For the holidays, my girlfriend’s mother, Mrs Kendrick (she’s English, no period after the Mrs … look it up), sent me a lovely little package, and one of the little treats was a tiny (read Japanese) Lego kit from a dope little company called NanoBlock.
I haven’t played with Lego’s since I was about 10 I figure… so it hasn’t been years, it’s been decades, if not a lifetimes. I kept the little pack on my desk, admiring it from time to time, realizing that I would be hard pressed to find a moment where I would say, “now, I make a Lego Santa Clause. And tree.” – you see, I hardly have time to eat during the day, let alone dive into this mini-puzzle, but, nevertheless I kept it close by.
Today was the day my friends. Waiting on a particularly long render I decided to go for it, instead of catching up on the blogs, bills and bullshit that is the interweb.
What I discovered, is that even in this manual task, it taught me a few very key lessons in filmmaking. Of course, you can see how demented I am, that I can take a kids toy and translate it into 4 years of college education, but, I like to think there is a practical lesson in everything. So, let us begin.
Detailed shot lists are like directions from God.
You don’t have to be religious to make films, but you definitely have to believe in the devil, in Hell, and have some sort of faith that what you are doing isn’t totally bullshit. In so, shot lists are the key, the bible, the ten commandments, or other lists of do’s and don’t in whatever religion you subscript to. They are your Virgil guiding you through the seven rings of production hell, so you should follow them, closely, and believe in them. That also means you should have them to begin with, and take as much time as you can doing your pre-pro. You’re just gonna get out of the forest of hell faster that way. Have faith!
Some parts on paper will take less time.
And some much more. Some things on paper look wicked easy. FOOL! They are not. Other things which may look like you will need extra coffee and perhaps a blood transfusion for, will breeze by. Remember that you can only schedule to the best of your personal knowledge. Things will go fast, and some slow, you must remember to float down the river and not lose your head if you find yourself behind time. You will catch up.
Steady is a good speed.
Don’t pause, don’t rush, and don’t go too slow. This is a tough one for a New Yorker. Your intuition is to blast through things sometimes, which is never a good idea with production. Things take time. So take the time to do things. The key isn’t to take too much time. Dragging out something too long will make you lose energy, and then lose interest, and then, hell, why do it. Steady and strong is how things get done.
Trust the design, but know how to modify.
This is a key one. Like trusting your shotlist, trust the concept. You will, on set, want to try a thousand new things. Don’t. Trust the concept, that’s what got you there to begin with. That being said, the real skill comes when you know exactly what you can modify. This is the zen spot directors get into when they really understand a project, trusts their crew, and knows their client. It’s not about throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks, it’s about adding just a little mint, and maybe, just maybe, a pinch of marjoram, to really bring out the flavor.
Measure twice, cut twice.
Right. Always be accurate in what you want, and what you need to accomplish. Filmmaking isn’t about doing it perfect the first time, but, it definitely isn’t about “lets give this a try”. Trying is for third graders with finger paint. Try to draw a house Timmy. Yay Timmy! You are Tom now, you are 20 years older, and you have a paycheck on the line. Be specific, and sure, if you need to take it apart and put it back together then do it, just make sure you got a damn good reason Timmy.
There is a right order to do things.
There is a very good reason this thing came with directions because it would take some sort of special idiot Lego savant to put it together without the help of this Ikea-esque paper. Filmmaking is the same, there is a reason we shoot things out-of-order and that’s because time is money, and shooting things logically vs narratively saves you time, and therefore saves you money.
If you have extra, used it.
Everyone is there. Set is paid for. Equipment rented. You find yourself with extra time because you followed all these commandments (Godly I know!) then use the time. Try something new. Fun. Different. There is no reason to waste anything on a set. Think of yourself as a Native American and this film is your animal carcass. Don’t let anything go to waste. Those ribs become a sick waistcoat, the eyeballs a keychain, the poopshoot a dope choker. Johnny Depp might really dig it, you never know. That being said you probably will end up with something like this little guy above who should be put down, so don’t get too attached. (yes, that’s a baby reindeer. Call me Robby)
Them be the things that came up during my hour making a little holiday cheer during a heavy render. Remember to make time for yourself, and that all presents are potentially gifts that keep giving. Thanks Mrs Kendrick, twas’ very much enjoyed.
Hi. Rob Serrini here. Film Critic. Welcome and Action.
Upon my never ending quest to better the film-watching community with vitriol so accurate about cinema today (while trolling every IMDB page I can) I wondered, or perhaps came across a new little “Poehludd” vehicle who’s title peaked, so to phrase, my interest:
“They Came Together” **
A 5.3 star out of 10 rating intrigued me as I am often at odds with common Luddite opinions of film (example gratis: anything made by Sir Mike Bay I consider “live animation” and not actually “cinema” and deserves to be watched only in the back of a taxi cab on the way to a long day of jury duty in Jackson Heights, Queens.)
Interest peaked, I shelled out the $6.99 USD to Amazon LLC and had the film screened to my color balanced Sony 25″ Trimaster EL OLED Master Monitor. Yes, the F Series. Because I’m not a peon who likes to read coloring books.
At first glance (which is always blind said Virgil) this is your pedestrian romantic comedy. Boy meets girl, looses, and then obtains her again. Girl is cute with sassy ambitions, boy is lost with secret passions, and the film is set in… New York City. Thank you Harold and Sarah for ruining it for everyone (you too Robert Reiner. You fuck.) I digress… this was my first glance. As I slowly sunk into a common depression and anxiety for the future of cinema I realized that something magical, yes, magical was taking place…
The film was sentient.
Yes. A film, about, a film. The film knew it was a film, the actors, aware that in fact, they were in a romantic comedy, and the humor and script were in fact two sided, as jokes played on the level of characters withing a scenario and actors portraying characters actingout in said scenario.
Nothing this brave has not belched the screen since the first “Scream” which isn’t so much a film as it is art history. Best you watch the trailer, for surely it is difficult enough to wrap your mind around such theory as is.
I was so enthralled with the juex du mots and cul du sac of plot that I became lost in the characters world, which was in fact, my world, as they knew I was watching a film. In truth I was thankful I did not have a plebeian profession that requires drug testing, as I was sure that this master director, Mr. Dave Wain, had surely drugged me. Oh lala.
