The Unbearable Banishment: November 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ

It's a good thing we blasted a big hole in the ozone layer, otherwise we wouldn't have these spectacular out-of-season afternoons. 63 degrees? A day before December? In the northeast? It's a gift!

We visited the boardwalk in Asbury Park. It got pretty busy as the afternoon progressed, but nothing like in July. 7-Year Old Daughter brought her scooter and I brought my skateboard. We cruised up and down the boardwalk. She yelled at me again about not having a helmet. I'm Mr. Bad Example.

3-Year Old Daughter is still too young for any mode of transport other than her two feet. She demanded equal time so I carried my skateboard.

Did you hear the cops finally busted Madame Marie
for tellin' fortunes better than they do?

4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

Bruce Springsteen

Yes, there really was a Madam Marie.

Asbury Park was once the playground of Presidents but this is all that's left. It's okay. I like it just fine.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The most melancholy of Danes

I finally saw the Donmar production of Hamlet with Jude Law. Good Lord in heaven, he was fantastic. I always enter into these star vehicles with a certain degree of trepidation and doubt but this guy really delivered the goods. After a few of his more impassioned soliloquies, he was awarded, justifiably, with exit applause. And he projected that stuff all the way up to the balcony where I was sitting.

The rest of the cast was fine, but nobody touched greatness the way Law did. Polonius was exceptionally good but the guy playing the ghost of Hamlet's father reminded me of Jon Lovitz's Mahster Thespian. His arms were flailing about and his voice would rise to a too-dramatic crescendo. It was a bit much but it was a small (albeit, important) part of the play.

The fall theater season is past its peak and soon I'll be back to attending small, black box productions. Seeing a named actor on a Broadway stage is, I'm embarrassed to admit, a big thrill for me. I feel like a bit of a cheap celebrity whore.

Seeing the smaller, more intimate productions with a cast of unknown actors really allows you to cut through the bullshit and tell who is genuinely talented and who needs to keep their day job. I always feel bad for the latter.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Mr. Macy's parade

I watched the big Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade with the two daughters yesterday morning. I've been watching that parade since I was a kid.

Photo taken early morning the day before the parade.

I went to the parade many years ago. Like being in Times Square on New Year's Eve, it's something you have to do once in a lifetime. But, take my word for it, once is enough for both. My friend was carrying a brown paper bag that was making a lot of curious clinking sounds. He worked for British Air and inside the bag were small bottles of Harveys Bristol Cream sherry that he had liberated from a flight. I felt guilty drinking in front of all those families and little kids but it was windy and freezing out so I had no choice.

I remember seeing Sammy Davis Jr. on a float wearing a thick white fur coat and waving two bejeweled hands to the crowd. A gust of wind blew the Superman balloon against a streetlamp. His arm tore open and deflated. While his left arm was stretched out in front of him, fingers pointing up, up and away, his right arm fluttered behind him like a limp weeny.

Today's the Macy's day parade
the night of the living dead is on its way

with a credit report for duty call.

Green Day

* * *

8-Year Old Daughter brought "Squanto, Friend to the Pilgrims" home from school. It's the story of how Squanto, a Native American from the Wampanoag nation, taught the newly arrived Pilgrims about agriculture, hunting and basic survival skills. The first Thanksgiving took place in 1621 between the Pilgrims and 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe.

I'll bet if ole' Squanto had known that future generations of these European interlopers would decimate the Native American population with an insane scorch and burn land grab, he'd have dropped a few toxic mushroom caps into their salad course.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vanity, thy name is Unbearable

And on top of all these other really terrible things happening, I got a bad haircut! I look like a prematurely graying plucked chicken. All for $30 + $5 tip.

People who have know me for any length of time know that deep inside I am a vain little girl and that getting a bad haircut is a very serious matter. But the premature gray part doesn't bother me too terribly much, especially in light of the other current nightmares that have set down at my table and refuse to get up and leave, even though I've begged, pleaded, demanded and cajoled them to do so. Actually, I don't care if my hair turns purple. As long as it doesn't fall out. *Shudder!*

There's a saying—a curse, actually—that's frequently attributed to the Chinese:

May you live in interesting times.

Its authenticity as being Chinese is doubtful, but it's meant for your enemies, with "interesting" meaning horrible. These have been some of the most interesting days I've ever experienced. I pray to Bog Almighty that they end already and that things never, ever get this interesting for me again. Dullness is my new mantra.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We're suppose to be thankful for the good things. And I am. But I'd be a lot more thankful if certain things would go the fuck away and leave me and my family alone.

I'm the man in the box
Buried in my shit
Won't you come and save me?

I'm the dog who gets beat

Shove my nose in shit

Won't you come and save me?

Man in the Box
Alice in Chains

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My iTouch is a living entity

God, I hate exercising. It's boring, it's time consuming and, if you're doing it properly, it hurts like hell. But I'm an old dad. I started a family very late in life. [My friends back in Ohio have kids in college. I have a 3-Year old.] I owe it to The Daughters and to Mrs. Wife to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible. So I exercise. And, God, I hate it. But I have to do it for their sake.

