By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
On my last day in New York, I'd like to summon previously hidden powers of telekinesis to destroy everyone that's ever done me wrong, given me incorrect change, or looked at me a little funny. Instead, I'll just do a column about them right now. Yes, I'm a vengeful queen, so my idea of a "best of New York" service piece is one telling you firsthand about the very best places to feel ripped off, annoyed, and so outraged you start looking into real estate in the Pacific Northwest. These joints are by far Gotham's most reliable establishmentsif you're looking to be drilled without anaesthesia and shat on without a glass table.
And so: The best place at which to get both sciatica and a nervous breakdown is T.O Deyshoes (9 E. 38 Street; 212-683-6300), which custom-made footwear for me for money I could have much more sensibly used to redo my whole mouth. Alas, after 16 long weeks in the making, the pair turned out not to fit any more than my kindergarten clogs do. Maybe my feet had grown during that insane amount of time? Probably not, because even when the T.O. team tried to alter them three more times to fit my current size, they still couldn't come close to the shape of my fabled footsies. They were grudgingly willing to keep trying, but the weather was changing and I needed something to wear in lieu of weighted plastic bags, so I took them in desperation and started schlepping around in the cold in agonizing pain. Nowadays Heather Mills has nothing on me.
The most rockin' place to limp for more depressing news may well be E. Vogel (19 Howard Street; 212-925-2460), whose site said custom-made shoes cost $700. But whimsically enough they charged me $1200! Even worse, they told me the shoes would be ready 17 whole weeks after I ordered them16 just isn't enough for these peoplebut when I called for pickup after waiting all that time, they said it would take eight more whole weeks! ("We were closed for three weeks," said the guy by way of a defense.) I screamed my guts out and got them done in only two more weeksbut they didn't fit! (Update: As the weather started changing once again, they adjusted them and made one of them almost fit, which is sort of good enough for me. Besides, they were nice about being willing to keep reworking the freaking things. Maybe they should go in a real best of column? Nah, let's not get totally daft.)
Moving on: The finest place to throw away yet more time on this problem is the office of Dr. Ivan Herstik, who seems to be a podiatrist without a foot to stand on. Herstik came up with shoes for me "with no obligation," but they didn't fit in the least so I left them there, all frustrated and shit. No problemhe sent me a freakin' bill anyway. "A mistake," his secretary later claimed. Honey, Three Mile Island was a mistake. This was a travesty.
The best other doctor to make you crazy is Dr. Daniel Crane, whose office prescribed me Zoloft, even though I'd told them at length about my highly excitable seizure disorder. It turns out that kind of drug and epilepsy don't get along any more than the cast of a Dynasty reunion would. As a result, I was spasming to the point where I was literally bouncing off the walls and in need of some real doctors.
The most effectively hateful practice is that of car service coupons filled with more empty promises than a hooker on the other side of a glory hole. Not long ago, I got a coupon for a Carmel car to LaGuardia which said the ride would be $31. I called Carmel to confirm and they said it would be $33! I slammed down the phone and huffily contacted Allstate car service instead. They comfortingly said their trip to LaGuardia would be a mere $30. The next morning I confidently strode into my Allstate car, only to have the driver declare, "Thirty two dollars!" I give up. I'm getting a skateboard.
The most reliably fucked up doorman is the one at the Mercer Hotel (147 Mercer Street; 212-966-6060) whom I recently asked where the Mercer Kitchen is. "Down the block," he replied, sounding more knowledgeable than he looked. I putzed around in the chilly rainin tight shoesbut came crawling back after a stranger told me the Kitchen is in the freaking Mercer Hotel! In fact, it was about two feet away from said doorman! "Don't blame me," he whinnied, as I became far more sympathetic to Russell Crowe's career-cramping rage at the very same place.
Speaking of ineptitude, the most outstanding trend in irritating technology is automation. Recently, I called 411 and asked for Out magazine's number, figuring it would only take a gay second. "Sorry, what was the listing?" intoned the automated system. "Out magazine," I repeated, dutifully. "That's Word magazine?" came the pert reply. "No, Out magazine," I repeated, losing it. "Healthmagazine, right?" droned the ballsy 'bot. "No, Out magazine," I squealed, panting bullets. "That's Men's Health magazine?" chirped the headless person. No, not even close--though at least the word magazine seemed to be registering. I finally got switched to a real human and relaxed into a false state of euphoria. "You want Out magazine, right?" she asked, with a lovely sense of professionalism. Yesiree, lady! Woo-hoo! Hope was on the horizon! She gave me the wrong number.