I will not divulge any of the plot as frankly there is none (genius!), but at the heart, the film’s directive is a common critique on the natural state of current CHC. The over use of sujet vs fabula, the trite demand for archetypes that Campbell would roll his dead eyes at. This film thrusts the prolific dagger of defiance into the one eyed studio beast and proclaims “Fuck how Lubich would do it! This is how it is done. Bitch!” – a constant breeze seemed to come from my $16,000.00 USD, laboratory calibrated, lead lined monitor as if Apollo’s chariot was fueled by the photonic symphony that this film emitted. Such a brilliant piece of work I imagine both Bazin and Eisenstein masturbating in heaven together, each one grabbing the hog of the other, while simultaneously shouting “we are not worthy!” as they… yes… as “they came together”.
You too will cum together with this film, as I did, for the comedy is so hot, the attack on Hollywood Gestapoism so pornographic, that even the cold, sphincter, dead body of Goldwyn will sprout a 4.8 inch rabid erection and shout to the heavens “oh momma!” while jizing in his guilt lined, for he destroyed Hollywood, coffin, for eternity.
The film is “They Came Together”. The director is Mr. David Wain. The word is “go” as in see it.
I, as always, am Rob Serrini*, film critic. Goodday and Cut.
* Rob Serrini is also known as Roberto Serrini, as in the 1999 Film Studies graduate of the University of California in Santa Barbara. Roberto Serrini’s education was a rigorous intake of an encyclopedia of Film Theory that stretched the ages, that he never used a minute after he left the institution. In so 4 year, thousands of hours or reading Russian film theory, and analyzing more Buster Keaton films then is legal by state law, Roberto Serrini’s outlet is speaking earnestly about film and yelling at plants. Lastly, Roberto Serrini is a self aware film critic.
** Seriously, all joking aside, this film is fantastic. It’s like Airplane and The Kentucky Fried Movie had a child, and that child was invited over to Rob Reiner’s house, who was having an orgy, where Mel Brooks, The Waynes Brothers, and Baily Jay the Tranny were in attendance. Go. See.
Well, well, well. Look who it is. 37-year-old you thinking it’s 1998. I guess you just found out you can’t play soccer/basketball/badminton. I’ve now had the pleasure to have torn my Achilles tendon in Spain playing a friendly game of soccer. It’s an amazing injury, and something that is surprisingly common (you find out once it happens to you, but you NEVER heard of it before) so I will be outlining the entire process here, updating as it happens, for any poor soul that has this mythical injury befall them. I promise to be honest, and give you the good the bad and the ugly as it happens. Mostly the ugly. Part I: How it happened. It’s a bit amusing and concerns a bachelor, a father, and a misunderstanding (this will later become the bi-line to my own autobiography). So my cousin Marco from Rome has moved to Spain with his Spanish fiancée Elena, and plans to marry in La Caruña on the North-West coast. It’s an amazing little town and I’m excited to go, but before I go my father calls me and warns me, “Roberto, they are planning a calcetto game. You must defend the American Serrini name.” This is where the disaster begins. You see, Marco told my father over Skype that there was to be a “calcetto” game. Unfortunately for me, “calcetto” to my father means “foosball” as in table soccer. This made sense to me, because, my father is the master of foosball, and we have a bit of a rivalry going on. No one will ever forget the 1999 match at Hethrow Airport terminal 4 where we drew a crowed waiting for our flight. Dreams were made and broken that day friends, made, and broken. So I arrive in Spain wearing my Vilebrequin shorts and Tom’s canvas shoes, and these fools are like “where is your gear buddy? We’re playing Calcetto today”. You see, for anyone born after 1960, Calcetto means “little game of soccer” not in a physical sense as table soccer, rather in a friendly game of soccer way. This was the real deal. Long story short, I was borrowing a pair of cleats one size too small, and someone elses Roma jersey (cause you come with spares apparently) and we were off to play a quick 90 minute friendly match with the Spanish.
4 minutes into the game someone kicked the back of my foot hard. Really hard. I went down on the ground, rolling, as if in slow motion. When I came to a sliding stop I looked around. Everyone one else was looking at me. I yelled in Spantalian “What the fuck guys? Who kicked me?!” – here is the real funny part; if you know anything about soccer, and Italians and soccer especially, you will know that we are famous for dramatic fake injuries. Case in point: http://youtu.be/LC-H2wXK4T4 So everyone thought that I was completely faking it, because NO ONE WAS EVEN AROUND ME. Which brings me to lesson 1: 1) It can happen anywhere, in the bathroom, the poolroom, or the boardroom. No one was even close to me, but I swore to God that I got kicked in the back of the left leg, right on the heel. So everyone one else was like “c’mon, stop being an Italian and get up. We don’t even have refs in this game” and I couldn’t walk, at all. Finally my cousin came over and asked “are you for real?” and realizing that I wasn’t kidding, dragged me to the sideline where I sat for 86 minutes. I used the time well, quickly going to the internet to see what the hell could have caused this. One thing that was scaring the bejeesus out of me was that while I wasn’t in any real pain, I did notice that the tight cable that is usually where the achilles tendon is under your skin was now…gone. just gone. Nothing there but soft flesh. Skeevie isn’t the word. I soon found out from my doctor the internets that I had ruptured my Achilles tendon. It confirmed the sensation of being “kicked” or a “gun shot” to the heel. It said “get to the hospital right away as time is of the essence when it comes to heeling”. 86 minutes. You might not realize how exhausting it is to hop on one foot, but you will if you have to do it for a quarter-mile because the Spanish like to part as far as possible from a soccer field as possible. Part II: Spanish Hospitals So here I am in Spain at the Spanish ER. People are very nice, and fortunate for me I have dual citizenship which allows me access to their wonderful free healthcare. Sure you have to wait 3 hours, but that’s no different than midtown Manhattan. The dozen of nurses and doctors that came in to see me were all very nice, and overly optimistic. One thing that was interesting was that everyone one was writing up some sort of paperwork, and each one kept getting the foot wrong, saying it was the right, vs left. This is not the greatest thing to hear at a hospital. They all said “I’m sure it’s not too bad, probably just a bandage”. That was until the last guy, who was the surgeon who came in, put down the clipboard, and said “it’s completely ripped. We need to operate right away.” So the way free healthcare works is a) it’s free and b) you get it when you get it, meaning, you got to wait till someone is available to operate on you. This meant 3-4 days in a hospital, which I really didn’t feel like doing. A quick call to my doc (best doc in the world, Sherri Sandel of Lenox Hill – you rock) confirmed that I could wait to have surgery back in the States, and as long as I had some pain killers and pumped myself full of