The Unbearable Banishment: July 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Met mish mash mosh

It has come to my attention that my last few posts have been fairly dreary affairs. Musings on my advanced age, suburban ennui, the ills of our gun-toting society and scars from my youth do not make for pleasant reading. (Although my comment section has been on fire, so perhaps that's what people prefer.)

Going forward, I'll leave that stuff to Jimmy Bastard. (May he return to us soon.) As penance, I offer this photo montage of our recent trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We visited specifically to see the annual summer rooftop sculpture extravaganza, but I'll leave that for another post. Here's the flotsam and jetsam that I found in my iPhone when I got back to New Jersey.

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In this accidental perspective, John Graham's Celia seems to be patting 6-Year Old on top of her head. Noguchi's Louros is her dance partner and Calder's Mobile stands in as the mirrored disco ball. I don't think she enjoyed the museum all that much. She seemed bored at times. But I think the exposure is important. When she's older, she'll have a level of familiarity and won't feel intimidated by broad-concept art.


I asked 10-Year Old why she was taking a photo of Monet's Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies and she said she needed a new screen saver for her iTouch. The apple never falls far from the tree. That's both good and bad news for her.


Mrs. Wife and I are big advocates of getting an early start in the morning. This especially comes in handy when visiting the city. Driving through an empty Lincoln Tunnel and having entire galleries in the Met all to yourself is worth the loss of sleep. Here, 6-Year Old works out Pollock's Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) and doesn't have to peer through a thicket of legs.


We look like a set of matryoshka dolls. This is Anish Kapoor's fantastic sculpture Untitled. It's a series of hexagon mirrors that curve out into a bowl shape. Mrs. Wife can't stand in front of it for too long because it makes her nauseous. I love his stuff although I'm on the fence about his ArcelorMittal Orbit observation tower he constructed for the London Olympics.


In Morris Louis' Alpha-Pi, all roads lead to the center, so I though it'd make for an interesting shot to plant here there. It also establishes a perspective on size.


I've been reading a children's book about the story of Degas's little dancer to her for years. We must've read that damn thing dozens of times. She'd been constantly haranguing me about taking her in for a visit and this is her first look. As she gets older, wish fulfillment will become more complex.


Surrounded by The Houses of Parliament (Effect of Fog), Rouen Cathedral: The Portal and Haystacks (Effect of Snow and Sun), she is sandwiched between tens of millions of dollars worth of wood, paint and canvas by Monet. Change one letter and Monet becomes Money. If we had arrived one hour later, we wouldn't have gotten anywhere near these works because of the throngs of tourists. Early on is the way to go!

Monday, July 23, 2012

I should probably just keep this to myself

In regards to the midnight movie massacre in Colorado, I haven't seen anyone make the kind of insensitive remarks I'm about to make, but these things need to be said.

The youngest victim was a 6-year old girl. What those parents must be going through is beyond my comprehension. How do you rise above something like that? Do you ever?

However.

Have you seen any of Christopher Nolan's Batman movies? They're violent, loud, dark, scary masterpieces. Who, in their right mind, would expose a sweet, innocent 6-year old girl to a Batman movie? At a midnight screening, no less? At a running time of 2:45, that means that poor thing would have been out until the wee hours of the morning and, without a doubt, frightened out of her mind. 

Here's a quote from one of the survivors:

"Do I run out the door? Is he going to shoot the baby? What am I to do?"

This genius brought his 4-month old son to the screening. Another candidate for father of the year. I don't claim to be a better or smarter parent than anyone else. But why would you bring a 4-month old baby into a horrific environment like a Batman movie? This is what happens when children have children. They're not going to be denied their God-given right to a good time by a stupid mistake like a child.

Neither of our two heroic candidates for president, Obama and Romney, have said a word about regulating assault weapons. Just a lot of "Oh, how awful. How tragic." They're so terrified of the NRA and the well-financed, well-organized gun lobby, that they'd rather suck up to the money spout than take a stand. Two cowards. God bless Mayor Mike Bloomberg of NYC for disemboweling the gun lobby. Someone in power has to do it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My name was once a racial slur

When I was growing up, before I got married and took my wife's name, my last name was Polak. (It feels funny to type that. It’s been so many years.) It’s Polish and pronounced “poh-lahk.” The more traditional spelling for that pronunciation is “Polack.” As you might or might not know, Polack is a derogatory term for someone of Polish descent. The most common slander is “dumb Polack.” It’s no different than calling someone a kike or nigger. The only difference is that those pejoratives had better press agents.

