The Unbearable Banishment: February 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

pardon me but, isn’t that an Airbus 320 coming down our street?

Here’s US Airways Flight 1549—the quickest way to the Hudson River—being towed through suburban East Rutherford NJ on its way to...actually I have no idea where it’s going. A new lawn ornament for Captain "Sully" Sullenberger? The tin can factory? You can click on them for a better look.

I’d credit these shots but I don't know who took them. My sister forwarded them to me.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

are you going to put that thing in your mouth (revisited)

Walk out of Penn Station on the 7th Avenue side, cross 7th Avenue and turn left. Walk up one block and just past 33rd street on your right you'll see this:

Walk inside and for a guaranteed piece of stinky culinary heaven, order up one of these beauties.

What an elegant place setting! The closer I got to the sandwich, the more I realized that in addition to a scrumptious meal that will stay with you a long, long time, it's also a brilliant piece of Abstract Expressionism

Art that you can put in your mouth and savor. It's worthy of an NEA grant.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

anti-climax (don’t you hate those?)

I answered a subpoena and visited the City of New York District Attorney’s office thinking I was going to testify in front of a Grand Jury.

Unbeknownst to me, the Assistant District Attorney decided she wasn’t ready to present the case to the Grand Jury just yet. There were some loose ends she needed to tie up. Apparently, this is a fairly large grand larceny case and they didn’t want to leave anything to chance. My appearance turned into an interview (interrogation is too strong a word to use) with the ADA, two NYPD Detectives and a DA flunky.

I was amongst about a dozen witnesses who are connected to this case. We sat on hard wooden benches in a small hallway and waited our turn to be interviewed. Small talk was exhausted fairly quickly. I got there at 9:30 a.m. and wasn’t called in to interview until 1:30.

I was finally escorted into the DA’s government-issued office (i.e., no wood paneling or stately views of downtown Manhattan. Just blue/grey painted walls and cheap metal furniture.). When I sat in the hot seat, the ADA said, “This is the guy I’ve been waiting to meet.”

Pour quoi? I wondered.

Apparently, amongst the dozen or so witnesses, I am the only person who is able to identify the one of the thieves on site. I’m the only one who actually caught him in the act and stepped forward. The thieves stole from gym locker rooms and since it’s illegal to have cameras in public locker rooms, there is no video evidence. I’m all they’ve got.

I’ve always wanted to distinguish myself from the commoners, but this isn’t what I had in mind.

I was told that should this case go to trial (a likelihood, at this point) I would be their key witness. I have to let them know if I leave town. I was assured that there is no danger.

* * *

I didn’t bring my cell phone jammer with me because I knew that in order to get inside the New York County District Attorney’s Office I'd have to pass through a metal detector. The District Attorney’s office is the LAST place I wanted to get caught with a potentially illegal device. I had to suffer the cell phone calls of fools on the train back to New Jersey.

Here’s how bad it’s gotten: While waiting for my track number to post, if someone nearby is participating in a particularly loud and noxious cell phone call, I’ll follow him/her onto my train, sit directly behind them and make sure that he/she doesn’t make the ride unpleasant for my fellow passengers. Studies (my studies) have shown that improper cell phone use in the train station ALWAYS translates to improper use once on board the train.

Please don't judge me. My motivations, believe it or not, are completely altruistic.


Monday, February 23, 2009

to get to america, you have to walk through egypt

I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Pierre Bonnard exhibit. It’s 80 paintings from his late period. It was nice show but I wasn’t blown away. As usual, I dragged Artisté Florenza with me. Among her many interesting perspectives, she offered that since these works were from late in Bonnard’s career, his sight and skills may have been diminished. Perhaps. There were lots of drawings of fruit in bowls. Do you know what? I hate fruit bowl drawings. Save fruit bowls for art school. Keep them out of the museums, okay?

This was probably the best of the bunch.

* * *

I am a creature of habit. After a special exhibit at the Met, I typically beat the same path to 19th- and early 20th-Century paintings and Modern Art but this time, upon Artisté Florenza suggestion, we visited the American Wing instead. That museum is so immense that you can spend an entire day ogling one genre of art.

The path to the American Wing runs through Egyptian Art. Here's one of the MANY mummies that are on display.

