The Unbearable Banishment: April 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

Circle of Life, my ass

I threw 10-Year Old daughter into the car and took her down to Asbury Park for a little one-on-one time. Soon, I'll be nothing but a constant source of embarrassment to her so I think it's important to take advantage while she can still stand to be in the same room with me.

[I have a much larger point to make at the end of all this, so hang in there.]

We started at the fabulous Silver Ball Museum on the boardwalk. Pinball machines figured prominently in my youth and I wanted her to know where some of her roots are buried.



There are over 200 working pinball machines, some dating back to the 1950's. Each machine has a placard on top that gives the machine's history; the year it was constructed, how many of that model were manufactured, the designer and critical player reaction. You can really lose yourself in this place, especially if you're in a certain age category that will go unmentioned. It's $10 bucks for an hour of open play and worth every penny.



It was sunny and pleasant. Nice enough to kick off our shoes and go for a walk on the beach. We climbed on the rocks and poked around the tide pools. It's off season so the beach was gloriously empty. In a few weeks, the tourists and off-seasonals will start to descend upon the Jersey Shore. None of those clowns you see on TV are from New Jersey. They're all from Staten Island and Brooklyn. A lot us wish they'd stay there.



The tourists haven't come around to strip the beach yet so you can find some pretty cool things, like this sand dollar. Also, there are no plastic bottles or McDonald's wrappers to step over. Yet. 



We popped into New Jersey's most famous dive bar/music venue, The Stone Pony. Everyone has played there. It's an institution.



Here's the interior with its famous wall of signed guitars. It looks like 90% of them are Fenders. There seems to be a prejudice against Gibsons. What's up with that?



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The next day I took 5-Year Old Daughter into the city to see The Lion King. Just her and I. It was another gloriously bright, sunny day, so beforehand we hung out in Times Square for a while. We sat high atop the TKTS half price ticket booth and she spotted "celebrities." (Those celebrities being people walking around in Disney character costumes.)



The Lion King is a gateway drug. Once a kid sees it, there's no stopping them. "Dad, can we go to another play?" Yes, we can! Julie Taymor has become a punch line because of the Spider-Man musical debacle, but people seem to forget about The Lion King or discount it because it's a favorite with the tourists. It's not a perfect play as far as music and pacing is concerned but for visuals, staging, costumes, lighting and creativity, there's simply nothing better. Some of it is quite moving.


The plot concerns a father and son. Much of it is borrowed from Hamlet. An uncle murders a father and tricks the son into thinking he's responsible. The son flees into exile. The uncle takes the father's place on the throne as the new, demented king. While exiled, the son is visited by his father's ghost. The father tells the son that he doesn't realize who he is yet and that he can achieve greatness. The father explains he is alive, as he lives on through his son.

I was listening to all this, getting angrier and sadder by the minute. I thought of the past two days with my daughters and how much joy it gave me to be with them. My own idiot father didn't spent :10 minutes trying to connect with any of us. He doesn't know what he missed. When the face of his father's ghost came into focus and floated amongst the stars, I wondered what I might have achieved if I had had just a modicum of guidance, instead of making it up as I go along, as I have been all these years. What if I had been taught that I could be more than the sum of my parts? Wouldn't that have been a useful piece information to pass along?

I caution the girls to never think that they're better than anyone else because if they do, nobody will want to be their friend. But do you know what? I am better than him.

Hakuna Mafuckingtata.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Apologize when you're wrong

I yelled at 5-Year Old Daughter for no good reason. A minor infraction was committed. She didn’t do anything terribly wrong but I gave her a lecture anyway, mainly because I was in a mood to lecture someone. I immediately felt terrible, as I always do when I yell. I’m not someone who yells or raises his voice. When I see two people standing nose to nose shouting at one another, or someone walking down 6th Avenue screaming into a cell phone, I wonder how they're able to navigate through life with all that broken circuitry.

Anyway, I apologized. I told her that I was wrong to yell and asked her if she would please forgive me. She said, "Yes, Pop. Here's a forgiving kiss for you." and she kissed me on the cheek. She's 5! What do you do with a kid like that?! Jesus. It's not fair. I don't stand a chance.

Then, recently, this gem from her:

“We’re going to have a race. Coco and I will be on one team and you and S will be on the other team. Our team name is Team Evil. Your team can be either Team Love or Team Heart. Either one. It doesn’t matter. And look! I drew the skull from Monster High for our team!”

Man, that kid breaks my heart. I can’t bear the thought that hard times will befall her, as they do us all. Clearly, locking her in the basement isn't the answer but how do I protect her?