anti-coagulates I wouldn’t stroke out on the plane. Great. So at 4am after a good 6 hours at the hospital I was released. Everyone was still there; all the guys from the game, and their girlfriends, and some other’s that came by to support. That’s one thing about Europeans and family; they go the extra mile. Perhaps they felt a tinge of guilt for thinking I was faking it;) So longer story shorter they threw a splint on it, and I walked flat foot for the rest of the weekend. Probably not the best idea to walk on it, but there was a wedding to attend, and grappa can fix many things. A few days later I was at the airport injecting anti-coagulant into my guy and ready to fly home. The real healing was about to begin. Part III: American Hospitals So, I was refered to Dr. Jeff Schildhorn of NY Bone and Joint by my doc, and he’s the best. Young guy, honest talking, and knows that I want to get back on my feet pronto. A sonogram confirms it is completely torn, and there are two options. Some people let it heal on its own, which is safer, as there is no risk of infection, but it might happen again in the future. Other is surgery, which will heal it better, but there is a risk of infection. He tells me that in “olden times” they used to cut the Achilles of captured soldiers so they couldn’t run away, but the problem was that it would heal and they would escape, so this injury is not fatal, per se. Yes… per se doc, save the fact that I have not been captured at war, just defeated at a friendly game of soccer. So I opted for the surgery. I never had surgery before, or even broken a bone, so I was really excited about going in. He said it was an easy procedure, takes about an hour, and you can go home a few hours after the anesthesia wears off. Anesthesia. Cool. I asked him if I would say anything funny while I was under and he laughed. “That’s the first thing everyone asks.” then nothing. “So?”. He stopped smiling, “well, yes. You might.” great. This should be real interesting with the girlfriend. I’m more worried about what shit comes out of my mouth then being cut open… this friends, is where a man’s true fear lies. Part IV: Surgery Surgery was actually… pleasant. I went to Surgicare of Manhattan off the request of Dr. Schildhorn. apparently Doctors have to make “reservations” at certain facilities to do surgery, and some places are better than others. This was the Le Bernardin of outpatient centers; it had “all the new toys” as he put it, and if he was happy, I was happy. The anesthesiologist came to see me first. He was a nice guy with a fun lisp and told me everything that was going to happen. I had him explain fully as I was fascinated by the process. “Well,” he began, “basically it is a cocktail of drugs we inject into your I.V. – some for anti inflammatory, some for blood consistency, some to block nerve signals and regulate breathing, kinda a long island iced tea of knockout juice.” I was fascinated. In the operating room I lied face down. They put like a hundred very thick, warmed blankets over me. I don’t think I even needed the knockout juice I was so comfortable. My guy put the IV in me and asked if I was cool, which I was. He then went, “ok, see you in a bit.” squeezed a plunger and I was out, cold. Amazing. I don’t remember the first parts of waking up, but I do remember my girlfriend and best friend Dave Hanson sitting next to me. They were happy to tell me that when I first came to, I looked over to my girlfriend Miranda, and said, quite plainly, “Now…. I am Hemingway.”. Take that for what you will folks, take that for what you will. I now had a splint on and a jar of oxycodone. I was ready to heal. Part V: Week 1 I got home. I wasn’t to put any weight on it and keep it elevated as much as possible. It did not hurt, at all, and that was strange to me. I laid down on the couch and took out my phone. On Facebook a close friend of mine MC Illspokinn had posted something about raising money for an operation. I texted him right away, “what happened?” – minutes later, “Achilles tendon rupture”. I cried I laughed so hard. “Face time. pronto.” as his image came up on my phone he was in the EXACT same position I was in on the couch. We both started laughing. He was in France, playing basketball. Thus began, what I would find out, is that this happens to A LOT of dudes. It says 1 in 5000 on the internets, but you soon realize you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone who knows someone who this has happened to. What is amazing to me is how devastating it is. You are out, on your ass, for months. I guess it took down a demi-god… it must be shitty for humans. Illspokinn told me that the pain was going to be unbearable. He was about two days ahead of me time wise, so he said “at least you get the good shit in America, here, they give you fucking aspirin and some Sancerre. Bullshit.” but the truth is, and maybe this is to the credit of my surgeon, that I really was in no pain at all. If not for the heavy splint on my foot I wouldn’t even know anything was wrong. I really only took the pills because, well, I was bored and, hey… I had Percocet! So I was basically doing one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one at night. The slow roll, half of the allotted dosage. I tell you what did help was the acetamin in the pills because my foot would balloon up sometimes. A quick tip; you might wanna be Hemingway and slip a little scotch in the mix here, I’m gonna say it’s a bad idea, if nothing else you get a really bad headache, besides, you can die pretty easily.
In a week’s time I would go back to Schildhorn to see how we did. He would then put a cast on me for about a month, then a boot after with physical training beginning about 5 weeks in. In 6 months I would have my foot back. Till then I kept the foot up, and ordered everything I could from Amazon; water protective covering, a bag for my crutches, even a peg leg. Eyepatch and hat coming soon. I also ordered a shit load of supplements and vitamins. Here is the list:
Proline Lysine Glycine Vit c Turmeric Calcium Pycnogenol® Hyaluronic acid Gelatin Ginger Boswelian Bromelain Fish oil
Lots of Broccoli, lots of protein, and lots of … pineapple? Oh well, if someone will think it can help, I’m gonna do it.
Part V: Week 2
Went into Schildhorn, and was super excited to get the damn splint off and get a cast on. I felt the cast was going to be nice and secure, and hell, one step closer to recovery. I was also really excited to see what the hell my foot looked like. The past week was interesting; having it up it was no problem, but as soon as I put it down all the blood would rush down there, like what happens to your head when you hang upside-down. Weirdest thing, and it freaked me out. (I would find out it is totally normal, so dont worry if it happens to you). I had been really good, keeping it up the whole time and staying off the crutches, which brings me to lesson 2:
Lesson 2: you will suck at crutches.
They are hard, they hurt, and you will suck. You will not ever be this guy:
You will not have a good feeling. Anyway, I stayed off them. I am fortunate enough to have a fantastic girlfriend who I live with who takes excellent care of me, who could make me some meals in the morning and stock an amazing cooler full of delights to keep my tummy entertained. That mixed with amazing friends to come by and keep me from loosing my mind, I was in a good place. I honestly, have no idea, how someone would do this living alone. No idea.
