The Unbearable Banishment: August 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

Well, that wasn't very Buddhist of me, was it?

I don't know why I bother to meditate. Whatever you put out into the ether will come back to you. I really believe that and I meditate on it.

Then I go an do something like this.

Here's my brief email exchange with WBGO Jazz 88 Sunday morning disc jockey Dan Karcher:

-----Original Message-----
From: [me]
Sent: Sunday, August 30, 2009 9:00 AM
To: Dan Karcher
Subject: A bit of personal history

Good morning, Mr. Karcher. Are you, by any chance, a percussionist?

-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Karcher
Sent: Sunday, August 30, 2009 9:00 AM
To: [me]
Subject: A bit of personal history

Yea, how did you know? I though all my records were out of print!

-----Original Message-----
From: [me]
Sent: Sunday, August 30, 2009 9:10 AM
To: Dan Karcher
Subject: A bit of personal history

I can tell because only someone who is a percussionist himself would inflict drum solos on a defenseless audience. Every Sunday morning it's the same thing. Percussion solos are hard to take normally. On Sunday mornings, they are a particularly cruel form of punishment.

* * *

Now, was that nice? I attacked something that's dear to him. I honestly had no idea he was a drummer (much less had albums out) but it's his own damn fault. He's been provoking me for a long time now.

My Sunday mornings are sacred to me. A hot cup of coffee, The New York Times, a Suzie Q and WBGO. I don't want to hear any of that contemporary smooth jazz shite and I don't want any goddamn drum solos. Some Stan Getz would be nice. A few Ella Fitzgerald songs. Wes Montgomery.

But he kept pushing my buttons. So I feel bad about setting him up like that but he's been doing this for a while and he had it coming. How selfish! [Of him. Not me.]

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tiny dancer

For years, I've been reading a book to 7-Year Old Daughter about Edgar Degas and his dancer sculpture. In the book, the model is a poor girl who can't afford ballet lessons and never learns to dance, but in the end she is immortalized by Degas. I'm pretty sure it's fiction and doesn't have anything to do with Degas or the girl who actually posed for him, but I could be wrong.

I told daughter that one of the dancer sculptures was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, complete with the ribbon in her hair and dancing skirt and that one day I would take her into the city to visit it. Finally, I decided to take a day off of work, leave Mrs. Wife and 3-Year Old Daughter in New Jersey and fulfill a promise.

I've been in that Museum dozens of times over the years and know my way around pretty well, so I took the most direct path to 19th Century European Painting and Sculpture. Little legs exhaust easily and I didn't want her running out of gas too soon.

I turned the corner where I *thought* the statue was but she wasn't there. Then, from behind me, I heard Daughter gasp and say, "Dad! Look! There she is!"

And there she was.

Daughter's face was glowing. It's as though she spotted a celebrity. Here, in front of her, was the girl we had been reading about for years and years.

We spent quite a bit of time in the Degas rooms. The funny thing about Degas is that he didn't paint dancers performing. He painted them stretching or in class or getting dressed or talking amongst themselves. But not dancing. It was scandalous at the time.

After Degas, we looked in on some of the other Impressionists. That stuff is pretty easy to take and I don't want her to work too hard yet. Baby steps. First, van Gogh's Irises. Later on, Picasso's blue period.

I could see that tedium was setting in so we started towards the exit. But before we left that wing, she turned to me, looked up and said, "Dad, can we go look at her one more time?"

Everything is going according to plan. Muuhahahaha!


Saturday, August 29, 2009

It got loud

Do you like loud guitars? If you do, keep your eye on your local art house cinema for a documentary called It Might Get Loud. It's a pretty good time.

Three virtuosos, Jimmy Page (representing the 70s), The Edge (the 80s) and Jack White (90s) sit in a circle on a sound stage and talk about guitars. Their favorites. Their first. Their playing techniques, influences and secrets. It's a master class for those who care about that sort of thing. There's some history thrown in for perspective. Some blind Black blues players are discussed. The usual suspects.

My caveat is that this is for people who love guitars. I went with Nurse H who, when not saving lives in the hospital, sings in a Led Zep cover band. (Bustling Hedgerow. Get it?) She might have gotten more out of the film than I did.

