Opening a new bottle of wine for us.

Every journal entry I’ve posted is from the same black binder. It contained such a rich vein of material that I couldn’t imagine any of the other binders being as fruitful. Just for fun I cracked open another binder. First time I’ve done it in a couple of years. I didn’t need go to any further than page 1 to find something interesting.

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October 29, 1994

The girl in apartment 5A was raped in the elevator. I didn’t believe it at first because the news came from the angry, militant lesbians on the 3rd floor. They’re malcontents who are always spoiling for a fight—any fight—so their credibility is suspect. But Cathy confirmed it so it must be so. There was another girl in the elevator with her at the time but she didn’t do anything to help. She couldn’t. She was catatonic with fear. I don’t know what I would’ve done. Probably try to stop it and had my throat slit. I don’t think I could’ve just stood there.

This neighborhood makes me sick. I hate the people. I hate junkies. If my family knew I wasn’t immediately planning a relocation after someone was raped in the elevator they’d think there was something was wrong with me. Maybe there is. I’d move back to Brooklyn tomorrow if I could but I can’t. I’m broke. I’m economically trapped in this beautiful apartment. My golden cage. Where else am I going to get a 900 sq. ft. two-bedroom flat for $550/month? Back in Cleveland, I suppose, but that’s out of the question, too. I asked Cathy and Hilly how they could still live here after someone was raped and Cathy said, “I love my apartment too much to leave it. That’s just part of living in the City.” But she’s wrong. That’s the worst part of New York.

I can hear those sons-of-bitches yelling down in the streets right now. I hate Latino music. It’s obnoxious, dull, repetitious and LOUD. I look across the way at the high-rise projects off in the distance and every single window is glowing blue. A city of zombies parked in front of their TVs all fucking night.

November 15, 1994

I didn’t tell everyone it was my last day of work because I didn’t want a fuss. I bumped into Amy in the elevator and we both wished each other good luck, knowing full well we’d never see each other again. I like her a lot but I’m not ambitious enough for her. I didn’t want to tell Mary because she’s partially deaf and when she gets excited SHE SHOUTS. Then, everyone would know.

Bob knew it was my last day. I like Bob but he’s too gay. I don’t like when men put their hands on me in an affectionate manner without being invited to do so. In fact, I don’t like it even if there aren’t any sexual overtones. It’d be great if I felt like experimenting—I’d be busy every weekend—but it’s just not my thing. I like girls. A lot. If he wants to get a drink once in a while or see a play, that’s fine. Whatever. But I’m glad he’s no longer a part of my daily existence. He invades my space. [Note: He and I became good friends. He was in my wedding party.]

I got crappy balcony, obstructed view seats to see Pina Bausch at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I asked Ann to go. She was invited to go on opening night with the German Consulate but she couldn’t make it. They wanted to send a car at 5:30 and she won’t close the gallery until 6:00, so she went with me instead. I saw Bauch’s Palermo, Palermo about a year ago at BAM and it was one of the most interesting nights I’ve ever spent in the theater. This piece, Two Cigarettes in the Dark was a pretty dull affair.

I was walking home from the subway and bumped into a really pretty Chinese girl. Not hard. We kind of walked right into each other. It was both our faults. But our bodies made complete contact with one another, touching from head to toe ever so softly. Like a gentle embrace. Afterwards, I couldn’t remember the last time a woman held her body against mine like that. It reminded me of what it feels like and I was sad the rest of the night. I got home and was petting the cats and they leaned hard into my hand.

Cathy and I saw a jazz combo at Sweet Basil’s last Friday. I thought it was going to be dull but it wasn’t. It was fantastic. We sat right under the band’s noses. I love being so close that I can see the piano player’s fingers glide across the keyboard. We were on the Blue Note Records guest list. Our cover and drinks were paid for. When it came time to pay, everyone around us started fumbling for their wallets and purses. All I had to do was sign the bill and hand it back. Everyone was looking at me like I was somebody. Little did they know I’m nobody. Lots of Japanese tourists. The Eurotrash maître d’ treated me like shit but that’s fine.

The new Big Audio Dynamite album is terrific. Ditto the new Bryan Ferry. Ferry’s in town next week for a show and is doing a CD-signing at Tower Records. I might go. I like him.


The way is clear
The light is good
I have no fear
Nor no one should.

Into the woods
Without delay
But careful not
To lose the way.

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Into the woods
Who knows what may
Be lurking on the journey?

Into the woods
To get the thing
That makes it worth
The journeying.


First the knife, then sweet perfume

I was enjoying my morning coffee in Bryant Park. It’s the best part of my day. I sit and read a book or the newspaper. Sometimes, I stare off into space or watch the leaves flashing in the sun. I watch the city awake from its slumber. It slowly, quietly, unfolds itself like a beautiful flower. After that, it’s one unpleasant episode after another until 5:00. It’s my daily dose of Zen.

