Blockade

I don’t work for The New York Times but I do work in Times headquarters. It was designed by the charmingly-named Italian architect Renzo Piano. He also designed the Whitney Museum of Art and The Shard in London.

The Times HQ is a high-prolife address. We get protesters out front on a semi-regular basis. Various fringe groups hang banners on the building adjacent to the main entrance demanding The Times pay more attention to their special obsession.

Occasionally, like, for instance, yesterday, an NYPD flatbed semi will roll up 8th Avenue with a load of concrete barriers. The kind that’ll prevent a truck ladened with explosives from driving through the main entrance.

They’ll set up a ring around the perimeter.

It’s a little unnerving to wonder what prompts this. Who are they trying to keep out? Later in the day a company-wide email was circulated stating the barricades were being installed in advance of Election Day. Are they worried about violence and destruction of property after the results are announced? What have we become? A third-world banana republic?

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I bought a lottery ticket, which is something I never do. It’s humiliating. I fancy myself a sophisticated student of the odds. I like casinos and craps tables. Even slot machines, the bastion of blue-haired old ladies, have more dignity than lotto. Barely.

I took this shot when no one was looking. They don’t like you taking photos inside the casino. They’ll throw you out if they catch you.

What I didn’t realize until later was that I inadvertently caught, in a blur on the left mid-photo, the dice flying through the air. A six and a five. That’s yo-11.

The state lottery is a tax on the desperate. But if you’re going to jack that pot up to $970,000,000 then deal me in. An incomprehensible amount of money. I could finally buy a Rothko!

If I win I’ll get rid of the few friends I have and surround myself with sycophants and boot lickers. I’ll get a girlfriend half my age. Japanese. Barely understands English. Named Yum-Yum.

I hope I don’t win. I couldn’t handle it.

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I was down at Astor Place in the East Village last week. Long time gone. It was different and the same. I wasn’t bothered by the changes. It’s a waste of time to complain about gentrification. It’s the oldest bitch in the book.

“In twenty years, or thirty at farthest, we shall see here nothing more romantic than shipping, warehouses, and wharves. Every noble cliff will be a pier, and the whole island will be densely desecrated by buildings of brick, with portentous of brown-stone, as the Gothamites have it.”

Edgar Allan Poe in a letter from 1844

I had a shawarma pita at Mamoun’s. Still cheap and good. Saw a play at The Public. Glenn Close plays Joan of Arc’s mother. My two friends loved it, as did the reviewers, but I thought it was simply okay. It was disjointed. The dialogue toggled between contemporary and period language. It was either funny or they were describing how Joan was burned. The cast was strong but the actor playing Joan was a weak link. And if your play is about Joan of Arc, that’s a problem.

I should’ve waiting until after the reviews were out to see it. Then I would’ve known how to react. I’d still take a night of middling theater over a night of epic TV.

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We are moving to the part of the year when the sun is rising just as I arrive at work. I’m hoping the new construction to the left of the Chrysler Building won’t obstruct my view when it’s completed.

Hallucinate

I’m enjoying my first genuine health crisis. That I made it this far in life without one is my luckiest break. I, literally, haven’t slept through the night since mid-August. I wake up two or three hours after I go to bed with stabbing pains. I move to the floor next to the bed so as not to disturb my bride. I curl up like the family dog and try to go back to sleep. The floor is hard so I’ve set a couple sleeping bags and blankets down and that helps. I usually fall back to sleep around 3:30.

I wake up shortly after that with terrible dreams. In one, the cure to my ailment could be found if I gathered one million gallons of water. I called everyone I know to help me gather water but nobody had the time to pitch-in. Another was a work-nightmare (of course). An excel spreadsheet with indecipherable numbers, endless tabs and an impossible deadline. One morning, the pain was worse than usual. I was scared and dreamt I’d better call someone in case I was dying but there was no one to call. I didn’t know my doctor’s number and knew he wouldn’t pick up at that hour anyway. Who else could help me? Who had the knowledge to alleviate the pain? No one. That’s who.

These other-worldly dreams would be interesting if they weren’t accompanied by the very real pain. I think it might be the meds. None of the pills I take do a damn thing for me but I keep swallowing them anyway. They’re about as effective as eating M&Ms for medicinal purposes.

The fall theater season is underway. I’ve had to eat two previously-purchased play tickets because the thought of sitting for 2+ hours in one of Broadway’s Marquis de Sade seats is unbearable. I couldn’t do it. This Friday I have a ticket to a production starring Glenn Close down at The Public Theater in the village. It’s a tough ticket to get so I’m going to try and suffer through. I can always bail out at the interval.

I used to have remarkable recuperative powers. I can’t imagine what’s happened to compromise them.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Alberto Giacometti exhibit at the Guggenheim surprised me in the bad way. I’m a fan of his work but seeing the rotunda filled with it was numbing.

I’ve always loved seeing one of his slender man pieces at an auction or museum. I love that they sell for tens of millions. That shouldn’t have anything to do with the aesthetics of the piece but it all factors in.