So coming into get the splint off and a cast on was a real treat as it meant being closer to walking. I was even maybe a bit gitty about it, perhaps just from being outside for the first time in a week! Happy as a clam I came into the office and was shown into an examination room… and then I saw this on the wall:
Really Schildhorn? Really? Too soon.
Anyway, doc came in and took the splint off. I got a view of the disaster down below… I warn you… nothing too pretty.
Well, actually, not nearly as bad as I thought. He did a great job, even put the scar off to the side so it wouldnt rub againast my shoes once healed. True professional. He said it looked so good that if I wanted I could go right into the boot. That made me happy, super happy, but I opted for the cast. 1) I’ve never had one. Kinda interested to know what it’s like, and 2) I’m a fucking klutz. When the splint was off I got a sinking feeling in my stomach, because I was totally exposed. I could feel the tendon being held together by two stitches. Get that friggin’ cast on me STAT. And so he did.
Special props to Miranda Kendrick for the designer racing stripes.
Part VI: Week 3
Well, at least I’m re-familiarizing myself with Roman Numerals. Wonderful.
Another week, another adventure. The cast lasted two days before I was sick of it. It felt too tight (like my toes were numb from no blood circulation) and the angle of the cast was such that I constantly had my leg out at a weird angle, or looked like a dancer trying to sit elegantly (and failing…miserably) – So back to the doc, where he cut it off. You might have wondered how they cut a cast off (I did) and yes, its a friggin’ circular saw. The conversation went like this:
Me: So how do you cut the cast off? Doc: With this! (pulls out circular saw, fires it up, high pitch whine makes my balls crawl inside my guy) Me: ….! Doc: Don’t worry… (puts it up against face, nothing happens)
So its a vibrating circular saw… it doesn’t cut your skin. Science. Fuck yeah.
So the cast was off, and the boot is now on…
It’s better, but a warning: you are not healed. Psychologically it made me feel like I could get around, even though I still am not to put weight on it for another 4 weeks. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It’s heavy, and what happens is the strain to keep it up kills your leg. Groin especially. My mother made the trip up from Florida (It takes either me getting married or mauled to get her up here) and we thought we could crutch down the block to lunch. I ended up hurting my upper calf, like I pulled it. I texted my friend Corey (Illspokinn) in France who has the same injury and is about 3 days ahead of me to see how it was going. His reply: “Alright. My upper calf is killing me. Like I pulled it”. Seems like that can happen. Beware. What gets me is that no one… anywhere… tell’s you this shit. Not even the doctors. Another thing is because it’s so heavy, even with your foot up, it tends to rotate outward, opening up your knee and bending it against the joint. If you’re not careful, you can really screw up your knee. I ordered a knee brace to hopefully keep me in one piece. Corey said it definitely helps. Anyway, was nice having the momma around, especially because it was my birthday, so she cooked a big meal for me and the friends, and we got into a very deep conversation about immigrants, veal, and the use of vinegar as a cleaning product. My pop had to stay home with the dog (that’s true) but he did send me a lovely birthday/helper gift: The Brookstone Rover Spy Tank:
Cool little gizmo you can control with your phone – it has a two way radio, so I can visit Miranda in the kitchen, and she can put a sandwich on top of the tank, then I can drive it back to the office and in my mouth. Oh, it also has night vision for when it’s late and I need cake. Good thinking pop. All in all, these are little things to help me stay off the leg. I’ve had it up again for the last two days and the pain subsided. You really can’t have it up enough. It’s a shame, I was getting good at the crutches. I will say this; get yourself a crutch bag (or even just tie a plastic bag around your crutch like you’re your grandmother) – you will need it. Another tip: Lesson 3: The wing nuts on the crutch go behind you, otherwise they will attack your pockets. Yeah, I found this one out the hard way. See, they use wing nuts on the crutches where you put your hands. If you have them forward, they will, get caught in your pockets, and trust me, you will fall, or at the very least trip and curse like a sailor. There are two solutions; make sure they are pointing behind you, or, don’t wear pants. Either is fine. Oh, there is one other solution; become a pirate:
Yep. A Brooklyn Pirate. That my friends is the iWalk 2.0 – Im not sure what the 1.0 was, and I really hope I never do. If you do a little research and check out their testimonials, you will drink the kool-aide and think you will be able to walk and use your hands, you know, like a human being, or at least a simian. And while, yes, you can, the probability is, you won’t. Cause you will feel like an idiot.
So, back to sitting with my leg up, editing away… I did find a great blog of another gent that outlines the whole process wonderfully. Thanks Mario Sanchez!
Part VII: Week 4
So time is flying by, and things are getting a little better. End of this week I go back in to the doc and start, hopefully, PT. Last Sunday I decided to go to Floyd’s and play some Bocce – which, besides video games, is the only sport someone in my predicament can play. As I hobbled in one of the guys on the other team who I never met before looked at me and said, “Achilles?”. He then swung around and showed me a big scar on his ankle. Crazy. Even stranger, an old friend of mine from London came to visit. She was sitting in my living room and seemed to know everything I was going through. Then she told me it happened to her 4 years ago playing Badminton (that’s like Soccer for English folk). I cannot believe how many people this happens to and I had NEVER heard of it the day before it happened. Everyone says the same thing. Unreal. Anyway, updates. My injured leg is now visibly smaller than my other leg. Freaking me out. Started to do leg lifts and stuff on the bed. I’m pretty useless and the leg is super weak. I’ve been keeping it on the ground, cause I can, but the foot swells something fierce. Must remember to keep it elevated. Washing it is a special joy thought, I tell you. My knee is super weak these days; the weight of the boot causes the leg to rotate out, putting a lot of weight at a weird angle on the knee. I’ve gotten a knee brace from Amazon and that has helped a lot. Other than that I’ve been caring lots of stuff in my underwear.
I tell you. Sandwiches, remotes, deodorant, Saran Wrap, you name it. Underwear is great. Like the backpack you wear. On your ass. Warning: Do not carry milk chocolate or open containers of yogurt in your underwear. Trust.
