The Unbearable Banishment: March 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Not ALL of Manhattan is beautified

New Yorkers constantly moan and complain about the sterilization of Manhattan. But I'm here to tell you that if you want to get that walking-down-a-dark-street-might-get-mugged good ole' days feeling again, there are still some pretty dark areas. Personally? I've had my fill.

Certain sections of 8th Avenue, particularly near the Port Authority bus station, are still kind of spooky and have spooky businesses lining the streets. Porn shops. Fortune tellers. Check cashing services. Lottery merchants. I recently passed this fine establishment on 8th and 38th. It's one-stop shopping for all your rockin' Saturday night party needs!

Liquor and chicken, baby. It doesn't get any better than that. I wonder which came first? Did the liquor store buy a fryer or did the fried chicken shack obtain a liquor license? Either way, it sounds like a real moneymaker to me. Next time I walk by I'll pick up a couple of thighs, a breast and a bottle of Captain Morgan. I really do love this dirty town.

* * *

Here's the bus driver who took us to the Orlando airport last week. He seemed like a pretty happy, normal dude. Helped us with our luggage. A regular Joe.

But his name isn't Joe. It's this:

Fantastic. That's not a bus driver name. That's a Bond villain. Or a 1970's porn star. Or the heartbreaker in a cheap soap opera.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The hardest I've ever laughed (not counting that nitrous oxide incident)

I try to use superlatives sparingly. If you use them too often, they lose their luster and your credibility is shot. Not everything can be the best or the brightest or the most clever.

But I'm going to go on a limb and say that The Book of Mormon, the new Broadway musical, is the funniest thing I've ever seen. I'm not kidding, bitches. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the guys who write South Park, got together with Robert Lopez, who wrote the music for Avenue Q and created a modern masterpiece.

I'd be very careful as to who I'd recommended this to. It's not for everyone. There are some extraordinarily vulgar and crude things being said and done on stage. The creators of the show are clearly not believers. The humor is all derived from actual Mormon doctrine. I had a Mormon girlfriend when I lived in Phoenix and I read The Book of Mormon to try and get inside of her head. The jokes in the show that seem the most outlandish and get the biggest laughs are actual teachings from the book! But the the magic trick is that they don't slander Mormons or religion. It's a celebration of blind, stupid faith.

I rarely, rarely see anything twice. If I get a night-out chit, I want to use it to see something new. But I already have tickets for another dose of this show in April. Little Miss Daisyfae will be in town on business and I'm dragging her with me. She gets her hands dirty in her local community theater, so I think she'll have an appreciation for what happens on stage from a technical standpoint. It'll be nice to show her what can be done with a monster budget at your disposal. And I'm fairly certain she can handle the blue material.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

They did that on purpose...didn't they?

Take a look at the cover of the new issue of Cosmopolitan:

PLEASE tell me that the Gyno News feature blurb is placed there intentionally. Because I don't want to believe that the editors of Cosmo are so vapid and clueless that they didn't realize what they were doing. Am I thinking too much?

Speaking of clueless...I love the lead article—50 Ways to Seduce a Man (In a Minute or Less). Don't make me laugh. Ladies, I will tell you how to seduce a man in two seconds. Walk up to your intended prey and in a soft voice, purr the following:

Would you like to sleep with me?

Presto! Men have a hard time putting up any resistance to a girl who is offering up her goodies. It's biology!

* * *

In 2010, General Electric posted a profit of $14.2 billion. The portion of that profit generated in the United States was $5.1 billion. That's profit, folks, above operating costs. A pretty damn good year considering there's a worldwide recession.

Guess how much General Electric paid in taxes on that $5.1 billion?


Not only did they not pay a cent in taxes, they actually claimed a $3.2 billion tax benefit.

They accomplished this through perfectly legal accounting practices. They employ an army of aggressive tax lobbyists in Washington and have a tax department that's staffed by former officials of the Treasury Department, the I.R.S. and members of Congressional tax-writing committees.

