My Nose Pressed Against the Window

I hate musicals. I find them tedious. This, from someone who averages a play a week. Lerner & Loewe, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lloyd Webber & Nunn, Gilbert & Sullivan. Sucks. Sucks. Sucks. Sucks.

Having said that, Cabaret, with the delightful, hatchet-faced Alan Cumming as the MC, is probably one of the best things I’ve ever seen. In the original stage production and film adaptation, Joel Grey played the MC as a wacky harlequin. Cumming’s MC is a frightening specter of debauchery and lasciviousness. He has bruises all over his body and track marks on his arms. His MC will sleep with anything that’s not dead…and maybe some things that are.

acmcDespite my disdain for musicals, I’ve seen this show a few times. Live performances aren’t like DVDs, mp4 files or Tivo. You can’t enjoy it again later. They’re ephemeral. Once the production wraps and the company disperses, you’ll never see it again—unless they remount the same production, which is exactly what happened here. My Bride and I saw it in 1998 with Natasha Richardson (R.I.P.) as the doomed Sally Bowles. Since then, I’ve seen two other Sally’s in the current revival; Michele Williams, in a valiant but failed effort and, just recently, Emma Stone, who was superb.

stoneAt the opening of Act 2, Cumming is lowered from the rafters on a silver crescent moon. He’s wearing a silver sequined top hat and vest and silver pants. He dismounts the moon, walks into the audience and brings someone up on stage to slow dance with. [As he eyeballs the audience looking for a patsy he says, “I love the smell of fear.”]

He returns the (clearly rattled) audience member back to his/her seat, looks up to the balcony (where I’m always sitting in the back) waves, and says:

“Hello poor people! It must be awful for you. Ah, well. What can you do?”

Money makes the world go around
Of that we can be sure
ppthbbbt on being poor

Laughter. Everyone thinks it’s hilarious, particularly the people in the good seats. But do you know what? It cuts me to the bone every time. It hurts to be laughed at because I can’t afford a decent seat. It makes me feel like I haven’t tried hard enough. Or at all.

A mark, a yen, a buck or a pound
Is all that makes the world go ‘round
That clinking, clanking sound
Can make the world go ‘round

Some of my responsibilities at work shifted a few years ago. Instead of designing marketing material solely for Institutional investors, I started working for Private Wealth advisors. I had always known about a category of investor called High Net Worth. It wasn’t until I entered that rarefied air that I discovered a classification above that called Ultra High Net Worth. $50 million or more in investable assets. You’ll never see an Ultra High Net Worth client in a hospital emergency waiting room. They’re never made to wait. For anything. They and their families are accommodated in ways you can’t imagine.

If you happen to be rich
And alone
And you need a companion
You can ring (ting-a-ling)
For the maid

Last Wednesday I saw the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall. I wanted to hear piano virtuoso Emanuel Ax tackle Chopin’s Piano Concerto in F and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite—a couple of real knuckle-busters. I got in for cheap, but my view of the stage was obstructed. I couldn’t see the horn section.

In the ‘become-a-patron’ section of the program I read that if you donate $25,000 annually, you are considered a “VVIP.” I had to look twice because I thought it was a W. That’s a Very, Very Important Person.You get to attend private chamber music concerts in stately apartments on the Upper East Side. First-chair members of the Philharmonic take you to lunch.

In case you thought I was exaggerating.

vvipIf you happen to be rich
And you feel like a
Night’s entertainment
You can pay for a gay escapade

Larry David is about to open in a new comedy on Broadway. It broke the record for advanced sales. $13 million. It achieved this distinction because the better seats cost $425 and they’re selling briskly. That’s $850 for a pair of tickets to the theater. And, apparently, they’re flying off the shelf.

I am SURROUNDED. This town is choking on money to the point where they have to invent new superlatives to describe über-wealth. To me, they’re simply new benchmarks for my own mediocrity. No wonder I feel inadequate.

ppthbbbt on being poor, indeed.

 Tastes Like Chicken

On the way to Lincoln Center I took a shortcut through Central Park. I saw people gathered around what turned out to be a murder scene.

hawk4A hawk was eating a pigeon.

hawk5It was a wonderful example of bird-on-bird violence. People move to New York City to get away from this sort of thing.

hawk1There’s a healthy hawk population in Central Park. There’s an inexhaustible food supply and skyscrapers have lots of nooks and crannies in which to build a nest. They’ve taken to urban life quite well.


