Miss(ed) Manners

May 20, 2005

Miss(ed) Manners: Quarterly Report

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 4:12 pm

David Conkling Industries, Inc.
General Press Release

About the Company:

David Conkling Industries (DCI) is a privately (and sometimes publicly) held “Ideas” company. Founded in 1980, the product of a merger between Dougcorp and OmniBarb, DCI was endowed with a small amount of venture capital. Through responsible corporate synergy and a vast amount of ethically profitable mentoring programs, the company was able to make it out of its infancy with a good business head on its shoulders.

After ending its executive training seminars in both Albany and New York, DCI launched itself into the business pond, hoping to make a splash. While the financial ripples have been tantamount to throwing down feathers at a Jello Lake, DCI more often than not finds itself able to stay out of the red.

In 2002, DCI found its niches in the merchandising, event planning and “online griping” industries. Fields that have been noted by Forbes as being, “not really industries at all, more of hobbies that you could possibly be paid for, if you simply found someone willing to pay $30 for a tee shirt, eat bad pasta and enjoy reading eighth grade level writing.”

As we near the end of its first quarter of operations, we here at DCI would like to take the time to look back and reflect on the many setbacks and successes that have made DCI the company it is today.

First Quarter Highlights:

1984: DCI writes its first set of corporate manuals. Several barely legible etymological texts dealing with the origins of words like “love” and “hate.” Some of the works are publically praised by the CEO from OmniBarb as “adorable”, while others prompt major cuts in the construction paper budget and remarks on CNN:HN such as, “creepy.”

1985: During a round of after work milks the CEO declares “Footloose” to be DCI’s official song. This would eventually be replaced by the New Kids on the Block’s “Hanging Tough,” Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby,” and a veritable laundry list of branding mistakes.

1986-1987: Much of the company’s budding resources are put towards an ultimately doomed Cardboard Box “Fort” development venture. Widely panned as nothing more than crayon colored Tax Shelters, the project is eventually disassembled after taking severe water damage in a series of summer showers.

1988: The executive branch of DCI enrolls in advanced training seminars. Unfortunately, most of this time is spent staring at the fish tank and eating paste.

1993-1995: During a temporary lack of leadership, DCI’s hair inventory grows nearly 600%. Market related myopia also requires the company to take on an outside Focusing firm. Virtually all proposed mergers and corporate nookie partnerships cease.

1998: DCI moves its headquarters to New York City and almost immediately doubles its hours of operation. Much of the company’s new areas of activity take place between the hours of 7am and noon, in very dark places. Corporate interest in lasers and smoke machines soars.

2000-2002: Riding the dot com bubble, DCI goes online. The company spends considerable amounts of its resources investing in flamewars, photoshopping, emoticons and “board drama.” Additionally, during this time period DCI engages in several fruitful, but ultimately unsuccessful partnerships.

2004: During a series of negotiations, Eileen Murphy’s International House of Kittens (EMIHK} comes on board and buys out all other shareholders.

2005: As the first quarter draws to a close, DCI looks forward, mainly to being able to rent a car. Something that the company will do at least once, just because it can. Much like in 2001, when the FDA ruled in favor of allowing it to legally get drunk and vomit in a bar immediately prompted the company into doing so, on Keith Walter’s feet.

Second Quarter Expectations:
David Conkling Industries’ road to fiscal responsibility a corporate autonomy has been a long and trying road. After 25 years of growth, much of the company’s main interest lies in youth centered areas, mainly video games, couch camping and recreational drinking.

As the second quarter comes, DCI has no real plans on giving up any of these interests, nor the ones that have made the company what it is today. While there are remote plans for an eventual relocation, merger and the launch of at least one start up company, DCI first plans to thoroughly saturate the New York market. Saturate the market with what, however, is completely unknown.

May 13, 2005

Miss(ed) Manners: Nosetalgia

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 4:04 pm

Every year around this time I start to get the itch. Not any type of itch that I ought to have checked out, I stopped sleeping with Thai sailors in college. It’s more of a metaphorical itch, so to speak. I start to feel like I need to get out of the city, go frolic in the long grass of a bird sanctuary stoned to the bejeezus on painkillers, wine coolers and German Trance. Hey, we’ve all got our vacation plans, right?

Unfortunately for me, my schedule doesn’t permit me to take a vacation until the heat settles on the northeast like the safety blanket of a thumb sucking seven year old with mommy issues. Pity, really. So I’m usually stuck here clawing at the cement walls going nuts.

It’s this time of year that initially initiated me into initiating my “Nose Vacation Program.” Fortunately for everyone, this vacation doesn’t include powders, so don’t expect me to come around your place at seven in the morning looking to get some coffee and just talk for six hours. All you need is your nose, your commute and a semi-clear mind, and you can just take off.