Earlier this year, Jay-Z and Beyoncé had a daughter. They named her Blue Ivy. What do you suppose Jay-Z will do to the first man who raps about Blue Ivy being a bitch or a whore? Do you suppose he's seen the light? Had an epiphany? Daughters rule.

NOT Debbie Harry. A little rusty on the lyrics. [Posted for the benefit of far-away Buckeye family lurkers.]

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To prevent this from degenerating into a nauseating mommy/parent post, I beg your indulgence and offer a few interesting pics as penance. Here's a fantastic Giacometti that's in the sculpture garden at MoMA. Creepy. Stylish!


Last week we experienced the first few warm evenings of the spring season. Those of you in warm-weather climates can't imagine the unbridled joy of being able to sit outside when the winter breaks. Hanging your jacket on the chair back and feeling the warm air on your skin is an absolute high. And that's before you order a cold beer. I was on my way to a play at The Public down in the East Village and stopped off for a couple slices of pizza. I sat outside and was so mesmerized by the big parade walking up Second Avenue and turning onto St. Mark's Place that I almost missed my curtain!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Shot Manhattan

I was on my midday walkabout and took these photos. Something interesting always pops up. It makes a tedious day bearable. I wish my phone took better quality pics. Where's the iPhone 5?!

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I saw this little peanut sprite walking up 6th Avenue near 57th Street.


She wound her way through the oncoming businessmen, office drones and delivery jockeys. Nobody seemed to take notice of her! What's wrong with New Yorkers!? They're so absorbed in chasing their destinies that they forget to look around them.


Her handler—I don't think it was her mom—was several paces in front of her. Too many, if you ask me. 57th Street is a main east/west artery in Manhattan. It's a raging boulevard! She should pay closer attention.


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There's a great new window display at Burgdorf Goodman. Window displays in Manhattan are a pretty serious business. They can take on the air of an art exhibit—especially around Christmastime. This crop of displays uses paper as its root design element. That's a giant vegetable peeler on the wall. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the jacket material looks very paper-like.


A ribbon of peeled paper was strewn about the floor and wound through the mannequin's feet.


This one is my favorite. Paper is fed through a strainer and comes out the other end looking like angel hair pasta.


At the other end of the window, the threads of paper are whipped by a gigantic egg beater. In person, the paper looks soft and frothy. How fun is that?


The women who buy these clothes have probably never operated a vacuum cleaner in their entire lives. I suppose that's reducing them all to a cheap stereotype, but I call 'em as I see 'em. I'll bet I'm right.


The mess on the floor is comprised of tiny bits of confetti that are perfect circles.Look at the previous photo. That's a LOT of confetti!


Look what they did to this poor book. Just to sell a stupid handbag! Those butchers. *shudder*


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Blogger has updated its dashboard interface. It now includes the actual read count for each and every post. The only thing this has accomplished is to mock how miniscule my readership is.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The consummate late bloomer

This weekend I attended the annual Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America book fair at the Park Avenue Armory. Mama mia what a bunch of great books! Row after row of booths containing the rarest of the rare from all over the world. Spectacular copies in perfect condition. I handled a book that dated back to the 14th century. I swooned. The prices are astronomical. I never go to the book fair to buy, but I have to look. It's like porn for book collectors.

There are always a few oddities that fall outside the parameters of book collecting. One year, someone was selling Hemingway's typewriter. Another year, it was Jack Kerouac's bluejeans. This year I was surprised to see Bruce Springsteen's high school yearbook. It has nothing whatsoever to do with rare books or music. Who would want such a thing? And check out the price!



Three grand is a lot of money. Personally, I don't think it's worth that much but collecting anything is a subjective passion and not open to judgment by others. Take a look at this goofy photo. Let's face it, ALL of out high school photos are goofy in retrospect.


As I was prepping these photos, I noticed something. Scroll back to the first photo and look at the list of accomplishments under the portraits. Each has a healthy paragraph of activities. Now look at the list of accomplishments under Bruce. Nothing. Clearly, Bruce did not participate in high school in any meaningful way. But he ended up doing pretty well for himself, don't you think? He was a late bloomer. Obviously, I'm not making any comparisons here so don't roll your eyes, but I was a high school loser/never made it with the ladies. Like Bruce, I didn't go to college, either. But things turned out sort-of okay for me. Not Bruce-okay. But okay in my small way. It just takes some of us longer.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Yankee stench

The New York Yankees, a morally bankrupt organization who single-handedly destroyed competition in baseball and forced the city of New York to foot the bill for its new stadium, have come up with a slew of nutty ways to whore its name and logo for the sake of a buck. Naming their most bizarre stunt is a tough call but I'd say it's a toss-up between a container of infield dirt from the game when shortstop Derek Jeter broke the 3,000 hit mark ($250), or a pair of used, stinky socks that Jeter wore during that game ($1,000).