77 thoughts on “My Nose Pressed Against the Window

  1. So many pieces to this post.

    First — the hating musicals thing. Are you my husband??? Except for Les Miz, he avoids them like the plague.

    I think the vile wealth of NYC is what keeps me away, actually. I’ve spent much of my life living around wealthy folks — but there is no place like NYC for that.

    Still, you get to see some of the best performances in the world. You’ve got that goin’ for you. And you could see fewer performances with better seats … it’s a trade off.

    Or you can buy lottery tickets.

    • Les Miz sucks. They all suck. Except Cabaret and The Book of Mormon, which caused me to wet my pants with laughter.

      NYC isn’t so bad. The super-wealthy mix with the common folk. Go to LA and you’ll never, ever see the rich. They live in separate enclaves where they’re protected from the middle class.

      I go for bulk purchases. Fewer shows wouldn’t work for me. And I *DO* buy lottery tickets. I feel like a big loser for doing it but I buy them, just the same.

      • I buy them too. A dollar a dream is how I look at it!

        I love Les Miz — fabulous story, brilliant music. Love it…. I should have been Fantine (but I was born 25 years too late). I love Cabaret, too. Mostly I love anything with a song in my vocal range (which these days is pretty much the same as Rex Harrison’s)

  2. I think that is unjust & rude that he make that comment. It angers me! In this day & age we are trying to teach our children accept everyone for who they are. Black, white, thin, overweight, rich or poor. Shame on him I hope he breaks a leg & I mean that literally. Don’t make my family feel bad about who they have become!’

  3. Like you, I’m not a fan of musicals, but Cabaret is an exception. The other one I really like is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. I saw that with Donny Osmond years ago in Chicago. So good. I love Alan Cumming and would love to see him in Cabaret. He’s really talented. If you saw him in “The Good Wife” on TV, you’d hardly believe it was the same guy. In that, he plays a straight-laced, uptight, Jewish campaign manager. No hint of his Scottish accent anywhere.

    • I remember that touring company of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with Donny Osmond. He got very good notices, which didn’t surprise me. He’s a showman after all.

      Cumming feigns a German accent in Cabaret. He’s pretty talented. I saw him do a one-man show of Macbeth. He played a few characters. It took place in an insane asylum. The stage was all white tiles and exposed plumbing. As creepy as Cabaret, come to think of it. I detect a theme.

  4. I actually thought you did the multiple pieces on purpose Mark. There is no doubt that there is an apt analogy between a hawk tearing a pigeon apart and the rich tearing us less powerful pigeons apart to get more money. It fits perfectly – the proliferation of power. The hawk would blend well into the VVIP category. And of course, the hawk lives in the most expensive part of New York – in and around Central Park.

    It is important to have enough money to buy food and a home and to take care of your family, but beyond that Mark, you will not find fulfillment or happiness in more money. You have a unique connection to theater that you could not satisfy in virtually any other city in the world, except maybe London. The quality of the performance changes very little based on where you sit – on a scale of 1-10, being able to see the performance at all is about 9.5 and the best seats in the house are about 9.7 on the enjoyment scale.

    I’d say with your girls and health and a home and full time employment (with benefits) and the ability to pursue your desires to partake of the theater, you have a great deal of happiness in your life. I would not be the least surprised if your recent “promotion” to working with the uber-wealthy, is a test- a means of pushing you to see just how “wealthy” you really are in life. Look elsewhere for self-definition Mark – comparing yourself to the uber-wealthy not only generates a large negative force in your life, but really does not take into account their daily lives and how much many of them would kill to have the family, love, and simplicity of your life.(By simplicity i mean that the one thing i have consistently heard from the few rich that I have encountered is that every single thing they do has to be geared aorund money and the growth of it. And they have to be suspicious of every one they meet as many are tryng to get their money from them.)

    Great post Mark – love the pics and it takes a lot of strength to honestly share your life and concerns with us.

    • Paul, you make me sound more clever than I’ll ever be. The metaphor was unintentional but since you point it out, I can clearly see how appropriate it is.

      I have no business complaining about my situation. Truth be told, I consider this more of a rant. I realize how lucky I am. I can pay the bills for our modest lifestyle and I do get to see some pretty interesting things (albeit, from the back). I know what it’s like to be truly broke and it’s nothing to joke about.

