I don’t work for The New York Times but I do work in Times headquarters. It was designed by the charmingly-named Italian architect Renzo Piano. He also designed the Whitney Museum of Art and The Shard in London.

The Times HQ is a high-prolife address. We get protesters out front on a semi-regular basis. Various fringe groups hang banners on the building adjacent to the main entrance demanding The Times pay more attention to their special obsession.

Occasionally, like, for instance, yesterday, an NYPD flatbed semi will roll up 8th Avenue with a load of concrete barriers. The kind that’ll prevent a truck ladened with explosives from driving through the main entrance.

They’ll set up a ring around the perimeter.

It’s a little unnerving to wonder what prompts this. Who are they trying to keep out? Later in the day a company-wide email was circulated stating the barricades were being installed in advance of Election Day. Are they worried about violence and destruction of property after the results are announced? What have we become? A third-world banana republic?


I bought a lottery ticket, which is something I never do. It’s humiliating. I fancy myself a sophisticated student of the odds. I like casinos and craps tables. Even slot machines, the bastion of blue-haired old ladies, have more dignity than lotto. Barely.

I took this shot when no one was looking. They don’t like you taking photos inside the casino. They’ll throw you out if they catch you.

What I didn’t realize until later was that I inadvertently caught, in a blur on the left mid-photo, the dice flying through the air. A six and a five. That’s yo-11.

The state lottery is a tax on the desperate. But if you’re going to jack that pot up to $970,000,000 then deal me in. An incomprehensible amount of money. I could finally buy a Rothko!

If I win I’ll get rid of the few friends I have and surround myself with sycophants and boot lickers. I’ll get a girlfriend half my age. Japanese. Barely understands English. Named Yum-Yum.

I hope I don’t win. I couldn’t handle it.


I was down at Astor Place in the East Village last week. Long time gone. It was different and the same. I wasn’t bothered by the changes. It’s a waste of time to complain about gentrification. It’s the oldest bitch in the book.

“In twenty years, or thirty at farthest, we shall see here nothing more romantic than shipping, warehouses, and wharves. Every noble cliff will be a pier, and the whole island will be densely desecrated by buildings of brick, with portentous of brown-stone, as the Gothamites have it.”

Edgar Allan Poe in a letter from 1844

I had a shawarma pita at Mamoun’s. Still cheap and good. Saw a play at The Public. Glenn Close plays Joan of Arc’s mother. My two friends loved it, as did the reviewers, but I thought it was simply okay. It was disjointed. The dialogue toggled between contemporary and period language. It was either funny or they were describing how Joan was burned. The cast was strong but the actor playing Joan was a weak link. And if your play is about Joan of Arc, that’s a problem.

I should’ve waiting until after the reviews were out to see it. Then I would’ve known how to react. I’d still take a night of middling theater over a night of epic TV.


We are moving to the part of the year when the sun is rising just as I arrive at work. I’m hoping the new construction to the left of the Chrysler Building won’t obstruct my view when it’s completed.

55 thoughts on “Blockade

  1. It’s fun working in a high profile building, isn’t it?
    If I won the lottery I’d give you a share – I wish they would carve the potential winnings into smaller chunks, so if I won an unfeasible amount that’s what I’d do…. not that I play it often.

    • I don’t enjoy coming into an office every morning. It’s stifling. If I have to do it, I couldn’t think of a better place.

      They recently posted the odds of winning this extraordinary amount of money. I think it ran in the billions-to-one. If you’re sitting a crap table you never place a bet on that.

  2. What? You mean every floor of The New York Times building is filled with journalists? It isn’t an ENTIRE BUILDING devoted to enlightening the masses? I am heartbroken! 😉 Barriers are going up around here to prevent voting, so I’m guessing we’ve already devolved into a banana republic.

    The MITM buys his lotto tickets online rather than admit to his occasional vice. Yesterday he found out that any win under $600 isn’t paid out, but you must use it to buy more tickets! (Yes, I’, still laughing.)

    I think I may have mentioned this before, but I’ve had to walk away from casino tables BECAUSE I found out that I could easily have a problem, if you know what I mean! Great pic of the table.

    Live theater has become the stuff of dreams for me. BUT, I do read NYT reviews to make up for it.