Because of the terrible weight that word carries, my uncles all changed the pronunciation to “Pollack,” as in the painter Jackson Pollack. One of my uncles went so far as to actually change the spelling to Pollack so there would be no mistaking. But my father was a proud fool. He said the name was good enough for his father, good enough for him, so it’ll be good enough for us. I went through elementary school, junior high and high school being called by my last name. Nobody ever used my first name. Mr. Colburn, my 5th grade teacher, never once called me by my first name. I can remember when I was about 11 years old I came into an understanding of what that word meant. I could feel my ears burning when someone on the other side of the playground would yell, “Hey, POLACK!,” and I had to turn and answer because that was me. I was the Polack. You'd think you'd get used to it after a year or two. Or five. But you don't. A boy named Sue had it easier.

When I left home at 19 and joined the Coast Guard, the first thing I did was abandon the pronunciation. Thereafter, no one ever knew me as “Polack.” I was “Pollack.” When I got to New York City, I was often mistaken for being Jewish, which was fine with me. When I go back to Cleveland and see someone from the old days and am called “Polack,” it’s kind of jarring.

When it came time to get married, I had no feeling for the name whatsoever so I took my wife's name. It’s probably the only thing I’ve done that pleased my father-in-law. We were visiting my brother and sister-in-law back in Cleveland and when I informed them of my decision, my sister-in-law told me I was a renaissance man. My brother called me a big pussy.

At our wedding, when the priest introduced the new, happy couple as “Mr. and Mrs. Cxx,” you could hear an audible a gasp from the audience. Many of our guests had not been informed and they thought the priest committed a terrible gaffe. I also remember sitting at our dining room table on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and practicing my new signature. I wrote it over and over wondering, “When did I become a girl?” I realize that women have been doing this for generations, but If I had known how complicated it was I might not have done it. New passport. New social security card. Driver’s license. Credit card. Bank accounts. Utility bills. The list is endless. And how should I refer to my old name? I'm not a maiden, so it isn't my "maiden" name. They need to invent a new word.

My brother and I have a theory that when our grandfather immigrated to America from Warsaw and passed through Ellis Island, some wise guy government cog with a rubber stamp couldn’t make heads or tails of his last name — too many C’s, Z’s, Y’s and K’s — and simply said, “You’re a Polack so that’s your name.” It might or might not be true. We’ll never know for sure. He and I are the end of the lineage and since he didn't have a son and I dumped it, the name, as it relates to our family tree, is dead. An irrelevant loss to the world.

Incidentally, when my niece was born, she was given my sister-in-law’s last name. NOW who’s the pussy?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Now, I ain't a bad guy

I'm on the outside.
I don't fit into the groove.
Now I ain't a bad guy.
So tell me what am I trying to prove?


Big Man on Mulberry Street

I live in a vacuum. I feel connected to my wife and kids but I am completely disengaged from the world outside of that small microcosm. I’ve been in New Jersey for 10 years, six months and two days. That’s a hell of a long time and I don’t know anyone around  here. Make no mistake; people know me. At block parties and when I’m out walking the dog, people will greet me by name. “Hi Mark! How’s Coco?” Hi Mark! Tell [Mrs. Wife] I said hello!” I have no idea who any of these people are. I mean…I’ve seen them around and I’ve been introduced to them, but I can’t recall any of their names.

This evening I was walking the dog and two little girls, maybe 7 and 9, said “Hi Mr. Cxx!” They recognize me because of the dog, who has achieved a quasi-celebrity status in the neighborhood for her willingness to enthusiastically lick the face of any child that’s placed in front of her. Whose kids are they? What are their names? [Side note: Why do kids like that so much? One little boy will run up to us and lay in the street so Coco can lavish him with licks while he convulses with laughter. Eww.]

They all must think I’m hard of hearing. Or a snob. Or retarded. Have you heard of anyone so utterly untethered to humanity? I’m not bragging. I hate it! It’s not healthy. Like the song says, I ain’t a bad guy but I don’t fit into this groove.

Last night I saw a memorable production at Lincoln Center. Alan Cumming did a one-man Macbeth. He chewed up the stage. In the good way. He seamlessly transformed from one character to another with just a slight adjustment to his body or voice. Each character was distinct from the others. Aside from Mrs. Wife, there isn’t anyone out here who would want to sit and listen to me prattle on about a one-man Macbeth. And this does not make them shallow or uninteresting individuals. They’re great! I’m just different from them. I feel removed.

