Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It Was Gross, But I Couldn't Look Away

I saw a homeless man's penis yesterday. Not because he had an exhibitionist streak - he is an old, black man who I often see perambulating the sidewalks in front of the restaurant where I "moonlight", and I doubt he would want the patrons he accosts to know him that intimately. And it wasn't quite an accident either. Ironically, he was getting robbed.

Now I know some of you are wondering who the hell tries to rob a homeless man, and so aggressively. Well, I'll tell you: a strapping black male in his late twenties, wearing a black cutoff T-shirt, shorts and Jordans. Obviously not homeless.

It was weird. There I was, walking back from seating yet another faceless couple with a fake and luminescent smile on my face, when I noticed our general manager streaking out of the restaurant in a panic. Right there on the corner, in front of the valet and in plain view of every last panoramic window we have, two black men seemed to be wrestling against a shiny black Cadillac. The younger was holding on to the old man's pants; the old man had a fistful of the former's T-shirt. They tussled for a brief eternity (oxymoron, I know), dragging each other this way and that while the valet looked on, befuddled. The sidewalk was amazingly clear the whole time, which is odd for a weekday evening in downtown DC. Not an onlooker was present...except all the people who pay for a fine dining experience, and were instead forced to behold this spectacle as they ate.

Before long, we noticed something curious. The old man's pants were sagging a bit too low; there was a little too much skin showing too. No underwear. I, for one, was transfixed. Could this be actually happening? Lord knows I didn't come to work expecting to see random men being stripped against their will, but if fate had a different plan for me, who was I to fight it?

The old man was surprisingly strong. We could see the rippling muscles of the young ox as he struggled to rip the man's wallet through his trouser pockets. With one hand, the old man was holding on to the boy's T-shirt; with the other, losing the battle to keep his privacy - and meager dignity - intact. It was awful, like watching a train run over a small child. So why was I laughing so uncontrollably?

I couldn't hold it together. Customers were lined up in front of me, presumably waiting for me to seat them but also captivated by the bizarre scene behind them. Idle servers rushed to shut the blinds, so they wouldn't have to spend the next few minutes cleaning vomit off the floor. Just in time: Young Guy succeeded in denuding Old Boy from the waist down within thirty seconds.

It was terrible. Ankles imprisoned by his waistband, the man was having trouble keeping his balance. He tipped backwards, rubbing his bare ass all over the black Cadillac, no doubt the property of one of our patrons. I hope s/he didn't notice. He tried to bend over to pick up his pants and hide his shame; at that moment, the younger man tried to bolt. Old Dude wasn't about to let him get away with this. He abandoned that task in order to get a firmer grip on the guy. They both fell on the car, jerking each other back and forth, smearing sweat and oil all over the body, the old man's flaccid penis flailing in the chilly night air.

Behind the host stand, I was agape and wide-eyed, my hand covering my mouth, choking on shock-induced laughter. Servers and patrons alike stood around, trading jokes and passing commentary on the spectacle. Our general manager swept back into the restaurant - he had gone round the corner to call the police; there is always at least one police car present in that area all day and all night. Seeing the flashing lights, the young man gave one last heave, ripped himself out of the old man's grip, and fled down the street. Someone - a bystander - followed in hot pursuit, while the old man finally re-dressed himself and tried to get his bearings.

The shame and pain in his bewildered eyes could be read from yards away. I felt bad for him. At the same time, I couldn't wait to spread his gist. The other servers who couldn't leave their stations to come and watch the happenings approached me to be updated. One by one, they came with expectant eyes and left shaking their heads in pity. Except one. My best mate MF. His reaction was priceless, to me.

"What happened?" he asked.

"Some guy tried to rob a homeless guy and ripped his pants off. His entire ass and penis were on display."

A slow smile spread across his face as he processed the information, and it transformed into a laugh filled with a wicked delight as he said, "That's. Awesome." He started to turn away, still laughing silently, then turned back to me and said, "What are the odds? You wake up in the morning, and it never crosses your mind is that this will happen to you at some point today. And yet." As he walked away, his wicked grin had transplanted itself on my face as we both laughed inwardly, not at the poor man's misfortune, but at this latest dose of surreality that the universe had served us on a slow Monday night at work.

