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Sven Wechsler is a standup comic in New York. This is the blog where he posts his observational, stream-of-consciousness ramblings. For video footage and schedule, go to www.SvenWechsler.com

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hey 2009

I acknowledge the new year. There. Can we move on. I will not dance. I will not promise. I will not regret.

No, I have not seen Slum Dog Millionaire.

So, that about covers it then.

Talk to you next year.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Haven't posted in a while....

Now, that's no longer true.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Dental Inquisition

I've been visiting the dentist at the New York University School of Dentistry. It's cheap, because student doctors work on you. While, you might think this is would be a ticket to increased agony at the hand of a nervous, fumbling student, it's actually pretty good dentistry. I should know, I've had a lot of dental work. I like candy. Plus, the professors are always there looking over students shoulders to make sure they don't accidentally drill into my skull.

What always gets me is the guilt I feel whenever I visit the dentist. When you first visit, there's that questionnaire. "Do you smoke? Do you drink coffee? How much? How many fruits and vegetables do you consume each day?" They dish out more guilt than the clergy. And the punishment for your moral indiscretions is painful torture. It's Draconian. It's like a dental Inquisition, and there's a drill in my head telling me to repent.

At one point, while being confronted about my poor life-decisions by an aspiring BMW driver in a lab-coat, I offered, "I'm a comedian." As if that would explain my poor life choices. As if a bank robber could just say, "Hey, I'm a bank robber. Sometimes you have to shoot a hostage."

Then, the condescending tooth-brush lesson. I know how to use a tooth-brush. I'm just lazy about it. Thank you for making me feel like a 3-year old. Little circles? O.k... Yes, I'll be a good boy. Can I keep the brush? Can I have one of those little tubes of toothpaste? Oh joy!

I suspect most people avoid trips to the dentist, because of the threat of severe damage to their self-esteem more than any fear of physical pain.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Hey all. Please come check out the new monthly show I'm producing at The Bowery Poetry Club:

Reggie Watts, Craig Baldo, Baron Vaughn, Tom McCaffrey, John Mulaney. An evening of brainy comedy. Hosted by Sven Wechsler. D,J,'d afterparty with free food!
Thursday, April 12th @ 10 p.m.
The Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery New York, NY 10012 (Bowery and Bleekker)
F train to Second Ave | 6 train to Bleecker

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Rockin' the Casbah

My new neighborhood is Arab. There's a Mosque across the street and about 20 hookah cafes down the next 3 blocks. I see women in headscarves all the time. Tonight, I went to the kebab place on my corner that is open till 4 a.m. and got a burger. A guy with corn rows walks in, lays his German WWI military helmet (for his motorcycle) on the counter and orders in Arabic. Outside, an older Egyptian (guessing) cabby shouts hello's to his buddy's as The Scorpions blast from his car stereo.

Welcome to the jungle baby.

(The pic is of the 80's German glam-rock band, The Scorpions, for those too old or young to recognize.)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Buying Furniture

I went to IKEA with my girlfriend and we spent over $500. We didn't mean to. It just sort of happened. We exercised restraint. Several times I put things in the cart and then returned them to the shelf, because... Do we really need a stainless steel pots-and-pans organizer with a hanging spice-rack and hooks for whisks and spatulas over my stove?

No. We don't.

We bought a bed frame, which... we needed. I mean, we're adults and we can't very well keep the mattress on the floor, can we? I mean, we're not peasants. Lay down with dogs, rise.....

We bought a sleeper sofa (glorified futon), because, when friends and family come to visit, we can't make them head-to-toe it on the couch... can we?

And, we bought a medicine cabinet, because the previous tenants unbolted theirs from the bathroom wall and took it with them. (We will be doing the same.)

Now I can't break up with my girlfriend, because we own furniture together. That's how we commit to relationships. We share investment in material possessions. Not to mention the fact that all this furniture we are gathering has been hauled up four flights of stairs. That would have to be one hell of a fight to warrant lugging it all the way back down.

Now, I wasn't thinking about breaking up with her. I'm in love with her. But, I must admit, the ephemeral nature of our union was more romantic than this tangible wood and metal construction project named after blond children.

It's all very appropriate. My name is Sven, and her's is Stefka. We actually sound like we're related to the furniture we bought, cut from the pine forest dream in the "Land of the Midnight Sun".

We're not getting a fucking cat.... yet.

Monday, March 19, 2007

My Bulgarian Vacation and Dental Surgery

Alright... here goes. As mentioned, I went to Bulgaria. Why, because my girlfriend is Bulgarian. Many of you are just now learning that a place called Bulgaria exists, because I am telling you about it. I could say anything about Bulgaria, and you would have to believe me. I could say, "The national anthem of Bulgaria is Duran Duran's 'Notorious'. They just replace the word 'notorious' with 'Bulgaria'." That is not true. I'm not sure what the national anthem of Bulgaria is, but I'm pretty sure it's not 80's new wave music.

I was worried about this trip, as Stefka is much younger than me, and I'm pretty sure her family did not expect her bringing home a poor comedian as part of the American dream. However, after sitting on the couch of her family home and listening to her step-father's album from the Bulgarian glam-rock band he was in, I felt I could fit right in to this family. To understand what his band sounds like, first picture 4 Bulgarians wearing white leather jump-suits with leather tassel wings under each arm. Then imagine the The Scorpions had sex with Queen. You're there. They were around during communism, so most of their music had to be inspirational as opposed to angry, although occasionslly sung in English. "Leev for your dreems! Theer awwl yooo hyav!". (Mitko, if you’re reading this, please smile with me.)

