Jerks ruin it for everyone

Two posts ago I riffed on the new internet kiosks dotting Manhattan. They provide free wifi and unfettered internet access. OF COURSE people took advantage.


As that titan of New York journalism, the Daily News put it, pervs were using them to watch porn. The service has come to its foreseeable conclusion. The kiosks still radiate wifi signals but you can no longer surf the web.



June 2, 1993

Had brunch on Sunday with Klinger. His place on West 4th Street looks bigger since his live-in left and took everything with her. He still has the mirror that looks like the MasterCard logo.

We walked a couple blocks to Boxers and got a table outside to watch the parade of humanity. When I first got to NYC that place was called Jimmy Day’s. Sinatra used to drink there. It closed, was sanitized and now it’s Boxers. It’s charmless.

Klinger got into a shouting match with a homeless transvestite with blue fingernail polish. Ellen from work walked by and stopped to chat. I’m sure she thinks Klinger and I are gay. She said she’ll finish her summer internship and return to Stanford in the fall and some other stuff but I got bored and stopped listening. Klinger and I flirted with the waitress.

Klinger suggested I get some 8×10’s made and try to land some commercial work. He said my face is just bland enough for it. He said one toothpaste commercial that runs nationally and I’m set. He wrote out a working resume that was all lies. He listed classes I’ve never taken and work I’ve never done. I protested but he told me to stop being such a pussy. That everyone in the entertainment industry lies.

After Boxers, we stopped in El Coyote and sat at the bar. He had to work in a restaurant in a couple of hours and said he needed a margarita or he’d never make it. The barmaid was enamored with me for some reason. I didn’t do anything to encourage it. She’s from Yugoslavia. Her teeth and fingertips were yellow from chain smoking. She has straight, shiny, black hair, like a Japanese girl. I couldn’t understand a word she said through her thick, Eastern European accent. She had a pretty face but smelled like an ash tray that needed emptying. I told her I loved the background music so she popped the cassette out and gave it to me.

Klinger was supposed to start work at 4:00 but we didn’t leave El Coyote until 4:10. He’s going to lose that job, too. He doesn’t give a damn. He’ll get another. I wish I could be more like that.

I walked down Broadway and at Bond Street there was a Beatles cover band playing outside an art gallery. They were promoting a show of Beatles photographs. I went inside and was immediately accosted by a gallery rep who tried to sell me a photo for $500. As if. I wanted to shoot pool but I was broke so I went home.


The fam and I saw this beauty at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

Nari Ward
Iron Heavens
Oven pans, cotton and burned baseball bats


The oven pans reminded Ward of a starry night.


The bats ‘ground’ sky and earth. The cotton references the old South slave trade, but is also the material used for bandaging and healing.


Lots of messages and mixed meanings but, as is usually the case, this works for me primarily on a visual level.

61 thoughts on “Jerks ruin it for everyone

  1. My son and I went to the Nelson-Atkins in KC this summer, and they had a Nick Cave exhibition. I was utterly fascinated by his piece entitled “Property” and could have stood there for hours looking at all the trinkets included in it.

    They also had an exhibit which I believe was called “Found Pictures”, and it was all old black and white photos arranged by categories. It was stunning and very profound to me for some reason, to stand there and see snippets of people’s lives who I had never met, and would never know.

    • Good on you for taking your son to that stuff. It’s important. I love Nick Cave. He did this fantastic performance piece in Grand Central Station about three years ago.

      Found art is an interesting genera. It teaches you to open your eyes and notice that things of artistic quality and beauty are all around you.

      • They had an exhibit entitled “Treasures of the Roman Empire”, which he specifically asked to go see, but ended up enjoying the rest of the museum much more. I’m glad that at 15, he has an appreciation of art.

  2. Hoping your book is this good man! I’m thinking better, as long as you don’t choke all the life out of it editing, ha! Just one toothpaste commercial and you should be set, that’s good…

  3. Thanks Mark. Another work of Art that I could never dream of. Only in NYC could you see that kind of performance at a Terminal. I wonder if any of these performers were in the Broadway show WARHORSE? The city has leaders who recognize different Art and are willing to produce it. Like the installations on Park Ave. I’m sure there are many more around NYC.
    I’ve seen that dirty hygiene on girls before. It is such a turn-off. Cleanliness will make up for a lack of beauty.
    Why can’t we pass a law against being a jerk? We did for HATE !