Part VIII: Week 5… I guess
Boy these weeks are just flying by. Went to the doctor. He asked “why are you here?” I was like “Cause, last time I was here you said come back in two weeks. So… I’m here.” “Oh.”. So I guess we weren’t starting physical training which was similar to your parents telling you that you’re going to Disneyland then saying, “oh” and not going. Ger-rate.
Anyway he gave me the “PT Prescription” which I’m gonna give to a place closer to me. Paying 60 bucks in cabs each time would have killed me. Best to find a place I can walk to, and for some reason I feel like the physical therapy in Brooklyn is a little more hard-core than midtown Manhattan. Im just saying if I were a boxer I wouldn’t go to the 56th street Equinox, I’d probably hit up Tony’s Auto Repair and Gym on Atlantic Avenue. represent.
Anywho – here is the prescription: One thing that popped out at me was the part about the scar tissue. I hadn’t really even thought about it because it’s been under wraps for most of the time. Outta sight, outta mind right? Now though, I’m taking the boot off to sleep and also keeping it out during the day as much as I can. Frankly it was killing my knee, and I don’t think it was doing much in the way of healing it. The scar looks pretty good as far as scars go, but having read that it can be a problem with flexibility I’ve been putting liberal amounts of Aquaphor on it to give it a proper chance to heal. And my mother said getting tattoos would never teach me anything.
I’ve seen worse.
One thing I will say… the foot loves to swell up. If you keep it down for any amount of time it balloons up and sucks. I try to keep the compression bandages on it, and keep it elevated if I can. I’m also not taking any medication; no ibuprofen or pain killers. Just a shitload of the supliments, which, either have or have not been doing anything. All I know is the doc accused me of doing PT at home and I haven’t. Trust in the power of pineapple my friend. Trust.
Lesson 3: you will love, and hate, your boot.
The boot gives you a nice feeling of protection. It is so strange how vulnerable you feel when your foot is exposed for the first time. Just placing it on the ground made me flinch, like it was made of glass. The reality is that if you do it a while, if you play with it, massage it, flex it, you will start to gain confidence in it. Taking it in and out of the boot was key for this, but I will say, that the damn velco on the boot if FUCKING CRAZY. Even the doc, the first time he put it on me, had trouble getting the velcro loose. This is like NASA grade velcro folks, and if you make a complete seal, then good luck not snapping a fingernail backwards trying to get it off.
I have, however, discovered a little trick: if you seal the velcro at an angle, so some of the strip runs off the contact point, it gives it a little lip you can use to pull up. This is akin to folding back a little tape on a roll of packing tape to make it easy to get a strip the next time. For your consideration, exhibit A and B:
Finally, and most importantly, I got a new “toy” this week called MobiLeg‘s and I cannot recommend them enough. Unlike my peg-leg-piece-of-shit (see above “A Brooklyn Pirate“) the MobiLeg is just a supped-up crutch. The Cadillac of crutches really. My good friend Russell Dreher had told me about them and as soon as I saw them I was like … um, yes.
First, they look good. One thing I hate about crutches is that you look like you’re on crutches. Sounds obvious, but try walking into a bar and not everyone turn around and either give you a “oh, poor man” look or worse “ew, a poor man” look. There is a quiet racism against the crutched folk of the world, and while there are worse forms of discrimination, I don’t want to feel weird while getting a beer at my local. I don’t blame people; I am a sore thumb; I look gangly, I sound like a garbage truck when I move, and I’m as awkward as Gwendoline Christie trying to get out of a Fiat 500. Ugly all around. These MobiLegs, well, they make you a little prettier.
They come in “future white” so they look like something out of Gatica which I’m down with. They are also minimal, which is always sign of good design. Best of all, they dont look so much like crutches as they do a future mech suit that Tom Cruise would wear. I’m in. But their look is only secondary to their function… lemme break it down for you:
• Meshed, spring-loaded pit catchers. ‘That’s right, mesh. So it breathes. It’s light. It’s flexible. No chafing or rashes. And spring-loaded? Yeah, suspension. If you ever used crutches the FIRST thing you ask yourself is “I wish they had springs in them… like a pogo stick… for your pits.” Someone got high and made these. They’re perfect.
• Totally adjustable and light. The hight of your boot might make it so one needs to be higher than the other. The length of your hand to armpit vs. hand to foot might be different on either arm. This lets you adjust it. On the fly.
• Football rocker foot. The rubber nubbin at the end of my old crutch, in a word, sucked. First, it would slip – more than once. Sometimes it would plunger on the floor and make a pop noise as I pulled it up. I never encountered a thing that could slip and suck at the same time. Also, propping a door open with it would make it get stuck underneath because the rubber was thin and flexible like a sorority girl with low self esteem. THIS is different. Its big, fat and shaped like a potato. A nice potato like you get at a Danny Meyer restaurant. It rocks on the floor, and doesn’t suck, and you could prop open a steel garage door with it and not worry. Nailed it China, great job!
• Dope grips like you’re in a video game killing aliens or Nazi’s or Nazi Aliens (Xbox… get on that). I hate the grips on my old crutches. It’s like they made crutches in 3 BC out of sticks and were like “Ok. Well that’s done. Now we have crutches. Forever. What’s next?” – anyone that walks for any amount of time will tell you more than anything your hands hurt unless you are Yusuke Tanaka (look it up.) – These… these grips… are a bit of magic. They do what grips are supposed to do; make your arm part of the crutch. They maximize the contact surface so that your arm flows into the crutch, taking pressure off points of your hand. It’s gorgeous, and a pleasure.
So, MobiLegs. Bravo. I honestly don’t know why they would make crutches any other way. There is no benefit to the classic style. People … are our TV’s square boxes anymore? No. Do our cars have wooden spoked wheels on them? No. No they do not. Do we wear dresses to go swim in the ocean any longer? NO. God no. So why has it taken this long to make a better stick to lean up against with I ask you?
One last thing about my new dope crip-sticks. You can buy “skins” for them. Yeah. Exactly. Like you can jazz up your injury. Robin blue, Carbon Fiber, or even Racing Flames. I bought the Carbon Fiber, but after seeing how nice the white looked, I left the stock color untouched. Amazing. 119.00 bucks well spent.
WEEK 8: The Reckoning!
So… been three weeks since an update. Wanna know why? Because there has been no change. This may have been the toughest part for me mentally. You reach a point where you still have this damn boot on, and nothing seems different. that is, you are getting used to wearing a big friggin boot on your leg. You’re used to kids looking at you walk down the street, used to getting in cabs, used to restaurants looking at you like something they have to deal with. Maybe its living in New York that amplifies it; a town built on walking. In any case, you feel it towards the two month stretch, and it is a ball breaker.