My greatest fear is that The Daughters will inherit my oddness. I just want them to have healthy relationships with the human race. Their old man can’t seem to pull it off. I hope they can.

HRH Coco of New Jersey surveying her kingdom.

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I was having my morning coffee and looked out the window and saw, what appeared to be, a van with a hole in the side and a raging fire inside. I was going to run out and pull the driver to safety. Wasn’t it going to explode?

video

Upon closer examination, I realized that what I was seeing was a reflection of the pizza oven behind me. Isn’t that weird! It was 7:00 a.m. Give me a break. Good thing I didn’t yank the driver out onto 41st Street.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I'm [censored] years old today

All of my posts include photos. I use them as a crutch because I'm not confident about my writing. But I rarely, rarely post pictures of my daughters. A blog isn't a closed environment like Facebook. It's public domain and I think caution should be exercised. And I've never posted a pic of my bride. She prefers to remain anonymous and I respect that. If I was married to me, I'd want to remain anonymous too. [Obligatory self-deprecating humor.]

The exception has been on my birthday. That would be today. I always post a photo of me and the girlies on my birthday. I've meditated on why I allow this annual indulgence and have decided it's simply my monstrous egomania. Look at me! I might as well surrender to my urges and create a Facebook page.

This is me + the younger.


She has typical second-child syndrome. Makes a lot of noise to get attention. Pleasant, until she isn't. Seems to think I'm an okay guy.

Here's me + the older.


She inherited my Barney Rubble laugh lines and Mrs. Wife's fair complexion. Also seems to think I'm a barrel of laughs. I want to mention that the gap in my front teeth isn't as prominent as it looks. The camera is lying to you. Also, I refuse to divulge my age. I am so hung up on it that it's embarrassing. Again, the overblown ego.

Here's a bonus photo of Central Park. That white building is The Plaza Hotel. This is one of the spots where I have my lunch (weather permitting). Let me tell you something...a baloney sandwich tastes a hell of a lot better when you look up and see this in front of you. You can ignore the bits of bone in the lunch meat. 


Thursday, July 5, 2012

I'll take 20th century European artists for $300

Dear Unbearable Banishment:

Repeat after me.

Giacometti


Modigliani


Giacometti


Modigliani


Jesus! Will I ever stop confusing these two? Is it just me? Don't answer that.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Nora Ephron, Superstar

Writer Nora Ephron recently passed away. Here's a screen shot of the New York Times online Arts section landing page I took a few days ago:


My God! She authored Sleepless in Seattle and a bunch of other fluff! Not the Magna Carta! Did she impact humanity in such a deep and profound way that it warrants all this coverage? Well, it is summertime right before the big 4th of July holiday, so we're in a slow news cycle. But this seems like silly overkill to me.

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I haven't done any theater posts in a long time. I've seen plenty of plays, but I'm no longer motivated to write about them. It's a subject with limited scope, methinks. I did, however, want to mention this beauty that's on my calendar:


My favorite crazy Scot, the hatchet-faced Alan Cumming, is doing a one-man Macbeth at Lincoln Center. I've said it before: GOD BLESS the National Theater of Scotland for providing New York with such great plays.

He plays ALL the characters. Lady Macbeth! For added fun it's "...set in the clinical green-tiled room of a psychiatric ward in which Cumming is the lone patient." I'd like to smoke a big fatty before seeing this. I hope it gives me nightmares for weeks to come. I saw him as the mad MC in Cabaret along with Natasha Richardson as the broken Sally Bowles. It was one of the best things I've ever seen on a stage, so my expectations are high.

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As long as I'm feeling a little catty and unpleasant.

Do you know what I like best about the sorority chippy interns at work? When they talk? Their voices rise at the end of a sentence? And everything they say? Sounds like a question?

They also use the word "like" as a comma, shoehorning it into their conversation where it's not needed or, like, relevant to what they're saying?

My other favorite tic is that their voices trail off into guttural sounds. It's a phenomena that women in their 20s display called vocal fry.

"Is fixed income a product that invests in gar gar gerr gar gaaa grrr?

"I'm sorry, what was that?

"Do fixed income investment vehicles gru grrrg gar grrr gar gar gar?

The funny thing is that once you hear it, you can't help but to focus on it. Some senior managers I work with commented on it but but little darlings seem, like, blissfully unaware.