      The funny part is that my move at work is not necessarily seen as a promotion by many. Those people in Private Wealth are a major pain in the ass. I am valued for my ability to play well with others and talk a panicked advisor down off the window ledge. Many think I struck the negative jackpot. No matter. I’ll count my blessings every day and twice on Sunday.

      • I’ll tell you a secret Mark. In B-school a great deal of emphasis was put on how to get into the vicinity of those in power. We did all the stuff you woud expect – investing, financials, strategy, derivatives, etc – but the unstated purpose of all this was to get into a position to use the knowledge by finding ways to brush elbows with the powerful and convince them that you were hot shit. Look at your new job not as dealing with pains in the ass (and i know the feeling, having worked for a billionaire), which you will, but rather as having an audience of the powerful to showcase your work. From what I understand you do design – and now you have an audience of people who have the money and desire to hire designers – for real estate development, for corporate PR activities, for presentations to investors (in projects), for major sports teams, for sales initiatives, for special events (i.e. shareholder presentations), for presentations to government, etc. And i can assure you, having watched it at work, those who are super rich are always looking for employees who can make them look good and help them create more wealth. Given that you are good at your job, I have no doubt that you can do that – and as private employers, they will pay much more for quality work than say an investment house will. And investment house makes their money on management fees – a small sliver off the money invested – as opposed to the investors themselves who would be paying you out of the actual money, not a sliver of it. Oh, and when you get approached with a job offer, make sure you set your standards high – you are good at what you do, can make money for your new employer and deserve a big paycheck (with beneifts) to do so because you are the best. They’ll want to negotiate, so make sure you’re comfortable with everything you do well, and maybe even prepare a small presentation of your work that you can use to impress on short notice. And stand strong while still allowing them a little negotiating room – they’ll want to feel like they got a deal.

        Ha! Anyway, you have the audience now Mark – you are in a position to impress the people who have the money.

        Yeah, i sort of got that you were ranting but there’s always a bit of truth in every good rant.

        Happy hunting!

      • Another insightful comment. You’re pretty hot shit yourself, sir. I’ve often felt kind of dirty working in asset management. I work around people who have structured their careers and aspirations around money. They want to work with it, acquire it, help other people acquire it–but they never produce anything tangible themselves. They shuffle money around to other people who are actually manufacturing something. They’re well paid but, in a very real way, they’re lazy. They can’t produce a damn thing themselves. How did I get in with this bunch in the first place? I can assure you there was no grand design. It’s all an accident!

  5. Well, I guess we’re the pigeons… the hawks have their talons in our guts, no doubt. It’s not about our mediocrity, it can’t be. That would make too many people mediocre. We could accept that interpretation, and our place in the world, and we could just move on. Money is wonderful. I wouldn’t turn it down, and I will never have enough. But having more of it through my life has never made me an ounce happier, only more anxious. I wonder how the ultra high net worth folks feel on a routine basis. Would love to meet one… actually, I know a couple. The guy who founded my company is an itinerant alcoholic, chain-smoking malcontent whose family has been in tatters for years. His net worth is something like $300M, I would imagine. He lives in Brazil now, married a prostitute who took him for a few hundred grand and a nice car. Every time I see him, he’s drunk and belligerent and wags his finger in my face. I hate that.

    No, it can’t be about mediocrity. And for every time we think that way about those who have more than us, imagine what the people who don’t have near what we have feel… this is all relative, and money creates a pseudo-objective means of measuring human worth that falls into the category of the ludicrous.

    For all that, I wish I could see a play a week. That would be sweet. My little boy is playing Star Wars Kinect right now. He’s jumping around, flailing all over the place. Makes me laugh. I’m sure I could put his mind to better uses, but we have few choices up here. That’s life. Still a good one.

    • It took you and Paul to make me realize that the two sections of this post have more to do with each other than I had originally intended. I was just adding a fun coda to the tail end. My unintentional brilliance.

      Money is fantastic. And necessary. I just wish I didn’t live around so much of it. This isn’t a recent phenomena. It’s always been like this. Since the first day I moved to NYC. I always thought I catch up but I never did.

      The temptation is to think (hope?) wealthy people are troubled and miserable. A little schadenfreude. I try to stay away from that. It makes you feel better but it’s negative.

      If it weren’t for pfat, pfat discounts, I couldn’t see that many plays. I’m fortunate that I know how to work the ticket system here.

