[I Don’t] Love [You Anymore] Letters from New York:

It was one of those perfect late spring, early summer nights. It wasn’t too hot, not too cold, not sunny, not too overcast, it wasn’t humid, and it hasn’t started to smell like hot garbage yet. It just existed, much like a penny on the sidewalk or when you pee every time you poop. It’s there, you might acknowledge it with a head nod or celebrate it with a triumphant fist pump, or you may not even notice it and just carry on with your day, taking complete advantage of something that for all you know may never come again. This was the perfect day to continue my quest in trying to convince my friend Kate to not move to Boston, but instead to stay in New York City. For loyal readers, you may remember that my first failed attempt led us to two dairy hot spots in Manhattan and Brooklyn, Big Gay Ice Cream and Milk Bar. If you haven’t read it, go back and read it, I may reference it a lot. I don’t know, mine is a very stream of consciousness style of writing. Our lactose heavy adventure ended with Kate not wanting to stay in the city and a group text about loose diarrhea. I had to come up with something REALLY good to convince Kate to stay this time. It was a beautiful night as I had already mentioned, a pee while you poop night, so I knew now was my chance. Kate works for a very popular beer distributor, for the sake of discretion let’s just call them Pamlowsugh Shrub, so she can get free beer at work pretty much whenever she wants. So I knew what I had to do. I assembled a posse and told Kate that we would be meeting at a beer hall in Queens that was really inconvenient for all parties involved, followed by a second beer hall in Brooklyn.

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Behind these storied walls and not-so-storied Citi bikes, lies the largest beer garden in New York City, the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden. A smarter woman would’ve taken pictures of the space behind the wall. I am not that woman

At promptly 15 minutes later than planned, roughly half of the posse gathered outside Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria. Kate was nowhere to be seen. So myself, Claire from our dairy diarrhea afternoon, and two of my friends who Kate doesn’t know, Andrew and Erica, made our way into the outdoor garden space to enjoy the beverage that, again, Kate can have at any time for free. It is incredibly hard to come by any space in New York City, which is why the outdoor space at Bohemian is pretty amazing. If you live in New York City, look at the size of your apartment really quick. Take a few seconds to feel bad about yourself, then shake it off. Now multiply the size of your apartment by a number that’s much higher than you would expect. That’s how big this outdoor beer garden is. I hope that paints a very clear picture for, because I can see it perfectly in my mind. It helps that I’ve been there. The four of us staked out a spot in what appeared to be an already pretty busy place. We got a space that seemed big enough for the stragglers in our party, until Andrew decided we needed to move to what was definitely a smaller space. This is all because, I later found out, Andrew needed to watch the Yankees game. Eyes on the prize, Andrew, we’re here to persuade a person you’ve never met not to move away, not to watch your favorite baseball team that you’ve been following since you were in diapers. Those of us that were still focused on the task at hand, ordering copious amounts of beer and eastern European sausage-cased meats, took to ordering pitchers of Blue Point, a true staple of any Czech and Slovak owned beer garden. Yes, this establishment has it’s roots in Czech culture, it’s even still owned and and managed by the Bohemian Citizens’ Benevolent Society of Astoria. What’s that, you may ask? Well, let me copy and paste from their website that it’s purpose is to “encourage, support and maintain Schools, Dramatics, Lectures and Libraries for Czech and Slovak children and children of Czech and Slovak parentage: to maintain a social home for people of Czech and Slovak ancestry, in which the Czech and Slovak cultures may be taught and blended with American traditions and culture.” Throughout the night at Bohemian, it became abundantly clear that they were doing just that.

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Wow, what artful composition of this photo of a bratwurst on bread. I truly have the eye of an artist.

