10. X. Ten. Dix. Diez.

Last month this blog celebrated its 10th anniversary. 10 years! The totality of my 11-year old’s life. Most of my 16-year old’s. Half my marriage. I didn’t notice the blessed event. It passed by like a rainy Tuesday. I can only surmise that it didn’t matter to me. If it had, I’d have seen it coming and made a big deal out of it.

10 years ago I suppose I had some vague notions of minor fame and financial gain but they were crushed pretty quickly. At one point, I gathered my journal entries into a “book.” 75,000 words! I paid to have it professionally edited. The editor said the good news is that I might have some raw talent. The bad news is that there’s no narrative. She said I needed a plot thread to tie all the entries together. I’ve always been cursed with a fatal lack of ambition and an anemic work ethic, so I made her grammatical edits and sent the thing out to a dozen agents. The response was a deafening silence. Glad I got that out of my system.

Once I started posting I couldn’t stop. I’ve tried to quit several times, fearful that my daughters would stumble upon the dark and embarrassing secrets in my journals, but I can’t. It’s the only creative outlet I have. And I use the term ‘creative’ in its most broad sense. I crawl the theaters, galleries and museums as an audience member. That’s all I’ve ever been. The audience. But this idiot blog allows me to be a participant.

I guess this is a genuine addiction. It could be worse. It could be whiskey and whores. And gambling. Some guys go that route. But anniversaries? They don’t mean a thing if they ain’t got that swing. Doo wah. Doo wah.

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Taken from my office, Friday, April 20, 7:30 a.m. The Lincoln Tunnel bus conga line.

Only the rush hour hell to face
Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes
Contestants in a suicidal race

That tiny hole in the upper left corner of the pic is the Lincoln Tunnel entrance. It spits out into New Jersey. These are Thoreau’s men (and women) who lead lives of quiet desperation.

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There are some agonizingly long plays this season on Broadway. Where is the line that separates artistic vision from overindulgence? For instance, Andrew Garfield and Nathan Lane headline in a revival of Angels in America. It’s one story, but two plays. Part 1: Millennium Approaches is 3:30. Part 2: Perestroika is 4:00 From entry, through intermissions, to the end you’re in the theater for eight solid hours.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opened last night and it, too, is one play in two parts. Part 1 is 2:40. Part 2 is 2:35. I took my daughter and we were there for six hours. It was super but, honestly, it didn’t need to be that long.

You can see Angels and Potter on consecutive evenings or see both parts in one day on Wednesdays and Saturdays. You can’t see Part 1 of either and not see Part 2. Part 1 of both ends with a cracker of a cliffhanger. In this way, they charge you DOUBLE because you have to buy a separate ticket to each part. Clever. Insidious.

Denzel Washington is starring in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh. 4:00. Four hours! At least it’s one shot. You don’t have to purchase two tickets. In a NY Times fluff piece, they asked Washington about the grueling demands of a four hour play.

“Listen, this is what I love: acting on stage. And I don’t have to do anything else. Just be in this play. So, don’t feel sorry for me compared to most workers in America.”

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Feline pin-ups of the week. I make no apologies for posting cat photos. I’m going to continue to insist they have genuine artistic merit. Like reality TV. Or overstuffed theater.

Everyone’s a little bit racist. Apparently, even me.

Everyone’s a little bit
Racist, sometimes.
Look around and
You will find,
No one’s really
Color-blind.

My bride and I were having a discussion and to an opinion I expressed she said, “You’d better keep that to yourself. It’s racist.” I thought I had progressive attitudes about race but she might have a point.

So, naturally, I need to tell everyone.

I took my daughter to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway. I found a discount for the first preview and it’s good thing I did. I couldn’t afford to take her otherwise. She’s crazy about those books and when she asked to see it I had to say no, which broke my heart. It worked out in the end but my inability to afford tickets makes me feel wholly inadequate as a father. But that’s for another post.

It’s an extraordinary piece of theater but it helps if you’re a die-hard Potter enthusiast (my daughter) or interested in the mechanics of theater and acting (me). Your ass is in a chair for about six hours. Plus, the aforementioned cost.

You can look elsewhere for reviews. They’re all glowing. My problem—the one that landed the accusation—lies with their decision to employ color-blind casting.

The principle actors playing Harry, Ron, Draco and Ginny all look very much like adult versions of their movie selves. It’s easy to imagine these fictional characters transitioned into adulthood. Hermione Granger is played by a black actor. She’s more than capable and an extraordinary actor. I’ve been attending theater for 25+ years and know talent when I see it. She can command the stage and has a genuine presence. I just never saw her as Hermione. Throughout the play I had to occasionally stop and remind myself, “Oh, that’s Hermione.” My brain simply refused to make that leap. It proved to be a distraction. I respect their intentions but the plot flow was interrupted for want of a progressive agenda.

Perhaps it’s the indelible image of Hermione Granger as a young white girl. Or perhaps I have dormant racist attitudes that were inflamed. The wrong kind of woke.

I can’t tell you how alarming this is. It’s heartbreaking. I thought I was more evolved than that. I hope this doesn’t rub off on my daughters.

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Prior to the play I took her on a gallery hop in Chelsea. At Dia: Chelsea is Rita McBride’s Particulates, a fetching and photogenic industrial laser installation.

The gates keep you at bay because you can really hurt yourself if you try to break the beam, which I desperately wanted to do.

The room is kept cool and clammy. The air is misted so the beams are visible. It might be fun after a few bong hits. I imagine. I wouldn’t know.

There’s a low hum and the beams reflect off the wet floor. Best of all, free admission! Thank you, Dia Chelsea.

