Death! Destruction! Pestilence! Some light summer reading.

From the publishers:

Fourteen-year-old Doug Swieteck faces…an abusive father, a brother traumatized by Vietnam, suspicious teachers, police officers and isolation.

When a school bus accident leaves sixteen-year-old Jessica an amputee…

Ten concentration camps. Ten different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly. …it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.

Fifteen-year-old Lina, her mother and brother are pulled from their Lithuanian home by Soviet guards and sent to Siberia, where her father is sentenced to death in a prison camp.

Jack Baker…is suddenly uprooted after his mother’s death and placed in a boy’s boarding school in Maine. [Maine!]

…sixteen-year-old Miranda describes her family’s struggle to survive after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Will is one of only a few people who is able to see the growing number of corpses invading his town…[he] is suddenly in the middle of a war between the living and the dead.

In a dark future, when North America has split into two warring nations… [Punk-ass bitch Canadians.]

A group of fourteen-year-old boys who make a living picking garbage from the outskirts of a large city find something…that brings terrifying consequences.

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight…she is forced to work as the King’s thug.

No, these are not future episodes of The Walking Dead. Believe it or not, the preceding plot summaries were culled from my 8th grade daughter’s summer reading list. Tales of dystopian societies, death, abandonment, war and despair. Is the Board of Education out to wreck their summer? I blame The Hunger Games. It spawned a slew of imitators (as success is prone to do).

I’m a bit peeved about this. I read the one about the meteor hitting the moon and it wasn’t pleasant. Am I being a big baby?

A sprig of premium catnip is placed before a sleeping, unsuspecting Stinky. He suddenly awakens!


Oh, rapture! Oh, joy! A narcotic-induced smile.


The end result is always the same: the junkie nod.


The summer outdoor art installation season got off to a creaky start with Teresita Fernández’s Fata Morgana at Madison Square Park. The six-section canopy sculpture of mirror-polished disks are mounted on supports over the winding walkways.fata5fata7There are some interesting angles when you’re underneath…



…but upon approach, it looks about as artistically fetching as scaffolding around a construction site.


The light and shapes can say something, but only from very specific angles.


People are complaining that the sculptures are blocking sunlight to the walkways—which is true—but I’m willing to accept the temporary sacrifice for art’s sake.


Here are two past Madison Square Park exhibits that dazzled from all angles:

Orly Genger constructed walls of colored rope in Red, Yellow and Blue.

My fave, Antony Gormley’s Event Horizon, was a series of life-sized statues of the artist strategically placed on roofs and ledges surrounding the park.

Do you know what I liked better? These.


A girl was selling these on a table on 42nd Street near 6th Avenue. Her medium is spray paint.


I asked her if I could photograph these and she told me to go right ahead. Afterwards, I noticed a donation can and I threw two bucks in. I wish I’d have asked her how much they cost.


I think they all have merit but you know which one is the best, don’t you? That one of Harley Quinn. Look at that sharply-defined mask against the rest of the chaos. Fantastic. I’d love to see what she could do with Batman.

I know I’ve posted far too many photos of the Flatiron Building, but I was passing by late in the evening and the light was hitting it just right. If you’ll indulge me these last two, I promise not to post any more. iPhone cameras are the best. Who needs an SLR anymore?



Opening a new bottle of wine for us.

Every journal entry I’ve posted is from the same black binder. It contained such a rich vein of material that I couldn’t imagine any of the other binders being as fruitful. Just for fun I cracked open another binder. First time I’ve done it in a couple of years. I didn’t need go to any further than page 1 to find something interesting.


October 29, 1994

The girl in apartment 5A was raped in the elevator. I didn’t believe it at first because the news came from the angry, militant lesbians on the 3rd floor. They’re malcontents who are always spoiling for a fight—any fight—so their credibility is suspect. But Cathy confirmed it so it must be so. There was another girl in the elevator with her at the time but she didn’t do anything to help. She couldn’t. She was catatonic with fear. I don’t know what I would’ve done. Probably try to stop it and had my throat slit. I don’t think I could’ve just stood there.

This neighborhood makes me sick. I hate the people. I hate junkies. If my family knew I wasn’t immediately planning a relocation after someone was raped in the elevator they’d think there was something was wrong with me. Maybe there is. I’d move back to Brooklyn tomorrow if I could but I can’t. I’m broke. I’m economically trapped in this beautiful apartment. My golden cage. Where else am I going to get a 900 sq. ft. two-bedroom flat for $550/month? Back in Cleveland, I suppose, but that’s out of the question, too. I asked Cathy and Hilly how they could still live here after someone was raped and Cathy said, “I love my apartment too much to leave it. That’s just part of living in the City.” But she’s wrong. That’s the worst part of New York.

