Thursday, December 24, 2009

Releasing the Aughts

So many people are ready for not only a new year, but for a new decade.

Let’s do it.

A new decade without a Bush or a Cheney, without stolen elections, without the trauma of a terrorist attack on New York City, without the horror of Katrina, without the stupidity of greed. Goodbye, that.

I, personally, am releasing fear and worry, along with the aughts.

Have a lovely time, these last few days of the first decade of the new millennium. And then release the whole mess.

On a much more positive note, there were so many great things that happened in the aughts---and those things, personal and professional, well, they’ve been built upon and they are still with me. That’s the good thing about good things. They seem to stay and grow.

And now, time for lightness and love and ease. And some money.

See you in 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Avatar--It's time.


This film was made for you and me. War movie, for tree huggers.

Okay, listen, this is not an original story, but it is timely. This particular fable works. The hero goes native and finds out what real truth and real love is. Plus, there is the whole tree of knowledge thing going on and the aboriginals completely in tune with their planet because they are their planet. And they send those greedy gusses back to Earth, the “Sky People” who came looking to mine the planet’s unobtainium—It’s an environmental flick. With war. Some of it is so on-the-nose Anti George Bush, you wince. But then I imagined Cameron saying, “I don’t think people are that smart. I’m just going to serve it straight up.” Sure, why not?

We must respect mother earth.

Performances were fine. Characters broad. Sigourney pounding through it. Whatever. It is not about that.

What they have been saying, what every journalist has been saying is true. This is 3D in a way that finally works and this is a whole new experience. You watch this movie with the special glasses and it really is a three dimensional experience. At first it might nauseate you, but then you get used to it. (Maybe similar to how people first felt when they began taking commercial flights.)

It is so beautiful. It’s generated, yes, the other world. All of it. But the expressions are human. Culled performances from real actors. They are only going to get better at this technology. Then one day, Glenn Close can just act in front of a camera in her living room and they will capture it for the computer Glenn later on.

Strange stuff. But now, the movie industry can explode again. You can’t watch this 3D stuff at home. Well, maybe they will make it so you can. But for now, the best chance of having a good 3D experience is to go to a big ol’ timey movie theatre.

Sure, you could get all upset about this latest trend. Change is tough. But we can handle it.

Back to Avatar. Hats off to all. You just have to go see it. It’s history. It replaces Star Wars. It’s a big turn in the road. Go. It’s just one-of-those-things in life you have to see to stay current. But out of all those one-of-those-things, this one is something else.


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Monday, December 21, 2009

Some Christmas Ham

Christmas is here. Who doesn’t feel a little insane and vulnerable? A blizzard up the coast. Bank accounts echoing that hollow sound. Health care hanging on like a precarious ornament, hooked at the tip of a bough, waiting to be pushed closer to the trunk of the tree. Unemployment in the double digits. Divorce rates surging. Depression, anxiety, and all these war movies! ENOUGH!

And it is even harder for those who have sensitive constitutions.

(Side note: My tombstone is going to read: MY SINUSES NEVER FELT BETTER!)

What remains, always, is the human spirit. Though it may not be perfect, in fact, since it is completely imperfect (and often given over to addiction, need, self destruction and showiness), I give you, well, Judy. Let her take on all your fears and tribulations. Why not? She’s already dead and she can’t feel a thing.

So, put down that fifth of whiskey, stop your worrying, for at least three minutes, and give it up for some Christmas-Judy-toward-the-end. (Thanks, Jeff.) You know you’re way better off than she was, even though she was way more talented than you. Be grateful.

Merry Krissmax.

2010 is your year.

Yours in all,

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Strike-Boycott-Call it What You Will

Let’s go on Strike.

People are outraged. I am outraged about the healthcare plan because, let’s face it, without any sort of government plan, what on earth is going to keep insurance companies from ratcheting up their premiums? Nothing.

For profit means for profit.

I do not see how a company that is for profit is going to make anything better for us, at all.

I say we thumb our noses at the Insurance State of Connecticut and strike. We can stop paying our premiums, ask our employers to pull us out of their plan, throw our COBRAS to the Mongooses. You get enough people who refuse to be a part of this mess, say a cool 20 million, the system will collapse.

