The Unbearable Banishment: November 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

my city was gone

I had free morning in Cleveland so I borrowed my sister’s car and drove to the Cleveland Art Museum. It has a world-class collection but, unfortunately, most of it was in storage because of a massive renovation project. They’re building a new wing and most of the museum is still closed off. There was a special exhibit of artistic luxury goods from Fabergé, Tiffany and Lalique that I didn’t really care about. Just a handful of galleries from the permanent collection were open.

Most of the paintings I wanted to see were all packed away. I began visiting the Clevo Art Museum decades ago—soon after I got my driver’s license—and seeing those paintings feels like visiting old friends again.

None of the modernist paintings were on display, but I did see Stag at Sharkey’s by George Bellows, which is one of my favorites in their collection. I think he mixed testosterone into the pigment for this one.

Also on display was one of J.M.W. Turner’s The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, a nightmare drawn from the event he witnessed.

I left the museum and drove down Euclid Avenue into downtown Cleveland. Euclid is the main artery into the city and many of the businesses were closed and boarded up. I have a strange tendency to become emotionally attached to a city (see any of my posts about NYC) and it made me sad to see the city of my youth in such dire straits.

I had meant to take I-71 back to the hotel but the freeway entrance was closed and I somehow wound up heading down W. 25th street. It was such a mess. I passed a building with a sign out front that read Plasma Services and there was a long queue of people waiting to get in that stretched out the door.

Friday, November 28, 2008


We’re heading back to the East Coast tomorrow. It was nice visiting Cleveland but I’m looking forward to seeing New York City again on Monday morning. I’m not making any comparisons. It wouldn’t be fair. They’re in a different weight class. You don't put Oscar de la Hoya in the ring against Joe Frazier. You compare New York to London, Paris and Tokyo. You compare Cleveland to other medium-sized cities like Seattle, Tampa and Baltimore. Clevo is a nice enough town as compared to those other fine municipalities, but NYC is deep under my skin and I miss it. Do I sound like a snob? I hope not. I don't mean to.

* * *

At Benevolent Dictators, Inc., we outsource a significant amount of work to Mumbai. I hope my colleagues there are okay.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

here comes santy clause

The end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade traditionally signals the official start of the Christmas season in New York City. Personally, I always kick off the season by reading The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris. If you’ve never read it, do yourself a big favor and pick up a copy. If you’ve read it in the past, read it again because I guarantee you’ve forgotten just how funny it is. It’s clever and dark. It’ll jingle your bells.

My other traditional holiday read is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I’ll pick it up about a week or so before Christmas. One day, I hope to own a first edition that includes the eight beautiful illustrations by John Leech—four woodcut and four hand colored etchings. This one is my favorite: Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball.

In case I’m on your gift list, I think you can get a pretty decent first edition for about $20K. Until then, I’ll have to make do with visiting the copy that the Morgan Library puts on display every season.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

welcome to cleveland

Snow/rain mix.
Howling, biting wind.
Snow falling horizontally.
Leaden skies.

Nobody comes here for the weather, but they are generous with the anchovies on their pizzas, and that counts for PLENTY.

And the gas is cheap.

And my family seems genuinely happy to see me, although I suspect that might have more to do with The Daughters than me.

Monday, November 24, 2008

over the river and through the woods

Tomorrow, the alarm on my nightstand will sound at 4:00 a.m. About :45 minutes later, with the daughters loaded in the back seat and (hopefully) fast asleep, we will begin the long drive to lovely Cleveland to see my family for Thanksgiving. If it were just Mrs. Wife and I, the drive would take about eight hours. But throw a 7-year old and a 2-year old into the mix and you have to tack an additional two hours onto the trip.

We have a portable DVD player to anesthetize the kiddies during the long, dull drive. When I was a kid, in order to combat the boredom on long car trips, we had to count road kill. Most shocking road kill ever: a black bear in Pennsylvania.

