Asbury Park. December 27, 2014.

I’ve still got my panties in a twist over my malfunctioning comment section. So much so, that I haven’t felt like writing anything. Don’t roll your eyes at me. You’ve got irrational hang-ups, too. The commenting give-and-take makes it all worthwhile. The WordPress wonks aren’t as enthusiastic about fixing it as I thought they’d be. Meanwhile, here’s a photo essay.

We took advantage of a freakishly balmy December day and strolled the Asbury Park boardwalk.

boardwalkThat decaying structure in the background is the old Asbury Park Casino.

boardwalk1casinoThe Casino was an arena built in the 1920’s. The walkway links Asbury Park to adjacent community Ocean Grove. The acoustics of the walkway are ideal for busking.

buskingPorkchop, Casino Mural, (Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ), 2009

mermaidcasino1The Happiest Dog in New Jersey.

dog1Punk Rock godfather Tom Verlaine still working the circuit.

verlaineNo Swimming. Lifeguard Not on Duty.

no-swimmingThe Second Happiest Dog in New Jersey. Dogs love the boardwalk.

dog2Two of many, many, vintage 1950’s-era pinball machines at the Silver Ball Museum, all in working order.

pinball1Detail from Hawaiian Beauty. I’ll say.

pinball2“Did you hear the cops finally busted Madam Marie
for tellin’ fortunes better than they do?”


Secret Code(ing)

I’ve had a few people tell me they’re unable to comment from WordPress reader. Because of my insatiable, sophomoric need for attention, this bothers me greatly. If I know I’m missing out on just one comment—never mind a few—I’m up all night watching a moonbeam traverse my ceiling.

Does anyone know a good WordPress coder who wants to make a few bob fixing this mess? I paid top dollar to migrate this address from Blogger to WordPress and this shouldn’t be happening. Good help is tough to find.

[Edit: WordPress helpline wonk Jason said this site is “…a bit confused on where it lives.” Just like its owner. A developer will fix next week. Huzzah.]

Here are some plays I saw this past season. Merry Christmas, everyone. Thanks for stopping by. You are the gift.

The Elephant Man
By Bernard Pomerance
Bradley Cooper
Patricia Clarkson
Alessandro Nivola

elephantI had deep misgivings about casting The Most Handsome Man AliveTM as the hideously deformed John Merrick. Talk about defying logic! The worst casting choice since Edward G. Robinson played an Egyptian in The Ten Commandments. An Egyptian, for Christ’s sake! [“Mmmwaaaa…Where’s your Messiah now…ya see?”]

Then I saw something really extraordinary. After a preamble, the play started like this:

elephant man1As Dr. Treves read a detailed description of Merrick’s deformities, photos flashed on the screen. Meanwhile, Cooper slowly distorted and bent his body. At the end of the scene, Cooper was gone and The Elephant Man stood before a stunned audience. This, augmented with a master class in acting by Patricia Clarkson, made for one of the more satisfying nights this year. The last :10 minutes of the Act 1 was so deeply moving that I almost lost it. Clarkson, as Mrs. Kendal, reaches out to shake Merrick’s hand—the first time a woman touched him. The moment hung there in the thick, quiet air,

The River
by Jez Butterworth
Hugh Jackman
Cush Jumbo
Laura Donnelly

People are killing themselves trying to get tickets to this, paying as much as $275 per seat. It’s an intimate theater—the capacity is only 776 seats. And it’s Hugh Jackman, after all. Here’s the dirty little secret that nobody is talking about:

It’s kind of boring.

theriverIt’s about a guy who falls in love too easily with women he barely knows. Hell, that’s not so special! That’s been my standard operating procedure for years. It’s not the actors’ fault. The source material is flat. Butterworth’s last play, Jerusalem with Mark Rylance, was so compelling that I left work “sick” to attend a mid-week matinee because I wanted to see it a second time. I’m not sure what happened here.