And collapsing this current system is the way to go.

40 Million people do not have healthcare right now. If we can get that number up to 60 million or even better, 100 million, the healthcare economy will surely collapse.

In all good conscience, I would not ask anyone with dire health problems to drop their medical insurance, but everyone else? Drop it. Get out. WE the PEOPLE can simply speak by not handing over our dollars.

Why let these companies take us hostage?

Let’s collapse it.

Not Much Fanfare

And maybe that’s a good thing.

They passed a law in the city of Washington D.C. (for those of you who do not know, that is the capitol of the United States), that allows gay couples to get married.


The big take on it is, “First place south of the Mason-Dixon Line that allows gay marriage.”

That’s the spin?


But this is why maybe this is a good thing. The federal government will get used to seeing Bruce and Steve married, Heather and Theresa, married. And, with the health care shenanigans still going on, well, clearly, we have such huge fish to fry.

The Conservatives hate change…but they do not have an endless supply of fight in them. By the time I’m walking around with a cane, there will be nationwide gay marriage, everywhere except for maybe Utah and South Carolina.

And when Utah and South Carolina finally accept it (by the Feds, I am sure), there will be very little fanfare and all this stupidity will have been a waste of time.

Such an endless fight to gain rights.

As Tina Turner once sang, “I don’t wanna fight no more.”

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shall I Head to Connecticut with My Wood Chipper?

Joe Lieberman is hard to stomach. I do wish he would disappear.

Of course, it is easy to get riled up by one man. One does want to direct one’s frustration toward a scapegoat. I will take personal responsibility for my dark feelings. It is easier to hate Joe than it is to face my own healthcare disappointments.

I will not go to Connecticut to chip Joe. I will have to suck it up. That’s what Joe wants.

Should they call his bluff? Is there not any other senator they can find to get that 60th vote?

Joe—wipe off that smirk.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Up in the Air On the Fence

We saw it. Up in the Air.

Times Square.

Got in on that good WGA free pass.

This is the thing. It is to be applauded because they made a movie about adults. What it is to be certain kinds of adults.

But it is to be booed a bit because, well, it is dullish. Or should I say Dulles?

Friends, George Clooney as Ryan Bingham is the guy, you know, the guy who can’t commit. And when he finally learns it’s a good thing to get close to someone (through some of the most obvious sequences in recent cinematic history), well, why do it?

Why do this movie?

I do not know.

The sad backdrop of people being fired—sad. Strange, though, you do become accustomed to experiencing them as the set pieces that they are. Maybe that is the point?

Alienated guy causing misery as he goes by.

Anyway, nothing really new here. Which is fine. But nothing much new in execution, either. Which is fine. But nothing much new in character or dialogue. Which is fine. And… I have run out of Which is fines.

You want to like this movie. You do. You just want to. Because it’s George and all. Vera Farmiga as the gorgeous emotionally empty equitable counterpart and Anna Kendrick as the young one with a thing or two to learn/teach, are both wonderful. Jason Bateman, always a good sleeze. Amy Morton and Melanie Lynskey are fabulous sisters of Ryan Bingham, great actors. You want to love this movie for the actors. You do. I love the actors. I want to yell Bravo to them all. Smart, on performances.

But, I have to say, I saw it all coming at me, like a Boeing 727 into a hoary hay bale.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Put Upon Paula

Let’s not be Put-Upon-Paulas this year.

Sure, there’s the feeling, “The economy is getting better. I’ve been denying myself and everyone else for far too long. Let’s buy some shit for Christmas!”

Really, you don’t need any of it.

Maybe the underwear. Maybe the frying pan.

Maybe the new dog collar if the old one is completely greasy and frayed.

Why fill that Target basket with all that shiny plastic?

How about just some modeling clay and a bit of yarn? Enough.

I love Christmas mostly because I do not like the sun. Long, dark days are cozy days.

Let’s sit, our hands empty, our tree with its minimal, wonderful items stuffed under its branches and watch the sun go down at 4:15 and hark, “Now I can see!”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Precious and Sinus

With the success of the novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which, for those of you who don’t know, is a mashup of Jane Austen’s P&P with a Zombie story, I thought it might be time to review Precious (thank you WGA screeners) with an interspersed, detailing of my sinus suffering.