    Gorgeous view you have and I seriously hope it isn’t destroyed by yet another stack of blocks. Seems stuff springs up in the best places and still tries to blend in and be part of the historic fabric of the neighborhood. At least that’s what they say around here!

    And, thanks. You know why. xoxo

    • There are several firms in this building. I think the Times takes up the majority of the square footage but there’s also finance, lawyers, all sorts of nonsense going on here. It’s a nice revenue stream for the paper.

      I bought my lottery ticket far away from where I work. I didn’t want anyone at work to see me. It’s embarrassing!

      I had a bit of a problem with the casinos at first but I got a handle on it. Now it’s just dangerous fun.

      If the view is blocked there’s not much I can do about it. I’ll just be grateful for all the years I had it.

  3. That is a fabulous view. And your photos are pretty wonderful. (But you forgot to add a cat picture.)

    Those barriers are rather disconcerting. Wow.

    I’ve bought lottery tickets before – I don’t think it’s embarrassing. Planning your retirement around a lottery win? (I read somewhere that some people do that.) That’s embarrassing.

    Great post – thanks.

    • No cat picture! What was I thinking!? Actually I’m thinking people are getting sick of looking at those cats so I left them out. Quality control.

      I’ve been at my company for about 4 1/2 years and am not sick of these views. Some people here don’t see it anymore. They are numb do it. Not me.

      Lottery odds are the worst in the house. You might just as well set your money on fire. Or you might just as well win hundreds of millions of dollars.

  4. We are well on the way to Banana Republicanism, though most of us don’t want that. I’d say 80% of us don’t want that, but this 80% of us is being waylaid by the extreme 20% on either side, half on the right, half on the left. There’s no shame in buying the occasional lottery ticket. People do win, and if you don’t play, you don’t win. The shame is in buying them once or twice a week, or in batches of five or ten dollars. I’ve only spent a handful of days in New York, but they were pretty magical, and this post somehow brings that magic back to mind. Each time I went was because of a girl. I have a hypothesis that every girl in America, at some point between the ages of 20 and 29, will want to move to either NY or LA. I believe this to be scientifically verifiable in the laboratory.

  5. Everyone has a ‘Special Obsession’, especially THE TIMES. We should stop having Elections, thus eliminating all chaos, arguments, protesting and destroying peoples lives with hear say and false accusations.
    The pic of the Craps table made me salivate. Nobody was betting the Field. I like betting the Field and buying 5, 6 & 8 and any seven. Every roll is a winner somewhere on the table. LOL
    The office window pics are great but I do miss the Cat pics.

    • What do you mean stop having elections?! What are we supposed to do instead? That’s a terrible idea. I’m against it unless I’m the one who picks who goes in the office.In that case, it’s OK.

      I always thought the field was a sucker bet but I’ve seen people make a ton o’ money off of it so who knows?

      I thought I was overdoing it with the cat pics. What kind of man of mine?! OK, I’ll bring them back.

      • Of course it is terrible idea! But there is a major Party hinting, because their candidates keep losing.
        I saw the Field hit 13 times in a row. What a time to Let It Ride! Also saw black come up 13 times in a row on a Roulette Wheel.

  6. The first time I was ever in a casino (Vegas), I saw a cart being pulled with cases of quarters in which to fill machines. I snapped a picture of it with my camera. I had no idea that there was a rule about taking pictures, and immediately a security guy started yelling at me. I wanted to laugh, but he was literally in my face about it, so I decided it was safer to just apologize. A few years after that, I read they had relaxed that rule and now you can take pictures in casinos? I no longer go to them, so I’m not sure.

    I’m a sucker for those huge lotto drawings. I feel like one of many lemmings running off a cliff, yet I always buy one (or two, or three…).

    • Do you remember which casino you were in? I would’ve loved my first peek of a casino to be in Las Vegas. I had to settle for Atlantic City. It didn’t seem to matter in the long run, but still. Not sure if the law changed. I’ll ask next time I’m in a casino. Or, I’ll just whip out my camera and find out the hard way.

      You have a better chance of being elected President of the US than winning that lottery.

      • I think it was Bally’s. I remember it being across from Caesars, and I wondered at the time why we couldn’t stay in a nice place like that instead. Atlantic City casinos were always so depressing no matter how hard they tried to dress them up. I guess the only thing more depressing was the boardwalk with those boarded up storefronts. The pizza joints on it were always good, though.