* * *

If you are in your car waiting for a red light to change and you need to turn left, but there’s oncoming traffic at the opposite side of the intersection who are also waiting for the red light to change who have the right-of-way but you don’t want to wait for them, even though they have the right-of-way, so that when the light turns green you punch it and turn in front that first oncoming car who has the right-of-way and cut them off because you couldn't wait your turn, guess what?

You are a SHITHEAD.

* * *

I was leaving the Pret where I occasionally get a morning cup of coffee and I stopped to use the bathroom on the way out. It’s a small, one-person bathroom and I certainly thought I had locked the door behind me but a minute later while I was on the throne, pants around my ankles, typing out a text message, the door swung open wide and a Pret employee wearing a Pret baseball cap and Pret polo shirt walked in, looked down at me, yelled, “OH, SHIT!” and ran out. I can’t tell you how embarrassed I was. Am. I don't dare show my face in there ever again.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

we're movin' on up

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent this week on a razor’s edge worrying about my job, so after work last night I met Nurse H for a badly needed libation. I met her on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Although I lived in New York City for two solid decades, I spent very little time on the Upper East Side. I lived in downtown Brooklyn and the Lower East Side, so 23rd Street felt like uptown to me.

The Upper East Side has always been one of the safest neighborhoods in the city. Consequently, a lot of single women live there. It was a long subway ride from where I lived and the only time I took the 6 train was when I dated someone from up yonder. Plus, it wasn’t my kind of energy. It was (is, always has been, always will be) monied and I never had any, so I felt out of place there. But the homes are incredibly beautiful.

In the early 1990s, I met a girl who I thought was the love of my life, but she didn’t see it that way. When I walk up 3rd Avenue near 91st Street I’m reminded of those happy/sad days.

Nurse H and I met at JG Melon which is a BAR bar on 3rd and 74th.

We're in December-budget-crunch mode so we sought out something reasonable which, in NYC, can be quite a challenge. It was windy and frigid out, so there would be no pleasant strolling down the Avenue. After drinks and a bowl of chili (perfect for a cold winter’s evening) we hustled to the nearest movie theater to watch 007 go through his painful motions. It’s going to be a long, long time until they make a Bond movie that’s as good as Casino Royal. Movie ticket = $12.50. Small popcorn + small soda = $10.50. So much for the budget crunch.

Friday, November 21, 2008

black thursday

Last Friday afternoon at Benevolent Dictators, Inc., they called an emergency all-departmental meeting. It was announced that the Head of Asset Management had been let go. He’s about five or six levels above me, so it’s clear that a lofty title cannot protect you against a catastrophic economic meltdown. It was also announced that another round of layoffs would take place sometime this week. So we all had that to think about over the weekend. Consequently, I have not slept a full night since then. It has occupied every other thought in my head for almost a week. I hold a grandmaster black belt in obsessing.

Yesterday morning they let many of my colleagues go. Many. The 9th floor at Benevolent Dictators, Inc. has been gutted. Someone would get a phone call, walk to Human Resources, be escorted back to their desk by someone from Human Resources, gather up their belongings and be escorted out of the building. It was one of the most callous spectacles I’ve ever witnessed. Those people in Human Resources have ice water in their veins. This went on all morning. I lost some good friends. I have never seen so much crying in all my life. This is the fourth round of layoffs in the past 18 months and this one was the most heartbreaking. People—some with young children—are being thrown out onto a dead job market just before the holidays.

I, somehow, managed to survive again. Sometimes, it’s good to be a small fish in a big pond. Tonight I am going out with Nurse H for a series of stiff drinks. I will toast my fallen colleagues and my splendid luck.

* * *

Last Saturday I got a terrible haircut. One of the worst ever. I keep waiting for it to fill out but I still look utterly ridiculous. And I’m going to Ohio next week to see my mom for Thanksgiving! What terrible timing!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

a cold city begets a cold heart

There’s a homeless man who sits on the sidewalk outside of Benevolent Dictators, Inc. He’s there every evening when I leave work. He’s on the west side of 5th Avenue just north of 43rd Street and has a sign that reads, “I’m hungry, homeless,” etc. He has a dog with him. It’s a medium sized dog. Maybe a pit bull or a mutt. Do you know what I think when I walk past them every evening? “That poor dog.” How shitty is that? It’s not as though I lack compassion for the man. I just seem to have more for the dog. I’m a jerk.

