We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky

Contemporary artist Duke Riley’s outdoor installation, Fly By Night wasn’t like anything I’d seen before. And I’ve seen plenty. Riley constructed pigeon coops on the helicopter landing deck of a decommissioned Navy vessel that was docked in the Brooklyn Navy Yards.


The press release said 2,000 pigeons lived there. For six weeks, three nights a week at dusk, Riley and his handlers stood on top of the coops, whistled and whooped and set the birds flying. They gently swirled over the East River.

You may have noticed something odd. Attached to their legs were small leg bands. Long ago, when pigeons were used as couriers, these bands contained messages. Now, they contained LED lights. As darkness fell, the lights popped against the black sky. They became swirling comets over the Hudson.

Pigeons are not nocturnal by nature. Riley had to acclimate them to flying in the dark. Some animal rights activists felt this was abuse and picketed the exhibit when it first opened but none were there the night I saw it. Here, the choreography is set against the Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan skyline.

The piece lasted about :20 minutes. They were trained homing pigeons and didn’t fly away to join their brethren in the city. They returned to their coops to the sound of Sister Nancy’s Pigeon Rock.

Riley has a special fondness for pigeons. In an earlier piece, 50 of them carried illegal cigars from Havana to Key West. Tiny cameras recorded the event. This last clip is superfluous. It’s just me toying with my iPhone settings.


Meanwhile, back in my past, a vacation goes bust.


March 17, 1992

The Bahamas were lovely but we never had sex. Not once. I wasn’t interested and neither was she and no amount of alcohol could change that. I wish I’d gone with anyone else. I’m sure she feels the same way.

I’m refreshed. Nine hours of sleep every night and day after day of sunshine, beaches and great meals will do that to a person. But at night, I looked across the bed and felt nothing. Thank God she lives in Columbus. That’ll make it easier. She drove me mad with that fucking camera. How many picture do you need?

She could’ve been more adventurous. She’s consumed with caution and dread and governs her life with a strict adherence to rules. She wouldn’t take a boat out to a coral reef to snorkel because she was afraid of getting too much sun. Scuba diving was entirely out of the question because it’s too dangerous. She was afraid her lungs might burst. I finally got her to snorkel, but only in the lagoon near the hotel, which was so polluted with sunscreen that you couldn’t see six feet in front of you. It was disgusting. After that, she wouldn’t go again.

She insisted on eating only ‘natural’ food. What’s that? Lots of fish, I suppose. Every morning she took a fistful of vitamins and supplements. I’ll bet half of them are placebos. We took a ferry to the mainland to visit the ruins and she got seasick. So frail and easily knocked off her game. I can’t say I was much of a gentleman. She’s probably as glad to be rid of me as I am of her. Perhaps more so. I barely know her. What were we thinking?

My city of pretty girls


March 2, 1992

There’s a new girl here at work and, boy, is she adorable. Suzanne. She’s too young for me. Fresh out of college. Her entire life has been spent in the warm cocoon of academia. This is her first dose of reality. I don’t think we have a damn thing in common but I’m going to launch a charm offensive when I get back from Mexico. She’s Jewish. I don’t think she’ll have anything to do with me once she finds out I’m not. That’s usually how it plays out.

She lives in Cobble Hill, which is a much nicer part of Brooklyn than Fort Greene. Michele told me she’s currently dating two men and isn’t crazy about either one. What a shame. She’s got long, straight, jet black hair that I want to run my hands through. I can picture the slender threads pouring between my fingers like water. I *think* she’s flirting with me. She was sealing an envelope and licked it very slowly while looking at me through the tops of her eyes. She dipped her head slightly and that beautiful black hair cascaded over her shoulders. She licked. Our eyes locked. Time stopped dead. So I’m going to ask her out.

On Friday I rushed home and had a quick run. I was going to see Life in a Blender at Brownies on Ave A but Ann Marie called and wanted to meet me for a drink. Who am I to refuse? We met at El Teddy’s. I paid $6 for a scotch and soda that was made with very bad scotch. We split a portabella mushroom cap that was about the size of a dinner plate. I picked up the tab. I’ve got to cut down on that. It’s wiping me out.

After El Teddy’s I walked her to her sister’s loft in Tribeca. She lives in a warehouse. Access to her apartment is through a loading dock. It looks pretty grim and marvelous. The neighborhood is dirty. I like it. I was hoping to be invited up but it didn’t happen.