I cannot tell you how angry I get when I read this stuff. I actively try to avoid news of this ilk because it causes me to lay in bed at night, stare at the ceiling and stew in my juices. It's very difficult for me to un-read something.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hot Things

Hot Thing...

Barely 21.

Hot thing...

Looking 4 big fun.

Hot thing...

What's your fantasy?

Hot thing...

Do U wanna play with me?

Hot Thing
by Prince

by Disney

* * *

We met many of the Princesses at a special Princess breakfast. You have to make reservations months in advance, as it sells out quickly. During your meal, Princesses decked out in full ball gowns and surprisingly bad wigs flutter from table to table. They stop at each one, sign autograph books and have their pictures taken. I try to get them to break character but they never do. They're so committed to their roles that it's almost a bit creepy.

For the kiddies, it's their first celebrity encounter. It's like if you were eating in a restaurant that served mediocre food and Robert De Niro or Madonna walked up to your table to chat for a moment. Or if President Obama asked you if you were enjoying your eggs.

It costs a lot of money to hang out with royalty. This was the most expensive breakfast I'd ever purchased. It's an ordinary American breakfast; scrambled eggs, bacon, juice, potatoes and, for mom and dad, two cups of strong coffee. Breakfast for two adults and two daughters:

This is the mantra that is repeated over and over as you navigate through Disneyworld:

My memories began with that check.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It was three years ago today...

Number of online followers:

Lady Gaga: 8,934,958

Justin Bieber: 8,295,699

Britney Spears: 7,192,143

President Obama: 7,101,148

The Unbearable Banishment: +/- 55 118

Three years and 711 posts. Telling the truth as I see it since 2008.

* * *

I am just back from Disneyworld. I enjoyed it vicariously through The Daughters, but would not choose to go there if I didn't have kids. I *did* see a few childless adults there. To each his/her own, I suppose.

I am going to refrain from the obligatory and obvious "Americans who visit amusement parks are out of shape" post because, despite outward appearances, I am a deeply flawed and troubled individual. Judging is not my business. And besides, I saw lot of people who were jogging in the morning, as well.

I will note, just in passing, that I saw some people who were so physically broken and so obviously beyond any kind of redemption, that I wonder where they find the strength to get out of bed in the morning and face the day, much less go through the expense and hassle of getting to Disneyworld. It didn't make me feel superior, as it might have when I was younger and less evolved. I just felt waves of sadness for them.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

It started out small but grew very big

While I'm in Orlando riding the Disney buses from one resort to the other, here's my monthly column in the Undie Press on collecting rare books. This time, I discuss a literary journal that had humble origins but is now a publishing powerhouse. Along the way, I reveal the source for all my best ideas and quips. Hint: they're not exactly original.

* * *

We went to a luau tonight and between the main course and the Polynesian fire dance, the woman sitting next to me whipped out her tit and breastfed her infant. If I were a more evolved individual it wouldn't have bothered me but, I'm sorry, it did.

* * *

I usually keep close tabs on world events but it's hard when you're on a holiday. I got back to the hotel this evening and saw that the West has dropped a shitload of tomahawk missiles on Muammar el-Qaddafi's ass. The New York Times is reporting that he's using women and children to shield his compound.

Did you know that the Arab League went to the United Nations and asked them to intervene? Once again, the Arab world is incapable of taking care of its own.

Question: Why doesn't the Arab League mass an army on the outskirts of Tripoli and march in?

Answer: Because we're addicted to oil so they don't have to. They're crafty.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another day on your knees in the salt mine

On my lunch hour, I visited the Mary Boone Gallery in Chelsea to see performance artist Terence Koh's latest work, nothingtoodooterencekoh. In it, a (supposedly) 45 ton pile of rock salt was dumped into the center of the gallery and Koh circumnavigates the pile ON HIS KNEES from the time the gallery opens until it closes. It's madness.

Some performance art is quite lovely to behold but I was going there to laugh at him. It seemed like a pretentious stunt. I don't know what it was supposed to signify. I NEVER know what it's supposed to signify. I don't do subtlety My judgments are all very base. Is it pretty to look at? I was sure that this was not.

