Saturday, August 16, 2008

Milo the Puggle Who Hates Me and Other Observations About The New 'Hood

So I've officially been in my new place for an entire week now and I've got a couple of brief observations about the new neighborhood so far:
::: Milo, The Puggle Who Hates Me: I live in the top floor of one of the typical fairly ugly two-story brick row houses that seem to make up 85% of the borough of Queens. I have a big porch and a stoop, something I still get excited about every morning when I walk out the door. However, next door to me, in the row house directly to the right, lives Milo the Puggle. And Milo hates me. He has taken a particular dislike to me for reasons that I can't comprehend because, really? Who knows what goes on inside the head of a Puggle. (For one things, they're called Puggles, which probably really pisses them off.) Whenever Milo sees me he erupts into the most spastic, spittle-spewing, Puggle-shaking volley of hysterical barking that ever came forth from an animal that stands only eighteen inches tall. It is a bark of pure, unadulterated hatred and it is directed only at me. He doesn't bark at anyone else. No, there is something about me that sets him off. Maybe it's my overall lack of fashion sense. Maybe it's my bad haircut. Maybe it's the fact that he knows that I mock the name "Puggle". Who knows? But I suspect that Milo and I will never become buddies.

::: Cricket: You know that you're in a totally alien environment when the neighborhood kids knocking around balls on the street are knocking those balls around with cricket bats. My old neighborhood (Astoria) was a neighborhood filled with mostly Greek, Egyptian, Russian and Dominican families. The kids in the neighborhood played basketball and baseball and sometimes touch football. But the new neighborhood (near Jackson Heights) is comprised of mostly Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi families. And a lot of the kid play cricket in the street. It's very cool!

::: Giant Supermarkets That Don't Really Stock Anything: In Astoria, there are a lot of small supermarkets that nevertheless manage to carry a huge variety of ethnic and organic foods. In the new neighborhood, we have a Waldbaums. Waldbaums is an enormous store, roughly the size of an aircraft carrier. I haven't seen a grocery store this big since I last visited my brother and his family in Georgia and had to choose between a Kroegers, a Publix, a Super Target and a Wal-Mart all on one strip mall. That's an overwhelming amount of choice for someone used to the cramped aisles of a Trade Fair or a C-Town. It inspires a freakish sort of specialized agoraphobia. (Is there a name for fear of wide open spaces in supermarkets?) Yet despite the enormous size of the store and quite unlike Kroegers or Public, Waldbaums doesn't actually stock much variety of anything. Not a lot of ethnic food, almost no organic or natural foods and - dammit! - no Kashi Bars! (I live on Kashi Bars.) I'm jonesing for a decent organic or natural foods store (where will I buy my Dr. Bronner's?!) so if you know of one in the Jackson Heights/East Elmhurst area, please drop me a line.

::: Stealth Big Box Retailers: This is the kind of neighborhood where you walk down the street for blocks and see nothing but row houses and more row houses and then - WHAM! - a stealth Home Depot jumps out at you, right next to the stealth Bed, Bath & Beyond. And next to them? A bodega. Then more row houses. It's as though urban planners had temporarily lost their minds when they put together the plans for this neighborhood.

::: The Staples: Thankfully this neighborhood does have the three essential things that any good New York City neighborhood needs: a laundromat, a bodega and an Irish pub (which is where my new roommate and I had breakfast this morning), all within a block of my apartment. There's also a decent Greek place, an absolutely amazing patisserie called Canelle's (which looks so weirdly out of place within the strip mall that I always do a double-take when I happen upon it), a post office and a branch of my bank (yay!).
So far, so good. That's all you get right now. More as I explore the area further.


Montana Barn Cat said...

Sounds pretty good except for the pesky puggle. Dr. Bronner's? Good for you--I love that stuff. Breakfast with the roommate sounds good--perhaps she can can get you into the bartender business.

Joya said...

I'm Bangladeshi! Represent! :D

But past Milo, your new place of residence sounds great! :)

S. E. Ward said...

Do you need me to send you a supply of Kashi bars? I live on the things--especially the Blackberry Graham, OMFZ--and I can't imagine being separated from my stash.

Anonymous said...

Milo's just angry because you sent him a form rejection for his manuscript entitled, "The Thirteenth Tail." Expect to see a query soon for his new work, "The Yummy Bones."

Cheryl said...

Hoorah! Civilization arrives in New York. Let me know if you need any help with the cricket.

Tia Nevitt said...

Reading entries like this one is like reading the social anthropology of NYC. You describe things that are everyday in my life (Publix, big box stores) that seem as foreign to you as rowhouses are to me.

A picture of your house, please?

katey said...

I live on Luna Bars-- when I'm away from them, dude, I feel your pain.

My husband said it's called "Jai-kishen Heights" by "people in the know". Gotta love when words get Indian-ized. I had to tell him the cricket story, since he's obsessed. Being from, you know, India, and having grown up playing cricket in the street.

Sounds like fun, apart from the Kashi separation! (He also said the Patel Brothers is bigger than the Wal-Mart. Methinks he exaggerates some, but it's fun anyhow.)

Todd said...

As a dad to a 5-year-old in Jackson Heights named Milo, your post caught my eye. I assure you that at least some Milos in JH are friendly, even if Milo the dog isn't!

As for natural groceries, you're probably out of luck in the East Elmhurst area, but there is a somewhat expensive natural foods store on 37th between 83rd and 84th.

You can also get any other neighborhood tips you need at

pseudosu said...

You can condition (bribe) Milo into liking you by giving him treats. Then every time he sees you you'll at least get ecstatic barking. Pick something that smells really good at first so he'll "get it" as you reach your hand towards him, better yet, just do a toss.
It's probably all about "territory". He'll get over it and figure out you have permission to be there sooner or later.
Good luck!

H. L. Dyer said...

I guess you'll have to order your Kashi bars on Amazon...

JES said...

Colleen, re: the puggle...

Through a chain of free web-association I won't bore you with, but NOT a search on "puggle," I just fell upon this.

"A baby monotreme--echidnas or platypi--is known as a 'puggle.' This is possibly one of the cutest words in existence."

Perhaps this will help break the ice with Milo.

VELMA SABINA!!! said...

your new place sounds pretty cool. My cousins in India are obsessed with cricket. Hell, everybody over there is. Whenever I see Americans playing cricket, it makes me feel nostalgic for my motherland country *sigh*

H. L. Dyer said...


...their cousin called Monotreme,
Dead Uncle Allotheria
Mammal, mammal...
Their names are called
They raise a paw.
The Bat, the Cat,
Dolphin and Dog,
Koala Bear and Hog
The fox, the ox
Giraffe and shrew
Echidna, caribou...

JES said...

H.L. Dyer: Dang. Great connection!

Mags said...

My husband had a cat who thought there were only two bad things about me: I breathed air in, and I insisted upon breathing it out again.

She called me "bitch." When she looked at me and made that noise, no further translation was needed.

Me! I'm a friggin' CAT person!

It happens, Colleen a' La Gringa. Sigh. That dog would probably be the crazy miserable snitch down the street in human form. Or perhaps a rejected writer? One of those.