Just think about how creepy this is for a moment. They’re dead bodies, robbed from their graves and put on display. I’m pretty sure that The Metropolitan Museum of Art was never meant to be their final resting place. Can you imagine if, say, a museum in China did that to a Catholic?! Or a Muslim?! It’s a miracle that everyone who stares at these doesn’t walk away with a pox on their family. But they are kind of cool.

After the mummies, you have to walk through the Temple of Dendur. The back wall of this Wing is a huge window that looks out over Central Park. Light streams in onto the Temple and reflecting pools that surround it. The best part of this photo is the silhouetted figures. It was an accident!

Again, what are we doing with an ancient temple in the middle of Manhattan? It’s madness. I don’t want to think about the payback implications.

* * *

If you enter the American Wing from the right corridor, you are greeted by this stunning Tiffany stained glass window.

Not bad, eh? There are a lot of Tiffany vases, windows and jewelry on display. Tucked away in a corner is Louis Comfort Tiffany’s actual workbench!

Right off of the Tiffany exhibit is the Frank Lloyd Wright room. This was originally the living room of the summer residence of Frances W. Little, whoever the hell that was. Some wealthy bloke, I suppose. All of the furnishings, windows, light fixtures, carpeting, etc., were designed by Wright. Here's a good write-up on the room (for Jon, esp).

I had always ignored this Wing of the museum but it turns out we Americans can show the Europeans a thing or two about design and art after all.

* * *

Here’s a Paul Klee for my brother, who likes him a lot.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

can cynthia nixon act?

Hell yes.

Although best known as the tight-ass Miranda Hobbs from Sex in the City, she has a long stage pedigree that stretches back to her teens. She doesn’t do as much stage work as she use to, but I can assure you that she hasn’t lost her chops.

She is on stage in every scene of Distracted, the high-tension wire that’s about to open at the Roundabout Theater.

A contemporary mom struggles with her unruly 9-year old son. If, when all else fails, she puts him on Ritalin and he becomes a zombie, does that mean she has failed as a parent? The father is not much help in the, “no son of mine is going to be medicated” sort of macho way.

I have no idea where she gets the energy to be a clenched fist for two solid hours but she pulls it off beautifully. And I saw the show mid-week, for cryin' out loud! Who has that kind of energy in the evening mid-week!? It’s a comedy and there are plenty of yucks, but when she is stretched to her limit and is about to snap, the tears come. This show would be a good initiation for someone who has never been to a play before. It's got punch.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

damn you, Disney princesses! damn you all to hell!

Unless you have a little girl in your life, you are probably unaware that the clever marketers at Disney have amassed a sizable fortune by bundling the Disney princesses together as though they were the Justice League of America and have been selling, selling, selling the hell out of them. Not only DVD's but clothing, books, knick-knacks, costumes, foodstuffs, dinnerware etc. The list is ENDLESS.

My problem, aside from the predatory marketing to children, is the message that some of the old guard Princesses send to my daughters.

There is, believe it or not, a Princess hierarchy with Cinderella at the top of the food chain. Next in line is Sleeping Beauty with the others trailing behind in various ranks of importance.

The older, most popular, stories carry the exact same sad theme. That is to say, at the end of each story each princess is either in a comatose state (Sleeping Beauty), dead (Snow White) or is destine to a lifetime of slavery and cruelty (Cinderella) until what? Until some man walks into their lives and rescues them from their horrible fate. I don't want my daughters to grow up thinking that redemption and happiness will only arrive when they are "saved" by a prince. It's a lie.

I've observed that each little girl tends to gravitate towards one special princess who becomes her "favorite." When she was going through this phase, 7-Year Old Daughter, without any encouragement or guidance from me, thank God almighty, favored Mulan, Pocahontas and Jasmine, who were not only the more self-reliant Princesses of the bunch, but were minorities to boot! She didn't get all wrapped up in the 1950s lily white suburban princess dream. Mulan and Pocahontas reject marriage at the end of their movies for a greater good! Go 7-Year Old!

Last night, 2.5-Year Old Daughter asked me to read to her. I told her to go get some books. She came back with a arm full of Disney Princess books. So now it begins all over again.

Friday, February 20, 2009

my cell phone jammer is outed in public

A man walked onto the train, took a seat three rows up from me, popped a Blutooth into his ear and started yammering about market conditions. Do you know how loud you have to talk when using a Blutooth? It was unreal. The woman sitting next to me started to gather her bags to move to another car.

