What I learned while unemployed

I lost my job at J.P. Morgan back in December, which was a blessing in disguise if ever there was one. Since that time, I’ve worked a series of consulting/freelance projects and have, by and large, remained gainfully employed. Mrs. Wife and I have always made a point to live below our means, so money hasn’t been a huge problem. Mrs. Wife, to her credit, doesn’t give a shit about material things. We don’t need much to get by.

I seem to be on the threshold of a job offer. I’m probably speaking too soon but even if this one doesn’t work out, the economy is on the mend and I suspect a hire offer isn’t that far into my future. Until then, there seems to be plenty of freelance work floating around.

This has caused me to reflect on the time between projects when I didn’t have work. I’ve had two or three week periods where nothing much was happening. I, as I’m sure all of you, have always suspected that not working would be a pretty sweet deal. I like what I do for a living and I don’t mind working. But what I didn’t realize, and now know, is that not working is FUCKING AWESOME to the 10th power, especially if you have New York at your doorstep.

I know lots and lots of stay-at-home mothers who insist that raising kids is a full time job and that they are, de facto, “working.” I respect that. I prefer Mrs. Wife stay home and take care of The Daughters. I believe they’re happier for it. Raising kids is a lot of hard work but, I’m sorry, it’s way more satisfying than the grind of commuting 2x per day, sitting at the same desk under the same florescent lights, Monday through Friday and being surrounded by people who, by and large, you wouldn’t choose to associate with. Not working is the BEST. But the pay is terrible.

Here are some things I learned while unemployed.

  • I learned that if you visit any of the art museums in Manhattan during the week and get there just as they’re opening, you can have the whole place to yourself. Especially the Met. The Met is so vast that it disperses the crowd pretty well. The galleries are gloriously empty and you don’t have people walking in front of you while you’re studying a painting. Same goes for the art galleries in Chelsea.
  • I learned that during the day, the gym is empty. Nobody postures and preens. Nobody is texting or cruising for tail. All the equipment is available. Get in, do your thing and get out.
  • I learned that sleeping in is overrated.
  • I learned that there’s an entire subculture in New York City of people who don’t work and don’t seem to have money problems. Central Park is full of people out enjoying themselves in the midday sun and I’m not counting the tourists. You can tell the visitors from the locals. I don’t know how they do it! Who are these people who are able to jog around the reservoir at 3:00 in the afternoon?
  • I learned how to paint the interior of a house. I never knew! Seriously! The painting is a drag but the end results are pretty satisfying.
  • I learned that having breakfast with 3-Year Old Daughter and being home when 8-Year Old Daughter gets home from school to help with her homework is a worthwhile expenditure of my time.

Leave Britney alone!

I haven’t done a theater post in quite a while. It’s not because I’ve stopped attending. Far from it. We’re in the heat of the spring season and I think I’ve got about five under my belt that I’ve not written about and I’m seeing two more this week. I got the notion in my head that, frankly, the theater posts aren’t that interesting to most people. And that’s fine. I get that.

Where it all goes horribly wrong is when I lie in bed at night and, instead of sleeping, stare at the ceiling and start to imagine that if I do one more post about the theater, I’ll lose all my readers. Isn’t that crazy?! But admit it; when you’re in bed and on the threshold of sleep, you think a lot of crazy thoughts, too. Right?

Well, I decided that to hell with all of you! I’m going to continue doing my theater posts and if you don’t like it, well, you can just…I don’t know what but I’m going to do them anyway.

(If you thought that was sad and crazy, you should see what’s going on inside my head that I’m not revealing to you.)

* * *

RED is Dr. Octopus—oh, excuse me—I mean Alfred Molina as egomaniac artist (is there any other kind?) Mark Rothko. I loved it but I think it’s got very limited appeal. It makes you feel all smart and brainy if you’ve heard of the artists mentioned. They talk a lot about influences and the arc of contemporary art history. Do you like that stuff? Then go. You’ll love it. Molina really is in top form. The play was a big hit at the Donmar Warehouse in London and Eddie Redmayne, who plays Rothko’s studio assistant, won all sort of well-deserved awards. They might give him one here in New York, too. All the critics love him in New York. But be warned, it’s pretty chatty.

Best moment? The two prepare a huge canvas with a base coat of paint. They blast some classical music and have worked out an intricate dance whereby Molina paints the top half of the canvas while Redmayne prepares the bottom. It’s interesting from the standpoint that I’ve never seen a canvas prepared, but aside from that, it’s just a ton of fun to watch. It’s fast and live and real-time, and that’s what the theater has over movies.