There's some discussion of Zep, U2 and The White Stripes/Raconteurs and some biographical stuff. [Did you know that Page started out as a studio musician for hire and played guitar on the theme from Goldfinger? I think that is so fucking cool.] It's mainly a lot of playing sequences and slow, loving camera pans of guitars. It's got one of the most beautiful title sequences I've ever seen.

It's worth the price of admission for two scenes; watching Jimmy Page joyously play air guitar to Link Wray's Rumble and explain why it's such a great song. Also, White and Edge watch, with big grins on their faces, as Page spontaneously rips into the riff from Whole Lotta Love. It looks like Edge is thinking to himself, "Ho. Lee. Shit. That's Jimmy Fucking Page playing Whole Lotta Love three feet in front of me. How lucky am I?"

At the end, the three of them sit and play an acoustic version of The Weight. It's a soft touch.

Friday, August 28, 2009

42nd street rec. room

If you’re walking down 42nd Street on your way towards either Times Square or Grand Central Station and fancy a quick game of ping-pong, you’re in luck. This summer, Bryant Park (42nd and 6th) has outdoor ping pong tables set up. The net is a piece of sheet metal.

When I moved to New York (mumble-mumble) years ago, I didn’t dare go anywhere NEAR Bryant Park (or Union Square, for that matter) unless I was looking for a bag of weed. You conducted your business and got the hell out as quickly as possible. It was scary. Now, you can play ping pong. That’s quite an arc.

I didn’t know about it until I stumbled across a heated match between this old rattlesnake and a young buck. It looked like they were taking it pretty seriously. I don’t think they were playing for fun. Sometimes, people in New York take things way too seriously.

Not long ago I did a post about what I thought was the “best” pizza in New York. It was tongue-in-cheek. Picking the “best” of anything is an exercise in futility. It’s purely subjective and open to an individual’s personal taste. (But I do like watching the Oscars.) Well, I got an earful from the city pizza capos. They accused me of having unsophisticated tastes and other unflattering characteristics. Pizza! My God! Who cares!?


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Some get a kick from censorship

I have a great recording of Ella Fitzgerald singing Cole Porter's I Get a Kick Out of You. In one stanza, she sings:

Some, they may go for cocaine
I'm sure that if, I took even one sniff

It would bore me terrifically too

But I get a kick out of you

I also have two recordings of Sinatra singing the same song and in one version the lyric was sanitized to:

Some like the perfume from Spain
I'm sure that if I took even one sniff

It would bore me terrifically too

But I get a kick out of you

In the second recording, it was changed to:

Some like the bop-type refrain
I'm sure that if, I heard even one riff

It would bore me terrifically too

But I get a kick out of you

The perfume from Spain?! Give me a break! That doesn’t even make any sense. Since when is Spain known for its perfume? Unemployment, maybe. But not perfume. Porter would NEVER have written such a pedestrian line. It takes all the punch and dark glamor out of the song. I almost wish I hadn't noticed.

* * *

This morning's ear worm while brushing my teeth at 5:25 a.m.: The theme from The Wild Wild West. My God. What is WRONG with me?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Meanwhile, in present day Cork...

[Note to Cat: Feel free to bail out at any time.]

I don't know what it is about Irish playwrights but they all seem to be touched (in the good way).

The reason I haven't done a theater post in a while is because it's summertime and there isn't anything to see. During the summer, openings are few and far between. The theater community goes on automatic pilot and the season that ended in June plays itself out. The Fringe Festival is in full swing but it's so overwhelming, and so much of it is crap, that I tend to (so sorry) not bother. The free, star-studded Shakespeare in the Park series is not worth the effort. Anne Hathaway was suppose to be amazing in Twelfth Night but I can't be bothered to stand in line for 15+ hours just for a stupid play.

But this beauty (not part of the Fringe) was an unexpected delight. Two contemporary one-acts by Cork native Conal Creedon at the always reliable Irish Repertory, After Luke and When I was God. Fathers and sons, fathers and sons, fathers and sons. It never gets old and it will never exhaust itself. So good it's been extended through September 27th. So worth your time and money (Jason).

I love one-acts for the same reason I love short story collections; if the material sucks, just hang in there and a brand new story is moments away. But there's not a dead minute in either of these stories.

* * *

In Neil Genzlinger's review of Dance of the Seven Headed Mouse in the New York Times, he wrote that "...the play never really justifies its existence."

Wow! That was kind of harsh! People don't realize how much work and expense goes into mounting a show. Even a bad one.