Precious, based on the novel, Push, by Sapphire is a great movie, if you like pain, and I do. I can tolerate a great deal of pain. It is only when I am not in pain that I become neurotic, thus, looking for pain at every turn, or at least excitement.

This past week in Los Angeles, which was for the celebration of our good friends who are now, in their mid-forties, pregnant with twins, afforded us ample opportunity to stay in the houses of friends. Cats. Pillows with dust mites. Packs of Camel Wides. Various garden variety drugs used to induce a festive feeling. Pressure changes. Jet trips. And improper eating. These, combined with my propensities, led to infection. Allergy sufferers really should not leave the house.

Precious had to leave her house. Her father was fucking her. (Though, he had already left the house). Her mother was beating her. (Who had no intention of ever leaving her house). And her two product-of-incest children certainly needed a new life, if not, also, some fresh air. Through a great alternative schooling program, Precious moves on. Very Oprah. Very good. The movie, really, is very good, if, at times, hard to understand.

I feel abused by my immune system. I was simply born. Out of a birth canal came I…with some DNA passed onto me from my exceptionally runty, sick Sicilian grandfather.

Mo’nique will certainly get an Oscar for her portrayal as the most horrible, most uneducated, mostest meanest bitch on earth. She pulls it off. She even tries to kill her daughter by throwing a television at her, down a flight of stairs. It’s very over the top and you believe it.

Though it seems a bit over the top, I rinsed out my head two to three times each day for four days with Neilmed Sinus Rinse, and when I returned to New York, a good double daily steaming with my Vicks Personal Steam Inhaler . I am in control of my body.

Having never lay claim to her physical being, Precious had to learn a boundary, learn how to read, and to get out of a very nasty situation. A Best Actress nomination is surely in the offing for Gabourdey Sidibe, whom the casting directors must have sighed with relief when she walked into their office as the perfect physical and emotional embodiment of the main character from the novel Push.

I will never get an Oscar for attending to my sinus troubles.

Precious is a movie best watched at home so you can rewind every time you do not understand what they are saying, which is often, and I am usually pretty good at this stuff.

Mariah Carey as the social worker was fantastic and I wish she would massage my forehead and maxillary sinus area every day.

See this movie. Honestly, it starts out a tidge heavy handed, but lands pretty much right in your face. You’ll love it. It’s pretty frigging rough to take. But people survive. We must, whether we are being bashed over the head with apartment projectiles or attacked internally with microscopic haters.



California Intoxicates You

But then the problem is, you are intoxicated.

Welcome back to the blog. I disappeared for a while because my PC computer wasn’t able to wirelessly connect with some funky Mac networks. Friends, it is still a tower of babble out there in computer world.

But I have returned to New York with this knowledge:

1) People in LA think they are very hip, but really, they just like to live in houses. I completely understand.

2) People in New York think they are really smart, but really, they just know where to buy the good cheese, and I don’t care.

Also, if you are prone to bi-polar mood swings, which I might be just a bit, being yanked between two coasts just adds to the bifurcated mood-mind.

The Northeast is kind of like Europe, but worse, because people in New York are money grubbers who think they can buy their way into the King’s court. Note: that fake Dogs-on-the-hunt print will never make you landed gentry, let’s face it.

California is decidedly corporate and everyone’s cool with Crate and Barrel. It’s not great. But it’s honest.

I feel like the child of divorced parents who is trying to reconcile the aggrieved parties. I cannot do it.

So the only answer is to live in two places and deal with the bipolarity. Because one place is not enough.

Not having children—which means we may have missed a lot or that we have dodged some big bullets—we can do as we please. So we will. We need it all.

But frankly, the old world part of me wishes I had been born in a small town that was really enjoyable and I had stayed there my whole life. And by staying put I learned a lot.

Friday, December 04, 2009


We are in Los Angeles. It’s honest.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Kate Bush

Okay, I admit it. Right now I am listening to Kate Bush’s Mother (Stands for Comfort).

You have all these playlists in iTunes…but every now and again you fire up the master list and Kate Bush (or Allah Forbid, Bernadette Peters) comes onto the headphones or out of the speakers.

It’s a surprising event. Worth it.