We were kissing in the dark amongst trucks backing-up to load deliveries. I opened my eyes mid-kiss (because I like to do that sometimes) and I saw a giant rat walking about ten feet behind her. Walking slowly, like it didn’t give a damn about us. We broke and she started to turn away, so I grabbed her and kissed her again. I think she thought I was overwhelmed with lust (which is partially true) but I didn’t want her to see the rat. It would’ve spoiled a nice moment.  I opened my eyes again and saw it walk into a shadow under the loading dock.

Kissing someone new is a real treat. Those first few sessions are a genuine thrill. You never know what you’re going to get. I live in joyful anticipation of my next new kiss. Ann Marie can kiss better than Ann, but not quite as well as Candace. I wonder if Suzanne knows what she’s doing? No two girls kiss exactly alike. They’re like snowflakes.

Candace and I are going to CBGBs on Saturday night for the Black Rock Coalition jam. Those guys always play loud. Really, really loud. Too loud. She said she might get comps. I sure hope so. I’m kinda broke-assed.

Speaking of pretty girls in New York, take a look at these beauties. She’s life-sized. You should click on this.

Oil and bronze


Isn’t she delicious? She’s by contemporary artist Carole Feuerman and she’s meditating in the window of the C24 Gallery in Chelsea. The exhibit features her new sculptures and paintings.

Leda and the Swan
Oil and resin


Feuerman is a hyperrealist, which is a made-up word but I’m going to give ground because I think these sculptures are fetching.

Monumental Quan
Painted bronze and stainless steel


She needs more than one pic. Right?



I am surrounded by imbeciles

Imbeciles in New Jersey

parked car

What nerve. That’s not even a high-end sedan that needs to be protected from dings. It’s some mid-market bucket o’ crap. Who does he think he is?

Imbeciles in New York City

I was sitting in Bryant Park reading (“A Swell-Looking Babe” by Jim Thompson. Not very good.) when, to my left, I heard a very audible:


I was hoping it wasn’t some uncouth pig who peeled off his dirty white sock and was clipping his toenails.


It was. In what culture is it acceptable to clip your toenails in a PUBLIC PARK? Oh, I know where. Stupidistan.

Kiki Smith

kiki smith1

Look how she sits in that pool of light. She’s clinging to a wall in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met is often thought of as being a bit stodgy but they have some very satisfying contemporary pieces. Here’s her best feature:


I disagree with you. She’s not creepy.


binsAugust 24, 1995

I got a call from Betsy. She’s a major hypochondriac and is always on the threshold of something catastrophic. Normally, I can only take so much of that stuff but she’s a sensual dynamo so I am pleased to offer a sympathetic ear.

Some rich dude bought her a new Mac Quadra and a PowerBook and she wants me to come over and show her how to use them. She doesn’t even know how to turn the damn things on. I’m not kidding. I said I’d be happy to give her lessons but she was going to have to PAY ME, and said it using an intonation that implied payment was to be something other than a cash transaction. She piped right up and said, “Yes! Yes! I WANT to PAY YOU!” and said it in a way that makes me think we’re on the same page.

What’s with older women? It seems sex is much more important to them than it is to younger women. While I’d love to see some sweet, young 22-year old peel her clothes off, there’s something delicious about an older woman who is so willing and so knowledgeable in the science of romance. A tight body counts for squat if you don’t know what to do with it. Or, worse, lack a certain esprit de corps.

I asked her what kind of Quadra and PowerBook and she said, “The BRAND NEW kind!” Who knows what that means? And who is this wealthy guy, anyway? Is she sleeping with him? Or does he want to sleep with her but she won’t? Does he want Betsy to wear a strap-on? I wonder if I can talk her out of the PowerBook?

That girl down the hall I want to sleep with dropped off more guerrilla theater flyers. She’s a Lower East Side cliché: an artist/activist. One show is a benefit for her legal fund. She’s a defendant in a case against the police department for unlawful arrest. The show is a performance art piece whereby members of the audience are “placed under arrest” by the “NYC Police Department.” She was arrested and thinks everyone should know what that feels like. That sounds like a terrible night out! Why would I pay to be roughed up by a bunch of malcontents who are pretending to be the NYPD? What if, once the shoe is on the other foot, they enjoy the sensation and get carried away with themselves? No, thank you.

Her living room is her art studio. There are coffee cans all over the place filled with paint, brushes and chemicals. That can’t be healthy, right? Canvases are stacked in every corner. The artwork isn’t very good. It reminds me of that ugly de Kooning crap. I’d like to make out with her, though. Can you imagine if she’s able to channel all that rage?

Knicks/Cavs later tonight at the Garden. I’m meeting John for lunch tomorrow at the World Trade Center. I’d like to see Life in a Blender at McGovern’s tomorrow night but I’d have to go alone again. Naturally.