I wonder what Mr. Genzlinger has done to justify his existence? Fucking dipshit critics.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Sleeping Beauty

Beautiful dreamer,
wake unto me;
Starlight and dewdrops
are waiting for thee.

Shhhh! Stop making all that racket dragging your eyes across the screen! You'll awake him from his beauty slumber.

Most people don't accessorize when they sleep during their commute but this guy is a dedicated, professional napper. He's fragile and needs a sleeping mask and ear plugs. To me, it's a bit over-the-top.

I'll bet he has a leopard print sleeping mask at home and wears a frilly little pink something to bed. Tee-hee. It's a shame that Hammacher-Schlemmer doesn't manufacture a portable sensory deprivation chamber for him.

Good night, sweet prince. When you awake, you'll be in the magical kingdom of Manhattan.

* * *

Over the weekend we rented I Love You, Man with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. It's about a guy who has a lot of acquaintances, but no close male friends. Hijinks ensue when he sets out on a series of "man dates" to try and make some friends. It's suppose to be a comedy but I found the whole thing a bit unsettling. It hit too close to home and felt more like a documentary than a comedy.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home

A lot of New Jersey is horribly over-developed. Do you guys know what a bash and build* is? The state real estate PACs bury their hands deep inside the local politician's pockets and tickle their balls, so they generally get whatever they want. There are, however, some really beautiful tracts of land that were set aside as nature preserves. I can't imagine how this was allowed to happen. Perhaps someone was light on a bribe one week.

We like to take walks in the nearby woods. (3-Year Old Daughter calls it "The Jungle.") There are some walking paths of varying lengths that take you on a twisty stroll through the trees.

I am so torn between this life and the life I live(d) in New York. I love them both equally but for different reasons. Admittedly, it's a happy problem. And don't worry. I hang on my cross for plenty of other things that carry a lot more weight than this. But it is a conflict, nonetheless.

Just look at them. Go ahead. Click on it.

I'm not trading this for concrete and asphalt. I know people have been raising kids in the city for many generations, but The Daughters and Mrs. Wife seem genuinely happy here. Remember: Happy wife. Happy life.

So here I'll stay. When I think about it, it's really not such an unbearable banishment after all.

* Someone buys a small house—usually a cape or a bungalow—demolishes it, and erects a garish multi-million dollar vertical monstrosity in its place.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A reality check for everyone

Spare yourself my blathering today and please read this deeply moving and poignant post over at *E* Deconstructed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dear dopes at CNN:

Please be more mindful of how you arrange your Latest News links.

This is downright uncaring. It's like when the New York Times runs a story about a family being blown to bits in Baghdad right next to an ad for some bauble at Tiffany's. It happens ALL the time. It's crass.

* * *

Today is the 5-year anniversary of Google’s IPO. When Google went public, I instructed my financial advisor to steer clear because, as we all knew at the time, internet stocks are fun to read about but nothing that a serious investor would include in his portfolio.

The strike price was $85/share. It soared past $600/share in 2007 but has since settled in at a still quite profitable $445/share.

It’s a FACT: When it comes to high finance, I don’t know my ass from my elbow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Random NYC pic: old glory

I was sitting in front of Rockefeller Center sipping a coffee and watching the big parade of humanity stroll by. I looked up and saw this interesting juxtaposition of sunlight running up the Simon & Schuster building. The left edge of this beam runs up the building in precise alignment with the edge of the windows. It forms a perfect straight line.

Upon closer examination I realized that the U.S. flag is in the middle of the beam, as if being illuminated by a stage lighting expert instead of Old Sol.

It pays to occasionally look up from your laptop. I should do it more often.

* * *
Fun New York Fact: The "Simon" part of the Simon & Schuster publishing empire is Richard Simon, father of singer and mope-queen Carly Simon. Carly was raised in an upper-class, wealthy New York family and spent her life doing what she loves, as opposed to having a traditional job like the rest of us. Yet, she still managed to be miserable most of the time. Way to waste it, Carly.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Spider-man: Turn Off the Funding

I believe that certain shows should never see the light of day, regardless of their pedigree. A few years ago, they made a musical out of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. At that time, I was exchanging emails with Hornby (long story) and he confided that he wasn’t sure how it could work since Rob, the character in the book and, theoretically, the target audience for the show, was the type of guy who wouldn’t be caught dead attending a Broadway musical.

