Reason #857 why you should be glad you don’t live in New York City

All I wanted to do was see a damn movie. The theaters in Times Square are convenient and have big, whopping screens. The kind that give you a headache if you sit too close. But there’s this:


That’s right. It’s $13 friggin’ bucks to see a movie out here! And if it’s in 3-D, you have to kick in another $5-$7 on top of that! A small soda and a small popcorn set me back $9.50. I asked for the child’s portion and it was STILL enough for two adults. It felt like one of those old-time Times Square scam job. Like a legal Three-Card Monte game.

* * *

After the film, (Inception. Quite good.) I walked through Times Square. There was troop of Boy Scouts who had set up tents along a cordoned off strip of Broadway near 47th Street. They were on a camping trip. They were sleeping overnight in the street! For real!


This is crazy. All it would take is one out of control taxi and it’d be instant carnage. And besides, there are nice, comfortable hotels just steps away. This is the most stark evidence of how far this town has come since I first got here. If the Boy Scouts had tried this stunt when I got here, they’d have had to fight off the transvestites for their uniforms and the bums living in Bryant Park for the tents.


Boy, I hate camping. The closest I ever get to “roughing it” is wearing socks that have holes in them. I work my ass off. I don’t sleep in tents, thank you.

Love / Hate

Daughter 2 just turned 4 the other day. In my mind, she has crossed a threshold. I can now take her out to the diner for dad/daughter Saturday lunches and, soon, on forays into the city. Daughter 1 has been sufficiently indoctrinated and now shares my obsessive madness for New York. It’s time to begin spinning my web for Daughter 2.

* * *

Dell agreed on Thursday to pay $100 million to settle civil charges…that its senior executives used fraudulent accounting tricks to make it appear that the computer maker was meeting Wall Street earnings targets. Michael Dell, the company’s founder, chairman and chief executive, agreed to pay a $4 million fine as well. Dell settled the case without admitting or denying the S.E.C.’s allegations.

The New York Times, July 22, 2010

The S.E.C. charged Goldman Sachs in a civil complaint on April 16 with securities fraud related to the creation and sale of a subprime mortgage security. On July 15, Goldman agreed to pay $550 million to settle the case without admitting or denying the accusations.

The New York Times, July 26, 2010

I don’t throw down the word “hate” hastily. I believe what I’m taught in my meditation class about being careful of what you put out there. But I really, really hate these guys. They’re gutless cowards. They can’t even admit they’re wrong, even when they know they‘re wrong. Do you really think that the parasites at Goldman Sachs would cough up half a billion dollars if they felt they were innocent of any wrongdoing? Why would anyone continue to hold their accounts at Goldman?

EDIT: And in today’s paper:

Citigroup has agreed to pay $75 million to settle federal claims that it failed to disclose vast holdings of subprime mortgage investments. Citigroup will nether admit nor deny the S.E.C. accusations.


The King lies bleeding with his throat slit

henryI struck gold the other night. This is why I persist in chasing these small productions. I wish I were a better writer so I could do justice to these guys. Here’s how they staged the last scenes. Hang on.

It’s nearing the end of the War of the Roses. Having cut King Henry’s throat, Richard (who will eventually become Richard III after much violence, bloodshed and treachery) stands over him, knife in hand, thinks of his two brothers who are the only thing standing between him and the crown, and says with a malevolent grin:

I can smile and murder whiles I smile.

Henry lies at his feet, face down, in a crumpled mass. A thin trickle of blood starts from high in the theater rafters and drizzles on the King’s back. (Now THAT’S hitting your mark.) A small pool forms on his garment and then begins to puddle around him. All the while, Richard is spinning his evil intent.

The final scene takes place in the court of the newly crowned King Edward IV. He orders a celebration and gives a rousing speech assuring the kingdom that the long years of war are finally over and that they stand on the cusp of peace and prosperity. During the celebration, King Henry is still upstage and the blood continues to trickle and pool around him. The cost of that peace is made graphically clear.

Then, the court clears, the lights dim, the scene changes and Richard bounds out from the back of the theater, mad and naked, hides behind the overturned throne and recites a few lines from the Now is the winter of our discontent… speech that begins Richard III, effectively linking these two plays.

The blood stops flowing. The play ends. The cast comes out for their curtain call. Everyone except for Henry. He’s still lying on the stage in his own blood. The crowd files out and Henry never moves. Nervous laughter from the departing audience. Fucking brilliant.