I don’t hit women

I try never to post back-to-back journal entries because it’s redundant, and redundant = boring. But I just found this episode and it’s too juicy to sit on.


February 12, 1992

A few months ago, Candace and I had a fight on Avenue A. We got into a terrific shouting match—I don’t remember what over—and in the heat of it, when I was mid-rant, she turned to walk away and I reached out and grabbed the collar of her coat to stop her. She thought I was going to hit her. Of course, I wasn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t, but she was convinced I was. That’s her reality and it’s as valid as my reality that I’d never, ever strike her. Or anyone. I’ve got a clean record.

We didn’t talk for about a month and then she called and we reconciled. I can’t say it’s back to the way it was. She won’t kiss me anymore and probably never will again. That’s gone. But we’re friends and for that I’m happy. We’ve put it behind us.

Well, she did kind of a dumb thing. She told Laura [Note: her girlfriend] that I lost my temper and was going to strike her and now she’s livid that Candace would spend any time at all with me. Apparently, Laura’s hatred towards me is an all-consuming inferno that’s growing inside of her. She’s hoping to bump into me on the street to, minimally, give me a piece of her mind or, if she’s in a bad mood, plunge a knife into my chest. Candace mentioned on more than one occasion that Laura is emotionally unstable, so it’s no joking matter.

I met Candace last night after work. We were supposed to see Reno perform at Dixon Place but we opted to shoot pool at Soho Billiards instead. It’s a new joint. It’s on Houston right across from The Knitting Factory. The table felt is bright and clean. The cues are smooth and straight. The tips aren’t all fucked up. $7/hr, which is the going rate, even at a dump like Julian’s on 14th Street. The clientele was mostly Latino and Chinese dudes (and some very hot Chinese girls) who carried their cues in expensive leather cases. There were a few white people on dates.

We finished playing and walked to a bar on 3rd Street and 1st Avenue. We sat at the bar and watched the Olympics for a while. There was a small pool table in the back where we played a Chinese guy and some old-timey Lower East Side barfly and got our asses kicked. Candace keeps telling me she’s a great player but I haven’t seen evidence of it yet.

After that, we took a table by the window to watch the Big Parade of Humanity on 1st Avenue. Best show in town. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone all bundled up glide by on a bike. It was freezing outside and I thought to myself, “What kind of idiot would ride a bike at this hour of night in this cold?” Candace said, “Jesus Christ! That’s Laura! I don’t want her to see me” and she kind of slouched down into her chair. Laura was out looking for her in all our old, familiar places that this heart of ours embraces.

Well, she spotted us through the window and stopped her bike a few doors down. Candace went out to talk to her. She came back a few minutes later. I asked what happened. She said, “I told her, ‘you know who I’m here with, so you can’t come in.’” It’s a good thing it was sub-zero outside or I’m sure a lengthy screaming match would’ve ensued. Candace said she’s got a couple of friends who want to be called right away when Laura confronts me because they don’t want to miss the fireworks. It’s all very exciting except for the part where I could get shot.

Poor Candace. She’s just trying to live her life and she’s in the middle of this mess. She said they fight all the time and she can’t leave the apartment without providing an explanation of where she’s going and who she’s seeing, which she absolutely loathes doing. It’s all going to implode soon. I might be even LESS safe after that happens.

I’d been drinking for a few hours and the notion of trying to kiss Candace started to percolate in the bad idea part of my brain. She was lamenting that one of her biggest failings in life is getting involved with people who turn out to be psychotic, but not having the wherewithal to recognize the warning signs early on. By the time the truth is revealed, it’s too late. After that, I decided against making a pass at her.

I told Kat about the whole episode and she got very angry at me for referring to Candace as my ‘bisexual friend.’ She’s got a point. Candace is my friend. There’s no need to qualify her sexuality. I don’t refer to Klinger as my ‘heterosexual friend.’ I’ve still got a few things to learn but, just between you and me, it’s kind of hard to ignore. It’s quite a distinction.


The day of the Ohio primary, this semi was parked near my brother’s house:


Keep Mexican dope in Mexico. 

How did this clown get this far? Howard Dean got tossed from the primary because he screamed “YEAH!” too loud. Michael Dukakis lost the election for wearing a helmet that was too big for his head while riding a tank. And poor Gary Hart! Hilary isn’t such a hot candidate, either. She’s the second worst thing that could happen to this country. Four more years of gridlock. In any other election cycle, neither one of them would’ve made it past October.