About Exile on Pain Street

It's Mrs. Wife (who has requested complete anonymity), two daughters and myself. And a dog. I'd rather it were a cat but the dog won a landslide electoral victory.

+1,100% Return on Investment. You’re welcome.

Six years ago I published a book for Nick Hornby and Bruce Springsteen. There were 200 softcovers signed by Hornby and 26 hardcovers signed by both. I set the published price for the softcovers at $60 and the hardcovers at $225. A hardcover was sold yesterday at a literature auction in San Francisco. It’s the first time one has been offered on the open market since publication. It sold for $2,700.

In granting permission to reprint the copyrighted material, it was stipulated that all proceeds, labor and material had to be donated to charity. I ended up writing a check for close to $18,000 to Ambitious about Autism, a school for autistic children in London. The materials cost about another grand. The labor is incalculable.

This sale has opened a debate. My wife, mother-in-law and a few others feel the seller should send a donation to the charity. I think that’s baloney. The implication is that every time one of these books changes hands, a donation should be made. A contribution would be nice but I see the charitable donation as a one-time event. I feel no weight of obligation. Would you?

Here’s a post about the book. Scroll to the bottom for nice pics.


Late commute back to New Jersey. 20-something-or-other shrew sitting next to me yammering to her boyfriend non-stop for forty minutes, spoiling my commuting bliss. Talking about nothing. She never took a breath or gave him a turn to speak. Who is this poor soul on the other end?

Foofy Bear. My Zen was harshed by Foofy Bear.

Guys: If your woman calls you Foofy Bear, run. Run as far and as fast as your feet and wallet will take you.

Girls: Don’t call your man Foofy Bear. It’s emasculating. Do you want an emasculated man?


A new Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie was on my A-list for the spring season. It has an excellent pedigree. Sally Field plays Amanda Wingfield, the doppelgänger for Tennessee Williams’ demented mother. Directed by Sam Gold, another seasoned pro. I started to hear grumblings and disparaging remarks. I asked a pal the day after he saw it if it was worth my time + money. Here’s his unedited feedback for your amusement.

Glass Menagerie was every bit as awful as everyone says it is. Dreadful. Emotionally void. Modern dress. Virtually no set, except a kitchen table and a modern day phone. No Southern accents. And Laura is played by a disabled actress in a wheelchair whose face is somewhat paralyzed. Makes no sense in terms of the character and watching her get into and out of the chair is horrifying. She gets down on all fours and kind of backs in (with help). I was mortified.

Totally opposite of the beautiful play Williams wrote. Sam Gold, the director, who’s usually wonderful, should be embarrassed. However, the audience liked it and I bet the critics will gush. They wouldn’t dare criticize a disabled actor. Or such a minimal production.

The Gentleman Caller is excellent — what you can see of him, because his big scene with Laura is lit only by candles in a candelabra. And I liked Joe Mantello’s opening and closing monologues.

RT is 2:05 with NO intermission. For no discernible reason.

It’s, quite possibly, one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. I suggest you go, just to see how a classic play can be pulverized into meaningless trash.

IMHO, of course


Guggenheim snowfall outside; Calder inside.

This blog is nine years old today.

Artiste or Old Letch?

A friend was visiting from California and we went for a Chelsea gallery hop. It’s a satisfying way to spend a Saturday afternoon. We stepped into the Mitchell-Innnes & Nash gallery on 26th Street and was blinded by this light.

Monica Bonvicini
Bent and Winded
LED light tubes, wire, steel

I like bright, shiny things and these light tubes had some interesting angles.

A girl walked into the gallery. As she circled the installation I was struck by the contrast of soft human form against cold mechanical edge. I asked permission to take some pics and she said it was okay. She looks like part of the installation.

I loved how these came out. I thought they had genuine artistic merit and shared them with some friends. What I *didn’t* count on was some of the reactions I got. They accused me of being a base old letch.

