That old radical Matisse

There’s happy news for those in, and about to visit, New York. The Matisse show at MoMA, Matisse: Radical Invention, doesn’t close until October 11th, so there’s still time to catch it. And catch it you should. You’ll need a timed ticket to get it because, as with all blockbuster shows, it’s packed. [Guess what recent blockbuster show at MoMA was one of best-attended EVER? Ready for this? The Tim Burton retrospective!] The whole timed ticket thing is a bit of a pain in the ass, but it doesn’t cost any extra and you won’t get in without it.

Boy, I love Matisse. He’s the anti-Renoir. I can’t stand Auguste Renoir, with his pastelly, soft focus greeting card art. But Matisse is the guts, man. This show is the proof. These painting were executed mid-career and don’t fit into neat categories. It was a period of experimentation for Matisse. They are some of his more abstract works.

I love this painting. The Italian Woman. Look at those fantastic angles on the left side of the canvas. Mama mia!


This painting is as creepy as anything that was in the Burton show. His eyes are black and hollow. They follow you around the gallery and know what’s in your demented little soul. Easily, the best work in the show.


Matisse at play: On the left, a table, a bowl and some apples, quickly sketched and rendered. The table and background are given a radical treatment. Remember, folks, this is around 1914! Hanging next to this is the same table, bowl and apples. This time, however, a slower, more thoughtful rendition.


The Moroccans. Matisse considered this work to be one of his most “pivotal.” I thought they were men bowed in prayer. They’re melons! I don’t know shit from shinola.


MoMA has early morning viewing hours for members before the museum opens, Wednesdays–Mondays, 9:30–10:30 a.m. You can buy breakfast with mimosas and there ain’t no crowds. If you’re in my zip code, contact me and I’ll get us in.

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Here are a few bonus paintings from MoMA for those of you who hung in through the entire post.

Gauguin’s playful Still Life with Three Puppies.


Vinnie van G.’s Starry Night. There’s always a big crowd around this painting. Do you know why? Because it’s a really moving piece of art. And, unlike the Mona Lisa, when you see this in person for the fist time, you’re not disappointed.


The best table in New Jersey

If you go to Asbury Park and walk to the far end of the boardwalk, you’ll find an utterly charming diner called Dorian’s. There’s nothing at all wrong with the food. In fact, as you are about to see, it can be quite delectable. But just look at this view from the booths. It’s right on the beach! I can’t wait until I’m retired so I can go there and sit with my laptop and drink cup after cup after cup of coffee and watch the waves roll in. It must be a pretty great place to watch a storm roll in off the Atlantic.


I ordered a pork roll sandwich. Pork roll is a local delicacy that’s also known as Taylor ham. It’s a breakfast meat. For the life of me, I cannot understand why Taylor ham has not made its way outside of New Jersey. It’s fantastic. It’s like Canadian bacon but much saltier, which is to say, much more flavor-full


A Taylor ham sandwich is served on a roll and is accompanied by two over easy eggs and cheese. See the cheese dripping out in the picture above? Don’t you wish you had one right now? I sure do. Add a little salt and pepper and you’re ready to go.


You can walk off that big fat sandwich by strolling up and down the boardwalk. Or, you can ride one of these. They’re beach cruisers. They’re made of thick tube steel and have fat tires and baskets. You seem them on boardwalks all up and down the Jersey Shore.


Did you hear the cops finally busted Madame Marie
for tellin’ fortunes better than they do?
For me this boardwalk life is through, baby

4th Of July Asbury Park (Sandy)
Bruce Springsteen


Southside Johnny at the Stone Pony. You can’t get more Jersey than this, folks.


As if the New Jersey Turnpike wasn’t dangerous enough

I was driving southbound on the New Jersey Turnpike and right around Newark Airport, a billboard with an attention-getting red background caught my eye. I almost drove through a guardrail and onto the airport tarmac once I got close enough to read it.


It’s that lunatic Dick Cheney’s big stupid face looking down on all us poor motorists. It should say (Actual Size) right below his photo.


Over the course of the summer, the Hilton Hotel in Atlantic City has, bizarrely, hosted a speaker series that featured the right-wing demigods who have driven the Republican party over a cliff. Bill O’Reilly spoke. Glen Beck. Ann Coulter. Is that how you’d like to spend your summer evening at the shore casinos? Listening to these bottom-feeders spew their hatred and lies?

