Mad at myself
for lacking ambition.

Mad at my alarm clock
for going off at 4:53 a.m., M-F.

Mad at sex.
More trouble than it’s worth. There’s always a price to be paid.

Mad at Lay’s potato chips
for being spiked with a mysterious addictive ingredient.

Mad at myself
for not jogging enough.

Mad at my sister-in-law
for how she treats my wife.

Mad at my wife
for [***redacted***].

Mad at my 12-year old daughter
for entering the argumentative/hyper-sensitive years.

Mad at Vladimir Putin
for fucking up Ukraine.

Mad at Uri Ariel
for fucking up Israel.

Mad at Nuri Kamal al-Maliki
for fucking up Iraq.

Mad at twitter
for posting ISIS taunts. Why do they do that?

Mad at wealthy people.
Because of them, I can’t afford concert tickets anymore.

Mad at myself
for being so jealous, jealous, jealous.

Mad at religion (ALL SECTS).
The source of the world’s misery.

Mad at the gay couple at the beach
for wearing bright, canary-yellow Speedos. My children don’t need to see your junk. A little discretion, please.

Mad at the woman who cuts my hair.
If you’re such a ‘Master Stylist,’ why are you working at Cheap Kuts?

Mad at my old job
for not hiring me on staff.

Mad at my new job
for mistakenly thinking I’m smarter than I am.

Mad at gas.
And I don’t mean gasoline.

Mad at my commuting bus pass
for costing $430/month.

Mad at my bus driver
for using the back of his hand to steer a bus full of suburban lemmings going 60 mph down the New Jersey Turnpike so he could text.

photo (2)

Mad at the dog
for acting like a dog.

Mad at Amazon
for blowing up bookstores. Bastards.

Mad at white people
for acid/techno/house music.

Mad at black people
for rap.

Mad at myself
for not attending college. (An oldie but a goodie.)

Mad at social media.
You don’t have 200 friends, okay? Stop it.

Mad at mobile phones.
A bigger threat to civility than Al-Qaeda.

Mad at this stupid blog
for yanking me out of bed at 3:25 a.m. to write this post.

Not mad at:

My 8-year old daughter.
Still so sweet and innocent.

New York City.
Shelter from the storm.

Desensitizing Children to Violence: NYC Edition

The dictionary defines desensitization as:

“…the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it. To make indifferent, unaware…in feeling.”

Look at this horrific ad that’s currently running on New York City buses:

photo 1 (3)

Every child walking down the avenue—from ‘tweens to infants in strollers—sees this. The Metropolitan Transit Authority reviews the ads posted on buses and subways for appropriateness. Some years ago, they rejected an ad that referred to Israel’s enemies as “savages.” Just this past January, they rejected an ad for an urban art exhibit that featured a subway car covered with graffiti. No need to revisit that, I agree.

But this is acceptable? Have you ever seen anything so vividly grim in a public space? And, OF COURSE, the victim is a woman. The victims in torture porn film ads are always women.

photo 2 (3)

I’m so sick of these graphic depictions of violence against women. I don’t want my 8-year old daughter to see this! This stuff is impressionable. You can’t un-see it. If you repeatedly expose little kids to this kind of appalling imagery, they’re going to grow up void of empathy. I get angry at the morons who take their toddlers to The Dark Knight for the same reason.

Am I making too much of this? You can tell me. Do I need to chill?

My Bride and I walked through Chinatown last weekend. It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods. I like it because I can walked down crowded Mott Street and see over everybody’s head. Here are some pics of the open-air produce markets and a paper-folding artisan selling his wares on the sidewalk.

china7Octopuses. Or is it octopi?


A basket ‘o blue claws.


Dragon fruit. Whatever that is.

china5Croc/Gator. Do you like the goose in the foreground? I did that on purpose. Or do you think it’s clutter. Tell me the truth!


Fox and penguins.

china2Four blind mice. And a cat.


Parading peacock.

Here’s a price list. Very reasonable considering the artistry and labor involved.


The weather was perfect so we walked from Chinatown to Little Italy and got a sidewalk table at a café on Mulberry Street. We had pastry and cappuccinos (hers iced, mine hot) and watched the big parade of humanity. Best show in town. Then we walked east on Houston Street to our old apartment on Clinton and Avenue B.

I don’t think my wife had seen Clinton Street since decamping for New Jersey 12 years ago. So much has changed but some things are still the same. We walked past my old Dominican barber. He looked up, his face brightened with recognition, he put his scissors down (he had a customer in the chair!) and came outside to greet us.

