Stare at this pocket watch. You’re getting sleepy…


May 14, 1993

I took Laura to see Angels in America. It opened last week and it’s the toast of Broadway. A new play about AIDS. It’s kind of upsetting to sit through. A young actor named Jeffrey Wright was particularly good. I was waiting outside the theater beforehand feeling sorry for myself because things didn’t go so well in the bedroom the other night. The play’s depiction of the afflicted’s suffering, and the suffering of those who loved him, was so vivid and so true-to-life that it made me ashamed for wallowing in self-pity over my little problem. My problem is temporary. AIDS is a death sentence, and a particularly gruesome one at that.

The pair of tickets cost $129, which I have no business spending. I’m between gigs and just marginally employed, but when she turned the corner and walked towards me, the money seemed unimportant. As she got closer, she slowed her walk and looked me in the eye. Step. Step… Step…. She put her arms around my neck and kissed me. She’s so beautiful. She couldn’t come home with me because she had to be at Baby Gap at 8:00 the next morning. Dropped her off at her apartment. The taxi driver had such horrific B.O. that we settled for a kiss on the cheek.

I didn’t want to sit around the apartment all day because I thought I might put my head in the oven so I rode my bike to Battery Park. I was in the sun for over three hours without sunscreen and got a terrible burn. I think the tourists discovered my little nook. It’s preposterous to think I can go anywhere in New York and avoid a crowd. I read the paper and thought about her, then went home and did laundry. Spent time on the phone with Bonnie. She’s got relationship problems, too.

I am so vexed about what happened the other night, and so convinced it’ll happen again, that I went to a hypnotist. Desperate measures. It cost $80. That leaves $73 in my checking account. He put me “under” but all I felt was ridiculous. He thought I fell asleep but, honestly, it was all I could do to keep from laughing. He said to envision peace and calm and then took my money. I don’t know if it’ll help. It would help if Laura dumped Dave back in Nebraska. I should visit Ann and her coconut oil. I’ll bet that’d restore my confidence in a jiffy.

Laura and I like to have “questions sessions” in bed. We create a safe space and are allowed to ask each other anything, no matter how personal or erotic. And many fantasies were learned. On that day. It’s a lot of fun. I found out about Dave during one of these sessions. Unsafe space.

CBGBs this Friday. Fang Records showcase featuring BOX and Very Pleasant Neighbor. Two of my favs. Cindy said she’s going, which is a bonus.


Artist and rabble rouser Ai Weiwei’s new public installations are a commentary on the worldwide refugee crisis. As with most conceptual art, its meaning in relation to the actual piece is beyond my ken. I only ever enjoy this stuff for its visual splendor (or lack thereof). Good Fences Make Good Neighbors is a citywide installation that consists of hundreds of pieces. The most fetching are these two cages.

I took these at 6:30 in morning. I wanted stark, empty streets and early light.

Arch is in Washington Square Park.

The center cutout is polished mirror and in the shape of two figures.

Gilded Cage sits at the southeast entrance to Central Park.

That’s The Plaza in the background. Once an elegant hotel, it’s now a Trump property and, hence, polluted.

You can walk inside. It’s the closest I ever hope to get to jail.

55 thoughts on “Stare at this pocket watch. You’re getting sleepy…

  1. I read about the installation of Gilded Cage, but for some reason not the other two. Anyway, I’m with you about it being the closest I’d want to be to jail! Sighing because I’d forgotten that The Plaza was now one of 45’s properties because it was one of my favorite NYC hotels! (I just read a new name for 45: Marmalade Mugabe!) xoxo

  2. I’m rather tired of Ai Weiwei.Perhaps not him so much as the hyperbole he seems to engender.
    maybe he should have put your leader in a cage. Well, he says he wants take a step further…

  3. Overhyped or not, that’s the scale of civic art. I wish the ambitions of larger metropolises would manifest themselves in second cities. Alas…probably not enough foot traffic.

    • Not enough foot traffic and not enough funding. These things aren’t cheap.

      Not all civic art works (understatement of the morning) but I make a point of visiting everything within my jurisdiction. Sometimes you turn a corner and get gobsmacked. I love when that happens.

      • Agreed. Art is not cheap and nobody wants to pay the real costs. These look ok pretty good! Eliasson’s waterfalls and Christo’s gates were: “meh”. I think you did a spot on Gormley’s figures back then…which they appeared to be more successful. I was certainly intrigued by their sublime qualities.

