Sons and Lovers and Me

I read two fluff books in a row so as penance I decided to read Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence. I’d never read Lawrence before. I was afraid of him. I thought his plots were too complex for me. I thought the language was too dense. Long, Joycean paragraphs without the benefit of a comma or period. But I think it’s important to gnaw on something outside of your comfort zone once in a while. It’s good for the aul’ grey matter.

Boy, was I wrong! This stuff is easily digestible. In fact, this book is closer to being cheap melodrama than it is inaccessible, high-minded literature. He constantly beats you over the head with same emotion, to wit:

p. 70: Paul hated his father so.
p. 170: Then sometimes he hated her.
p. 174: Once, he threw the pencil in her face.
p. 206: They hated each other in silence.
p. 213: …then he hated her—and he easily hated her.
p. 215: This, however, did not prevent his hating her.
p. 215: …she despised him… (Same page! I hit a double.)
p. 225: “I hate you!”
p. 229: And a touch of hate for her crept back into his heart.
p. 234: And immediately he hated Miriam bitterly.
p. 241: She sat crouched beneath…his hatred of her.
p. 244: He hated her bitterly at that moment…

And I’m only halfway through the book! This unrelenting tsunami of hatred is between people who supposedly love one another. In invoking “hate” so frequently—not just the word itself, but its essence, over and over again—he dilutes one of the two most powerful emotions of the human heart. When love comes along, you scarcely take it seriously.

But I’ll tell you one thing; they knew how to relax back in 1913. Paul’s boss, Mr. Pappleworth, arrived in the morning “…chewing a chlorodyne gum…”. According to the endnotes, chlorodyne gum was a narcotic and painkiller made from morphia, chloroform, India hemp and prussic acid. Prussic acid is also known as hydrogen cyanide—an extremely poisonous compound. Party in Mr. Pappleworth’s cube!

D.H. Lawrence isn’t so badass after all. But what do I know? The Modern Library placed Sons and Lovers ninth on their list of the 100 greatest novels of the 20th century. Maybe I should try Thomas Pynchon next. He’s always kind of freaked me out, too.


I have problems with my eyeballs. They constantly throb and ache because I stare at a screen for most of my waking hours. Sometimes, it’s so bad that I get a splitting headache. I’ve heard rumors that there are holistic remedies. I need to look into that. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

In the meantime, I eat aspirin and slather my eyeballs with eye drops. I’m terrible at dispensing the drops. Most of it ends up running down my cheeks. When I’m at work, I have to lock myself in a stall in the men’s room and have a tissue in hand to blot up the excess, least anyone think I’ve been in the bathroom sobbing hysterically.

Yesterday, I was going through this ridiculous procedure at work. I closed and locked the door behind me, sat down, tilted my head back, back, back…gently squeezed the bottle of drops…and I heard a loud snap. The toilet seat broke off its moorings and I slid off and landed flat on my ass. My legs were akimbo sticking out the front of the stall. My back is still sore from where it banged against the porcelain. At least it took my mind off of my sore eyeballs.


At this point, I’ve pretty much lost all respect for Roy Lichtenstein. I was a huge fan of his for many years. But there’s something about this latest example of procurement I recently stumbled across in MoMA that makes me uncomfortable.

This is Bauhaus Stairway by Oskar Schlemmer form 1932. A beauty, don’t you think?

schlemmer_bauhaus stairHanging on an adjacent wall is, you guessed it, Bauhaus Stairway by Roy Lichtenstein from 1988.


I know Lichtenstein built a career and made untold millions doing this sort of thing. I never minded before but I guess I’m over it. Ben day dots might’ve been an artistic innovation in 1963, but at this point it’s just lazy copying. It leaves me cold. Fail. I still like Warhol, though. There’s no rhyme or reason to this sort of thing. It’s all subjective emotions.

I saw this coming. The seeds of dissatisfaction were sown a couple of years ago.

More debauched tales from my callow youth

Time for another journal extract. And you thought it was going to be just another dull Sunday evening, didn’t you? As usual, I offer no edits or apologies for being the insensitive rogue I once was.


November 7, 1992

Grandma passed away yesterday. I can’t go to the funeral. My checking account balance is -$49.63, so I can’t afford the ticket. I never visited her in the home so I don’t suppose it makes a difference now that she’s gone. I never wanted to see her in her fucked-up, vegetative state. Mom said the last time she went, grandma was so out of it that she didn’t recognize her. Her own daughter! Grandpa died 22 years ago this month. I wonder what kept her hanging on for so many years? None of the other grandchildren who live out of state are going either, so I’m not the only dirtbag. Those crazy, old-world I-talians are going to insist on an open casket. Gross. Uncle Frank is already in Cleveland. I heard that dad is going to be there, too. I’m glad I’m not going. Who needs that noise? Remind me to scratch Walnut Hills Nursing Home off the Christmas card list.

