we’re movin’ on up

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent this week on a razor’s edge worrying about my job, so after work last night I met Nurse H for a badly needed libation. I met her on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Although I lived in New York City for two solid decades, I spent very little time on the Upper East Side. I lived in downtown Brooklyn and the Lower East Side, so 23rd Street felt like uptown to me.

The Upper East Side has always been one of the safest neighborhoods in the city. Consequently, a lot of single women live there. It was a long subway ride from where I lived and the only time I took the 6 train was when I dated someone from up yonder. Plus, it wasn’t my kind of energy. It was (is, always has been, always will be) monied and I never had any, so I felt out of place there. But the homes are incredibly beautiful.

In the early 1990s, I met a girl who I thought was the love of my life, but she didn’t see it that way. When I walk up 3rd Avenue near 91st Street I’m reminded of those happy/sad days.

Nurse H and I met at JG Melon which is a BAR bar on 3rd and 74th.


We’re in December-budget-crunch mode so we sought out something reasonable which, in NYC, can be quite a challenge. It was windy and frigid out, so there would be no pleasant strolling down the Avenue. After drinks and a bowl of chili (perfect for a cold winter’s evening) we hustled to the nearest movie theater to watch 007 go through his painful motions. It’s going to be a long, long time until they make a Bond movie that’s as good as Casino Royal. Movie ticket = $12.50. Small popcorn + small soda = $10.50. So much for the budget crunch.

black thursday

Last Friday afternoon at Benevolent Dictators, Inc., they called an emergency all-departmental meeting. It was announced that the Head of Asset Management had been let go. He’s about five or six levels above me, so it’s clear that a lofty title cannot protect you against a catastrophic economic meltdown. It was also announced that another round of layoffs would take place sometime this week. So we all had that to think about over the weekend. Consequently, I have not slept a full night since then. It has occupied every other thought in my head for almost a week. I hold a grandmaster black belt in obsessing.

Yesterday morning they let many of my colleagues go. Many. The 9th floor at Benevolent Dictators, Inc. has been gutted. Someone would get a phone call, walk to Human Resources, be escorted back to their desk by someone from Human Resources, gather up their belongings and be escorted out of the building. It was one of the most callous spectacles I’ve ever witnessed. Those people in Human Resources have ice water in their veins. This went on all morning. I lost some good friends. I have never seen so much crying in all my life. This is the fourth round of layoffs in the past 18 months and this one was the most heartbreaking. People—some with young children—are being thrown out onto a dead job market just before the holidays.

I, somehow, managed to survive again. Sometimes, it’s good to be a small fish in a big pond. Tonight I am going out with Nurse H for a series of stiff drinks. I will toast my fallen colleagues and my splendid luck.

* * *

Last Saturday I got a terrible haircut. One of the worst ever. I keep waiting for it to fill out but I still look utterly ridiculous. And I’m going to Ohio next week to see my mom for Thanksgiving! What terrible timing!


a cold city begets a cold heart

There’s a homeless man who sits on the sidewalk outside of Benevolent Dictators, Inc. He’s there every evening when I leave work. He’s on the west side of 5th Avenue just north of 43rd Street and has a sign that reads, “I’m hungry, homeless,” etc. He has a dog with him. It’s a medium sized dog. Maybe a pit bull or a mutt. Do you know what I think when I walk past them every evening? “That poor dog.” How shitty is that? It’s not as though I lack compassion for the man. I just seem to have more for the dog. I’m a jerk.

When I moved to New York twenty years ago, I use to keep a lot of quarters in my pocket and dole them out to homeless people on the streets and subways. The city was in terrible shape when I first got here and homelessness was rampant. But it got to be too much for me and I did what a lot of urban dwellers did; I hardened my heart and the homeless became invisible to me. You had to. It was a defense mechanism. Otherwise, you became overwhelmed with melancholy. So I don’t think I’ve broken that bad habit yet. I should. I’ll try.

* * *

Last night on the train I was über annoyed because a woman a few rows behind me was talking talking talking talking talking without pausing to take a breath and I thought my cell phone jammer was failing because I couldn’t shut her up. (It doesn’t always work. If someone’s cell phone is using a frequency outside the range of my jammer, they’re unaffected.) Finally, I turned around so see who was running her pie hole and she wasn’t on the phone. She was with someone but was hogging the entire conversation and wouldn’t allow her friend get a word in. It was all about her! They need to invent a jammer that freezes vocal chords.

Cormac McCarthy can KISS MY ASS

Several months ago, I picked up a copy of Cormac McCarthy’s latest book, The Road. I was drawn by the tsunami of glowing reviews, all claiming it was his master work and a landmark of American literature. At that time, there was some unpleasant STUFF rattling around inside my head and all Mr. McCarthy’s book did was exacerbate my problems and drag me down into a funk so deep that I had a hard time climbing out. I stopped reading after about 40 pages—something I rarely do.

Flash to now. I hate unfinished business so I picked it up again and guess what? Same result! Every time I read it, it would ruin my evening. What a dreary, depressing, horrifying glop of pulp. Reviewers claim the story is “uplifting.” What part would that be? The part where children are cannibalized? Even The Goddess Oprah gave it her blessing.

Cormac McCarthy owes me $14.95. I didn’t finish it. I left it on the train for some other poor sucker. Cormac must be a dark, miserable, wretch of a human being. Oh, and by the way, they made a movie out of it.

Here’s a partial list of characters in the movie courtesy of IMDB:

Amputee Man #1 In Cellar
Cannibal #1
Baby Eater
Well-Fed Cannibal
Woman in Cellar
Cannibal #2
Ghostly Boy

Date night! Don’t forget the popcorn and Milk Duds.

what’r ya doin’ on new years eve?

Well, if I could do anything I wanted, I’d go here:

chuckImagine that! And B.B. King’s is on 42nd Street, just a half block from where the big ball drops. What a night! It’ll be complete pandemonium.

You might think that Chuck Berry is to too old to rock, but I saw Jerry Lee Lewis right after he had triple bypass surgery and he was fantastic. Saw Roy Orbison before he died and he was great, too. Those old geezers have been at it for such a long time that giving a high-quality performance is part of their nature. It’s the same way with the Rolling Stones.