When I moved to New York twenty years ago, I use to keep a lot of quarters in my pocket and dole them out to homeless people on the streets and subways. The city was in terrible shape when I first got here and homelessness was rampant. But it got to be too much for me and I did what a lot of urban dwellers did; I hardened my heart and the homeless became invisible to me. You had to. It was a defense mechanism. Otherwise, you became overwhelmed with melancholy. So I don’t think I’ve broken that bad habit yet. I should. I’ll try.

* * *

Last night on the train I was über annoyed because a woman a few rows behind me was talking talking talking talking talking without pausing to take a breath and I thought my cell phone jammer was failing because I couldn’t shut her up. (It doesn’t always work. If someone’s cell phone is using a frequency outside the range of my jammer, they’re unaffected.) Finally, I turned around so see who was running her pie hole and she wasn’t on the phone. She was with someone but was hogging the entire conversation and wouldn’t allow her friend get a word in. It was all about her! They need to invent a jammer that freezes vocal chords.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cormac McCarthy can KISS MY ASS

Several months ago, I picked up a copy of Cormac McCarthy’s latest book, The Road. I was drawn by the tsunami of glowing reviews, all claiming it was his master work and a landmark of American literature. At that time, there was some unpleasant STUFF rattling around inside my head and all Mr. McCarthy’s book did was exacerbate my problems and drag me down into a funk so deep that I had a hard time climbing out. I stopped reading after about 40 pages—something I rarely do.

Flash to now. I hate unfinished business so I picked it up again and guess what? Same result! Every time I read it, it would ruin my evening. What a dreary, depressing, horrifying glop of pulp. Reviewers claim the story is "uplifting." What part would that be? The part where children are cannibalized? Even The Goddess Oprah gave it her blessing.

Cormac McCarthy owes me $14.95. I didn’t finish it. I left it on the train for some other poor sucker. Cormac must be a dark, miserable, wretch of a human being. Oh, and by the way, they made a movie out of it.

Here’s a partial list of characters in the movie courtesy of IMDB:

Amputee Man #1 In Cellar
Cannibal #1
Baby Eater
Well-Fed Cannibal
Woman in Cellar
Cannibal #2
Ghostly Boy

Date night! Don't forget the popcorn and Milk Duds.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

what’r ya doin’ on new years eve?

Well, if I could do anything I wanted, I’d go here:

Imagine that! And B.B. King’s is on 42nd Street, just a half block from where the big ball drops. What a night! It’ll be complete pandemonium.

You might think that Chuck Berry is to too old to rock, but I saw Jerry Lee Lewis right after he had triple bypass surgery and he was fantastic. Saw Roy Orbison before he died and he was great, too. Those old geezers have been at it for such a long time that giving a high-quality performance is part of their nature. It's the same way with the Rolling Stones.

Monday, November 17, 2008

bon voyage

A colleague at Benevolent Dictators, Inc. left for greener pastures. It was his last day so a few of us went out for drinks. As a rule, I never go out drinking with people I work with. They’re a nice enough bunch, but I spend far too much time with them already. Also, I’m never at ease drinking with office people. That’s so unfriendly of me, I know.

He was euphoric about leaving. Who wouldn’t be? Leaving a job is liberating. There’s the thrill of the new. There’s hope that the next assignment will be more interesting than the last. But the sequence of events usually plays out the same. When you arrive at your new job, you love everybody and everybody loves you. You aren’t held accountable for your mistakes for several weeks because you’re new and don’t know any better. You can make procedural errors and not be tagged as incompetent. Nobody makes your life a living hell.

Then some time passes. After several weeks, reality sets in. Some familiar sensations start to surface. You learn who can help you and who will drag you down. It’s all pretty predictable stuff.