      • I think NYC presents a totally different dynamic than I’m used to. This place is fairly affluent and many of the older principals at work are very well off. They also happen to be douches, for the most part. And seriously screwed up. I worry about becoming like them. Honestly, I think there’s some truth to the thought that rich people can be profoundly unhappy. More of a curiosity to me than a means of making me feel better, though, cause I just figure that if I had tons of money, I would be the happiest person alive. Call me shallow.

        Play the system, I say! And keep sending recaps of what you see. I can hope only to live through you.

      • In a very real way, I think money totally fucks some people up. They can’t handle it. Significant wealth is a lot of pressure for some people. And the children of the wealthy have a whole other set of problems.

      • My old boss used to tell me that he could always smell out the rich people who had started poor, as though there were something lower about them. He was a good guy, but I always remember him saying that, I think he believed it. Well, here’s to money and having more or less enough of it but never really enough at all. I was a better writer when I was very poor, incidentally. That may not say much, but still might be worth saying.

      • I think he meant it was in the way they spent money. As though they were more desperate about keeping it but also more ostentatious. That they just didn’t have the born practice of knowing what loads of money is supposed to mean. That they weren’t doing it right. He meant it in a derogatory sense, but I have yet to see any such difference for myself. Not that I travel in the circles of the elite or anything.

      • I live modestly but comfortably. A vast improvement over how I grew up. I often ask myself how much would be enough. I don’t have an answer. I always seem to need more. Better seats. A better car. Better vacations. The beast always needs to be fed.

  6. Yeah, I saw the metaphor too. MAN, I love wallowing through your issues with you!
    So you’re in the cheap seats. Better than the no-seats, which is the view from where I sit here in the Boonies. I’m jealous of all the shows you see. And frankly, anyone who pays 500 bucks for a theatre seat is an idiot.
    Great post, as always.

    • Yes…cheap seats are better than outside on the sidewalk. That’s for sure. But have you ever lucked out and found yourself in the good seats? I have (once or twice). Holy, moley. It’s a different show up there. You see things you otherwise miss. Nuances. It’s no wonder it costs so much to sit up there.

      Even though I’m three parts envy to one part logic, I’ll have to agree. Spending $500 bucks on a play that HASN’T EVEN BEEN TRIED OUT OUT OF TOWN is stupid. Even if I had it, I wouldn’t do it.

      • By the way, don’t mistake my comment as scolding. I completely get the feelings of socio-economic inadequacy. I just hide it with humour. You’re more honest about it.

      • I don’t consider your comment scolding on any level–joking or otherwise–but once in a while, I need to be slapped down and I count on you guys to deliver the hay maker when I deserve it. I can be quite the complainer at times. So feel free.

  7. Most days, walking NYC streets is the most democratic (small d) activity – hard to tell the haves and have-nots. Then again, I don’t spend too much time on the Upper East Side, apart from Museum Mile. But you really can’t beat NYC for culture, high and low. I’ve found that Audience Extras (audience is one of the best – and cheapest – ways to soak it up. But even though I’m up for treating myself to good seats every once in a while, $425 a ticket is obscene.

    • Hey, you’re new! Welcome. Happy to have you drop by. The check is in the mail.

      That’s the beauty of NYC. We all mix together. You can walk through the Park and bump into genuinely rich people. Celebrities, too, sometimes. Out in places like LA and Miami, economic segregation is the order of the day. To hell with those places.

      I almost fell over when I read your AE. comment. I was an AE member for many, many years. I switched over to Theater Mania Gold. Do you know them? Plus, I’m a member of TDF. That helps A LOT.

      • Glad to be here! I’ll hold my breath for that check. But yes – have done TDF on and off, but will look into Theater Mania. Memberships are easy. I’m sure Jersey’s a fun commute, but I do Bronx to Brooklyn everyday, so time and energy are my biggest obstacles!

    • I’ve treated myself to dinner at Peter Luger’s twice a year for as far back as I can recall. I remember getting off the subway, walking down the stairs and being absolutely terrified of that stretch to Peter Luger’s. Different story now. I do okay but I probably couldn’t afford a decent apartment there now.

      • Hah! That’s the thing with development-led displacement, things are magically ‘better’. Other than trustafarians, people who enjoy living 8 people to a studio apartment, and Wall Streeters who aspire to live lives soundtracked by Domino, no one can afford to live in the ‘Burg.