Almost a full pitcher in, it became evident that two of our party was not going to make it to this beer garden and Kate was never going to make it at the time I suggested. Apparently when someone says they’re “free at 8pm near Union Square” that doesn’t translate to “I can be in Astoria at 8pm.” So we ordered more pitchers, some brats, and let the Czech and Slovak culture wash over us while we waited for Kate to grace us with her presence. When she finally arrived we squished together to make room for her while she pored over the list of beers, trying to figure out which may have been brewed by Pamlowsugh Shrub. The answer is probably all of them. They make a lot of beer. Have you figured out what the company is she works for? To quote Brittany Murphy, “I’ll never tell.” In our little corner of the garden, we exchanged stories of how we all connected (hint: it me!), Andrew continued to watch his Yankees game over our shoulders, and Kate ate the remnants of my brat. All in all, a truly Czech and Slovak outing, and our Long Island based beer coupled with eastern European brats definitely stayed true to their mission of blending their cultures with American cultures. Sure, I had led her astray in the past, but surely this experience is one that can only be had in New York City. It was then that someone ordered a pitcher of Sam Adams, a beer that you can not only get in pretty much every part of the United States, but is also based out of Boston. We didn’t need to remind her about Boston, this was a celebration of New York City, dammit! And of Czech and Slovak culture! And the intersection of the two! And how my friends from different parts of my life were intersecting! All of it, here together, in an inconvenient part of Queens! GET THIS BOSTON BEER OFF OF MY TINY SECTION OF THIS COMMUNAL TABLE!

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While Kate reaches for the Sam Adams, Claire has head on straight and moves it just out of reach. Andrew, however, has his own priorities, and they appear to be dipping a pickle in ketchup.

But we didn’t and we kept drinking it. Sometimes, you have to treat a pitcher of Sam Adams like a penny on a sidewalk and acknowledge it but then move on. We will not fist pump for this, but maybe if we don’t dwell on it, neither will Kate. Claire and I have a vested interest in keeping Kate here, so we did our best to distract her. “Here, finish my brat.” “Hey, tell me about your therapy.” “Whoa, what’s that over there? No really, what is that over there, there’s three DJ’s setting up.” And that last one wasn’t so much a distraction as it was an actual fact, as we watched three DJ’s set up on a stage by a small dance floor. Each DJ had a different colored booth and shirt. We all tried to guess what was about to occur and how did it relate to Czech and Slovak culture. Will this somehow turn into a lecture for Czech and Slovak children? Would each DJ simultaneously play a song over each other, creating a new sound profile the likes of which had never been heard before? Would this become a silent dance party where you would get a pair of headphones that you could match up to the DJ of your choice? It was obviously the last one.

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DJ Sandwich on the ones and twos #teamblue

It was a slow start for our DJs, as at first the dance floor was just made up of children beating each other with inflatable bats. The kids weren’t even wearing headphones. One DJ was casually eating a bodega sandwich, while another was very clearly feeling the beat he was laying down. Based off of their energy, I felt very in line with DJ sandwich. Slowly, millenials in headphones started filtering onto the dance floor. We could see which DJ they were listening to based on the colored lights on the side of their headphones, and we could also see when they got tired of whatever they were listening to and were able to switch to another color. But because the color of the station they were listening to was on their headphones outside of their field of vision, we weren’t sure if they new what color station they were supporting. Did the guy in the red headphones know that he was the odd man out dancing in a sea of blue headphones, or did he just think it odd that everyone else was doing hardcore EDM moves while he was listening to some chill reggae? Did the older man who wasn’t wearing any headphones at all, but was still dancing to silence among the crowd of ravers understand what a silent rave is? These are the questions that will haunt me forever. There was one question we could get the answer for: is this free? We found where they were handing out the headphones and asked how much it was, and after an attempt at selling us on the three different stations (reggae, 90’s and “EMD”), when we heard it was $15 we knew it was gonna be a hard pass. Also, EMD is not a thing. I suddenly understood why that man was dancing with no headphones. With a crash landing back to the reality of overpriced shit in New York City, we knew it was time to move on to our next beer hall. Andrew and Erica decided they had had enough, I guess maybe the Yankees game was over. Also Erica was running a race in the morning and the fact that she came out at all was a small feat. So, Kate, Claire and I squeezed into the back of a cab (because again, this place was not convenient for any of us!) and made our way to the next beer hall in Brooklyn. I had to figure out a way to salvage the night and convince Kate that New York was worth staying in, despite the overpriced silent rave and the drinks that were priced at all (have I mentioned that Kate can get beer for free?).