The Real Thing
By Tom Stoppard
Ewan McGregor
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Cynthia Nixon
Josh Hamilton

real thingIt wasn’t well received by the critics and discounts are readily available, but I had a nice time. This is Stoppard’s most accessible play and it looked like everyone was having a pretty good time. McGregor, especially, embraced the part of a philandering husband. Nixon’s British accent was a bit strained, which is inexcusable since she’s been acting since she was a child. Aside from that, what’s the beef? Lighten up, critics!

A Particle of Dread (Oedipus Variations)
by Sam Shepard
Stephen Rea

particleI didn’t have high hopes for this. It’s based on Oedipus, which I know nothing about. He sleeps with his mom and murders his dad or something like that? But it’s Sam Shepard and, dammit, attention must be paid. It was a good enough production but I’d had a long day and was so fucking tired that night. Attending the theater when you’re tired is suicide. The lights go down. The chair is comfy. They’re reading a bedtime story. Good night, sweet prince.

This Is Our Youth
by Kenneth Lonergan
Kieran Culkin
Michael Cera
Tavi Gevinson

youthI didn’t have high hopes for this (Part II). I’m anti-Michael Cera. His line delivery is one-note and monotone. Also, I once read an interview where he complained about the burdens of fame and that worked my nerves. He’s a poor puppy. But I got a pfat discount so I went.

I’m still not ready to concede that Cera is a good actor overall, but he was quite good here. The revelation is Kieran Culkin. He had the flashy role and made hay with it. Tavi Gevinson isn’t a trained actor. She started a fashion blog at age 12 and is still a teen. No formal training! Her serviceable performance makes me wonder about the value of acting classes.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
By Simon Stephens
Nobody you’d know
dogProbably the most satisfying of the lot. Anonymous casts are sometimes best. Movie stars come with preconceived notions. Hugh Jackman was…well…Hugh Jackman. But with a cast of unknowns, the characters are allowed to develop unique personas. They’re free from all that baggage.

From London. A boy with Asperger’s syndrome sets out to discover who murdered the neighbor’s dog. An enjoyable first act segues to a trippy, brilliantly staged second act. You experience what navigating London might be like with your five senses overloaded. Alex Sharp, who just graduated from Juilliard in April (April, for cryin’ out loud! Some struggle.) is solid as s 15-year old mathematical genius who can barely walk down the street, much less navigate the London tube. Emotionally manipulative but SO WHAT. Excellent.

By Ayad Akhtar
Gretchen Mol
Josh Radnor
Karen Pittman
Hari Dhillon

disgracedPulitzer Prize winner. Brilliantly written sociopolitical drama about progressive, smarty-pants upper class professionals who might harbor a bit of racial prejudice after all when it comes to Islam. Mol quite good, Randor a little stiff. The lead was originally played by Aasif Mandvi but he couldn’t accommodate the off-to-Broadway transfer. No matter. Dhillon is broken and sinister enough.

Ayad Akhtar might be my new favorite contemporary playwright. (Sorry, Mr. Mamet.) In addition to this gem, his Invisible Hand is also currently playing off-Broadway. And as good as Disgraced is, that one is even better. A Wall Street sharp is kidnapped by Pakistani terrorists who force him to raise money on their behalf via illicit stock trades. Terrorists get a taste of capitalism. Hilarity ensues. (Not really.)

Where Art and Commerce Collide

I love the holidays for purely secular reasons. I embrace the music, crowds, decorations, food, gatherings—pretty much everything that is outwardly disparaged in New York City. I’m like one of those Lindt chocolate truffles—I have a soft center.

The the holiday windows at Bergdorf Goodman are a treat. They’re no joke. They’re designed by artisans who take their work seriously. Every year there’s a theme and this year it’s the arts. Some of these are the best displays I’ve ever seen. Here’s a couple examples. If you reading this in the city and you don’t make the effort to see these you’re missing out. These pics don’t do them justice. And go at nighttime.

This window represents music. Nice art deco frame. They all have that.


She’s surrounded by silver horns. Big ones. Little ones. Nice dress, too.


This is dance. She slowly rotates on that gear. She’s delicate. The gears are not. A nice juxtaposition.