Usually.

The other morning, unbeknownst to me, I sat near an outlet. A thoughtless prig decided he needed to charge his cell phone. Instead of sitting quietly in my meditative bliss, I was treated to this:

No ‘excuse me, do you mind if I sit here?’ Not a word. I was treated to his theories on the merits of feeding his cat dry food vs. wet food. I wanted to pick up my chair and bash him over his head with it but the thought of explaining why I was in jail to my daughters (not to mention my mother-in-law) stayed my hand. I seethed with a mad hatred that was disproportionate to the offense. Zen Archer fail.

I walked to my office, sat at my desk and soon thereafter, the baby gorilla with the insatiable appetite who torments me arrived with this:

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Why have just one iced coffee when you can have as many as you’re able to pour down your gullet in an 8-hour day? They’re free. He makes two at a time because he doesn’t want to have to get out of his chair and walk to the kitchen when he finishes the first one. The morning feeding consisted of:

1 smelly omelet
1 large oatmeal
3 apples
1 peach
1 pear
1 banana
1 raspberry yogurt

This was me by 9:30.

~~~~~~~~

My Bride and Daughters saw Taylor Swift at Giants Stadium. I paid $460 for three tickets plus $91 for two Taylor Nation gift bags that contained TS logo t-shirts and tchotchkes. That “S” in the logo should be “$”. That’s an extraordinary sum of money for me to spend. I’m just regular. I was steamed because you’d think that for $460, you’d be sitting in decent seats. The decent seats are $460 EACH. Why, Taylor? Why? Most of the men’s lavatories were converted to women’s restrooms. [Clever.]

Then I got the concert report from My Bride.

The stadium was packed with every 10-17 year-old girl in New Jersey. Girls in that demographic are constantly bombarded with negative body-type images that stick for life. That stage is hard enough to navigate without social media and the entertainment industry pointing out all your faults and inadequacies.

My Bride said that Ms. Swift made all those young girls feel better about themselves. It was an old fashioned tent revival for their souls. The songs were affirmations of girl empowerment. Her message is: Don’t take crap from anyone–ESPECIALLY men. At one point, she spoke to each young girl, telling them to [I’m paraphrasing] go home tonight, look in the mirror and say, “I’m beautiful,” because THAT’S WHAT YOU ARE. 60,000 smiling, laughing faces.

Low self-esteem and self-loathing didn’t stand a chance. Shake it off, indeed. I love Taylor Swift.

Everyone who entered the stadium was given a rubber wrist band that had an LED light inside. Kids played with them but when the concert started they took on a life of their own. They obeyed the music.

[Caveat: My Bride is a Cracker Jack wife and mother, but her photography and videography skills need improvement. Hang in there for all :27 seconds.]

This went on all night. Complicated sequences mirrored the beats. At one point, every bracelet glowed the same shade of red. The stadium was a sea of bright roses. If I’d know about this I would’ve gone. [And snuck off to smoke a big fatty.]

There you have it, bitches. The best and worst of humanity, all within 48 hours.

Answering Machine Follies b/w Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?

b/w [abbreviation]  1. (music) “backed with.” Commonly used with 45 and 78 RPM records, referring to the flip side (also called the “B-side”) of a record.

Here’s a brief journal entry plus a B-side. As always, I make no apologies for my boorish behavior.

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November 5, 1992

I love when I come home and the little red light on the answering machine is going *blink* *blink* *blink.* It validates me.

The first message was from Joann, the blind date from two weeks ago. I never expected to hear from her. While on our date, she never made eye contact with me. She’d look over my head, past my left shoulder, past my right, but never directly at me. It was disconcerting. She has a pair of tickets to Mamet’s new play, Oleanna and wants to know if I’ll go. The tix are for over Thanksgiving and I’ll be in Cleveland. I’ve already seen it but the guy who plays the accused professor is so good that I’d gladly go again. [Note: That was William H. Macy.] I left a message on her machine that I’d be out of town. I was kind of glad I didn’t actually have to talk to her.

What does this mean? Does she want to be friends or what? I asked Oswaldo and he started laughing at me. Then he said he has someone he wants to introduce me to. So does Uncle Frank. Everyone is looking out for me but I’m perfectly content being by myself. I’m not the least bit lonely.

The next message was from Margaret. She left a message at work, too, but I didn’t return it because she aggravates me. Last night, she said there must be something wrong with me because I’m [redacted] years old and not married yet. We ended up yelling at each other. I can’t understand why she keeps calling. I don’t do anything to encourage her. All she does insult me. But she sure is pretty. [Note: In an uncharacteristic fit of towering self-respect, I finally saw past her beauty and told her to fuck off.]

She spends almost every night visiting her mom in the hospital. Also, she’s seeing someone who doesn’t make her happy. He lives too close and demands all of her free time. He’s jealous and insecure. She called him a black hole. She said he’s attractive and energetic and doesn’t understand why he just doesn’t go find someone else. That’s almost verbatim what Karen says about her boyfriend! Except the part about the black hole. Karen isn’t smart enough to know what a black hole is.

