Oops!… I Did It Again b/w Money, Honey

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.

Oops!… I Did It Again

I had another round of Mohs surgery to have a spot of Basal cell carcinoma removed. This is my third time under the knife. The first two times it was high on my forehead but this time it was right above my eyebrow, so I got a bit of a shiner. I have to go back after the New Year for more of the same.

I wish I could step into the way-back machine and talk to my younger self. I’d say, “Listen, stupid. Put some sunscreen on and reapply it every few hours. Wear a hat. And go to college.” I was trying to think of something positive that came out of this and the only thing I could come up with was that The Daughters are learning a valuable lesson from their vain old man. Let that be a lesson to you, too. Do you want to walk around looking like this? People stare.

bruise

Money, Honey

Every so often, a play will open on Broadway that’ll become an event that’s bigger than the play itself. The New York Times and New York magazine will deem it a living miracle and the culture lemmings—many of whom don’t actually give a damn about theater—all line up for tickets, which artificially inflates the price and renders the show unaffordable for the plebeians. It happened with Rent and The Book of Mormon.

Hamilton is such a show. Tickets are being sold into next summer. No joke. It’s an impossible ticket. You simply cannot see it any sooner than that. Unless…

A senior executive from the California office was visiting. I asked if he was doing anything fun while in town. He said he saw Hamilton last night and enjoyed it.

Two weeks prior to that, I was talking to a visiting board member. He said he came in on Friday with his wife to spend the weekend in the city. I asked if he did anything fun. He said he saw Saturday Night Live.

“How did you get tickets to SNL if you just got into town the day before?”

“I have a guy.”

“Ah. A guy. How much, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“$1,250 each.”

That’s how life is for the well-heeled. They click their fingers and things appear. I used to prepare marketing material for the Private Wealth division of a major investment bank. I’d always known about High Net Worth clients, but that assignment introduced me to Ultra High Net Worth clients. It gave me a new benchmark for my own mediocrity.

I didn’t grow up in abject poverty. There was always food on the table and a roof over my head, but not much else. When you grow up quasi-poor, no matter how well you end up doing for yourself and your family, inside your head, you’re still poor. These constant, nagging episodes don’t help matters.

I’ve seen what wealth can do up close. It goes beyond hard-to-obtain show tickets. Ultra High Net Worth clients never go to a hospital emergency room. They have a team of private doctors and specialists on-call. I’ve also seen what it’s like to be broke. It drove my father away. I am a lethal cocktail of envy and resentment.


I’m a bit of a social lefty, so I was shocked (shocked!) at my reaction to the attacks in Paris. My knee-jerk solution was to detonate a thermonuclear device over Syria. I doubt that’d eradicate the problem entirely because filth and roaches can survive being radiated, but I’ll bet that’d slow them down a bit and show them we mean business. My bride and I lived about a mile from the World Trade Center when it came down and it took me back to that week. Vive la France.


Central Park Autumn

cantral park 2

Well here I am Lord, knocking on Your back door
Ain’t it wonderful to be, where I’ve always wanted to be
For the first time I’ll be free here in New York City

Harry Nilsson

central park 1

68 thoughts on “Oops!… I Did It Again b/w Money, Honey

  1. I’m thinking a button is in order: “You should see the other guy!”

    I think we had the same childhood. Edge of poverty surrounded by wealth. But we have soul.

    Beautiful pictures.

      • No — but I’m glad you whooped the cancer cells (I did too! I have a scar along my right cheek). I meant you can pretend that you got the black eye in a fight…

        Cash would be lovely. But you can’t take it with you amirite??????? 😉

  2. That’s quite a shiner. Ouch. I bet if you were of the ultra high net worth group, your surgeon could have done something differently to avoid that. 🙂

    I don’t pay a lot of attention to who has money and who doesn’t – my clients are my clients regardless of whether they’re buying a $30,000 house or a $6,000,000 house. But the reality did hit somewhat when Paul McCartney came to town and all the tickets for his concert got sold out within minutes! Some of the really good seats were going for $2,000 apiece (really? In Buffalo, NY?). I don’t even want to pay $15 for a movie ticket.

    • Do you know what’s funny? Throughout the entire surgical and recovery process I felt absolutely no pain at all. It really is a miracle if you think about it. I wouldn’t have done well in the 1800’s.

      I make an effort to not pay any attention to wealth. I certainly don’t want to teach this bad habit to my daughters (Not using sunscreen is bad enough!) But it’s hard. It’s in my FACE 24/7. And having never had it, I tend to notice it. What a grind.

  3. Sorry to hear about the basal cell. Never a fun experience. You do us all a service by posting it, because everyone needs reminders of what the sun can do to us.

