Photo Extravaganza! [With commentary]

The Beatles had a bunch of song fragments they didn’t know what to do with. Instead of fleshing out each fragment into a proper song, they strung them together and came up with the medley at the end of Abby Road. Presto! An instant classic! I have some pics that, individually, won’t make a decent post but I didn’t want them to go to waste, so I’ve taken a page from The Beatles. Here’s my photo bomb.


We took the girlies to a dude ranch over their spring break. I’m not a dude ranch kind of guy and, thankfully, this wasn’t a proper dude ranch. We slept in a hotel, not a tent. I don’t like camping and I don’t like tents. I’ve said it before: I work my ass off so that my family DOESN’T HAVE TO sleep in a tent. If we’re ever sleeping in a tent, something went horribly wrong. For me, a two-bar wifi signal is about as close as I like to get to roughing it. I’m a fool for the city.

I’d never stood next to a horse before, much less ridden one. They’re big! It seems to me they can crush you if they’re in a bad mood. But after four days of riding, I understood the bond that can form.

Q: What is the proper way to groom long-hair cattle?



Those leaf blowers are so loud that you’d think the cattle would be spooked, but they didn’t seem to mind. If I were that cattle, when that guy got around back the way he did, I give him a good, swift hoof to his soft spot.

There were bona fied celebrities there. No joke! Here I am, on the left, chatting with the patron saint of single New York women, Sarah Jessica Parker. On the right, I’m in a serious foreign policy discussion with Secretary of State John Kerry. Too camera shy to be included here: mopey singer/songwriter Carly Simon.


I had drinks with Guap and his bride last Friday after school. She’s funny and charming. He is, too. They’re a great couple. Anyway…I walked to the back of the pub to use the restroom and passed these idiots:

phonesThe photo quality is terrible but you get the idea. Mom, dad, sis and bro, away on a holiday in exciting New York City, all starring into their mobile phones and ignoring each other like a bunch of zombies. When I came out of the restroom and passed by them a second time, they were in the exact same position. This is my hot-button issue. This and texting while driving. I wish there was something that could be done. But what? They’ve got us.


I attended a baptism over the weekend. I love statues of saints for their aesthetic strangeness, but I don’t understand them. In Exodus, it says, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image…etc.” Isaiah says, “I am the Lord…give glory to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” But every church I’ve ever been in is choked with statues. Walk through any church and you’ll see people worshiping all kinds of carved idols. Wouldn’t a strict interpretation of the bible mean NO statues whatsoever? I guess it depends on the statue being praised.

I bumped into an old friend. This is St. Lucy. She was martyred in the Middle Ages. Her eyes were gouged out prior to her execution. She’s always depicted with a pair of eyeballs on a plate.

lucyThese martyrdom stories are astonishingly violent. I’m not sure how they’re suppose to touch me spiritually. They don’t. They never have.

Keen observers will recognize St. Lucy as my blog gravatar. The statue in my gravatar is in a Greenwich Village church. It’s a much finer example than this one. These eyeballs are merely painted plaster but the ones in the Village are actual glass eyes!

Stare at this guy for five minutes right before bedtime. Okay? Sweet dreams.

cataldoHush little baby, don’t say a word
And never mind that noise you heard
It’s just the beasts under your bed
In your closet, in your head

Enter Sandman


6:20 a.m. northbound R Train out of Times Square, Tuesday, April 29


This wasn’t some homeless guy. You see that once in a while and it’s excusable. Almost. This was a regular guy on his way to work. That’s poor subway etiquette! And they want to allow mobile phone reception in the trains?! Please.

I’m not here. I’m there.

Hacker, Ninja, Hooker, Spy and blog behemoth Aussa Lorens asked me if I’d like to guest post over at her place while she’s vacationing in New York City. “Hell, yes!,” said I. What a genuine thrill. It feels like I won a contest.

In keeping with the spirit of her trip, I stepped into the Wayback machine and pulled an excerpt from my early NYC journals.

Join me and her vast following over here.

Following your passion is sexy

Q. What do the following words have in common?

Cold-blooded, assassination, bloodstained, torture, accused, premeditated, critic, grovel, swagger, excitement, lackluster, puking, amazement, arouse and gossip.

A. They were all invented by Shakespeare. This is a partial list of words and phrases he coined that are still in use today. 400+ years ago and the guy is still relevant.


