The Unbearable Banishment: December 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

Look what they've done to our baby!

Here is fluffy, cuddly, cute-as-a-teddy Coco:

Here's the same dog after we picked her up from our insane dog groomer:

Sweet Mother of Jesus! I simply cannot stop laughing. Just look at the humiliated, "How could you do this to me?" expression in her eyes. Every time I hear "Shut up, Dad! It's not funny!" I laugh harder. Hang in there, Coco. I know what it's like to suffer a bad haircut. It'll grow back. But that's cold comfort today.

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Katie Holmes is my new pretend girlfriend. For a long time, Mary Louise Parker was my pretend girlfriend. Mary Louise has the pretty face and girl-next-door looks I swoon over. I saw her in a few plays. Sat damn close to the stage, too. On more than one occasion, we made eye contact. I’m sure of it. We had a moment of mutual understanding. I was hers. She was mine. It's no matter that she had a baby with that barbarian Billy Crudup. That boy. That oaf. We still had an understanding about each other.

I once had a brief flirtation with Marisa Tomei. She tried to steal me away from Mary Louise. Same modus operandi. We locked eyes when she was on stage and I sat in the second row. It was an electric moment. For a while after that, all I thought about was being with Marisa. But I went back to Mary Louise. Crudup abandoned her for bony old Claire Danes. While she was pregnant, no less! I couldn’t abandon her, too.

But I’m sorry, Mary Louise. I just saw Katie Holmes in a play and I belong to her now. What a face! I love her crooked little smile. Her button nose. We couldn't lock eyes because I sat in row P. I had to use my theater binoculars to even see her eyes. But the feeling was absolutely electric, absolutely present in the house and absolutely correct. She is mine.

Her hair is long now. Did you know!? Three quarters of the way down her back. Throughout the play, her hair was in a ponytail. In the last scene, she wanted to make her desire known to some idiot boy on stage, so she whipped off her ponytail band and fluffed her hair through splayed fingers. She shook it out and although it didn’t happen in slow motion, that's how I replay it in my mind’s eye. I think she did that just for me. Don’t you?

I was so smitten that it wasn't until an hour after the final curtain that I realized the play wasn't very good. Her acting was serviceable if not, dare I say?, a bit flat. That evening, they had announced an early closing date due to mixed-to-poor reviews and declining ticket sales, which would account for the dispirited performances.

Earlier in the day that rag, the New York Daily News, splashed across its front page the fact that Tom Cruise was dating some hatchet-faced skank who lives out in Queens. They made a big deal out of him dating someone “…right in Katie’s back yard!” That, plus the early closing of her play? She needs a sympathetic ear. Someone to bring her a cup of hot cocoa with a marshmallow on top.

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Happy New Year, bitches! At 6:40 a.m., Times Square was already in semi-lockdown mode. As usual, I'll be hiding under my bed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The holiday is over. Crankiness is back in vogue.

Just look at this hipster half-wit.

Manhattan is choking with guys like this. There were plenty of empty seats available. In fact, I was the only other person in the coffee shop. But he sat on the floor, displaying his maximum casual-cool, and yammered into his mobile at full-throated volume. ["Did you see what I wrote about her? Well...she said that thing about ME!"] I sat down at 6:50 a.m. to enjoy my morning cup of bad medicine and he went on in this manner until 7:45. Who spends an hour talking on a mobile phone?! My ear hurts after :10 minutes. Por qué? Por qué I ask you?! I know the answer. Because the universe is conspiring against me. Against humanity. But, like Christina Aguilera, I won't let it bring me down. I'll rise above the aggravation to the best of my ability.

Same coffee shop, different morning. Look at this poor old General. He bought one of those wedge devices that tilt your laptop keyboard towards you, making it easier to type, but he's using it backwards. So sad.

If he thought he had carpel tunnel before, just wait about six weeks. He won't be able to grip that coffee cup to his right.

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I tried on two separate occasions to see Christian Marclay's award winning The Clock—once when it played in a Chelsea art gallery and again when it was at Lincoln Center. On both occasions, the lines were so long that I couldn't get in. It just started a six-week run at MoMA and I was finally successful.

The Clock is a movie that's 24 hours long. It's made from thousands of brief excerpts from movies dating back to the silent era. In each clip—some just a few seconds long, others a minute or two—a clock appears or a specific time is mentioned. It's either prominently displayed or somewhere in the background. The conceit is that the time displayed the movie is the exact time that you're watching the film. You can, literally, set your watch to the film. It's pretty brilliant stuff. As the scenes whiz by, you get to feel like a big smarty-pants if you can identify the movie clip. MoMA is sponsoring 24-hour screenings on the weekends.

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We got 11-Year Old Daughter a phone. It's not a smart phone. She's too young for the internet. She can text and phone her friends. She is absolutely giddy over it. A fountain of happiness. Here's her first text message to me, sent while I was at work:

Do you know what I love about this? I love that she used "as well" instead of the more pedestrian (albeit, grammatically correct) "too." It sounds richer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The ho-ho-ho-ness of New York City

I can't believe Christmas is less than a week away! The season flew by, much to my utter dismay. I like the holiday season very much and will be sad to see the lights and spangles come down. Here a brief photo montage of 5th Avenue.

