Everyone’s a little bit racist. Including me.

Everyone’s a little bit racist –
All right!
Bigotry has never been
Exclusively white

Avenue Q

I’m a quasi-lefty from way back. Growing up economically challenged and spending two decades in the racial bouillabaisse of New York City inoculated me from the ravages of economic, racial or cultural insensitivity.

Or, so I thought.

Here’s a synopsis of “Smart People,” the new drama by Lydia Diamond about to open off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theater. I hope you’re sitting down.

“Four Harvard intellectuals, a medical intern angered at being underestimated by his white colleagues; a white Harvard professor whose neurological studies, he says, show that white people have a “predisposition to hate” people of other races; an African-American actress frustrated at her lack of opportunities…”

Stop right there. I’m a big supporter of the arts, especially theater (+/- 50 plays annually), but I’m not wasting a dime or my time on a play that puts forth the notion that white people are naturally predisposed to racial hatred. Additionally, all the conflicts are caused by white people. It’s a flat, one dimensional, ugly piece of bigotry. A shit premise and I reject it.

The playwright is a black female. Imagine if a white male wrote a play that concluded black men abandon their families because it’s coded in their DNA. I wouldn’t support crap like that, either. (Which is irrelevant because it’d never be produced.) This playwright isn’t some fringe crackpot. She has bona fides. She had a play produced on Broadway (which I saw and enjoyed) and the Second Stage is a major off-Broadway house.

You can argue that she’s trying to stimulate a dialogue on race but I don’t buy it. There’s nothing high-minded going on here. Setting the story in Harvard is just putting lipstick on a pig. She’s going for low-hanging fruit. Clearly, we need to have a discussion about race but I’m confident this isn’t the way to go about it. Wait until Fox News gets hold of this.

This story thread hardened my heart and blinded me to the legitimate grievances of the other characters. I couldn’t care less what their struggles were. I find this idea so odious that I give no weight to anything else she’s written.

Right on the heels of reading this, I heard Spike Lee announce that he’s boycotting the Oscars because he found the nominations too Caucasian for his liking. Jada Pinkett Smith quickly followed suit. Why would anyone care if those two clowns didn’t attend the Oscars? So stay home. I’ll take your seats. Jada named her son Jaden. Her husband Will named their daughter Willow. What a couple of narcissists. Those kids are condemned to spending the rest of their lives in a shadow.

See that? Just typing this out got me all riled up again. I’m a speeding locomotive without any brakes.

This is Jamie Dimon. He’s the CEO of firm that manages $1.7 trillion (not a typo) in assets. He came down off Wealth Mountain to share this piece of sage wisdom with the commoners at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:


Thank you, Capt. Obvious.

How is that breaking news? Breaking News: It May or May Not Rain Tomorrow. Talk about hedging your bets. This man’s salary was just raised 35% to $27 million annually. You’d think he’d have something with a little more gravitas to impart.

Goldman Sachs just paid a $5 billion dollar fine for bundling subprime mortgages that they knew were worthless and selling them to their clients as viable investments. They knew their clients were going to lose their money but they didn’t give a damn. No one was held accountable. If someone perpetuated a fraud on that scale outside of the asset management industry, there’d be some prison time involved.

Lost sleep at Goldman Sachs: 0.0 hours.

The Asset Management industry is peopled by amoral, thieving, windbags. If my daughters go into investment banking, I’ll consider myself a failure as a parent.

Oh, it snowed, alright. 21 inches worth. I never shoveled so much snow in such a short period of time. I was a ball of hurt.


Yoko and Me: Healing the Universe

Currently at the Andrea Rosen Gallery in Chelsea is The Riverbed by Yoko Ono. The exhibit is comprised of three interactive installations; Mend Piece, Stone Piece and Line Piece. You should always beware when you see the words “interactive” and “installation” used in the same sentence.


Mend Piece is choking to death on metaphors.


It’s about healing and making peace with the damage in the world. A table is strewn with broken cups and saucers. Yoko provides glue, string, tape and other bonding materials.


The idea is to repair the broken pieces. As you perform this, you are instructed to be mindful of the mending that’s needed elsewhere in the universe (not to mention your own tumultuous life). It’s actually a very sweet notion. I found her kind, gentle intent admirable, although a bit too New-Agey for my tastes.

The big surprise is how incredibly creative some people are. Finished pieces are displayed on white shelves along all four walls of the gallery. (Click for detail.)


riverbed9 Some very impressive assemblages were created.


A caterpillar in a cocoon hanging from a thread



It reminded me of an Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein piece whereby the artist provides the inspiration and materials but relies on other people to execute it. It’s like all of the fat with none of the calories (for the artist).


After mending a cup, you are invited to enjoy a (free) macchiato. It’s served in cups with cracks in them; imperfect but still whole. Just like you and me.


While sipping my macchiato, I heard a loud *POP* a few feet away from me. Someone had taken their macchiato and THREW it against the wall. The cup shattered and the liquid streamed down the wall. I think it was done in the spirit of it being an interactive installation but it wasn’t appreciated.


