Old man, look at my life

I just had a birthday. I won’t reveal my age because I’m hung up on it. Don’t laugh. Some people vape. Some follow the Kardashian’s exploits. I’m hung up on my age. None of it makes sense.

There are more years behind me than in front of me. This leads to an inordinate amount of introspection. Too much! I was dealt a weak hand early on but I played it pretty well. Instead of celebrating that, I choose to focus on my missed opportunities and failings. All I’ve ever been is an office drone. My aspirations never went beyond paying the rent. Why didn’t I have a hunger for something greater? And, please, I’m not fishing for compliments. It’s my birthday vent. Indulge me.

I was on my lunch hour walking up Seventh Ave. A pretty girl was walking towards me in the opposite direction. When we passed, she quickly looked away, as if she’d seen a hideous, old sea monster that just crawled out of the East River. When I was a young man and new to the city, girls would occasionally lock eyes for just an extra beat or two. The briefest of moments. Message received both times.

One box I never thought I’d tick was offspring. I didn’t think I had the emotional or financial capacity. But it’s worked out okay so far. I’m tempted to say I’m a better father to my girls that mine was to me, but that’s setting the bar artificially low.

15 years later, my hair is white. She’s taller and doesn’t require a dribble bib.

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I don’t work for The New York Times but I work in their world headquarters. It’s a lovely building designed by the charmingly-named architect Renzo Piano. He also designed the new Whitney Museum of Art in the meatpacking district and The Shard in London. It’s a pleasure to walk in every morning, but the bathrooms are too small and inconveniently located. The neighborhood, 40th St. and 8th Ave., is gloomy. The first one is his fault. Not the second one.

It’s a high-profile building. There are often protests outside and a police presence. Trump paid a few visits during the presidential campaign. Needless to say, he hasn’t been back since. I’ve seen James Comey and Juliette Binoche in the lobby. The day of the Capital Gazette shootings, the building was surrounded by paramilitary troops.

The building has a cracker jack security apparatus. Nobody can sneak by these proud sentinels.

Unless there’s a good Abbott and Costello movie on.

Look who’s back. Right on schedule. We see them every summer.

I’m on a very high floor. They roost near the top of the building to survey their kingdom.

They come up to teach their young how to hunt. Yesterday, while sitting at my desk, I saw two shadows dart past my window, moving straight down. Attack mode. Note that both legs are banded.

My friend did me one better. He looked out his window and saw a falcon on the fire escape across the way eating a rat that was still fighting for its life. The Circle of Life!

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The reflection is *not* water. It’s my glass patio table top. I didn’t see it until after I’d taken the pic. Another happy accident.

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.”

Kaleidoscope

I brought my daughters to Chelsea for a gallery hop. I think they’re bored by these excursions. I think they suffer them for my sake. Hopefully, one day, they’ll be a fond memory. *I* certainly enjoy these days.

This was Leo Villareal’s beautiful light installation at Pace Gallery.

You lucky ducks in London will get to see his Illuminated River installation along the Thames starting Wednesday, November 9th.

This was REASON by Carsten Höller​ at the Gagosian. It’s an oversized mobile you propel. The intertwining mushrooms never collide. My daughter was a bit too enthusiastic. She started running and the security guard had to tell her to hit the brakes.

This is Descension, Anish Kapoor’s summer installation in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It’s a never-ending whirlpool. I don’t know where the water goes or how it feeds back into the piece. I don’t care. I never peek behind the curtain. Standing next to it you feel a rumble, like a low, constant thunder. The railing rattles. This is the same guy who did the Bean in Chicago.

This necessitated a walk over the bridge. It’s VERY crowded with tourists this time of year. And it’s no wonder. It’s a spectacle. The cathedral window cutouts and cables are distinctive. One of my favorite architectural flourishes in the city.

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Andy Warhol
Big Campbell’s Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable)
Estimate on Request
Sold for $27,500,000

Roy Lichtenstein
Red and White Brushstrokes
Est: $25,000,000-35,000,000
Sold for $28,247,500

You’re looking at +$55M worth of art hung side by side. They’re nice, but I’ve seen better for much less.

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bins

May 28, 1993

I got the sweetest message from Laura on my answering machine.

[Note: Do you miss answering machines? With their unpredictable joys and sorrows? I do. Voicemail is to answering machines as ebooks are to hardcovers. Same functionality but lacks the poetry.]

It was a last-minute invitation to a stand-up club with some of her friends. She said she’d save me a seat. She said she’d love to see me but if I couldn’t make it, that’s okay, she’d see me soon. Do you know how many people freely admit they’d love to see me? Not many. I told Bonnie and she said I couldn’t NOT go. I’m kind of broke but moments later I was in a cab.

Got there and the performance was already underway. I stood in the back of a dark club and didn’t see her. Then I saw a head tilt up and a plume of cigarette smoke spout towards the ceiling. It was like the Bat Signal. Also, Laura has a very distinctive way of flipping her long hair over to one side. It’s a trademark move. I only saw a silhouette and knew instantaneously it was her. She was at a table with five friends. An empty seat was next to her.

When the acts changed, I wound my way through the club and sat next to her. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on her face when she turned and saw it was me. She held my hand under the table.

We woke up the way we fell asleep; in each other’s arms. This can’t possibly last, can it? [Note: Nope. It can’t.]

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I’m battling sciatica. I’ve tried physical therapy, acupuncture, a chiropractor, megadoses of naproxen and steroids, heat and cold. They prescribed an opiate but I refuse to take it.

I just read a book by a guy named Dr. John Sarno. He says my pain is not physiological. It’s a distraction to prevent me from dealing with repressed feelings of anger, anxiety and worthlessness. Do you know what? I belive him.