Blue in New York City


May 16, 1993

I was depressed so I went to the Polish Kitchen on Avenue A and 2nd Street and ate a big plate of pierogi with sour cream and fried onions. Peasant food always cheers me up. Afterwards, I sat at a bar on Ludlow St. and read the paper. Judd Nelson pleaded no contest to kicking Kim Evans in the head.

Went home, sat on the fire escape and read a Mamet book. I brought the phone outside but when it rang I didn’t answer it. I was afraid it was Laura and I didn’t want her to know I was sitting at home with nothing to do on such a beautiful night. Turns out it WAS Laura. She left a sweet message. Thank God for my cunning.

There’s a thick, metal bar that stretches from the fire escape to the building that will support my weight so I’m going to start doing chin-ups every morning.

Got a call to do some freelance work at Lehman Brothers but I declined, despite being dead broke. These are awful days. Bonnie has been very good to me, though. I can talk to her about anything. She might be going to the Berkshires for the weekend. I told her she’s not permitted because I need her here. We laughed but I wasn’t kidding.

I saw Laura four days ago but it feels like a month has passed. I told her I was busy every night this week but the truth is I have no plans. I don’t want her to think she’s running unopposed. I hate playing these idiot games but everyone in Manhattan does it. I’d see her tomorrow if it weren’t for fucking Baby Gap.

This has to end. Enough. I’m going to tell her to stop calling. Between the boyfriend in Nebraska and the ever-present danger of an acting gig that’ll require her to make out with some random guy 8x/week in front of an audience, I simply can’t take it anymore. I shouldn’t date actresses but I can’t help it. I love them so much. I’ll go back to Ann and her coconut oil-slathered nights.

Is that how it is? I can’t be with a woman if I care about her too much? I can only sustain a relationship if I don’t mind losing her? What the hell is wrong with me?

Do you want to hear something funny? I’m depressed, broke and my heart is heavy, but I’m not bored. I can’t recall the last time I was bored. I’ll never break up with New York.


This Christmas, vinyl was introduced to a new generation. She ASKED for it. I didn’t impose my old man ways on her. She’s got a romantic notion in her head.

It’s a thrill to read liner notes again. But wait until she finds out what a pain in the ass LPs are. Their delicate nature. You can’t skip a bad song. I predict she’ll run back to digital by spring.


Would you indulge me and allow an idle brag? Just this once? A journalist in Dubai was interviewed about how art affects her life.


Bryant Park deep freeze. Friday, December 29. 2:00 p.m.

68 thoughts on “Blue in New York City

  1. What a wonderful feather in your cap! The mention from Dubai, I mean.
    And the discovery of vinyl, too.I miss my golden oldies and will be delighted when we either get the current turntable fixed or buy a new one.You should come over, I’m sure there’s something you’d like…
    Happy New Year!

    • Isn’t that a nice thing of her to say? I feel pretty good about myself which, quite honestly, doesn’t happen often enough.

      I think I’m annoying my daughter because I’m playing with the turntable a bit too much. It takes me BACK.

      Happy New Year to you as well. I’d love to pop in. I’ll call ahead.

      • Probably wise – we have half the furniture on the deck while I wrestle the bloody ants into submission. But there will ALWAYS be Cole Porter. (Among other)

  2. Very cool about the journalist mentioning your blog. I think we all love your virtual art exhibits. It’s always mind-boggling to see what people will pay for art, but it’s also fascinating to see what the artists come up with.

    So, based on your flashback section, I have to ask: Did you end up marrying an actress?

  3. See, I told you that your Art blogs are the best!
    I thought I was the only one who thinks to sustain a relationship is to not care that much about it (sic). If I really cared about someone, I acted like an idiot. Thus ‘no hand’ and you’re at their mercy.
    I only bought one vinyl, Sgt. Pepper, back in ’68. Several 8 track tapes, big mistake. I thought cassettes could never be replaced by better technology. Way too many CD’s, and that’s where I stop, enough. Just give me Sirius XM radio for all my moods.

    • It’s not as if I thought my art posts were shouting into a void, but I didn’t expect public acknowledgement. In Dubai!

      I think you have to get older to develop the right perspective. I love this passage from Bukowski’s FACTOTUM:

      “You look down in the mouth. You all right?”
      “Lost a woman.”
      “You’ll have others and lose them, too.”

      That Elvis album in the pic comes in a gate fold sleeve. Some nice pics and notes included.

  4. I’m glad vinyl is back, but it’s lost it’s workingman vibe; I sure can’t afford it.
    Re the shoutout: noice! Someone we know from down here in the peanut gallery? Goes to show that you never know who you’re influencing. I love your art shows, and as someone who’s never paid that much attention, I know I’ve picked something up from them, i.e. I now know what a Mark Rothko painting looks like. So here’s to compliments from strangers and virtual acquaintances!