One guy called me a “perv.” Another one said it was a pro move. What does that even mean? My intentions were honorable and above-board. It’s not like I asked for her name and number or invited her to join us. She really didn’t seem to mind. They spoiled the achievement.

The James Cohan gallery has a nice solo exhibit by Xu Zhen. I like this concept. Zhen is angry but I’m not sure who at or what he’s mad about. This is the only thing on a wall and it’s pretty stark. The shadows help.

Camera, aboriginal spear

Where did he get an aboriginal spear? You don’t just pick these things up in a flea market or pawn shop, do you? Can anyone from down under chime in here?

Also by Zhen is this thick, juicy piece. It’s a nice riot of color and texture but you can’t tell its construction until you’re up close.

Under Heaven
Oil on canvas, aluminum

This is a bouillabaisse of thick, juicy swirls and colors. The artist as a confectioner.

I wonder how many tubes of paint he used? It’s a fairly large piece.

The PACE Gallery is the Big Swinging Membrane in the neighborhood. These all-new works are by Julian Schnabel and is a return to form. From a safe distance it has the calm quality of an Impressionist canvas. They’re inspired by the roses growing in the cemetery near Van Gogh’s grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, France,

Up close, the truth is revealed.

Rose Painting (Near Van Gogh’s Grave) III
Oil, plates and Bondo on wood

The nine pieces are constructed using broken plates, china, cups, saucers, etc. They’re affixed to wood with bondo and painted over. They’re about $1 million each and all but one has sold.

Schnable made a series of ‘broken plate’ pieces early in his career. I think I remember reading that not long after they sold (for a lot of dough) the plates started falling off. Art is supposed to last generations and those pieces didn’t even make it past a hyper-modern fad.

This is in the Whitney’s Fast Forward: Painting Through the 1980s exhibit. The image is from the cover of a mass market spy paperback and I love it.

Walter Robinson
Baron Sinister, 1986
Oil on a printed bedsheet

While enjoying this Bond-esque image, who should walk in front of me but a Whitney security guard. Or is that, in fact, Baron Sinister himself?

Choose your next witticism carefully, Mr. Bond.

I control your mobile phone

I used to carry a cell phone jamming device in my commuting bag. It was necessary for my train ride. Asking someone to kindly lower their voice was always met with a stream of obscenities, no matter how respectful and polite I was. I decided to go nuclear and ordered a cell phone jammer from Hong Kong. It arrived in a plain brown box and it was a dream come true. I stopped using it when it broke. Also, when I came across this:

Illegal to operate, manufacture, import, or offer for sale, (including advertising), with fines of up to $11,000 and imprisonment of up to one year.

At first, I allowed brief, necessary conversations. Announcing a train’s arrival time. Pick up a loaf of bread. Meet at a restaurant. But, as we all know, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I began to employ it simply as a means to entertain myself on my insufferable commute. People are genuinely addicted to cell phones and depriving them of their use is not unlike taking a blankee or a ba ba away from an infant.

I began playing a cat and mouse game. They’d connect and start yammering, I’d jam their signal, then allow them to reconnect and start the process all over again. So fun! It really made my commute fly by.

Here are some snippets from posts I wrote years ago about zapping mobile phone service. Don’t judge me. They were all assholes who were making the people around them miserable. They deserved it. All dialogue is verbatim.

 *     *     *

[Screaming] Stop tellin’ me how to live my life ma! I’m 37 years old!…zap…No, I ain’t hangin’ up on ya, ma! It’s the recep–…zap…I SWEAR I ain’t hangin’ up on ya! Quit yellin’. Don‘t talk to me like tha–…zap…It ain’t ME MA. No, YOU shaddup! It’s this gaddamn CELL PHONE!…zap

Happiness is a warm cell phone jammer.

Bang, bang. Shoot, shoot.

*     *     *

No, I’m on the train right now. Did you see the weather report for the pageant? I need to be careful! I don’t want to be a sunburned beauty queen!


