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Senior Citizen Roulette 4: Total Surrender!
Plus! Barbie/Oppenheimer Poll Results!! Pigeon of the Month!!!
Welcome to Issue #84 of CAFÉ ANNE!
Huge news! We now have the results of last week’s Barbie/Oppenheimer survey, which I created to determine whether CAFÉ ANNE readers are Barbie-goers or an Oppenheimer crowd:
That’s right. CAFÉ ANNE readers, more than anything, are folks who are hiding under the bed. This pleases me very much.
And thanks to everyone who posted their great reviews of both movies in the comments. My favorite summation, from reader Dennard D.: “Two stylized gatling guns of absurdity, one intentional.”
In other news, last week’s item looking at what happens to Goodwill donations got readers asking about the photo I took of merchandise at the Goodwill in Downtown Brooklyn.
“Can someone tell me what the object is on the bottom left of the very top photo?” wrote reader Will C. “A red globe thingy with satellites on it. I'm intrigued.”
“WTH is that red globe in the Goodwill store?” chimed in Mark D. in Minnesota.
I returned to the Goodwill last week, planning to buy the red orb. Alas, it was long gone. I showed the photo to the store manager, but he had no idea what it might have been. “Why don’t you Google it?” he suggested.
Great idea! When I got home I did a reverse image search. The item popped right up! It’s a toy—an “Interactive AR Globe”. You can scan the orb with a phone app to “interact with 3D rovers, landers & orbiters.”
I preferred Will C.’s suggestion: “Maybe it's a globe of Mars and a salad spinner?”
Last but not least, huge mid-summer, everyone-is-in-the-Hamptons-but-me-and-I’m-proud shoutouts to the newest CAFÉ ANNE paid subscribers Jack A., Basil F., prwprw52 and Marilyn K. That’s enough $$$ to get lunch in ten different restaurants, and I’ll have those restaurants all to myself.
I am very excited about this week’s issue, of course. We’ve got a new Pigeon of the Month and the latest edition of Senior Citizen Roulette. Please enjoy.
Pigeon of the Month
NAME: Ben Bogle
RESIDES: Lower Manhattan
OCCUPATION: Street busker and YouTube star
HOW I SPEND MY SUNDAY
I’ll get up around 6 or 7 a.m. I do this body-weight exercise program that I’ve been doing for like 10 years. It’s called “You Are Your Own Gym.” I must have found it while I was living in Paris. I was very scrawny at the time.
Next, I’ll get on my electric unicycle. They go like 45 miles an hour. It’s like a little car. There’s a place up near Fulton Street called Healthy Green Juice Bar, and they will fix me a bowl of fresh fruit with a scoop of peanut butter.
I’ll come back to my apartment and load my car up with all of my equipment so I can drive to some random place in the city, set up and play a show for a couple of hours.
About 5 p.m., I’ll go and get a drink with my friends. We’ll smoke a joint and talk about fun moments and chew the fat. After that, I just can’t go on anymore, so I get in my car and leave.
At that point I’m just done—I really just disappear. I stop answering texts and everything and I basically just sit around and watch YouTube. It’s sad. It’s like I become this anti-person that just sits. I’ll get a bunch of ice cream and a nicotine vape. I’ll just suck it down until basically I’m like a Roman emperor. I’m like: “My belly’s full, I’ve got grapes.” I’m passed out on the couch just “uhhhhh.”
Around midnight, I’ll brush my teeth, put my stuff away, everything nice and in its place, so I can go to sleep and not have to worry about anything the next morning. And also to not look upon the horrifying condition—the state of me the night before.
PERSONAL MOTTO: "Fake it til you make it."
Senior Citizen Roulette 4: Total Surrender!
Last week I set out to play another round of the game I invented last year, Senior Citizen Roulette. For new subscribers who aren’t familiar with the rules, it works like this:
First, readers write in with questions they’d like me to ask NYC oldsters. I type these questions up, number them and print them out.