There is no interaction with the audience. He has taken a vow of silence for the length of the run. Sometimes, he lays prostate on the floor in front of the pile. Initially, he was crawling on his knees without the aid of knee pads but he had to give that up because it was tearing his knees up.

As I said, I was going there because I thought the concept was a big joke. But a funny thing happened. Once there, I got swept up in it and it was actually quite beautiful. I can't explain it! The pile of salt was a perfect, perfect inverted cone with a sharply defined edge. His white garments seemed to mesh with the salt. The only light was the light that poured in from the skylight. There were about a dozen people there and they were all respectfully silent. There was something very calming about watching the whole thing and I didn't want to leave but I had to get back to MY pile of rock salt.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The goodbye look

Disneyworld is pretty much the last thing that comes to mind when I think of taking some time off and going away on a relaxing holiday. But then I get this:

I know what happens.
I read the book.

I believe I just got the goodbye look.

So that pretty much settled that. I'm going to Disneyworld. I just got an e-mail from a friend who is, as this very moment, vacationing in Venice. It was a lifetime ago that I saw Italy and it'll be another lifetime until I can return. Until then, I'm off to the happiest place on earth. So help me Bog, it had better not rain. Not for the kind of money I had to burn.

Won't you pour me a Cuban breeze, Gretchen?

* * *

Last Sunday, The New York Times printed their semi-annual fashion magazine, T. This was the spring issue. It's thick and glossy and nothing but ads, really.

One spread featured Lou Reed wearing a Rick Owens jacket ($1,602), t-shirt ($286) and pants ($750).

Lou Reed!

Wearing a friggin' $286 t-shirt!

I guess I'm glad for Lou because he certainly did earn it, but it makes me kind of sad, too. When I was a tyke, I saw Lou tour his Sally Can't Dance album at Cleveland's Music Hall. He had platinum blond hair. At the beginning of the show, someone walked a dazed Lou out to the mike at center stage, strapped a guitar on him and he stood rooted in that spot for the entire show. But he got through it!

Now he's a model.

Okay. As Bukowski put it, scramble two.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Free tip from the Buddha/Baby, it's cold outside

"Look how he abused me and beat me,
"How he threw me down and robbed me."

Live with such thoughts and you live with hate.

"Look how he abused me and beat me,

"How he threw me down and robbed me."

Abandon such thoughts and live in love.

In this world

Hate never yet dispelled hate.

This is law,

Ancient and inexhaustible.

You too shall pass away.

Knowing this, how can you quarrel?

from the Dhammapada

I suppose this can be dismissed as a platitude, but it got under my skin and stayed with me. In reading it over and over, I revealed an unattractive truth about myself. It's something I'm working on.

* * *

I had to stay in the city overnight so I got a hotel room. When I walked out the next morning at 6:30, I turned onto 57th Street and was hit with a blast of frigid crosstown wind. The Hudson River to my left, the East River to my right. Caught in the crossfire!

I simply can't take the cold anymore. It's been a long, cold winter. I fought my way eastward to the A train against a wind gust that stung my ears and made my eyes water. I lost it. I had a moment of insanity and started cursing God. I called him the most vile and foul things I could think of. Take it from me. I can be pretty imaginative.

To remedy this I am exercising the only option I have. I'm playing the Disney card. I'm taking all The Girls to Florida next week. So help me God, if the weather is bad when we get there, I'm going to find the nearest Catlick Church, kick the door in and give the Holy Father a piece of my mind. I'm not kidding.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Statue. Gesundheit! [get it?]

The annual Armory Art Show took place this past weekend. It's a big contemporary art fair that the Manhattan galleries look forward to with great anticipation but it's something that I've never attended. Not once! In celebration of the show, Times Square was transformed into a sculpture garden. Here are a few examples. All photos are clickable. Make sure you click on that first one to see the detail.

This big boned gal is by Niki de Saint Phalle. You can't tell but she was kind of sparkly. Water streamed out of those upturned jugs.