I can hear those sons-of-bitches yelling down in the streets right now. I hate Latino music. It’s obnoxious, dull, repetitious and LOUD. I look across the way at the high-rise projects off in the distance and every single window is glowing blue. A city of zombies parked in front of their TVs all fucking night.

November 15, 1994

I didn’t tell everyone it was my last day of work because I didn’t want a fuss. I bumped into Amy in the elevator and we both wished each other good luck, knowing full well we’d never see each other again. I like her a lot but I’m not ambitious enough for her. I didn’t want to tell Mary because she’s partially deaf and when she gets excited SHE SHOUTS. Then, everyone would know.

Bob knew it was my last day. I like Bob but he’s too gay. I don’t like when men put their hands on me in an affectionate manner without being invited to do so. In fact, I don’t like it even if there aren’t any sexual overtones. It’d be great if I felt like experimenting—I’d be busy every weekend—but it’s just not my thing. I like girls. A lot. If he wants to get a drink once in a while or see a play, that’s fine. Whatever. But I’m glad he’s no longer a part of my daily existence. He invades my space. [Note: He and I became good friends. He was in my wedding party.]

I got crappy balcony, obstructed view seats to see Pina Bausch at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I asked Ann to go. She was invited to go on opening night with the German Consulate but she couldn’t make it. They wanted to send a car at 5:30 and she won’t close the gallery until 6:00, so she went with me instead. I saw Bauch’s Palermo, Palermo about a year ago at BAM and it was one of the most interesting nights I’ve ever spent in the theater. This piece, Two Cigarettes in the Dark was a pretty dull affair.

I was walking home from the subway and bumped into a really pretty Chinese girl. Not hard. We kind of walked right into each other. It was both our faults. But our bodies made complete contact with one another, touching from head to toe ever so softly. Like a gentle embrace. Afterwards, I couldn’t remember the last time a woman held her body against mine like that. It reminded me of what it feels like and I was sad the rest of the night. I got home and was petting the cats and they leaned hard into my hand.

Cathy and I saw a jazz combo at Sweet Basil’s last Friday. I thought it was going to be dull but it wasn’t. It was fantastic. We sat right under the band’s noses. I love being so close that I can see the piano player’s fingers glide across the keyboard. We were on the Blue Note Records guest list. Our cover and drinks were paid for. When it came time to pay, everyone around us started fumbling for their wallets and purses. All I had to do was sign the bill and hand it back. Everyone was looking at me like I was somebody. Little did they know I’m nobody. Lots of Japanese tourists. The Eurotrash maître d’ treated me like shit but that’s fine.

The new Big Audio Dynamite album is terrific. Ditto the new Bryan Ferry. Ferry’s in town next week for a show and is doing a CD-signing at Tower Records. I might go. I like him.

The way is clear
The light is good
I have no fear
Nor no one should.

Into the woods
Without delay
But careful not
To lose the way.


Into the woods
Who knows what may
Be lurking on the journey?

Into the woods
To get the thing
That makes it worth
The journeying.

First the knife, then sweet perfume

I was enjoying my morning coffee in Bryant Park. It’s the best part of my day. I sit and read a book or the newspaper. Sometimes, I stare off into space or watch the leaves flashing in the sun. I watch the city awake from its slumber. It slowly, quietly, unfolds itself like a beautiful flower. After that, it’s one unpleasant episode after another until 5:00. It’s my daily dose of Zen.


The other morning, unbeknownst to me, I sat near an outlet. A thoughtless prig decided he needed to charge his cell phone. Instead of sitting quietly in my meditative bliss, I was treated to this:

No ‘excuse me, do you mind if I sit here?’ Not a word. I was treated to his theories on the merits of feeding his cat dry food vs. wet food. I wanted to pick up my chair and bash him over his head with it but the thought of explaining why I was in jail to my daughters (not to mention my mother-in-law) stayed my hand. I seethed with a mad hatred that was disproportionate to the offense. Zen Archer fail.

I walked to my office, sat at my desk and soon thereafter, the baby gorilla with the insatiable appetite who torments me arrived with this:

iced coffee

Why have just one iced coffee when you can have as many as you’re able to pour down your gullet in an 8-hour day? They’re free. He makes two at a time because he doesn’t want to have to get out of his chair and walk to the kitchen when he finishes the first one. The morning feeding consisted of:

1 smelly omelet
1 large oatmeal
3 apples
1 peach
1 pear
1 banana
1 raspberry yogurt

This was me by 9:30.