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Did I do a good job?

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No, she will not stay.

On the way there, we discussed all things magical about living in New York City, or at least that’s how I interpreted our conversation about sitting next to people on first dates. Never have I sat next to more people on first dates than I have in New York City. I was trying to mull over my next move to try to get Kate to stay, maybe there could be some way to stage sitting next to a first date and eavesdropping on all of their dumb ice breakers. I was getting worried that making her pay for something she could easily get for free, and then forcing her to take a cab to repeat it again at another place wasn’t the best move. I may have to manufacture a perfectly New York moment, like sitting next to a new couple while eating a hot dog at a baseball game. But wait, we basically just did that. “Everything’s fine then,” I thought, and we carried on with our plan and arrived at Radegast Hall and Biergarten in Williamsburg.

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Maybe we didn’t get any Czech beer at Bohemian, but we stayed true to the German heritage of Radegast and got ourselves a proper German Hofbrau, so back off haters.

Where Bohemian is an alarming large outdoor Czech and Slovak beer garden, Radegast is an indoor, still pretty large, German beer hall. Did you pick up on the key differences there? Because while normally those would be the things I would latch on to that would set these two establishments apart, this night the major differences were that they had a live DJ playing all your favorite Latin hits, followed by 90’s hits, followed by Whitney Houston. When it comes to living up to it’s reputation of being a melting pot, New York City really delivered in the form of these two beer gardens. No longer did we have to imagine what everyone was listening to, we could hear it LOUD AND PROUD. And while there wasn’t a space for dancing at Radegast, people were making one. Knowing that the last two of our party would soon be arriving, I ordered us a couple pitchers of Hofbrau, which, fun fact, was the first beer I ever drank in the original Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany. Wow, how fascinating and worldly I am! I unfortunately had gotten ahead of myself. At this point, Kate just wanted to dance, Claire and I had pretty much had all the beer we wanted to drink, and I had forgotten that one of our friends joining us at Radegast didn’t like beer. The bulk of the pitchers I ordered fell on my boyfriends shoulders, and I’m happy to report he took on that responsibility and we (he) finished those beers. And when our non-beer drinking friend arrived we roasted that son of a bitch. And then we all danced in celebration around my boyfriend, who judging from his reaction may also want to move to Boston.

But was the night of beers in both silence and cacophony enough to brainwash Kate into staying? It was not. It was like she peed when she pooped, she thought to herself, I do this all the time, I yearn for something more, and decided she wanted to pee while she pooped in Boston. I’ll keep trying.

Until next time,

I Love You, New York? Do you love me?

[I Don’t] Love [You Anymore] Letters from New York: A tale of two dairies at Big Gay Ice Cream and Milk Bar

Welcome to “[I Don’t] Love [You Anymore] Letters from New York,” in which I try to show my friends and loved ones who are burned out by New York City living that there’s still a lot here worth staying for, and ultimately learn that I’m fighting a losing battle. In this first installment, I’m working on convincing my friend Kate, who’s very seriously threatening a move to Boston at the end of the summer, to stay in New York City because we have the best lactose this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. Will she be convinced, or will I have to keep trying? Hold onto your toilet seats, because this is gonna be a wild journey of self discovery.