Sure enough, the show opened and closed in short order. Did the producers learn their lesson? It seems not.

Someone came up with the terrible idea of turning Spider-man into a Broadway musical. I’m not kidding. I read Spider-man comic books as a kid and I don’t want to see Spider-man singing on a Broadway stage! Criminy! The low point of Spider-man III was that ridiculous cabaret scene. WTF was that?

I don’t know how they did it but they somehow convinced Bono and The Edge to write the music and lyrics. U2 writing Broadway musicals?! That’s ANOTHER terrible idea! Further, they got Julie Taymor to direct. She directed Disney’s The Lion King, which is a spectacular display of costumes, puppetry and staging (although the Elton John/Tim Rice score is completely forgettable). Allan Cumming agreed to play the Green Goblin. Another great talent sucked in. The end result was suppose to be Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark.

I can’t imagine how they lured all this top-shelf talent into a project that, to me, seems doomed from the start. Cash?

But this post has a happy ending. Cooler heads have prevailed and work on this train wreck has been suspended due to an “unexpected cash flow problem.” Thank Jeebus. The critics can put down their knives and I don’t have to worry about Peter Parker singing a tender love ballad to Mary Jane and then grabbing a top hat and cane and breaking into a spider-dance. Shudder.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Malaria soup

I am a menace to the suburbs.

I changed our bank from Citibank to Chase because Citi reduced the reward points on our credit card and I think they’re a sinking ship and it made me nervous to keep our cash there. I had a full box of blank checks that I needed to dispose of. It would have taken too long to shred them, so I did what I did with an old diary of mine; I put it in a bucket and filled it with water. The next day the diary was pulp.

I put the checks in the bucket, filled it with water and promptly forgot about it. That was three weeks ago.

This evening I was grilling chicken and zucchini kabobs and wondered what the bucket was doing in the corner of the yard. I walked over and it was filled with water, paper pulp and mosquito larva. Millions of them. So many that there was barely any wiggle room. It was malaria soup.

Did you know that standing water = mosquito breeding ground? And people say the city is wild, gross and dangerous.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

On & Off the Grid

For those of you who are in the city—especially if you work in midtown—I recommend you drop by the Lobby Gallery of the Durst Organization at 1155 6th Avenue (@ 45th St.) for Artisté Florenza's show, On & Off the Grid. It's a chance to see a nice representation of her work (25 paintings!) in a spacious, well-lit venue. It's the largest showing of her work that I've seen and it's nice to see so many of her pieces gathered in one space.

The Artisté has been kind enough to act a docent for 7-Year Old Daughter and I at MoMA and when I mentioned the show to Daughter she insisted on going, so I took her to the opening. It was her first! I didn't allow her to sample the wine—just a few grapes and some cheese. She was VERY excited and felt a special thrill because she knows the artist personally.

Artisté Florenza loves architecture. Many of the buildings she has honored, especially some in Long Island City where her studio is located, have since been demolished. Developers all over Manhattan are begging her not to paint their buildings.

That's a little joke.

Here, Daughter is studying a painting of the Metropolitan Life Building in Madison Square Park. A long time ago, I briefly worked for a design firm run by a crazy husband/wife team whose offices were in the crown of this building (the part bathed in yellow light).

Artisté Florenza has painted a series of buildings that are reflected in the glass of an adjacent building. The paintings are effective and a bit eerie.

The show runs through September 18th.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gifts for her

Next month is our 10th wedding anniversary and I have begun the arduous task of shopping for a gift for Mrs. Wife. I say arduous because Mrs. Wife is very, very difficult to shop for. You see, Mrs. Wife doesn’t give a shit about material things. It’s pretty amazing, really. She believes that true, deep happiness doesn’t come with a designer label attached to it. An expensive car, an 8,000 square foot house and shoes as far as the eye can see are relatively meaningless to her. She is one of the most psychologically healthy people I have ever met.

While that makes married life a lot easier, it makes gift-giving nearly impossible. What do you get for the person who doesn’t really need much? She’s fine with a family hug and those are free.

I turned to my old friend the internet. I knew there were traditional gifts for each specific anniversary but I, being just a guy, had no idea what they were.

According the a number of different sites, there are now “traditional” gifts and “modern” gifts. Were you aware of that? The “traditional” 10-year anniversary gift is aluminum/tin. The “modern” gift is diamond.