I liked this one as well although it was more stark. Dan Flavin’s in daylight or cool white at the David Zwirner gallery.

Flavin construct geometric shapes with neon tubes. Neon on a ceiling reminds me of cold, dreary office lighting. I find it a wholly acceptable medium for art, though.

Unfortunately with these gallery hops, you have to take the sublime with the ridiculous. These were fruits and vegetables nailed to a wall.

I thought they were plaster sculptures but, no, it’s real food. I chatted with the gallery rep and he is charged with replacing the food when it starts to rot. This is why some people laugh at contemporary art.

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Sorry, everyone, but there are going to be cat pics. There just are.

Gracious Manhattan living on taxpayer dollars

If you’re not from a wealthy family but would like to live in a beautiful Manhattan townhouse, one avenue you can explore is to become a U.N. diplomat. The Upper East Side is littered with sensational brownstones owned by foreign nationals as a residence for their attachés and staff. They fly the country’s flag and have brass placards on the façade declaring their country of origin. The property is considered a sovereign nation.

This is the Irish embassy. Don’t let that tatty scaffolding fool you. It’s a lovely building located on Fifth Avenue just a few blocks south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This is just ONE of the properties owned by France. They’re all have equal splendor. I like walking by at night so I can look inside the windows at the lighted rooms and steal decorating ideas.

This is my favorite. This is the Polish embassy. Why am I so surprised by its grandness? It’s not as though Poland is some backwards, broke-ass nation. I’m half Polish. Do you suppose I could get a tour?

Some consulates are more modest in scope.

Do you know what diplomatic immunity is? You get to live in a protective bubble where local laws do not apply to you. It’s been a thorn in the city’s side for decades. Misbehaving diplomats and, worse, their spoiled rotten sprog, can claim diplomatic immunity and get away with anything from parking violations to assault and, in one case, murder. They have special diplomat number plates for their cars and can park with impunity wherever they want. Many diplomats allow their status go to their heads and become raging assholes and repeat offenders.

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This is another collaboration between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The reason I love these collaborative works so much (aside from my celebrity whoredom) is because their two styles play so well together. Their styles are distinct. You can easily tell who did what. It’s a whimsical pairing.

Andy Warhol & Jean-Michel Basquiat
Paramount Pictures
Est. $1,000,000-15,000,000
Sold for $2,772,500

The fun feature of this piece is a tube of paint that either fell or was thrown onto the upper left corner of the canvas and squeezed so that the paint oozed out. Fantastic. Jackson Pollock liked to drop debris onto his canvas as well.

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Philippe Parreno
My Room is Another Fish Bowl
Est. $250,000-350,000
Sold for $516,500

In this frivolity recently sold at Christie’s, a fan placed in the corner of a room circulates air while helium-filled Mylar fish balloons gently swim by. The number of fish in the installation is contingent upon the size of the room. The security guards had to chase escapees  who swam into other galleries. This is one of two artist’s proofs. You really do get the sensation of walking in an aquarium. But a half mil? Methinks not.

Blue in New York City

bins

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.

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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.

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

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

Christmas Death Wish

Good God almighty I love Christmas. Always have. And for purely secular reasons. New York City gets all sparkly and bright. It looks like some cheap wino who fell into a puddle of glitter. The city becomes choked with tourists, which I don’t mind one bit. There are many small, cherished rituals I perform every season that I find wholly satisfying. I visit the Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center ice rinks to watch the skaters. I’ve never seen a sad face there. A Christmas Carol is the last book I read every year. I like watching Elf, Love Actually and A Christmas Carol—the versions with Alistair Sim and George C. Scott are best.

I’ve been promoting Christmas to my daughters since year 1. They know the season means a lot to me. Especially Christmas day. My 11-year old said something that’s haunting me. It was the darkest, most beautiful thing she’s ever said. We were in the midst of tree-decorating bliss when she stopped, looked up at me and said, “Dad, I hope you die on Christmas Day. That way, you’ll be happy.”

Do you get that?! When the time comes, she wants me to be happy. And dying on Christmas Day would practically guarantee it. But JESUS! what a thing to say! Right out of a Tim Burton script. What do you do with a kid like that?

I made my seasonal pilgrimage to the Morgan Library. JP Morgan bought the hand-written manuscript for A Christmas Carol. Dickens gifted it to his attorney, who lent him money for the project. I’m not sure how it wound up on these shores, but here it is.

Stave II
The First of the Three Spirits
When Scrooge woke it was so dark…

You can tell the TRUE first edition because Dickens specifically wrote that The Ghost of Christmas Present “…was clothed in one simple green robe.” Unfortunately, the illustrator got the hand-colored plate wrong.

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I have a lot of use-‘em-or-lose-’em sick days so I called in and drove down to Atlantic City. It’s hard to believe the Monday morning crowd at the Tropicana and the Saturday night crowd at the Borgata are the same species.

An old, disheveled local was standing next to me at the craps table. His pants were falling down and I could see he was wearing an adult diaper. It’s made me sad. On the other hand, he won’t miss a hot roll because of a bathroom break. You don’t see stuff like that after dinner at Caesar’s Palace.

This town was fantastic. I have so many fond memories. But now it’s broken-down. They’re down to just four casinos on the Boardwalk. At its peak, there were 12 on the boardwalk alone.  It made me melancholy.

It was freakishly balmy out so I went for a long, meditative walk on the beach. My shoes were the exact same color as the sand. No difference!

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Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday window salute to The New York Philharmonic.

Walking a dog in the evening is never called on account of inclement weather. Another reason why cats are superior. Plus, dogs eat poop. If you gave a cat poop to eat he’d look at you and say, “YOU eat it.”