First the knife, then sweet perfume

I was enjoying my morning coffee in Bryant Park. It’s the best part of my day. I sit and read a book or the newspaper. Sometimes, I stare off into space or watch the leaves flashing in the sun. I watch the city awake from its slumber. It slowly, quietly, unfolds itself like a beautiful flower. After that, it’s one unpleasant episode after another until 5:00. It’s my daily dose of Zen.


The other morning, unbeknownst to me, I sat near an outlet. A thoughtless prig decided he needed to charge his cell phone. Instead of sitting quietly in my meditative bliss, I was treated to this:

No ‘excuse me, do you mind if I sit here?’ Not a word. I was treated to his theories on the merits of feeding his cat dry food vs. wet food. I wanted to pick up my chair and bash him over his head with it but the thought of explaining why I was in jail to my daughters (not to mention my mother-in-law) stayed my hand. I seethed with a mad hatred that was disproportionate to the offense. Zen Archer fail.

I walked to my office, sat at my desk and soon thereafter, the baby gorilla with the insatiable appetite who torments me arrived with this:

iced coffee

Why have just one iced coffee when you can have as many as you’re able to pour down your gullet in an 8-hour day? They’re free. He makes two at a time because he doesn’t want to have to get out of his chair and walk to the kitchen when he finishes the first one. The morning feeding consisted of:

1 smelly omelet
1 large oatmeal
3 apples
1 peach
1 pear
1 banana
1 raspberry yogurt

This was me by 9:30.


My Bride and Daughters saw Taylor Swift at Giants Stadium. I paid $460 for three tickets plus $91 for two Taylor Nation gift bags that contained TS logo t-shirts and tchotchkes. That “S” in the logo should be “$”. That’s an extraordinary sum of money for me to spend. I’m just regular. I was steamed because you’d think that for $460, you’d be sitting in decent seats. The decent seats are $460 EACH. Why, Taylor? Why? Most of the men’s lavatories were converted to women’s restrooms. [Clever.]

Then I got the concert report from My Bride.

The stadium was packed with every 10-17 year-old girl in New Jersey. Girls in that demographic are constantly bombarded with negative body-type images that stick for life. That stage is hard enough to navigate without social media and the entertainment industry pointing out all your faults and inadequacies.

My Bride said that Ms. Swift made all those young girls feel better about themselves. It was an old fashioned tent revival for their souls. The songs were affirmations of girl empowerment. Her message is: Don’t take crap from anyone–ESPECIALLY men. At one point, she spoke to each young girl, telling them to [I’m paraphrasing] go home tonight, look in the mirror and say, “I’m beautiful,” because THAT’S WHAT YOU ARE. 60,000 smiling, laughing faces.

Low self-esteem and self-loathing didn’t stand a chance. Shake it off, indeed. I love Taylor Swift.

Everyone who entered the stadium was given a rubber wrist band that had an LED light inside. Kids played with them but when the concert started they took on a life of their own. They obeyed the music.

[Caveat: My Bride is a Cracker Jack wife and mother, but her photography and videography skills need improvement. Hang in there for all :27 seconds.]

This went on all night. Complicated sequences mirrored the beats. At one point, every bracelet glowed the same shade of red. The stadium was a sea of bright roses. If I’d know about this I would’ve gone. [And snuck off to smoke a big fatty.]

There you have it, bitches. The best and worst of humanity, all within 48 hours.

Potpourri! [Bitchin’ Edition]

A meandering group of morsels whereby I judge myself and others.

Baby’s first Coke.

cokeActually, I’m betting that’s not her first. Do you know how you’re not supposed to think your better than anyone? Or talk bad about how other people raise their kids? Sometimes it’s hard not to do that.

“Don’t hate all rich people. They’re not ALL awful. Believe me, I know some evil poor people, too. We need SOME rich people: Who else is going to back our movies or buy our art?”

John Waters
Rhode Island School of Design commencement address

Thanks, Mr. Waters. I needed to hear that. I’m so consumed with envy and self-loathing that I’ve developed a nasty predisposition for disliking someone simply because they have a lot of money. The first step is acknowledging the problem. Then you can attack it, reet?

I saw my pretend girlfriend Mary-Louise Parker in Heisenberg. It’s a fantastic male fantasy about a scrumptious, troubled, young woman who finds comfort and salvation in the arms of a much, much, MUCH older man. It’s enough to fill you with false hope.

heisenbergI’ve seen my Mary-Louise in a few plays and she really knows how to work a stage. She knows how to play crazy and emotional, too. Real tears when required. It’s in a small, black box theater where the actors perform just steps away from you. It can heighten the drama, but it can also be disconcerting. They get into your personal space. Thankfully, I controlled my almost overwhelming desire to stand up and introduce myself to my Mary-Louise and try to charm her.

Here’s my favorite news story of the day.

newsfeedWhen I first heard about LastPass, I wondered about the wisdom of keeping all your passwords in one central location on the cloud. The Black Hats will always be a step ahead of the White Hats. Sorry.

Currently at the Schoenfeld is Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience. It imagines a series of meetings between the Queen and her various Prime Ministers over the years. Mirren won a Best Actress Tony and deserved it. Opening this fall, right across the street at the Music Box, is King Charles III.

marqueesIt’s transferring from London. It’s a fantasy in which QE2 dies and Charles becomes king. Once enthroned, he becomes a paranoid monarch and dissolves Parliament. He rings Buckingham Palace with tanks. A palace coup is orchestrated by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. I. can’t. WAIT. The play is written in iambic pentameter. I hope to figure out what that is in time for its October opening.

