Which is funnier?

Which is funnier? A man walking out of Port Authority onto 8th Avenue with a long pennant of toilet paper attached to his heel?

pa Or a grown man walking through a New Jersey mall parking lot who should ask his mommy for help picking out clothes to wear? Ouch! My eyes! Or is this some daring, new fashion statement I’m unaware of? Am I the clueless one? It wouldn’t be the first time.

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I took the do-dads I purchased from the Art-O-Mat and hung them on my desk wall and because I have absolutely NOTHING new to say, I thought I’d post that. I have a flock of paper cranes, the do-dads, an angry bird next to a marble Buddha (a statement on my constant inner conflict) and a backstage pass from a Springsteen concert. Without the splashes of color, it’s just federal penitentiary tan.

desk *     *     *

I know! How about the current atrium exhibit at MoMA? This fun Ellsworth Kelly sculpture is called Sculpture for a Large Wall. Ooohh…that’s clever. I like Ellsworth Kelly about 75% of the time. That’s a pretty good hit ratio. It’s a big-ass piece (65 feet long!) that Kelly did in 1957 for the lobby of an office building in Philly.

kelly1 It’s made of colored, angled, aluminum panels and rods. If you stand on the other side of the atrium and look at it in its totality, it’s pretty good stuff.

You can walk around Manhattan and see a lot of office lobby artwork done by some pretty big guns. Roy Liechtenstein. Frank Stella. Jasper Johns. Guys looking to buy a summer home.

Cooler than the pyramids

This is the coolest thing ever. It’s cooler than the pyramids. Do you guys know what the Art-O-Mat is? They’ve taken old cigarette vending machines and instead of tossing them onto the landfill on Staten Island, they’ve re-purposed them to dispense tiny original works of art. It’s ingenious! There’s only one in New York City—at the Whitney—but my hotel in Las Vegas had FOUR of them. Each piece of art is only $5 measly bucks. Well worth it. I’ve spent more and have gotten a lot less in return.

Above each knob, where the cigarette brand logo was once displayed, is the name of the artist and a brief few-word description of the art. You really have no idea what you’re getting. You feed a sawbuck into the machine and pull the knob out which, for an oldster like myself, is a thrilling trip down memory lane and presto! Your art is dispensed below.

automat1Approximately 400 artists have been commissioned to create works of art that fit into small white boxes the same size as a pack of cigarettes.

This box from Monica Wu contained an original linocut print of a flower wrapped in tissue paper. A linocut is what I used for the cover of my Thunder Road chapbook, so I was all over this one.

Alexandra Lee made a pin out of a Scrabble tile (the letter B on the verso) depicting a cityscape and also included a bonus paper crane.

Photo1This is Barcode Oprah Winfrey by Scott Blake. It’s a flip book. It starts with Oprah’s big, stupid face and as it gets closer, you see that it’s made entirely of ISBN barcodes. The barcodes are taken from the books that have been recommended by Oprah’s Book Club (the titles of which are listed on the verso pages.) $5 bucks, people! More barcode art here.

Art-O-Mat! Look for one near you.


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pennMe + a wizard

The Canine Whore of New Jersey

This is my UK first edition of The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West. I love this book and this collectible copy is in particularly nice condition. Remember the rule when it comes to collecting: condition is king! The reason this is a UK first is that I cannot afford a U.S. first. The first editions in the author’s home country are always more expensive than the foreign first editions. It’s called following the flag. A decent U.S. first of this title will run you around $2,000. This UK first is probably worth about $300 bucks, give or take a recession.

12photo(1)201401This is the corner of my UK first of Day of the Locust after my swine of a dog, Coco, chewed it. The book is now worthless. It certainly wasn’t one of the most valuable books on my shelf, but I really loved this one and it hurts more than it probably should. Both of my girls went through babyhood without touching any of my collectibles. I turn my back for one second and that stupid mutt tries to make a meal of it. Christ, I hate dogs.

12photo201401So, naturally, I started to look for a heavy, bunt object to smash her over the head with. Can you blame me?! But first, I had to find the little pig. When I turned the corner into the living room, I was confronted with this Hallmark Moment.

dog and daughterI am so stuck with this problem. And since she (the dog) is only 6-months old and she (the daughter) is only 5, I am stuck with this problem for a long, long time. I can feel the punishment but I can’t connect the crime.