“I have to leave. This guy is going to talk on the phone until we get to New York.”
“No, he’s not. Do you know what this does?”
“No way! Does that really work?”

It was glorious. I was the hero. It takes a certain kind of person to use a Blutooth on a train. It’s the same kind of person who would actually stamp its foot in anger after his call was dropped for the third time.

After that foot stomp, a passenger sitting in the row in front of us slowly raises his hand above the seat back and gave me a thumbs-up. He overheard my boast and approved.

I shouldn’t be so cavalier. What if the guy sitting in front of me was a Verizon executive? What if the guy using the Bluetooth participates in Extreme Wrestling matches?

* * *

A woman became so frustrated at the number of dropped calls on the train that she got her Verizon bill out of her purse, called customer service and started screaming at them. Do you know what? I let her finish that call.

* * *

I’ve had limited success with my cell phone jammer on city buses but on trains, it can’t be beat! Does anyone else have one of these things? If so, does it work for you on buses?


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

unbearable for the prosecution

Regular readers (both of you) will remember that way back in October, I had a credit card stolen out of my gym locker. I subsequently identified the thief in my first and only authentic New York City police precinct line-up. Read about it here. It’s one of my better posts.

October is a long time ago and I thought the issue had been settled. This evening I got a call from the New York City District Attorney’s office. I’ve been subpoenaed to testify before a Grand Jury on Tuesday morning. According to the subpoena, my testimony “is vital to the case.”

The thief, as it turned out, was a member of the Albanian mob. That made me laugh. Who knew that the Albanians had a mob!? It doesn’t seem too damn funny now. I spoke to an Assistant District Attorney and asked him if I would be safe. He assured me that Grand Jury testimonies are sealed and not released to the public. “Besides,” he said, “retributions only ever happen in domestic violence cases.”

Well, that's a big comfort. At least I should get a decent post out of it. How many people get to testify in front of a Grand Jury in New York City!? How many people would want to?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

crazy jewish mother begets crazy jewish daughter

The best compliment I can pay to a play is if, at the end of the evening, I say to myself, “I wish I could have written that.”

Do you know who the actress Mercedes Ruehl is? She was in The Fisher King and some other pretty junky movies. I never really gave her a second thought as an actress. Last night I saw her play a crazy Catskills Jewish mother circa 1960 in the comedy/drama Broadway hit The American Plan.

The play had the requisite satisfying plot twists and the company all held their own, but things really took off when she was on stage. I have no memory of any of her film performances but her stage performance as a gargoyle who is hell bent on keeping her daughter at her side, even at the cost of her happiness, was memorable.

The daughter is played by Lily Rabe who was best known as being the daughter of playwright David Rabe and actress Jill Clayburgh. Her repeated successful turns on stage have allowed her to step out of her parent’s shadow. Huzzah.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

random nyc pic

The Chrysler Building through Bryant Park branches in the early evening. I love how this pic turned out. It looks like one of those great René Magritte paintings with a daytime sky and a nighttime street scene.

There are many beautiful skyscrapers in New York City but the Chrysler Building is my favorite bar none. The closer you get to that building, the more stunning it is.

The Woolworth Building is also in my top five. The lobby features a series of carved wooden gargoyles that depict F.W. Woolworth (clutching money), the architect Cass Gilbert (clutching a model of the building) and other personalities of the day. In the lobby ceiling, you'll find a Tiffany stained glass mural—the largest piece of Tiffany glass in the world!

The World Trade Center was always in my top five as well, even though it was scoffed at by architectural critics. But… yea… well, you know. I miss it.


Friday, February 13, 2009

what's in the bag!?

I got tagged by *E* Deconstructed and this looks like a fun one so I’ll play along.

You’re supposed to post a pic of the bag you use on a daily basis, list how much it costs and then reveal the contents. While it's true that, for the most part, men do not carry bags around, in New York City bags are a way of life for everyone because we use public transportation. It’s not unusual to see a man schlepping a bag around town. Please spare me your witless cross-dressing-do-your-shoes-match-your-bag comments.

I bought this bag, literally, about 15 years ago and have no idea what it cost. It’s made by Timberland. It has pockets and zippers. It's functional. What else is there to say?