        Here, we have a 1/2% of construction budget mandate on City projects…but that equals $30k on a $60M train station. It’s dribblings not even worthy of a pauper.

      • I agree the Brooklyn Bridge waterfall was a valiant effort but, ultimately, a big snooze but I liked the gates. I’m partial to saffron. The Gormley statues on the ground and surrounding rooftops of Madison Sq Park were definitely a home run, although I didn’t need to see his junk.

        The art budgets are meager because they’re not seen as revenue-generating. Sad.

  4. Human League? Hey now!
    Obviously you must be thinking of her now, with these journals, but have you done so, through the years? Not that it means anything to do so, other than self-wounding. But some girls are always there, right? I read a great line the other day in Exit West, which probably won’t win the Booker Prize but is a beautiful work: “…so their memories took on potential, which is of course how our greatest nostalgias are born.”

    • If I had to guess who’d spot that earworm it’d be you. You seem to be tuned to the same radio frequency as I am/was.

      I’ve occasionally thought of her throughout the years (decades!) but, yes, her resurgence in my journals has caused me a bit more ruminating than is typical. The age-old game, what if.

      I don’t know Exit West but if it’s got more great lines like that in it, sign me up.

    • That line from Exit West is brilliant and i think i’m gonna have to dredge up a copy of that book (when it hits the used shelves that is)… and i’m always fascinated by the plight of the modern male and the lack of confidence in their interactions with women, i guess i was a different animal in that i didn’t lack in the confidence department and from what i’ve gathered had a pretty easy time at landing girlfriends, however short lived, i’ll freely admit i usually had one thing in mind and when i got bored i moved on, call me a cad…

      and there are a handful of women where that line hits home like a sledgehammer… i can think of four or five right off the top…

      Still kicking myself for missing the Ai Weiwei exhibit at the Warhol…

      • I always put too much thought into these things. Especially at that dopy age. I had a hard time with sex as purely a recreational activity. It always ended ugly when I did that. And I don’t know what I had more, dishing it out the bad news or getting it.

        Have you been to the Warhol museum yet? Don’t delay another minute! The patron saint of Pittsburgh.

  5. Really? You saw Angels in American in its first run? May I shake your hand? (Was this before or after the Pulitzer? Say before and I’ll kiss your hand.)
    Any plans on catching the revival?

    • Oh, what brags I have for you. Saw Angels about two weeks after it opened on Bway, so that would’ve been prior to its Pulitzer AND Best Play Tony. Original cast! I remember being very upset after the show. Also saw Perestroika when it opened on Bway later that same year. Not quite as compelling as Angels. I don’t know about the revival. It’s not until next March and I can’t think that far in advance. But Nathan Lane as Roy Cohen is irresistible.

  6. For once I’m “in the know” with your art posts. We watched CBS Sunday Morning recently and saw an interesting report on Ai Weiwei and the Fences exhibit. I guess some people are tired of him, but I like how he makes people think.

    How cool you were able to go to CBGB. Did you think so at the time? Or was it just packed, loud, and gross?

    • I’m going to Google that Sunday Morning segment. Thanks for the tip. They’re up until Feb and I’m looking forward to seeing them covered with snow.

      CBGBs was well past its prime when I was going there. It was packed, loud and gross and I LOVED IT. I felt lucky to be there. Now it’s gone, gone, gone. A John Varvatos store, of all things.

  7. I need to tell you this: an artist who got her masters in art along with my brother and her husband sent me an article that combined art and pharmaceuticals:

    I really know nothing of art any more, except what I read on your blog. But because of what you’ve taught me I was able to make a funny comment to a bunch of artists. (I suggested that the combo of art and drugs should have resulted in more a Jeff Koons sculptures). It was nice. Thanks!

    • Ah, you have come a long way, Grasshopper. Now, try to snatch the pebble from my hand. I hope they laughed at your quip, It’s a good one. That article seems endless. Is it worth the time + effort?

      BTW, the fall art auctions arrive in just two week and I. CAN’T. WAIT. Just wait until you see come of the crapola they’re selling. And some of the masterpieces, too. A brilliant, bright Rothko. Slobber.

      • You are a master teacher!

        The article is long. It basically says that the Sackler family, who gave given so much to art and culture are getting richer off the opioid epidemic. Sad really. And they loved my quip Plus it hid my ignorance of current art quite nicely. It’s a win-win!

