A forgotten doorway to my past

binLong-time readers know what these are. For the benefit of new readers, [I have new readers! Thank you, WordPress migration.] this is a storage bin  filled with journals from when I first moved to New York as a young, scared, lonely boy. There are hundreds and hundreds of single-spaced typewritten pages and many books filled with shaky, unsure handwriting. I had completely forgotten about them for many years but they resurfaced not long ago. I occasionally crack one open and post an entry. I offer these without edits and with the caveat that I was an emotionally immature, crude and not very nice person. Especially to women. But I’ve since learned a thing or two and I have forgiven my trespasses. I hope you do the same. I am in a constant struggle with whether or not I should destroy these. I don’t want any of the ladies in my life to read them.

When we last saw our hero, he was in the throes of a crisis of his own making (as they almost always were). An extraordinary woman he was seeing, Bonnie, had given him his walking papers. He had spouted off at length about how the work of avant garde artist John Cage was dull, unimportant, lacking structure and, worst of all, pretentious. Unbeknownst to him at the time, Bonnie, an older sophisticated architect, wrote her thesis at Yale on the career of John Cage.

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August 30, 1992

In an effort to better educate myself and repair the damage I wrought with Bonnie, I invited her to a concert of John Cage’s work at MoMA. Bonnie asked if I was paying penance and I said, of course I was, so she agreed to go. The concert was just awful. Honestly, it only confirmed my suspicions but I’ll never admit that to Bonnie. I still want to sleep with her.

They had a lot of nerve calling it a concert. It had very little to do with music. The opening and closing numbers used traditional instruments—violin, viola, flute and a few others. They would each take a turn playing a long, sustained note. They’d occasionally overlap for texture but it was little more than a drone. The middle piece was three guys standing in front of a microphone crumbling and then un-crumbling pieces of newspaper and then slowly ripping them into long strips. This was accompanied by a man tapping a plastic plate, a woman pouring water and someone tapping two plastic tubes together. We heard some people in the back laughing, so I know I’m not alone in my mystification. There was a beautiful Steinway grand piano on stage but the only sound that came out of it was some guy occasionally plucking a string or slapping the wood. I listened with all sincerity but all I heard was someone ripping newspaper and beating up some poor piano. It didn’t mean anything to me. At the conclusion, the audience erupted with wild applause. I don’t get it. But I think I might be back in her good graces, so that’s good news. (Note: It didn’t work. Things were never the same again.)

September 1

I just got off the phone with Bonnie. Apparently, it’s not enough that her business is failing and she’s teetering on bankruptcy and might lose that spectacular apartment. She said, “Mark, I had blood coming out of my rectum. I thought it was just a simple hemorrhoid but I went to a doctor and he’s sending me to have tests done.” She’s at Cornell Medical Center as I type this. I told her I’d accompany her back home but I’m being spared that horror, thank heavens. I feel awful for her but it’s disgusting to hear about it in such graphic detail. I’m completely turned off. She said I could stop by later today but I’m wondering if she’ll be too out of it to receive guests.

Bonnie is sick. Joan only wants me to look at an apartment in Chelsea that I can’t afford. Klinger is in Miami. Colleen wants to see me, but I think she’s getting the wrong ideas. Cindy is in Arizona. I haven’t heard from Jennifer. I can only see Laura if I pay for everything and I’m broke. That leaves a city full of strangers. And my cats.

September 2

Bonnie got back from the hospital late last night and sounded awful so I didn’t visit. She’s going to be okay, thank God. Hemorrhoids. What the fuck is a hemorrhoid, anyway? Remind me to look it up later. Her doctor thought it might be colon cancer. They knocked her out with nitrous oxide, lucky duck. I’ll bet they didn’t have go to the Key Foods and empty all the Reddi-wip canisters, like I have to. I’m happy she’s okay but all I can picture is blood flowing out of her ass. I don’t think I can sleep with her again. Maybe if she goes down on me I’ll be okay. We’ll see.

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Quite the charmer, wasn’t I? I’ve created a new category for my other journal entries, but THIS ONE is the best of the bunch so far. It’s amazing how you walk around thinking nothing is happening when the truth is you’re having the time of your life.

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Another big blankey of snow this week. No surprise there. On Tuesday, I heard Irish author Roddy Doyle read from his new novel (and got a signed first edition, OF COURSE). He said the Irish winter he left behind was typically cold, wet and gray. He’s absolutely thrilled with the snow. Wait until he tries to fly out. See how much he likes it then. Here are some shots of Central Park. See…it ain’t all bad.