Being a big fan of their Salty Pimp ice cream cone and their social media presence in general, I follow Big Gay Ice Cream on Instagram, which is how I first learned of their Cheat-Ohs ice cream. As the name might suggest, it is in fact Cheet-Ohs flavored ice cream, coated in Cheet-Ohs dust. This misplaced “a” in the name for the cone is for “Ah, okay, I’ll guess I’ll try it.” It might also be to “Avoid copyright infringement and a lawsuit,” who knows. All of the videos on their Instagram of customers taking their first bite, followed by amazement and surprise at how it actually tasted good had me convinced I had to try it before it was taken off their menu. But would it be enough to convince Kate to stay in New York City? There was literally only one way to find out, so I met her and our friend Claire one Sunday afternoon to test out what sounded like a sure fire way to send Kate packing.

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Varying degrees of excitement between, Kate, chill stranger, and Claire

We decided on the Big Gay Ice Cream in the East Village, if only so we could get the full New York City experience of sitting in Tompkins Square Park while we ate. I personally think there is not a better distillation of what New York City has to offer than this relatively small park, as you can walk through it under five minutes, see a group of kids playing nicely at the playground, an old woman alone dancing to Whitney Houston, a man sitting at a bench across the path from her silently nodding to himself, a birthday party, some casual drug use, tourists, dogs sniffing butts (human and other), a man trying to sell you Air Heads out of a plastic bag, and a handful of generally depressed looking people. That’s New York! Why would you ever want to go anywhere else?! The three of us made our way to the tiny Big Gay Ice Cream, where we were greeted by the sign before even opening the door that the rumors were true, for a limited time only they were serving Cheat-Ohs ice cream. If Kate was hoping to get a more traditional cone, say their Dorothy cone with vanilla, dulce de leche, and crushed Nilla Wafers, I quickly shot that down. We were here for one reason, and one reason only. And that was to prove to Kate that Cheat-Ohs ice cream was worth sticking around for. And not only did Kate have to order it, we all did, and we all had to put on a brave face and say we liked it, because Kate had to stay. We ordered our cones and quickly head for the Little New York, Tompkins Square Park, so we could enjoy our ice cream while basking in whatever glory the park would bestow upon us.

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Things of note: it really was fucking Cheet-Ohs on that there ice cream cone and also looking how fun my nails were that day!

On the less than half a block walk to the park from Big Gay Ice Cream, Kate decided to finally tell Claire and I that she didn’t like Cheet-Ohs, especially Cheet-Ohs dust. This is information I probably should’ve sussed out before demanding she order the ice cream she did, but I do not like to do my research and I can’t be bothered to care. However, the prospects of this being the thing that tipped the scales in favor of her staying seemed low. We took our place on a bench across from a family who had clearly also just come from Big Gay Ice Cream. They all had relatively normal looking cones, so obviously were curious what our bright orange monstrosities were. They seemed slightly frightened, slightly amused when we told them. It was time for our first bites. Having spent some time in South Korea, where I would often spend my evenings browsing their 7-eleven offerings, I was immediately taken back to a cheese flavored popsicle I had from the freezer section all those years ago. The memories of eating cold, cheesy ice cream on a stick on the side of a road in Suwon all came rushing back to me. “Look at you now,” I thought, “Eating more cheesy ice cream in a somewhat dingy environment. Some things never change, huh old friend?” Again, all of this was said internally, to myself. The 7-eleven memories, coupled with the fact that I actually like Cheet-Ohs made for a wonderful, multi-sensory experience for me. Claire housed the whole thing in impressive fashion. Kate, however was unmoved.

Sitting there, wondering where I had failed her, we took in the park. We watched as a male pigeon aggressively courted a female pigeon right at our feet, and Kate remarked on how courtship in the animal kingdom is always uncomfortable to watch as a bystander. “It’s animal rape.” Nothing really makes a person want to stay living right where they are quite like feeling complicit to a crime while eating a food you’ve moments before declared that you didn’t like. It was up to the tourist family sitting across from us at the park to really turn this thing around.

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What an intriguing and artful shot of the remainings of Kate’s Cheat-Oh’s cone. Why yes, I did take it with portrait mode. What can I say, I’m an artist with a vision!