    • I didn’t see War Horse. I wanted to but they never offered discounts (they didn’t HAVE to!) and I can’t pay retail. If I can’t sit in the balcony on a discount ticket, I can’t go. But I’m pretty sure none of the people in the Grand Central piece were on Broadway. It’s an interesting supposition. Those Park Avenue Armory shows are the best. It’s interesting to see what an artist can do with a lot of space at their disposal.

      Do you remember smoking in bars? It was awful. I even thought so during that small window when I was a smoker, myself.

      We can’t pass a law against being a jerk because it’s very difficult to regulate human nature.

  4. The newspaper could have rhymed “yanked” with something so easily and fitting if they’d only given it an ounce of thought…

    “he needed a margarita or he’d never make it…” I’m feeling him and thumping my chest.

    I like the even pans. Very architectural.

  5. Oh no, no, no! How will the homeless New Yorkers read your blog now??
    And on completely unrelated note, I wonder if Boxer’s by now had closed and reopened as an even more sanitized and more charmless place now…

    • I’ve seen a precipitous drop in blog traffic. I thought it was because I haven’t been posting or commenting much but I like your explanation better.

      I think it’s still Boxers but wouldn’t be surprised if it’s now a TGI Fridays. Same vibe.

  6. “Are you sure [x] is a good idea? What if people abuse it?”
    “Oh come now, it’s [year], I’m sure we’ve advanced enough as a species that people can moderate themselves.”


    “So help me, if you say ‘I told you so…'”

    Repeat every time well-meaning people try to do something nice for the general public, until either aliens torch Earth or our own star does.

  7. Wasn’t Klinger the name of a transvestite in M*A*S*H? Funny that your Klinger got into a row with one. Maybe he should have been more understanding.

    The burnt baseball bats look like ancient rusty nails used by the Romans for some macabre purpose. It’s quite a striking illusion.

  8. Those internet kiosks, while I didn’t get to experience them firsthand, were a disaster waiting to happen. I wondered about that, briefly, and now that I know the outcome, I am not surprised.
    Love Iron Heaven. Visually, it’s beautiful. I’d like to see it in person. Reminds me of something out of Game of Thrones. Perhaps what the iron throne will look like when they’re all done fighting for it.

    • People are having a proper laugh over the internet kiosk imbroglio but I think their heart was in the right place. They meant well and don’t deserve to be ridiculed. Now, there bums who were watching porn are another matter.

      Iron Heaven wasn’t the only piece in the gallery but it was the one that grabbed your attention when you turned a corner.

  9. Are you telling me that people take advantage? That there are JERKS in this world?! I am stunned by this news. What will I learn next? Politicians are only in it for themselves?

    I never tire of checking out the art on your blog. It fascinates me.

    • I think it’s a little sweet and very naive that they thought this would be a good idea. Apparently, NYC still had some rough around its edges.

      I’m glad you enjoy the art. I’ve got so much in my phone but I think most people are bored by this stuff so I don’t post it.

  10. I don’t know why they couldn’t have just blocked the dodgy sites on the wifi terminals.

    I found out the other day that I can kiss a girl who smokes, but only if she’s been drinking lots of neat brandy.

    • That’s a good point. They have pretty strict firewalls up where I work. No reason why they couldn’t install them at these public kiosks. You should work for the city planning commission.

      Even when I smoked I didn’t enjoy kissing girls who smoked. It’s amazing smoking was as popular as it was for such a long time.

  11. Lord have mercy with the burned baseball bats. I’m just not cool enough to appreciate ruined baseball bats but then maybe these were already ruined with cracks.

    I remember Klinger the cross dressing guy from MASH. But I think his character was trying to act crazy so that he could get the hell out of Dodge or maybe I have that all wrong about why he wore dresses.

    About those wifi stations and computers. That was a disaster waiting to happen or so they say.

    • These bats, whether they were new or used, would eventually have been used and thrown away. Now, they’re part of an art installation that will live on for years and years. I’d say they’re better off.

      Your character synopsis of Klinger is 100% correct. I never made the connection between my friend and the fictional character. It’s a funny aside.

      The Wi-Fi stations were disaster but I don’t blame them for trying. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

    • I like posts composed of tiny little morsels. My attention span won’t allow any long-form writing. And it’s great for readers. If you’re not crazy about the topic, hang in there. It’ll change in a paragraph or two.