The bystander caught the would-be thief, by the way. By then, four cop cars, a pig on a bike and a police van had shown up at the scene, every last one flashing their lights. All that was missing was the Segway patrol. Ten policemen all tried to get in on the action, each one no doubt secretly hoping to be The One That Arrested The Black Guy. Three stood getting the old man's statement. The rest taunted the young one as he was hustled from street to cop car to street to police van and off to jail. When the old man was finished telling his story, he was dismissed and he hobbled off to nowhere, still homeless, and immediately forgotten. The cops stuck around to have a party, complete with disco lights, their fat stomachs protruding off their gun belts. For thirty minutes, they stayed in front of the restaurant, discussing what, I don't know, while crime continued in the rest of DC, undetected by their fat, uninterested asses.

I got back to work, mentally composing this post for the rest of the night. No doubt I'll see the old man again tonight, but I won't ask him how he's doing or whether his assailant was given due treatment. I will look away, like I always do when I don't want him to ask me for money. But, unlike all those other times, now I will look away because every time I see him, I still won't see his face - I will see his limp penis and taut black ass flash in my mind as clearly as if he were on a stripper stage in front of me, and not standing on the sidewalk, holding a paper cup from McDonald's, asking me to spare some change, trying not to re-live his five minutes of shame. And I will never stop asking myself: Who the hell tries to rob a homeless guy?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Newspaper Man Update: **DEADLINE EXTENSION**

Newspaper Man has come to a conclusion: there is no point rushing good ideas. For those of you scrambling to produce something decent from what you already have; for those of you who would submit something but for the fact that the deadline is April 15: THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO APRIL 30.

Please send your finished product to newspaperman2008@gmail.com.

Click here to refresh your memory about what we're looking for.

Many thanks to those of you who have already submitted your pieces. You're ahead of the curve anyway, so don't hate us for doing this!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nigeria Comedy 4

Crying funny...
Plus, I had to note that they shot this in Ghana, which would explain why the stage looked so well-done. When are we going to be able to achieve this in Nig??

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I Ain't No Chef, But...

Green Curry Recipe
Warning: You better know how to cook before you start to follow this recipe, because I do not use measurements - my only guide is my tongue, aided by the eyes. You'll need to be able to gauge and guess-timate and tweak as necessary, based on your own experience with cooking, to get this tasting the way you want it. If you need more stringent guidelines, stop reading right now cuz I won't be able to help you. Sorry.

1 can of coconut milk (unsweetened)

1 small tin of green curry paste (in your local grocery's "ethnic food" section)
Meat of choice, cut into bite-sized pieces (I like chicken and I like salmon)
Long, green chillies, sliced (according to your level of tolerance - I use 3)
3 - 4 scallions, finely sliced
Garlic, minced
Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root, well-minced
1/4 onion, finely sliced
ground pepper OR minced habanero peppers (as much as you can handle)
salt + 2 Maggi cubes (not those enormous ones that come from Mexico, but the perfectly-sized ones we get in Nig - for those with no frame of reference, I apologize - again.)

Need: Pan + Wok (frying pan will work just as well, I guess)

1. If you're using chicken (or beef), stir-fry the meat with the garlic, ginger, onions and pepper first (and in a separate wok). Use just a splash of vegetable oil; you don't want this to be greasy. Add salt & 1 Maggi cube. Use medium-high heat and stir-fry until the chicken is just cooked, i.e. still a little pink in the middle. You'll have created some stock - it's cool. Let it be.

1b. If you're using fish, marinate the fish with a little bit of olive oil, the garlic, ginger, pepper, salt and some onion powder (or chop the 1/4 onion instead - whatever) for 15 - 30 minutes.

2. Pour the coconut milk into the pan and bring to boil; once it's boiled, turn heat down and let it simmer. DO NOT COVER THE PAN. Add the meat/fish (with stock), scallions, chillies and HALF the tin of green curry paste. You can use less or more; it's really going to depend on how you want it to taste. Play with the amount. Experiment. Live a little.

3. Let it simmer, leaving the flavors to cling and entwine, one to the other, like lovers under satin sheets. Taste it, you might need salt/the other Maggi cube.

All told, this shouldn't take more than 20 - 30 minutes, from setting up the cutting board to yummy-yummy-in-my-tummy. So simple, so delic. I like it with jasmine or basmati; their sweetness complements the heat from the chillies nicely. Lemme know if you like it!

(Fried rice recipe another day.)