But then… just like that… there is hope.
At two weeks the doc said to start physical therapy. I was nervous; my foot was extremely tender, and I relied on the safe, warm comfort of the boot I hated so much. I was also excited to get the healing, the real healing going. I went to One on One Physical Therapy in Brooklyn. Luckily they were located in the same building as my gym… this way I could get a gym trainer and see the PT the same day, because it was still hard to get around. I was fat now, a good 20 lbs over weight, and definitely had improved my guy size. I needed to start working out, because along with not being able to walk, I needed to feel good about myself. Lots of surprises here….
First… you can walk and dont know it and that is very weird. When I went to PT the first time the trainer asked me to take my boot off and walk. Walk. Just like that. I made this noise like an old man confused by modern technology, but she assured me I was ok to walk, and you know what, I was. I actually walked, without the boot, right there and then. Weird, isnt the word to describe the sensation. Alien is much better. The point here is that the boot is a blessing and a curse, and if someone doesnt tell you to get out of it… you may not want to, even though you think you do.
Second…. you are fucking weak. REALLY weak. Working out was abysmal. Pushups? I could do 30 without breaking a sweat… now, barely 5. I mean, your leg is totally useless… the right, healthy leg can easily do 50 lbs on the extension machine. The left? 5 lbs. This will prove to be the hardest part of the recovery; getting your body back to where it was. Not being able to walk is one thing, but not being able to look in the mirror and not be disgusted is a whole new injury.
Week 9: ow.
PT is amazing. I cannot stress this enough. It is like a religion except there is no singing and you dont have to clap. You literally walk in, and an hour later you can walk like a normal person. Honest to God. The effects wear off, but after ever session they come back and last longer. The regiment is the same:
• walking over cones
• band exercises
• step exercises (remember the 80’s?!)
• picking up marbles with your toes. Yup.
Kind of epic. I sweat. It’s hard work, and it pays off. Mainly the PT tells me that I can walk normal, I just have to choose too. I have to actively try to not limp. Just that simple.
The Trainer in the gym is another story. I was so sore from one session with him that I literally couldn’t sleep. I was in some real pain and I felt that maybe a trainer wasnt the best idea, despite wanting to lose some weight immediately. Lesson learned, and as soon as I got the strength to lift my iPhone I cancelled my sessions with him.
One interesting note here. The PT told me I no longer need the boot, and I don’t. I’m so excited to be free from my prison I can’t begin to tell you. Who knew that socks and shoes could be so erotic! I went to see my doctor, the surgeon that performed the procedure and he goes “where is your boot?” so I told him what the PT said, and he was very unhappy. From the man who nonchalantly told me not to worry about pulling the other Achilles, and seemed to be very rough and tumble about the whole thing like it was no big deal, he was now overly concerned. “You have to wear that boot. I mean you’re at risk, even right now, and you can very easily damage it again.” He started trying to find the prescription he had given me to give the PT because he didn’t believe that it said it was time to get the boot off, but it did. Rather, it said “ween” off the boot. apparently I had gone from crawling to running.
Truth be told I didnt put the boot on. I did my research too… seems like some doctors start PT a few weeks after surgery. Some are more conservative. And while I trust the medical opinion of a doctor, it is an opinion. And I’ll be damned if I go back in that boot.
Week 12: Rocking and rolling.
Glad I didn’t put that boot on. Foot is doing great… lost a little weight, got some energy back, and life is pretty normal all things considered. Traveled to Ireland last week, back to work full time, and feeling on top of the world. In my experience it took 12 weeks exactly to get back on my feet. Literally. Your mileage may vary. I walk now, wear shoes, take subways, even ride the motorcycle. I’m sure the doc would have a fit, but I gotta live. I still have a limp, and the ankle does get tired, but never swollen like it used to. I try to go to PT 2 times a week, and promise you that its the key.
Seriously. Do not move to, or even come visit Cobble Hill in Brooklyn. It is the worst place on earth. Earth. Flint Michigan? Please, more like Daytona Beach. Detroit Michigan? Palm Springs in comparison. Hell, anywhere in Michigan is better than Cobble Hill. You should definitely go to Michigan. Here are some cheap plane tickets, check them out.
Why on earth would you want to come here? I mean, it’s minutes away from the rat infested city, and most places here actually have a backyard, or, dare I say, a veranda, that have bugs and shit. Ew. Nature. I mean, sure, there is one Starbucks, but most of the businesses and restaurants in the neighborhood are family owned. I mean, that’s just un-American! Where is my Olive Garden? My Spice Thai food? What do you mean you Italian and you are a butcher? I thought we got rid of all you people!
Yes, Cobble Hill, this family orientated, classic Brooklyn neighborhood, with strong Italian ethnic roots, and food direct from the old country is definitely a place to stay clear from. I mean, people here talk with an actual NYC accent? I thought we did away with that in the 1990’s with Sex in the City?
So, here are a few of my most hated places. Please. Do not come here, under any circumstances, unless you like disappointment and cultural shock. For reference I created a Goggle map so you can more effectively navigate your way away from these sinkholes of despair.
Perhaps the lamest bar in Brooklyn with a terrible menu. A Turkey Leg sandwich on fresh-cut, thick sliced bread? I usually order two because I can’t believe how much I hate it. Also it’s not like they have the best mixologists in the city there, happy to make you a delicious, garden fresh libation. Who’s got time for that crap? PBR for me friends; none of this ice-cold Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold, thank you very much.
Dear God. How many times do I have to come here? Seriously? They keep changing the menu. And I keep clearing the plate, literally taking the fresh-baked bread and wiping it clean. Obviously the portions are too small, obviously. Thank God for Alka-Seltza which should come standard with the meal. They keep creating new dishes, (“market fresh and seasonal” they call it. “Communist” I call it.) each one more disgustingly dynamic then the next. And how cheerful does a place have to be? And the damn staff, I mean, it’s like they’re my friends. Who needs that? What are they trying to hide? A full bar, and an eclectic wine selection is the icing on the cake for this dump. Do not come here.