  12. No we don’t…

    And tying in nicely with the last lounge post and the whole advertising schtick, Klinger was right, one well placed ad and you were set, send in that head shot now and you may be able to land a spot sitting in a bathtub at sunset holding hands and selling boner pills!!! your daughters will hate you for it right up until they see the car those commercials bought them!! lol.

    • People out here in NYC who get a lot of commercial work call their summer homes “residual estates.” It’s easy money. Dignity be dammed. I should’ve tried when I had the chance. Nobody wants my old ass now.

  13. The oven pans remind me of of type setting blocks…. yes lots of domestic mixed messages going on in that piece.
    I wish I’d been brave enough to be more imaginative with my CV…. trouble was that the truth always amused me.

    • Nice work on the typesetting blocks. Having worked with those, I can’t believe I didn’t see it first. I got sucked into the night sky metaphor right away.

      I cannot lie on my CV, either. I’m too Christian to tell lies.

  14. I find it funny that just below the headline about the dude surfing porno, you have the Derrick Rose rape thing. As a Chicagoan to a New Yorker, all I can say is, you can have that guy.

    Did you call that guy Klinger because he was a transvestite like on M.A.S.H.?

    It’s cool that you stay connected to the art world all the time and keep up with the writing. When we lose our artistic side, we lose part of ourselves, right? Take it easy.

    • Dear Chicago: Thanks for nothing. Love, New York.

      I called him Klinger because that was his name. For real! I almost always change the names in these posts but I had to keep Klinger. It’s so perfect. I actually didn’t make the connection between the cross-dressing corporal and my friend until someone pointed it out to me in this comment thread.

      As you enter fatherhood, you’re going to see that keeping those artistic balls up in the air become difficult. Hang in there. The older your new son gets, the less he’ll need. For now, it’s all him.

  15. “jerks” get “yanked” – double entendre much, Daily News?

    I like that pans exhibit, surprisingly, and always enjoy your reminiscences. (reminiscing? reminicieniation? Now the word looks totally wonky.) Had I known I would someday wish I had had a gritty youth to have emerged from, battered but fundamentally unscathed, I wouldn’t have been so white-bread all my life.

  16. I kind of like Klinger. He seems like a good sort to hang out with. What’s he doing now?

    I’m totally against the burning of baseball bats. The great game must be honoured, you know. I’m also generally against public displays of video porn, but have not run across that particular problem around here.

    • Klinger was a good, good friend. We used this town the way it was meant to be used. He moved to L.A. to try his hand at showbiz. I saw him once there and never heard from him again. I still have his number in my mobile and think to dial it but I don’t know if he’d remember me. It was a very long time ago.

      The bats were burned in the name of art. A worthy cause. Speaking of the great game, GO BLUE JAYS! They made it past the wildcard round. Now the fun starts.

      • Ugh, they’re not MY team at all. I’m going with the Cubs all the way, this century-long losing streak needs to end. That would be the greatest story in sports history – built on the back of the longest losing streak in history. I want that story.

        I think you should call Klinger, mostly because I want a post telling us what happened when you did. Voyeuristic that way.

        So I’m going to be sitting down mostly drunk to watch the debate on Sunday. It’s our Thanksgiving up here. I’m giving thanks for the plentitude of entertainment you guys are providing us. Break a leg.

      • My husband is a die-hard Cubs fan for life, but a kid from our town is a pitcher with the Jays so there is some divided loyalty here.

        Me? I would rather watch paint dry than baseball. Or a presidential debate. Or toe fungus bloom. Or…

      • I’m looking for a Cubs v. Indians world series. Can you imagine! Neither team has won for decades. Whole lifetimes have come and gone without a victory. It’d be a ratings monster.

  17. The primary use of the Internet as measured by data and revenue is pornography. It’s probably naive to provide a Wi-Fi kiosk and not expect people to use it for porn. It would actually be more surprising if they used it to research an academic paper.

    A face just bland enough for commercial work. I guess it’s better than being told you have a face for radio.

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  19. The Wi-Fi kiosks have really helped out the tourists, though… people looking for directions and trying to communicate back home with their smart phones. A lot of them have the capability to charge your phone/device too, so that’s nice… and it keeps people from hogging tables at restaurants/coffee shops.

    Not trying to be an unrealistic optimist, but I’m sure everyone involved called the porn watching before the kiosks went up and decided the good/benefits out weighs the bad….

    NYC was never good at hiding her crazy… Even the UES has grit and grime.

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