Friday, May 30, 2008
Beforehand we ate at Noho Star. It’s been there a long time and is an old favorite. I had the turkey schnitzel, which was okay. I ordered a Dewar’s and soda and they served it in a water glass. I just wanted a little nip to decompress from work but they served me a double mega dose. Why? They’re not stingy, baby. Of course, I finished it. What was I suppose to do? Throw it out?
I spotted a celebrity as soon as I walked in the door. Contemporary artist Chuck Close. I get an extra gold star because I identified him from the back of his head! Touché! He’s bald and in a motorized wheelchair, so it was a bit of a gimmie.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The High Life
Alcoholism is not a disease and I resent it being treated as such. It’s an insult to people who are actually battling a disease. Labeling it as a disease makes it sound like something you could helplessly fall victim to. Something that’s unavoidable. Horseshit. You can’t quit cancer. You can’t quit leukemia. But you can sure as hell quit drinking. I’ve seen it done plenty of times. And I don’t know of too many diseases that will allow you to go out on a Saturday night, party your ass off and then drive head-on into a van full of kids. I’ve had alcoholics in my life and do you know what? They tend to be a bunch of big fucking babies. As soon as they stumble into a room, they have to be the center of attention and need to be indulged and mollycoddled and understood. Meanwhile, everyone around them suffers. Fuck ‘em.
My man here sitting next to me has a problem. We are only 16 minutes into our ride and he’s already downed 24 ounces of beer. He can’t get through this lousy commute without drinking. Boo hoo. Poor him. It’s likely that he will get behind the wheel and drive home from the train station. I sure hope he sobers up by then.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The Writing on the Wall
Oh, and by the way, in addition to the more mundane tasks, the company that’s owned by the man from India has the capability to complete the more creative and interesting tasks as well. And for a small fraction of what we are currently being paid by Benevolent Dictators, Inc.
What could they possibly have in mind?
Monday, May 26, 2008
Recipe for an American Holiday
The weather was perfect all holiday weekend so we did the things that are expected. In addition the beach, we went on a picnic and I taught 6-Year Old Daughter how to throw a Frisbee. The obligatory weekend injury occurred when she missed a catch and it hit her right in the throat. No harm. We also went to a carnival; the traveling kind with creepy carnys, geeks, dangerous rides and bad (good) food. Have you ever heard of a deep fried Oreo? They exist. I was walking down the midway and saw a cotter pin on the ground and wondered which ride it fell off of. I grilled hot dogs (twice) and made grilled chicken with watermelon salsa. Also, a shitload of yard work.
For my overseas readers, Memorial Day is the holiday when we honor our veterans and fallen soldiers in past wars. I heard our moron President stumble through a few unintelligible sentences that, I think, praised our men and women in uniform and I almost wretched. This is the same shithead who used his daddy’s connections to duck out of military service when he was called. Don’t get me started on that fool.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
125 Years Young
One morning, many years ago, a cable snapped and came crashing down to the walkway and killed someone who was walking to work. They said that the acidity in the pigeon guano that had accumulated over the years caused the cable supports to corrode. Pigeons 1. Humans 0.
Labels: NYC: A Users Guide
Friday, May 23, 2008
Psychiatric Help: 5¢
H. and I occasionally go out for an evening in the city, get good and lubricated, and hold the Suffering Olympics. She has problems. I have problems. We both go for the gold, but I’m sorry to report that this night, I only ranked a bronze. Four hours of commuting each day and a tenuous job does not trump an affair with a married man. It might sound like an unpleasant evening to you, dear reader, but I can assure you that these meetings are cathartic and necessary for both parties. Like most of us, H. has good, sound advice on how to solve other people’s problems, but gets tripped up when trying to weed her own garden. I help her as best I can. Telling someone how they should live their life is lots of fun, especially after a dram or two of imported scotch. Try it!