We hugged and he insisted that we come inside for a visit. He opened a bottle of red wine and everyone in the shop drank a toast to old friends. I apologized to his customer for the interruption and he said, “He can’t help himself. He’s a social animal.” We talked about the junkies and gypsies who once prowled Clinton Street. That guy was one tough muther. If someone tried to sell heroin in front of his barbershop, he’d chase them away with a straight razor. “Take it down the street!,” he’d yell. He could have been shot. But he’s a survivor. I remember.

More Erotic Tales From My Debauched Youth

I am far too busy feeling sorry for myself to write a fresh post. It occupies all of my free time. You’ll have to make do with another journal entry from 1992 when I first arrived in NYC. I was young, full of hope and not angry at the universe. The good old days.

July 14, 1992

Joan and Joel [Note: An older, wealthy couple who “adopted” me. Long, separate story.] took me out for my birthday to a nice restaurant on 89th and Broadway. I forget the name. They both keep telling me I’m working below my potential. What the hell am I supposed to do about that?! I don’t know how to do anything! After dinner we took a cab across Central Park to the East Side and went to their apartment for drinks. It’s spectacular. You can see the Park from their dining room window. There’s a baby grand piano in the living room and Joel played Duke Ellington’s Satin Doll while I drank a tumbler of scotch. It was a great birthday but it got better.

I was standing on the corner of 72nd and Central Park waiting for the light to change. I looked to my left, then to my right and guess who was walking towards me? Bonnie! How weird is that!? Her mouth dropped open in dramatic fashion when she saw me. I told her Joan and Joel had just treated me to dinner for my birthday. She wished me happy birthday and kissed me. She tasted like wine. She insisted on buying me a birthday drink at Café des Artistes, so we walked there and sat at the bar. She introduced me to some producers and theater people. That woman knows everybody in this town! I had another scotch and she had red wine and ate an artichoke.

We left, hailed a cab and as soon as we gave the driver our destination (her apartment) we fell into each other’s arms. We banged our teeth together when the cab lurched forward. It hurt but we laughed. She was in the Times yesterday about doing the new façade of Town Hall and was leaving on Thursday to supervise the landscape installation at Calvin Kline’s Long Island estate. I told her she should take me with her and she said, “Believe me, I thought about it.” But she said she’s got a lot of work to do and wasn’t sure it was appropriate. I told Ellis about all this and he said I should marry her.

Bonnie might be older but, boy howdy, she’s spirited. Every time I fool around with an older woman I’m astonished at how willing and knowledgeable they are as compared to the pretty, young, reserved waifs I’ve been involved with who know NOTHING about the science of lust. We rolled around on the sofa for a few hours. We’d stop and watch the Democratic National Convention for a bit, make fun of the speeches and then get back to work. I like how she wraps her body around me. She’s small so I can toss her around like a toy. She said she likes how I “handle” her. It was refreshing to have a hand down my pants that wasn’t my own. I almost finished during Mario Cuomo’s nomination speech but I made her stop because I didn’t want to make a mess all over her nice, leather sofa. I wish women were as easy to please as men. I did my best but she never got there. We were dressed and about to leave and I grabbed her, bent her over the drafting table in her living room and rubbed against her. It was fun. Like an amusement park ride. She didn’t seem to mind although I kind of wish she would’ve put up a bit of a fight. I’ll have to ask her how she feels about that.

I was there pretty late. She said she really enjoys our time together but we both agreed that as soon as we found someone in our own age bracket, the party would be over. I’m in no hurry. More birthdays like that, please.

July 18

I went for a bike ride over the Brooklyn Bridge, across West Broadway and into Tribeca. I love riding around Tribeca. It’s all warehouses and butchers. It reminds me of Cleveland and dad. There’s no traffic and the streets are still paved with cobblestone. It’s tough on my bike but it’s such a nice, quiet, empty neighborhood on Saturdays that I can’t resist. The bad part is that there’s nowhere to buy a Saturday New York Times. They should get some Bodegas down there!

[Note: 1992 was long before Tribeca became a highly desirable neighborhood. The real estate vampires hadn’t gotten their meat hooks into the meatpacking district yet.]

I rode north into Soho and finally found a newspaper. Soho is utterly confusing to me. I get lost all the time. I found a sidewalk table at a cafe on West Broadway, ordered a beer and shrimp salad with Thai dressing and read my paper. Halfway through my salad, Klinger walked by. He had mentioned that he was going to Paris this week. I said, “I thought you were in Paris?” He looked around, threw his arms up and said, “I AM in Paris!” See that…it’s all about perception. That guy makes me laugh. He was on his way to Fun’s apartment and couldn’t stay. She’s pretty. I wouldn’t have stayed, either.