As if on cue, the youngest one of the family froze, a pained expression on her face. Everyone else tried to understand what could’ve possibly happened: an aneurysm? brain freeze? phantom pain? a phantom aneurysm? She gestured at her white sneakers where a single drop of chocolate had fallen and then she burst into hysterical tears. Her older sister poked fun at her, “Are you seriously crying because of your sneakers? They’re just sneakers.” “THEY’RE RUINED!” Everything feels so big and important when you’re 12, I guess. Just wait until you’re 30 and you’re no longer blind to the horrors that exist inside the pigeon community anymore. Thankfully, her hysteria shook Kate out of her doldrums, and I could sense potential to keep this day moving forward in a positive direction. Maybe if this delicious cheesy concoction was only enough to make Claire and I stay (even though we weren’t the ones with plans to leave the city), there was some other milky treat that could sway Kate. The key word there is “milky,” and after a brief discussion of what food based shows each of us had recently binged on Netflix, we decided to head to the Milk Bar in Williamsburg. Our TV viewing had intersected at me having recently watched all of Ugly Delicious, hosted by David Chang, the chef behind Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Kate having seen the episode of Chef’s Table about Milk Bar, the Momofuku offshoot. So we headed underground to Brooklyn to a place I’ve already covered in great detail in a previous post on Off the G, however never have I been there when the stakes were so high.

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A crack pie at Milk Bar, which I also tried to take in portrait mode, except I think it focused on Kate’s watch. My artistic vision has been RUINED, much like those girls shoes and possibly my efforts to convince Kate to stay! SHIT!

I knew I had to take a backseat on this one and let Kate decide what she wanted if there was any chance of her staying. I have pretty much at one point in my life had everything offered on the menu, including their cereal milk lattes, and since it was now bordering on late afternoon on a Sunday I knew it was high time for a boozy shake, aka a White Russian made with cereal milk ice cream. Kate stuck to a bagel bomb and a crack pie and Claire went with a Fancy coffee drink, which was also a boozy and sugary, but with the added benefit of coffee! There’s something odd about crack that just makes people addicted and asking for more, so I felt like I had finally accomplished something. Watching Kate enjoy every morsel of crack pie, I felt it safe to ask her if she would stay. The answer below may surprise you!

She said no. Claire had the brilliant idea to ask her what would actually make her stay, which, fuck why didn’t I think of that. So armed with a vague understanding of what Kate likes about New York City (views of the sunset from my roof while drinking beers and talking about Netflix and what it’s like to a be a woman), we did just that. In a lot of ways, I learned nothing. I have made zero plans to try to convince her to stay with things that may actually, ya know, convince her to stay. Instead I’m taking her to places only I’m interested in. In even more ways, I really didn’t learn anything because I got pretty epic dairy diarrhea. And as it turns out, we all did, which we discovered in a later group text that was supposed to just be about how I ended up watching the Chef’s Table episode on Milk Bar and Kate started watching Ugly Delicious. But as with all things, we ended up just talking about poop.

Until next time,

I Love You, New York? Do you love me?

Introducing “[I Don’t] Love [You Anymore] Letters From New York”

While regularly scheduled Off the G posts are currently in the works, I’m excited to announce a new feature that at least for the time being will be appearing here on Off the G until ultimately I get discovered and make millions, and then I’ll buy a separate domain and a car. But until then, I’m introducing what I am calling: [I Don’t ] Love [You Anymore] Letters From New York. “What in the actual fuck is that?” you may ask. Let’s work backwards and start with the name, which came to me in a fit of inspiration yesterday.

As all moments of revelation do, this one came while my bladder was ready to pop and I was out walking around in a public place in desperate need of a bathroom. I successfully found one in an old warehouse that was converted into an upscale mall with a grainery, a nice restaurant, a cafe, an expensive clothing boutique, and a gallery of NYC inspired art leading to the whiz palace. Ya know, typical Brooklyn shit. I passed a painting in which someone had printed “Love Letters From NY,” with the letters spaced weirdly and the margins on the left hand side. It made it difficult to interpret, made harder by the fact that I had to pee. “This isn’t an episode of Sex and the City, fuck you painting,” I thought to myself as I just barely made it to the toilet. Finally relieving myself, I could think clearly. I had a new “project” I was working on with no name yet. Maybe I could somehow re-work this painting’s message into one that actually resonates with people, and also loosely fits into the theme of my new posts.