November 9

I was sitting at my desk and Dennis passed the phone to me and said, “It’s a secret admirer.” Do you remember Madelynn? The tall blond with the nice demeanor and ordinary face? She said she didn’t have anything to do and asked if I would like to meet for a drink after work. I got over being better than nothing and said yes. I met her at that Irish bar on 46th and Broadway. I was propositioned by a whore on the way up 8th Avenue. I had my hands in my coat pockets and she walked up next to me and locked her arm in mine and asked where Broadway was. I pointed. She asked if I would go with her. [Note: That was then. That neighborhood hasn’t seen a prostitute for a long, long time.]

I got a stool at the bar and Madelynn was on time. She looked beautiful! I was hoping her sister would come but it was just her. We had a beer and talked. It was nice. I said, “Let’s go somewhere a bit dumpier” and she said, “I know just the place!” She wasn’t kidding. I was waiting for a knife fight to break out. It was in the appropriately-named Hell’s Kitchen. Her neighborhood. She’s got a lot of nerve making fun of me for living in Brooklyn. I didn’t drink much—because I don’t—but she got really drunk. You can always tell when someone’s drunk because they keep asking “Am I drunk?” over and over. She’s confrontational and thinks she’s an intellectual. 35 years old! I didn’t know she was that old. [Note: That old?! *sigh*] We talked a long time. I got home at 4:00 a.m.

I called her the next day and asked her out for Friday. She said yes. I told her I’m glad I got to her before her calendar filled up and she said not to worry because nobody ever asks her out.

November 12

I went up to Bonnie’s on Sunday to help move her office. Instead of meeting at her office as originally planned, she had me come to her apartment to type out her resume. I didn’t have a case for my laptop so I just carried it out in the open. On the way to the subway I bumped into an Hasidim selling laptop cases. He was so funny! We joked around for a while and I bought a padded case for $50.

I took a cab from Union Square to Bonnie’s apartment. I typed out her resume and a letter and then she wanted to go to bed. I said yes and she had her clothes off and was under the sheets in about six seconds! I never saw anyone move so fast in my life! It was like watching an old-time, black and white, sped-up film. I wore a condom and hated it. It was ghastly but at least I didn’t lose my erection. I never finished. Neither did she but it was still really nice. Sometimes, it’s all about the journey.

Afterwards, I was wiped out and would have preferred to lounge in bed all afternoon and nap but I had to move her office. I asked if we could have sex on her new desk. She laughed and said yes. We got there and I met Bonnie’s secretary, a vivacious, beautiful Israeli. Bonnie was in the other room and she heard the two of us laughing and talking and having a good time, so she walked in and announced that we had just had sex. Strange.

I lugged those goddamn boxes all by myself. Bonnie said she’d buy me dinner and I said I had already extracted payment from her *wink-wink* but she insisted. We took a cab to Café Des Artiste. I was dirty and sweaty from the move and I told her I didn’t want to eat anywhere fancy so we found a casual Italian joint. I had chicken and sausage in marinara sauce and Bonnie had chicken with sun dried tomatoes. Two glasses of Pinot noir. 110% delicious. $26 total. That meal would have cost $150 at Café Des Artiste. Fuck that joint.


This week marks the sixth anniversary of my blog. 915 posts. That’s a lot of water under the bridge. A lot of personal history.

O, wicked success! O, foul stench of prosperity!

British actress Lindsay Duncan was recently on a press junket promoting her new movie Le Week-End. In a fluff piece printed in New York Times, she dropped this bomb:

“I would rather give up acting than become world famous.”

Not this again. This sort of thing really rubs me raw. Sit back from your monitor or you’ll get scorched.

The acting community has no greater friend than me. I see +/- 45 plays a year. It’s my thing. I enjoy the theater. But, oh, Mother of God, I wish actors would either check themselves when being interviewed or keep their mouths shut all together. When they prattle on about how “dangerous” their work is or refer to their characters as if they were actual people, I want to rip my hair out. And I especially can’t stand it when entertainers turn their success into a crippling burden.

While promoting box office bomb The Young Victoria, dim bulb Emily Blunt went on one of those “I am a serious artist” rambles you occasionally hear from actors for whom success came too soon and too easily. Can you imagine laying out millions of dollars to produce The Young Victoria,sending your lead actress out to promote the film (first class accommodations) and read that she said this in an interview:

“It’s just never been important to me to make a big splash and I don’t care for it.”

