A bold choice, perhaps more believable at the Costume Institute Gala than in Rego Park; nonetheless, you have to respect a woman who has the courage to rock a bright-red turban.

It’s been a rough month. But I think I’m ready to come out of hiding. Reasons for hunkering down are largely beside the point.

And now, a scene.

Platinum Gym: a family-owned sweat palace populated largely by what appear to be bodybuilders of the former Soviet republics. Our heroine is doing pull-ups, wiggling excitedly between sets to an infectious pop number. She is marveling at a lissome lifter when she realizes that he is no longer kicking his leg to his forehead; he is staring at the pull-up bar, then at her, then at the pull-up bar, then furrowing his brow, and then fixing his gaze, again, on her.

Gym dude:

Hey, girl. I, uh, I wanted to say …

She smiles nervously, as is her wont. Just see what happens: It can’t be as bad as the time another regular mumbled through a discourse on the evils of Google Toolbar before asking her for a drink.

GD:

… you’re beautiful. But it’s not just, you’re not just beautiful. It’s that you work at it. You’re here, what—

TJ:

Oh, yeah, I come five or six days a week, blow off some steam.

GD:

Yeah! Blow off some steam! I’m K—-, and you’re?

TJ:

TJ, good to meet you K—-. And thanks, I, um, appreciate it?

He smiles and starts mumbling something again, and she knows that she should be annoyed, that he’s penetrating the little bubble of herself and the time she’s created when she never has to think about her husband or cleaning or making dinner or those damn cats, those fucking cats. But it’s not always about hormones and gonads and the ceaseless beating of flesh on flesh; sometimes it’s just nice, right when you feel farthest from the world and everything you wanted, to be reminded that there are others going through the motions, making the effort, trying to connect when it’s easy enough to make it through the day with no more contact than a rapid-fire coffee order or an exhausted “Excuse me!” yelped in the crush for the rush-hour train. Only connect, only connect.

After Time Out New York deemed the Skylight Diner the best Manhattan diner of the year, S and I bravely ventured to the borough of the gods for a bite. But we needn’t have suffered the E train — especially not as we have the Shalimar Diner so close at hand in Rego Park.

Reviews on Chowhound are a bit mixed, but for the appetizers alone — a bowl of chickpeas well-spiced and mixed with vinegar and chopped onions, alongside two types of pickles, matched with poppy-dotted challah and melba toast — I’d give it a thumbs up. I have no clue about the proprietors’ origins (Uzbeki, as per Regz’s norms?), but it was average to enticing grub that pushed the boundaries of traditional diner offerings. I had a nice rigatoni with sundried tomatoes and broccoli, while S had a good half dozen varieties of meat on a sizzling platter, very old school. Our waitress was a kick — sassy, middle-aged, pony-tailed, and adamantly opposed to the sugar-free pies the diner was offering — and the place was jammed, so it seems they’re doing something right.

(Picture is from Morton Fox on Flickr.)

In a mad search for delicious treats to bring to work for a marathon day of training tomorrow, I happened upon these chocolate cookies. The pop art gumshoe is an instant classic, but what really sells me is that, rather than saying “Mmmmm,” he’s dreaming of “Hammm…” — made only stranger by the fact that it was for sale in a kosher store.

I’ve seen some strange graffiti lately at my normal subway stop (V train represent!). It’s fairly juvenile, but it’s also somewhat disturbing, in what it may or may not expose about this community’s feelings about race, etc.

Above, a display ad for Sundance, with tagging in bold black hand that reads “Al Qaeda = a group of Muslims fooled into providing Bush, & those he works for, with an excuse to carry on the Prs [?].” Below, an ad for Bravo’s The Millionaire Matchmaker, tagged with “Uhm … let’s see … (1) Black guy, one-black girl … uhm … tough-one. Blacks together … (2) girls gay … everybody happy !!”

Interpretations? Juvenilia, or indication of some greater unrest?

In j-school, back when I still cared about things, I took a class in newspaper design and had a rather eccentric instructor who constantly referred to herself in the third person, sometimes appending the word “creature” to her last name. She was unpredictable and by most accounts certifiable, but one day she showed us a tearsheet from a New Jersey paper’s entertainment section. Ragged feathers framed a picture of a band.

“This, this is what you all should be doing! You know what this is? One of my former students, he was seeing art in everything. You should see art in everything. These feathers here? Fella was walkin’ home and noticed a dead bird on the ground. Whatcha think he did with that sparrow? Did he step over it, ignore it? No, he picked it up, took it to work, threw it in the scanner, and there you go. He transformed something ugly and unwanted into something breathtaking.”

I don’t claim to have any artistic genius, but I do keep my eyes open. And today I found a lovely little laminated card — Virgen de Guadalupe on the front, prayer in Spanish on the back.

My reproduction is poor, but I always love to share found art/objects.

There’s a rather intellectual show on at the International Center of Photography, “Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art.” I went to its opening and wasn’t particularly impressed; though there are glimmers of excellence (Vivan Sundaram’s excerpts from The Sher-Gil Archive, Fazal Sheikh’s images from Afghan refugee camps), the theme felt strained. More up my alley are Found magazine, the Museum of Find Arts, and the aggregated images at Ffffound!.

It doesn’t have the cachet of Astoria and it lacks the gritty appeal of the LIC arts scene, but for my buck, I couldn’t pick a better place in Queens than Rego Park.

Other residents (and real estate agents) highlight its proximity to Forest Hills (the fillet of Queens!), the easy commute to Manhattan (30 minutes door to door!), and the low crime rate (a 40% drop in robberies in the past year!). But for me? It’s the humble character of the neighborhood and the kaleidoscope of culture shifting and glittering on 63rd Drive, on Queens Boulevard, along Yellowstone and Woodhaven.

The gym I go to is locally owned, rather than an outpost of the overpriced Bally’s or New York Sports Club (also, its employees are always quick with a friendly greeting, initially winning me over by exclaiming, “Is named Platinum — better than Gold!”). Within a 15-minute walk from my apartment, I can buy Colombian chicken, find Thums-Up cola, get supplies to celebrate Chinese New Year, hum along to old Bollywood tunes at a Subway franchised by a chipper young fellow from Indonesia, delight in a knish, or procure a neon menora. And on balmy summer days, or even into crisp fall evenings, there’s a certain corner on which a group of five or six old men invariably play backgammon, kids occasionally peering over their shoulders to help them strategize.

It’s a cool, refreshingly authentic place to live when it seems everyone is urging us to consider Williamsburg or Park Slope, both dripping with irony and artifice and endless posturing about who has the best what. Sure, sometimes it means I miss a hip indie concert, and there’s not much of a nightlife (other than Wiggles!), but at least I don’t have to fight for groceries amongst a million tiny men wearing black eyeliner, flannels, and ever-tighter jeans.