Oh, really?

That’s a major upgrade. The “traditional” gift of a diamond doesn’t arrive until your 60th anniversary. Here’s what I think happened: A bunch of old hens were sitting around kvetching and decided that they deserved something more than just a piece of tin for putting up with his shit for 10 years, so they rewrote the rules and bumped diamond up 50 years. Does that sound plausible? Can you imagine a man or a group of men coming up with this?

[BTW, our anniversary is 9/11. Thanks, terrorists, for severely fucking up my city and putting a crimp in our anniversary. It’s like having your anniversary on Pearl Harbor Day or Kristallnacht.]

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Coming this season: Testosterone. And lots of it.

Those tough sons-of-bitches at the Atlantic Theater Company have outdone themselves this time. The 2009-10 season is a (mostly) testosterone-fueled program of plays by men who write about manly men. Mainly.

They kick off with two one-acts by David (you either love him or you hate him) Fucking Mamet; a farce called Keep Your Pantheon (Get it? It's a play on words.) and another comedy called School. Mamet was a founding member of the Atlantic, which is a damn lucky thing for them.

After that punch in the face, we have Ages of the Moon, the new comedy by cowboy roughneck Sam Shepard. It's a two-hander about men talking while they drink bourbon. It was a big hit at the Abbey Theater in Dublin where it premiered and will star Irish actors Sean McGinley and Stephen Rea, who originated the roles in Dublin. It's always a treat to see the original cast.

As though that weren't a big enough kick in the nuts, Irish ball buster Martin McDonagh follows with A Behanding in Spokane. This will open on Broadway (as opposed to the intimate Atlantic Theater on W. 20th St.) in the spring. It's McDonagh's first play set on U.S. soil. I saw The Pillowman on Broadway. He managed to write about violence against children in a darkly funny way. His stuff is like that.

The season closes with Gabriel by British playwright Moira Buffini. I'm not sure who she is.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What to avoid in NYC. Tip #1: taxi TV

There are enough guide books that tell you what to do while visiting New York City. As a public service, I thought I’d do a series of posts telling you what to AVOID during your stay. So far, I only have this one idea, so this may be as far as it gets. Leah, if you have any ideas, jump in.

* * *
A few years ago, in an effort to enhance revenue, the TLC (Taxi and Limousine Commission; a powerful government regulatory agency) decided to allow small flat screen TVs to be installed in the back seats of taxi cabs. They purport to play brief snippets of local news and weather but what they really are is yet another in-your-face way for advertisers to promote their products.

Once you step into a cab and the meter is activated, Taxi TV boots up automatically. TV is so ubiquitous in our lives that it’s difficult to tear your eyes away from one once it’s turned on. There are flat screen TVs in the elevators at A Company Called Malice, Inc. and it’s the same way. People ride up to their floors starring into the glowing screen with blank looks on their faces. I wish I had invented elevator TV. I’d be posting this from Tahiti.

Can you imagine? All of Manhattan is rolling by just outside your window and people opt to stare at a TV instead. You could miss the beautiful façade of The Waldorf Astoria or someone being shot outside of the Port Authority bus depot.

Thank God almighty you have the option to turn these things off. When they were first installed the ad industry, of course, did not want to allow the on/off option. But in an uncharacteristic moment of clarity, the TLC insisted on it. When visiting New York, turn off Taxi TV! Life is too short and Manhattan too interesting to waste your time watching another Claritin D ad. The “off” button is in the upper right corner.

I’ll bet it’ll be a cold day in hell before you see these insidious devices installed in London cabs.

* * *
Tomorrow at 5:00! The beautiful people of Fashion Week!


Monday, August 10, 2009

Do you like piña coladas while you consume human flesh?

I was shampooing the carpets on Saturday afternoon (don’t ask) and out of nowhere I remembered a snippet from a song that was a hit when I was a little kid. It was just a fragment—one line of a lyric and a piece of the hook. I couldn’t dislodge it from my head. It kept pinging around and around. It was an unlikely hit in that it was about cannibalism. And not in a funny way—real cannibalism.

I thought my mind might be playing a trick on me and that my subconscious was making the whole thing up so I consulted our old friend the internet and sure enough; in 1971 there was a song called Timothy by The Buoys that reached #13 on the Billboard Top 100 list. Does anyone remember this?