Stefka's mother and her boyfriend (who I've referred to as stepfather because I felt like it) live in the same apartment Stefka grew up in. It's a nice place, recently remodeled, and with a shower that is the entire bathroom. It took some getting used to, but basically, the shower head just sprays into the middle of the bathroom. The entire room is tiled, and the water just drains in the middle. When you're done, the toilet and sink and all the walls are wet, but they're all water proof. You can pee in the shower and be peeing in the toilet. I've decided that this is the way all bathrooms should be. Somebody make it so.

Stefka and I slept in her old bedroom, which apparently doesn't look much like it did when it was hers (you can never go back). A sleeper sofa was purchased specifically for our visit. Bulgarian sleeper sofas can take a beating. Enough said.

Bulgaria has taken to capitalism quickly, and the whole place is under construction. With the exception of the occasional Romas (often derogatorily referred to as "Gypsies") riding a rickety cart pulled by a donkey through rush-hour traffic, the place is pretty modern. The old Soviet-era gray blocks of apartments and government buildings are still there though. These buildings, no matter what country they're in, always look like misery personified. One gets the impression the communists actually saw happiness as a bourgeois emotion that the victorious proletariats should be liberated from, a process many Eastern Europeans seem to have embraced long before communism (see Dostoyevsky).

Sophia has a large population of stray dogs. Most of these seem fairly well-fed and tame. They're dirty and probably not in perfect health, but people put collars on them to make them look like somebody owns them, apparently so they won't be euthenized. I've seen stray dogs in Africa, and by stray dogs, these guys are doing pretty well. Sophia doesn't have a harsh winter. Often, store owners befriend the dogs, putting food out for them.

There is a lot of public transportation. There are trams, busses and trolleys. I'm not sure which is which, but some of the buses and all the trolleys run on electricity from wires that hang above the streets all over the place. There is a subway system under construction. It has been under construction for 20 odd years, and a common joke in Sophia is that during construction they found the archeological remains of the earlier subway construction.

There are lots of cars, most of which you would never see on an American Street. Many of them are eastern European brands like the “Lada” or weird Russian trucks from the 1960’s. Other than that, there are European versions brands like Toyota and Subaru. There are also B.M.W. S.U.V.’s, which, just like in America, are inevitably full of assholes.

Bulgarians, however, are not a miserable bunch. They're excited about the future and the fact that at the beginning of 2007 they joined the European Union. Even before that, western Europeans have been pouring into Bulgaria buying up Black Sea-front property and ski villas in the Balkan Mountains which run right through the middle of the country. Racism doesn't seem like much of an issue, although every Bulgarian knows about the hundreds of years they spend under the "Turkish Yoke", which either refers to an omelet or tyranny by the Ottoman Empire. Statues of heroes who tried to overthrow the Turks and never reached age 25 are abundant.

I would be able to tell you more about Bulgarian history, but I spent much of my time in Bulgaria at the dentist's office. Yes, the dentist. Little did I know Bulgaria is part of the burgeoning medical tourism industry, and it's know for it's dentistry. Now, by dentist's office, I mean apartment, an apartment in one of those giant Soviet-Era blocks mentioned earlier. Inside the office there is a waiting room, but people don't do much waiting. They walk around and talk to the dentist while she's working on patients. While I lay mouth open having my soul drilled out of me, cousin Sasha would come in and gossip to the lady holding the drill about how his wife can’t cook. She’d answer him, then turn to me and tell me to spit.

I needed X-Rays, and was sent a few blocks away to get them. The “X-Ray Shop” (blury picture to right) was located behind an car repair shop in an alley. You walk down a dingy hallway, give somebody 2 dollars (equivalent) and sit in a folding chair while a Dr: Who-styled laser gun shoots radiation through your body. They give you your x-rays 2 minutes later, and you walk out past the auto mechanic shop.

Upon returning to the living-room/dentist’s office, I am informed I need surgery. Well, why not? When in Bulgaria…. get surgery.

The hospital is a giant, (image to left) somewhat rusty, gray block – “The Ministry of Facial/Crainial Surgery” or something. It’s attached to a military hospital. The elevator up to the specialist’s office is about 3 feet by 3 feet, and don’t go looking for a maintenance certificate. In the hallway outside the office, worried people with bandaged faces wander the halls. I use the bathroom, which is not as clean as the public restrooms in Central Park (NY). One gentleman with a bandage covering most of is head, is in there smoking out of the limited section of his face that he has access to.

After my consultation, I am bounced around a bit. Sent back to the original dentist for more drilling, more x-rays, connected to the head of the department through a friend of Stefka’s mother, go back to the original specialist, get in trouble with the head of the department for going behind his back, and two days later admitted in the morning for surgery. I change into the hospital pajamas, which look disturbing like concentration camp oufits, and wait some more. At one point, I’m in the doctor’s lounge where six doctors and two nurses are sitting and smoking. I didn’t see any of them do shots of vodka, but they probably were just maintaining decorum for me.

Thankfully, the surgical floor looks clean. I even have to wear plastic backs over my slippers to maintain a germ-free environment. Have these people seen the bathroom? I lay on a gurney, while three people attach wires to me, shoot me full of Novocain and occasionally ask “Feel pain? No?”. The rest of the time they joke with eachother about life or death or something. I have no idea. Nobody speaks much English.

And, it’s over. Stefka and I leave the apartment and promptly go climb the mountain at the edge of town. I’ve been at the dentist for half my trip, and need to do something other than lie in chairs and get tortured during my trip to Bulgaria. At the top of the Vitosho (the mountain, which we actually road a rickety ski-lift to the top of), it’s beautiful. There is deep snow, some Bulgarian kids are snow boarding and the mountains of the Balkans stretch out to the horizon. I can’t feel my face.