Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams

bins

October 7, 1991

The people below me are fighting again. They’re so loud that I can understand what they’re saying without laying down and pressing my ear to the floorboards, which is what I usually have to do. It’s not as bad as last time. Last time I heard them wrestling and throwing things at each other. Stuff was smashing against the wall and furniture was toppling over.

Oscar is stuck with a horrible boyfriend. Everyone tells him he should walk out. He hangs on because he says he too homely to find someone else. I wonder if that’s how I’ll end up? I invited Lucy to a movie preview tomorrow night. It’s at the Warner Brothers screening room up on 6th Avenue. I’m hoping it serves as a powerful aphrodisiac.

I got very, very drunk at Dorothy’s dinner party but I didn’t make a fool of myself (so I’m told). She did a very sweet thing. We were discussing caviar. I told her I was a virgin and wasn’t going to try any until I could get my hands on black Beluga. I wanted my first taste to be the best, most expensive stuff there is. The conversation was a while ago and I’d forgotten all about it.

When I got to her apartment no one was there. It was a half hour before anybody else arrived. I took my coat off and sat down. She went to the kitchen and brought out a tin of black caviar on a silver tray. She served it with plain crackers and hard boiled eggs. We spooned it with a tiny, delicate silver spoon. She opened a bottle of champagne, too. I liked it.

Randy Brecker lives across the hall and was there. We spoke for a long while but I didn’t bring up music or his career or let on that I knew who he was because I thought it would’ve been tacky. I don’t think anyone else knew who he was. We stood in the kitchen and talked trash about the people at the table.

After a few drinks I wasn’t so concerned about being tacky and told him I had Heavy Metal Be-Bop, but I lost it when I moved from Phoenix to New York. I didn’t lose ALL my albums. Just SOME of them, including that one. He offered me a replacement and was nice enough to go across the hall and fetch a CD for me. I told him his trumpet on Springsteen’s Meeting Across the River and Rundgren’s Hello It’s Me is the best part of those songs. And I wasn’t blowing smoke up his rear. I really feel that way. A nice guy. Afterwards, Dorothy told me he fights with his Japanese wife. Everyone fights.

After dinner we moved the furniture, blasted her stereo and danced like crazy people. I was completely soaked with sweat. I felt bad for the people I talked to because I held a folded paper towel and was constantly blotting my face, neck, arms, etc. Disgusting. There were some single women there and it was fun to flirt but I didn’t leave with any phone numbers. One girl was really drunk and really forward and I didn’t love that.

I finally got home at 3:00. Went to bed and had terrible bed spins so I got up, sat in the living room and watched the cats fight. For some reason, I thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen and was buckled over with hysterics. I almost threw-up.


“Daddy, can you help me with my math homework?”

“Sure, honey.”

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I blanked out. I had no idea how to solve this. I didn’t know how to begin. Do you know how humiliating it is to not be able to help my NINE YEAR OLD daughter solve her 4th GRADE math problem? I sent it to my best pal, the accountant. He said it was a tough one but he figured it out. She hasn’t asked me for help since. I hate my lack of education.

Meanwhile, in 8th grade science:

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WTF?!

Children of alcoholic parents

Six powerful paragraphs from my UK blog buddy, Graham, about the hard road he, his wife and daughter traveled to his sobriety. A beautiful piece. Everything I know about alcoholism I learned through this guy’s URL.

Guitars and Life

Recently highlighted by BBC news is a campaign by Liam Byrne MP who is trying to get a national strategic plan and more helplines for children of alcoholics to get support from.  My daughter brought this to my attention as she had heard an article about it on the radio yesterday.  The figures quoted are that currently in the UK there are 2.6million children living with a parent who has a problem with alcohol.

In discussing this with my daughter she stated that she frankly didn’t even consider me as being part of her life until she was about 10 – 11.  I got sober when she was 8.  How did I feel about that?  Firstly it didn’t surprise me.  I have very few memories of my daughter as a small child.  I was into my last few years of heavy drinking, I was avoiding responsibility and was frankly simply zonked…

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Would you autograph your book for me?

I was perusing the fall author appearance schedule at the 5th Avenue and Union Square Barnes & Nobel. I like getting signed first editions. I have shelves full of them. Sara Bareilles is coming in October and I had absolutely no idea who she was so I clicked on the More Information link. To wit:

Special Instructions

  • Wristband event
  • No memorabilia
  • No posed photography
  • Two books per person limit
  • Purchases starting 9:00AM the day of the event and join the signing line outside the front of the store.

Sara Bareilles will only be signing her new title Sounds Like Me. Event guidelines are subject to change. Please follow instructions given by the events team. In advance, the courtesy of your cooperation is appreciated.