Next, I target random seniors found in the wild—in city parks, bus stations and outdoor cafés. When I find a person who is willing to play, I have them pick a random number. Then I ask the corresponding question and record their response.
And how does one win Senior Citizen Roulette? It’s just like real life. Nobody wins! Ever!!
These interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Vincent, 80, Downtown Brooklyn
Vincent, a retired social worker, was enjoying a sunny Saturday afternoon on a bench near Brooklyn Borough Hall. He picked question #17.
Are most people basically good or bad?
I think most people are basically good. Otherwise you’d have chaos. You see people walking around peacefully, enjoying the green market and the sun. It’s a small percentage of people that are bad. Most of us are good or at least try to be good.
You have people who are maybe not as considerate as they could be. But they’re not bad. They’re just not aware, I guess, is the word.
What’s the difference between a bad person and someone who is merely inconsiderate?
Somebody who is bad is evil—has no saving graces. They don’t have any ability to be anything but bad. I don’t know how that develops. Is it part of their makeup? Environmental? Circumstances?
You told me you are a social worker. Have you ever met anyone genuinely evil?
I might have met people like that, but while I was with them, they weren’t bad. Some of them were incarcerated for things like murder. Which is bad. But when I encountered them, they were looking for help.
It’s interesting—most people think there are evil people out there, but if you ask them, “Do you know anyone like that?” They’re like, “No.”
Yes. Currently I don’t know anyone who’s evil or bad.
On a scale of one to 100, with 100 being a saint and one being a really evil person, where would you fall?
I’d be up there, I would, I would! A 90, maybe? I don’t really have much of an opportunity to be bad.
Well, to be a nine out of ten, you not only have to be not bad, you have to have done some things that were really good. What would those be?
My work. And I was telling somebody—when I first started working, my family had a bakery. I lived in Staten Island at the time. When I’d get home from work in Manhattan, I’d take the ferry and then the Staten Island train. I’d get home and take care of the bakery for my mother, who lived over the bakery—let my mom go upstairs to take care of my father’s mom and my father, who was an invalid. Or I would go up and start cooking and taking care of my grandmother. I’d toilet her, stuff like that. Shave my father. So I guess that would be an example of something that I did that was good.
It sounds like you feel really happy that you did that.
Yeah. Looking back, that I was able to help. When I get old—well, now I am old. But when I get impaired, maybe my son who lives in the building next to me, maybe he’ll help.
I hope so!
He’s a good kid.
Sam was sitting at the chess tables in Manhattan’s Bryant Park, waiting for his turn. He declined to give his age.
Please pick a number, 1-40.
Who, or what, is the love of your life?
Say that again?
Who, or what, is the love of your life?
Who or what is the love of my life? Me!
Hahaha! That’s a great answer.
Yeah! That’s the honest answer. We’re supposed to love ourselves, not hate ourselves.
Tell me what you love about yourself.
Being honest. And being generous, I guess. I could go on and on and on.
Tell me more!
I’m a good cook. I love my cooking. I’m a good handyman. I take care of myself.
Have you always loved yourself?
No. Lately, I’ve been starting to. Once you realize you have less future than past, you start to look at things differently. You realize you’re not a bad person. You realize time is very precious and once it’s gone, it’s gone. You can’t buy it, you can’t get more of it. And the runway gets shorter and shorter. I am who I am—that’s it. I can’t really change. And I don’t want to change.
I think a lot of people would like to feel the way you do about yourself.
I can’t speak for other people.
Trudy, 87, Midtown
Trudy was also enjoying the afternoon in Bryant Park.
Could you pick a number, 1-to-40, and then I’ll tell you what the question is.
Well then, I’ll pick 40.
So the question is—this is about our mayors—who is more weird, Eric Adams or Ed Koch?
I don’t think either one of them is weird.
How would you describe them?