I’d kill her. I’d want my movie to make a big splash. Production budget on The Young Victoria: $35 million. Worldwide gross: $27 million. Well done, Emily. You’re an idiot.

Singer/mope-meister Nora Jones (each album repackages the same boring songs) said this of the meteoric success of her first album:

“On the first record I was everywhere, and it was, like, the worst time in my life.”

Nora, you are, like, an idiot. That album generated an audience that most singers don’t dare dream of, not to mention financial independence for life. Way to turn it into a negative.

While out promoting box office bomb Scott Pilgrim vs The World, actor/human insect Michael Cera (each performance is the same boring character) said:

“I don’t really want to be famous, and I’m kind of scared that might be happening.”

Then DON’T BE AN ACTOR. Looks like you got your wish. Where’ve you been? Production budget: $60 million. Worldwide gross: $47 million. Nice work, stupid.

I’m reading The Richard Burton Diaries. A fantastic book. In August of 1969, at the pinnacle of his career, when he was in great demand and had the power to pick and choose whatever and whomever he wanted to work with, had both critical and popular respect and more money than he ever imagined, he wrote:

“I loath loath loath acting. In studios. In England. I shudder at the thought of going to work with the same horror as a bank-clerk must loathe that stinking tube-journey every morning and the rush-hour madness at night. I loath it, hate it, despise, despise, for Christ’s sake, it.”

Take it from me, Dick, what you were doing was NOTHING AT ALL like the grind of a daily commute. Hilarious that you would think it would be.

Stand aside and watch these nitwits get schooled. While on a press junket for Inglourious Basterds, Brad Pitt said:

“It’s so tough being an actor. Sometimes they bring you coffee and sometimes it’s cold. And sometimes you don’t have a chair to sit on.”

Production budget: $70 million. Worldwide gross: $321 million. That’s how it’s done.

Finally, these words from British renaissance man and genius director Sam Mendes. Rule #25 of his 25 Rules for Directors:

25. Never, ever, ever forget how lucky you are to do something that you love.


I’m full of spit and vinegar so I’ll rerun this gem from last year.

I was taking pics of our neighbor’s photogenic white cat, Smudge, when, for NO REASON WHATSOEVER, their other cat, Skippy, walked into the frame and BIT HER IN THE EYE! It was an hilarious unprovoked attack. I couldn’t stop laughing. Cats are the best.


Tied Down With Thick Ropes

Not me! The park. What are you thinking?


It’s another cripplingly cold morning so in an irrational fit of optimism, I’ve decided to post something that’s been sitting in my draft folder since last AUGUST. Maybe it’ll rekindle my long-abandoned dream of warm weather. Because at this point, I’ve pretty much lost hope.



One of the things I love most about summer are the big-space art exhibits that pop up all over the city. Some ideas and schemes  are so ambitious that they can’t be constrained by four museum walls. Some of the best ones can be found in Madison Square Park off of 23rd Street and 5th Avenue.


Last summer, they hosted contemporary American sculptor Orly Genger’s installation Red, Yellow and Blue.



Walls of undulating, layered nautical rope were constructed and then painted. It looks like it was tedious, hard work to mount but I liked the end result. When you turned a corner, it was a pleasant shock to see these bright colors pop out where you weren’t expecting to see them.

Genger1 Genger12

It’s a nice, warm environmental piece. The rope worked well with the surrounding flora, fauna and lawns.

Genger15 Genger9

I didn’t intend for it to look this way–I’m not that clever–but the rope looks like it’s floating!



A little painting, a little sculpture, a little arts-n-crafts. I wonder what they did with all that rope at the end of the exhibit?


Did that whet your appetite for big art? Would you like to see another one? Here’s a really cool exhibit that ran at the Guggenheim last summer the same time this was up at Madison Square Park. What a great town!


Guess how much maple syrup is in this bottle of Aunt Jemima’s Original pancake syrup?



None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nil. Not a drop. Nada.


It’s all corn syrup + crap. My Bride brought home some authentic Vermont maple syrup and I’ve been so brainwashed over the years by consuming this rotten corn by-product that the real thing tasted kind of odd to me. And I thought it was thin, too. Thank you, Quaker Oats, for ruining maple syrup for me!

I am never putting this swill in my mouth again. You shouldn’t, either.

A New York Story

My new best friend, Twindaddy, ran a contest to write a tagline for his blog. The grand prize winner (that would be me) won a guest post on his blog, which I have hurriedly taken advantage of before he had a chance to change his mind.

I decided to run a post from 2010, long before I migrated to WordPress, so it’ll be new to most of you. With all apologies to Dickens, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.