I’d Rather Be At A Combination JC Penny/Montgomery Ward [Friday Thoughts W/ TeeCoZee]

Good Moleman. I just wanna watch “Honk If You’re Horny” in peace. It’s Friday, November 22nd, Two Thousand and Nineteen. The weather in Brooklyn is 50° & Pantone 115-1 and somewhere, somebody is standing in a field. What used to be grown in it doesn’t really apply to the situation. But the guy is standing there, this much is certain. We don’t know what he’s doing and truth be told, he probably doesn’t either. And he won’t notice that you stopped your car in front of the field so that you could get a better look at him. You’re not going to learn anything from him, so you might as well just keep driving. But he’ll keep standing there until he figures out what to do next. And where he parked his car. That man is essentially me, trying to figure out what to write next as my brain maintains a fugue hum. Except I’m not standing in a field and I know exactly where I parked my car. It’s up close to a driveway, not in the middle of two spaces, thank you very much slash I’m sorry, passive aggressive neighbor. But I do have some things on my mind…

– I understand that some days are harder than others. I get that. But please remember, no matter how bad your day is, there are people with much worse hardships. For example, I once met a guy who spent his glory years in a Gin Blossoms cover band. Not only did it make me grateful for what I have, but I also chuckled at the idea of the Gin Blossoms going on tour with Tonic. Life is wonderful and worth living!

– There’s an anonymous brick building across the street from my neighborhood grocery store. To be fair, most buildings are anonymous. That’s just their nature. But this building always stuck out to me. It’s surrounded by a gated parking lot housing at least a thousand cars at all hours of the day. But I had no idea where the entrance was and why it was so damn popular. It could just be a normal office building. Or some kind of club. Or even a fake poo factory. The answer I got was even more confusing: it’s a combination Sears/Kmart. And it’s OPEN.

Let that settle in for a second.

Now imagine if you will, a Sears. A whole ass Sears. It has shoes, clothing, washing machines, mattresses, tools, electronics. Now try to remember the last time you actually saw one in that state. Was it 2003? 1999? 92? 83? No matter what, it probably wasn’t in this decade. In fact, I could guarantee that. The Sears mall anchor stores disappeared with Sam Goody and Walden Books. Now go back to imagining, and picture a Kmart jammed into a corner of the basement. You can’t picture it, can you? This isn’t your fault. In fact, by the beginning of next year, the two companies will only have 192 stores between them worldwide. Let that sink in for a second. Two of the biggest household names in retail will have less locations than they did before World War II. And despite all of this, there is an anonymous brick building in Brooklyn that houses both of them.

I can’t stress enough how anonymous this building is. There is only one, small entrance with extremely minimal signage. So minimal that I’ve been walking by it for over a year and didn’t even notice. It’s almost as if they don’t want us to know that they exist. I was moreso suspicious of this upon entering and noticing the security guard sitting at a podium. I felt like I needed to sign in or prove my membership. Instead, the guard didn’t notice me and sat half asleep, staring at the wall. The store is immaculate. You really get the feeling that you’re walking into a time capsule, as the fully stocked shelves and displays are undisturbed. I’ve never seen a thing like it in New York. From the light fixtures to the flooring, nothing has been changed since the 90s. And yet it still doesn’t look aged. It’s as if they built it 20 years ago and then decided to open it today, to no fanfare, for seemingly no reason. The thousand cars in the parking lot remain unexplained as the store was a bonafide ghost town. I think it’s actually just a general parking lot that happens to have a combination Sears/Kmart inside.

I wandered around the store, making sure to not disturb anything or be noticed. I was afraid to even take pictures, as I was convinced that the photos wouldn’t develop. I was expecting the mirage to disappear at any second, but it didn’t. And just as awkwardly as I walked in, I walked back out, not learning anything and probably forgetting a thing or two. If you ever want to relive a time that’s already being drilled into your head ad nauseum, I suggest you check out the combination Sears/Kmart on Bedford & Beverly. It’s much better than the combination JC Penny/Montgomery Ward in Gravesend.

– I came up with wise advice yesterday: It is not possible be thrown under the bus, if you are the bus. Always be the bus.

– I was on the train yesterday, because fuck the bus. I was reading Zach’s very good piece on Dr Pepper when I took note of the guy sitting across from me. He was eating buffalo wings, the most imperfect subway food. Even more inconvenient, he was wearing white sweatpants and a bright yellow bubble jacket. He was unperturbed, as he continued to maw down with ease. I should also add that he was eating them straight out of a brown paper bag, no container. The sauce and grease dripped onto the floor, right where he discarded bone after bone. I watched with amazement and caution, like waiting for a car crash to happen. There was no way he was getting out of this meal with clean clothes. Wing after wing went down, with all of the sauce getting everywhere except his clothes. He threw the last bone down in triumph and carefully reached his filthy hand in his coat pocket to grab his beverage. I was hoping it was a Dr Pepper, but the universe isn’t that perfect. What was perfect, however, was the execution of grabbing his cranberry juice without touching his coat. He screwed off the top, took a swig and then he totally lost his centrifugal balance. It was a good run, but now it’s over. He became aware of his dire situation as a speck of sauce dripped off his hand and onto his leg. He maintained a stoic composure as he licked his finger and attempted to wipe the speck off. I’ll repeat that. He cleaned off his fingertip and rubbed his entire hand on the pants. Game over. Once that happened, it opened up the floodgates. Sauce got everywhere. His coat, his shoes, probably even the poor bastard sitting next to him. And through all of this, I sat perplexed that a restaurant would sell buffalo wings out of a paper bag. What kind of world are we coming to?

Try this trick over the weekend: use a napkin when you eat. Your clothes will remain clean.

Have a sanitary weekend, everyone!