll probably even get to tack on a few days to that holiday vacation.

So maybe it won't be all that bad... Okay, MTA, bring it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Campaign Speech for Iraqi Parliament/Last Will & Testament

As a child, I was an election junkie. No, I don't mean that I hung outside polling places looking to score. I mean I would run for any office potentially available to me. Second grade class president? Check. Treasurer of Welch Valley Middle School. Uh-huh. President of my 9th & 10th grade class, followed by a school-wide student body presidential bid in 11th grade? Yes, yes, and yes. And let's not even get into the whole extra-curricular activities elections... Suffice to say I even ran to be captain of my running teams.

So it's not without a real understanding of the idealism involved in elections--coupled with the drive for glory--that I think is what pushes people to run for office. But even though I know someone has to run for office in Iraq these days if the country is to take its next great leap forward, I think the people who choose to campaign are fucking nuts. Or suicidal. And most likely both.

Now as much as I'd like to believe I won those elections based on my looks, I think it was the fact that I could deliver a speech unlike any other obnoxious/self-aggrandizing teen in suburban Philadelphia. So I've been trying to imagine a stump speech that a candidate for election in Iraq might give, and I think this one just might do the trick:
Friends, countrymen and people who want to kill me, lend me your ears. NO! I do not mean this literally. I am running for the Iraqi Parliament because I deeply feel it time to stand up to totalitarian rule! (And because I hate my family.) I want to be one of the next rulers of this country because I believe I can make a difference in your lives -- I will restore dignity, I will push for human rights, I will make sure you no longer live in fear. (And because my wife kicked me out of the house, and I'm couch surfing at my friends place right now. Which suuuucks!) It is time that our basic needs as a people are met and that we move forward not backward into the new millennium. (And because facial hair isn't very flattering on me.) I will be a tireless, relentless crusader for good. (It's hard to sleep when bombs keep going off, no? I mean at first it kind of feels like those rocking "Magic Fingers" beds like the ones they have in Atlantic City, but the novelty wears off pretty quickly.) Though I intend to run this government in as secular a fashion as I can, you should have faith that I will stand up to the terrorists trying to keep us down. I will improve our lives and I will not stop until there is couscous in every tagine, or until I'm assassinated when I step down from this dais, whichever comes fir--

Friday, December 09, 2005

Mama, What's a Video?

When I got home last night slightly tipsy, tired and not yet ready for bed, I flipped on the TV and landed on one of those "Best of 2005" shows. I do love those shows, find the year in review stuff pretty fascinating, probably because it makes me realize that most of the stories we obsess over in a given year--the stories splashed across the magazines, TV and the newspaper of record, can be handily dispensed inside 22 minutes of programming.

But VH1's Best Videos of 2005 (like SO much of VH1's intriguing fare this year) really took me by surprise. Why? Was it because I hadn't heard most of the songs and it made me realize that I'm old, old , old? No, cause I still haven't grown out of my top 40 phase.

I knew all the songs in the countdown, but I'd seen nary a video. And it ain't because I don't watch MTV or VH1. I shamefacedly admit that I do. All the time. But I honestly can not remember the last time I tuned in and saw a video on these music channels. Know what the saddest part about that is? (I mean aside from fact that I spend a lot of time tuning in.) The saddest part is the videos they showed in the "Best of" show were amazingly cool. They were stylish, they were spectacle, and they were cutting edge art.

Why don't they ever show these "video" things on the music channels anymore. It's enough to make me want to stand up and shout, "I want my MTV you reality programming hijackers." Dump Punk'd. Stop Pimping. And for God's sake, cancel that monstrosity "But Can They Sing?" and give the time back to those who really can!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Year of Magical What Now?

Oh, Joan. Joan. Where for art thou, Joan? Please, please, Joan of my "White Album," my little Joan of "Bethlehem," tell me this is a joke. Joan, honey, sweetheart, pixie stick, you can not be serious about the story in yesterday's New York Times that reported you're planning to adapt The Year of Magical Thinking, your memoir of death and depression and more death, into a Broadway show?!?

I've been a fan of Joan Didion's writing ever since I read "On Self Respect," in high school. The essay begins:
Once, in a dry season, I wrote in large letters across two pages of a notebook that innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself.
Powerful stuff, no? The section ends even more strongly, in my opinion:
The dismal fact is that self-respect has nothing to do with the approval of others -- who are, after all, deceived easily enough; has nothing to do with reputation, which as Rhett Butler told Scarlett O'Hara, is something people with courage can do without.
Now that's writing. And don't get me started on "Goodbye to All That," which I think is the best essay I've ever read about one's experience as a youngish person in New York, and possibly my favorite essay of all time.

So I say with this with nothing but respect: Seriously, girl, the fuck are you Magically Thinking? This is a bad idea. The book was good; its coda, "Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner an life as you know it ends," is as true as it is haunting. But Broadway? A one-woman show discussing the death of your beloved husband and the chronic illness leading to death of your only child? Why? Whywhywhywhywhywhywhy?