The next message was from Bonnie. She’s moving offices and asked if I could help with the heavy lifting. I called her back immediately and said I’d be there whenever she needed me. She said she’d pay me but I told her it wasn’t necessary. I asked if it’d be okay if I ravaged her on top of her new desk. She laughed and said, “I suppose so.”

The last message was from Howard. His sister was in a horrific auto accident. She broke several bones including her pelvis and pubic bone. He said it was her fault. She drove into oncoming traffic or something like that. They had to use the jaws of life to peel her out. Apparently, it’s been really hard on their mom. Her husband was coming home from work and drove past the accident. When he got close enough, he recognized the car. Or, what was left of it. I’ll bet she was glad to see him.


What’s your policy on posting photos of yourself? Some bloggers, in an effort to build brand recognition, use a portrait on their landing page and populate their posts with pics of themselves making wacky, exaggerated facial grimaces. Other bloggers have never—not once—posted a photo, allowing their words speak for themselves.

I occupy a middle ground. If I post a photo of The Daughters, it’s usually from the back. This is an open forum and I feel some discretion is in order. The exception is on my birthday, which is today. I allow one full-frontal shot every July 8th. Any dime store psychologist will tell you that this is yet another sad cry for attention. But isn’t that the very definition of blogging? An ongoing cry for attention?

Me + Daughter #2.

“Dad, I like doing this…” (Traces her finger inside her ear.) “It’s like a maze.”

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I can’t believe I’m as old as I am (don’t ask) and have kids this young. Well, not THIS young. This is from a few years ago. Still. The guys I grew up with have kids out of college. I traveled a different path to the waterfall. And it’s a damn good thing I did. If I’d had children in my 20’s it would’ve crashed and burned. I just wasn’t ready. I was perfectly content being by myself. I wasn’t the least bit lonely.

A horse is a horse of course. Unless it’s an art installation.

Here’s a peculiar one. You’re going to have to dramatically expand your definition of what constitutes art. Or, call bullshit if you see bullshit.

I took a long lunch, hopped the subway down to Houston St. and visited Jannis Kounellis’s Untitled (12 Horses) at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise gallery in Greenwich Village. It’s a living installation that’s consists of 12 horses tethered to the wall in the gallery’s big space.

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It was first executed in Rome in 1969 and has since (in certain small circles) achieved legendary status. It’s been staged five times in Europe. Having it staged here in New York is considered a major coup. Kounellis flew in from Italy to oversee the installation.

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The horses didn’t actually do anything other than be horses. They stood there eating hay and relieving themselves at will. There were three grooms in attendance to see to the horse’s comfort and needs and to keep the gallery clean. The gallery floor was outfitted with a rubber mat to protect their hoofs.

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A reviewer in The New York Times gushed that the exhibit was “…an unforgettable New York art world moment” and said it had a calming influence on her. The review generated so much buzz that lines formed. It was sunny and hot. The gallery was gracious enough to provide umbrellas and free bottles of water to people waiting outside.

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Only 10 people were allowed in at a time so as not to rattle the horses (I suppose).

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Outside the contemporary art world, this is commonly referred to as a “barn.” I’ve been in barns at the race track and county fair and aside from a curator surveying the scene, it’s no different. So, I ask you, is turning an art gallery into a barn an unforgettable moment in contemporary art, as The New York Times insisted, or is it horseshit?

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Simultaneously, just outside Untitled (12 Horses) in a smaller gallery, artist Rirkrit Tiravanija staged one of his food installations. His exhibits often involve cooking and sharing meals. He considers it the art of bringing people together. In this piece, he provided free pork tacos to visitors. After viewing the horses, people would queue up buffet style.

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buffet

A hole was cut in the gallery floor and the pork was cooked under a mound of earth. Please don’t ask me how this was accomplished. I haven’t a clue.

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Picnic tables were placed around the perimeter of the gallery. There was no limit on how long you could stay, nor how much food you could eat. People seemed genuinely respectful and didn’t make pigs of themselves or overstay their welcome. Having a fairly dark view of the human condition, I was pleasantly surprised.

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I was also surprised there weren’t any vagrants about. Perhaps they hadn’t read the Times yet. I remember when I lived in the city and would attend gallery openings, the homeless would always descend for the free wine. They are part of the fabric of New York gallery openings. Hey! That could be an installation! Wealthy white art patrons can stand around the perimeter of a gallery and watch street urchins drink free wine. I’ll call it “Like Moths to the Flame.” The title it apt for both audience and subjects.