My Lenovo ThinkPad and slip-in carrying case (Lenovo bought the ThinkPad franchise from IBM. This laptop is less than a year old and it has given me nothing but problems almost since the day I bought it. LENOVO SUCKS. DO NOT BUY LENOVO PRODUCTS.), my iPod, camera, wallet, LG cell phone (mobile is a more accurate and descriptive term), an extra cell (mobile) battery, a lapel pin from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and an umbrella.

My portfolio of work samples, a Playbill from the show I saw last night (The American Plan. Fantastic. Post TK.), the book I’m reading (Almost No Memory by Lydia Davis), a New Jersey Transit North Jersey Coast Line train table, my cell phone jammer, the manual for my camera, some paper mittens that 7-year old daughter made for me and my filofax (so old school, I know.)

Not pictured: a lot of boring paperwork, the New York Times and my ben-wah balls. Ha. Just kidding about the latter. I’m testing to see if you read to the end of the post. Feel free to post your own bag.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vegans/peta members: DO NOT READ THIS POST!

Game on!

This is pig on top of cow New York Greek diner style. I wish I had had a ruler with me so that I could provide a scale. It was slightly smaller than a sewer lid.

Colon sent a message to mouth:

“Noooooo! Don’t do it! You’ll kill us ALL!”

Mouth didn’t listen.

I belong to a local chapter of peta.

My chapter is: People Eating Tasty Animals.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

the reason i hate confessions of a shopaholic

Every time I see a trailer or commercial for Confessions of a Shopaholic my fists clench, my lips stretch taunt against my teeth and my eyes roll up into the top of my skull. I am so annoyed that I vibrate.

It’s the “hilarious” story of woman so obsessed with shoes, bags and clothing that she becomes crippled with credit card debt. The character is vapid and I pray that I’m raising my daughters to be more thoughtful human beings. I hope they’ll never need a pair Prada shoes to feed their self esteem.

Then I remind myself that it’s only a romantic comedy. Not a documentary. I’m not even the target audience for cryin’ out loud! I wondered why I was giving a friggin’ commercial for a movie so much power over me.

So I meditated on the REAL reason why I was getting so angry. The actual reason for your anger is rarely on the surface. You have to do a bit of digging. And I had a spark of clarity.

I spent many, many years dating in Manhattan and overall it was a pleasant experience. But in New York City, the woman depicted in Confessions of a Shopaholic actually exists. I’ve always done okay for myself financially but I am not wealthy and never will be. When I would date a Shopaholic and it became obvious that my income was modest and always would be, I was dumped. I am almost certainly better off for not having fallen in love with someone of that ilk, but a rejection is still a rejection.

But remember one thing don’t lose your head
To a woman that’ll spend your bread

Every Picture Tells a Story
Rod Stewart

Having been kicked repeatedly over a number of years for the same reason has left a sore spot.

So I won’t see that movie. It’ll only stir bad memories of feeling inadequate. Plus it was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer who’s a shithead bottom feeder and I don’t want to give him my $10 bucks.

Monday, February 9, 2009

can someone please tell me the meaning of this?

A recent hit on my blog resulted from the following Google query from Osaka, Japan:

“heroin tickling”

On second thought, I don’t want to know.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

false advertising

I talked CB into seeing Looking for the Pony at the Vital Theatre Company with me.

I wanted to see it because a brilliant actress named J. Smith-Cameron was in it and the reviewer from The New York Times said:

When you’re in the audience at a play about breast cancer, you don’t expect to laugh a lot. Or to enjoy the sweet taste of victory. But…spontaneous applause tends to break out.

Do you know what was funny about this play? There was NOTHING funny about this play! Lord, it was heavy, heavy drama. A woman slowly dies of breast cancer. It was mawkish and overwrought, but I’ll tell you what was good; the two lead actresses were committed to their roles.

During the Hallmark Hall of Fame death scene, the two leads were in tears and that’s a very hard thing to do. In movies, you can always use drops or multiple takes but there’s no hiding the truth in the theater. I've seen a ton of plays whereby a character is supposedly so overcome with emotion that they break down and cry. It rarely works. You can tell fake sobbing from the balcony. These two, however, were deep into the moment and it was admirable.

I got a text from CB later that night:

That play was really just the staged version of Beaches. I knew I recognized it!

You got that right.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

a publicist’s wet dream

How do you score the cover of...