      • My heroin-strewed Lower East Side neighborhood was all trust fund kids when I left. My neighbor rented her apartment to NYU students who had wealthy parents. They spray-painted her walls (seriously) so she evicted them and their parents wrote a fat check to repair the damage. They’ll spend their whole lives not paying for their misdemeanors.

    • Are they really? I didn’t know. I liked her a lot and I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure it was going to work out with her. But she was the perfect amount of frailty. Her slight frame helped.

      Have you seen any of the hawks? Do you remember when one nested above one of the wealthy upper east side apartments? It was dropping dead carcasses on the entrance. Hilarious.

      • “Dropping dead carcasses on the entrance” – that ccould be hawks, or maybe it’s just another special accommodation for the uber-rich. 🙂

      • One of the residents—a local news anchor—demanded that the nest be removed because it was scaring the hell out of her kids. The tabloids got wind of it and launched a save-the-hawk campaign. A camera was installed so you could go online to watch the eggs hatch.

  8. You’re not kidding about the difference between the cheap seats and big-buck seats for viewing nuance, my friend. Now that I’m regular folk, I’m happy to be in the house for the show at all. That’s my financial reality, and I love the concert scene still.

    Back when I was the critic, the review seats would be all over the place. Some shows I’d get great, great seats. Bruce Springsteen’s solo acoustic tour, Mark Knopfler’s theater tour, I was given review seats front and center. I could see the fingers on the guitar strings, feel the heat off their faces, get hit by sweat beads as they shook their heads, for goodness sakes. On the flip side, some shows — I recall Kid Rock and Motley Crue at the NY State Fair Grandstand as two instances — they put me in the next-to-last-row of the whole place, thousands of feet from the stage, needing my binoculars to see the video screens. Which concerts do you think were likely to get a better review from me? Which artists and venues had smarter people handing out media tickets? I’d go home from those shows saying WTF?! Just adding to your rant of the day.

    Finally, I doubt that you did not see the parallel between Central Park and symphony. You’re more hawk than pigeon, streetsmart-wise.

    • This reminds me of the time I was given a courtesy upgrade to first-class on a flight. It’s the worst thing that ever happened to me. Now I know the difference. It’s not subtle! It’s a different world up there.

      I ALWAYS bring binoculars to the theater. They’re a small, inconspicuous pair. You need them to see The actors’ faces. Their eyes. All the performances are up close. That’s why those seats cost as much as they do.

      • Incidentally, I’m going to have to be painfully honest here and say I really didn’t see the parallel between the two sections of my post until it was pointed out to me. Perhaps it was subconscious.

  9. I find musicals so-so, although I think Cabaret is in a different category all its own. You may not get the primo seats, but at least you get to see these shows. You see a lot of stuff. The difference is you’re surrounded by the wealthy and see what they have, so it’s a constant reminder what your life could be. The gap is only getting bigger between the rich and poor, which is why they probably need those different distinctions and extra letters. The disparity stats are incredible and sad. But you are even surrounded by wild life with hawks! That is cool. I bet you’re just way more happier than all those rich people. 🙂 But yeah, I wouldn’t pass it up. $825 for a pair of tickets. I can’t even begin to imagine what that’s all about, and I’m sure that’s nothing! Great post. I pinned your hawk pic. I hope you don’t mind!

    • It occasionally gives me the blues but I’d rather be exposed to that stuff and moan about my terrible seats than not see it at all. But having a blog gives me license to complain. I’ll try to get a handle on it but don’t expect that to stop completely.

      The wealth disparity stats make my head spin. We’re like the Roman Empire right before it fell.

  10. $425 for a theater ticket? Holy crap, I’ve actually spent less money on a week-long vacation! (it was about 15 years ago, in Canada, and with 5 people crammed in a small sedan, and staying mostly in hostels, but still, my expenses were around $300 back then).
    Cabaret was the one of the few musicals I’ve seen, except the one I saw was with Molly Ringwald and Sam Mendes (of American Beauty) as the director.

    • Your vacation was a week and this stupid show will only last about two hours. And nobody has seen it yet! It could be awful. They’re all buying on faith. You know how that usually turns out.

      This production of Cabaret is a revival of the same Sam Mendes production that you saw. They did a lot of “stunt” casting back in ’93. At one point, Neil Patrick Harris played the MC after Alan Cumming left!