Does mother really stand for comfort? I think so. Even if your mother isn’t perfect, even if she isn’t that motherly, you do project that she is. So by projection, at least, she is comforting.

My mother was motherly, certainly, but not comforting as part of her daily routine. I don’t know what she stood for. She did the right mother things. And she did a lot of laundry. She cooked veal cutlets. She was a very good cook. She worked in a doctor’s office. She smoked. She was more raucous than any woman that might have inspired Kate Bush’s song.

She was certainly comforting when you were down, my mother.

Mother Stands for Comfort. Yes?

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Santa Claus is Coming Out

Okay---you get that invitation to a one man show and you just GROAN!


Honestly, this is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in forever. Written and performed by Jeffrey Solomon and directed by Joe Brancato—you must jump on it.

It closes December 20.

Santa Claus is Coming Out

I have never been to a one person show where the characters and the accents were so clear and differentiated. The jokes were so surprising and original.

When you order tickets, use this code for a discount: STAF

Rock on Santa Claus!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kandinsky at the Guggenheim

I am not going to review Kandinksy. That would be silly. However, I will say it is worth the trip over to Fifth Avenue and 88th Street. The show is in chronological order. The helix of the museum accentuates any time-hung show. I particularly liked his middle period, the paintings he is famous for. Less did I enjoy the paintings that were Miro or Klee inspired. I think as Kandinsky got older he did not have the strength to resist the style of the era. But, that happens. Okay, I reviewed it.

I am so happy, so very very happy, to go see art, especially art that arises from someone in a very strong, personal way. It gets me so excited and calm at once. Excited, because visual art is often fresh, unique and energized. Calm, because someone else on earth had the balls to be themselves and to put it “out there,” and they didn’t drop dead from ridicule (like I fear might happen to me one day).

Plus, I am not a visual artist, so the pressure is off and my competitive side is not too aroused.

It makes me want to write…and often it makes me want to write things that are not at all narrative, or linear or contextualized. Free. A yam. A string. A song. A bone. Something pushed inside a hole.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful as Hell

Please have a wonderful time this Thanksgiving week with family and-or friends or alone if you choose! I know some people love to be alone.

I have had a great life…and before I commit suicide, I just want to say---

Okay, let’s try this again.

I have had a great life and I would like to say I am grateful for:

My Martin Guitar
My friends from High School, College, Acting School, writing classes, my twenties in New York, friends from LA, my new friends in New York, my friends all over the country, my family, my dead dog.
My father having had the audacity to open a bicycle shop in the ‘70’s
Cheap TJ wine
Joni Mitchell
Imperfect Democracy
Sean Penn
Joan Didion
Macaroni and Cheese
Meryl Streep
Fuel efficient cars
Mary, Jeff, Anne, Noel, Margot, Bradford, Noel, Karen, Tecia
Upstate New York
New York City
Virginia Woolf
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Sarah and Jeff
Dan and Leslie
The Neighborhood Playhouse
The Periodic Table of Elements
Noam Chomsky
T.S. Elliot
Richard Ford
My producers
My agent
My Yamaha electric piano
My Baldwin Hamilton piano
My Los Angeles kitchen
My studio apartment in Queens
Adam, always Adam, Adam
The Weather Channel online
The Ramapo River
Janet, Don, Sally & Greg
West Coast Ensemble
The Production Company
Palm Springs
Big Sur
Joshua Tree
New Jersey
Hewlett Packard
Megan, always Megan
Adam’s family, all of them
Cigarettes, when necessary
Good Musicals
Music theory
Voice lessons
Simple food
The George Washington Bridge
The Hollywood Hills
South Beach
The Enlightenment
Woody Allen
Lanford Wilson
Aaron Copland
The Pompidou
Kathy K and Stacy K
Henry and Zoe
Expensive Chocolate
Flowering trees
Sweet dogs
Funny cats
The Middle Class
Fat people and Smoke people (Plays)
Overcast days
Cheap imitation Claritin
Canada Pharmacy
Physical Therapy
Allergy Shots
Hair dye
The gym
The Hudson River
Santa Monica
Book shelves

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Monday, November 23, 2009

List Time

I think being a vegetarian is not a bad idea. But I do not know that I could do it.