When the young gallery hottie came running over (ALL Chelsea galleries employ young hotties) I said I thought it was kind of interesting. She snapped, “You wouldn’t think it was so interesting if you had to clean it up.” I said the wrong thing. That happens a lot.

I’m glad I’m not a stone in Stone Piece.


Seat cushions are placed on the floor around the perimeter of a second gallery with smooth stones stacked in front of them.


It’s a meditative exercise. The idea is to hold a stone and transfer all your negative energy into it. I tried to play along but I couldn’t find a boulder large enough to absorb all my fear, angst and self-loathing. Yoko has written on some of the stones. I picked one up, turned it over and it said “Dream.” So I dreamed about having a gigantic, multi-room flat in The Dakota. Dream big or go home.

In Line Piece, we are instructed to “Take me to the farthest place in our planet by extending the line.” Yoko provides string, hammers and nails. People pound nails into the wall and connect string across the room.


The gallery is crisscrossed in a web of string. Traversing the gallery is a bit of a challenge. You have to walk low to the ground.


Pencils are provided and you can draw on the wall but I didn’t see anything as fetching as what was done with the broken china.


The installation evolves over time. You can visit it each week and there’ll be new sculptures, drawings and maybe even a macchiato mess to clean up.


The Opposite of Healing the Universe

I’m assuming that most of you are not blessed wih a local tabloid newspaper. Our hometown tabloids, the New York Post and New York Daily News, are at their finest when screaming a headline. Here’s a fine example from this past week. Enjoy!

daily news

Was I stupid or just cruel when I was young?


July 14, 1996

Maureen invited me over for my birthday. She baked a cake, bought the new Ramones CD for me [Note: Greatest Hits Live] and gave me a card. Then she took me out to dinner, which is very sweet when you consider she doesn’t have a pot to piss in. Then she took me to her friend Stephanie’s party, where I met Eve. Eve is pretty and aggressive. Pretty aggressive. Very charming. Petite with a bright smile. Have I mentioned she’s pretty? I didn’t ignore her but I didn’t overtly flirt with her, either. It was a tiny, packed apartment and at one point, Eve brushed past me and I felt her hand slide into my pocket. I thought she took something out but she didn’t. She put something in. A slip of paper with her phone number on it.

Let me think for a minute and try to recall how many times I’ve been to a crowded party where a pretty girl jammed her phone number into my pocket.

…   …   …   …

Okay, NONE. Zero. Nil. Never. The empty set. So I called her on Monday and arranged to meet for drinks on Friday, to which she promptly and happily agreed. By Wednesday, this had somehow gotten back to Maureen. She called and beat the shit out of me with the old ‘How can you do this to me?’ one-two combination to the kidneys and solar plexus. Then she gave me the ‘I’m humiliated’ upper-cut haymaker and I was down for the long count. After I got up off the canvas, I immediately went into begging mode which, let’s face it, is the only thing in life I’ve perfected. It’s a shame I can’t monetize begging.

I was tripping all over my words with apologies for my transgression. The next day, as part of my penance, I called Eve and cancelled our date. When she asked why, I couldn’t come up with a sensible reason. I forgot to rehearse one. I said, “Well, because Maureen is quite upset,” which makes me sound like a fucking noodle since Maureen is NOT MY GIRLFRIEND. Eve said that Maureen is just jealous, which sounds logical to me.

I subsequently wrote a befuddled letter of apology/explanation to Eve which she should get either today or tomorrow. We’ll see what kind of response I get, if any. [Note: This is how it was done before the internet was invented, kids.] It seems that fate tosses a potential date in my path about every six months. If Eve counts as this cycle’s allocation, I won’t meet another girl until well into 1997.

Pouring over these journals reminded me of this post. It’s a bit crass but I love it.

* * *

When I think back, the breadth of my cluelessness regarding the sweet science of love is almost too astonishing to be believed. I was awful at it. I knew nothing. The group of guys I hung out with weren’t popular with the ladies, so there were never any discussions about seduction or technique. It was a slow, painful, embarrassing learning curve.

For a good long while, I thought you got a girl to sleep with you through insistent pleading. I thought the game of love was to wear down her resolve until she finally capitulated. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that haranguing was not considered a legitimate aspect of a foreplay. I remained in my clueless state for a number of years. I failed to recognize a lot of green lights and opportunities. I was unaware of how many women were willing to sleep with me. But I realize it now.

* * *

The first time I had sex, she said, “Go ahead. You can do it.” But the DIRTY DEED had already been DONE. Admittedly, an inauspicious debut.

The first girl I slept with had the temperament of a sea monster.

* * *

With my first regular love, I used condoms that were about as thick as a garden hose. I didn’t know anything about lamb skins or sensitivity. I was mortified that I had to buy them at all. I just wanted to get in and out of the drugstore as quickly as possible without asking (or being asked) any questions.

The condoms robbed me of all sensation. So much so, that I often couldn’t finish. I would occasionally pull the damn thing off and toss it across the room just so I could finally complete my mission. In retrospect, a terrible idea. When I think of all the unprotected sex I had, it’s a miracle I never had to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. Or worse.