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Here’s how I would’ve painted it

You’re likely wondering what these new posts will be about. So let’s jump way back to before I even had this idea. I know I said we were working backwards, but we’re actually approaching this like an M. C. Escher painting- from a lot of different angles. Years ago, before Off the G was even in a twinkle in your father’s eye, I was talking to my best friend about what. the. fuck. we. were. doing. with. our. meaningless. lives. I talked a lot of talk and said, “I think maybe eventually I want to move to the west coast.” Without missing a beat, she broke into a one line song that she obviously wrote on the spot in which the only lyrics were, “Everyone who loves me leaves me.” This moment for some reason stuck with me, for one because did she just have that locked and loaded ready to sing to the next person who even daydreamed about leaving the city? For two because I didn’t move, but pretty much everyone else I know has or is very seriously threatening to. Except for Ms. “Everyone Who Loves Me Leaves Me,” but even she’s starting to murmur about leaving New York City. I will admit that between our initial talks about our futures and now, both her and I moved to South Korea. Thinking we were never coming back to New York City, I made a bucket list of things I wanted to try for the first time or officially say goodbye to in New York. Needless to say, we moved back and everyone who loved us left us, save for a few, and I started this blog.

Which brings me to the whole point of what these posts will be. I know I’ve really circled the drain on this explanation, so thanks for joining me on this ride. What a journey! A friend, let’s call her Kate, recently told me she was moving to Boston. I heard my other friend’s song in my head, “Everyone who loves me leaves me.” Kate mentioned that there were a handful of things she wanted to do in New York City before officially making Boston her forever home, because I imagine like a kitten at a shelter, Boston will adopt her and be her family from now on, not the rough, cold streets of Brooklyn. “I’ll give you my old bucket list from when I moved to Korea and thought I’d never return,” I said in feigned excitement. Sure, leave, I don’t care, I have TONS of friends left here. Days past and I never sent her the bucket list. But I did send her a cryptic text message requesting her presence at a bar because I had an idea for some hot, juicy new ‘tent (short for content). “Hey, try this on for size: why don’t I take you to a bunch of uniquely New York places and write about them and try to convince you to stay!” And then I kept saying “unique New York” over and over again in my mind so I didn’t hear her reply, but it had to have been yes because we’ve already started! That’s right, folks! Starting every Friday, I’ll post about taking my friends who are threatening to leave me to places in New York City that might convince them to stay. The results may surprise you (she’s 100% not staying, she already knows where she’s living in Boston)! My first subject is Kate (oops, that’s her actual name), pictured below, unsure of the Cheat-Ohs soft serve ice cream cone I made her get at Big Gay Ice Cream. Yes, it is Cheet-Ohs flavored, with Cheet-Ohs dust, and yes their ice cream cone version had an “a” in it, so don’t come at me for misspelling it.

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Here, Kate, put this junk food in your system and tell me you’d rather live in Boston

Our dairy fueled day (that ended with me crouching over a toilet, alone, wondering where all my friends had gone) will be the subject of the first post, DROPPING SUNDAY!!

[*confetti!! uproarious applause!!*]

Posts will regularly appear on Fridays, and if Kate decides that New York doesn’t love her anymore, don’t worry, I know plenty of other people who want to leave. What will we discover at the end of this? Is it possible that New York isn’t driving people away? I couldn’t help but wonder: is my insistence on talking about my BM’s regularly with friends new and old what really sends people running? Is it not I don’t love you anymore letters from New York, but I don’t love you anymore letters from my friends?

Let’s find out together!