Squirrels have a 4 – 7 year lifespan. Shorter in cities.

Bill Paxton is a good actor.

Small ideas can become large ones if paid attention to.

Thanksgiving is fine. I think it would be interesting if holidays were every other year. Or, you could have the same holiday, but it could be practiced differently every year over a five to seven year cycle. Could really give you that big arc feeling about living.

I look forward to snow. The colder it is, the fewer allergies I suffer from.

Since we all die, I still strongly feel that throwing our bodies into a huge compactor could give us fuel. And maybe even water. Separate the oil and the water.

Turns out that many people from my high school are now gay. We could have had a club--Other than “Boys who cut gym to hang out in the piano room and the girls who love them.” Thank you Facebook.

I never leave my apartment. I’m writing a lot. I did go to the bakery yesterday and to Walgreens today.

I am becoming a hunchback. I need a new desk.

The problem with the world is over population. Truly. And there is no way to solve this problem. Colonization of other planets?

Never a new thought. Never a new moment. And then it’s all new.

Smallish green men, in the form of pigeons, are no longer living on my air conditioning window ledge because we put in those plastic pigeon spikes. Sorry birds, but we weren’t in the mood.

I am an outer borough leaf lover.

Strange, if you eat less, you do feel and look better.

Living in a clean space is relaxing.

Weaker men than I have done greater things. I must keep moving.

If I had children, I would not buy them colorful, plastic toys. I just wouldn’t.

I need to read fewer New Yorker articles and more books.

I love Megan’s squash lasagna. You must go to Epicurious.

Squash Lasagna

I have nothing to prove. Yet I try.

This blog entry is from

Sunday, November 22, 2009

When Everything Was Great

As we know, Conservatives have been on the wrong side of everything since forever, since before the Haldron Collider. It is hilarious to watch them all puffed up like, well, puffer fish in their latest near-blockage of health care. The big concern? IT’LL COST TOO MUCH!

Well, it already costs too much. Health is a dying industry. Everyone dies and along the way, you try to prevent it but you can’t. This gets real expensive. But we do eventually give up and die. Imagine trying to hold a large beach ball under water. That takes energy. And if you are trying to hold down millions of these beach balls, it would get very expensive. It’s a losing business. Losing businesses bleed money. That’s just how it is.

Given that healthcare is ultimately a cash-loss game for the bodies—but actually, one notes, very helpful for productivity while the bodies still work—this healthcare thing is something we have to do. We have no choice. It simply must be done. It’s not even a moral thing. It’s fucking practical.

So, back to the Conservatives. What will they say in a hundred years after this is all over? “Wasn’t it great back when health care cost private citizens billions of dollars and bankrupted all kinds of folks and then there were the people who died because they couldn’t get access to health care from anyone? I LOVED THAT! And then, there were all those middle men who made wild decisions, based on their profit motive, to get as wealthy as possible off the carcasses of dead people? THAT WAS THE WAY! IF ONLY WE COULD HAVE THOSE DAYS AGAIN!”

I always think of Progressives as those who are simply going back to the future. It’s like, there is this great state we can all live in (Some call it Sweden)—and it is taking us all this effort to fight against those who would have us not return to the natural, better state.

Sad little people.


Yeah, it is. Just means a few less luxury items for the CEO of Blue Cross.


Oh honey, just shut up and go find another path.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Here Comes Our New Health Plan!

Oh MY! It's so Socialist, right? Come on people. You know, it looks like, now, we might have the votes. And if it passes, well, it's law. And if it's law, well...we are in for a new era.

I thought today, "How many people have died, truly died, because of our heinous health care system?"

I wish there were a way to count it. It makes you sick even thinking about it...but until health care passes, don't think about it, because you don't want to get sick before the new legislation!

Look, so many people think they will not be affected---but everyone will be affected in three major ways.

1) The tension that you feel at the doctor's office will be much less.
2) You won't sweat your medical bills.
3) The national and WORLD economy will improve.

So, put down those pork skins, get on the treadmill, and do your part to keep the United States trim and healthy. And rest assured--when the huge corporations give you cancer as a byproduct of all the other "great" things they give to you, at least they can't do that final sweep after your death and take up all your money for healthcare bills, too.