We had vague plans to see a play or movie after dinner but it was so beautiful out that we walked up 6th Avenue, past the black tower where she and I once worked together for Brand This! Inc., past Radio City Music Hall to Central Park, sat on a bench and watched the livery drivers whip their horses into action. H. felt bad for the horses. I saw it as an uncomfortable metaphor. The sun set beautifully over the Hudson River and we decided that the fight was worth it and scheduled our next session.
Free Tips from the Buddha 3
Again you follow desire, and again you are not satisfied.
Again you try, and again you are not satisfied.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I imbibed a few times in back in 1976 and I can assure you that it’s nothing to trifle with. It’s pretty powerful stuff. If you’ve ever taken LSD, you probably know why it went out of fashion. It’s too much. During my “lost loser years” I took it once at home and I had a good time, once while on a whitewater rafting trip in a Pennsylvania forest and had a great time and once at Kent State University. That last one didn’t go so well so I never did it again. But I have to admit that I find the idea of taking acid just once more and watching the swirling colors of the Princess Parade to be mighty appealing. Perhaps after the kids are off to college I can revisit the irresponsible loser side of me. Now, where'd I hide my ceramic human skull bong…?
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Humor is Subjective
“I don’t know. Why?”
“Well, it crossed the road to go see a play called “Six” that he thought was about him, but when he got to the theater, the play was actually called “Sick” and it was about a bunch of sick people! Ahh hahahaha!”
Well, it wasn’t funny, but it wasn’t dull, either.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I spent the trip vacillating between feeling a bit put-off by the whole scene and being emotionally overwhelmed when I watched my children. I had to push down tears more than once, much to my annoyance. If I spend three weeks there instead of just five days, will I turn into a monumental pussy and start listening to Dan Fogelberg albums and cry at sunsets? This damages the whole reluctant-father thing that I wear around my neck like a chain. Thank God I got the hell out of there.
I have an idiot tan. It looks like I drew a circle around the base of my neck. North of that meridian, I am a bronzed Adonis. South of that demarcation line, I am as white as a fish’s belly. The kids loved everything about the trip but, personally, it’s not how I get my kicks. Give me a beach and a book, a casino or a walk down The Strand any day over the squeaky clean, homogenous fun we just had. I saw adults there without children walking through the Magic Kingdom. Apparently, you can voluntarily go to Disneyworld even if you don’t have to. Can you imagine? Actually, I get that. It’s a slice of Americana and I can understand why someone would want to see it, but I can’t relate at all.
I see faces and traces of home back in New York City
So you think I'm a tough kid? Is that what you heard?
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Dateline: Orlando Part II
All the employees of Disney—excuse me, cast members—wear nametags that also include their city and state of origin. Our lunchtime waiter at the home cookin’ buffet was from China. It didn’t give the province or region. It just said, “China.” Close enough. He was middle aged and I was wondering what the arc of this guy’s story was. He came from China and is now delivering food to overfed Americans.
I was watching him from across the restaurant while I was musing about all this stuff. He had just bussed a table and was walking towards the kitchen with a tray full of dirty dishes. He stopped right before the kitchen, looked down, saw a balled-up napkin on the floor, flipped it up in the air with his toe, snatched it with his right hand and returned his hand to the tray without upsetting the dishes! For real! It happened so fast that nobody saw him do it! It was a Zen moment that passed by unnoticed in the chaos that was swirling around him. Then my imagination really started racing. I thought he might be an ex-member of the Peking Acrobats or that he was a ninja crime fighting master and this was merely an alias. Now, THAT was some Disney magic!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
We watched the big Disney parade down Main Street this afternoon. All the most popular Disney characters appeared on floats with dancers, musicians, a marching band, etc., etc., Throughout the entire parade, I saw exactly two African Americans; one was one of Captain Hook’s pirates and the other was a chimney sweep from Mary Poppins. Even Aladdin was lily white and looked like an actuary accountant. I thought it was awful. What if you’re black and you’re here with your kids and this is the only way you're represented? A chimney sweep! My cynicism and anger about this place had reached a fevered pitch and I just wanted to get the hell out of here. Then I looked down at Daughter. She was mesmerized. I saw a look of rapture and raw joy on her face that I had never seen before. I got choked up and started to cry. I had sunglasses on so nobody saw me, thank God. This place is fucking with my head.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
We're staying at a nice resort/spa with some very adult amenities. A masseuse! Cocktails! Cable porn! (Ha, just kidding about that third one. It is Disney, after all.) Best of all, I won't see the inside of Benevolent Dictators, Inc. until Monday morning. How bad can it be? We're spending just the right amount of time there—out on Wednesday, back on Sunday. I keep reminding myself that there's always the distant chance I'll find a crap table somewhere in the vicinity. On the flight down I'll teach 2-Year Old Daughter how to shout, "A dime on the pass, press my hard eight!" To 6-Year Old Daughter, I will explain the rejuvenating benefits of sipping a chilled dirty martini at sunset.
