random nyc pic/the lighter side of unemployment

This is the New York Public Library internet access room with the early evening sun pouring in. I spent many hours here conducting my job search. This is a great place to spend a cold February day if you’re unemployed.


* * *

I got a message from a friend who was recently laid off. He was sitting in a Manhattan coffee shop, reading a Philip K. Dick novel and watching the world pass by. We had a freak 5-day heat wave and all the girls had shelved their winter clothing for lighter fare, so there was plenty to look at. Seeing the female populace change their wardrobe from winter to summer is akin to a chrysalis opening to reveal a beautiful butterfly.

I remember having days like that during my four-month bout of unemployment. If you can calm yourself and not panic, unemployment can be quite enjoyable.

Enjoy it, pal. It won’t last forever.

is that a cell phone jammer in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

I continue to work horribly long hours at my new consultant gig at Gigantic Institutional Investor. There’s a lot I don’t like about working so late. It’s going to be a while until I am able to sit down and have dinner with the family or make an 8:00 curtain. The New York economy is still a wreck so this is how it must be for now. But there are small pleasures to be had from working late for a Big Corporation.

The days of corporate excess are not completely over. They feed us pretty much whatever we want for dinner. For instance, last night I had a BBQ duck burrito with black beans and rice. Dee. Lish. Us. If I work past 9:00 p.m., which is pretty much every night, I don’t have to deal with Penn Station and New Jersey transit to get home. They provide a company car and driver. It’s a nice black sedan. The only people at Penn Station at that hour of the night are the residents. Once, I walked into the men’s room at 10:30 p.m. and saw a man rinsing a sandwich off in the sink. I feel awful for our downtrodden citizens, but it’s not what I need to see after a 13-hour shift.

Last night was a beautiful, warm, night in Manhattan. I sat in the back seat and rolled down the window as we drove south on Park Avenue and then west across Seventh Avenue, through the fashion district, towards the Lincoln Tunnel. People were out walking in droves. Girls in short black dresses. Hot town. Summer in the city.

Once we’re on the Garden State Parkway, my drivers have an annoying habit of chatting on their cell phones while I’m in the back seat trying to read the paper or meditate or bang out a blog entry. You know the remedy for that, don’t you?

Say hello to my little friend. [And that quote is from…? anyone…? anyone…? Bueller?]


They’re professional drivers and if I asked them nicely, they would certainly stop their calls. But where’s the sport in that?! If you thought people on trains were easy marks, you should get a load of these poor guys. Knocking out a cell phone call is easiest when your intended victim is a mere few feet away.

England v. Scotland

ma1It was a good night of theater for the Scots. Mary Stewart is yet another take on the Mary, Queen of Scots/Elizabeth I smackdown. In this version, beautifully transferred to Broadway from the Donmar Warehouse in London, British national treasures Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter play the battling Queens who are Kings.

I like small theater but I’ve always said it’s nice to see what they can do with a big budget. The second act opens with Mary enjoying a brief taste of freedom from prison. She dances in a surprisingly realistic stage-soaking rainstorm and then confronts Elizabeth. Impressive stage effects are nice but it’s just window dressing without superb acting behind it. This is the only scene in the entire three hour production where the two face off and Mary, Queen of Scots, takes down Elizabeth I in one round. Pow.

Phyllida Lloyd, the smart director, dressed the two Queens in period costumes but the men around them in contemporary dark suit and tie. It made them look like the bureaucrats they are. A very clever conceit.

I am such a sucker for British drama. I don’t really like Russian theater and some American playwrights leave me cold. But the UK seems to consistently pump out one great show after another. Thanks, guys!

you’ve got to hand it to Green Day

Have you heard the new single from Green Day, Know Your Enemy? Holy shit, man. These guys amaze me. How long have they been at it? 20 years? And they’re still great!

Billie Joe Armstrong is the grand master of the lyric and crunchy guitar hook. He inherited the guitar lick mantle from Keith Richards after Keith stopped giving a shit (right after Tattoo You, if you ask me).

Give this a listen but close your eyes. The visuals are a lot of kewl rock star poses and explosions, which can be off-putting, but the song is extraordinary. And if you want it, buy the single from iTunes or wait for the album to come out and then buy it. DO NOT FUCKING STEAL THIS SONG! That bullshit has got to stop.

how to relax on a busy New York City street

A fun new idea dreamed up by city planners this summer is to close off sections of main thoroughfares in Manhattan, lay a new surface over the asphalt, set up tables and chairs and create a lovely public space. They place big concrete planters around the perimeter of the area to protect you from potential out of control taxi cabs.

There are sections of Broadway blocked off where you can sit, relax and have coffee or read a book while cabs and buses whizz by just a few feet away going 35+ miles per hour. It’s a crazy idea but it works!

This is my absolute favorite spot. It’s just north of the Flatiron Building in Chelsea. The Flatiron is one of the most beautiful and majestic buildings in Manhattan. When it opened, an architectural critic called it a great battleship steaming up Broadway. Sitting in the sun at its bow and watching all of New York pass by is a very fine way to spend an afternoon. God, I wish I was unemployed again!