My Bride and Daughters saw Taylor Swift at Giants Stadium. I paid $460 for three tickets plus $91 for two Taylor Nation gift bags that contained TS logo t-shirts and tchotchkes. That “S” in the logo should be “$”. That’s an extraordinary sum of money for me to spend. I’m just regular. I was steamed because you’d think that for $460, you’d be sitting in decent seats. The decent seats are $460 EACH. Why, Taylor? Why? Most of the men’s lavatories were converted to women’s restrooms. [Clever.]

Then I got the concert report from My Bride.

The stadium was packed with every 10-17 year-old girl in New Jersey. Girls in that demographic are constantly bombarded with negative body-type images that stick for life. That stage is hard enough to navigate without social media and the entertainment industry pointing out all your faults and inadequacies.

My Bride said that Ms. Swift made all those young girls feel better about themselves. It was an old fashioned tent revival for their souls. The songs were affirmations of girl empowerment. Her message is: Don’t take crap from anyone–ESPECIALLY men. At one point, she spoke to each young girl, telling them to [I’m paraphrasing] go home tonight, look in the mirror and say, “I’m beautiful,” because THAT’S WHAT YOU ARE. 60,000 smiling, laughing faces.

Low self-esteem and self-loathing didn’t stand a chance. Shake it off, indeed. I love Taylor Swift.

Everyone who entered the stadium was given a rubber wrist band that had an LED light inside. Kids played with them but when the concert started they took on a life of their own. They obeyed the music.

[Caveat: My Bride is a Cracker Jack wife and mother, but her photography and videography skills need improvement. Hang in there for all :27 seconds.]

This went on all night. Complicated sequences mirrored the beats. At one point, every bracelet glowed the same shade of red. The stadium was a sea of bright roses. If I’d know about this I would’ve gone. [And snuck off to smoke a big fatty.]

There you have it, bitches. The best and worst of humanity, all within 48 hours.

Answering Machine Follies b/w Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who?

b/w [abbreviation]  1. (music) “backed with.” Commonly used with 45 and 78 RPM records, referring to the flip side (also called the “B-side”) of a record.

Here’s a brief journal entry plus a B-side. As always, I make no apologies for my boorish behavior.


November 5, 1992

I love when I come home and the little red light on the answering machine is going *blink* *blink* *blink.* It validates me.

The first message was from Joann, the blind date from two weeks ago. I never expected to hear from her. While on our date, she never made eye contact with me. She’d look over my head, past my left shoulder, past my right, but never directly at me. It was disconcerting. She has a pair of tickets to Mamet’s new play, Oleanna and wants to know if I’ll go. The tix are for over Thanksgiving and I’ll be in Cleveland. I’ve already seen it but the guy who plays the accused professor is so good that I’d gladly go again. [Note: That was William H. Macy.] I left a message on her machine that I’d be out of town. I was kind of glad I didn’t actually have to talk to her.

What does this mean? Does she want to be friends or what? I asked Oswaldo and he started laughing at me. Then he said he has someone he wants to introduce me to. So does Uncle Frank. Everyone is looking out for me but I’m perfectly content being by myself. I’m not the least bit lonely.

The next message was from Margaret. She left a message at work, too, but I didn’t return it because she aggravates me. Last night, she said there must be something wrong with me because I’m [redacted] years old and not married yet. We ended up yelling at each other. I can’t understand why she keeps calling. I don’t do anything to encourage her. All she does insult me. But she sure is pretty. [Note: In an uncharacteristic fit of towering self-respect, I finally saw past her beauty and told her to fuck off.]

She spends almost every night visiting her mom in the hospital. Also, she’s seeing someone who doesn’t make her happy. He lives too close and demands all of her free time. He’s jealous and insecure. She called him a black hole. She said he’s attractive and energetic and doesn’t understand why he just doesn’t go find someone else. That’s almost verbatim what Karen says about her boyfriend! Except the part about the black hole. Karen isn’t smart enough to know what a black hole is.

The next message was from Bonnie. She’s moving offices and asked if I could help with the heavy lifting. I called her back immediately and said I’d be there whenever she needed me. She said she’d pay me but I told her it wasn’t necessary. I asked if it’d be okay if I ravaged her on top of her new desk. She laughed and said, “I suppose so.”

The last message was from Howard. His sister was in a horrific auto accident. She broke several bones including her pelvis and pubic bone. He said it was her fault. She drove into oncoming traffic or something like that. They had to use the jaws of life to peel her out. Apparently, it’s been really hard on their mom. Her husband was coming home from work and drove past the accident. When he got close enough, he recognized the car. Or, what was left of it. I’ll bet she was glad to see him.

What’s your policy on posting photos of yourself? Some bloggers, in an effort to build brand recognition, use a portrait on their landing page and populate their posts with pics of themselves making wacky, exaggerated facial grimaces. Other bloggers have never—not once—posted a photo, allowing their words speak for themselves.

