Summer’s here and the time is right…

…for outdoor art installations. The city is littered with these things—and I mean that in the good way. Not all of the installations work—I’ll spare you the sight of the ones that don’t—but here’s one that amused me.

nearness5It runs through the center of Times Square—Broadway between 44th and 45th. This is Nearness by Cuban artist Arlés del Rio. It’s a simple concept that works because of its placement. It creates a nice flow.


They’re exactly what you see; a series of chain link fences with the centers cut in the shape of silhouettes. They’re participatory, which I always like. People walk through them and have their pictures taken while standing in the middle. You don’t see anybody in these photos because it was 6:00 a.m. and anyone in their right mind is still in bed, not traipsing through Times Square. I think the exhibit is more striking without people around.


According to the literature provided, these figures metaphorically represent

“…the social, political, cultural and personal barriers, among others, that may keep us away from one another.”

These concept descriptions are always too high-minded for me. They always sound like ArtNews blather. Perhaps the artist needs that gobbledygook to feel connected to his work but I always take it at face value. I’m the opposite of complex.


This one’s my fav. Placed in front of the Times Square military recruiting center.


Next up: a Jeff Koons horse.

While daddy’s at work, proud new mommies often bring their babies into the office for show and tell. The little bundles of screaming joy always have names like Halston or Eureka. [I recently saw Tiffany but it was spelled “Typhanie.”] Someone just paraded a stroller through the corridors here at work. It’s a disruption but everyone has to feign interest. Like when you’re forced to sing happy birthday in the break room. I’m guilty, too. I brought the first daughter in when she was born. Not the second one, though.

What I’ve noticed over the years is that when it’s the wife of a senior executive, it’s always the wife, the baby and a nanny. I guess if you can afford one, you get one. Why wouldn’t you? But I think it makes them seem frail. Like they’re too delicate or detached to shoulder the heavy responsibility of caring for a baby on their own.

I think that wealth makes some people soft. It robs them of their natural, God-given coping mechanisms. Their grit. Their ability to navigate through adversity or a lifestyle crisis, like a new baby. Instead of planting their feet, striking a defensive pose and dealing, they throw money at a problem and hope it goes away. Here in NYC and on Long Island, you can hire someone to teach your kid how to ride a bike. I’ve worked with and have known some very well-off people. It doesn’t seem to take much to harsh their mojo.

Speaking of mommies. Sex Tape with Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz just opened to disastrous reviews. Only a 20% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s toast. I don’t want to say I enjoy reading bad reviews, because that’s not nice, but I laughed at this bon mot from the New York Times review. It said the movie…

“…asks us to believe that Annie is on the verge of selling her blog about motherhood for big money, a plot point that inspired raucous laughter from the press rows at my screening.”

Mommy blogs—hell, blogs in general—are about as rare as oxygen molecules. So the thought that one would actually sell for big money is pretty funny stuff, which I’m certain wasn’t their intent.

Coffee Klatsch

Unable to walk because I was wearing shoes that are a bit too tight but too damn cool to discard, I boarded the R train at 42nd Street heading for 57th. I sat next to two girls who looked like living Barbie dolls. Early- to mid-20s. Blonde hair that I strongly suspect might not be natural. All of their clothing was candy-colored right down to their socks. Two cute little buttons. I wanted to buy them a sundae. Their thoughts must have been of chiffon and white clouds and holding hands with harmless, pretty, all-American university boys.

One was leaning close to the other and reading something off her her iPad. She read in a conspiratorial whisper, so as not to disturb anyone sitting around them. How thoughtful! The new issue of Vogue? An advice column on how to apply make-up? I looked over.

I cannot report what she was reading because it was in CHINESE. That young, cute  cheerleader is FLUENT in CHINESE. She was interpreting what it said to her friend.

Am I EVER going to STOP judging people by the way they LOOK? How many times do I need to be taught the same lessons over and over?

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This is where I have my morning jolt, weather permitting.

Michael Bloomberg, genius mayor of New York (may he run for president someday), is leaving office. His greatest legacy, as far as I’m concerned, is closing stretches of Broadway and other Avenues and converting them into public spaces. They’re great for hanging out and watching the big parade of humanity march by. Here’s the view from my morning coffee. This used to be a section of Broadway that roared with traffic. Now look at it. The reason there are so few people around is that it’s 6:30 a.m. Come back at 8:00 p.m. and there isn’t room to walk.


A: The New Year’s Eve ball. A few years ago they decided to leave it out year-round. Every time I have guests and point it out, they all say the same thing: “It’s a lot smaller than I thought it would be.” Boy…if I had a nickel for every time I heard that…

B: Disney. Ubiquitous. Has come to define what Times Square is vs. what it was. I’m not crazy about it, but I remember the pimps, whores and junkies. I know that image has a certain dark, poetic panache, but that’s all just selective memory. This is the lesser of two evils. Listen to Travis Bickel’s monologue as he drives his taxi through the area. It’s accurate.

C: A gaggle o’ NYPD.

D: A gaggle o’ tourists.

E: NYC wildlife.

F: A damn good cuppa. Only $1.25! Or, you can go to the Starbucks that my coffee cart guy parks in front of and pay double or triple or quadruple. And they say there aren’t any bargains in NYC. Feh.

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Billboard in the northeast corner of Times Square courtesy of French artist JR. It was more amusing before government surveillance revelations were made.


Back to the Garden of Eden

I see faces and traces of home back in New York City.

Back in N.Y.C.
Peter Gabriel

I might do a another post or two about my trip to Cleveland but for now let it be known that I’m back in New York. My siblings and nieces are in Cleveland, my wife and kids in New Jersey, but New York is my home and it feels good walk though Times Square again.

* * *

This giant (26 ft./8m.) bronze sculpture is Unconditional Surrender by Seward Johnson. It’s up through August 16th. How fun is that!



It’s a replica of the famous photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt of a sailor and nurse kissing to celebrate the end of World War II. It was taken on August 14th, 1945—65 years ago tomorrow.


This angle makes it look as though Jay-Z is eavesdropping on a private moment.

* * *

It’s not often I’ll see a play twice. There are too many out there and my funds are too limited to double-up on something I’ve already seen, but I made an exception last night for David Mamet’s Race. It’s due to close next week and I really wanted to see it with its new cast. As much as I enjoyed the first viewing, this second night was even better. The original cast did a great job, but I think the new cast is an improvement.

raceAd with original cast

James Spader was replaced by Eddie Izzard. I’m a huge fan of Izzard and I’ll see anything that guy does. As good as Spader was, Izzard was even better. His delivery had more punch and he seemed more at ease in his role of an attorney caught up in his own prejudices. And he seemed much more comfortable prowling the stage.

David Alan Grier was replaced by Dennis Haysbert (of 24). Again, Haysbert had better command of the role. Kerry Washington was replaced by Afton Williamson, who I saw last year in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Her’s was an angrier, grittier performance. Richard Thomas is a holdover from the original cast. After so many months, he has a sharper focus on his character, a clueless, wealthy, white man who stands accused of raping a black girl. Is he guilty? Can the truth be found with her red sequined dress? You have to draw your own conclusions.

I checked my notes and although I’ve seen several plays since April, this is the first full-blown Broadway production I’ve attended since then. It was nice to be in a big house again. Have I mentioned that it’s good to be back?