Please follow instructions. In other words, to borrow a famous New York Daily News headline:

Sara Bareilles To Fans: DROP DEAD

Carrie Brownstein will also hit the road this fall to shill her memoir. I’ll bet it’s thrilling. A New York Times fluff piece said:

…she’s relieved that book tours are generally not as extensive as music tours. “As much as I wanted to have a stop in Indianapolis.”

Carrie Brownstein To Indianapolis: DROP DEAD

Are book tours really so arduous? Is meeting your readers such sublime torture? Don’t these frail, delicate, l’artistes realize they’ve won the lottery? I can’t stand it when people turn unimaginable success into a crushing burden.

I’ve been to PLENTY of author meet-and-greets and, for the most part, they’ve been satisfying experiences. Michael Chabon is always engaging. Sherman Alexie is the best reader out there. At one reading, I asked Nick Hornby if I could publish one of his essays in a chapbook and without blinking, he said yes. Most authors seem genuinely appreciative of their audience. But some are tormented by us.

I went to a David Foster Wallace reading. I brought three older titles with me that I wanted him to sign. When I got to the table, he sat there with his arms crossed, looking straight ahead. Not at me. The Barnes & Nobel rep said, “Mr. Wallace will only sign one old book for every new book purchased.” He looked mortified saying it.

I felt stupid and small. I tucked my tail between my legs, got out of line, bought three more new books and went to the back of the line. He then, grudgingly, signed the old titles. In hindsight, what I should have done, was chuck the new book at his stupid bandanna and told him to jam it up his ass. Christ. He’s lucky to HAVE old titles.

Look, I know getting a book autographed is trite. I’ve meditated on it and I can’t figure out its appeal. But it’s something I like to do. It’s an innocent hobby and Dear Dead David made me feel ashamed for it. He took that small joy away from me. It would’ve cost him NOTHING to just sign the fucking books and send me on my merry way.

If I’m ever lucky enough to be published and I’m sent on an author tour, here’s what you can expect from me:

  • A detailed, passionate inscription thanking you for reading my book.
  • A vigorous handshake. I might yank your arm out of its socket.
  • Two books per person limit? Feh. How many can you carry?
  • An invitation. Can I buy you a drink? Are you hungry?
  • Do your feet hurt? Can I give you a foot rub?

To all the tortured souls with impending book tours this fall, especially Carrie Brownstein and Sara Bareilles (I’m still not sure who she is), that’s how it’s done, you ingrates.

I’m on a roll. What’s my other favorite red button issue? Oh, yeah.


phone_piss

Awwwww…C’MON PEOPLE! SERIOUSLY?! Is this what we’ve come to? Are we, as a society, so addicted to mobile phones that we can’t even put the damn things down long enough to take a piss? Man, are we soft. China is going to dink our milkshake. The phone did not, despite my pleadings and offerings to the various Gods and Goddesses, slip out of his hand, drop onto the urinal cake and get pissed on.

Oh, yes I did, take that picture.


Summer is over and these two are none too happy about it.

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It was a good season. Lots of sun and beach time. If this is global warming, I’ll have some more, please.

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Summer is over for my little translucent, black-eyed friend, too.

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Vincent’s Faded Flowers

I dragged everyone to the Met on Sunday afternoon to see Van Gogh: Irises and Roses. I’m pretty sure they would’ve preferred a trip to the beach instead but that’s too bad. Stuff like this is once-in-a-lifetime.

vang5This exhibit gathers four works that Van Gogh painted shortly before taking his life. All four masterpieces were completed in just ONE WEEK—an incredible burst of creativity and energy, done at the height of his madness.

They were conceived as a set and intended to be hung as you see here, vertical orientations on either end and landscape in the middle. Each vase is slightly off-center. They’re set on a table whose horizontal line runs concurrent through all four works, anchoring them. This exhibit is the first time all four paintings have been seen together since they were executed in 1890.

vang1He carefully selected colors that would compliment and play off of each other. He used paints that had unstable pigments and knew the colors would fade over time. In a letter to his brother Theo, he wrote that, “Paintings fade like flowers.”

These roses were originally pink. Now, they’re a pure white.

vang4The irises, once a deep purple, are now blue.