      • I’m sure that New York has thousands of people who make money faster than they can spend it, and $850 is just pocket change to these people. I’m sure if that show offered you front row seats for $5, you’d buy on faith, too.
        I’m not sure how this revival thing works – are you saying that it’s only a revival when they bring back a show with same cast, set, and the way it was directed?
        I looked up that Cabaret production, and the MC was played by somebody whose name means nothing to me.

      • I have a wealthy friend and he tells me the exact same thing you just did. The amounts they spend on high-priced seats are irrelevant to them. Your $5 analogy is spot-on.

        There are only two classifications of productions: premiers and revivals. Anytime a play is brought back to production it’s a revival, regardless of cast. In fact, it’s astonishingly rare to have original members come back and do the same play. The only example I can think of this morning is Carol Channing, who did Hello, Dolly over and over and OVER again. Shakespeare plays are, for all intents and purposes, revivals.

  11. I had wanted to interject a comment in the thread between you and Trent about being born poor and becoming rich, et ceteraaa, et ceteraaaa, et ceteraaaa (to quote one of my fav musical characters)…what do you boys think of those who are born poor (moi), become, if not rich in the 1 percent range, but what one would call ‘well to do’ (la tee da) and then in a blink of an eye and change of an administration (not exactly but it didn’t help), this born poor, having worked to a very comfortable circumstance, family…finds itself back to living paycheck to paycheck and wondering if this month we pay the mortgage or buy food…much less, buy theater tickets? Life is a funny thing. Some in our position would begrudge those who can, regret we no longer can…but I don’t. The worst any can do in ANY circumstance, is judge another based on theirs…for we know not how, or why, or why not. I find I am thankful for so many things…and I still allow myself to wish things were different. But they are not and I’m okay with that. I’m just glad there ARE those who can afford the theater…because what that means is the theater lives on…and one day I just might be able to afford tickets. I would be much more upset if I could afford tickets and there were no longer theater, than I am knowing the theater is there and I can’t afford it. Does this make any sense?

    • As I was saying before I inadvertently hit Post Comment…that’s fascinating. It’s like that old argument, is it better to have loved and lost or to have never loved at all? Depends on your pain tolerance, I suppose and desire for punishment. Is it better to have lived the high life and lost it? Is it something you pine for or do you see it as fool’s gold and not where happiness lies? (Although, living paycheck to paycheck is no one’s idea of a good time.) Have you blogged about it? I got a lot of grief when I tried to click over to your blog but I think I’ve got it all sorted out now. Bloody technology.

      The name of the musical you quoted is on the tip of my tongue but I can’t quite grasp it.

      • Sweet and Tender Hooligan by the Smiths, it’s a Morrissey reference and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who knows more about that band than moi.

      • I’m not sure what kono was referring to, but to answer your question…it was Yule Brenner I had in mind, from The King and I. 🙂
        And no, I haven’t blogged about it, but it’s not a bad idea as I suspect I am in good company when it comes to changes in it from job loss, health issues, relocation of job and home…whatever the reason, there are a lot of us in the same boat.
        I do think it’s better than to have loved and lost…which you’ve quite astutely shown to be a great analogy for having lived on high to being brought back to earth as it were. I do hope you’ve got the kink sorted that prevented you from visiting…I would hate you to think me inhospitable!

      • The King and I!!!! Of course! Oddly enough, I saw Yul Brenner in that show the last time the touring company came through Cleveland. God, how long ago was THAT?!

        I can’t think of s more fascinating blog topic that dramatic swings of fortune. The arc of the story is sure-fire. Type it.

  12. I do love a musical myself, but please don’t hold that against me.

    As has been commented, you choose to expose yourself to lots of plays, average one a week you say? Or you could go once every two months and have the best seats (I haven’t done the math, that’s a wild guess), it’s a choice you make. Hold your head up high.

    By the way, one the tutors on my MA course last year, has travelled extensively on behalf of the uni, to some of the poorest parts of the world, and she said that some of the worst poverty she ever saw was in parts of NYC. I guess it’s a city of extremes. Vegas was like that too, in concept, but obviously displayed very differently.

    • Oh, I don’t hold it against you, dear! You know be better than that. It’s not for me, is all.

      I’ve always said that if you live in or near NYC and don’t take advantages of all the stuff available, you’re wasting your time and killing an opportunity. Otherwise, it’s just putting up with the expense and compromised living conditions and crowds and dirt, etc. etc. And if you don’t exposure your kids to this stuff you’re a negligent parent.