I had a horrid day and just wanted to go home, crawl under the floorboards and die, but I had a ticket to see a production of As You Like It and didn’t want to eat the $18, so off I went. Walking down 36th Street, I was thinking that the last thing I needed was three hours of Shakespeare in a small, off, off, way off, Broadway theater being presented by a neophyte company.

I walked into a nondescript light manufacturing building off of 9th Avenue and took the elevator to the third floor. The doors opened into a small, almost bare performance space. Three rows of folding chairs on a riser. Low ceiling. Actors mulling about. And then that thing happened. That thing you can’t chase or anticipate. The thing that sneaks up on you and knocks you flat when you’re not looking.

The Happy Few Theater Company, in their inaugural production, with a small budget and an overabundance of creativity, put on a gutsy, highly enjoyable As You Like It. What a relief! Each actor adroitly handled multiple roles (which, out of necessity, included cross-dressing and gender-swapping) and live musical accompaniment was provided by the cast, most of whom were accomplished musicians. As if wrangling Shakespearean dialogue for multiple characters weren’t difficult enough. In addition to co-directing, Ellen Adair made for a particularly effective Rosalind. Real tears when called for, which never fails to pull me in. The production was supplemented with effective, well-placed video clips, including an hilarious wrestling match between Charles the Wrestler and Orlando that’s played out as a WWE arena extravaganza.

asyoulikeit-137It’s a new company but it’s not amateur hour. They are all masters of their craft. I’ve always been too consumed with fear to chase the things that really matter me. When I see an acting troupe like this, I can’t help but wonder what’s burning inside them that makes them persevere, despite the long odds. They’re hot.

There were seven actors and 16 people in the opening-night audience. This blog is just a blip. They’re not going to realize a swell in attendance because of this post. But they deserve it. I wish I were a wizard. I’d wave my wand, sparks, smoke, wind, presto. A full house.

This was posted outside the elevator:

signThat’s show biz.


On the other end of the spectrum (and by that I mean $$$$, not talent), Bryan Cranston gives a transformative performance as Lyndon Johnson in All The Way.

LBJAn edge I have over the rest of the audience is that I never saw Breaking Bad, so I wasn’t saddled with the weight of Walter White pressing down on me. I’ve read some chat-room comments about how the play is little more than an expensive history lesson, but I found it absolutely riveting and didn’t feel its 3:00 running time. I love political theater, so this played into my interests. They had me at y’all.

I bite animals. Animals bite me.

The goddamn dog bit me again.


Yeah, you read that right. AGAIN. This is a particularly nasty one. Worse than the usual growl and nip.


It bled like hell after I took these pics. These attacks are completely unprovoked. This time, she was eating some green yarn and I went to grab a long thread that was hanging out of her mouth. Chomp.

I’m the only one in the family who gets the business end of her teeth. She’s generally pretty good with The Daughters and My Bride. We’ve spent untold $$$ on obedience classes and, in a fit of desperation, one-on-one training in our home, all to no avail. I still get snapped at.

I wish I could get rid of her but I can’t. Every time I broach the subject, The Daughters, who love her desperately, have a maniacal meltdown. If I got rid of their dog, it would be a long, long time until they forgave me. If ever. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say it would be a traumatic event for them. I’m trapped.

Someone gave me a load of canine psycho-babble about establishing dominance. I’m not interested in any of that jazz. If that dog ever bites either of the girls the way she bites me, I’ll throw her in the Shrewsbury River. Do you see those two little pinpoints of fire in her eyes? That’s not the result of lens flare or Photoshop trickery. That’s how she looks at me.



Later that same afternoon we visited the first street fair of the season. There’s a wonderful sameness to street fairs. Same food, arts and crafts, bands and activities, but I never grow tired of them.

Just look at this poor bastard. Minding his own business, rooting around in the mud and the next thing he knows, this:


With a big knife stuck in his back for good measure. Holy Mother of God he was delicious. I sent this pic to my sister, who’s no shrinking violet when it comes to a rack of ribs, and she said she couldn’t eat any him if she saw this. I can assure you that nobody seemed to have a problem.

I don’t know if it was on account of there being the first hints of spring in the air or if it was the intoxicating warm sun or if the chef really knew was he was doing, but both My Bride and I agreed that it was the most flavorful, succulent pulled pork sandwich we’ve ever eaten. A tiny tear of joy trickled down my cheek.