Hello? I don’t know it just went dead. I’LL JUST DIE if I can’t use my ph…


Hello? HELLO?!

It doesn’t take much to push a beauty queen over the edge. It’s like tripping an old lady who’s using a walker.

 *     *     *

Gordon Gekko was sitting behind me on the train. He called his bookie and wanted to place bets on tonight’s baseball games. Loud and clear for all to hear. $200 on the Red Sox. $150 on the White Sox. That’s as far as he got.


I’ve seen people get angry over the inability to make a call but this guy exhibited a deep, primal rage you don’t see in public very often. He was desperate to get his bets in. It was 6:55 and the games start at 7:05. But—son of a gun—try as he might he couldn’t get through. I pictured one of Tony Soprano’s Jersey goombahs on the other end.

He was furious. It was the first time I was worried about retribution. Guys with that kind of commitment to gambling usually have a low threshold for anger + violence.

 *     *     *

A woman became so frustrated with the number of dropped calls on the train that she got her Verizon bill out of her purse, called customer service and started screaming at them. I let that call through.

I was hitting doubles. With one flick of a switch I zapped a yappy 19-ish girl with a hip, urban sendibility sitting directly behind me AND the sideways baseball cap-wearing thug sitting behind her. They were both cursing up a blue streak. Such dirty mouths for such young children. I, on the other hand, was feeling much better about the train ride.

They suddenly realized they were having the same problem. They compared devices and cursed their providers (his: Verizon, hers: AT&T) for having such wretched service so close to the city. They were drawn together by a common enemy (technology). By the time we pulled into Newark, they had exchanged phone numbers.

See that? Put your phone down and love might find you. For all I know they’re in the process of becoming under-aged parents as I type.

 *     *     *

Overheard by a passenger who was staring out the window, wide-eyed, slack jawed, in utter disbelief:

Look at that! There’s a goddamn cell tower RIGHT THERE! Why can’t I get a decent signal?!


A foggy morning.


I like how the sunlight plays off the tops of the buildings in foreground.

Despair: Mine and Roy Lichtenstein’s


December 20, 1991

I went to the Empire Diner on 10th and 22nd with Lucy for a holiday turkey dinner. Golly, she sure is pretty. We picked up her friend, Lynn, along the way who’s even prettier than Lucy. I was the meat in a hot, wealthy girl sandwich. Lynn is a self-described spoiled rich girl. Her parents have been divorced for a long time. Her father is an executive who confuses love with money. She knowingly manipulates him. She said all she has to do is turn on the tears and he’ll throw $500 at her.

Despite this, I found her charming and engaging with more self-awareness than most New Yorkers I meet. She’d never get involved with someone who wasn’t wealthy but I still thought she had a certain lack of pretense. She has a boyfriend in London but chases boys here in New York. Why not? She’s only 23, looks like, and is worth, a million bucks. Why settle down?

She asked me—a total stranger—what she could do to improve herself. I said read a book and she gave me a puzzled look. I didn’t understand until later but she was referring to cosmetic surgery. I think she was fishing for compliments or looking for me to validate the fact that her body and face are perfect and can’t be improved upon. They are and they can’t be.

She knew I was smitten and was toying with me. After dinner, while walking down 23rd street, she took my arm, told me her birthday was next week and playfully asked what I was going to buy for her. I asked what she wanted and she said, “Something expensive. Something from Chanel.” She’s like a living, breathing cliché. She’s a perfect physical specimen.

I got a surprise Christmas card in the mail this morning. The last time I heard from Sheila was back in October at the George Michael concert. We saw his “Cover to Cover” show at the Garden. He sang Fame better than Bowie. I liked Papa Was a Rolling Stone, too.