People hate sharing. It means they have to forego the idea of endless wealth. Ugly gorillas.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm Writing a Movie

I usually don’t talk too much about what I am writing. I mean, it is one thing to write but then to write about what you write? (And it requires a certain amount of writing to even figure out what you are going to write and then once you figure that out, there is all this writing that happens to organize the writing so you can get down to writing.)

Clearly---a chore-filled thing to do. So why would anyone want to hear about these chores? My father was an accountant at a car dealership. He never talked about his work. But my mother, who was kind of chatty, talked a lot about her work in a doctor’s office, which was just talk about work. I was always amazed how my father never said a word about what he did. But I kind of liked it, too, because he was very present, over the minute steaks or meat loaf or chicken under canned soup, and we did not have to listen to how his day was put together.

So, whether I have made a choice to not talk about my writing for some esoteric reason or I am simply modeling my father’s behavior or I would rather wait until my writing is complete so I can yell, “Surprise!” when I unveil it, will remain a mystery to us all.

But breaking tradition, and using this blog entry as a bit of procrastination between hour long bouts of movie writing, I am announcing that I am writing a movie. And it is enjoyable. There is much planning that goes into a movie. And lucky for me, I am working closely with a company that has made some big movies, so I am getting notes, really good ones, in fact, the first good notes I’ve ever gotten, so I am not flying blind. This feels perfect. And, if you are going to write something commercial (that is also, hopefully, unique) you might as well make sure it has a commercial swing to it.

So, I am writing a movie. I said it. It’s comedic. There is a murder-by-negligence that gets the story really moving. One world falls apart to reveal another one. Right now---I am finishing up the major scaffolding. Scenes to fly out shortly.

If you are writing a movie, I hope you are having a good time. I survive on homemade vegetable soup with lots of cabbage (Thank you my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner Adam), Typhoo tea (I reuse the bag about six times so the tea just gets weaker and weaker---like I’m an old lady on a fixed income), almonds, and those digestif cookies that are really crackery with a glaze of good chocolate over the top. That’s enough.

And—my new computer with the 4gig Ram. RAM ON!

I like movies. I always have. They can be very crisp, bright events. They can carry you off. They are a good break from that dull life of shoe laces and email. And even though they say film is a visual medium, I can assure you, words, words, words are the basis.


Let’s all face the truth. New York is all about money and that’s a problem.

I love the subways. But I have never been anywhere on earth that is more about the greenback than New York City.

It is no wonder they flew the planes into the World Trade Center. I would have, if I was some sort of religious freak.

This town is out of control when it comes to cash. It is expensive and the simplest dinner costs a hundred bucks.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm No Criminologist

I am no criminologist, but I do enjoy math.

Currently in the United States, 1 in every 31 adult persons is either in jail or prison or on parole or probation. That amounts to 7.3 million Americans and a cost that exceeds $68 billion annually. This figure does not include juveniles accountable to the U.S. correction system.It breaks down like this:

1 in every 45 Americans is on parole or probation

1 in every 100 Americans is in jail or prison

1 in every 11 African American adults is in jail or prison

1 in every 27 Hispanic American adults is in jail or prison

1 in every 45 White American adults is in jail or prison

It’s ridiculous and we lead the world. By far.

I will post the full wiki entry about it below. I know, I know, “Wikipedia is often wrong.”

Actually, in this case, upon surfing the internets (We love you George W!), it pretty much turns out to be the same numbers everywhere you look.

What on earth is going on?

We are such a nonintegrated nation. People are so incredibly rich or poor. And so many of the poor end up in jail. I HAVE NO ANSWERS! Except, maybe a total redo? OY with all this liberty!

I just, there are all these people eating artisanal cheese and then you throw everyone else in the pokey?

Very upsetting stuff.

You can’t fight with math. Math is math is math.

This shit feels very military dictatorship to me.

And then, people have such a hard time figuring out where to send their kids to school. I don’t know about you…Less prisons, more schools, maybe?

This upsets my stomach. I have to take a shower.

Read on. Hunker down. Keep your nose clean---you might be the next one behind bars.

Incarceration in the United States is a concurrent power under the Constitution of the United States, which means that prisons are operated under strict authority of both the federal and state governments. Incarceration is one of the main forms of punishment for the commission of felony offenses in the United States.