The New Republic
The Weekly Standard
The National Review
Foreign Press
Business Week
Entertainment Weekly
Newsweek (special issue)
Wine Enthusiast
Life (special issue)
Time (special issue)

…all in the same week?


You replace The Most Hated Man on the Planet as Chief Executive Officer in the Oval Office.

Friday, February 6, 2009

here's a fun new york story

A post for Daisy Fae, who enjoys New York stories.

In 1986, a renovation project was completed on Carnegie Hall. The acoustics of Carnegie Hall were something that musicologists and the city always took great pride in. But, post-renovation, music purists insisted that the sound had somehow been compromised, particularly in the lower registers. There was a growing theory that a thin layer of concrete that hadn't been there before was installed under the stage floor. Officials involved with the renovation adamantly denied the existence of the concrete. They said the story was pure fiction and they dismissed the critics as conspiracy theorist crackpots.

Well, as usual, the crackpots were right. In 1996, Hall administrators announced that there WAS INDEED a heretofore unknown layer of concrete below the stage and it was removed. The reviews were unanimous. The Hall’s warm acoustics were returned to their original form.

Can you imagine!? I was amazed by that. At the end of a concert, someone turned to their date and said, “I enjoyed the adagio, but it sounds like they’ve mistakenly installed a thin layer of concrete under the stage.” I’ll never be that perceptive about anything.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

i'd like to thank the academy...

Do you read E over at *E* Deconstructed? She happens to be one of the brightest (as evidenced by a spate of recent impressive test results) most adorable (as evidenced by her occasional photo posts) bloggers in the either. Her taste is impeccable.

And she just gave me this here award.

Thank you, my dear. What a nice thing. I’m from the Midwest and graciously accepting a compliment is not something we’re very good at. Being comfortable with a compliment is a sure sign that you have grown haughty, so this is difficult for me but thank you.

As is required by law and as part of my budding participation in Buddhism I, in turn, award this prestigious honor to the following people who provide a seemingly endless stream of entertaining prose. If you wish, feel free to pass it on to others who are equally deserving.

daisy fae who is, after all, my blogmother.

nurse myra, who teaches me about medical things that you won’t learn in any University.

nuttycow, who was one of my first regular readers and the first person to correspond with me off line.

jo, who makes me wish the Themes Thames was outside my window.

fwengebola: Is it okay to laugh at your misfortunes? Because I do.

anniegirl1138: Perspectives on the writing life.

a free man: life in Oz filtered through American eyes.


my newest discovery, fuck you, penguin. At least one laugh in every post.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

are you going to put that thing in your mouth? Part II

Yesterday I did a short throw-away post about a sandwich I like to have for lunch. (See photo below.) I assumed it was pretty much an Ohio/Midwest thing that would nauseate anyone who wasn’t from that area. (It did!)

In today’s New York Times Dining section, there’s an article about the recent peanut butter contamination scare here in the U.S. In it, they interview a customer at Peanut Butter & Co., a Greenwich Village RESTAURANT whose menu is made up of PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICHES! The customer is quoted as saying:

Even pregnant, she had no qualms about the safety of her grilled peanut butter sandwich layered with honey and bananas. “I think if it wasn’t safe they wouldn’t be selling it,” she said. “Besides, I just really wanted a peanut butter sandwich.”

Hey! That’s MY sandwich! It's called "The Elvis!" (See menu.) Awesome! I didn't know it had a name. Yes, Sid, we Americans can’t seem to get enough peanut butter. Don’t fight it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

are you going to put that thing in your mouth?

A lunchtime treat. Peanut butter, banana and honey on whole wheat bread with a tall glass of cold milk (milk not shown).

You are:

A. Nauseous

B. Jealous

You can take the boy out of Ohio, etc.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fourth Annual Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading

I got this idea from anniegirl1138. You’re supposed to post a poem today, February 2nd.

Charles Bukowski has a reputation (much of it self-manufactured and not wholly deserved if you ask me) of being a callous, drunken lout who hated women. Well, get a load of this beauty.


waiting for death
like a cat
that will jump on the

I am so very sorry for
my wife

she will see this

shake it once, then


won't answer.

it's not my death that
worries me, it's my wife
left with this
pile of nothing.

I want to
let her know
that all the nights
beside her

even the useless
were things
ever splendid

and the hard
I ever feared to
can now be

I love