Dressed in holiday style

The annual holiday window displays are up at Bergdorf Goodman. My route there took me past Trump Tower. What a circus. A woman was protesting out front holding a ‘Not My President’ sign with a big erect penis drawn on it. Vacationing families with little children walked by.

As usual, the displays are a riot of craftsmanship and design. It takes nine months to create these. Here’s a sampling. My pics look a little blurry but if you click on them, they’re sharp.


This year, the theme is the kind of dioramas seen in natural history museums. This window is done in a jungle motif.


Feathered and bejeweled primates are tucked into every corner.



In this window, we find our femme fatale (they all have a femme fatale) surrounded by gigantic insects.


I like how icicles drip from his pincers.


In this window, a tightrope walk over a swamp.



Watching workers below her rearrange the exhibit.




I dug this out of my journal in honor of Miss Saigon‘s return to Broadway this spring.

February 20, 1992

I saw Miss Saigon with Ann Marie last night. I don’t know what all the fuss is about. It’s not very good. I can’t recall one song. They’re all generic and uninteresting. Even the helicopter evacuation scene wasn’t impressive.The comps had a face value of $100, which tells you everything you need to know.

My mind is whirling with this Ann Marie business. Instead of watching the play I mused on how much she likes me. During the penultimate scene, Saigon was being evacuated but all I could do was gauge my interest in Ann Marie vs. my unrequited affection for Mimi.

I was in a bad mood today and called Ann Marie’s office for a quick hello thinking it’d cheer me up but I got her voicemail. I left a message and proceeded to obsess on why I hadn’t heard back from her. Minutes turned into doubt. Did she not get my message? Is not returning my message, in fact, a message? This went on all afternoon. Finally, towards the end of the day when I was ready to crawl out of my skin, she called and apologized for taking so long to get back to me. She’d been with clients all afternoon. We had a few laughs. I’m sick. I need psychological help.

I’m not sure anyone is doing well. Austin’s band isn’t going to make it. Klinger and Mimi aren’t going to be paid actors. I’m surrounded by corporate cogs. Society considers them successful, model citizens but most of them seem pretty miserable to me. I don’t envy them. Ann Marie wants to be a personal trainer. Melissa wants to be an artist. They’re not going to make it. I wonder what keeps them going? They’re better off than I am. At least they have an aspiration. I’m empty inside. Writing workshops and freelance gigs. Who am I kidding? I sit in this apartment in Brooklyn and have no idea where I’ll be in five months, much less five years from now.

The water was out again all weekend so I couldn’t bathe or wash dishes. You take that stuff for granted. I stank so I never went out. I bought a gallon of water at the corner bodega for my morning coffee, to brush my teeth and for the cats. Who pays for bottled water? It’s ridiculous. The building is united in our collective misery.

I’m dead tired. I’ve not gotten an unbroken night of sleep in a while. The cats wait until I’m asleep and then bat my face to let them under the comforter. They’ll wake up in the middle of the night and crawl out to get a bite to eat. Then they wake me up again to let them back under. They fall right to sleep but I’ll lie there wide awake until morning thinking my terrible thoughts. It’s no use shutting them out of the bedroom because they both sit outside the door and howl all night. Fucking cats. I just love them.

Maureen and I have stopped talking altogether. It’s just as well. I like to think of myself as sympathetic and am sorry she’s having a hard time but I can’t fill her void. The conversations are awful. They’re filled with long, uncomfortable silences. She asks me if I’m seeing anyone just to torture herself. I hope to hear from her again one day (no hurry) but am relieved that she went off to the mountaintop to heal.

Ann recently asked about her and since they are friends, I told her it would be a very, very bad idea to mention anything about us going to Mexico together. Maureen will snap out of it sooner or later. We all go through these things and sometimes it takes a while but it always passes. Don’t I know.



Alexander Calder
John Graham
Estimate: $800,000-1,200,000
Price Realized: $2,527,500

Yikes! They really undershot the landing strip on that one. I like Calder but $2M+ is a lot, don’t you think?

Where Art and Commerce Collide

I love the holidays for purely secular reasons. I embrace the music, crowds, decorations, food, gatherings—pretty much everything that is outwardly disparaged in New York City. I’m like one of those Lindt chocolate truffles—I have a soft center.

The the holiday windows at Bergdorf Goodman are a treat. They’re no joke. They’re designed by artisans who take their work seriously. Every year there’s a theme and this year it’s the arts. Some of these are the best displays I’ve ever seen. Here’s a couple examples. If you reading this in the city and you don’t make the effort to see these you’re missing out. These pics don’t do them justice. And go at nighttime.

This window represents music. Nice art deco frame. They all have that.


She’s surrounded by silver horns. Big ones. Little ones. Nice dress, too.


This is dance. She slowly rotates on that gear. She’s delicate. The gears are not. A nice juxtaposition.


I love how she’s lit and the angle of her head. It accentuates her long neck.


This is architecture. The best of the bunch. I stood in front for a long time. There’s a lot to absorb. The window is crammed with representations of NYC landmark skyscrapers.


In the upper right corner, out of the shot above, is a gargoyle perched on a pedestal.


He’s made by a paper sculpture.


This represents theater. The neon lights are sequenced making a slow reveal from bottom to top.


I like that her dress is translucent. You can see the lights between her legs.


The day after I visited these, The New York Times Style section posted a short video on the making of the architecture window. It’s pretty interesting stuff.