After the concert she turned to me, looked me dead in the eye and said, “What do you want?” Asked it twice and made it sound like an accusation. I sat there in stupid silence and felt foolish. There’s no answer because I don’t think she has anything to offer. I didn’t call her after that. I hate confrontation and will do pretty much anything to avoid it. Her Christmas card said to keep in touch. It was kind of upsetting, to tell you the truth.

Klinger and I saw Denis Leary’s “No Cure for Cancer” at the Actor’s Playhouse. I had comps. He and I are a couple of sad sacks. We have no idea what to do with our lives. He has a little more direction than I do, but not much more. I asked how his investor’s party went and he said it amounted to a cast party with some bums that wandered in off the street, but no investors. He didn’t ask me for money, thank God. I told him I had to work and couldn’t attend out of fear he’d ask me to a contribution. I let it slip that I went out that night and had to scramble to come up with a plausible lie to cover my tracks. It was a cold, rainy evening. Blue Christmas.


Roy Lichtenstein
Est: $1,500,000-2,500,000
Sold for: $1,927,500


I didn’t see the arm and hand until quite some time after I stared at this. It wasn’t so obvious in person.




Inner Torment

The Inner Torment of Vice President Mike Pence

Look what I stumbled across:

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday.

Isaiah 58:7-10

How about that, Pence? You good Christian soldier? You devotee of scriptures? You sinner but only say the word and your soul shall be healed?

Is that guy able to sleep at night? Or does he stare at the ceiling wondering how he got himself into such a mess?

My Inner Torment

One of my favorite Sunday afternoon traditions is reading the obituaries and wedding announcements in the New York Times. They offer a litany of extraordinary lives lived and the joining of couples with unsurpassed professional credentials. These achievements always make me feel subhuman which is, apparently, my comfort zone.

Although…the Vows folks usually have long pedigrees. Most of them were born on third base and only breed amongst themselves. So there’s that to consider. But I try not to let that spoil my self-pity festivál.


New this month on your newsstand:


This is a serious lack of originality. These are major publications. Don’t they collaborate? Couldn’t one claim the thumb/phallic motif one month and the others follow suit the following months? Fail.


I took these with my iPhone 7 using the depth effect.


It gently blurs the background, which makes the foregrounds pop.


I took these at Kinokuniya Books on 6th Avenue @ 41st Street, across from Battery Park. It’s a brick-n-mortar bookstore (one of few left in NYC) that specializes in Japanese anime and cultural touchstones. These statuettes are in a glass case. They’re true works of art and not inexpensive. Many of them are based on characters from anime books and movies. The girls are highly sexualized bordering on pornographic. Lots of schoolgirl stuff. Japanese porn is odd. But not as odd as German porn.


Mr. Sensitivity strikes again. I read these journal entries and can’t believe what a clown I was.

May 8, 1992

I called Kathie in Phoenix to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. She was upset because Brad got into an auto accident. I guess he’s not seriously hurt—there are no broken bones or damaged organs—but his face got pretty cut up. Kathie said there are “hundreds” of stitches and they’re thinking of plastic surgery. Gross.

Brad has incredibly low self-esteem, despite being a successful attorney. That guy works for one of the most powerful law firms in Phoenix but he’s crushed by a massive inferiority complex. How can you have it both ways? Now that his face is all bashed to shit, he’s REALLY going to have some problems. He’s never said or done anything bad to me. I wish him a speedy recovery.

Cars are pure evil. Half the reason I stay in this cruddy city is because I don’t have to own one. This was the week I was supposed to fly out there for a visit. I had to cancel because Ethan is going to Israel and Rome for a week, so I have to stay in the office. Imagine if I’d gone out there. Kathie never would’ve slept with me with Brad laying in the hospital all fucked-up. What a waste of money that would’ve been. Another close call.


Robert Gober
Beeswax, cotton, leather, aluminum pull tabs and human hair
Est: $1,000,000-1,500,000
Sold for: $847,500


You can’t see it in the pic but human hair is embedded. It’s a little girl’s leg. Dreary.