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Autumn for Sale

I work in an office tower on 6th Avenue in the middle of Manhattan. As you might expect, there aren’t many residential buildings nearby. It’s almost exclusively pencil-pushing, paper-shuffling edifices. Other neighborhoods—Chelsea, the Upper East and West Sides, the Villages—are more resident-oriented. But that’s not to say there aren’t ANY residential buildings in Midtown.

Directly across the street from my office is an apartment building. Architecturally, it’s a quiet affair; not at all like the soulless glass and steel structures that surround it. Its facade is brick with some flourishes.

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Central Park, which is on fire right now with autumnal splendor, is just three short blocks away. Aside from immediately after a gigantic snowstorm, fall is when the city is at its most pastoral and beautiful. People come from all over the world to stroll through Central Park in the fall. These fortunate few, these denizens of the better addresses, can simply walk out their door, turn left, and in a matter of minutes be enveloped in Manhattan’s rustic beauty.

But sometimes, you don’t want to make that three-block walk. It may be too early in the morning. You might not look your best. In that case, you take your coffee and your iPad and sit outside on your sun-drenched terrace.

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And that’s no reason to miss out on the splendor of autumn. You can always spend a small fortune to have a landscaper haul autumn up the service elevator and reconstruct it right outside your terrace door.

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Within a 48-hour period last week:

  • At a jewelry auction in Geneva, the Pink Star diamond fetched $83,000,000, a record price for a gemstone. At the conclusion of the auction, the auction house played The Theme from the Pink Panther by Henry Mancini. Get it?
  • Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud sold for $142,000,000 at Christie’s, the most ever paid for a work of art. Wild applause broke out after six minutes of frantic bidding.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both achieved record highs.

Those first two points are intrinsically linked to the third. I wonder what it’s like to inhabit that ionosphere? Do you think they’re aware of the rare air they breath? Do they possess the proper depth of appreciation for their circumstances or are they blissfully blasé about it? I’d like to be blissfully blasé.

I’ve entered the prices realized from last week’s Post-War Modern Art auction at Christie’s (scroll down). It was a phenomenally successful event. The results far exceeded their wildest, sugarplums-dancing dreams. I read an excellent commentary on how it was difficult to actually see the art through all the dollar signs. The author found the auction

“…painful to watch yet impossible to ignore and deeply alienating if you actually love art for its own sake.”

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Here’s an interesting little doodad by Camille Norment that was on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art recently.

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Triplight. 2008

It’s an old-timey Shure microphone—the kind that Sinatra and Billie Holiday used—with the guts replaced by a small, slowly pulsating light.

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The shadow cast is supposed to be a “luminescent rib cage” that calls to mind the absent performer; the pulsating light reminiscent of breathing. Well, I don’t know about all that but it was mesmerizing to look at.

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Museum of Modern Art, Wednesday, October 30, 12:55 p.m.

Loch Central Park

I took one of the last warm days of the season off from work and dragged 7-Year Old Daughter into the city. Again. She’s been there quite a few times now and walks around like she owns the place. It’s pretty funny. She has developed a comfort level with the city, which is by design.

Renting a row boat on Central Park Lake is probably The Most Touristy thing you can do, but it’s a fantastic experience. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve done it. It’s still a thrill. And it only costs about $10 bucks! So worth it. The Central Park row boats and the landmark Carousel are absolute musts on a warm day. You’re never too old for that stuff.

I like watching clueless city people try to row a boat. They often row incorrectly; with the stern of the boat going forward. The bow of the boat cuts through the water quite nicely but for some reason, dopey New Yorkers prefer the struggle of trying to push the stern through water. Perhaps it’s in their nature to make things more difficult than they need to be.

Here we are at beautiful Bethesda Fountain. Did you see Tony Kurshner’s Angels in America? This fountain plays an important role. There’s a charming song-and-dance number in The Daughter’s favorite movie, Enchanted, that features the fountain.

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If you row out to the middle of the lake you can get a spectacular view of the luxury hotels along Central Park South. For being in the middle of New York City, the lake is actually quite big.

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Many years ago, my brother was visiting and I took a photo of him rowing. When I got the pictures developed, I discovered that I accidentally got a shot of his testicle hanging out of his shorts! Do you guys want to see it?

If you visit Central Park mid-week you’ll witness a phenomenon called “The Leisure Class.” These are people who hang out in the city all day and have no visible means of support. They don’t have proper jobs. And these are not tourists! They’re locals! Look how crowded Sheep Meadow is on a Thursday afternoon. Where do they get the money to live like this? Arrrgghh.

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Random architectural flourish. Click on that and take a look at the latticework. Nice!

I heart New York. Always have. Probably always will.

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