I occupy a middle ground. If I post a photo of The Daughters, it’s usually from the back. This is an open forum and I feel some discretion is in order. The exception is on my birthday, which is today. I allow one full-frontal shot every July 8th. Any dime store psychologist will tell you that this is yet another sad cry for attention. But isn’t that the very definition of blogging? An ongoing cry for attention?

Me + Daughter #2.

“Dad, I like doing this…” (Traces her finger inside her ear.) “It’s like a maze.”


I can’t believe I’m as old as I am (don’t ask) and have kids this young. Well, not THIS young. This is from a few years ago. Still. The guys I grew up with have kids out of college. I traveled a different path to the waterfall. And it’s a damn good thing I did. If I’d had children in my 20’s it would’ve crashed and burned. I just wasn’t ready. I was perfectly content being by myself. I wasn’t the least bit lonely.

A horse is a horse of course. Unless it’s an art installation.

Here’s a peculiar one. You’re going to have to dramatically expand your definition of what constitutes art. Or, call bullshit if you see bullshit.

I took a long lunch, hopped the subway down to Houston St. and visited Jannis Kounellis’s Untitled (12 Horses) at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise gallery in Greenwich Village. It’s a living installation that’s consists of 12 horses tethered to the wall in the gallery’s big space.


It was first executed in Rome in 1969 and has since (in certain small circles) achieved legendary status. It’s been staged five times in Europe. Having it staged here in New York is considered a major coup. Kounellis flew in from Italy to oversee the installation.


The horses didn’t actually do anything other than be horses. They stood there eating hay and relieving themselves at will. There were three grooms in attendance to see to the horse’s comfort and needs and to keep the gallery clean. The gallery floor was outfitted with a rubber mat to protect their hoofs.


A reviewer in The New York Times gushed that the exhibit was “…an unforgettable New York art world moment” and said it had a calming influence on her. The review generated so much buzz that lines formed. It was sunny and hot. The gallery was gracious enough to provide umbrellas and free bottles of water to people waiting outside.


Only 10 people were allowed in at a time so as not to rattle the horses (I suppose).


Outside the contemporary art world, this is commonly referred to as a “barn.” I’ve been in barns at the race track and county fair and aside from a curator surveying the scene, it’s no different. So, I ask you, is turning an art gallery into a barn an unforgettable moment in contemporary art, as The New York Times insisted, or is it horseshit?


Simultaneously, just outside Untitled (12 Horses) in a smaller gallery, artist Rirkrit Tiravanija staged one of his food installations. His exhibits often involve cooking and sharing meals. He considers it the art of bringing people together. In this piece, he provided free pork tacos to visitors. After viewing the horses, people would queue up buffet style.



A hole was cut in the gallery floor and the pork was cooked under a mound of earth. Please don’t ask me how this was accomplished. I haven’t a clue.


Picnic tables were placed around the perimeter of the gallery. There was no limit on how long you could stay, nor how much food you could eat. People seemed genuinely respectful and didn’t make pigs of themselves or overstay their welcome. Having a fairly dark view of the human condition, I was pleasantly surprised.


I was also surprised there weren’t any vagrants about. Perhaps they hadn’t read the Times yet. I remember when I lived in the city and would attend gallery openings, the homeless would always descend for the free wine. They are part of the fabric of New York gallery openings. Hey! That could be an installation! Wealthy white art patrons can stand around the perimeter of a gallery and watch street urchins drink free wine. I’ll call it “Like Moths to the Flame.” The title it apt for both audience and subjects.

Two posts ago I complained about a gigantic new consultant at work who is making my life difficult with his incessant eating. Trying to concentrate on the tasks at hand is a challenge when the soundtrack of my day is the smacking, chawing, gulping and gnashing of food that goes on just a few feet away, not to mention his heavy, labored wheezing. Every exhale sounds like it could be his last.

In addition to stuffing is piehole with food, another one of his great pleasures in life is using a pen cap to dig the earwax out of his ear while he talks on the phone. Sitting next to him makes me feel like a complete failure. Press play. You must!

He missed a day of work because of a plumbing mishap back home. His bathroom flooded. I felt a (very brief) sympathetic pang when I heard what caused the flood. His girlfriend tried to flush his junk food down the toilet and it backed up. He said, “That wasn’t the first time she did that.”

Is there any doubt that we live in a MAN’S WORLD? How does this guy have a girlfriend? It appears that his food addiction is nothing to joke about. I’d probably feel sorry for him if I didn’t have to sit in such close proximity.

The new rage at New Jersey diners:


Grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with mac-n-cheese. Gross. A friend of mine ordered this. I have low standards, especially when it comes to food, but I couldn’t choke this down if I tried.