      I picture Vegas having pockets of extreme poverty but I never got off the strip long enough to prove my theory. Atlantic City is much the same. Walk the boardwalk and visit the casinos and you’ll have fun. Walk a few blocks off the boardwalk and you’re in the third world.

  13. Mark, for Pete’s sake, there is no shame in being mediocre. Ninety- nine percent of the world is mediocre. I, can not, address all that wrote but you are fortunate to have moved up in the job market. Just do not let the super rich’s way of life rub off on you. Those people are not that damn happy. They live a superficial life. My mother used to say “all that glitters is not gold” and believe me she was so right.

    You can compare the rich’s life to that of the hawk and the lowly pigeon. I saw that one commenter already made the comparison. That person’s assessment/analogy is on the money.

    Great post. Profund and provides some insight.

    • I’m not necessarily ashamed of my mediocrity, I’m just jealous of those who are not. Believe me…if I was ashamed I sure as hell wouldn’t have blogged about it. I disagree that they’re not happy. Some of them are VERY happy! Enviably happy. I’m not saying that because of money or because they have the wherewithal to purchase top seats. But that certainly doesn’t hurt matters.

      I saw your post about the ginger cat–lovely–but I didn’t see a comment section. Did you disable it?

      • Well, yes I suppose most wealthy folks are super happy But I’ve seen some that are total SOBs ore bi—-s and I and don’t think that sort of person is happy. They look down their noses at poorer poeple. But enough of what I think.

        No, I did not disable comments. I have checked the settings over and over. For some reason my blog has a mind of its own. Or, it is WP that is amiss.. This has happened before and I’ve no idea how to remedy the problem.

        I know that you like cats. You had written that you had wanted a cat but that you were out voted by the women in your family. Now you have a dog from hell that does not like you. 🙂 I hope that at some point you can get a cat. If by chance, you want to comment go to the ABOUT category (somwhere in the cloud, at the top of my blog) or all the way to the bottom and add or take aways your two cents. 🙂


  14. I would conservatively estimate that 90% of the world’s population are poorer than you, but I guess that doesn’t mean anything if the tiny number of WIPs are in your face! Totally agree with you about musicals – it seems so damn silly to burst into song during a drama. The lucky animals are the ones who can survive in human habitats – the future isn’t rosy the ones who can’t.

    • I agree with your assessment about the 90%. That sound accurate. I don’t mean to imply that I’m not grateful for how I live. I’m lucky. But why do I have to be surrounded by the 10% who are living the high life?! It gets old. it wears me down and I lose perspective.

  15. lazy person stops by briefly to thank you for a wonderful post.
    i agree with paul on most counts.
    and coincidentally have to run off to the mall. the shampoo ain’t gonna sell itself.
    cheap seats suck.

    • That Paul really knows how to hit the head of the nail, doesn’t he? Thanks for stopping by to comment. I know how painful it is for you, lazy bones.

      Do you know about drugstore dot com? Never visit the shampoo mall again.

    • It’s such a stupid idea–such a silly classification–that I thought people would think it was a credibility check. Do you really believe something like this can exist? When does it become a Very, Very, Very, Oh, so Very Important Person?

  16. Am i the only one who finds it odd that the VVIP who can afford to drop $25K as a charitable donation ALSO get a 10% discount at the restaurant? Fuck that shit.

    i understand this – all of this. And the inequality is constantly thrown in your face when you have to WORK with it every day. i find it healthier to cast my eyes in the other direction… “There will be poor always, pathetically struggling… Look at the good things you’ve got!”

    Oh, and that’s a quote from “Jesus Christ Superstar”. So there… 🙂

    • Daisy, you are friggin’ hilarious. Why didn’t I see the absurdity of that? 10% off their bill wouldn’t mean squat to them.

      My occasional glances at what’s behind me keeps me grounded. If all did was wallow in what other people have, I’d have lost my mind king ago. But it still bugs me once in a while.

      JCSS was in heavy rotation when I was a kid. That and Neil Diamond’s Moods. I’m surprised I didn’t recognize it.

  17. The big difference between the economics of theatre going in the US compared to over here is that we’ve historically thought that the arts are deserving of public money, whereas the approach in the US is more to seek out rich private benefactors. Our present goverment will be cutting 20% from the arts budget next financial year, as they’d love to make the UK more like the US in every way — privatised health care, private prisons, and an arts budget of about £500.