      • My wife doesn’t mind if I go to Atlantic City as long as I 1) don’t lose money we don’t have and 2) not ask her to go. It is kind of depressing. But it’s great for someone like me who has long-standing self esteem issues. I walk around Atlantic City for a day and feel a lot better about myself.

  7. My husband always says that if he wins the lottery he and the dog will send me a postcard from their new home. He can have the lottery winnings. No way he gets to take the dog with him, though.
    Maybe I should buy my own lottery ticket this time?

  8. Nice views you have but oh my goodness- all those building make me nervous. Too many people for my little country mind. But they say it grows on you or if you are born/reared in that environment then you love it. Anyhow, in my way of thinking those barriers need to be doubled. You never know when the crazies will be unleased..

    Now about the Japanese girl named Yum Yum. Mark, you are totally nuts. I laughed. Not that you were trying to be funny.

    And last but not least. Where oh where are the cat pics. Forget quality control. The cats are quality!

  9. You know how I feel about cats! And the Chrysler Building. Casinos and lotteries-not so much. But I can ALWAYS count on a good read when I come here. Even when I’m late! (I’ve been out of town)

  10. Back in the day when i worked at the Big World Bank Machine we had the built in bollards to protect us from the bad guys… along with armed guards equipped with automatic weapons, metal detectors, x-ray machines, the works, nothing but the best for us lumpen-prole working for the Overlords of World Finance…

    And why not piss away a few bucks on a dream? how often does the human race do that? every second of every day it happens millions of times all over the world, the have-nots take a chance on any number of schemes to become one of the haves, i spent seven years risking incarceration chasing the dollar, sometimes to pay rent and eat and sometimes to live like a fucking king!! Now i buy that ticket so i can run for office, i mean once i’m filthy rich i automatically become more important and my opinion becomes fact and my sordid past shouldn’t be a problem in the least, in fact it should qualify me more for important gigs like senator or president or supreme court justice, just a mild mannered ex-hoodlum looking espouse his world view!! (for the record my crimes were different than Beery Brett and the Orange Shitgibbons, i at least was a criminal with moral and ethical standards 😉

    • I absolutely piss away a few quid on the dream. I go to Atlantic City and piss few away down there as well. It’s just that I can think of better bets to lay.

      I believe instant wealth would ruin me. I’m almost 100% certain I couldn’t handle it.

  11. I’ve only been in a casino once and I loved it. set an alarm for my train home at about 6.30am and turned it off, I was enjoying myself so much. I didn’t understand what was going on but it was fascinating. You’ve made me want to plan another trip to Manchester!

    America is verging on the fasciistic. The President praising someone who physically attacked a journalist?!

    • When a vocal minority and wealthy oligarchs prop up a complete moron and criminal you know you’re in serious trouble, having studied the rise and fall of the nazi shitbags there are some very disturbing parallels in this country, mainly a bunch of dumb ass white people afraid of losing their “status” as greeter at Wal-Mart, who then show up at “rallies” and cheer every word while the Orange Shitgibbon spews a not so subtle form of racism, misogyny and bigotry, i keep getting the feeling it was a grand experiment but the assholes of the GOP have hi-jacked it and it’s about to fail… and scarily slide into that fascist state.

      The Orange Shitgibbon is Big Brother, listen to his rhetoric about how “only he knows” and “he is an expert on everything” and “without him the country and economy would collapse”, it’s fucking mental, the guy is a con-man who’s owned by the Russian mob and intelligence, he’s been laundering their money since the fall of the Soviet Union, Craig Unger lays it out, 1300 all cash transactions from shell companies traced back to known Russian mob and ex-KGB for “real estate” and condos in Trump Tower, hell the damn Rooskies set up shop in Trump Tower but no worries, no collusion here, egads!!!

      • And yet, AND YET, he enjoys record support amongst his electorate.He has some kind of weird magic voodoo. People can’t get enough of his aggressions. There is it going to be a blue wave in two weeks. It’s like 2016 where all the polls pointed one way but the opposite is going to occur.

    • By verging on the fantastic do you mean standing on the precipitous of moral bankruptcy? Because that’s kind of what it feels like. Every day is a new outrage. You’d think you’d get numb to it by now but you don’t. Each wound is fresh.