This is the jeweler Harry Winston. Nice color palate here, don't you think? Quietly stated.

As long as we're on jewelers, this is Bulgari with a sparkly serpent wrapped around the building.

Here's a brief video. I wanted you to see the dazzling eyes. 

Sticking with the jewelers, this is Cartier. This is always my favorite. They wrap the building with a big, red bow. It looks like a pretty package. 

Needs no introduction. The 30 Rock tree is usually photographed dead-on and full-framed. I was trying to find an atypical angle that accentuates the art deco design of the building and treats the tree as an ornamental accessory.

Even the homeless dude on 5th and 49th gets into the act! I have absolutely no idea where he plugs his tree in. I gave him a couple of bucks and asked permission to take a picture. It seemed like the right thing to do.

Mrs. Wife, The Daughters and I wish you and your family a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Thanks, very much, for reading over the past year. I should probably be more Zen and detached about all this but the fact is I really enjoy writing and taking photos and it means a lot to me when people stop by. Come to NYC in 2013 and I'll buy you a tony cocktail at a place with a magnificent view! I'm a pretty good tour guide, as some fellow bloggers will attest to. I come with references.

He looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a word, that three or four good-humored fellows said, "Good morning, sir! A merry Christmas to you!" And Scrooge said often afterward, that of all the blithe sounds he had ever heard, those were the blithest in his ears.
Mine, too.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Shadow Hallucinations

Take a look at this bit of fun that's on display in MoMA's atrium until the end of the year. Seemingly rational, mature adults are dancing and flailing their limbs in front of a giant lightbox.

This installation is Shadow Monsters by British artist Philip Worthington. Before throwing a shadow up against the wall, it's first filtered through some custom Java script and physics software. This is the result:

Not only are the images distorted, but motion-generated sounds are added to include chirps, grunts, squeaks and, best of all, great, wallowing belches.

Groups of people are fun to watch because they generate the most noise, but there's a beauty and elegance to watching a lone dancer.

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In honor of the holiday season, The American Atheist organization erected this billboard just north of Times Square.

This is pretty inflammatory stuff and it's going to offend a lot of people. Some poor mom and pop just want to bring the kiddies to Radio City to watch the Rockettes high-kick. They turn the corner and get smacked with this. The next thing you know, the kids are asking a lot of questions.

The atheists aren't going to win any converts this way. Aside from the name-calling, they've mixed up their holidays. It looks like they're referring to Easter. My initial reaction was a surprise to myself. Instead of passing judgment on the appropriateness of the message or sparking an internal debate over whether or not God exists, I was overwhelmed with a sense of pride that I live in a democracy. You'd never get away with something like this if you lived in China or the Middle East. Can you imagine if you put up a big billboard implying that Allah is a myth?! You'd get chopped up into tiny morsels.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

You haven't changed a bit

Edit: I was dissatisfied with the quality of the Bergdorf window pics so I replaced them with better ones and included a few detailed shots. Quality control!

Not long ago, I reread Lolita. When I first read it in my 20s, I found it to be a well-written, comedic romp across America. Now that I have an 11 year old daughter, I didn't think it was so goddamn funny. Mostly, I was mortified that I once laughed at it. At a recent appearance by author Zadie Smith, I related that story to her and asked if she was a "one-and-done" kind of reader or if she revisited books from her youth. She said it's important to reread books from time to time. She teaches the same titles in her class each semester (she's a Lit professor at NYU) and gets something new out of them each time. They're completely different stories when you're older. For her, a subsequent reading of Middlemarch revealed Dorthea to be a bit of a whiner!

I've been putting off rereading To Kill a Mockingbird for decades. Long-time readers know that if it weren't for that book, I wouldn't be the man I am today. I wouldn't be typing these words and probably never would have lived in New York City. I'd be something more tragic and sad. I once wrote as much to Harper Lee and she immediately responded with a heartfelt note of thanks. I didn't want to reread Mockingbird because I was afraid that, over the decades, I had blown it up to mythical proportions in my mind's eye. What if it wasn't all I remembered it being? What if it was merely good and not life changing? Wouldn't that degrade an important memory? That can happen, you know.

I finally pulled it off my shelf last week. I got 18 pages in and Scout said this:
...I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.
Look, I don't know about you guys, but that really floored me. I sat there in my idiot silence and read those lines over and over again. What a relief. I might write another note to Ms. Lee.

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We decorated our Christmas tree over the weekend. Look where 6-Year Old Daughter hung my Shakespeare ornament:

Everybody sing!

William the red-cock playwright
Had a very shiny...okay that's enough of that.

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Here's another holiday snapshot for you. This is the elegant Peninsula Hotel. It's a neo-Italian renaissance tower that was built in 1905 on 5th Avenue and 55th Street.

To me, these decorations are quietly stated. Wait 'till you see what else is on 5th Avenue. Some of it isn't very quiet. Or elegant.