Raw anger. American style.

I passed this in the parking lot on the way to the gym today:


Can you imagine being so out of your mind with anger that you do this to your car? My area of New Jersey is full of conservative, angry white people. They’re not adjusting well to the demographic shift of America. They look at Washington D.C. and they see a black man in the white house, a Latina on the Supreme Court and a woman running the House of Representatives. Their numbers are is slipping away, along with their power, and it scares the hell out of them. Their fears are stoked by people who make a LOT of money off of stoking the fears of panicky white people.

There is no room for open discussion in my country anymore. Where is this all going to end up? I saw the guy who owns this car. He is, of course, an old white man. Does he really believe the Democratic party is a communist front? He can’t be talked down off the window ledge he’s standing on. He’s too far gone. I’m afraid there are more just like him being minted every day.

Hey, Australia. Do you have room for a husband and wife with two adorable daughters? Canada? Anybody? (Not you, China.)

* * *

There’s an optometrist in Manhattan who, I shit you not, performs lasik eye correction surgery right in his front window. I was walking by and took these pics.


His intention is to prove to people how safe, quick and easy the surgery is. And he doesn’t just perform it in a store window on 25th Street. He allows people to come in and observe. The woman in the blue hair net is not a nurse. She walked in off the street to watch. The best part of this pic is the creepy eye in the monitor. Ick.


See? New York really is different than where you’re sitting right now.

Every food snob’s nightmare

dj-kfc-articleInlineHere in America, our friends at KFC have invented a new way to delight our taste buds and murder us en masse. Their new Double Down sandwich eschews bread as being tasteless filler. It places in your hands, two pieces of fried chicken with white American cheese, bacon and “Colonel’s sauce” (aka, mayonnaise) between them.

The New York Times, that bastion of food snobbery sent its restaurant critic, Sam Sifton, out to try one on its inaugural day. This is just a stupid stunt. What did they think he was going to write? That it was a satisfying meal? He had some pretty good lines, but his review wasn‘t surprising. He said the sandwich was…

…a new low: a greasy entree dish of chicken with bacon and cheese on it, slathered in sauce, that the company asks customers to eat with their hands. The chicken is watery within its soft casing of “crust,” the cheese familiar to anyone who has eaten food prepared by the United States government, the bacon chemical in its smokiness, the mayonnaise sauce tangy, salty, and sweet, all at once.

He went on to call the workers behind the counter “dour and slow moving.” Hey, Sam. Fuck you. Have you ever had to work in a fast food joint? Do you know what an insufferable, exhausting, soul-sucking experience it is? Sorry there’s no maître d’ at the KFC, you little bitch. I hope a fast food employee gives you a proper ass-whupping. You deserve one.

He did concede that the fries “weren’t bad,” but in a final toss-off said the sandwich was “a disgusting meal, a must-to-avoid.” Why does this annoy me so much? I probably won’t ever eat one, but I might. I don’t mind crap food in controlled doses. But his condescending attitude got under my skin. Asshole.

Naked in New York City

The seasons are changing. In a small Mission in Capistrano, California, the swallows have returned from their winter migration. Here in New York City, we also have a touchstone to mark the approaching balmy nights. Last week I had my first sighting of The Naked Cowboy in Times Square. True, he lacks the panache of small, delicate birds returning to a Mission, but give me a break. It’s New York. We’ll take what we can get.

The Naked Cowboy is a busker who walks around Times Square wearing just his skivvies with “Naked Cowboy” written on his ass, a cowboy hat and boots. If you stand right in front of him, his guitar covers his shorts and he does, in fact, appear to be naked. He’s been at it for quite some time and has become a Times Square institution.


Some of the locals think he’s just a nut with a gimmick, but I like him. He makes the tourists happy and what’s bad about that? When I pass through Times Square and stumble across his act, I always like to step back and watch the reactions of the crowd. Their faces run the gamut between abject horror and raw lust. The guy is built like a brick shithouse.


There’s a hole cut into the top of his guitar and after he poses for a pic, you’re suppose to drop a few bucks inside. Seems innocent enough to me. My point of all this is that the weather has finally turned a corner. All the cafes have put tables and chairs out on the sidewalks and the new lawn has been planted in Bryant Park. The welcome mat is rolled out, folks.

In New York you can forget,
forget how to sit still.
Tell yourself you will stay in
But it’s down to Alphaville.

You got to put the women and children first
But you’ve got an unquenchable thirst for New York

New York