I finished my salad and bummed a cigarette off the waiter. Austin and Ed walked by when I was halfway through my cigarette and the editorials. Austin said, “I thought you quit smoking?” I said, “I DID quit smoking!” I think those guys think I’m an idiot. A group of pretty, spoiled, rich girls sat at the table next to me so I had to stay longer than I had planned to eavesdrop on their conversations.

I had to pass through the Chrysler Building the other day. It’s ground zero for the art deco movement. Just look at these elevators. They’re spectacular works of art!


According to the literature, they’re inlaid with Japanese ash, English gray harewood, Oriental walnut and Cuban plum pudding wood. Do those woods even exist or did they make all that up? It’s no matter. They’re lovely.


The Thane of Cawdor Sleeps No More

He sleeps no more because his decapitated head was stuffed into a burlap sack and tossed into the middle of the stage.

I used to write about plays all the time but those posts laid there unread and unloved, so I stopped. Theater can make for a dull evening out and an even duller blog post. Just look at the plummeting ratings for the Tony awards every year. But I was telling a Texan about a highly unusual production of Macbeth I saw and he requested a post. So here it be.

Kenneth Branagh shipped his high-octane production of Macbeth across the pond from its sold-out run in Manchester. It’s not your typical trod across the boards. Rather, it’s a piece of performance art wrapped in violence and Shakespearean dialogue. Playing the role of the Castle Cawdor is the drill hall of the Park Avenue Armory, a castle-like structure on Park Avenue and 68th Street that was build in 1861 to answer President Lincoln’s Civil War call to arms.

macbeth6It’s an all-encompassing environmental performance that starts when you walk in the door. A 6:15 arrival is requested for a 7:00 curtain. Upon entering the armory, before you’re admitted to the drill hall performance space, the audience is given a wrist band and assigned to one of 12 Scottish clans.

macbeth9Once you have your wristband, you’re handed a program and a host directs you to your clan’s meeting room where you drink wine and wait to be called to the drill hall. They’ve gone to the trouble of printing 12 different program covers, each bearing the name and tartan print of the clans. The verso of the cover contains a brief history of your clan.

macbeth8The guts of the programs are the same. There’s a map of Scotland ca.1040 showing the location of the clans. I was a Macduff, which is brilliant because Macduff—my kinsman—is the guy who slices Macbeth’s head off. It’s a rough trade for the pleasure of doing that because Macbeth has Macduff’s wife and children murdered.

“All my pretty ones?
Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
At one fell swoop?”

macbeth10All of these pre-show festivities effectively pulled me into the performance before I ever laid eyes on the stage. One by one the clans are called. You march up to the thick wooden doors of the drill hall. A cloaked druid asks, “What clan is this?” Everyone shouts, “MACDUFF!” He tolls a bell and the doors slowly swig open to reveal a Scottish heath. Another cloaked druid carrying a torch leads you into the dark hall. A mist hangs in the air. It’s cool and clammy. You walk into the cavernous hall across a stone path. Dirt, rocks, puddles and mud are on either side of you.

macbeth12The audience enters their seats by walking around giant stone columns. There are risers on either side of the stage looking down on the performance space.

macbeth2The lights dim and the play begins with a crack of thunder. A battle between the MacDonald and Cawdor clans is underway. The stage area is a dirt pit. Rain pours down on the combatants. Carefully choreographed sword battles rage all around. Sparks fly from metal blades as they impact. By the end of the battle, the actors are soaked and covered with mud and blood.

macbeth1The MacDonald clan is defeated and my favorite characters appear. The Weird Sisters float up between the stone columns. They poison Macbeth’s mind with predictions and lies. They make appearances throughout the play cackling hysterically when things are going horribly wrong for Macbeth. I love them. I want to date them. I remember them as the hot girls in my high school art class.

macbeth11I’ve always thought that Macbeth was unkind towards women. Lady Macbeth is the source off all the murder and treachery. When it comes time to murder the King, Macbeth hesitates. But Lady Macbeth is right there to shame him into action by questioning his manhood. Later in the play, she goes mad and hallucinates that her hands are dripping with blood that won’t wash off.

“Out, damned spot! out, I say!—
Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the
perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this
little hand. O, O, O!”

macbeth3The Weird Sisters are pure evil. Macduff’s wife is in one scene. In it, she and her children are brutally slaughtered. There are no strong female characters. You’ll have to see a production of Twelfth Night for that, I’m afraid.

macbeth4The vastness of the hall made it a spectacle, but it also caused an occasional problem. Some of the dialogue was swallowed up. The acoustics weren’t great and Shakespeare is tough on my ear in the first place. The plotting to overthrow Macbeth between Macduff and Malcome, the slain King’s son, was lost in the echos.