* * *

I read an article by a woman who said her boyfriend was so emotionally overwhelmed by sex that he routinely wept afterwards. She found this romantic and touching. So the next time I slept with my girlfriend, I tried to cry but my heart just wasn’t in it. It sounded like fake, ridiculous, insincere blubbering. My girlfriend asked if I was having some kind of breakdown.

* * *

Once upon a time, I was making out with a girl. I got up and put a Kenny G album on. I didn’t like the guy’s music but I thought it would be romantic. That’s what I’d read somewhere. About two songs in, she stopped kissing me, sat up and yelled, “My God! Would you PLEASE turn that OFF!”

* * *

I faked an orgasm once. The sex was tedious and went on far longer than it should have, so I decided to end it by faking an orgasm. I believe she was equally relieved it was over.

* * *

They weren’t all bad experiences. Many years ago, on a warm summer night, I made beautiful amour in a rooftop garden atop a downtown Brooklyn brownstone with the twinkling nighttime Manhattan skyline at our feet. It looked like a magical movie backdrop.

It’s time to bid a fond farewell to the holiday season. Only 11 months until Christmas!

Harry Winston on 5th Avenue all gussied-up for the holidays



This is Picasso’s Brain on Drugs

Picasso after his morning coffee.

Another cup and a bong hit.


A second bong hit and a psilocybin mushroom.


A third cup of coffee and a tab of LSD.


Admittedly, that last one looks like a big glop of plaster. But if you look at the progression, you can kind-of/sort-of see where he was going with this. He kept pushing the boundaries until the form was contorted beyond recognition. He  did that with paint, too. I can’t say I like that last one, but it gives me a warm glow to have a vague understanding of it.

These are courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art’s landmark and smartly-installed Picasso sculpture exhibit. It’s being hailed as the last time you’ll see such a complete gathering of his sculptures under one roof. I didn’t understand a lot of it, but it was a thrill.

More tales of women in my past.


June 25, 1995

I didn’t make an entry last night because I was out all night with Maureen. I had planned on going home to watch the Yankees beat-up the Indians. I asked her out for a beer and it turned into an all-nighter. It was fun. She and I talk so easy. I wish I were attracted to her and that she had some social graces. She’s yet another tormented, temperamental artist. This town is choking on them. Their torment is so tedious. I thank God that I’m not cursed with talent. It seems to drive some folks over the edge. We made out once and it was kind of a disaster so now I keep a respectful distance.

Sedaris’ book is out in paperback and is doing well. See that. Sometimes the good guys win.

I met an interesting girl at the Gilberto Gil concert in Central Park. She was a pretty, blonde green-eyed French girl who lives in Toronto. She had a soft accent and a gentle, wispy air to her. She works for the largest French bank on the planet in their Toronto office. She grew up in rural France and was given the choice of transferring to either Jakarta or Canada. She didn’t want to live in a Muslim country so Canada won the contest. Smart girl. She visits New York every few weeks to see her boyfriend who’s an Analyst at Lehman Brothers.

(The Indians are on the radio in the background having their asses handed to them by the Yankees. Good God, will this torment ever end?) [Note: Apparently, not.]

Anyway, her boyfriend had to work, which is what all Financial Analysts do on Sunday, so she was by herself. Her work life is similar to his. She’s routinely in the office until 8:00 or 9:00 at night. Young professionals sacrificing their today for a better tomorrow. They hope. I didn’t feel like flirting because of the insurmountable odds, which was actually kind of liberating. Talking to a girl without having an agenda is always a pleasure.

She’s got a hell of a gene pool. Her sister is in Vietnam conducting a study on how the jungle is being affected by the developing nation. Her sister’s boyfriend is so in love with her that he quit his job in France and followed her to Vietnam. Isn’t that romantic? She complained for a while about how dull Toronto is and how much she loves New York. I know how you feel, sister. She said she can see the Empire State and the Chrysler Building from her boyfriend’s bathroom window, so she leaves the curtain open and looks at them while taking a shower.

Typically, I would’ve been torn to pieces with envy over all this but I was strangely serene. We were sitting on a bench and a couple across the way started making out. It was like watching a softcore porn movie or an instructional video on sexual assault. We watched with a detached fascination. We decided they’d just started dating and were in that phase when you can’t keep your hands off of each other. It wears off sooner or later but it’s nice when you’re in that space.

When we spoke, she looked at me hard, like there were some things running through her mind, but I swear she wasn’t interested in that way. I could tell. I made her laugh a bit and when it came time for her to go I didn’t say or do anything stupid, like follow her out of the park or try to kiss her. This is progress. She had to catch a plane back to Toronto, so she left and that was that.

I go to these Central Park Summerstage concerts exactly once a year. I’ll go to one early in the season, realize how miserably crowded they are and swear off them until next season. I made an exception in this case because Gilberto Gil doesn’t tour this way very often. And it was free.

Come to New York and live like a caged animal.


I called to check the price (because I had to) and you can rent a 360 sq. ft. micro-apartment for $2,750/month.

27th Street IS a fabulous block, so you have to take that into consideration (along with the imminent loss of your sanity).