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2004-09-30 - 4:11 p.m.

There is something monumentally disheartening about the fact that my favorite after hours stomach filler, the revered and honored, New York Bagel Chip, is actually manufactured in Bulgaria. Up until this point I knew nothing about Bulgaria. Nothing at all. They fell into that lump of countries that have interesting sounding names, but seem absent from every history textbook Iíve ever read. Growing up with a Hungarian mother, I kept flipping those pages waiting for someone in either Buda or Pest to do something worthy of at least a flick of a historianís pen. Now, realizing the shadow nature of one of my countries of origin, Iíve made plans of making and distributing a T-shirt at my family reunions. A simple phrase with an arrow pointing to the face of the wearer:

ďFrom the people that brought you Paprika.Ē

Until now I didnít think there was a more negligible definition for a nation state. Bulgaria has taken the crown. First I knew nothing. Now I know they make bagel chips, New York Style.

A possible rival for this sad state of affairs is the fact that Iíve been inactive enough to notice it. Having blacked out on so many evenings that itís entirely possible that Iím leading a double life, wherein my doppelganger wanders the city streets under the hip-hop pseudonym of DJ Tanner, Iíve decided to leap on the wagon, there to wear my bonnet, chatting with jailbait Melissa Sue Anderson, stewing in sobriety. These days, dodging any establishment with a liquor liecense, I end up jumping the trains right back to Brooklyn once the whistle blows and Iíve barely seen anyone outside of work in two weeks. My latest and greatest adventure, not to have taken place on my fugly couch, was the dangerous and always worrisome haircut.

Given the fact that my dirty blond hair tends to do whatever it wants, scoffing at gels and creams and moose, even the power of the scissor-bearers means little to these golden locks. Whatever the price, whatever the skill of the man examining my cranium, the same result will come: Iíll look like I just walked off one of those old news reels from Norway where some toe-head flies down a hill on a sled, wipes out, then gets up and waves at the camera with the speed and enthusiasm of a recent inductee into the hall of Methadone addicts.

With the results of no concern, I go whereever feels comfortable, or more likely, whereever is close enough that I donít have to deter from my beaten path. My recent choice, a corner shop three blocks from my occupancy. With one large room, a staggering willingness to buck the staunch principle that barbershops should be done up in only black and white, a cavalcade of fliers for local events, and a wiener dog tied to the shampoo chair, it has a personality and a general insanity that I tend to like in the kind of arena usually left to cold business-like demeanor.

The standard salons are usually cut from one of two cloths in New York. Either they are posh and helmed by long blond women with German accents who seem to handle your head like it was a volleyball set to be spiked, or else itís a local with Italian octogenarians who move everyone down the line with expediency, sometimes offering up a menu with a collection of heads, so you can point eagerly muttering ďOooh, Iím feeling frisky! Letís go with number six!Ē Actually, in all honesty, I think saying the word frisky in a barbershop like that would probably get you beaten.

I had a strong feeling this place was slightly different on my first time there. Midway through, the gentleman with the clippers leaned into my ear, whisperingÖ

ďHey, you need any porn? Cause I sell some in the back. Good selection.Ē

This particular trip continued the tradition as his attention was equally divided between my head and someone whoíd been standing on the corner, casing the joint, for three hours. He called the cops twice on him, but the officers arrived just after the stalker left.

ďYou see that? He goes. They come. Iím telliní you, heís an undercover cop.Ē

Despite his split mind, I came out of the shop with one of the better clippings Iíve received. Usually I need a few days for my hair to grow into a haircut before I stop looking like a doof. This one came out all right.

This, and my continuing struggles with the rodent population Ė note: Iím not a good knife thrower Ė are the highlights of my week.

Hibernating inside my little apartment, far from booze, and their related blues, the action adventure part of my life now looks like itís relocated from FOX to the BBC. (Pre-7:00 p.m.) Iíve written quite a bit, and discovered that Annieís makes a great boxed Fettuccini Alfredo, but outside of that, doldrums.

On the flipside, no new specters have joined the ghosts of benders past, and the already creakingly full box oí regret has had no additions. True enough, itís in need of a fastidious cleaning, but at least the inbox isnít growing.

Now with the knowledge that frosty nectar isnít a necessary medication, I know have to find places still open past six oíclock that will open some activity other than examining the sides of bagel bags. Coffee huts, and all-night diners, and bus stops, these all await me.

That, or Iím going to have to forge some kind of working relationship with Mr. Daniels wherein we still converse, but he doesnít convince me to dive into polluted rivers. Maybe I can get Kofi Anan to officiate.

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