“Universe Hello Signals”

Today I was excited to publish the first official post here on Off the G for my new side project that I have begun working on. However, yesterday when I was planning on putting together the final touches (which in my case means sitting down and writing the whole thing in one go from start for finish), I instead spent my free morning in throes of what could best be described as an existential crisis. After getting off the subway at my subway stop of Bedford-Nostrand, I exited the station only to be greeted by police, firemen, and a whole plethora of emergency vehicles, many of which I didn’t even know existed. They really dug deep to bring out all the cities rescuers for whatever was happening. From where I stood, it looked like it was something on my side of the street, maybe a fire on Clifton Place. I thought I would cross Nostrand Ave, walk on that side of the street toward Clifton, just so I could get a look at what was happening. Of course I was concerned, but I’m also human and curiosity was getting the best of me. After crossing Nostrand, I turned to walk towards Clifton, when I realized that I couldn’t turn to walk towards Clifton. I saw the back of a car jutting out of what looked like the store front of the coffee shop on the corner. Without giving myself time to process what I was looking at, I just loudly belted out, “HOLY SHIT.” I stood there for a second and then kept walking, because I’M NOT RUDE. But I wasn’t totally sure what I had seen was real. If that was what I thought it was, then that’s Civil Service Cafe, the cafe I go to almost everyday on my way to catch the G, and there was a Dodge Charger sticking out the front of it. It was like a scene from Spider Man 2, and you know what scene I’m talking about. Not the one where he puts her in a web and then climbs down and kisses her like a creep. The scene where a car goes through a cafe window. My brain could not reconcile this. So I called my boyfriend. It was about 9:30 in the morning, I knew he had probably walked by the same block on his way to work about an hour earlier. When he answered I wanted to ease my way into describing what I had just seen, making sure that if he saw it first he could give me his own firsthand account, and then I could jump in and say, “Yeah, what you said.”

“When you went to work this morning, were there a lot of firemen around the Bedford-Nostrand stop?” I asked.

“No…why?”

“Okay, I think I just saw something crazy…”

After describing what I thought I saw and putting together a timeline, we figured whatever happened, did so sometime between 8:30 and 9:30. While talking to him, I decided I had to circle back, so after passing a few more cops on the parallel street to the accident, I turned back towards Nostrand, this time walking on a different street so I could approach from a different angle. And also so I wasn’t passing the same people who would label me a rubber necker. I stayed on the phone with my boyfriend the whole time I circled the scene like a buzzard. Then I finally rounded the corner and could see the accident once more. Holy shit had not been an appropriate response before. This was a holy fuck. I started talking to my boyfriend as if we shared the same set of eyes. “The bricks are gone!” a statement which made total sense to me because I could see that the car had not just plowed through the front window where there is seating, but it came in at an angle, blowing out the side window, too, which in turn took out part of the brick wall. I was not paying attention to my phone call so much anymore as I started turning to the people around me for answers. “Were there people inside?!” “What about the dog who lives in one of the above apartments?” “Is anyone hurt?” “What the fuck happened?” The answers ran the gamut: 2 people were seriously injured; one person said one of those injured at the very least had a broken leg; the cafe was open but not it wasn’t as busy as it could’ve been; someone overheard the driver saying he was hit, but that person didn’t believe it and rolled their eyes; no one had answers about the dog. The rescue workers weren’t sure if the building was structurally sound, which explained why everyone was just standing around, looking at it, talking on walkie-talkies and pacing back and forth.

I decided I had to head home, one: because I’M NOT RUDE and two: because I actually had a lot of shit to do and I was seriously eating into my time to do it by looking at a car through a cafe window. I didn’t care that I was walking by the cops I had walked by earlier when I was trying to be slick and circle around the block. I figured that someone passing them twice while talking on the phone was probably not on their radar as much as the vehicle that had jumped the curb into a business. I hung up the phone and attempted to get back on track with my day. But I couldn’t. Stop. Thinking. About. It.