* * *
I just received another welcome sign that summer has finally returned to the city. Each summer, every day at noon, weather permitting, the City of New York pays a pianist to sit at a straight-backed piano on the patio of Bryant Park and play American popular standards for one hour. Someone To Watch Over Me. It Had To Be You. Stardust. The usual fare. Today was the first day for that particular pleasure. I had forgotten all about it and was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the park for lunch and heard these beautiful songs rolling off the patio and onto the lawn. It was like seeing an old friend again. If you're sitting under a blue sky listening to someone play a lazy version of I'll Take Manhattan on a piano, and you look up and see the sun gleam off the spire of the Chrysler Building, what right would you have to complain about anything? You would be a fool.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Father Knows Nothing
In addition to a level of exhaustion that I am generally not accustomed to, there was a small piece of me that just wanted to sit on the patio in the sun and read the special summer movie supplement that was in the Sunday Times. What a hero. I try my best but I am imperfect.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
We saw Iron Man so summer is officially underway. I don’t care what the temperature is, if I see a movie that cost $100M+ to make, it’s summer. It was fun and anyone who says otherwise needs to lighten up. I’m glad they made the effort to develop the characters, although the big fight sequence at the end between Iron Man and Crazy Jeff Bridges Robot looked an awful lot like RoboCop, which I hated. I was hoping that Crazy Jeff Bridges Robot would step on and squish Gwyneth Paltrow like a bug, but then I realized that it was only a movie and that she would, in reality, still be alive. Well, it would have been a visceral thrill, that’s for sure. They could have done that little favor for us. The CGI probably would have only cost another $10-20K and they could have easily paid for it by taking up a collection. I'd have kicked in. It would have been for a good cause.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Each and every person after me picked something that would benefit mankind. The ability to end war. Cure disease. Eliminate hunger. What a bunch of losers. Seriously! If you were given the choice of any superpower you wanted, why would you waste it on something stupid like that? Boy, I showed them.
* * *
Cell phones are here to stay. They are permanently weaved into the fabric of society and people are going to abuse them. That's never gong to change, so I need to just get over it. When something gets under my skin, I don't pussyfoot around. I make stewing about it part of my every waking moment. Otherwise, why bother? In my defense, if you had to put up with as much cell phone nonsense as I do, you'd be driven mad as well.
* * *
Take it from me, no matter how many times you do it, you never get use to spending $10 for lunch. It costs me upwards of $200 per month for a sandwich, bag of sea salt chips (crisps, for my UK readers) and a bottle of water every day. Awful.
* * *
I love the tourists. I really do. They are a vital part of the city's economy and a constant reminder that I am lucky enough to live in a place where people like to visit for vacation. There isn't a tourism office where I grew up in Cleveland, so I know the difference between the two environments and this is definitely more to my liking. But, JESUS CHRIST they're overrunning my city! Because of the pitifully weak dollar (thank you, Mr. President, for fucking-up our currency on the world market), the city is choked with British and European tourists. You have to wait in line to walk up Fifth Avenue, for cryin' out loud. And it's only going to get worse as the weather improves. Other than that, they're great.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
How is it that one guy can pump out one great play after another? It doesn't seem possible. Or fair. Three men, representing three different stages in life, sit in a train station and take turns telling the audience a story. That's it. So simple, yet, so amazingly effective. A young man and a girl are too afraid to act and risk losing each other. A middle aged man is given a chance to be better than he is. An old man wonders if, 40 years ago, he should have pursued a woman he barely knew, but loved, instead of staying with the one he was married to. Does that sound plausible to you? Can a person ache for someone year after year without ever actually seeing or speaking to them? I'm certain that it happens all the time.