Guess who’s coming do dinner? Banquo’s ghost! The murdered Thane of Lochaber’s ghost takes a seat at the dinner table and is visible only to a guilt-maddened Macbeth. Hilarity ensues.

macbeth5This was one of my favorite theatrical experiences ever. And I’ve seen plenty. Branagh is a friggin’ genius. In addition to turning out a credible and broken Macbeth, he directed this shizzle. I rarely see a play twice but if I were wealthy I’d go again. I’ll have to be satisfied with having seen it once. Word got out and people are lining up at 8:00 a.m. for evening cancellations. It’s snowballed into an event.

I took 12-Year Old Daughter to see The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe. She’s obsessed with the Potter books and movies and has a 12-year old crush on Radcliffe. He’s no pop icon joke. He was excellent. Instead of just cruising through his career, that dude repeatedly gets up on a stage and lays it all out there. This is his third trip to Broadway and he has NEVER missed a performance. What a work ethic that kid’s got! Huzzah.

She thinks I was taking her to see her favorite celebrity but what I was actually doing was exposing her to my favorite contemporary Irish playwright, Martin McDonagh. She was able to procure Radcliffe’s autograph. Without exaggerating, I think this was the happiest moment of her young life. Better than all 12 Christmases rolled into one.

playbillThe moment Radcliffe walked on stage, about :10 minutes in, she looked over at me and I’ll never forget the euphoric, that’s really him, look of pure joy on her face. It made me so happy. My dad never did shit with me. That poor, deceased soul never knew what he missed out on.

Here’s one thing I got right

I was lying in bed thumbing through my iPhone photos and a theme emerged. It’s a common thread that’s been there for years, but I didn’t see it until I read One For The Books by humorist Joe Queenan. It’s about his love for books and bookstores–two subjects near and dear to my heart.

On my About page, it says I don’t have a clue what constitutes proper parenting. Ain’t that the truth! I hadn’t planned on having children but here I am responsible for raising two daughters. I’ve made some stupid missteps and colossal blunders, but Queenan’s book made me realize that I actually did get one really important thing right. Without intending to, I gave them a beautiful gift. Since Queenan is a much, much better writer that I can ever hope to be, I’ll let him take it from here.

“It’s helpful for small children if the first book that grabs their attention is also the first book that breaks their hearts. It gets them in the mood for Romeo and Juliet, Ethan Fromme, marriage, life.”

book5“…you will discover, as Samuel Johnson observed, that not all wisdom is to be found in books. But an awful lot of it is.”

book4“Because of books, my children grew up to be bright and inquisitive, while a lot of their peers grew up to be clowns. Social scientists will tell you that surrounding your children with books will have no quantifiable effect on the molding of their personalities. Nature trumps nurture at every turn, they maintain. But, as is so often the case with social scientists, they are wrong.”

book6“…a person develops early in life a pattern of behavior or a set of complimentary skills to deal with a particular problem, but then, long after the problem has been resolved, he does not automatically abandon the behavior. Decades after my bitter housing project days were over, I continued to read feverishly, almost desperately, at all hours of the day and night, because reality was never as sublime as the reality to be found in books. And once you are hooked, you are hooked.”

book7“To order a book online [instead of visiting a bookstore], to procure it by overnight shipment, would wreck everything. It would strip my life of all the magical, unscientific qualities I most value.”

book9“The presence of books in my hands, my home, my pockets, my life will never cease to be essential to my happiness. I will never own an e-reader. I have no use for them. A dimly remembered girlfriend’s handwriting will never take me by surprise in a Nook. A faded ticket to the Eiffel Tower will never fall out of a Kindle. I am a Luddite and proud of it.”

book2“Purchasing a secondhand book does absolutely nothing for a writer. Less than nothing. There is, it seems to me, a poverty of spirit about not wanting to purchase the shiny new book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. People should consider it an honor to pay full price for a book by Don DeLillo or Margaret Atwood. An honor.”


*      *      *

Look at this ridiculous juxtaposition:

photo(10)That would be EXCURSION, me, ARMADA. Out here in the rough, tough  New Jersey suburbs, you need an ARMADA to take what’s thrown at you. I love the names. They convey an image. The dictionary defines ARMADA as:

1. any fleet of warships.
2. a large group or force of vehicles, airplanes, etc.: an armada of transport trucks.

These behemoths are piloted by suburban housefraus wearing sweat pants, yammering into on cell phones and carrying an extra large Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Not invading hordes of Mongolians. Big, fat cars for our big, fat nation.