There was an accompanying video that attempted to recreate the original colors. They used pigment analysis and detailed notes Van Gogh kept regarding his color and process, but they were just educated guesses. Nobody alive knows what these originally looked like.

vang2The girls weren’t terribly impressed with this summer’s rooftop installation but I thought it had some artistic merit. The Roof Garden Commission: Pierre Huyghe starts off with a somewhat confusing displacement of paving stones. I thought it was a construction project but it’s part of the exhibit. It felt disengaged from anything having to do with art.

huyghe4On the far corner of the roof is the primary piece. The meat of the exhibit.

huyghe3Inside a giant fish tank floats (floats!) a bolder of Manhattan schist—the unique and powerful bedrock that allows skyscrapers and transit systems to be anchored to this small spit of land. The tip of the bolder peeks above the surface. A pile of sand rises to a few inches below the bolder.

huyghe5The glass randomly toggles from clear to opaque. I’m not sure how this is accomplished but it’s a nice effect.

huyghe1huyghe2Inside the fish tank are creepy, alien-like tadpole shrimp. I don’t know if they’re there for aesthetic reasons or f they provide a cleaning service. At the end of each video, you can see the glass cloud over.

The exhibit brochure is full of some artistic babble regarding the dynamic gathering of different elements—plants, stones and animals. That stuff never sinks into my thick skull. I just enjoy the visceral thrill it provides (or doesn’t). I require nothing more from the artist, least of all an explanation.


Daughter + Frank Stella’s Die Fahne hoch!

When Stella first showed this painting in 1959 people were baffled and looked for a deep meaning. He responded by saying:

“What you see is what you see. Painting to me is a brush and a bucket and you put it on a surface. There’s no other reality for me other than that.”

That sounds kind of shallow but that’s how I feel about it, too.

NYC’s Newest Summer Scam

New York City is a buzzing hive of scoundrels. They have no intention of putting in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wages. That’s for suckers like you and I. They live to surgically separate people from their money as quickly and stealthily as possible. And they’re always coming up with novel ways to do it. [Come to think of it, that sounds like the dictionary definition of the advertising industry.]

Currently, there are some Buddhist monks strolling around midtown Manhattan with big smiles on their faces. They bow slightly to tourists, give them some prayer beads and hold their hand out. OF COURSE people give them money. They’re Buddhist monks!

Well, folks, they’re not. They’re a bunch of Chinese dudes who live in Queens impersonating monks. They bought some ceremonial robes and cheap prayer beads and—PRESTO!—instant monk. Apparently, word has gotten out that it’s an easy way to make a buck because I’m seeing more and more of them, especially since summer arrived. It’s been reported in all the papers but, as far as I can tell, nothing’s being done about it. I caught one of the holy Lamas taking a cigarette break on the steps of the stage door at the Nederlander Theater on 41st Street.

monk

Hey! Those guys aren’t supposed to smoke! Aren’t their bodies supposed to be temples? Ah, well. Maybe they’re not a bunch of benevolent pacifists after all. For instance, I saw this headline in New York Daily News yesterday:

dailynews

I remember (now, fondly) the three-card Monte grifters of my early NYC years. I was played for a fool once or twice but quickly learned you can’t beat them. It was intoxicating. There was always a shill so folks could see how easy it was. They’d let you win a few times to suck you in. You’d stand there with a fist full of cash and a big, dumb grin on your face, impressed with your brilliance and thinking you knew how to beat these bastards at their own game. The end result was always the same. You’d be liberated of that cash you’d just won and then some. You had to admire their ability to use your greed against you.

It made for great, free, theater. I spent many afternoons in Central Park during my broke-ass years watching them reel in fish after fish. Those guys never paid out. The scam was, if someone accidentally won and selected the right card (which, believe me, rarely happened), they’d kick their boxes over, yell, “Cops!” and scatter in different directions with their pockets full of cash. Your cash. It was beautiful. Nobody got physically hurt. People just felt stupid. A friend came to visit and I BEGGED him not to get involved but you know how that ended, right?

If you’re planning a visit this summer, stay away from the monks. I warned you.


My Bride made a rare trip into the city for work yesterday and took this spectacular pic of The Flatiron. It’s her favorite building in all of NYC. When it opened, one architectural critic glowingly referred to it as a great battleship steaming up Broadway. Hell, yeah, it is.

flatiron_lg

Here’s another architectural marvel on Amsterdam and 71st St. This is The Dorilton. It’s a beautiful Beau Arts co-op (originally apartments) constructed in 1902.

apt1

It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and featured in many architectural guidebooks. It’s one of the most flamboyant buildings in the city. Criminy. I wish I had a pied-à-terre there. If I did, my life would be perfect and I’d have to stop complaining. The Dorilton sits on the northeast corner. On the southwest corner, diagonally across the street is this abortion:

apt2

I don’t know or care what the name of this fugly mess is. This is the product of greedy real estate development turds. Why spend all that delicious money on design flourishes? That would just cut into profits.


I took these early yesterday morning. Bryant Park, 6:30 a.m. Nobody is around at that hour. It’s just me and a cup of coffee cart coffee.

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bp2


Asbury Park, 2009. That was then.

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Asbury Park, 2015. This is now.

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*Sigh* Why does this makes my chest hurt?