Let me explain in the most scientific and exact terms at my disposal:

Your nose is smart, it’s got a mind of its own. Whenever you smell something new, the little scent particles travel up your nasal cavern into your brain where little gremlins store them in a tiny little box. Your brain has millions of these little boxes, and millions of little gremlins (some people have billions and these people are ca-razy).

With this scent forever stored in your box, whenever a similar scent particle travels into your brain, via your nose, or ears, the gremlins cross reference it with your already existing scent boxes. This process is nearly instantaneous, because the gremlins are German, a very industrious race with a mind for organization. This is why you’ll never forget a smell, and also why smells are so linked to memories.

Smells can invoke everything from emotion to nausea, which can be the same thing if you’re particularly emotional about rancid vomit. But most importantly, smells conjure up memories, because they’re forever linked to the first time you experienced them. This is the keystone of the Nose Vacation. The directions are simple, just go to work and keep your nose open and actually listen to your brain when you smell something.

Here’s how mine went this morning:

Location: Outside My Door
Smell: Lighter fluid and cigarette smoke.

Memory: When I started smoking I was fifteen. I started for all the wrong, cliché reasons, peer pressure, wanting to fit in, trying to look older to score with desperate housewives three times my senior. I used to carry around a Zippo lighter because I was in it for the accessories, man. I had a cigarette case and a litany of other smoking gadgets equally as lame. The smell of Zippo fluid always takes me back to a summer night on the edge of a forest pond, soaked from head to toe after a midnight swim brought on by boxed wine and a house sitting job.

Location: Corner of my Block
Smell: Burnt Plastic

Memory: The deli on the corner of my block burned down over a year ago, it STILL smells. Every single time I walk by it, I get that familiar stench wafting up into my nose, it’s normally very horrid. Not when you’re on a Nose Vacation. On a Nose Vacation the burnt down deli reminds me of the first camping trip I ever went on. A group of six year olds sitting around a fire, and some idiot convinces me to throw all our trash into the fire. Styrofoam plates and hot dog wrappers melting and I’m stuck digging latrines all night. Way to go, dick.

Location: Subway #1
Smell: Old Man

Memory: I have a hard time remembering when I first smelled old man, probably because I was so little when it happened. But this dude on the subway smelled like stale cigarettes, brill cream and government cheese and it made me smile. I think it reminded me of my late grandfather’s car, the smell of smoke ingrained into upholstery is almost sweet.

Location: Subway #2
Smell: Green Apple Body Spritz or some shit.

Memory: I “dated” this girl when I was like 14 or 15. Her name was Rachel and she smelled like she’d been given a DDT by a bottle of green apple body wash. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice smell, but it was overkill. Shit, she used to send me stuff in the mail covered in the stink because she mistook my sarcastic comments on it for compliments. Anyway, green apple body wash always reminds me of going to her house that summer and getting drunk with her parents at a cul-de-sac party and passing out on her lawn, classy. I have no idea where she is or what she’s doing now, but I know EXACTLY what she’s smelling like.

Location: Meatpacking District
Smell: Rotting Meat!

Memory: Smelling meat in the meatpacking district is now about as common as seeing an albino Dodo. Sure, you can buy a three hundred dollar shirt, but if you want to get a side of beef to relentlessly pound in preparation for your upcoming fight with Apollo, you’re shit out of luck. Which is why I was actually happy to smell rotting meat this morning. It’s a thick kind of smell, your nose actually has a hard time taking it in.

It reminded me of Filter 14, the now closed, but legendary nightspot where so many times I’d wander out into the disgustingly humid summer air and be greeted by a wall of four week old dead cow. Somehow it made whatever dark deeds you’d been up to inside seem less bad, at least you were chopping up beef.

So that’s the Nose Vacation. It’s incredibly low rent, but trust me it works. Most of the time we’re so busy going from Point A to Point B that we may be smelling the roses, but we’re not stopping to remember the first time we did. Trust me, you’ll remember. The time taken to sort through the clutter is absolutely worth it. I’m not due for an actual vacation for about two months, but that’s alright. I’ve already travelled a couple thousand miles over twenty years today, I’m actually a little tired.

May 6, 2005

Miss(ed) Manners: The Second Avenue Shuffle

Filed under: Column — missedmanners @ 4:03 pm

Omigod, omigod, omigod, if I get on that other train across the platform I might get to wherever I’m going a full one minute earlier! Maybe Mr. Wellington, my charming, father figure of a boss will notice and I’ll get that 2% raise that I’ve been pining after which will let me start putting money down on a condo in Florida, where I’ll spend time with my grandkids, assuming Susie says yes and we get married, but it’s all for not if I don’t get to work sixty seconds earlier!