This was Wide Eyed’s production of King Henry VI, Part III. It’s in a small, black box theater down on 13th Street and 3rd Avenue. The entire production was one, long (3:15) holy shit. There’s a guy named Ben Newman who played Richard who was so effective that I wouldn’t want to meet him on the street. Also, props to Nat Cassidy as Henry, the King who never wanted to be King and Justin R.G. Holcomb as the Earl of Warwick. Who are these guys? Three unknowns who don’t deserve to be.

O Brooklyn! My Brooklyn! (with apologies to Walt Witman)

When I moved back to New York after 18 months of Phoenix, Arizona, I lived in downtown Brooklyn for a few years. I shared a brownstone in Boerum Hill and then had my own apartment in a brownstone in Fort Greene. I’m glad for the opportunity and feel privileged for having lived a portion of my formative years in Brooklyn. The man I am today was drawn from my experiences on those pretty, sometimes dangerous, streets.


The Brooklyn Bridge. The most beautiful stone bridge you’ll ever lay your eyes on. It has distinctive cathedral window cutouts in the stanchions.

I got mugged three times while living in Brooklyn. Again, this was many years ago when things weren’t as safe as they are now. Have you ever been mugged? It stays with your for a long, long time and the revenge fantasies to keep you up at night.

Once, I was having my haircut in Brooklyn Heights and two guys came into the salon and robbed everybody. Another time, I was walking down South Portland in Fort Greene and two kids from the projects on the other side of the park came up from behind me and mugged me. I never saw a gun but they said they had one. I took their word for it. I was wearing my grandfather’s wedding ring and they took it. It was just a cheap gold band from Italy but, of course, it had great sentimental value. The third time, two guys came up and punched me in the face. It was racially motivated. This was pre-pre-gentrification. I was the only white guy in my building and one of the few Caucasians on the block. They made a comment about the pigment of my skin, hit me, and walked away. They didn’t take anything.

The vast majority of my experiences were good ones and despite these incidents, I have a warm spot in my heart for Brooklyn. Sometimes, I miss it.

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I paid a rare visit to Brooklyn Heights and had dinner with Señor C., someone whom I’ve known for a few decades.


The brick sidewalk leading to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade; an elevated walkway over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway with expansive, gorgeous views of Manhattan.

We walked from Brooklyn City Hall, down Henry Street and had dinner at Henry’s End. I had a big bowl of Andouille. Chicken, Andouille sausage in a Creole mustard sauce with bell peppers. Scrumptious. Jesus Christ, I wish I had a bowl right now.


On the promenade looking at the southernmost tip of Manhattan near sunset.

Once, while riding my 10-speed bike through the streets I took a corner fast and almost rammed right into Norman Mailer. Later that same summer, I almost hit Quentin Crisp in the East Village! I am a menace to the literary community.


The Statue of Liberty with the Staten Island Ferry passing right in front of her. The spit of land on the left is Governor’s Island, where I lived for three years while in the Coast Guard.


This is one of the many carriage houses that dot the neighborhood. It is exactly what the name implies. Where once carriages were stored, people now live. As you can imagine, they are meticulously refurbished inside.

The photo below is Señor C. taking pics of Manhattan. Here’s why this city is such a wonder: Señor C. has lived in Brooklyn pretty much his entire life. I don’t want to betray his age, but let’s just say he a hell of a lot closer to retirement than he is the start of his career. And even though all those decades have peeled away, he still finds New York a fit subject to photograph. That’s how we all feel out here. This place never gets old.


A cleaver, an egg, a fish, a lit torch, a bottle of cheap champagne

And by “lit torch” I don’t mean a flashlight. I mean a stick with one end on fire. These are just some of the items juggled by the four lunatics who are The Flying Karamazov Brothers. Their new show, 4 Play, is currently down in the Village at the Minetta Lane Theater.


The brothers, Dmitri, Alexei, Pavel and Zossima (no, they’re not really brothers), have been around in various iterations since 1972 with Dimitri, second from left, as the founder and one constant member. This is exactly the type of light, pleasant entertainment you want in the heat of summer before the really thick stuff sets in. [A revival of Mamet’s A Life in the Theater with Patrick Stewart can wait until October.]

The show is classic Vaudeville. :90 minutes of comedy, music, dance and loads of juggling. It’s all sounds too quaint and pedestrian but I had a great time and more than a few moments of inspired awe. One segment had audience members bring items up to the stage for them to juggle. The bet is that Dmitri can keep them aloft. He gets a standing ovation if successful and a pie in the face if he fails. This evening, he successfully juggled a pink tutu, a surgical glove filled with water, a lipstick tube and a tin coffee pot. The video on their site shows that someone brought in an entire pizza for him to juggle. C’mon! How can you not be entertained by that?! I’m hoping I can bring The Girls into the city to see it before the end of the run.