    • I went to the used vinyl store and picked up a few for about $5-6 bucks. But NEW vinyl will cost you upwards of $22! It’s ridiculous! Do they want people back in the fold or not?

      She does not, and as never, posted a comment. I knew she was out there but she’s silent. I’d like to influence someone with a lot of money and contract.

  5. Congratulations, Mark, for changing the world inside your house and on another continent, with your actions and notions that can lead a daughter to vinyl for the first time and words and photos that can lead a reader back to museums.
    Up here in Syracuse, I cooked the wife and I some fresh kielbasa and pierogi for dinner on Christmas night. Comfort food still for me, too, pal.

    • Thanks, Mark. It’s nice. I usually don’t allow myself to feel good about a compliment. My damaged self thinks all compliments are an act of charity. But I’m a work in progress and I think I’ll take this one to the bank.

      They don’t call it comfort food for nothing. Throw in some stuffed cabbage and you’ve got yourself a bit of heaven on a plate. Down all that and you’ll sleep like a stone.

  6. Read this in bed last night on my phone and enjoyed the sound of it, hearing what feels like a deeper or more revealing piece, though hard to say…these things get combined into a slurry, don’t they? Happy to see the vinyl bit but you’re right, man they are a pain. I’d forgotten. Like getting China out for dinner or something. Or Korea.

    • This is my ‘I give up’ piece. I think I’d had about all I could take at that point. It was the start of the unraveling.

      If you’re a major audiophile, yes, albums. But digital is just too convenient and easy to use to pass up. Sorry, music snobs.

      • I do a blend with about every format still but cassette tapes. “I give up,” get that. Good time to memorialize I think.

      • I had a cassette tape of Rush’s ‘A Farewell to Kinks.’ Their “hit,” Closer to the Heart, was broken between sides A and B. The guitar solo would start, fade out, you had to QUICKLY flip the cassette and the guitar solo would fade back in and conclude. It was preposterous.

  7. Great shoutout! Nice year-end present.

    Record costs are crazy but to be expected, I guess. My husband has a huge collection from the 60s, 70s and early 80s, all in good condition with well fingered liner notes and jackets.

  8. Congrats on inspiring a new generation to appreciate art. My mom took us to museums (and the ballet and concerts) and had art books in the house. I took art classes. Loved it and am grateful for her guidance. Of course, I grew up in the 60s and 70s…

  9. Happy New Year, Monsieur Pain!!!
    Thank you for blogging and making me wish I had written my own journals properly…. instead of an interesting, detailed account I have short sentences such as: Stuart is a pig. Why doesn’t he love me? I went down on him, what more could he want?
    Anyhow, I wouldn’t confess such things normally, but it is New Year’s Eve and I have had a tipple.
    Have a brilliant New Year!!!

    • Happy new year to you, too! Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t kept these things. I keep wondering with the fallout will be when their discovered. And to be perfectly honest, going through this current batch of entries is not fun. I put all the stuff behind me.

      Stuart IS a pig. That ingrate. I’ll bet he’s sorry now. I’m off to Google ‘tipple.’

  10. You underestimate how much we plebes love your art postings. I learn enough from you to fake it talking with my brother who has two MFAs from the Chicago Art Institute. So while I am delighted by your shout out, I am not at all surprised.

    That same brother left me his extensive album collection when he moved to California for college. His daughter is now interested and I have promised to return them. 💿📀💽

    Happy New Year to you and yours, Mark. May 2018 not suck.

    • But that’s the rub. I’m just a plebe, too! I don’t have the third eye or any expertise. Just better access.

      You better return those albums post haste, before she discovers what a load of work they are. And let’s not get started about the storage problem!

      2018. It’s GOT to be better. Right?

  11. Mark, the best to you in 2018. I’m not around much but I love your posts – dearly. They are the stuff of what blogging should be about. That’s cool that someone has been impressed by you to such a degree. Give yourself a pat on the back, man.

  12. So, I loved the journal entry as always, but what was the issue with Baby Gap? Did you work there back then? That confused me, but intrigued me at the same time. Hahaha.

    Also, great work introducing your kids to vinyl. My kiddos won’t be able to help being around records spinning constantly. It’s just what I do around here.

    AND WOW! AWESOME that you got mentioned as an influence in that article. That’s tremendous that you have had an impact on someone like that. Keep doing what you’re doing.

    • She had a party-time gig at Baby Gap. She was on call and would be summoned in at the last minute. I was cock-blocked by Baby Gap on numerous occasions.

      I don’t know where she got the idea to ask for a record player. It wasn’t from me! One of her friends probably had one. I approve.

      Re: the influence. I guess this is how teachers must feel every day of their lives.

  13. That mention is better than a thousand site visits – better than a MILLION! Very cool. i agree – your ability to bring art to a practical level of appreciation is a gift. Thanks for the virtual art museum tours… you’re good at it!