Two posts ago I complained about a gigantic new consultant at work who is making my life difficult with his incessant eating. Trying to concentrate on the tasks at hand is a challenge when the soundtrack of my day is the smacking, chawing, gulping and gnashing of food that goes on just a few feet away, not to mention his heavy, labored wheezing. Every exhale sounds like it could be his last.

In addition to stuffing is piehole with food, another one of his great pleasures in life is using a pen cap to dig the earwax out of his ear while he talks on the phone. Sitting next to him makes me feel like a complete failure. Press play. You must!

He missed a day of work because of a plumbing mishap back home. His bathroom flooded. I felt a (very brief) sympathetic pang when I heard what caused the flood. His girlfriend tried to flush his junk food down the toilet and it backed up. He said, “That wasn’t the first time she did that.”

Is there any doubt that we live in a MAN’S WORLD? How does this guy have a girlfriend? It appears that his food addiction is nothing to joke about. I’d probably feel sorry for him if I didn’t have to sit in such close proximity.


The new rage at New Jersey diners:

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Grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with mac-n-cheese. Gross. A friend of mine ordered this. I have low standards, especially when it comes to food, but I couldn’t choke this down if I tried.

NYC’s Newest Summer Scam

New York City is a buzzing hive of scoundrels. They have no intention of putting in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wages. That’s for suckers like you and I. They live to surgically separate people from their money as quickly and stealthily as possible. And they’re always coming up with novel ways to do it. [Come to think of it, that sounds like the dictionary definition of the advertising industry.]

Currently, there are some Buddhist monks strolling around midtown Manhattan with big smiles on their faces. They bow slightly to tourists, give them some prayer beads and hold their hand out. OF COURSE people give them money. They’re Buddhist monks!

Well, folks, they’re not. They’re a bunch of Chinese dudes who live in Queens impersonating monks. They bought some ceremonial robes and cheap prayer beads and—PRESTO!—instant monk. Apparently, word has gotten out that it’s an easy way to make a buck because I’m seeing more and more of them, especially since summer arrived. It’s been reported in all the papers but, as far as I can tell, nothing’s being done about it. I caught one of the holy Lamas taking a cigarette break on the steps of the stage door at the Nederlander Theater on 41st Street.

monk

Hey! Those guys aren’t supposed to smoke! Aren’t their bodies supposed to be temples? Ah, well. Maybe they’re not a bunch of benevolent pacifists after all. For instance, I saw this headline in New York Daily News yesterday:

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I remember (now, fondly) the three-card Monte grifters of my early NYC years. I was played for a fool once or twice but quickly learned you can’t beat them. It was intoxicating. There was always a shill so folks could see how easy it was. They’d let you win a few times to suck you in. You’d stand there with a fist full of cash and a big, dumb grin on your face, impressed with your brilliance and thinking you knew how to beat these bastards at their own game. The end result was always the same. You’d be liberated of that cash you’d just won and then some. You had to admire their ability to use your greed against you.

It made for great, free, theater. I spent many afternoons in Central Park during my broke-ass years watching them reel in fish after fish. Those guys never paid out. The scam was, if someone accidentally won and selected the right card (which, believe me, rarely happened), they’d kick their boxes over, yell, “Cops!” and scatter in different directions with their pockets full of cash. Your cash. It was beautiful. Nobody got physically hurt. People just felt stupid. A friend came to visit and I BEGGED him not to get involved but you know how that ended, right?

If you’re planning a visit this summer, stay away from the monks. I warned you.


My Bride made a rare trip into the city for work yesterday and took this spectacular pic of The Flatiron. It’s her favorite building in all of NYC. When it opened, one architectural critic glowingly referred to it as a great battleship steaming up Broadway. Hell, yeah, it is.

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Here’s another architectural marvel on Amsterdam and 71st St. This is The Dorilton. It’s a beautiful Beau Arts co-op (originally apartments) constructed in 1902.

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It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and featured in many architectural guidebooks. It’s one of the most flamboyant buildings in the city. Criminy. I wish I had a pied-à-terre there. If I did, my life would be perfect and I’d have to stop complaining. The Dorilton sits on the northeast corner. On the southwest corner, diagonally across the street is this abortion:

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I don’t know or care what the name of this fugly mess is. This is the product of greedy real estate development turds. Why spend all that delicious money on design flourishes? That would just cut into profits.


I took these early yesterday morning. Bryant Park, 6:30 a.m. Nobody is around at that hour. It’s just me and a cup of coffee cart coffee.

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Asbury Park, 2009. That was then.

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Asbury Park, 2015. This is now.

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*Sigh* Why does this makes my chest hurt?