Between these two plays and Wolf Hall, the five-hour drama about Henry VIII, you’d think my Anglophilia would be placated. Well, it’s not. I’d get a cab to JFK and hop on the next London-bound flight if I could.

“My point is, fear of failure forces you to push yourself.”

Cody Keenan
White House Director of Speechwriting
NYU commencement address

Fear of failure can also send you under a rock for a few years. Take my word for it.

Here’s the new consultant we just hired. He sits about four feet away from me. He likes to rest his gigantic belly on his desk while he eats (which is constantly). He’s like a baby gorilla who requires a feeding every :60 to :90 minutes. That bottom shirt button is begging for mercy.

fatPlease spare me any lectures about fat-shaming or how I should be more sympathetic. That son-of-a-bitch is making my workday a living hell. All day long I hear a symphony of chewing, burping, lip-smacking, slurping and crunching. The air is permeated with a noxious stench. Every morning he eats an omelet that smells like dirty underwear. Who can eat an omelet every day?  Its foul essence lingers in my sinuses until noon, when the next odor offensive is launched. He seems blissfully unaware that he works in an open-architecture environment and that his behavior effects everyone. Or, he’s aware and doesn’t give a damn.

campIsn’t that nice? It’s summer sports camp season here in the quiet, safe, lily-white, middle class suburbs, and violence is the metaphor. Proud papas send their little boys off to learn the meaning of WAR or to DO DAMAGE (presumably to other little boys). Do you know who shows up to these games? The same guys who scream at the coaches until the veins in their necks burst.

It’s a damn good thing I didn’t have sons. I am ill-equipped to raise a boy. I don’t hunt or fish or camp. Can’t fix a car. Never played a sport. And I believe teaching this kind of aggression to a little kid is immoral. But I don’t dare voice that opinion to anyone. Christ. What am I doing out here, anyway? I’m a complete misfit.

A public service announcement. Gruesome pics. Viewer discretion is advised.

I debated whether or not to write this. I did an identical post four years ago so why repeat myself? Why preach and berate and bore you with the same tired sermon? But I’ve decided to pulpit-up and warn you about the dangers of overexposure to the sun. Some disturbing imagery follows so if you’re squeamish, bail out now.

For the second time in four years, I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. It’s a benign form of skin cancer that (thankfully) rarely metastasizes beyond the original tumor site. You get it from going to the beach year after year and not using enough sunscreen. As my dermatologist hectored, even wearing strong sunblock is no guarantee. He said that people mistake a high SPF as a suit of iron. It’s not. The only true protection is to stay in the shade, although he acknowledges the unlikelihood of that.

Here are the consequence of my folly. Once again, I went under the knife and had a precious piece of me removed.

Heart-shaped wound, as opposed to a wounded heart.

BCC1 I thought I was being clever by popping earbuds in during the procedure. I thought the music would drown out the violence that was being perpetrated upon my head. Do you know how if you plug your fingers in your ears and eat a potato chip, you can hear the crunching inside your head really loud? That’s what happened here. I heard the music playing but I also heard the amplified scrape, scrape, scrape of my scalp being removed.

I got lectured again by a dermatologist with perfect skin. He’s right, of course. We all know the danger of overexposure to the sun. But, like moths to the flame, we do it anyway. It feels good. It looks good. What fools we mortals be. I’ll have a proper scar on the right side of my forehead to match the one on the left side from the first procedure. I’m hoping it makes me look a little more bad-ass. BCC2The procedure wasn’t painful but I felt everything. There was more psychological terror than physical pain. In addition to the scraping, I also felt the thread pass through my skin and the two flaps being pulled together.

Same warning as last time, folks. The usual clichés apply. Be careful. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. We love you and wouldn’t want to lose any of you. USE SUNSCREEN.BCC3 I get my stitches out in the morning. Instead of scurrying back to the office, I’ll take a sick day, drive down to Atlantic City and visit the casinos. It was never a very dignified place to begin with but now, with all the casino closings, it’s a sad, broken hulk of a town. Every time I feel bad about myself—I don’t make enough money, I’m not passionate about my work, I didn’t set the world on fire artistically, etc.—I visit Atlantic City and have look around. It turns out I’m doing fine. With the hand I was dealt early on, I could’ve easily wound up down there with the other 8:00 a.m. denizens of the crap tables. I do feel a genuine kinship with those busted guys, but I’m glad I have a place to go after 7-out.

In my previous post, I had a proper chuckle at the expense of the Björk exhibit at MoMA. But on a different floor in the same museum is this: marcelThese are considered to be 20th century masterpieces that changed the definition of what constitutes art. It’s also a snow shovel hanging from the ceiling and a bicycle wheel stuck to a stool. Back in 2002, a bicycle wheel sold for $1.7 million. Can you imagine what it’d sell for today?!

Who knows? One day, Björk might be seen as someone who was ahead of her time. This is not a pipe, indeed.

Wrapped in a big, red bow just for you

Here’s an early Christmas present for everyone. This guy is one of the best writers out here. His posts are compellingly written, there’s not a wasted word in them and they arrive at manageable intervals. Each one is a marvel of drama and humor. The consistency of the quality is almost other-worldly. This newest post is a pretty good representation of what’s on the menu over there. You’re welcome.