  14. Peasant food cheers you up because it reminds you of home… in the most idyllic sense, i love a big plate of pierogi and haluski, some of my favorite stuff in the world, we’re West Siders man we were raised on that shit…
    and congrats to the daughter on discovering the world of vinyl, as a vinyl nerd i can say there is no finer way to listen to music, mainly for what you stated, it’s a commitment to listen to the piece as a whole instead of picking out the single and will make the discerning listener think twice before buying a shit record, you find that most of the stuff you keep is pretty good from start to finish, of course the kids will always love the digital but the ritual of playing, flipping, caring for records is something else entirely…
    and much congrats on the shout out, it’s well deserved, keep up the good work sir…

    the lounge will be 11 (since you and Daisy are celebrating blogdays) on Jan. 16, as one who lacks talent, ambition and readers i am a case study on the sad habits of the stoner shut-in but i’ll keep doing it anyway otherwise these idle hands would get me into trouble… so happy Blog Day early my good man…

    • When you’ve eaten a hefty Eastern European dinner, you KNOW you’ve eaten. It stays with you a good, long time. That’s value.

      I’m still not sure the vinyl will stick. It’s such a hassle and she’s got a very small bedroom. No room for a Peaches crate. We’ll see how long it takes for the luster to dim. My first album was a Mott the Hoople album from Record Theater. Do you know where that was? Or are you too young?

      11 years is a pretty good run. Lots of folks don’t make it 11 months. I take exception to you lack of talent comment. While the ambition isn’t there, the talent sure is. Same here. Talent without drive is like kissing your aunt. Wholly unsatisfying.

  15. Sorry I’m late, I’ve been proper poorly. Having read this I should have gone for a plate of pierogi with some borsch. I love peasant food. Someone from your side of the pond sent me a recipe for Jewish chicken soup. Bloody loved it and think it may be working.

    I love the fact you sat on the fire escape reading a book.

    Your blog has special kudos now!

    Love the deep freeze – love it.

    Happy New year!

    • Late, schmate. I’m happy to have you anytime you’re good and ready. There’s no timetable.

      Do you know why peasant food is so scrumptious to me? Because I was raised like a peasant. I’m not trying to be ironic or clever. Chicken soup has medicinal properties. It’s a FACT.

      Reading on a fire escape was my bohemian/Jack Kerouac phase.

    • Do you think I might’ve missed my calling? Should I have gotten some teaching credentials? Too late. The vinyl wasn’t my doing. I think she saw a turntable over a friend’s house and was fascinated. It’d be like if you and I saw a wind-up gramophone in action.

  16. You are the Art Man, congratulations on some well deserved recognition.

    The Mr. has tons of vinyl and an ancient turntable, but we almost never play any of them; I do love fondling the covers though, and the art work on some of them is wonderful. We have a little shop in town called ‘The Ram Shack’ that sells old and new vinyl – as well as CDs which also seem old-school – including ‘collectible’ rare stuff, but I only go in about once a year as feel like I’m wasting his time drooling but not buying. It is like going into a gallery rather than a shop, and stepping back in time, I’d love to sit in a corner with a typewriter for a month, but I don’t have a typewriter and my laptop would feel wrong.

    So, did you end it with Laura, or hang on for a little longer?

    • I don’t feel like the art man. Just a guy who’s lucky enough to be in close proximity to some great art. Expert by dint of geography.

      I loved using the album jackets to clean weed out and read about the specific musicians on each individual track. That’s all gone, probably never to return again. They claim it’s making a comeback but I can’t imagine LPs ever being as popular as they once were.

      This was the beginning of the end with Laura. I flamed out in fairly short order. I couldn’t take it. I was weakened by love.

      • Yeah, but millions of people are in New York, and other big cities where art resides, yet they don’t share it with the rest of the world. You’re interested enough to go and see it, and then show us what you see, that makes you the Art Man to me.

      • That’s a good point. I don’t know how many ex-New Yorkers I’ve spoken to who’ve all expressed regret that they didn’t take advantage of all the city has to offer when they were here. If you live in the general vicinity and don’t visit an art museum or Carnegie Hall once in a while, you’re making a big mistake.

  17. I love anything with sour cream but haven’t come across pierogi – I’ve led a sheltered life.
    “I came across an American writer”… is there anything more joyous than to be read and remembered purely for what one has written – no strings. Hooray for you!

    • You’ve never eaten a pierogi? Is that what you’re implying? It’s just a dumpling, is all. And I’ve been reading your story long enough to know you have NOT lead a sheltered life!

      I’ll be the recognition with remuneration is kind of sweet, too. 😉

  18. The first bit of this entry made me think inwardly. Ring her up! Answer the fucking call! Sod all this trying to be cool shit. Then, like me with Wendy a little bit, you have to just realise that the kind of affection that girl is offering isn’t what you want, and your attempts to adapt to it will only cause pain.

    Have you still got the postcard she mentioned? And did you ever correspond with her?

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