  12. I bought 4 tickets last weekend and managed three numbers…on three separate tickets. I guess I played for the shits and giggles but I wouldn’t know what to do with all the money anyway. So many lottery winners end up cursed. Could you imagine the amount of people bothering you for money? I’d end up donating most to worthy causes, with just enough to buy myself a remote island with no internet access. I’d die peaceful and happy!

    • The good news is you can go buy another four tickets and be twice as wealthy. I wasn’t kidding when I said that it would be a terrible idea for me. I have no doubt I could carried away with myself. Who needs that noise?

  13. If I won the now 1.6 billion, Mark, I’d buy a bigger flat screen, more comfy recliner, and a house where my dear wife and I could blend in without being known as Those Stinking Lotto Winners. Fat chance on all that, right?
    I’m glad to read that your back allowed you to attend the play, middling reaction to it and all.
    Interesting blockade photos of The Times building. Wouldn’t it be worse if there were no reaction here to these political times? But, yes, driving anything through a building, no way.
    I, too, hope construction never blocks that sunrise view you have from on high.

    • There was a great article on the Times about what you should do if you won that much money. It’s pretty serious stuff. Their first and most important piece of advice was to keep your mouth shut. Then, surround yourself with a team of lawyers and financers. Then, and only then, do you cash the ticket in. I’m glad I didn’t win. For real!

      I went to another play last night and it was a terrible mistake. It was 3:15 long and today my back is howling. When am I going to heal? Ever?

  14. I also think that lottery is a tax on the desperate and stupid. However, considering that the chances of winning the Mega Millions or Powerball jackpot are about 1 in 300 million and taxes will take about 40%, it means that when a jackpot reaches 500 million or more, the statistical expected value of playing is actually positive – meaning, roughly, if you were to buy the tickets with all possible combinations, you would still come out ahead. (A fun trivia fact – someone actually tried that once on some state lottery in a similar situation where buying all the tickets would give a guaranteed win, but didn’t buy every number and didn’t end up winning the jackpot.)
    So for all my disdain for lotteries, if a jackpot goes over $500 million, I buy the ticket – just one, an admission price for a temporary dream. And as prices go, $2 can’t really buy much else anyway.

    • I’m intrigued by your fun trivia fact. Sounds kind of scammy but perfectly legal. And why didn’t it work? They didn’t buy ALL the possible combinations? What an oversight! Did they run out of time? Not realize they didn’t have them all? Get bored and stop buying? If you’re going to commit to something as zany as that, you have to go all in and see it through to completion,

      Your rational for buying a ticket sound more like a intellectual rational for buying a ticket. If ‘therefore’ figures into it, it’s being overthought. Why not just for desperate, stupid fun. That’s what I do. I didn’t win the 1.6, obviously. I need to find a new dream.

  15. Bollards. Sounds like “bullocks,” which is what I call all this homeland-security, fear-mongering nonsense. I’ve seen it on our small border; tons of money thrown at them to beef up the border, thus they must create the sense of a major threat where there is, at best, a minor one. They’re currently threatening to install bollards around my beloved library to stop people from driving across the lawn from Canada to USA and vice-versa. But that’s all they ever say: “people,” “them,” “bad hombres.” Never statistics to back it up. Trust us; we’re security. They’ve also started breaking up small gatherings of families in the library. It’s true that (I gather) the Iranian community has heard about our little cross-border institution, and so families with line-bound relatives either way are meeting there. Camping out for the day, is more like it. It’s a bit of a nuisance but also kind of beautiful. Border Patrol doesn’t like it. “There’s a reason they’re not allowed in one country or the other,” they warn, vaguely. They might be exchanging goods! Hummus!
    Rant out: love the post, miss the cats, hope you’re well.

    • Speaking of…do know someone tried to blow up CNN today, right? Well, my building–the one you visited–along with all failing lefty news centers were put on lock down, as you can well imagine. Not only did we have the aforementioned concrete barriers, there was MAJOR firepower on display today. Our tax dollars at work. So exciting when nobody gets hurt. Unfortunately, sooner or later, someone is going to get hurt.

      Ross, I love your rants. You c’mon around here anytime you need to vent your spleen. Your rants are never unreasonable or undeserved.

    • How sweet of you to stop by. I’ll bet you’ve got a new post up, to boot, don’t you? I’ll jazz by later and see if I’m right.

      There’s a Yum-Yum out there somewhere for me, waiting for my lottery windfall.

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