Prior to the play I went down to St. Mark's Place for dinner. I wanted to eat at the DoJo but I'm sorry to report that it's gone. Replaced by I don't know what. Some stinking nuevo restaurant with a lot of bright, fetid colors. Instead, I ate at a Korean restaurant and had big helping of Dak Di Ri Tang, which is a spicy chicken stew. It's served in a black stone bowl that's kept in the oven. The bowl is so insanely hot that the stew continued to boil for a few minutes after it was brought to my table. First, a few layers of skin on my tongue were peeled back because the stew was the temperature of molten lava and then my guts were seared by the Korean spices. Please mum, may I have another!
Before eating I popped into the Strand rare book room to feed the beast. I scored a signed proof of Right Livelihoods by Rick Moody, a signed first edition of The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon and, best of all, a signed proof of Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson. Everything was inexpensive except for the Denis Johnson book. He's a recluse and never goes out on promotional tours (much to his publisher's chagrin, I'm sure), so you have to pay a premium for his signed books. I also visited St. Mark's Books and picked up a signed first of the new Michael Chabon book that McSweeney's just published, Maps and Legends.
The irony is that because all of these books are signed, I cannot read them since reading them—even once—will degrade their condition. If I want to read one, I have to go out and buy a reading copy. Who the hell buys books that cannot be read? I also picked up a paperback copy of The Best American Short Stories of 2005. It has a stellar lineup of writers and was edited by Michael Chabon (a theme emerges). I found it on the carts outside of The Strand and it was only one measly dollar. The opposite end of the spectrum.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
This morning I mentioned my upcoming trip to Mordor—I mean Disneyworld—and he said he wants a full report upon my return. He's a divorced dad with an adorable 9-year old daughter who lives in New Jersey. He lives in the city with New Younger Mommy. He said that he’s been thinking about taking his daughter to Disneyworld for quite some time and feels like a bad dad that he hasn't done so yet. My clever retort was, "Well, you can go ahead and take her, but you'll still be a terrible father." The color drained from his face and his eyes reddened and welled-up with tears. I went drilling and hit a nerve. I didn't mean to. We had a few uncomfortable moments and recovered. Things are fine between us but, shit, I need to watch what I say. Actually, that's a reoccurring theme throughout my life. I've been fired from jobs because of how clever and witty I can be sometimes.
Monday, May 5, 2008
M-I-C. See You Real Soon
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Some Advice from the 15th Row
What the hell was he thinking? He looks like the junior high cafeteria lunch lady who served the tater tots. Every time I saw him in that get-up it took me out of the story. The all-time biggest offender of that particular crime was Ian McKellen as "King Lear." In one climatic scene, he made the choice (that's actor-speak) to illustrate Lear's madness by exposing himself to the audience! Seriously! One moment I'm deeply involved in Lear's mental demise and the next I'm looking at Ian McKennen's package. What's up with that?
Saturday, May 3, 2008
The Apple Never Falls Far From the Tree
I was so proud of her that I almost wept.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Captain’s Log 1606
Shakespeare always makes for a long night. I woke up at my usual 5:15 a.m., curtain was at 8:00 p.m. and the show ran nearly three hours. The train didn’t leave skuzzy old Penn Station until 11:30 and I got home a little after 1:00 a.m. That means I was up for almost 24 hours for the sake of a gad damn play. I explained that to CB and he looked at me with a mixture of pity and revulsion. Do you know what? It was totally worth it and I'm sure I'll do it again! To pass the time on the long train ride home I sent drunken text messages to my sister and two friends. That’s never a good idea but it’s considerably less humiliating than drunk dialing.