* * *

I heard my first Christmas song this morning while having my morning coffee at the diner. It was a reggae version of Joy to the World. I’m not kidding. New York is such a great Christmas town. It gets all gussied up like a dime store whore. The locals are friendlier and the tourists are just so damn happy to be here. I’ll try to post some pics of the city throughout the holiday. Don’t let it annoy you. Lighten your heart.

Friday, November 14, 2008

where’s the chairman of the board when you need him?

Mrs. Wife came into the city last night and we saw the Roundabout Theater Company revival of Pal Joey that’s in previews. I was lucky enough to see the first two Roundabout productions of the season—A Man for All Seasons and Streamers—and they were both extraordinary, so I had high hopes for Pal Joey. This is a killer ad, isn’t it?

Pal Joey is a musical based on the John O’Hara novel with songs by Rogers and Hart. This famous still of Frank Sinatra…

…is from the film adaptation of Pal Joey. With a pedigree like that, how can you go wrong?

Well, you start by having a lead with a weak singing voice. It’s a musical about a womanizing night club singer. You need someone who has a smooth voice and a sick amount of charisma. This guy ain’t no Sinatra, that’s for damn sure. Two stage veterans were in the cast; Stockard Channing, who gave a serviceable performance, and Martha Plimpton, who was fantastic. Did you know that Martha Plimpton has a beautiful singing voice? I didn’t.

The story takes place in 1930s Chicago and the dance numbers looked like routines that were rejected from Bob Fosse’s Chicago, which was a way better show. The songs were maudlin and the theater was too hot. The show is in previews and you never know, they could turn it around by opening night. I feel bad for Mrs. Wife. She gets into the city for this sort of thing so infrequently. I wish it had been a killer show for her sake. I wanted everything to be perfect for her but it wasn’t.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

finance, american style

If I had known that Citibank and other major lending institutions were going to offer to restructure mortgages for people who were on the threshold of default, I would have bought a bigger house than I could afford that’s a lot closer to the city so I wouldn’t have this insufferable commute. As it is, I stayed within my budget and had to settle for a smaller home that’s a lot further out than I would have liked. Stupid me. I am also dumb enough to pay off my credit card every month, so I’ll probably miss out on the [probable] debt relief that will be offered to consumers who are drowning in credit card debt. There’s nothing worse than a lost opportunity. Don’t you agree?

Is that paragraph dripping with enough sarcasm for you? I was channel surfing the other night and stopped to watch the Suzy Orman financial advice show for a few minutes. The caller was a woman who had $16K to her name, but wanted to spend $30K on a wedding. Now, ain’t that America? What a bunch of big spoiled babies we are.



Look, I know everyone is sick to death of hearing about my cell phone jammer escapades. I’ve been told, so you don’t have to deny it. But just this one more and then I’ll shut up.

Last evening a gentleman sitting in front of me on the train home met with some erratic cell phone service (as so many do, who sit in my proximity). He cursed Verizon, his carrier. His seat was the type that could accommodate three people and he had the whole seat to himself. Every time his call was dropped, he would slide to a different part of the seat—first the bulkhead, then the aisle, then the middle—thinking the service was better just a foot or two away and place his call again.

As you can imagine, his service never improved. In a last desperate attempt to carry on his meaningless conversation, he laid down across the seat on his stomach and held his head over the edge of the seat, certain that the strongest signal was to be found near the floor of the train. It was so funny!

I'm know mean. Please forgive me.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

a message to the broken hearted

If you're reading this and you have a broken heart, I have some comforting words for you. Talk radio maniac Howard Stern was interviewing ex-New York Giants football player Lawrence Taylor. Stern wanted to know why Taylor would marry a third time, since his two previous marriages ended in divorce. The messy demise of both marriages had been well documented by the New York tabloids.

Stern: Is she super-hot? Is that it? And you didn’t want to lose her? So you married her?

Taylor: You know, sometimes you don’t want to lose someone but then, later on, you find out that you don’t give a shit if you lose them or not.