Outgoing, always talking, always with people. I don’t think our current mayor ever shuts up.
Joyce, 69, Brooklyn Heights
Joyce was sitting in Cadman Plaza with her husband, who took off because their dog was snarling at mine. She picked question #36.
Do you remember your first boyfriend or girlfriend? What happened? Did you stay together or break up?
Yes, I do remember. I had a friend who lived in a different neighborhood than I did. She said, “Oh I have this great guy for you.” And we got together, we all met and I really liked him. It was my first date. I was 16.
Then my friend who set me up said to me, “I never realized how great this guy was until you started dating him. And I think I want to go out with him.”
Because she had known him since she was a kid and they had this familiarity, she stole him away from me. I was so upset I just started screaming and ranting. Raving in the street! It was like 10 o’clock at night. Usually I’m very quiet and conservative. It was just awful. I was really upset with her. It really impacted our friendship.
They went out for a while. She was able to offer him things that I couldn’t. (Laughs.)
They say all is fair in love and war, do you think that’s true?
It’s true. Reading literature through the ages, and just hearing people’s stories. I had a very good friend when I was in law school. She was married and very good friends with another married couple. And that other women stole her husband away. That was awful. She had two little kids at the time. I have heard real-life stories like that.
I guess it’s better for it to happen when you’re 16.
Absolutely. But I was crushed at the time.
Was that your husband who was just sitting with us?
So things worked out.
Yes. Very much so! We’ve been married 33 years.
Well keep him away from your friend!
Abbott, 77, Cobble Hill
Abbott was sitting on a bench in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill Park.
How long have you lived in this neighborhood?
Five years. Before, I lived on Ocean Ave., near Avenue R. I was married for 46 years and my wife and I lived there.
Nice! Ready to pick a number 1-40?
Okay. I’ll take 14.
Oh. This is a tough question. What is the biggest regret in your life?
Biggest regret in my life? I can answer that. I had a good marriage and I was lucky that I met her when I was 23 years old. So we had time to spend 46 years together. And I gave her a lot of support. But I didn’t give her enough feedback on her beauty. I’d tell her that she looks nice, or the outfit looks nice, something like that. But I should have told her how beautiful she was. She really was! And I’m sorry about that.
And you think about that a lot now?
I do. Yes.
What do you think stopped you?
I did put in a lot of time for her. She could call me at my office any time and I’d drop everything for her. I think she knew she was very attractive. Sometimes I’d watch her getting dressed. I think she knew why I was watching her getting dressed. While she wasn’t at all conceited, she knew she had beauty. But I should have told her. As her husband, I should have told her more of that.
Eddie was visiting from Seattle, but he is a New York native who misses the city, and we decided he’d lived here long enough to qualify for permanent New Yorker status. He was sitting on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, waiting for his sister, who lives nearby. He picked question #37.
Do you fear death?
I don’t fear death. I used to. I fear how I’m going to get there. The suffering that might be there. But I have some minimal faith that we’re just going to wake up from this dream. I don’t think we’re going to identify with who we are in the body. The real truth is, I don’t know. Nor does anybody. That’s why if a rabbi or priest or minister or any of those dudes are lecturing and they tell me what death is, I’m just going to say, “When did you die?” Nobody knows.
So you used to be afraid of death.
Yeah, when I was younger. As I’ve gotten older, I’m just not as afraid anymore. Because I know it’s closer than it ever was. So I might as well surrender.
I don’t have any data for this, but I feel like I know or believe or have faith that this is not the end. Something is awaiting us. But I don’t have any proof of it.
I have a dear friend who passed away some years ago. She was a spiritual teacher, her name was Kedesia. I said to her, “Kedesia, the older I get, the less I know. I don’t know from much anymore.” And she said, “Stop bragging!”
If you know something, you’re bragging. And also if you know you don’t know! Either way, you’re bragging.
Have a question for NYC’s seniors? I’ll add it to the list! Please email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org
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