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Here are a couple of holiday windows at Bergdorf Goodman. Strangely, they have nothing whatsoever to do with the holiday. The theme is jazz-era/art deco and while lacking in ho-ho-ho-ness, they're pretty impressive, just the same. You should click on these and blow them up. They're interesting. This first one should appeal to the white-plumed fetishist in your life.

This beauty has a bizarre Tim Burton quality to it. Best of all is her pinched, Kewpie doll face. I wonder what they're selling? It can't be the clothing.

This one is the best of the bunch. A high society jazz band. The display was mounted up against the wall so that your view is looking down on them. Pretty brilliant. When I lived in downtown Brooklyn, I had a kitchen floor that looked just like that.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

House of Worship

I attended a jewelry party in Manhattan last week. It was held in someone's apartment. It's quite common. Not too far removed from the Tupperware parties of the 1950's. You invite your friends to a party and proceed to sell them your products. Or you host a party and receive a generous discount or free merchandise.

In this case, it was the latter. One of my oldest friends—someone I met when I first moved to New York—invited me to her girlfriend's jewelry fête. She knew I couldn't buy anything but we hadn't seen each other in quite some time. I can count my close, long-term friends on one hand and she's one of them. It was great to see her. We can go long periods of time without hearing from one another and once we're together, we pick up the thread of our last conversation as if we just spoke yesterday. It's magic.

The apartment was on Broadway and 10th Street. It was in a building I've walked passed thousands of times. I've always wondered what it would be like to live there. It's in a perfect location. Only three blocks to The Strand bookstore. Four to Union Square park. The East Village one block east. A delicious slice of the town.

They have a balcony and because it was so freakishly balmy for a December evening, we took our glasses of vino outside to catch-up. We dished on our families and relationships. Her dog, Buddy, just passed away and she was sad. I did a post about Buddy once. He kept chasing porcupines and ending up with a quill facial. Each time it happened it cost her $400!

The apartment was on the 8th floor. In my delusional apartment fantasy, I've changed my mind about what to demand from the real estate agent. I will no longer insist on a unit above the 30th floor. I've decided that being closer to the street is the thing to do. Too high up and you miss out on all this fantastic detail.

Just look at this balcony view. My God, how some people get to live. This is looking north up Broadway to Union Square with Grace Church on the right. The ornamental floodlights pouring down are on the roof of the building across the street.

 The light spills into the church courtyard creating creepy renaissance shadows. In the distance, steam rises off the crown of the Zeckendorf Tower. The blue clock tower is the ConEdison building on 14th Street. Were this mine, I would take my New York Times out onto the balcony each Sunday morning with my coffee. This is my idea of a house of worship. From the horrified looks on their faces, you'd think the other guests had never seen a grown man weep.

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Here's another festive holiday snapshot for you. GIANT RED BALLS in a fountain across the street from Radio City Music Hall. Everything in this town is oversized. Ornaments. Egos. Problems. Everything. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Defective (cont'd)

This past week there was a gigantic lottery payout here in the U.S. The jackpot was a staggering $588 million. Over half a billion dollars! I didn't buy a ticket. I like to fancy myself a super sophisticated student of the odds and at, literally, 175,000,000 to 1, I felt it was a boorish bet to make. I won't even lay 35 to 1 at a roulette table.

While on my arduous commute home, past the petroleum refineries and chemical plants of northern New Jersey, I did what every red blooded American did. I stared out the window into the dusk and imagined what it would be like to suddenly win that preposterous amount of money. My first thought was, of course, no more life-sucking hours spent commuting. The second was the cliché palatial apartment overlooking Central Park. "Please don't show me anything below the 30th floor," I would instruct the real estate agent.

Then, very quickly, my mind drifted towards all the trouble it would cause. The relentless phone calls and pleadings for help. The whacked-out investment schemes and long, lost family, friends and ex-colleagues who would emerge from the mist of my intentionally forgotten memories. The unrelenting tsunami of temptations and guilt.

Do you see what I did there? I took a fortuitous event like winning the national lottery and immediately fashioned it into something bleak. I turned it into a problem. What the hell's the matter with me? I don't understand how my mind works sometimes. I lead a pretty decent life. From what deep, dark crevice does all this angst emanate from?

Do you know the plot device in the Harry Potter novels whereby memories and thoughts can be extracted and shared? In the films, those thoughts and memories are depicted as long, sparkly, glistening threads. I'll bet my thought strands would be brown and dripping with rust.

Not every post can be pizza commentary, casino hijinks and theater boasts. Nor should they be.

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Self portrait #7. The Canine and I are getting along much better. I haven't been bitten or seriously growled at in quite some time. Just in a playful way.  Still, if I were a wizard, I'd dramatically slice the air with my wand and turn her into a cat.

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City sidewalks, busy sidewalks.
Dressed in holiday style.
It's Christmas time in the city.

Here's the first of several holiday shots of the city. I love Christmas for purely secular reasons. The town gets all gussied up like a cheap, glittery, 10-cent transvestite. People are genuinely nicer to one another and I like the music. I'm not even bothered by the holiday throngs that residents constantly complain about. If you hate crowds so much, why the hell did you move to New York City in the first place, you idiot? Go live in Omaha. I hear they have room to breath. Merry Christmas!