Less serious offenders, such as those convicted of misdemeanor offenses, may receive a short term sentence to be served in a local city or county jail, or to alternative forms of sanctions such as community corrections (halfway house) or house arrest. Different U.S. prisons operate at different levels of security, ranging from minimum-security prisons -- that mainly house non-violent offenders -- to Supermax facilities that house the more dangerous criminals such as Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols and September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.

The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. It also has the highest total documented prison population in the world. As of year-end 2007, a record 7.2 million people were behind bars, on probation, or on parole, with 2.3 million of those actually incarcerated. More than 1 in 100 American adults were incarcerated at the start of 2008. The People's Republic of China ranks second with 1.5 million, while having four times the population, thus having only about 18% of the US incarceration rate.

The federal government, states, counties, and many individual cities have facilities to confine people. Generally, "prison" refers to facilities for holding convicted felons (offenders who commit crimes where the sentence is more than one year). Individuals awaiting trial, being held pending citations for non-custodial offenses, and those convicted of misdemeanors (crimes which carry a sentence of less than one year), are generally held in county jails.

In most states, cities operate small jail facilities, sometimes simply referred to as "lock-ups", used only for very short-term incarceration—can be held for up to 72 business hours or up to five days—until the prisoner comes before a judge for the first time or receives a citation or summons before being released or transferred to a larger jail. Some states have "unified" systems, in which all the jails and prisons are operated by the state. The federal government also operates various "detention centers" in major urban areas or near federal courthouses to hold criminal defendants appearing in federal court.

Many of the smaller county and city jails do not classify prisoners (that is, there is no separation by offense type and other factors). While some of these small facilities operate as "close security" facilities, to prevent prisoner-on-prisoner violence and increase overall security, others may put many prisoners into the same cells without regard to their individual criminal histories. Other local jails are large and have many different security levels. For example, one of the largest jails in the United States is Cook County Jail in Cook County (located in Chicago). This facility has eleven different divisions, including one medical unit and two units for women prisoners, with each of the eleven divisions operating at a different security level, ranging from dormitory-style open housing to super-secure lock-down.

In the state of California, to prevent violence, prisoners are segregated by race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation while held in county jails and in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's reception centers, where newly committed prisoners are assessed prior to being transferred to their "mainline", long-term institutions.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Apparently, some sort of Ida leftover is about to pummel the East Coast. I love a good storm. And I know they love me.

So--what will it be? A flooded New Jersey? Trees down across Connecticut? High winds blowing geese into buildings?

Or will it be something simpler? Like, maybe, nothing at all?

I loathe anticipation without payoff.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I have come to the simple conclusion that if these narly men in the senate do not pass the healthcare bill, then there is something effective we could choose to do to get wholesale change: Boycott.

That’s right. Tell your employer, “No need to pay for insurance any longer. I am not interested in fattening up the middle men for mismanaged care.”

If we can get just 32% of the population to do this, the insurance industry will collapse and the government will have to take EMERGENCY measures, which will mimic the post WWII environment that so brilliantly brought national health care to most of the civilized world.

How hard is it to boycott? It just means asking your employer to KICK YOU OFF the insurance list or to discontinue your COBRA payments or whatever overpriced hell-plan you are involved with.

We have the choice. How hard can this be?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Did You Know Who Fela Was?

I sure didn’t. I mean…what a life!

My favorite part of the play was when he explained how he put the music together. It’s African drums with Cuban horns and then American Funk---it’s Afrobeat.

Plus, it’s not only brilliant music pastiche, the shit got political.

I walked into the theatre having no idea what I was getting into.

Bill T. Jones choreographed and directed and even wrote (along with Jim Lewis). They used the original music and lyrics of Fela Aninkulapo-Kuti. In essence, this play is jukebox musical meets polemic biopic. That might sound awful, but it is anything but. Bill T. Jones is an award winning genius. Look him up. I have met him a couple of times. He is tall and in charge in the greatest way.

The set, lighting and costume designs are so damn smart and beautiful.

The dancing and the music, that intoxicating Afrobeat music, the sexy smart pride, all of it, I’m all for it. And you might as well be, too…because if you let yourself experience this great thing, you will be so much happier.