I went out for a run today. Plugged in my earbuds, put my iTouch on shuffle and it spit out the following:

Keep Yourself Alive by Queen
Lust for Life by Iggy Pop
Father and Daughter by Paul Simon
Cure for Pain by Morphine

Dear Mr. Jobs: This isn't the first time something like this has happened. Please stop FUCKING with me, man!

* * *

Mapstew did a post congratulating Sesame Street on its 40th anniversary. I was just outside the curve and never benefited from Sesame Street, however, I remember seeing a parody of Billy Idol's Rebel Yell. It was called Rebel L and it was about the letter "L." They had an emotionally tormented punk Billy Idol Muppet and used the same camera angles and attitude as the actual video for Rebel Yell. It holds up well and it gave me a laugh.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A pack of hyenas

Over the past week or so I’ve had an illuminating assignment at A Company Called Malice, Inc. I’ve been working on a marketing thought piece on Distressed Debt investing. Finance is not my field of expertise. I don’t do content. I’m the design/layout make-it-look-pretty guy. I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about Distressed Debt investing. But what I’m reading makes my flesh crawl just a bit.

As I understand it, Distressed Debt is the opportunity to invest in companies that are in the final stages of life. They invest in companies that are faltering because of financial and/or operational difficulties. This is, on the surface, an almost benevolent act. They are giving troubled companies a cash infusion with the hopes of profiting on their recovery. What a great bunch of altar boys.

But it’s the tone of this piece and my conversations with the authors that irks me. The message is that, while it’s a damn shame that small business are failing at record rates and unemployment is above 10%, hey, fraternity brothers, let’s not weep in our beers over these losers because guess what? There’s lots and lots of money to be made on their failure. Let's not pass up an opportunity to cash in.

The piece practically celebrates the fact that we are not at the end of the current distressed cycle and stresses that there’s going to be plenty more meat and bones for the Golden Boys to pick over and profit from.

It’s a terribly cold and calloused piece, especially when you consider the fact that this is the same bunch that got us into this mess in the first place. But business is business. And while it eats at my guts just a bit to be associated with this industry, I’ve got a mortgage to pay and two children to feed, so I’ll keep my mouth shut and do what I’m told. Yessah! Whatever you say sah! I sho hopes you admires mah work.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The first cut is the deepest

We took 7-Year Old Daughter to a birthday party in Washington, D.C. It was held at a fancy bakery. The pastry chef gave a demonstration to all the girls on how to decorate a cake. They were instructed on what type of flourish each frosting tip would render. Ribbons. Roses. Flower petals. Swirls. Then, they were each given their own cake to decorate.

Art is not The Daughter’s strong suit, despite the exposure she’s had to some world-class museums. She enjoys taking it all in but, frankly, isn’t very good at producing it. Her cake was a bit of a catastrophe. She made some unfortunate shapes and blobs of frosting. The colors didn’t match and there was no order to it.

A few of the other girls, however, made splendid cakes. Especially 8-Year Old Niece, who has an uncanny talent for art that borders on macabre. Daughter took one look at the other beautiful productions, looked down at her own, and the look on her face broke my heart 10,000 times. She said, “My cake looks stupid.”

Do you remember the first time your own mediocrity was revealed to you? What could I do? I knew what she meant. I’ve had that feeling many times. I told her that her cake was beautiful but it rang hollow. Then, I said the only thing I could think of: “I love you very much.”

* * *

These pics are from a few weeks ago when Sister #2 was visiting. Contrary to popular stereotype, New Jersey isn’t ALL chemical plants. We took her to the beach but also for a walk in the forest. She took these of the two Daughters and I strolling a well-worn path through a thick woods. I like the first pic but the second one is a classic because of 3-Year Old Daughter's over-the-shoulder glance back.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Auto accident

Sister #1 was hit by a drunk driver last night. Teen niece was in the car with her. Sister spent most of the night in the hospital and, after a healthy dose of morphine, was sent home where she slept, according to her, better than she has in years. Too bad it takes morphine to do that. Niece was examined and released. Both are “okay,” thank God, but I lectured them to monitor their health because injuries can lie dormant.

The car is pretty much totaled. She was turning left and Drunky turned right wide into their lane and slammed into them. He, coward that he is, took off but someone followed him home. The police were called and a small militia showed up. The car in the driveway was generously detailed with paint from Sister’s car. The police entered the home to search for him, but he was found cowering in the bushes, reeking of alcohol. As of this writing, he is in jail.

I got this news halfway to Washington, D.C., where we drove to visit relatives. I was so consumed with the revenge fantasy of splitting this guy’s head open with an axe that I missed a turn off and got on the wrong freeway.

The penalty for this crime is far too lenient. If you drive drunk, you a child molester. You are a murderer. You eviscerate puppies. I despise drunk drivers have NEVER had any sympathy for alcoholics.

Here’s an oldie but a goodie.

* * *

Alcoholism is not a disease and I resent it being treated as such. It’s an insult to people who are actually battling a disease. Labeling it as a disease makes it sound like something you could helplessly fall victim to. Something that couldn't be avoided. Horseshit. You can’t quit cancer. You can’t quit leukemia. But you can sure as hell quit drinking. I’ve seen it done plenty of times.