This is what’s known as taking the long view. If someone hurt you and you are blue, if that person is the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing you think about before you drift off to sleep at night, you should take comfort in the fact that you could have, quite conceivably, dodged a bullet.

How I wished for you and now you’re here.
Now I wish that I could disappear
and go away.

Peter Allen

Monday, November 10, 2008

skating away on the thin ice of a new day

The ice skating rink at Bryant Park—New York City’s only FREE ice skating rink—is open for business. From now until mid-January, you can skate in the shadow of the Empire State Building and the Public Library.

I don’t participate in winter sports. I tried skiing for a few years in high school but it seems the focus was more on how much weed you can smoke on the chair lift than honing your downhill skills. Consequently, I never advanced past snow plowing. Plus, I never had the proper equipment or clothing so the sport never took. I’ve never been on ice skates either, but I do enjoy watching the skaters at Bryant Park.

The music they play over the PA systems tends to be very, very bad Broadway show tunes. Not cool ones that later became American Popular Standards; songs by Gershwin, Sammy Cahn and the rest of those guys that were recorded outside of the realm of musical theater by the likes of Sinatra and Billie Holiday. The songs they play at the Bryant Park rink are crappy, obscure forgettable show tunes that only annoying musical theater purists could identify. It’s nothing an iPod can’t cure. Pop in your ear buds and suddenly the skaters are gliding gracefully while Ella Fitzgerald sings Midnight Sun.

* * *

I had another meditation class last night but I wasn’t feeling the vibe so I snuck out early. After a lovely opening meditation, they tried to tell us what happens after we’re dead. Fix your karma or you’ll be reincarnated over and over again until you get it right. Horseshit. I've said it before and I'll say it again; nobody knows what happens after you die. No. Body. If they keep annoying me with this stuff I might stop going altogether. If I want to hear fairy tales about the afterlife, I’ll go back to the Catholic Church.

Meet the New Boss. Not the Same as the Old Boss

On Friday, Barack Obama gave his first press conference. There’s a television in the lobby at Benevolent Dictators, Inc. It plays the business news all day but broke for the press conference. When it started, everyone got up from their desk and went into the lobby to listen. Everyone. Even the people who didn't vote for him (and at Benevolent Dictators, Inc., there are quite a few).

I couldn't remember the last time people gathered around a TV to watch a George Bush press conference. Come to think of it, I can't recall President Bush ever giving a traditional press conference whereby he made a statement and then took questions from reporters. So this was a real treat. And I don't believe people were watching and thinking to themselves, "Oh, there’s our new black President." I think they were concentrating on the content of the conference with little thought about the pigment of his skin. At least, that’s my Pollyanna wish.

* * *

Me: Big yawn.

7-Year Old Daughter: Yawns. Dad, yawns are contagious.

Me: That's true and nobody knows why.

7-YOD: I think I know why. When someone yawns, the yawn flies out of their mouth and goes up the nose of someone else and makes them yawn.

That’s not possible, right? Because I find that disgusting.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Old Ball Game

I saw a great play last night with CB. He liked it too, which counts for plenty because his standards are a lot tougher than mine. It was a drama with lots of yucks about baseball during the steroid era called Back Back Back.

The two principal actors were stand-ins for José Canseco and Mark McGwire. CB isn’t a baseball fan and initially I was concerned that he wouldn’t find the story very compelling, but there was nothing worry about. The acting is so good that you are pulled in whether you’re a baseball fan or not. The play ends with the Canseco/McGwire doppelgängers getting ready for their Congressional hearings and you really do feel the weight of what they did to baseball and each other. You never hear the word “steroid” spoken. Great plays like this make up for dogs I occasionally sit through.

The play was presented by the Manhattan Theater Club and I’m very happy that this is such a strong show. (Although, it’s still in previews. For all I know, the critics could trash it when it opens, but I can’t imagine that happening.) They’ve opened two other plays this season that were both panned by the critics, so they need a hit. Producing plays must be nerve wracking. All those weeks (months?) of rehearsal and preparation and all it takes it a handful of bad reviews on opening night and that’s it. You’re through. Pow. Right in the kisser.