If I've learned anything from Ms. Didion's writing over the years it's that she doesn't need anyone's blessing or approval to do this. Still, I wish she wouldn't.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Will the Real Robin Epstein Please Stand Up

Turns out dreams do come true! Yes, I've long wanted to appear in the New York Times, and this weekend as I was browsing through Arts and Leisure, my name finally appeared in the Gray Lady. But, in one of those "someone up there has a sense of humor" moments, my discovery quickly turned into a "careful what you wish for" reminder. Fortunately it wasn't a bad book review or a piece critical of my other work. It was instead that after reading this unhappy missive, I realized I had written it!
Whose Company?

To the Editor:
Re "Who's Afraid of Sarah Schulman?" by Jesse Green [October 23]: In her letter [Nov. 13], Linda S. Chapman's concern with accurate theater history seems to encompass only her personal connections in that world, while streamlining others out of existence. In particular, I was disappointed and discouraged that Ms. Chapman characterized More Fire! Productions as "her" (Schulman's) theater company.
Dorothy Cantwell and I founded More Fire! Productions in 1979 and produced four plays before Ms. Schulman joined us in 1983.
Both the article and the letter complain about the lack of recognition for lesbian theater artists. Yet whether through ignorance, self-interest, or deliberate self-aggrandizement, the small world of lesbian theater artists is seeking to benefit by writing me and Dorothy, my (yes, straight!) friend and collaborator, out of our rightful place in lesbian theater history.

Robin Epstein
New York
I was intially confused: after all, I had no memory of writing the letter, and though I do know someone named "Cantwell," he's no Dorothy (or claims not to be.) It therefore took me a minute to realize that it was one of the other Robin Epsteins who had, in fact, written to the paper on our behalf. And I'll confess, it upset me a little.

Why am I agitated? Is it because Robin Epstein has just outed herself in the paper of record. Of course not. Many of my girlfriends are lesbians. But this woman makes us sound frickin' ancient! Did she really have to say she started the company in 1979?!? Good lord, Robin, no one will ever buy that we're 23 if you keep doing math like that!

But I suppose I have very little right to be upset since I'm sure the serious dramatist Robin Epstein probably has a beef with me since Shaking Her Assets is the first listing when you Google our name. I also wonder what whole food nutritionist Robin Epstein thinks when she realizes the rest of us have gone into the Arts (like San Francisco Robin Epstein, the radio producer who got to interview Billy Bragg.) Then of course, there's serious journalist Robin Epstein who wrote Citizen Power, which was blurbed by Jesse Jackson. And let's not forget the Jewish Robin Epstein who writes recipes about latkes and discusses baby topics on the web.
But on the whole I have to say I am impressed by the work of my namesakes, and would one day like us all to gather in a room where we can discuss the effects of the mean spirited taunts and nicknames we suffered as children (Robin Red Breast, Robin Laid An Egg, etc.) Of course it'd be only fair to include all the Renee Kaplans running around, too, especially because I have a feeling they could get us a great deal on real estate in Tulsa, OK.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Like Smiley Faces and a Basketful of Kittens

...the Vows column almost always makes me gag. That said, I find it as addictive as Nestle Crunch covered crack. (Hmmm, did my drug choice just date me? Crack is so two score ago...) Anyway, come Sunday I generally rush out into my hallway to pick up my copy of the Times, scramble through the paper to find the Styles section, immediately flip past the hipster in the Night Out With column that I've never-nor-will-I-ever-again hear of, and look to see who has tied the knot of holy matrimony.

The relative worth/lessness of this section of the paper has been commented upon ad nauseum, so I won't bother throwing in another two cents, but I will confess that I was rather pleased when the New York Observer began running its own twist on the state of love, running engagement notices. These longer profiles of blissfully happy youngish people really provide the raw information I'm looking for. They always tell you how and where the couple met, they always discuss the impediments to their love (poor as a church mouse! a Seventh Day adwhatsis?) and they're oftentimes subtly or not-so-subtly mean-spirited. I mean come on, feed the rest of us a little marrow, right?

But this week's Love Beat (the first half at least) not only relates a great story, it's a profile of two excellent people, Emma Taylor and Rob Tourtelot. In a disclosurey sense, they do happen to be good friends of mine. But I think their story transcends this bias because I think I'd find it cool anyway. And, it completely renders my last blog entry wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Which is rare.

See Emma and Rob did, in fact, meet on! That's right, one of the sites I called out but a day ago for being the last refuge of delusional desperadoes looking for love. Well, dear reader, when I'm wrong (and again, I stress this is a rarity), I do like to admit it. So, perhaps I will wade back into the murky, sex-offendered waters of the online dating community. Cause with an open mind (and a full can of mace), a girl just never knows when she might meet her destiny.

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