Not to be outdone, the porn store on 8th Avenue across the street from my office also decorated their window. It’s kind of a lazy affair. I wonder if “Santa Sack” is suppose to be a double entendre? Pretty poor, if it is.


I picked up my iPhone 6 on Saturday. It’s a miracle of form, function and design. I’m dizzy with happiness. Just like a maternity ward reveal.

Calm > chaos

Each morning, I have one hour to myself, from 7:00 to 8:00. It’s the only time of my day when someone doesn’t require my attention. At work, at home or even walking down the Avenues, it seems like someone is always in my face. During that peaceful morning hour, I sit in the same coffee shop and either read blogs or write or pop my earbuds in, listen to Howard Stern and make loud snorting noises that cause people to stare.

Recently, an elderly derelict has taken up residency in the same coffee shop. He’s always there during my morning caffeine ablution. He’s not homeless or insane–he doesn’t smell bad or babble incoherently–he’s never drunk. But he’s clearly on government assistance and doesn’t have anywhere special to be during the day. He takes the seat near where customers wait to pick up their coffee order. Customers who are, more often than not, tourists, this being midtown Manhattan.

His move it to engage someone in conversation while they wait. But once they have their coffee, they’re not free to go. His stream-of-conscious dialogue doesn’t have a natural braking point and since most tourists are nice people who don’t want to appear rude, they stand there, trapped, nodding their head and sipping their coffee. Perhaps they feel they’re having an authentic New York moment. He tells them about hanging out in Studio 54, a book he wrote, an album he recorded and other sundry events that are entirely plausible. But eventually they start that slow dance towards the exit.

I never engage him. I know he’s lonely and just needs someone to talk to, but my heart hardened years ago. When I first moved to NYC, I used to carry a pocket full of quarters to dole out to the homeless on the subways and streets. If I didn’t have any change, I’d at least make eye contact so they felt like human beings. But it became too much. I was overwhelmed by the tsunami of sadness, so the destitute became invisible to me. It’s a defense mechanism many New Yorkers employ. A coping device to help deal with the grind of the city.

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I’m one of those poor bastards trying to sort out the Affordable Care Act. I’m just a consultant and need healthcare for my family. I won’t go into the details because how boring would that be? But here’s how another in a series of live chat sessions opened yesterday. It tells you everything you need to know about how well the system is working.


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Bergdorf Goodman holiday window display. Monday, December 16, 6:30 p.m.

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I made my annual holiday pilgrimage to the Morgan Library to view the original manuscript for A Christmas Carol. From Dickens’ own hand, a cultural touchstone was born.


Just look at this mess! This stuff is such a thrill for me. How the printer was able to make heads or tails of this is a mystery.


I read A Christmas Carol every December. It puts me in the proper spirit. It’s maudlin and overwritten, but it gets the job done. I have to read those last several pages alone because I always see them through a veil of tears. Scrooge’s transformation washes over me. So embarrassing.

“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas…”

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Carnegie Hall, Monday, November 18, 7:45 p.m.

You haven’t changed a bit

EDIT: I was dissatisfied with the Bergdorf window pics so I replaced them with better ones and included a few detailed shots. Quality control!

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Not long ago, I reread Lolita. When I first read it in my 20s, I found it to be a well-written, comedic romp across America. Now that I have an 11 year old daughter, I didn’t think it was so goddamn funny. Mostly, I was mortified that I once laughed at it. At a recent appearance by author Zadie Smith, I related that story to her and asked if she was a “one-and-done” kind of reader or if she revisited books from her youth. She said it’s important to reread books from time to time. She teaches the same titles in her class each semester (she’s a Lit professor at NYU) and gets something new out of them each time. For her, a subsequent reading of Middlemarch revealed Dorthea to be a bit of a whiner!

I’ve been putting off rereading To Kill a Mockingbird for decades. Long-time readers know that if it weren’t for that book, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. I wouldn’t be typing these words and probably never would have lived in New York City. I’d be something more tragic and sad. I once wrote as much to Harper Lee and she immediately responded with a heartfelt note of thanks. I didn’t want to reread Mockingbird because I was afraid that, over the decades, I had blown it up to mythical proportions in my mind’s eye. What if it wasn’t all I remembered it being? What if it was merely good and not life changing? Wouldn’t that degrade an important memory? That can happen, you know.

I finally pulled it off my shelf last week. I got 18 pages in and Scout said this:

…I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.

Look, I don’t know about you guys, but that really floored me. I sat there with a big, stupid grin on my face and read those lines over and over again. What a relief. I might write another note to Ms. Lee.

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We decorated our Christmas tree over the weekend. Look where 6-Year Old Daughter hung my Shakespeare ornament:

singws 1Everybody sing!

William the red-cock playwright
Had a very shiny…okay that’s enough of that.

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Here are a couple of holiday windows at Bergdorf Goodman. Strangely, they have nothing whatsoever to do with the holiday. The theme is jazz-era/art deco and while lacking in ho-ho-ho-ness, they’re pretty impressive, just the same. You should click on these and blow them up. They’re interesting. This first one should appeal to the white-plumed fetishist in your life.

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8photo 2These are best of the bunch. A high society, all-girl jazz band. It’s like a Robert Palmer video from 1929. The display was mounted up against the wall so that your view is looking down on them. Pretty brilliant. When I lived in downtown Brooklyn, I had a kitchen floor that looked just like that.


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