* * *

The play was in midtown and before it started I sat outside for a while across the street from Radio City Music Hall on the ledge of a fountain. It was so freakishly balmy out that I could sit comfortably without a jacket on.

I watched the tourists and traffic flow up 6th Avenue. Radio City is an art deco masterpiece and it’s already all lit up for Christmas. A crowd was pouring in for the evening performance of the annual Christmas Spectacular.

The out-of-towners were having their picture taken with Radio City as a backdrop and I obliged three different families who handed me a camera and asked me to take a photo for them. Everyone was so happy and excited to be in New York that I got all stupid and gooey inside. What a punk.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Does This Sound Like a Satisfying Evening to You?

Currently at the SoHo Rep, you can pay $65 per ticket to sit through a drama where following events are acted out on stage:

A scene opens with a woman in a fetal position on a bed. She unfolds her body to reveal blood between her legs, the result of a bite from her menacing lover.

A man violently rapes another man while holding a revolver to his head.

After the rape, he sucks out his eyeballs and eats them.

The play is Blasted by Sarah Kane, a British playwright who, at 23, committed suicide. With all that darkness rattling around inside her head, it's no shock that she met with an untimely end.

Surprisingly, (or, perhaps not) the entire run is sold out. There is a nightly queue for cancellations. People are clamoring for tickets. I wouldn't go for free. I can certainly handle heavy drama. That's not the issue. But no matter how compelling the plot is, I can't help thinking that the violence depicted is just as gratuitous as that in Saw or any of the other torture porn films. It's not for me.

Critics and audiences are hailing the dramatic and courageous performances of the three actors involved. The lead actress said that the preparations, “messed with my head.” Yea, no kidding. I think all the posturing by critics is load of horseshit. They’re just voyeurs, whether they want to admit it to themselves or not.

As Randy Newman sang in A Few Words in Defense of Our Country:

But wait, here's one, the Spanish Inquisition
They put people in a terrible position
I don't even like to think about it

Well, sometimes I like to think about it

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Is Charlize Theron the Dumbest Woman on Earth?

How far out of touch with reality can one Hollywood starlet be?

Swiss watchmaker Raymond Weil paid Ms. Theron a reported $20 million to shill be their spokeswoman and wear their watches exclusively.

Here on planet earth, that's an extraordinary amount of money to do nothing. And by "nothing," I’m not speaking in metaphor or allegory. All she had to do was pose for some pictures and wear a stupid wristwatch when she went out at night. What could be easier? Well, guess what? She couldn’t do it. She was photographed at a film festival wearing a Dior wristwatch, was sued, and a judge ordered her to give all that money back. A contract is a contract!

What happened? Did she forget? Not care? How arrogant. How dreary.

* * *
I hit a triple on my train home last night. I knocked out three—count ‘em—three cell phone calls at one time when I activated my cell phone jammer. I’ve hit hundreds of singles, a handful of doubles, but this was my first triple.

It never gets old.

* * *
The U.S. Presidents from 1776 to present.


Good Morning, America. How Are Ya?

Someone pinch me so I know I'm awake.

Let’s pause a moment to reflect on those two fine stewards of the Republican Party: George Bush and Dick Cheney. Those fellas have left the GOP decimated. Do you know how many post-election Republican Congressmen there are in the Northeast United States? NIL. Zero. Nyet. They’ve all been run out of office, including, unfortunately, the moderates.

I’m a centrist. I don’t like the idea of a one-party system. Bill Clinton had a successful Presidency because after he came into office, he gravitated towards the center and co-opted some planks from the Republican platform. Yesterday, I voted for the Republican candidate for New Jersey Senator because I felt he was a stronger candidate. All that’s left in office for the GOP are the hardcore lunatic fringe—the very people who caused a mass exodus to the Democrats.

Thanks, George. Thanks, Dick. Don’t let the door of history hit you in the ass on your way out of town.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What, Me Worry?

