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.

~~~~~~~~~~

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.

Potpourri!

14-Year Old Daughter was Confirmed by the Catholic Church. For the uninitiated, Confirmation is a spiritual rite-of-passage. A sacrament. It’s kind of like a Bat Mitzvah, I think. Actually, I’m not quite sure what a Bat Mitzvah is.

At Confirmation, you receive seven gifts from the Holy Spirit:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Fortitude

(So far, so good.)

  1. Understanding
  2. Piety
  3. Counsel

(Not bad. Keep going.)

  1. Wisdom
  2. Fear of the Lord

HOLD IT. Back up one. What do they mean Fear of the Lord? Does He really want us cowering in fear? Wouldn’t ‘Love of the Lord’ be psychologically healthier? It sounds like yet another Catholic beat-down to me. They should change that last one to ‘Fear of the Church.’ That’d be more accurate.

catlick

Not-so-fun Fact: In the Pledge of Allegiance, the phrase, “under God,” was tacked on in 1954 as a response to the Communist scare. Idiots.

*      *     *     *     *

Manhattan skyscrapers are loaded to the teeth with over-sized lobby art. There are some nice pieces by Roy Lichtenstein and Frank Stella. The murals in Rockefeller Center are spectacular. But there’s one piece that isn’t about aesthetics. Can you guess what this is?

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I’m not claiming it’s visually appealing. It isn’t. It’s visually appalling. I pretty much hate all forms of graffiti. But this is important.

These are five sections of the Berlin Wall. Remember that one, old timers? I don’t know who trucked these things all the way to NYC—they must weigh tons—but I like them. I remember when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 there were people down on Wall Street selling what they claimed were pieces of the wall. This side faced West Berlin.

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The East Berlin side tells you everything you need to know about what it must have been like to live there.

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Fun fact: The femme fatal in the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, was Vesper Lynd. That was Ian Fleming’s playful take on West Berlin.

berlin4


bins

January 2, 1992

For Christmas, Colleen gave me a book about people throughout history who’ve kept journals. I don’t know what made me think doing this was so special. You walk around thinking you’re one in a million but the truth is you’re a dime a dozen.

Kat and I exchanged gifts. She put a catalog of worldwide timeshare properties in my lap and said, “Pick one and I’ll send you.” I got her bamboo windchimes.

I felt terrible and tried to tell her I couldn’t possibly accept. I told her it was an unwarranted, undeserved and overly-extravagant gift. I phoned Marshall and he called me a fucking idiot and said to pick the place the furthest away. Preferably on the other side of the planet.

Oh, she also handed me a beautiful, professionally wrapped box and inside was a great Ralph Lauren tie and an evergreen cotton/linen pullover sweater. She said she really likes her windchimes and can’t wait to hang them. I got the 8:00 train back to the city.


There’s a terrible exhibit at the Whitney right now. A lot of cold, soulless, hyper-modern garbage, if you ask me. This was the only piece that had some humor. These are Gary Simmons’ gold-plated basketball shoes.

simmons1

Yes, real gold. Of COURSE it doesn’t make any sense. I don’t know if it’s supposed to. It’s playful.

simmons3

I think those markings running up the wall are the measurements from a Branncok Device. Someone had to point that out to me. I’m not that clever.

simmons2


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Tiger. 

Rasslin’ with my dad

I can’t speak for its literary merits but this is the most fun I ever had writing a post. It deserves a reprise.


One of the few places my dad took my brother and I when we were kids was the professional wrestling matches in the old, now demolished, Cleveland Arena on Euclid Avenue. The Cleveland Area was the site for Alan Freed’s Moondog Coronation Ball, which is considered to be the first rock and roll concert. The show was oversold and ended in a near riot (of course).

arena1

A snowy night at the Cleveland Arena

The Arena might’ve had historical value but by the time we were going there for wrestling matches it had become a broken down hulk in a terrible neighborhood. One night, we saw some poor guy get hit by a car that must have been going 60 mph down Euclid. It happened right in front of us. He was knocked high into the air and was spinning with his arms and legs spread out like a pinwheel. He was carrying a box of popcorn and he never let go. He hit the street and the popcorn flew everywhere. My dad said, “Do you guys want to go have a look?!” We said no thanks, dad. I knew he wanted to.