This oversized happy mouse is the work of Tom Otterness. His stuff is so clever. It's playful. He makes something as hard as steel look soft.

He had a wealth of permanent fixtures in Manhattan that include playgrounds, subway stations and a hotel on 42nd Street. I've got a bunch of photos of his stuff and have been meaning to do a post.

This flock of sheep was grazing right outside the big Marriott.

They were hand-made from heavy paper by Brooklyn artist Kyu Seok Oh.

I was wondering if the whole flock of sheep/gaggle of tourists thing was an intentional metaphor. I hope not. That would be a bit of an insult. We need our tourists. Without tourists, this town would be about as special as Enid, Oklahoma.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Idiot x 2

This pic accompanied a story in The New York Times about Bob Porbert, a member of the Detroit Red Wings who passed away last July at age 45.

An autopsy revealed that repeated blows to the head caused a degenerative brain disease. Probert was an "enforcer." An enforcer, for the uninitiated, is a guy on a hockey team who will skate out onto the ice and beat the shit out of someone in order to intimidate the other players or payback an opponent who has fouled his team. A 2007 Hockey News poll rated him the "Greatest Enforcer in Hockey History."

Bill Daly, deputy commissioner of N.H.L., commenting on the autopsy report, said he thought the findings were "interesting science" but, at this time, couldn't recommend taking any steps to address excessive fighting.

Hockey will always be a bush-league, second rate sport until they clean up this mess and get rid of idiots like Bill Daly. And the scariest part of that photo isn't the blood. It's the look on that kid's face.

Speaking of idiots.
* * *

I saw Green Day's American Idiot, currently at the St. James. It has had a pretty successful run but I had mixed feelings about it.

The music was, of course, great, which comes as no surprise since I already know and like the album. The performances were good enough. A lot of pseudo-punk Broadway kids. The staging and lighting was genius. There was an wholly unexpected hallucinatory dream/flying sequence between a wounded Iraq war vet and a veiled Middle Eastern dancer, that was beautifully rendered. It whetted my appetite for Spider-man.

But, Holy Mother of God, what were they all so angry about?! The play starts and everyone is very, very pissed but you're never given any context as to why. I think it's because they live in the suburbs or they hate Republicans or they're angry at their their step-dads but I'm not entirely certain. I thought the choreography was amateurish. :90 minutes of fist pumping, head bobbing and foot stomping does not a dance make.

Most surprising of all, I had no idea the show was so damn dreary. I like a little dramatic ebb and flow to my plots. This thing was one long ride straight to hell without a breather. So I don't know what all the fuss is about. I think I must be the wrong demographic.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Not Scarface

I've received a few random comments and e-mails inquiring about the status of the wound on my forehead from when I had a small piece of skin cancer cut out a few weeks ago. [Strong content. View discretion is advised.]

I haven't written about it because there's no story. I had a cracker jack dermatologist who was a whiz kid with the needle and thread. A true star! People assured me that I'd be scared for life and that I should have had a plastic surgeon in the room to sew up the wound. I was further assured that I would need a skin graft to fix that mess. I got all worked up. People are such busy-bodies.

Well, as you can see, I have practically NOTHING to show for all that agony. (And, believe me, it was a horrific experience. Sewing the wound shut was a violent act!)

I have to confess (perhaps foolishly) that I am deeply disappointed. I wanted a big, prominent scar. I've spent my whole life looking like a goddamn actuary accountant. I wanted a scar in the hope that it would toughen-up my look a bit. Like I fought off ninja assassins or something.

I had to walk around the city with a thick bandage on my forehead for two weeks after the operation. When people asked what happened, I told them that I got it the night Voldemort murdered my parents. It was fun! Perhaps I'll go back and insist that he reopen the wound and restitch it in a more careless, less professional manner.

I was commenting to Mrs. Wife that perhaps the scar won't tan and that it would become more prominent in the summertime. She callously reminded me that too much sun is what got me into this mess in the first place and that, henceforth, I would be wearing a hat to the beach. What a killjoy.