I looked up the lyrics and they’re HORRIFYING! I wondered how something as dark as this could be played on the radio at all, much less become a hit. The Wikipedia entry claims that the songwriter intentionally wrote something so heinous that he was certain it would be banned from radio, believing that there‘s no such thing as bad publicity. It turned out he was right! To everyone’s surprise, including the songwriter, it became a hit.

Take a look at this mess. And stick with it through to its gruesome conclusion.


Trapped in a mine that had caved in

And everyone knows the only ones left

Were Joe and me and Tim

When they broke through to pull us free

The only ones left to tell the tale

Were Joe and me

Timothy, Timothy, where on earth did you go?

Timothy, Timothy, God why don't I know?

Hungry as hell no food to eat

And Joe said that he would sell his soul

For just a piece of meat

Water enough to drink for two

And Joe said to me, "I'll have a swig

And then there's some for you."

Timothy, Timothy, Joe was looking at you

Timothy, Timothy, God what did we do?

I must have blacked out just around then

'Cause the very next thing that I could see

Was the light of the day again

My stomach was full as it could be

And nobody ever got around

To finding Timothy


Sweet Mother of Jesus! Upon further research, I found out that this was written by none other than RUPERT HOLMES! This is the same guy that gave the world Escape (The Piña Colada Song) in 1979. It’s a ridiculous song about two bored lovers who try to cheat on each other via the personnel ads only do discover that they’ve answered each others’ ad. I’d be pissed if I found out she was stepping out on me (even though I was doing the exact same thing).

If you like Piña Coladas
and getting caught in the rain...

I dare not quote more for fear of starting an ear worm chain reaction that could take down the world financial markets.

This means that one man is solely responsible for writing not one, but TWO of the worst songs ever recorded! You might think that I’m disparaging Mr. Holmes but I’m NOT.

Rupert, if you’re out there, you are THE MAN! Where are you? We want MORE!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Does this photo make you: a) sick to your stomach or b) hungry?

What do you think about that, bitches? This is a steak sandwich with cheese, peppers, onions and a little hot sauce. I wish you guys could smell it. (They should make an app for that.) Sitting across the plastic red checkered tablecloth is The Daughters. (Mrs. Wife is off camera by request.) They're eating fried chicken strips and french fries.

There are certain parents out here in the lily white suburbs who wouldn't think of feeding this kind of crap to their precious jewels. God's little gifts only deserve the best. They're not going to pollute their fragile, growing bodies with anything that isn't from Whole Foods or grown on an organic farm.

Not my girls.

When you attend the Monmouth County Fair, you have to eat county fair food. You just have to. That steak sandwich was so satisfying that I almost bought a second one. Do you know what zeps are? Fried dough with powdered sugar? I wish I had one right fucking now. There was a vendor selling deep fried Oreos but even I'm not that crazy.

While at the county fair, 7-Year Old Daughter got a quick lesson on the potter's wheel. Shades of Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost!

I'm a bit afraid of heights, but Mrs. Wife is really afraid of heights, so when it comes to the Ferris wheel. I have to take The Daughter up. When she is old enough for for roller coasters, she'll be on her own. I'm an amusement park pussy.

The wheel stopped at the apex and we sat quietly looking out over a sun drenched suburban New Jersey. Daughter didn't say anything but she had a big grin on her face. What do you want from life?

Has anyone seen my New York City-hipster elan lying around anywhere? It's seems to have fallen out of a hole in my pocket.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wrecker of Homes

I don’t know nuthin’ about no home ownership.

I don’t know anything about electrical work, structural maintenance, plumbing, carpentry, heating/cooling systems or mechanics. Do you know what I keep in my tool box? A credit card. I arrived at this pathetic state via 20 years of apartment life in New York. It was great! If something broke, you called the super and it was fixed by the time you got home from work. Sweet!

A lot of guys are taught these sorts of things by their fathers but, honestly, my dad never taught me a damn thing.

[Sidebar: When I was in 6th grade, my dad took me to a father/son night at school. It was a one-shot sex education class. They showed us a horrifying filmstrip about fallopian tubes, gestation periods and ovaries. I was a terrified little kid and wanted to hide under my chair. On the way out, as we walked toward the car, my dad looked down at me and said, “If you have any questions, ask your mother.”

My hero.]