About three weeks ago I did a post about my credit card being stolen out of my gym locker and how afterwards I identified the thief in an NYPD lineup [this post]. The odd twist was that the thief, it turned out, was a foot soldier in the Albanian mob! Ha ha! The Albanian mob! How ridiculous! That’s a good one.

I, like most bloggers, like to keep track of the visitors to my site. Last night, my tracking software indicated that I had a visitor from Montenegro. That visitor found my blog by entering the following search phrase into Google:

credit card thieves in nyc gyms

Should I be concerned about this? Why would someone from that part of the planet need to find information about credit cards stolen out of gym lockers a half a world away? Gulp.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Eve

My mom isn’t very mobile these days but she has always been politically active so I asked her if she was going to be able to get out and vote tomorrow. She’s in Ohio, which is a powerful swing state, so her vote is more influential than mine. Apparently, she has already voted via absentee ballot, clever girl that she is.

I asked her who she cast her vote for and she said Barak Obama, mainly because she couldn’t stand the thought of a Vice President, possibly President, Palin. I asked her if she ever thought she’d see the day when a black man stood on the threshold of becoming President. She said that she’s been through this before. Many years ago, according to her, people were convinced they’d NEVER see a Catholic President. Along came JFK and the impossible happened. Let’s all hope that Obama is elected and that the historical similarities end there.

* * *

According to a CNN poll released today, 5% of Americans are still undecided. How can anyone still be undecided?! After two years of intense campaigning by both parties, how can you still not know who you're going to vote for? What a bunch of liars. Of course, they've decided. If you're truly undecided, you haven't been paying attention. And that's the most charitable thing I can say about you.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Marketing 101

Quick, name this company:

and this one:

and this one:

I've spent my entire career in corporate meat-n'-potatoes graphic design. It is the wet dream of every company to develop a logo that it so beautiful in its simplicity, and so impressionable, that it becomes steeped in the public subconscious. None of the above examples contain the name of the company and yet, because they have become part of Western culture, you know which company they represent. Do you know how hard that is to achieve? Do you know how many logos dare to not include the company name? Very few. Typically, it takes years of market saturation to make a glyph mean something more than just a glyph.

That's why this... pure genius. I have no idea who designed this, but Barak Obama owes him/her a deep debt of thanks. It counts for far more than you imagine. This logo hasn't been around for very long, particularly when weighed against the examples above, but it is instantly identifiable. This is one of the most effective and memorable examples of branding that I can recall in a long time and I hope they don't retire it after the election.

Saturday, November 1, 2008 sickness and in health...

I woke up with flu-like symptoms. I refuse to call it a flu because Mrs. Wife was after me to get a flu shot and I never do. I’m anti-flu shot. So if I now have the flu, where will that leave me and my philosophy? Everything in me has been laid to waste. My head, muscles, stomach. I feel like I’ve been split open and turned inside out.

It was so beautiful out that Mrs. Wife took the girls down to the shore for a walk on the boardwalk in the sunshine. I decided to tag along. I believe that the salty sea air has medicinal qualities. Of course, as soon as we got there I felt even sicker, so after taking the daughters through a hay-bale maze that someone set up for Halloween, I sat on a bench facing the ocean. They went for a walk and I slowly, like a falling baby sequoia, laid down on the bench and dozed. Mrs. Wife came back and was clearly embarrassed. She said I looked like a bum sleeping off a bender. Harrumph.

* * *

I had a doctor appointment yesterday. (Perhaps this is where I got my flu illness?) My doctor, a highly-paid specialist who lives in one of the wealthiest communities in this area, and his assistant were both lamenting the fact that New Jersey is leaning towards Obama. Dr. said that if Obama wins, he’s going to have to install parking meters in the lot to enhance his revenue. Assistant was particularly venomous and spat out, Barak Obama isn’t even a real American!

This country does not have a capacity to heal itself. I’m no better. I’d have the same black bile for Sarah Palin. Does anyone know how this happened?