At roughly the time the car went into the window injuring four people in the process, I was at a coffee shop in Brooklyn Heights. I had never been to this coffee shop, but I knew chances were that I would be back since it’s right by where I work, so when they offered me a punch card I figured I’d take one. I went to put it into my purse realizing I had no idea where my punch card for Civil Service Cafe was. I made a mental note to locate it when I got back to my apartment since I would be back on a schedule soon where it would make more sense for me to get coffee by my apartment. There has to be a term for when something you rarely give any thought to, like a cafe punch card, pops into your brain at the exact moment when something gigantic and relevant to that thing you suddenly thought of is happening miles away. Like the universe sending you a message. If there is a term for it, it’s probably German. And it probably means “Universe Hello Signal.” Another example of “Universe Hello Signal”: the day Billy Mays died, my OxyClean exploded and ruined one of my raincoats. This is a thing that happens all the time and we need to recognize all the “Universe Hello Signals” we encounter.

I know that I struggled with being able to focus on anything other than the car in Civil Service Cafe because I kept thinking of the people who were in there, the woman who was trapped under the car and had what sounds like an extremely broken leg that she may lose. I kept thinking of them because I could’ve been one of them. And it’s a very selfish way to view an accident like this, but it’s also a realistic and human one. It’s how you can feel empathy for those involved, because you can imagine yourself or someone you care about in their place. I was obsessively refreshing stories and Google searches and twitter feeds trying to get answers. How did this happen? Was everyone truly okay? Who was working? Did their paper goods order come in recently because I know for a while they just kept pouring their coffees into extra large cups and apologizing about the lack of lids, so I would have to sneak into Dunkin Donuts and just pilfer a lid or two.

When I wasn’t adequately satiated with online searches, I started texting anyone who I thought might have even a peripheral knowledge of Civil Service Cafe. Somehow texted someone who hadn’t heard about the accident yet felt as if I was creating new content on the matter for my brain to absorb. And even if you didn’t have a peripheral knowledge, if I had already texted you that morning, I just pretended we were still in the middle of a conversation, even if I hadn’t texted you in about an hour. “So yeah, I’ll let you know when I hear about that thing from an hour ago. Oh my god, so you’ll never believe this. I get coffee every morning, and the coffee shop I usually go to has A CAR THROUGH THE WINDOW. Crazy, right? Ok, I’ll get back to you soon about that other thing.”

I kept finding excuses to walk by the cafe, to read more hastily written articles that didn’t quite know the facts. Finally, I had to go to work. But at work I snuck more texts. My best friend had seen it on the news and was giving me lives updates. When I got out of work, I met my boyfriend who had walked by it again at 5:30. The car had finally been removed, the news was starting to sound a little bit more coherent. It seemed like there may have been at least two cars involved. Then another text sent me to another article that said the second driver who fled the scene had been arrested. And the final paragraph in the article left me questioning my whole day. “One violation was issued to the building owner for ‘a structure rendered non-compliant due to a motor vehicle impact.'” Am I reading that wrong, or does it seem like the building owner got a violation for his building getting hit by a car? How does a building avoid such a thing? I don’t get it. The world collapsed into chaos for me once more.

I was excited to possibly go to Civil Service Cafe to work on my new side project and reveal it for you today. Instead, this is what I have to offer you in it’s place for now, a shoddy retelling of how I saw my local cafe fucked up hopefully not beyond repair. I know that this accident didn’t happen to me, although I 100% framed this whole story as if it did. There are people who were injured and witnessed it and live above it and work there who will be impacted in a much more significant way than I ever will. But, I still wrote this thing and you still read so I guess…we’re both narcissists? I will be sharing my new project soon and be back to posting regular Off the G posts this month between bouts of mourning Civil Service Cafe, and hoping and helping for it’s swift recovery and return. Until then-

Keep r-i-d-i-n

-Off the G

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I was hoping to include a picture of Civil Service Cafe during happier times, but I realized I didn’t have one, because you don’t know you have a good thing until a car rams through it’s front window