I didn’t take note until looking at this picture, weeks later, that four surveillance cameras huddled at the far end of the Chambers Street subway station might have recorded my every movement. I might have looked suspicious. I wandered through the station as trains came and went, looking not for a ride uptown but for remnants of old payphones.
Sometimes I imagine police or security guards stopping and questioning me about my desultory wanderings that look directionless and therefore suspicious (should anyone behind those surveillance cameras have reason to notice). I remember a filmmaker explaining how he talked his way into recording video inside the Port Authority Bus Terminal, where no video recording is allowed without exclusive and elaborate permits. He told a skeptical security guard he just wanted to make some video of the payphones. At this the security guard smiled and let him in, just asking him to stay as far from the crowds as possible. The filmmaker said the guard went along with it as if he (the filmmaker) was giving some love to the little guy… the payphone.
So I didn’t see those surveillance cameras, as I focused my interests more on the blightedness of this little vignette. With the exception of those cameras this photo looks like it could have risen from the 1970s.
I don’t remember how long it’s been. 20 years? Probably closer to 15. I don’t know but my brief foray into investing however many years ago still comes back every three months to remind me how little I knew about such things. I tried to invest ethically, in companies I thought did something beneficial for the world. I put money into for-profit educational institutions, imagining that schools held accountable to investors might be more motivated than traditional schools. I considered putting money into privately-owned prisons, thinking that similarly, if held accountable to stockholders they would redefine incarceration with the real goal of prisoner reform and reentry into society. Or something like that. I don’t remember all my thinking from back then but everything I put money into tanked. I did not put money into prisons. For fun I threw $100 at a penny stock, for a chain of diners that had a few hundred locations around the country. I even lost money on that. I still get this quarterly statement from Ameritrade, the brokerage firm that over the years has probably spent 100 times the value of my account on these mailings. I gave up on this shit and followed the sage advice: Index Funds. Period.
A machine involved in some roadwork today sounded to me like it was yelling “ASSHOLE” over and over. It sounded a little more convincing in person than on this recording but I still hear it. See, or rather hear, what you think.
I don’t know much about the Banksy thing, except for having been compared to him. But I do have to ask if this is genuine or a copycat. I don’t remember when this first appeared on 29th Street in Astoria, between 39th and 40th Avenues. Just putting this out there in case anyone has an opinion.
It’s arranged by J. Adams Smith but I don’t know if that means s/he is also the composer. I recorded this years ago. Don’t expect greatness, I did this just for gits and shiggles. Offhand I do not know of any other piece of music written in honor of Astoria, Queens. You can find this score at the Library of Congress website.
This playlist starts with me discovering a new-to-me set of immaculate old phone booths at the 347 Madison Avenue building. I tell some stories in this set that get dismembered by cell phone signal suckage.
With tax season here I guess it stands to reason threatening sounding robocalls about your taxes will arrive. This voice actually enchanted me. Its stiffness and stilted bits of Engrish might inspire me to call random phones with poetry recited by a voice like hers. Listen in:
We have just received a notification regarding your tax filings from the headquarters which will get expired in the next 24 working hours. And once it get expired after that you will be taken under custody by the local police. That there are four serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment. We would request you to get back to us. So that we can discuss about this case. Before taking any legal action against you. The number to reach us is: 434-200-8555. I repeat: 434-200-8555. Thank you.
I called 434-200-8555. A statement announces that the number is not set up yet to receive calls:
It must say something about my life that I find robocalls intriguing, at least once in a while. This call caught me off guard with its sterile, frozen voice that nevertheless ingratiated itself to me on account of its bad English. Filing this under Landline/magicJack even though the call came to my cell phone.