Germans. Who need them, right? With their farm fresh meats, amazing beer, and dear God, what is the deal with the bread? It’s like warm, oven fresh bread with butter is some sort of religion for these people. Every time I come here I regret it. It’s usually for brunch and they usually shove one of their “specialty” bloody mary’s in my face. Then another. German’s right? So pushy. And them I’m like “Oh, you made me eat too much, now I can’t walk home” and they “happily” call me a cab. I swear, this place is a nightmare.
People actually get married in this dive, if you can believe it. Just because they have A) a farmhouse in the backyard and B) they have “amazing” food. Yeah, apparently they won some sort of award for the food and service, but I just don’t see it; this place is always crowded so to me that just says that they are as slow as shit. And how hard is it to make Italian food? I mean a red-head dude called Mario (fake) can do it, and I bet he’s from Ireland. Don’t waste your time here folks, make it a Di’Giorno night.
This place is so lame that it doesn’t even have a website. Hows 1982 of you my friends. Are those parachute pants working out for you? Cash only and about the size of a thimble this joint serves up what they call “Sardinian Fare”. Please. With it’s “charming” rustic interior, and actual Italian staff this place is about as un-American as you can get. Not even a basic hamburger on the menu! How they stay in business I do not know.
More like “Meh and Run-with-your-money”. Casual seating with room for kids, and artisan breakfast sandwiches? Free newspapers and large lattes? No thanks. I take my breakfast like an American; wrapped in plastic while riding the F train.
French people, am I right? With their cheese, their Saison beers, and their Goddamn joy du vive or whatever they fucking call it. Going to this place is like hanging out at some shack in Marseilles. That’s like the Detroit of France. Viva l’Americans. Dont go.
What is with people, prohibition, and pool? What was fun about prohibition? Nothing. Super un-American. So this “speak easy” with a “rousing attitude” can just go suck it. I mean, craft beer and hand crafted cocktails? Um… MGD thank you very much.
Listen, Italian’s, we get it. You like to eat. Stop shoving it in our faces with your fresh meats like hand-made sausages, veal and something called a “porchetta”. If I want to eat pig, I do so with a chop. Like an American. And congrats for being family owned for over 150 years. Making your kids slaves does not sound like freedom to me.
Another one. Immigrants. Where are all the Americans? This one puts photographs of 4 entire generations of his family on the wall. Here’s the kicker, the old guy behind the counter expertly cutting your meat? He’s the young guy in the first picture. Right? Like way to move up in the world buddy. Sure their meats are top quality, and you can’t beat their “service” but seriously, if I wanted to go back in time I would watch Back to the Future on Betamax.
Hand on face slap. Gourmet Food? C’mon people, we call this a bodega here in NYC. It’s the kinda place you go when you need toilet paper or scratch-offs. Sure they have some cheeses from around the world, fresh fruits and veg, and yeah, orange blossom water in case you’re making a Ramon Gin Fizz, but really we’re only looking for the post-nightclub Red Bull and wishful thinking pack of Trojans thank you very much.
I swear, didn’t I leave California to get away from this hippie crap? The only saving grace with Trader Joe’s in Manhattan is that there is a 3 hour line to pay for your two buck chuck and bean dip. Here though it’s, like, empty… all the time. Balls.
Broccoli Rabe in garlic and chili? Sweet Yams glazed with honey? Roasted Chicken with sautéed wild mushrooms? How lazy do you have to be to pick up a freshly cooked dinner. Not to mention their fresh-baked Pretzel Croissants? Didn’t you get the memo? People like cronuts idiots, not your flakey delicious pretzel Frankensteins. Lame.
When did America stop making things? Wine from Aruba? Ruhm from Canada? Bitters from the Marshall Islands? I mean give me Carlo Rossi American Wine and stop with this eclectic serving of drunk juice. No one wants it.
When did Starbucks lose its grip on the coffee industry? Why would I possibly want a fresh, hot, ham and cheese croissant that didn’t come from a factory and was lovingly swaddled in a cellophane wrapper with my fresh brewed coffee? Why?
Jeebus! What is it with Italians and food? Thank you for the Olive Garden, you can go now. I mean TWO bakeries right next to each other? And neither one of them has a web site? It’s like they expect word of mouth to keep them in business for over 100 years. One word idiots, “groupon”. Look into it.
Um, really? There are children around. Do I need your world-class selection of beer, cheese and coffee? Is this an Istanbul market? What do you mean “don’t worry about the coffee, we got it, come back soon”? What kinda cult is this?
Oh brother. A bookshop. An “independent” bookshop no less. How “neighborhoody” and shit. I mean, first of all, if I want a bookshop, I want it to sell toys and mugs, like a Barnes and Nobel, mainly because I have to use the bathroom and they have one. Sure this shop is extensive, and if the don’t have it, then they can order it. They call you even when it arrives (hell, one guy actually brought the book to my house because it was “on his way home” as if the people who work here aren’t homeless – psssst…. no one buys books anymore, we have the internet now. Cat videos).
Do I really need to even write anything here. I mean a video rental shop? It’s 2014 people. Heard of Netflix? Video is dead my friend, and no one wants to watch any of your funky foreign films are art house crap. We want Michael Bay and we want it pausing every 12 to 17 minutes to buffer.
That’s it, and honestly, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Tip. Cobble Hill and its adjoining nightmare Carroll Gardens are just chuck full of these un-American, socialist sinkholes, that only exist so hippie communists can take honestly earned American Dollars. I swear, it’s neighborhoods like this that make me wonder where our future is going.
So, Denver. You go away for the summer and come back a cool kid? Looks like someone discovered American Eagle and leather wrist bands. Good for you.
On our last post in a series about Denver, we take a good, hard look at pot. Marijuana. Mary Jane. Buds. Chronic. The Cheech to my Chong. I went to Denver to find out really what the deal was with dealing, how the processed worked, and if it was, at all, interesting. It was, but perhaps not for the reasons you might think.
Without further adieu, how to buy pot in Denver in three easy steps.
Step 1) Find a pot dispensary.
This may seem like an obvious step, but trust me, it isn’t. I thought there would be shops that sold weed that you would walk in and buy said weed. Not exactly. It’s not like “hey, I need a new pair of sunglasses, let me go into this sunglass shop and buy a pair of said sunglasses”… apparently it depends on what kind of eyes you have. (long way to go for a visual metaphor, but I’m the kinda guy that’s willing to do it).