The aforementioned are all part of a media conglomerate and it’s not surprising to see them out on speaking tours. But seeing Dick Cheney’s face up there is a little upsetting, and not a little dangerous at 70 mph. Here’s a guy who spent eight years hiding in secret bunkers pulling puppet strings. You couldn’t find him anywhere! But now his soft, plump, white face is on a billboard scaring New Jersey motorists. Another chicken hawk from the previous administration who callously sent people off to war while going to extreme lengths to avoid service himself. Some patriot. Ptu.

The reason he always gives that crooked closed-mouth grin is that if he parted his lips, you’d see the blood dripping from his teeth. Hide the women and children.


For what it’s worth, I voted for Obama, but I think his presidency has, thus far, been a terrible disappointment. But the GOP had nothing to offer as an alternative. I can’t think of one single plank of the Republican platform that I can get behind. I’ve voted for Republicans in the past—I’ve never been a party-line voter—but the crazies have seized control of the GOP.

The odd man out

In the song New York, New York, they claim that if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere. Well, take it from me, pallies, some of us make it there because we are incapable of making it anywhere else.

Since leaving New York for the suburbs of New Jersey 8.7 years ago, Mrs. Wife has put forth an valiant and steadfast effort to integrate me into our new community. Last weekend she took me on another husband play date. Despite my best efforts, the end results were the same as they ever were.

I simply cannot make a connection with any of the good people of New Jersey. They’re nice, regular folks who are simply trying to live their lives and grab an occasional night away from the kids. But I have absolutely no chemistry whatsoever with any of them. It’s a new sensation because one of my strengths — the thing that got me this far without the advantage of a college education — is that I can talk a pretty good game. But I got nuthin’ in the tank when I get together with these big gaggles of suburbanites. My poor wife!

I’m a broken misfit. The qualities that once made me feel unique and unlike everyone else now make me feel like an outcast in my own home. Do you know what I’m excited about? I’m excited that the much-praised Shakespeare in the Park production of The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino as Shylock is going to open on Broadway in October. What an oddball! Believe me, there was no way to work something like that into any of the conversations I attempted on Saturday night. I’ll re-double my efforts. I want to fit in.

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Recently spotted in the New York Times:

“The market is just happy the tests are coming out,” said Win Thin, currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

What kind of monsters would name their kid Win if their last name was Thin? It’s inexcusable.

New York City = Crazy Town, U.S.A.

I’ve written posts about the crazy outdoor art installations that pop up throughout the summer. There were giant statues in the shape of famous photos, a bunch of painted pianos scattered around town and a group of models strolling on top of a big, wooden cube. But this last one is just plain crazy.

The fun folk at MacroSea have elevated the term dumpster-diving to a new art form. As part of the Summer Streets festival, they have taken clean, unused shipping containers and transformed them into swimming pools. Now, that’s recycling.


They’re set up on weekends at 40th Street and Park Avenue. MacroSea mounted an underground, unannounced version of this last year in Brooklyn and the response was so positive that they brought it to Manhattan this summer.


The area around the containers is lined with beach chairs and they have hula-hoops on hand. It’s a real festive atmosphere and there aren’t any drunken idiots there to ruin it for everyone.


Each container has a deck and a lifeguard. Swimming is free! That’s the best part of these outdoor installations. You don’t pay a cent. Wristbands are handed out on a first come/first served basis. There’s a time limit so that everyone gets a turn. That’s Grand Central Station in the background. It’s been an insanely hot, dry summer and this is just the thing for parched city dwellers who can’t escape.

All images by Inhabitat.
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I’m not one of these old school New Yorkers who bitch and moan about how the city had been sanitized and Disney-fied and robbed of its soul. I remember the dark years when it was quite dangerous to walk the streets and parks after dark and, believe me, this is much better. But I think they may have finally crossed a line.

They just opened a Pop Tarts Store in Times Square. A fucking Pop Tarts Store?! It’s called Pop Tarts World. Criminy! This is on the heels of the M&Ms Store and the Hershey’s Chocolate Store, which I kind of get, but I don’t feel good about this one.


It’s finally too much for me. Do we need a place that sells specialty Pop Tarts? Nay. I disapprove. Please take it away.