It was too much. Half as many pieces would’ve been fine.

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I’m genuinely sad to see summer end. I like the longer days, the life in my backyard, the beach. But I won’t miss the overly-air conditioned venues. My office and bus are like meat lockers. My bride keeps the thermostat set to Pluto. Plus, I look forward the the aforementioned theater season. And football.

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How to enjoy unemployment

[Note: I didn’t lose my job. This is from 1994. A bit risqué but I sanitized it.]

bins

January 11, 1994

I haven’t worked for over a month and am falling behind on the bills. I wrote a letter to the student loan vampires and asked for a six-month reprieve. I threw the utility and phone bills in the garbage. I made the minimum payment on the credit cards but I have to pay the rent IN FULL. I went to an interview today and have five more lined up. They made me take a typing test. 65 words per minute with two errors. Champion.

I visited Ann. It was 10:00 at night on Sunday and bitterly cold so I took a cab uptown. $7. That son-of-a-bitch came off the FDR, turned onto Third Avenue and drove right past Laura’s apartment. I craned my neck out the window to see if her light was on and was desperately looking for her on the sidewalk.

Ann keeps a case of Veuve Clicquot in the spare bedroom and she’s always got a few cold so we popped a cork, took our clothes off, got into bed and watched reruns of Get Smart, House of Buggin’ and The George Carlin Show.

I always feel kind of bad when a woman goes down on me. That can’t possibly be any fun, can it? I don’t feel bad enough to stop them. It takes very little to bring Ann to complete and full satisfaction. It often occurs more than once. I don’t take any credit for this. She is so in tune with her body that she’s able to practically do it all on her own. Sometimes, the glorious event occurs before we take our clothes off. Good for her! There was an unusually large wet spot. I slept on the edge of the bed and woke up with a sore back.

The next morning I was going to launch a new assault but my breath was bouncing up off the mattress and back into my face. It was so horrific that I lost interest. Ann tried to coax me but I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I stank. That reminds me…Laura used to leave in the morning without brushing her teeth. And she smoked! I can’t abide by poor dental hygiene but I miss her terribly.

Ann made a pot of tea and some whole wheat toast with raspberry preserves. She put a little honey in the tea. It was good. I confirmed my interview with Prudential Bache. Ann was in the kitchen rinsing our tea cups. I walked up behind her and put my hands under her T-shirt. I told her I wanted her and she shouted, “OKAY!” and said it with such unintended glee that we both laughed. We stumbled into the bedroom and did it. We laid there for a bit and then I got up and washed. It was the first time I had to wash my genitals prior to an interview.

I went to that David + Amy Sedaris play in the East Village by myself last week. Today, The New York Times gave it a good review. That guy is on his way. The Times said he’s developed a cult following. Can you believe it! It said he’s a “social satirist” and that’s an accurate description of what I remember him being like. I went to the library and read his pieces in Harper’s and they seemed like elaborate diary entries. Is that a type of writing? Maybe I can do that?

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Adieu to summer. Summer is the coldest month. My office and commuting buses are like meat lockers. My bride keeps the house thermostat set to Pluto. Here are some bugs courtesy of my iPhone.

Hot moth love.

Butterflies are beautiful from a distance.

Pollen party in my backyard.

The whites are a bit hot in this pic but I don’t know how to fix that.

Game of Thrones dragon.

Picture this

My last post was VERBOSE. 900+ words. Highly unusual. As penance, I will rely mainly on photos for this post. Also, I have the August lazies. And I am growing weary of the sound of my own voice. But I’m still having fun taking pics so I’ll stick with that.

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I packed-up the fam and hauled them to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in western Mass. I had to drag the daughters. One insinuated it was a selfish act. That it’s something only I was interested in. Nice.

The museum is a group of old, repurposed warehouses and factories. The vast spaces allow for big-piece installations. It’s exhausting. But not in the way a teenager is exhausting. This is more exhilarating. Seen here is a small sampling of what’s on display. It’s a two-day visit, easy. I include the daughters for scale.

Liz Glynn’s three caves are constructed from shipping pallets.

Inside each is a different sensation; touch, smell and sound. One had hanging strips of black, thick felt. One contained bottles with different fragrances. This was sound. A turntable with albums.

There’s a huge Sol LeWitt retrospective. I’ve been indifferent about his work over the years but I found this very satisfying.

The exhibit occupies a historic mill.

I’m like a parrot. I like bright colors and shiny objects.

There’s a fantastic virtual reality piece by Laurie Anderson. It takes a few minutes to acclimate yourself with the controls and the goings-on but once mastered it really takes you to a different consciousness.

James Turrell is one of my favorites. Right up there with Rothko and Vinny van G and the rest. His medium is light. Here are two of the nine installations on display.

Jenny Holzer’s Ribs. It’s kind of like a news zipper.

Spender Finch’s Cosmic Latte was designed specifically for this space.

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After Mass we visited a county fair outside of Cleveland. It’s a genu-wine slice of rural life. Just look at these two sleeping angels. Adorable. Too bad for them they’re delicious in over a dozen different recipes.