Can someone more manly than I answer this question? If the tub is draining a bit slow, and you ask your wife to buy some Drano, and the instructions say to pour in one-quarter of the bottle and let sit for :15 minutes (:30 if it’s a stubborn clog) and rinse it out with hot water but you want to do a thorough job so instead of one-quarter of a bottle, you pour in half, and instead of :15 minutes, you go downstairs to read the paper and forget to flush it out for 2 hours, is that bad?

By the way, I just got my tickets to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in Othello. He plays Iago. I'm not gay and I've never been bi-curious but I have to confess, tonight, I feeling kinda gay.


It seems my witticism at the end of this post is falling flat with a few readers. Contrary to how it may appear, I have not developed tender feelings for Philip Seymour Hoffman. I was contrasting two different stereotypes; manly-suburban-homeowner vs. gay-urban-theater maven. I can assure you that if I ever develop a curiosity for the same team, Hoffman’s physique won’t be the first to come to mind.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Health club follies

There’s a pretty girl who works out in my gym. She works out hard and she’s not quiet about it. Whenever she lifts a heavy weight or tries to stand with an iron bar resting across her shoulders or tightens her abs on one of the many torture devices, she makes little sounds.

Ungh. Ungh. Ungh.

The sound is born from her battle against gravity, but if you close your eyes (as I often do) it sounds like something else.

Ungh. Ungh. Ungh.

Sometimes, if I’m feeling a bit blue and I'm hating the gym, I’ll quickly revamp my routine so that I workout in close proximity to her. It lifts my spirits.

* * *

Tell me ladies, do you guys hack and clear your sinuses while in the shower? The PUBLIC shower? You can’t imagine how many times I have to listen to some slob expel while showering. CCCkkkkggghhhkkk. Ptu. And after that, each sinus. It's sickening. What is wrong with men?

* * *

Look, buddy, I don’t mind chatting in the locker room. I talk a pretty good game and I can fake like I know a thing or two about the equity markets or the intricacies of turning a double play. But for CHRIST'S SAKE, either wrap a towel around yourself or put some underwear on. Don’t stand there and chat with your pathetic Johnson hanging out. It makes me sick.

* * *

People who text while sitting on the equipment during peak hours deserve to have a 30 pound plate dropped on their testicles/ovaries. Leave your goddamn cell phone in your locker. Idiots.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

internal torment en route to the city / Buddhist revelation

Should I go to the gym before work or sit in Central Park, have a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin and read a few blogs?

Should I go to the gym before work or sit in Central Park, have a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin and read a few blogs?

Should I go to the gym before work or sit in Central Park, have a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin and read a few blogs?

The sound of one hand clapping!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

i am judged by my peers

About four months ago I submitted my blog to be critiqued by an outfit called Ask and Ye Shall Receive. They are a group of bloggers who will give you an honest assessment of what’s right and what’s wrong with your blog.

They are brutally honest and, as you know, brutal honesty can sting. They try to warn you ahead of time. The URL is “I will fucking tear you apart dot com.” In the submission guidelines you are warned that in reviewing your blog, there’s a chance that they’re “going to rip you a new hole to shit through.”

However, within those barbs are some very useful suggestions on how to make your blog better. And God knows I need as much help as I can get. Your friends won’t tell you your blog is a train wreck, but they will. And they’ll tell you how to fix it.

I made the mistake of dropping my blog into the review queue before actually reading any of their reviews. I’m impulsive like that. So I’ve been waiting in a state of semi-dread since April. I like my blog and these guys can be pretty viscous but I wanted to hear what they had to say.

Here's their review.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

david v. goliath new york version

This is my coffee cart guy. Do you see him there? On the right, behind the white car? He’s a nice guy from Alexandria. He’s got seven brothers and one sister back home in Egypt. He misses them, but he always seems to be in a good mood.

Everyone who works in New York has their own coffee cart guy. It’s part of the fabric of the city. You establish a rapport with him and you don’t buy coffee anywhere else. Eventually, he’ll know your order and if he sees you approaching, he’ll greet you with it already in the bag.

My guy sets up right in front of the Starbucks on 41st and Broadway. I like his nerve! I’ve always identified with the underdog because that’s all I’ve ever been. I’m just regular. Plus, his coffee costs a small fraction of what I’d pay at Starbucks. Fuck Starbucks. I’m sticking with little guy. Especially in the winter when he’s out there in the cold.