That’s only what I can assume was going through Mr. Scruffy McThroatbeard’s head as we sat at the Second Avenue Station, staring across the platform at an idling V train.

Neck hair and silly obsessions with commute shortening notwithstanding, I’ve got something to say about the V train. It sucks. Any rider of the J train will agree with this. The V makes its lazy way through Manhattan’s most affluent sections only to stop a few blocks short of connecting thousands of people to the only train they can take home. Fortunately for everyone, they’re mostly poor people, so it really doesn’t matter.

Its terminus is Second Avenue, home of those with the means to live in the most nasally obtuse and culturally devoid section of New York good only for drinking and stumbling, the East Village. This could all just be my bitterness built up over a couple of years of watching aging hipsters sitting on an empty train heading home after a long day working at their “Branding Strategy” job, or some other absolutely pointless avenue of life.

So there we were, sitting at 2nd Avenue. If your reading comprehension is a little off I’ll explain how this station works in a completely roundabout and less simple manner. Train A (the F train) comes into the station PACKED with people from Brooklyn direct and by way of the J train (Train C, not further mentioned here). Train B (the V train) exists solely for the good of East Village twits, is sitting there, lights on and completely empty. Train A and Train B will sit and stare at each other for a few minutes, sometimes there’s a whistle and there’s definitely urban tumbleweed.

Every once in a blue moon there’s an announcement telling the passengers of Train A which train is going to be leaving the station first, thereby initiating a mass exodus of people like McThroatbeard. However usually there is no announcement and we begin the seductive dance that is known as The Second Avenue Shuffle.

Have you ever thrown a firecracker at a herd of cows? For those of you lacking the sadistic wilderness upbringing I’ve had I’ll explain this slightly more subtle effect.

Basically everyone starts looking around, waiting for someone to jump ship to the other train. No one really has any fucking clue which train is going to leave first, so the idiot mob looks among its ranks for a sign, because obviously someone on the train has a direct neuro-cannula link to the train dispatch hub and that miniature dude in the cowboy boots knows what’s up.

To make the situation even more complicated there are actually people who need to transfer to Train B (V Train) to get wherever they’re going, so they don’t really care which train leaves first.

When one person takes off, the F train empties like a room full of scapegoat farting dogs. That’s round one of the shuffle. Sometimes it ends after just one round, I do a dosi-do around the pole in my now empty train and fifty percent of the time we end up taking off first.

But not the day Scruffy was on the train. I had originally taken the picture of him to be part of a column outlining my feelings on Neck Beards. As it turns out, my feelings are pretty simple; I think they make you look like a pioneer’s retarded brother who’d been in a horrible badger skinning accident.

No man, the day that Scruffy was on the train we had a full FIVE rounds of the Shuffle. For some reason unbeknownst to us both trains were being held at the station for about twenty minutes. Twenty minutes standing in an unmoving train breeds Cold War era levels of paranoia. People would move from one train to the other once every few minutes, I’m being absolutely serious.

As the simpering mass of slack jawed sheep meandered back and forth those of us who were sitting or standing in either train A or B couldn’t help but start laughing. Side of the mouth grins turned to all out laughter as the crowd came back to us for the third time. By the fifth we just began feeling bad for them, they weren’t in control of their own bodies. When they’d come back there was this look of absolute defeat, but when they left, they seemed to roll their own eyes at themselves, like it wasn’t up to them that they were bounding back and forth across the platform.

Eventually we got moving and I think the V train actually went ahead first with half of the now broken and demoralized herd. Those who’d participated in the idiot dance stood around, red faced. Quietly embarrassed and hopeful no one noticed their silly behavior, like the silent drunk who spills his drink all over himself two beers in and tries to use his jacket to cover the stain. Trust me, everyone noticed.

There are so many issues in just this one tiny facet of moronic group behavior I don’t really know where to begin. On one hand I understand that following a group of people implies your trust in the general goodness of Man. On the other hand, it’s a train, it will get you where you need to go, and getting on the train in front is only going to save you sixty seconds.

What on earth could be so important that you need sixty seconds more in your office? Is that Custom Order Form Company giveaway calendar you’ve got tacked to the fabric lining of your cubicle going be extra pleasing during those sixty seconds?

My advice to Scruffy is the same advice I’ve always had for everyone trying to get anywhere faster than they need to: Relax, you’ll get there. No amount of lane changing, train hopping or running is going to make a difference in your day and certainly not in your life.

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