That evening I was pondering the fate of that poor pig. He didn’t do anything to deserve that! He didn’t hurt anyone or ask for trouble. His only fault was being delicious and slow. Then I thought of my rotten dog who has a comfortable home, two little girls who worship her and two square meals a day but, nonetheless, attacks me without provocation. Who deserves to live and who should die?



Why couldn’t we have gotten a nice cat instead? I’ve never liked dogs. They’re loud, dirty, needy and clumsy. They eat feces. Cats have a quiet, elegant dignity. Try to give a piece of shit to a cat to eat and he’ll look at you like the jerk-off you are and casually sashay away. Just look at my sister’s cat, Dexter, using the window crank as a pillow and sporting pretty, new Claw Caps. A fine specimen.


Cats move like dancers. I admire their cool aloofness. So did Charles Bukowski.

exactly right

the strays keep arriving: now we have 5
cats and they are smart, spontaneous, self-
absorbed, naturally poised and awesomely

one of the finest things about cats is
that when you’re feeling down, very down,
if you just look at the cat at rest,
at the way they sit or lie and wait,
it’s a grand lesson in preserving
if you watch 5 cats at once that’s 5
times better.

no matter the extra demands they make
no matter the heavy sacks of food
no matter the dozens of cans of tuna
from the supermarket: it’s all just fuel for their
amazing dignity and their
affirmation of a vital
we humans can
only envy and
admire from

My Go Bag

I had a brief chat in Aussa’s comment section about my Go Bag. She’d never heard of one. Maybe they only have them in New York? Can anyone confirm that? I’ll bet Guap knows what they are.

Go Bags came around after 9/11. As part of the on-boarding process when you get a corporate job, after you get your building ID, sign a bunch of forms and are shown where the restroom and coffee break rooms are, you are given a Go Bag to keep at your desk. They’re survival kits to have on hand in case—oh, I don’t know—in case a Boeing 767 slams into your building a dozen floors below you and you’re trapped.

It’s a bright red (the better to spot you in the rubble with, my dear) nylon backpack with the company logo on it. (Blurred here to hide the address of where Guap and I work. We two handsome devils don’t need stalkers. We have busy jobs. And wives.)


Inside, you’ll find everything you need to improve the odds of your survival (assuming the whole deal hasn’t collapsed onto yo ass).


A. Fitted 3-D respirator
B. Glow Sticks
C. Thermal Blanket


D. Two packets of drinking water
E. Toilet tissue (Ick. But necessary, I suppose.)
F. Two vacuum-packed energy bars
G. Benzalkonium Chloride Towelette (in case you have a boo-boo)
H. Whistle (or, as my [female] colleague put it, a “rape whistle.” Wha?

Thankfully, I’ve never had to employ any of this stuff. The energy bars are a few years old and I’ve never been THAT hungry. I got a Go Bag at my last job and I took the glow sticks home and gave them to my daughters to play with. They’re so fun! I wish I’d had glow sticks when I was going through my narcotic phase.


This is indirectly related to the subject matter at hand. Did you guys see this in the paper?

“Taliban assailants apparently thought they were attacking an unprotected day care center. But they mistakenly burst into the compound next door, where an American government contractor’s employees were heavily armed and ready. All five Taliban attackers were killed, including one who committed suicide.”

What cowards. Their mission was to shoot children. A death sentence is exactly what they deserved. That part of the world has always been so broken. What causes such long-term societal stagnation? They’re afraid of technology. Afraid of women. Afraid of sex. Afraid of artistic expression. An awful, awful place. Who are we (the West) to think we could change it?


Last weekend there was a Veggie Pride Parade in the Village. It started down on Gansevoort Street and wound its way north to Union Square.


Typically, I don’t bemoan dirty old New York. For the most part, I prefer its present incarnation. But this place used to be so bad ass. It was Travis Bickle and Julian’s pool hall on 14th Street. When the subway would pass over a dead piece of track, all the lights would flicker and go out. You never knew what would be standing in front of you when they came back on. I spent countless delightful hours watching from a safe distance as three-card monte grifters hustled tourists in Times Square. Now this place is all hedge fund douche bags and veggie pride parades.

It’s over, Johnny. It’s over.


photo 1 (2)

The Empire State Building from Bryant Park. 8:45 p.m., April 2, 2014. Right after I saw this guy at the New York Public Library give a talk about magic:

photo 2 (1)