my city was gone

I had free morning in Cleveland so I borrowed my sister’s car and drove to the Cleveland Art Museum. It has a world-class collection but, unfortunately, most of it was in storage because of a massive renovation project. They’re building a new wing and most of the museum is still closed off. There was a special exhibit of artistic luxury goods from Fabergé, Tiffany and Lalique that I didn’t really care about. Just a handful of galleries from the permanent collection were open.

Most of the paintings I wanted to see were all packed away. I began visiting the Clevo Art Museum decades ago—soon after I got my driver’s license—and seeing those paintings feels like visiting old friends again.

None of the modernist paintings were on display, but I did see Stag at Sharkey’s by George Bellows, which is one of my favorites in their collection. I think he mixed testosterone into the pigment for this one.


Also on display was one of J.M.W. Turner’s The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, a nightmare drawn from the event he witnessed.


I left the museum and drove down Euclid Avenue into downtown Cleveland. Euclid is the main artery into the city and many of the businesses were closed and boarded up. I have a strange tendency to become emotionally attached to a city (see any of my posts about NYC) and it made me sad to see the city of my youth in such dire straits.

I had meant to take I-71 back to the hotel but the freeway entrance was closed and I somehow wound up heading down W. 25th street. It was such a mess. I passed a building with a sign out front that read Plasma Services and there was a long queue of people waiting to get in that stretched out the door.


We’re heading back to the East Coast tomorrow. It was nice visiting Cleveland but I’m looking forward to seeing New York City again on Monday morning. I’m not making any comparisons. It wouldn’t be fair. They’re in a different weight class. You don’t put Oscar de la Hoya in the ring against Joe Frazier. You compare New York to London, Paris and Tokyo. You compare Cleveland to other medium-sized cities like Seattle, Tampa and Baltimore. Clevo is a nice enough town as compared to those other fine municipalities, but NYC is deep under my skin and I miss it. Do I sound like a snob? I hope not. I don’t mean to.

* * *

At Benevolent Dictators, Inc., we outsource a significant amount of work to Mumbai. I hope my colleagues there are okay.

here comes santy clause

The end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade traditionally signals the official start of the Christmas season in New York City. Personally, I always kick off the season by reading The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris. If you’ve never read it, do yourself a big favor and pick up a copy. If you’ve read it in the past, read it again because I guarantee you’ve forgotten just how funny it is. It’s clever and dark. It’ll jingle your bells.

My other traditional holiday read is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I’ll pick it up about a week or so before Christmas. One day, I hope to own a first edition that includes the eight beautiful illustrations by John Leech—four woodcut and four hand colored etchings. This one is my favorite: Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball.


In case I’m on your gift list, I think you can get a pretty decent first edition for about $20K. Until then, I’ll have to make do with visiting the copy that the Morgan Library puts on display every season.

welcome to cleveland

Snow/rain mix.
Howling, biting wind.
Snow falling horizontally.
Leaden skies.

Nobody comes here for the weather, but they are generous with the anchovies on their pizzas, and that counts for PLENTY.

And the gas is cheap.

And my family seems genuinely happy to see me, although I suspect that might have more to do with The Daughters than me.

over the river and through the woods

Tomorrow, the alarm on my nightstand will sound at 4:00 a.m. About :45 minutes later, with the daughters loaded in the back seat and (hopefully) fast asleep, we will begin the long drive to lovely Cleveland to see my family for Thanksgiving. If it were just Mrs. Wife and I, the drive would take about eight hours. But throw a 7-year old and a 2-year old into the mix and you have to tack an additional two hours onto the trip.

We have a portable DVD player to anesthetize the kiddies during the long, dull drive. When I was a kid, in order to combat the boredom on long car trips, we had to count road kill. Most shocking road kill ever: a black bear in Pennsylvania.

* * *

If you are in your car waiting for a red light to change and you need to turn left, but there’s oncoming traffic at the opposite side of the intersection who are also waiting for the red light to change who have the right-of-way but you don’t want to wait for them, even though they have the right-of-way, so that when the light turns green you punch it and turn in front that first oncoming car who has the right-of-way and cut them off because you couldn’t wait your turn, guess what?

You are a SHITHEAD.

* * *

I was leaving the Pret where I occasionally get a morning cup of coffee and I stopped to use the bathroom on the way out. It’s a small, one-person bathroom and I certainly thought I had locked the door behind me but a minute later while I was on the throne, pants around my ankles, typing out a text message, the door swung open wide and a Pret employee wearing a Pret baseball cap and Pret polo shirt walked in, looked down at me, yelled, “OH, SHIT!” and ran out. I can’t tell you how embarrassed I was. Am. I don’t dare show my face in there ever again.