My brother and I were big wrestling fans. We watched Championship Wrestling on channel 43 and Big Time Wrestling on channel 61.Going downtown to see our heroes do battle in the flesh thrilled my tiny 10-year old bones to the very marrow. I had NO IDEA the matches were fixed and the outcomes predetermined and I was embarrassingly old when I finally realized it.

This was Bobo Brazil.

bobo1

A massive black man. A face. (That‘s what they called the good guys.) During one match we attended, Bobo’s head was smashed into the turnbuckle by the heel. (That‘s what they called the bad guys.) While he was shaking his head and regaining his senses, the heel snuck a metal folding chair into the ring and smashed Bobo over the head a few times. The ref didn’t see the chair. That should’ve been my tip-off that something was up.

A huge black woman sitting behind me started crying hysterically. Real tears and weeping! She stood up and started screaming at the top of her lungs, “Git up Bobo! Git UP!” Our seats were so far away that there’s no way he heard her.

Of course, Bobo got up. (They always got up.) And, boy, was he upset about the folding chair. Every wrestler had a signature closing move that got him out of a jam and Bobo’s was the Coco Butt. It’s an exotic name for a head-butt. He applied a few Coco Butts to the heel and the woman behind me started laughing and shouting, “That’s RIGHT Bobo! That’s RIGHT! KILL him! KILL HIM!” It was fantastic.

This hairy bastard was Wild Bull Curry.

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A heel. During one match at the Arena, someone about 20 rows up held up a big, cardboard sign that said, “BOOOO! FAKE!” I was incredulous. What do you mean fake!? Wild Bull was even angrier. He climbed out of the ring, ran through the crowd, up into the stands, grabbed the sign and ripped it to shreds. In hindsight, I think it might’ve been a plant but it was genuine drama to me at the time.

This was my favorite heel. Pamparo Firpo, the Wild Beast from the Pampas.

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When he appeared on TV, I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. He had a voice like gravel and would punctuate his sentences with, “Oohhhh YEAAAAHH! He would drool into his beard. He’d taunt his opponents while petting a shrunken head (shown above). His closing move was the Claw Hold. He would clamp his big hand on the top of his opponent’s skull and squeeeeeze. His opponents would howl in pain. God, I loved it.

This was Johnny Powers, The Man of the Hour. He was the biggest face in Cleveland. A pretty boy. A star.

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His closing move was the Power Lock (shown above). He’d get his opponent’s legs all twisted up and they’d be in so much agony they’d tap out. But then, disaster struck. A heel (I forgot which one) discovered a COUNTER MOVE to the Power Lock. (You roll over.) It was a sad Saturday afternoon when that happened.

Power’s arch nemesis was Reginald Love. He and his brother, Hartford Love, were The Love Brothers.

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They were the heel’s heel. They dressed in hippie beads and psychedelic wrestling tights. I later discovered that they weren’t actually brothers. And Reginald and Hartford weren’t even their real names. They said they chose those names because they “wanted to sound like snobs.”

Once on Championship Wrestling, Powers was admiring a wristwatch that’d just been presented to him for his birthday by the Cleveland chapter of the Johnny Powers Fan Club. Reginald walked into the studio, made fun of the watch and called Powers “a donkey.” Powers said, “I have something you don’t have…fans.” Reginald countered with, “Well, I have something you don’t have…A HAMMER!” He pulled a hammer out of his back pocket and smashed the watch to bits. They started wrestling on the studio floor. Excellent! I read in a Powers interview years later that he had no idea Reginald was going to do that. It was completely unscripted. He was genuinely angry that the watch had been smashed.

This was more than a decade before Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and the rest of those pussies showed up. It lost something for me when it became stadium spectacular. The only wrestler from that era worth a damn was Brutus the Barber Beefcake. His closing move was to knock his opponent out with a sleeper hold and give them a really shitty haircut. That took balls.

One evening on the way home from the matches we stopped at the L&K Diner for sundaes. My dad started flirting with the much younger waitress. She asked how he wanted his coffee and he said, “Blonde. Like you.” and winked. I was embarrassed.