I don’t know of too many diseases that will allow you to go out on a Saturday night, party your ass off and then drive head-on into a van full of kids. I’ve had alcoholics in my life and do you know what? They tend to be a bunch of big fucking babies. As soon as they stumble into a room, they have to be the center of attention and need to be indulged and mollycoddled and understood because, after all, the poor dear has a disease. If you love an alcoholic, get ready to suffer. And you will continue to suffer until he/she decides to do something about it (if ever). Or, conversely, you could leave them.

Ptuy. Fuck ‘em. Losers.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Taking leave of my senses

Yesterday, the guys and gals who occupy the lunatic fringe of the Republican party were doing the happy pee-pee dance because they won two gubernatorial elections. They’re convinced that it’s a new dawn for conservativism. If that’s true, I hope it’s a sensible brand that I can participate in and not the vitriolic hate-spewing kind that seems so popular these days. Boy, those guys are sore losers and not very gracious winners.

Then I heard Paris Hilton interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel’s show. She’s a vapid narcissist and yet she is admired by young girls. They all want to be like her.

This morning I see in the papers that the New York Yankee$, a group of blood-sucking slugs and carpetbaggers, just won the World Series. Another big eff-ewww to small-market baseball.

I’m leaving for Washington D.C. tomorrow to visit relatives. When I get back, this mess had better be cleaned up or someone is going to suffer a double-salvo of sarcastic wit. It won’t be pleasant so get on it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The first step is admitting you have an addiction. I hear.

I just got my cell phone bill. There was a dramatic spike in the amount due this month, so I started to scour the many pages in search of the error that I was certain Verizon made. I bundle my services; two cell phones, land line, cable and internet all from one provider. So the bill has taken on biblical proportions.

I found the the gaffe and it wasn't Verizon who made it. My current text message plan allows for 500 messages per billing cycle. I sent/received 1,064 messages and was billed for the overage. I asked several friends (via text message, of course) if they noticed when I turned into a 14-year old girl.

One of my oldest friends said that I am not even close to being a teen girl. He said, in all sincerity, that last month his daughter sent 9,000 text messages and received 7,000. 16,000 text messages in a single month. And according to him, that's not even a record for her! How is that physically possible? He said that kids in their early teens now communicate almost exclusively via text messaging and that he's worried about their eroding face-to-face social skills.

Guess how much it costs providers to transmit a text message? ZERO. The amount you pay for text messaging is PURE PROFIT. Text messages are sent along what’s called a control channel—space reserved for operation of the wireless network. The channel uses space whether a text message is inserted or not. Text messages are of such an infinitesimal size that sending them is inconsequential. That’s why you’re only allowed 160 characters. How do you like them apples?

Those sobering facts are quoted from this article in the New York Times.

What Carriers Aren’t Eager to Tell You About Texting

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Times Sqaure dining al fresco with a side of therapy

I had to work late again last night. It never seems to end. I walked out of the office, turned south on Madison Avenue and then west on 42nd Street, through Times Square, and towards the station. I was starring at the ground. Sulking. Missing my family. Felling sorry for myself.

I don't eat street meat very often. I like it, but it's not good for you in large doses. I save it for when I need to feel better about life and nobody is around to cheer me up. So I walked my dreary ass up to a food cart on 42nd and Broadway. Crossroads of the world.

The chef said, "Why ya blue, boss? It's a beautiful night! Have something to eat. You'll feel better." So I bought a chicken kabob on a roll with hot sauce ($4), walked to the corner, put my bag down, leaned against a street light and ate my dinner. I read the headlines on the Times Square zipper, felt the balmy breeze and watched the tourists dance through Times Square. The happy, carefree tourists. Where do they all come from? Sure enough, about halfway through my chicken kabob, I started to feel better. I wonder what he put in my sandwich?

* * *

At the gym this morning, a guy was working out in bare feet. Gross! I don't want to have to look at a pair of disgusting fungus-encrusted feet while I'm trying to exercise. I started formulating the perfect sentence to cut him down to size when he got up, casually walked over to the heavy bag that hangs from the ceiling by a big chain and gave it a series of very quick, very convincing, roundhouse kicks.


I judged the point of impact on the bag to be approximately the same level as my face.

So I spared him my sarcastic wit. This time.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Art Deco photo blast (by request)

Last week I posted a few photos of the crown of the RCA Victor building on 51st and Lexington. The top of that building is one of my favorite art deco flourishes in all of Manhattan and it is little noticed by passers by. In the comments section, Pueblo Girl suggested I post a few pics of the interior. So here they be. All are clickable.

The building went up in 1931 and contains a wealth of art deco accents. Here's the exterior at the corner of 51st.

It was deeded to GE before construction was complete and this beautiful clock was installed. It features two outstretched arms holding radio waves.

Also along the exterior are a series of fists clenching radio waves.

Here's a few interior shots. The elevators all have inlaid wood.

Here's one end of the lobby. Again, with the radio waves. Nice clock.

And here's the other end.

This is probably the most expensive, over-designed mail box in history.

In the spring, I did a post featuring interior shots of the Chrysler Building—another lovely art deco building. They are here.