    • They go after arts funding here as well. Those funds represent a very, very small part of the overall budget but it’s an easy target so they attack it, cowards that they are.

      The London theater scene is more robust. Not only do they take more chances, but their season is year-round. For the most part, the productions here open here in the spring and fall. The NY Times sends its critics out there in the off season to review shows because it’s dead here.

  18. I can totally relate to this post (except that LOVE musicals – especially Cabaret because it was my first introduction to gay boys). My inadequacy isn’t marked by theatre seating, it’s marked by neighborhood social status. There’s always a part of me that wilts a little when I’m volunteering at the school (once a quarter) and see so many stay-at-home moms carrying $3,000 purses, driving $80,000 cars and wearing diamond rings as big as human eyeballs. They’re the ladies who have the time and resources to make their children sandwiches in the shape of flowers, do yoga 37 times a week, and get facials every other day. I don’t envy their life – I like contributing in the outside world and being independent – but it still makes me feel poor and inadequate for a minute. Putting myself in your shoes, if I was the butt of a joke about working moms, it would cut me to the bone in the same way the seating cut you. Up side. You can afford to buy tickets to the theatre. That’s more than a large percentage of NYC’s population can say. Remember the 1%ers are just that: 1%….Great post, Mark. I always appreciate how open and honest you are – it inspires others to share their own vulnerabilities. Good on you, sir.

    • Some of the boys in Cabaret are gay?! Are you sure?

      I don’t feel inadequate about my feeling…ummm…inadequate. I think it’s a logical response to the stimuli that surrounds us. It’s our responsibility—especially as parents—to not let it get the best of us. If I stopped attending theater or you stopped volunteering because being surrounded by all that conspicuous wealth bothered us too much, it’d be a real deep problem. Fortunately our psyches aren’t that blown-up.

      It’s nice to se you, Molly. Loved your last post. Hope you’re back in the game to stay.

      • Hahaha yes they were fantastic drag queens! And I totally agree – I politely acknowledge my observations of the mansions and SAH moms in my neighborhood and then I keep it moving. They’re probably not as happy as I am, and I’m pretty sure I’m funnier, too, so there. Not that it’s a competition haha. Thanks for welcoming me back. I’m glad to be back : )

  19. I’m the complete opposite. Plays never seem to hold my attention, and I prefer the fantasy world of musicals to the gritty emotion of plays (and movies, for that matter). Strangely enough, I’ve listened to the soundtrack of Cabaret (I used to check out the CD from the library) but haven’t seen the production. Book of Mormon was way funnier than I thought it would be and actually lived up to the hype.

    We don’t go to the theater that often, but when we do, we usually splurge on mid-range seats. Something orchestra level, but a little further back. I’d rather see fewer productions with better seats, but that’s because I’m not a connoisseur and don’t live in a major theatre town.

    I hate pigeons. Have you ever been to Venice? If it were up to me, I’d import hawks by the dozen and cheer every time they ate one of those rats with wings.

    • Book of Mormon is a killer, isn’t it? but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Some of it is astonishingly vulgar. My mother and father-in-law wouldn’t last through the overture. Which version of Cabaret did you listen to? Do you remember?

      I can’t stress enough how different it is to sit close. It’s a superior experience, hence the premium on tickets. It’s critical to see the actors face, especially in things like The Elephant Man. That’s kind of stating the obvious, I suppose.

      Poor pigeons. Everyone hates them. You know it you never see? A young pigeon. They all look to be the exact same age.

  20. I saw Book of Mormon in DC (the Kennedy Center) with my husband and a few of our friends. As a group in our mid-twenties, we were some of the youngest people there, which was surprising to me. I guess that’s just the demographic of the Kennedy Center. When it came to Orlando my mom asked me if I thought she and my dad would enjoy it. I told her probably not, but to listen to a few songs from the soundtrack. They opted not to go.

    I think it was the film version, with Liza Minnelli. I was young (10 or so, I think) and I’m not sure why my parents let me listen to a soundtrack with so many sexual innuendos. They must have been hoping to further my appreciation of the arts. Or they just figured I couldn’t get into much trouble by listening to musicals.

  21. I love Cabaret! I hear what you are saying about the seats though, and feeling like a second class citizen… so, I only go to such things as a real treat… and I save up for the best seats I can afford. I might make my seating companions feel uncomfortable though, as soon as I strangle a few vowels. Worth every penny.

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