    As for $1250 a ticket, wow. Again it’s one of those things: just because you can doesn’t mean you should. But I guess that’s better than spending millions on a big, modern-art collection of green candies.

    • Never fun is right. Not to mention it messes with my pretty face (joke). I actually think it toughens my look up a bit. Like I could actually be a badass and hurt you if you’re not careful, instead of the pencil pusher I am.

      Right? SNL isn’t even that funny anymore. And remember… he bought TWO. What a ripoff. Wealth isn’t always a measure of intelligence, that’s for sure. Perhaps he’s the same guy who bought the candy on the floor?

  4. Sorry about having to go through that again! I’m with Carrie, in thinking it’s great that you posted this to spread awareness. I recently spoke about skin cancers, and you’re lucky (not really) that it’s basal cell and not malignant melanoma which can be life threatening.

    Your photos are beautiful! (Nice aesthetic segue away from your selfie) lol

  5. You pour a beautiful brew, thanks for sharing. Sometimes I don’t have more to say than that, but think I need to. – Bill

      • Just want to say I dig it I mean, but feel pressure to say more on account of all this profundity. Mine is more in the profanity realm, but here’s a bro fist bump at ya’, looking in your direction from Scotland.

      • Alhough, it’s interesting to note that both of these dudes are from California. So we’re up against wealth both in and out of our city. There aren’t any locals buying condos in that new tower on 57th St.

  6. Oh, ouch! The bright side is your daughters will know better. That is huge. I try to wear as much sunscreen as possible and a hat, etc, but as a youth, I got burned every summer. At least you can take care of it. Hope it heals up soon.

    As for those SNL tickets. That is throwing money around. What do they cost if you buy them ahead? They don’t cost that much, do they? Now, I’ll never be able to go to SNL. That would be fun to do. Someday.

    Thanks for the beautiful photos! We just started getting some color here.

    • As a parent, I think I’m supposed to set a good example. I think it’s just is valuable to set a bad example too. Same end result. Lesson learned.

      SNL tickets, in fact, are free. First come first serve. You wait in line and pick them up. People camp out on the sidewalk overnight to get them. I find it ridiculous.

      • That’s right. I knew that about SNL tickets. If this guy was so special, he shouldn’t have had to pay anything. I would probably wait in line for them if I ever visited NYC. It’s probably the touristy thing to do just to say you’ve gone.

      • This might be a good business – camp out on the sidewalk, get two free tickets, sell them for $2500. It’s like camping for a living – and a good one, if you can do that every week.

      • I’d love to see it but I’m unwilling to invest the time it takes to get tickets. I don’t want to wait in line and I’m sure as hell not paying $1,250 to see it so I guess I’ll just click the TV on. That’s fine. I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

      • And to X’s point, that’s exactly what happens. There’s a cottage industry in NYC of line-waiters. They’re employed by the secondary market ticket brokers. The get a cut for waiting in line, the broker makes some money and the end user is gouged at many times the original price. There’s a summer event called Shakespeare in the Park. Big-named actors do free Shakespeare plays in Central Park. Students are paid to wait in line for tickets to the well-heeled don’t have to. It’s capitalism.

  7. Bugger! Has WordPress been infected by Blogger? I left a comment(the first, as it happens) to the effect that you could have called this post “Reflections.”
    Oh well, you didn’t miss much; I’m all out of pith today.

  8. Wow, what a shiner! People must think you got into a fight. Saturday Night Live is a TV show, right? I think I’d rather watch it on TV then be cooped up in a studio audience. Some people will pay $1250 for very little.

    • Not bad, right? Probably the best one I’ve ever had. I know how daft this sounds but I’m kind of sad to see it fade away. It made for a decent topic of conversation. Plus I looked pretty badass.

      SNL is a comedy show that used to make me laugh a lot more than it does now. I wouldn’t pay that much even if I could. Plus, I don’t have a “guy.”

  9. Yeah but, you’re younger self would still have said, “Whatevs dude, I’m doing it my way.” Youth never listens. You look hardcore though, a cross between a heavy weight champ and scarface. Damsels love that sort of thing.

    Vive la France indeed. As a regular visitor with many friends there I had the same reaction as you. It’s sickening.

    On a lighter note, central Park looks astonishing.

    • That’s a very astute observation. Youth don’t care none. I sure didn’t I thought I’d live forever and never get sick. Just imagine my great surprise.

      Central Park IS astonishing! So easy to take photos when you have material like that to work with. Have you ever been?