First thing to do is go to your trusty ol’ smartphone and download an app for finding weed (read that sentence again, then think back 10 years and realize that half the words in said sentence wouldn’t even make sense … dear God the future is bright). I chose Weedmaps because I trust reviews. It’s a great little app, and it does the job. For your consideration:
You can see that Denver has a few more dispensaries then NYC to buy weed (my guy delivers though, so, sorry Denver, suck it.)
Now you’re saying “Rob. You just said that it wasn’t that easy to find places to buy weed. It looks like it’s easier to get some El Chronico then it is to get a Starbucks Espresso.” Well, yes and no. What I didn’t realize is that there are different types of dispensaries; some are medical, some are recreational. These, for instance, are not places I cannot buy pot:
2) Get freaked out.
Number two is a fun one. Not everyone has to do it, but you’re going to want to. Once you actually find a pot dispensary you can legally purchase the goods at, it is important that you get a bit freaked out. The process is in no way what I would call refined or even enjoyable. I expected something more along the lines of my Brooklyn cheese monger, who goes over the particular characteristics of each variety, where it is from, and what wine is best paired with it.
None of that here.
Entrance into the shop is nothing less than what you should expect from an underground rebel base in Eastern Europe. You have to hold up your ID outside a generic, steel reinforced door, into a tiny camera with a key pad. You then state your name. You then wait for the longest 5 seconds of your life, and be greeted by the grating rattle of a buzz as the door is electronically unlocked. Inside the shop everything is super clinical. White on white on white. Super organized, devoid of any character or personality. It kinda looks like Phillipe Starck opened a head shop, sans oversized flowerpots. What really got me was the staff; they don’t want you in there, or at least, it seemed like that to me. Although it’s “legal” they have a hurried air about them that makes it feel like you are doing something totally shady. Mind you, this is before we got high, so paranoid we were not. This was real.
Now, there are dozens of products here. Dozens of strains. Dozen of edibles. Asking questions about them went something like this:
me: “Hey. could you tell me a bit about the different varieties you have here?”
them: “do you understand the difference between sativa and indica?”
me: “sort of…”
them: “well this side is indica, and this side is sativa.”
In the end we chose one gram of indica named Peaches and Cream, and a gram of sativa named White Truffle Hush, plus some cherry drop edibles. We paid cash, as this is a cash only industry. Here is something very interesting about legally buying pot in Denver; you see it’s totally illegal. The federal government still considers it a drug, so things like credit card companies and banks cannot lawfully take money in from the businesses. Therefor everything is done with cash; you buy goods in cash, they pay their employees in cash, they take bags and bags of cash from the store to the banks. I guess that’s why they are so fucking up tight. It reminded me of that scene in Lock Stock if Lock Stock and THX 1138 had a film baby (Ill let you all draw your own comparisons between those films. THX George? Did you know something we didn’t. No, of course not. Go fuck up another Star Wars will ya).
All in all the total was 70 bucks, which isn’t bad, but for once NYC wasn’t the most expensive place on the planet. One of the reasons is because of the tax, a whopping 28% that garnished about 2 million just in the first month for the state. Amazing that while federally the sale of marijuana is not legal, it is legal to tax it. Taxation like that would surely lead to tea party riots, save the fact that tea is caffeinated, and pot heads couldn’t rally if they were giving away free churros.
3) Find a place to smoke it like you still live with your parents.
So you’ve found a place to buy it, you’ve legally purchased your buds, and now you want to smoke it. Good luck! Denver, as far as I can tell, is a super clean, conservative city. You hardly see people smoking cigarets let alone lighting up a J on the street. We didn’t find any cafe’s like they do in Amsterdam, and I smell someone smoking weed on the street way more often in NYC then I did in legalized Denver. So, where to do it?
Yup. Like we never left college.
The thing about the whole process, besides having to find the right place, and the clinical/cold method to purchase, is that there really is no reason to smoke once you have it. That may sound weird, but I’ve been to so many other places in the world where smoking weed enhances your experience; the butterfly sanctuary in Santa Barbara. The Vondelpark in Amsterdam. The Natural History Museum in New York. For me at least, there is a recipe for life, and certain ingredients can be added to make a perfect meal. Denver, as a city, didn’t need pot. It had clean public spaces, fantastic breweries, and lot’s of great restaurants. While you can make the argument that pot could enhance all of these places, it’s kind of like adding Sriracha to any meal. You can do it… but… should you? Some things just go better together, and Denver with pot seemed like Yoga and Bowling. Sure they’re both fun, I just don’t see why you would do them together.
So off in our room we smoked our weed and got high. The weed was good and did the job, and riding around on bikes all day was a pleasant experience. I personally really liked the edibles, because you’d have one in the morning and all day you just floated through the city. I guess what I missed was stimulus. Pot, for me, always makes me hyper aware; my mind works faster (at least, different…), I run down streets of thought versus stroll down them. Denver is a pretty laid back town, spread out, with a pretty common pallet of culture and color. Maybe I’m used to NYC, but it wasn’t frenetic enough to energize me, nor was it laid back enough to sooth me. Pot just seemed out-of-place here, and while it was legal, I don’t think one person spoke about it, smoked about it, or even bothered about it.
I asked one kid at the bar what the deal was with legalizing pot; if they noticed any change in the city, or the people. She said, “you know, it seems like its been legal for a decade, because you could get medical marijuana for so long. Making it legal “recreationally” just was another day in Denver”. I guess that’s what I didn’t expect. In another city, the possibility to capitalize on a new market would be evident; new restaurants that were pot-centric, special pot-head movie nights, and of course, pot mini-golf. From the outside Denver looked like any other quiet city in the world, who’s mini-golf had 9 holes just like it did in the Bible. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but if you’re looking for something different, the only thing that is really different about Denver these days is how much it was like yesterday.
P.S. Upon leaving we threw out our pot, most of it unconsumed, and we felt horrible about it. We wondered how much pot goes wasted for travelers who cannot bring their goods home with them. Our cabbie (who was ethiopian, and apparently, so are most of the cabbies in Denver, which I found super interesting) told us that we should have brought the pot with us back to New York, because, if they do find it they just take it away, no harm no foul. Of course this is not a recommendation under any circumstances, nor do I know if that is even remotely true, but he said that it happens all the time. He also said that most people give it to him before they leave, to the point that he is planning to open up his own shop outside the airport for people that are laid-over or snowed in. Now that is the American Dream if I’ve ever seen it and I wish Abdel-Alim the best of luck.