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It’s all about geometry! Here are a few pics I took from poolside in Las Vegas. The hotel I stayed in was surrounded by new construction and I thought they made for some interesting angles, especially when viewed against a desert sky.

12Photo1%282%291201401I heard some people complaining that looking up and seeing buildings wasn’t very appealing. But the light in Las Vegas is so bloody bright and the daytime desert sky so blue, that I thought it made for some interesting, otherworldly vistas.


Here’s where I stayed. The Cosmopolitan. A beautiful hotel with a stunning view from the balcony. When I come home from vacation, I always suffer a brief period of mourning. Vacations give you a taste of the sweet life, and then you get the knife. My moroseness has been particularly acute this time around. I’m really blue. I’m in such a funk that I gave away tickets to a Broadway show last Friday night (A revival of Harvey starring Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory) simply because I didn’t feel like going. I didn’t care.

cosmoIt’s not difficult to rebound from a trip to Disneyworld or (please forgive me) a trip to Ohio to do the family thing. Both are enjoyable but they’re necessary trips. I had been waiting for years and years to take this Vegas trip and it proved to be as cathartic as I hoped it would be. Winning a big pile of money didn’t hurt, either. Coming back down to earth has been a real problem.

No obligations

For three strange days
I had no obligations
My mind was a blur
I didn’t know what to do
 vegas1I think I lost myself
When I lost my motivation
Now I’m walking ’round the city
Just waiting to come to
12photo(5)201401From three strange days.
Three Strange Days
School of Fish
Greeting from Las Vegas. I hope you are all well.
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Slot machines are for old ladies and people too lazy to apply some simple math. Everyone knows that! My friend and I, both sophisticated gamblers, were three sheets to the wind from several glasses of pretty good red wine and decided to prove, once and for all, just what a boring waste of time it is to play slot machines. We pooled our resources ($50 each) and bellied up to a $1 Wheel of Fortune slot machine. It’s a silly device that allows for a bonus payout each time a “spin” icon appears. A wheel of fortune is automatically activated and spins round and round, usually paying out an additional $20 or $30 dollars. Don’t make me laugh. You can do better than that on one simple roll of the dice.

After several eye-rolling, we-told-you-so pulls of the lever, feeling quite vindicated and proud of our prejudices, this came up:

vegas2That’s $1,000. So, as you can clearly see, playing slots is a boring wast of time that never nets you any kind of real payout. Losers. Leave it to the professionals.

So I have to eat my words while on vacation, too? Don’t I get enough of that at home?

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I’ve seem some pretty tragic cases since landing here. We had a big guffaw over some kids who got in way over their heads at the bar and, literally, had to be carried down the aisle. This place is crawling with amateur drunks and people gambling with mortgage money. We had a long, interesting, conversation with an old guy who visits prostitutes on a regular basis (it’s legal here). But here’s what has to be the saddest thing I’ve seen so far:

Teach your children well, indeed. How extraordinarily selfish. Dad won’t be denied his time playing slot machines so he plops his adorable, innocent young daughter in his lap and makes her play, too. What kind of imprint do you suppose is being made on this poor kid’s mind? Gambling will forever trigger feelings of parental love and acceptance.

I should know. My dad used to play football pools with household funds, even though we were economically challenged. He started giving me football chits to play when I was a young teen. Filling out football pools were the only conversations we ever had. It certainly wasn’t abuse—that’s not what I’m implying— but if you ask Dr. Freud why I love gambling so much, what do you suppose he would hypothesize?

On the other hand, it got me $500 richer yesterday, so maybe I owe him.

You paid how much?!

I posted the prices realized from this week’s contemporary art auction at Christie’s. You’re not going to believe your eyes. Expectations were exceeded. In come cases, by many multiples. Buckle up and scroll down.

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I’m flying to Las Vegas early Saturday morning. Lots of guys go there to visit strip clubs and chase young tail. Some guys drink themselves into a blind stupor. Some queue up at the buffet and stuff themselves like horses at a bottomless trough. Some twist towels and jam them into the bottom of hotel doors, fire up a bong and smoke themselves into an anesthetized oblivion. Some mix a toxic cocktail using all of the above. Those are not my vices. The only real danger I pose to myself is when I’m bellied-up to a craps table. I like shooting craps. A lot. Can I maintain my composure? Well, that’s the name of the game, isn’t it?

Will try to post a dispatch from the road. Yo eleven!