The baseball season is just underway and to commemorate the playoff spot this fall that the Yankees have already purchased, they've developed...Yankee cologne and perfume!

The ads are running in the finer subway lines.

You, too, can stink like a Yankee. What does a Legend smell like? I haven't had the pleasure yet but I imagine it's the stench of freshly printed money mixed with the fragrance that rises off the streets outside Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx on a sweltering August afternoon. Take a big whiff, Yankee fans. Only $62 for a 3.4 ounce bottle. Suckers.

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Here are my three dependents.


I voted for a cat but when the ballots were counted it was a landslide in favor of a dog. People have assured me that since I was the most reluctant, I'd be the one who grew closest to her. Well, I'm still waiting for that magic to happen. How much longer? Does anyone know? The dog is definitely on the road to being less stupid—she doesn't nip as much as she used to and barks when she need to evacuate—but she still has a ways to go before she's as smart as even the dumbest cat. She still thinks that cigarette butts and worms are food.

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I passed this photo blog on to Daisyfae a while back and she really enjoys it. I thought you might, too. Maggie takes clandestine pics on the subway and posts clever captions. They're little slices of life. They take me back to the days when I was on the subway two or more times a day. They'll make you smile.

Subways

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Photo Booth Follies

The apple never falls far from the tree. This is 5-Year Old Daughter and I from a few days ago.





I must have looked at these pictures 1,000 times. I look at them when I've got the blues and they make me happy. I look at them when I'm happy and they make me happier. Sometimes, if I'm in a certain mood, I'll look at them and get choked up. What a pussy!

I hope I can keep it together and not do anything stupid to hurt my girls. Everyone makes occasional dumb choices in life. It's part of the human condition. I'm not immune. Neither are you. Yeah, I'm talking to you. I just hope that when it's my turn to stumble, I only cause harm to myself. That I can live with.



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Bonus Photo Booth Grotesque

When I begin my morning commute, I usually pop in my earbuds to check the news and see if the world imploded overnight. Last week my earbud felt kind of funny so I reached up to adjust it and it popped of the cord and wedged itself into my ear canal. I panicked!

See it there? The orange rubber stopper sticking out? I took this with my iPhone pointed at the side of my head.

This was at 5:50 a.m. mind you, so I wasn't exactly at the top of my game when it came to dealing with a medical crisis. I spent the next 1:15 trying to dig the thing out of my head. My big, clumsy, sausage fingers only succeed in pushing it deeper into my ear canal. I got a pen and tried to dig it out but all that got me was an ear full of ink marks.

I did a chant to calm myself down. As soon as I got into the city, I ran to the nearest drug store and bought a pair of Revlon tweezers, walked to an empty aisle and carefully extracted the earbud. Let that be a lesson to you.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mitzva Tank Attack!

It's passover week and that means the Mitzva Tanks are winding their way through the streets of Manhattan. They're fantastic! Mitzva Tanks are mobile homes owned by the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidism. They blast music and hang out the window and wave at stunned onlookers. Their mission is to spread good will to non-observant Jews. And you don't have to be a Jew to get a free pamphlet!

Many Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidism believe the last Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson who died in 1994, was actually the messiah.



I report this with all due respect. I believe ALL religions have their own preposterous claims. I don't find this any odder than being told that not prescribing to a specific set of beliefs will send me straight to hell, as the Christian and Muslim lunatic fringe would have me believe. Besides, how can you feel anything other than good will towards someone who drives a Mitzva Tank?! They seem so happy! I ran into these guys on my lunch break along Central Park South parading in front of the priciest hotels in the city.

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Hang around graphic design long enough and you'll realize that a good design is something that should be beaten to death. Case in point. I noticed that the Sunday New York Times Magazine had a cover graphic that looked an awful lot like the cover of the new Bruce Springsteen CD. I'm sure the chunky-white paint font look is just a weird coincidence.


Then I was walking through Times Square tonight and noticed the chunky-white paint font on a billboard, but this time with a splash of blue. That's what's called a "design innovation."


This sort of thievery has gone on for ages. Corporate logos have repeatedly used a modified Nike swoosh. It's not exactly like the swoosh, but it's born from that. There's the upward swoosh...


...the downward swoosh...


...and the swoosh on top.


Believe me, there are hundreds of examples. If you take note, you'll start to see these modified swooshes turn up everywhere. The "design innovation" for the swoosh is to use a bunch of them instead of just one.