I love how she’s lit and the angle of her head. It accentuates her long neck.


This is architecture. The best of the bunch. I stood in front for a long time. There’s a lot to absorb. The window is crammed with representations of NYC landmark skyscrapers.


In the upper right corner, out of the shot above, is a gargoyle perched on a pedestal.


He’s made by a paper sculpture.


This represents theater. The neon lights are sequenced making a slow reveal from bottom to top.


I like that her dress is translucent. You can see the lights between her legs.


The day after I visited these, The New York Times Style section posted a short video on the making of the architecture window. It’s pretty interesting stuff.

Not to be outdone, the porn store on 8th Avenue across the street from my office also decorated their window. It’s kind of a lazy affair. I wonder if “Santa Sack” is suppose to be a double entendre? Pretty poor, if it is.


I picked up my iPhone 6 on Saturday. It’s a miracle of form, function and design. I’m dizzy with happiness. Just like a maternity ward reveal.

Wrapped in a big, red bow just for you

Here’s an early Christmas present for everyone. This guy is one of the best writers out here. His posts are compellingly written, there’s not a wasted word in them and they arrive at manageable intervals. Each one is a marvel of drama and humor. The consistency of the quality is almost other-worldly. This newest post is a pretty good representation of what’s on the menu over there. You’re welcome.

Corner of Pain St. and Attention Deficit Blvd.


I’m upgrading my phone and I don’t know if I should get an iPhone 6 or 6+. I’m frozen with indecision. You can’t take this stuff lightly. You use your mobile phone every day, all day and you’re stuck with it for two years. The iPhone 6 is only marginally bigger than my 5. What’s the point? The 6+ has better specs but it’s too damn big. It’s like talking into a floor tile. They should have invented something in between. Idiots. This wouldn’t have happened if Jobs was still alive. I asked Siri but she was no help.siri


I would un-invent email if I could. I came back from vacation to 200+ emails at work. I’m not even management! I’m just a lowly worker bee! Can you imagine what those guys go through? 80% of them were nonsense. I leave work every evening with an empty inbox and there’ll be anywhere from 10-20 new messages in the morning. Those ass-kissers and workaholics send stuff all hours of the night. Sometimes as late as 3:00 a.m. Go to bed, you fuckheads. Play with your kids. Walk the dog. Have a glass of wine with your spouse. Read a book. Or take a sleeping pill. But don’t email me.


7th Avenue and 40th St. The Fashion District. Tuesday, December 2nd, 6:30 a.m.

seventh-av1 seventh-av2 seventh-av3IV.

I work in an open-architecture environment. They broadcast CNBC on flat screens with the sound off. The financial analysts like to see the stock ticker and breaking news. Occasionally, CNBC will conduct an investment strategy straw poll. For instance, the NASDAQ is about to hit 5,000. Should you buy or sell? Here’s everything you need to know about Wall Street: cnbcProof positive that NONE of those guys know ANYTHING. It’s all a guessing game.


Q. You said that you feel like an outsider in Hollywood. Do you still feel like that?

A. One hundred percent. Feeling like an outsider is part of my nature, and it’s what makes me who I am, so I think I’ll find a way to make myself feel like an outsider no matter what situation I’m in.

Zooey Deschanel
Time Magazine print edition
November 24, 2014

Because nothing screams I’m a rebel like fielding fluff ball questions on a national stage in a dying medium. With Taylor Swift on the cover, no less. She’s like actors who complain about being famous. You’re not an outsider, cupcake. Image fail. And stop using “one hundred percent.” It’s a tired, worn out cliche.


A befuddled Jackie Mason strolls down 7th Avenue. I should run a fill-in-the-caption contest. masonThat’s one of the reasons why New York is so fun. You can go out for lunch and see ancient celebrities promenade down the avenues. [Does Jackie Mason qualify as a celeb? Do you know who he was/is?]


Jesus. What a dull, ornery, meandering post. I just broke my own cardinal rule: don’t hit publish just for the sake of pushing a post out. If you don’t have anything to write about, give it a rest. Quantity never beats quality. And it never will.