        You need to buy lottery tickets before the auction. 🍀🤞

  8. “The taxi driver had such horrific B.O. that we settled for a kiss on the cheek.” <– this is SUCH a NYC problem….

    i want to see the arch. that is not only beautiful, mesmerizing an multi-dimensional — but it's a fucking work of engineering genius! if i can't get a visa to go spend a month in Turkey this year (thanks, marmalade mugabe), i will have more free time to travel domestically and might add a trip to NYC.

    • Smelly cabs are not really a problem anymore but in 1993 it was a HUGE, stinky problem. Glad they got it under control.

      Those arches will be around until February. Just as an aside, they started construction on the holiday ice rink and restaurant in Bryant Park. Remember? That was a nice evening. Hope you get to Turkey. All good wishes to everyone there.

    • It was a cultural problem. Many of the immigrant cabdrivers didn’t use deodorant. It led to some horrific negative stereotyping. The Taxi and Limousine Commission eventually had to launch an education campaign for the drivers.

  9. Your best writing has been about you and Laura. But now it is time to stop bearing your soul from a time that has long gone. IMO. This will eventually lead to complications with the 3 women at home.
    You can always change the URL to great pics of NYC and ART auction results. Just trying to hepp ya! Can’t wait to see your 2017 Fall Art auction pics.
    I think Trump lost The Plaza in 1992. There has been a couple of owners mainly from the Middle East and a major renovation since 1992. His DNA has been washed out.

    • Your comment has left me gobsmacked. You’re right. This stuff is okay for an anonymous public, but what happens once my daughters see it? My wife has already sworn off this blog, partially for its content but also because she just doesn’t find it all that interesting. That’s okay. You can’t please everyone. But I really should think about stopping. The problem is, I kind of enjoy it. Is this yet ANOTHER thing I have to give up because I’m married with children? I thought that was a closed list but perhaps not.

      I think you’re right about Trump/Plaza Hotel. I remember his first wife was in charge of decoration and she turned it into a garish Eastern European castle fit for Dracula.

  10. It’s a beautiful city. I go every so often because my brother-in-law live there, in Brooklyn. Trump does screw everything up. We have a Trump Tower in Chicago, and we don’t even like saying his name, so we call it Cheeto Tower. Gosh, I hate that jerk. He just stinks.

    I feel like your old journal entries are like a “How I Met Your Mother” type thing. I keep wondering which one ends up being the wife and mom to your kiddos.

    • I was in Brooklyn for years and loved it. The only reason I wound up in Manhattan was because someone called and offered me a giant, rent controlled apartment for CHEAP in a drug-infested neighborhood. Otherwise, I never would’ve left Bklyn.

      I’ve read about the Trump eyesore in Chicago. Didn’t he blaze his name across the front in gigantic gold letters? So classy.

      If someone wants to write a gigantic check and co-opt my journals for a TV show that’s okay with me. Prolly won’t happen but just sayin’.

  11. You seem to have turned a corner in this journal entry, more adult somehow. It is fascinating to read about the every day life and thoughts of a real young man (as opposed to fictional), makes me less judgemental I think.

    I’m very fond of Ai Wei Wei and would love to see more of his work in the flesh. The only way I have found of making any sense of conceptual art is to interrogate it, begin with the title and examine the ways it connects to the physical work. This is a meaty title, a common idiom which we could do with examining too, and I guess that’s what Wei Wei has in mind. Also, there’s a Robert Frost poem with a similar title, reading that could help. But there’s nothing wrong, anyway, with just enjoying the spectacle, is there?

    • I was in the midst of being burned and I guess that’s when we all do our fast maturing, isn’t it? I kind of hope my daughters get burned early and get it out of the way. The longer you wait, the harder it is.

      Weiwei stands accused of overexposure but I don’t mind him one bit. I wish I could’ve seen his porcelain seed installation in the Tate Modern. I’ll bet that was a sight! That Robert Frost poem is cited in the materials. Ai Weiwei giving where credit where it’s due!

      • I suspect whatever age you are the first time is always going to be hard, but I know what you mean. The young are probably more plastic.

        The porcelain seed installation is the only one of his I’ve seen, but by the time I got there they’d cordoned it off so you couldn’t touch it, which was one of the points of it.

      • Did you really need the tactile experience in order to enjoy the seed installation? Wasn’t it enjoyable enough just from a visual standpoint? I always thought it must’ve looked fantastic in that giant hall.

  12. The installations are cool. But the most impressive thing is that you hauled your cookies out of the sack that early in the morning to get the right lighting for your shots – a true art lover!

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