  10. Wish you the best on the next operation.
    Regarding the wealthy, at the other end of that spectrum I’ve seen people fill up their grocery cart with only steaks and crab legs and pay with an EBT card (food stamps).
    I guess that puts us somewhere in the middle. No high price tickets and no steaks or crab legs. It’s the new order system man !!!
    Your pics of Central Park are magazine quality. I like the Time Warner Center in the background. What is reflected in the one tower?

    • It’s true that I occupy a middle ground. It’s a step up from where I came from and I guess that’s the goal, isn’t it? Or is the goal to be happy? I keep mixing the two up.

      Extra points for identifying the Time Warner Center. Well done. I’ve always thought they looked very Trade Center-like. I believe the reflection in the tower on the right might be the tower on the left.

    • Did you have it a second time? My doctor assured me this wouldn’t be the last time. In fact, he said that the first time he did it and there I was. Back for round three. So senseless but didn’t we look great with that even-tanned look? They used to call it a healthy glow. And cigarettes were soothing for your throat.

      • Yes. I have had it twice. A spot on my forehead and another on my nose several months later. I need to go again because I just noticed another little area on my forehead a couple of days ago.

        I did that, too. Got a “healthy glow” and smoked cigarettes. (I have been known to still indulge in the odd cigar.) We made our choices.

  11. I don’t mean to sound like a fairy godfather, but it seems to me that for everything you haven’t been able to achieve (SO FAR) you’ve been blessed with other far more valuable things. The very fact that you appreciate and can help your daughters to appreciate art ( with or without a capital “a” ) in all it’s manifestations and the fact that you have a soulmate who supports you in these pursuits makes you a very rich man in my eyes. Fuck the swinging dicks who know a “man” who can get them tickets for sold out shows and who then probably spend the entire show texting other swinging dicks to tell them where they are. Trust me on this one, you are rich in the only way that matters.

    • Thanks. Yup, I am fully aware of how fortunate I am. The fact that I’m cognizant of it but still carry these ridiculous feeling of inadequacy might mean I have a few issues to settle with myself. The good news is the first step is admitting to yourself you have a problem. I’ve got that much going for me.

  12. get an eye patch! i had to cover one eye once and instead of a bandage i went with the eye patch. nothing says, “don’t fuck with me” better. you’re a good dude. xoxox

    • Aaarrrgggghh. And eye patch you say?

      You knew I was going to respond with some kind of pirate reference, right? I’ve always liked the eye patch look. Too bad I didn’t think of it sooner. It’s kind of all cleared up. There’s always next time.

  13. Poor love – but if we can influence our children and grand-children to treat the sun with respect it will be worth it.
    The photographs below are stunning.

  14. “When you grow up quasi-poor, no matter how well you end up doing for yourself and your family, inside your head, you’re still poor. These constant, nagging episodes don’t help matters.”

    How that resonates. There’s an absolute classic of British sociology by Richard Sennett, called “The Hidden Injuries of Class”. They happen scores of times a day, and they’re always delivered by totally kind, well-meaning, generous-hearted people who simply cannot understand, because they’ve never *lived* the experiences, the effect of their words, which in little ways, remind you of your lack of money. It’s not about not being able to not afford $1250 show tickets — there’s no shame in admitting that — it’s smaller details like people not understanding why, if your shoes leak, you don’t buy some more, or why you refuse invitations even to modest social evenings — because you can’t afford the bottle of wine and the bus fare.

    It’s a consequence of moving up the social scale, but only by a degree or two. This leaves me and my girls in an awkward place, where we come across as from a higher class than we actually are. My girls have been asked several times “Is your dad a University lecturer?” It’s a fact of life for those of us who live in a modern demi-monde.

    • “The Hidden Injuries…” sounds like just the thing to affirm my notions and prejudices about growing up economically disadvantaged. Thanks for the tip. It really is a foolish notion. Neither one of us should feel anything negative about how we’ve done. I’m praying, praying, praying I don’t pass on these sad notions to my daughters. What a waste of emotion.

  15. Paying for free tickets? Talk about a vulgar display of wealth. Who cares about SNL anyway?

    I must be the only person in the free world who doesn’t care about Book of Mormon. Why is Hamilton such a big deal? Does he fly in, like Spiderman?

    You’re brave posting that picture of yourself. I’ve had some stuff removed, and I ain’t showing it all over the internet! I’m much too vain…

    • Wealth make people insane. It’s a FACT. Even if I had it, I’d feel too stupid to pay $1,250 to see SNL. It’s on past my bedtime, anyway.

      One of the best things about getting old is that you lose your vanity. I used to get very upset when I got a bad haircut. Not look at me. Posting ugly pics. It’s bloody liberating.

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