I don’t know what this creature is. My friend Carolyn said she thinks she saw it in a David Cronenberg movie and I think that’s possible. I wouldn’t eat it, that’s for sure.

This bad boy won a second-place ribbon. Was the competition for most hideous cancerous growth?

There was some racist memorabilia in the 4-H pavilion. What if you’re a little kid and you see this? Wouldn’t it stay with you for a long time?

The King at the county fair in the heat of summer. If this won’t put a smile on your puss, nothing will. Thangkewverrmuch.

Meet the fried gator lady. She’s super-friendly with the same grin as that beheaded gator. I love fried gator.

~~~~~~~~~~

I wish had the wherewithal to make a gif of fire coming out of his mouth.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot?

bins

January 5, 1994

I was alone on New Year’s Eve. The thought of being by myself was so painful I went to Times Square. Spending New Year’s Eve alone in Times Square is pathetic. When people ask what I did, I tell them I went with a friends and got separated in the crowd. It’s a lie.

I stood there alone in a pen for over three hours. Nobody said a word to me. I was surrounded by 200,000 happy people but felt unwanted. I teared-up a few times. It was 25 degrees outside. At 9:30 I went to a payphone and called the apartment to see if anyone left a New Year’s message on the answering machine. Hoping for a message that I knew wouldn’t be there.

I looked across the street and saw a big party on the second floor of a hotel. I watched it for quite a while. People were dancing and drinking. There was a giant wall of glass that afforded them a fantastic view of the street, the ball and the commoners. The women were all very, very pretty. The men were terrible dancers. One girl danced in front of the window, as if for the crowd below. She had long blonde hair, wore a baseball cap and cutoff jeans with black spandex. At one point, a guy came up from behind, threw his arms around her and they embraced. They kissed for a long time. How do I get to be that guy? How do I get to be anyone but me?

On New Year’s Day I went to Klinger and Fun’s Day-1 party. I called to say I’d be a little late and Klinger said, “Well, don’t come after 6:00 because Fun and I are going to the movies.” It was Fun’s crowd. I like them. A couple of interesting gay guys. Ray. Some girl from Philadelphia. Mostly strangers. I know how to work a crowd. I had them all laughing. Fun kept pulling me aside and pointing out the available women.

Mimi walked in. A while back, she told Klinger not to mention my name. I’m still not sure what I did. It hurts. I liked her. She was with her boyfriend, a good-looking artist who has a flat in Chelsea and a house in the Hamptons. Apparently, there’s trouble in paradise. Klinger told me she can’t stand the sight of him and wants to move out. He’s dull and only talks about himself and his work. Artists. You know what you’re getting.

She walked up to me and we talked for a while. She looked great and wasn’t the least bit hostile. It was nice. She asked me if I was still writing and I got woozy. She always made me want to try harder. Or at all.

On the way out Fun followed me into the hallway to give me further intelligence on the single girls. I told her about Mimi—things that Klinger doesn’t know about how mad I was for her. She said, “Well, you never know what can happen.” I’m tired of hearing that from well-meaning people. I know what can happen. Nothing. Fun said she’d gather some phone numbers and call me but I can’t think of anything that’d be a bigger waste of her time.

I went to the Upper East Side after work yesterday to visit Ann. I was wearing my jacket and tie. She handed me a cordial as soon as I walked in the door like we’re fucking Ozzie and Harriette. We made out for a while. She’s absolutely daring and will do anything sexually but she’s germ phobic and doesn’t want my finger inside her. When my hand probes the inside of her thigh, she clenches up. “Tongues and cocks only, please,” she says. I have to vigorously wash my hands before the festivities can begin.

She took my hand and walked me over to the baby grand by the window. I asked her why the shade was drawn. It’s such a great view. She said some guy walked up to her on the street and said he watches her from across the way through binoculars. She sat on the piano bench and undid my pants. I said we should go to bed and she thought that was a pretty good idea. We left a trail of clothing from the piano to the bedroom, like in the movies.

We got under the covers and it was nice. She always shaves her legs when she suspects I’m coming over. We rolled around like two puppies. She likes when I spend time kissing her nipples. She said not everybody does that. For all her expertise, she doesn’t kiss well. She’s amazing and acrobatic but she can’t kiss. Her mouth is too stiff. Laura could kiss. I miss her.

She ducked under the covers and continued where she left off in the living room. I picked her up (she’s light) and set her down for the main event. She had a tremendous, noisy orgasm in fairly short order. I can always tell when it’s authentic and when it’s for my benefit. Her body both confirms and betrays her. Just before le grand finale, she gets kind of quiet and closes her eyes, like she’s concentrating. Her body tenses and she squeezes me with her legs and yells. Her chest flushes red. I asked her if she was okay and she said she hadn’t had sex in a week and it had built-up. Wow, a whole week. Imagine that. What an amateur.

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There are strict house rules. Under no circumstances are the cats allowed on the bed. So, of course…