Each morning we exchange the same banter. I make fun of his coffee and he makes fun of my clothes.

When are you going to start selling some decent coffee?

As soon as your wife buys you a new shirt. How many times are you going to wear that thing?!

We have a laugh, bid each other adieu and head off into our day, hoping it won’t be too wretched.

While he’s preparing my coffee, I’ll turn around and look in the window of Starbucks. All you see are the tops of people’s heads because their faces are buried in smart phones, frantically texting and ignoring the world around them. Times Square is just outside the front door to the right but they might as well be in Broken Bow, Nebraska for all it matters. Idiots.

Final score: Humanity: 1 Starbucks: nil


Monday, August 3, 2009

Rabbi Tony Sopranowitz

Last week I did a post about a mass corruption sting operation here in New Jersey that netted 44 people, including three New Jersey mayors, two state assemblyman and five rabbis who are charged with money laundering. This all came about courtesy of an FBI informant, a rabbi who was head of a sect of ultra-Orthadox Syrian Jews. The good rabbi was arrested by the FBI on bank fraud charges and elected to act as an informant in exchange for leniency.

This past week, the informant rabbi's father spoke emotionally to the congregation about the case. I would have thought the speech to be a meditation on how even men who have devoted themselves to God can fall and a reflection on the corrupting influence money has on society.

Don’t bet on it. The Asbury Park Press reported:

“In what sources describe as an extremely emotional speech at Deal Synagogue July 25, Dwek’s father, Rabbi Isaac Dwek, strongly denounced the act of a Jew informing on other Jews, without specifically mentioning his son.”

Speaking on a Jewish radio program, Sam Hirsch, a lawyer and Former state assemblyman said Dwek “should have been killed” after informing on other Jews.

Apparently, not a word was spoken about the indictments or the crimes committed. As Mrs. Wife astutely noted, “They’re just like the Mob.”

It seems the deeper a person delves into religion and separates themselves from secular society, the more wacked out of their minds they become. They all tell everyone else how to live but they're above the law. And please, spare me your comments about me being an anti-Semite because I assure you I am equally nauseated by the Christian and Muslim lunatic fringe.

The Catholic church committed sins against its parishioners for which they still haven’t atoned for. The only reason they started to address the problem was because enough victims were hauling their asses into court and successfully suing them. Otherwise, it'd still be going on. And we here in New York are all too familiar with what Muslim extremism can lead to.

Religion. Feh. Go with God.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

a slow day at the New York Times

One of the great pleasures in my life is the Sunday New York Times. I don't know what the hell happened to me. I use to drive drunk, have unprotected sex and smoke a ton of weed. Now, all I need is a sunny Sunday morning in my back yard, a cup of coffee, a Hostess Suzy Q and the Sunday Times and I'm a happy man. I'm sure I'm a big disappointment to my pals back in Cleveland.

The best, best part of the Sunday Times is the Arts & Leisure section (aka Farts & Seizures). I just love it. But in August, the entertainment community is away on holiday and there isn't much to write about. Things are so dead right now that the big front page feature article in today's Arts & Leisure section is a long tome on the resurrection of Tom Arnold's stand-up career. I'm not kidding. Also, you'll find long captivating articles on the new Chris Kattan TV series and a feature on the "First Ladies of Screwball Comedy."

Holy shit, man. Who cares about any of that?

Come to think of it, it makes for a pretty goddamn boring blog post, as well. Sorry, folks. Go back to what you were doing.

* * *

Actually, as long as I'm being judgmental tonight...Why am I so happy that this movie bombed?

I've got nothing against romantic comedies. Who doesn't like Groundhog Day? Mrs. Wife and I watch Love Actually every Christmas and I usually get kinda choked up during Colin Firth's restaurant proposal.

But this ad has a stench coming off of it.

"Oh, look at me! I holding up a red cardboard heart! I'm looking for love! love! love! You can tell by my red cardboard heart!"

"And I have a red cardboard heart covering my penis! Tee-hee! I just want to get laid but I'll learn a valuable lesson about relationships and feelings!"

Sitting through this would be like swallowing your own vomit.

The first time I saw this ad I thought that the movie was probably going to be pretty awful and sure enough, the reviews came out and everyone said it was junk. Maybe if the reviewers keep labeling junk like this junk, Hollywood would stop producing cynical junk like this.

Maybe not. Now, that's the ugly truth.