Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Womb of air conditioning

I managed to settle into my small womb of air-conditioning around midnight last night, after my third cold shower of the day. When the air conditioner shut off at 2:00 because the dehumidifier tank was already full, I felt really sick, even when standing right in front of the freon-cool air. I’d been drinking water all day long, and figured this was some kind of electrolyte fuck-up, so I pulled on some clothes and a pair of shoes and walked to the all-night bodega.

I’m not afraid of walking in my neighborhood at night, although I’m usually on “heightened alert” when it’s 2 AM on a Saturday night. There’s a somewhat shifty Irish bar halfway between me and King’s Deli, and at that hour, there’s usually drunken assholes on the sidewalk, talking loudly and moments away from either fighting or fucking. There’s also a small market in prostitutes on Steinway and 28th if you look carefully, but I wasn’t – I just wanted some Gatorade.

The walk wasn’t bad, actually. Because my apartment is essentially built like a pizza oven, the temperature outside felt about ten degrees cooler. I drank one of the two large bottles of Gatorade on the way home and ate a thing of roasted peanuts, and felt 100% better, but wide awake. So I sat in the living room and watched infomercials and other useless crap for an hour. Did you know that the local CBS affiliate reruns the old episodes of The Real World in the AM hours? That’s pretty weird, but I couldn’t stand that show the first time it was on, let alone ten years later.

Instead, I watched some show on The Food Network where they showcased these ultra-elaborate, high-design kitchens in rich peoples’ houses. The show both intrigued me and pissed me off simultaneously. I mean, these houses were absolutely beautiful, the kind of thing I wish I had, especially since I was sweltering in a giant broiler pan and wondering if I had heatstroke, while they showed stainless-steel refrigerators bigger than my bathroom. The aesthetic side of these kitchens, the way the islands were placed and how the wraparound windows overlooked a big deck with a strategically-placed fountain or whatever, made me think about breaking out a sketch pad and designing the kitchen for the house I want to build in Colorado.

On the other hand, these people PISSED ME OFF! This woman, whose husband was some high-up in the Nevada Gaming Commission, blabbed and blabbed about how they worked with one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s understudies to get the perfect FLW-inspired house. But, she made this big deal about “oh, but we had to fight with them because they wanted the garage and driveway narrower, but I drive a Suburban, and they told me ‘so don’t drive a Suburban,’ but I need a car that’s 27 feet long.” I HATE people who drive big cars like that because they need to look stylish driving to the fucking golf course or whatever, especially people so rich that you know they aren’t hauling around drywall or going deer hunting in the mountains or whatever. And then, after showing this kitchen – which not only had the standard triangle for cooking, but had a SECOND one for baking, along with two ovens and a smaller fridge for baking goods, and a THIRD one for her kids, along with their own fridge and dishwasher, and at least two MORE fridges for vegetables and shit, we find out that THIS WOMAN DOESN’T EVEN COOK! SHE SPENT A MILLION DOLLARS PUTTING SEVEN FRIDGES IN HER KITCHEN AND SHE CAN’T EVEN MAKE A FUCKING GRILLED CHEESE!

Okay, so that really chaps my ass.

During the walk last night, I saw that on Steinway north of 28th, they were having a ghetto street fair, so after I woke up, I got some more Gatorade and went to check out the bamboo plant situation. I’m fucking obsessed with these plants now. I have some demented dream about buying a bunch of bamboo and planting them on my property in Colorado until I have a ton of bamboo I can chop down and use to build a house. I don’t think they would live there unless I had a killer well setup, but it’s a more realistic dream than many of my others. But for some reason, the street fair trailers were still there, but only a handful were open and running. This was at 12:30, so I’d think they would be open 12-5 or something. Maybe if I went there right now, they’d be open, but fuck it. I don’t care now.

I walked around that neighborhood, and it’s a pretty strange area; mostly Egyptians and other Muslims live there, and there’s a Mosque shoved in between the small restaurants and hardware stores. I remember walking in that neighborhood on the day of 9/11 after I made it home (I needed to get some crap to clean my scanner, and some lunch, don’t know why I went there instead of 30th ave or something) but I remember it was just odd to walk around and see everyone in all of their robes and full gear, smoking hookah pipes in cafes. I think most of my fear would be that a Klan rally would show up and start firebombing the whole street. Heightened tension.

Oh, and on the way home, I found a Voice paperbox in front of an Egyptian restaurant in a neighborhood where if anybody reads at all, it’s probably not in English. I grabbed one, and the stack was full. I’m used to going to the machines in SoHo and finding them totally empty about 15 minutes after distribution. So now I have my own secret place to always get an issue.

Another odd thing is that I walked home and some dude across the street from me dumped this pile of maybe 300 books on the sidewalk and had a tiny sign that said “free books.” I thought it would be the usual pile of shit, but I dug through and found about a half-dozen cool titles that weren’t messed up in any way. He must have been moving or something. So, no bamboo, but a pile of reading material.

Today to beat the heat, I went to Astor Place, walked down St. Mark’s and ate at Kiev, then went to Barnes and Noble. I sat on the floor and read two car books from cover to cover, and enjoyed their frigid air conditioning. The two books, one was about building a hot rod frame, and the other was a pictorial history of the Camaro. So it was a lot of pictures and not as much reading, but it wasted some time.

Speaking of wasting time, I’ve been typing this while waiting to pick up my laundry from the cleaner’s, and they should be done. I should walk over there now and get all of that, and then fill the bathtub with ice and do some reading.