The cast is past solid, they are spectacular. And when Momma riffs a cappella for what feels like three minutes, when the music returns, she has not flattened, not a hair, you could fall down.

Fela started as a musician and got worked up into being very political. He suffered at the corrupt hands of the horrendous Nigerian government.

Sure, you could save your money and miss this and add it to the other cash you are saving for a trip to Madrid, but I think this is better. (When you see the play, you will get the Madrid joke.)

If you do not live near New York, well, I am certain there will be a very cool movie made of this.

This review is not a scam email asking you to give me money.

Back Up in a Day

Pardon me for this very dull posting…I just have to be practical, here.

Spent the day buying a computer, loading it up and troubleshooting.

The biggest waste of time? Itunes. Something about getting the music right…

It doubles things. It will not behave. Definitely a case of the tail wagging the dog, even though I have never fully understood that expression.

I’m hard on computers. My hard drives burst, bubble and die. Backed up, always backed up. Stay backed up. Back up some more.

On a more natural note: it is spring in New York. Just has that feeling. One last blast of easy air.

Makes for a good time. For everyone.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Happens All the Time


My computer died today. R.I.P. Being a conservationist-sort, over the past five years, when my computer would fall apart, I would buy a new hard drive and rebuild the beast---keeping the old box.

But finally, and this is four hard drives later, I have decided to let go of the ghost and get a new Windows 2007 jeeber.

Here we go.

Enjoy your Monday. Everything is in retrograde and there is no turning back.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Weekend List

The Public Health Option will increase the rate of divorce.

Shoes are best worn on your feet.

Los Angeles is a town of tyrannical happiness. New York is a town of violent greed.

True screwball comedy needs to make a comeback. With today’s sensibility. I do not mean fart jokes.

Everyone projects in their own special way. If you find yourself about to pass judgment for what someone is doing, you are only talking about yourself.

Very successful people all have similar catered parties. Miserable failures decorate their lives uniquely.

Mold is the next plague.

All opinions are self serving.

Bananas are Allah’s way of reminding you every morning that you are not quite enough.

Paris is expensive and full of Americans.

Ned Beatty is a wonderful actor.

Almost every story wraps up in a way that is untruthful.

Germans are violent romantics.

Long walks in the woods are necessary for all mankind.

Siblings are the victims of Darwinian competition, to each other.

Do not eat chocolate before going to bed.

Right Wingies are right: maximized liberty will maximally destroy the planet, which is what we are here to do if the Second Law of Thermodynamics is, indeed, true.

The shorter you are, the harder your life.

Ego kills, but first, it makes you survive.

If you have a baby hand, shake with the other one.

Remember: Christ died for your sins, but all the other guys on all the other crosses were criminals.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Illegals and More

There is much talk about illegal immigrants and the horror (imagine the horror!) of giving them health coverage.

Well, if an unwanted guest came to visit you and he was stung by a bee on your porch, would you not give him some mud, maybe a couple of pain killers and a shot of Benadryl or Epinephrine, if necessary?

If one does not want unwanted guests on his porch, wouldn’t it be best to make sure that no one could get on it?

I am all for math and I understand the accretion of human beings taking over the land, uninvited, is a problem. But Righties hate taxes and then they hate that there is no money in the government to patrol the border.

If people are here illegally and they are sick, maybe they can be sent back to their mother country? Even if the trip kills them? Is that the answer? Really?

* * *

I was at the gym today, running, here in Queens, land of the diverse and the new. I was surrounded by mostly Colombians and Peruvians, not very tall, and almost all, overweight and in my opinion, unsightly. After having spent years running with young wannabe-movie-stars in Hollywood who are thin, trim, keeping me firmly in their blind spots, my current experience of sweatin’-with-the-chubbies from another continent is, at worst, repellant and at best, kind of sweet.

I often feel, in Queens, that I am living in the coda of a Twilight Zone episode where I am a racist and some big shenanigans has gone down, tailored perfectly for me, and now, I have to live among the “others.” This is good for me in many ways. Though I do miss the trim ass of whitey in Hwood.

If any of these people were to get sick, and from the looks of things they certainly will---and assuming at least some of them are illegal, I say, “Haul ‘em over to the doctor’s office and give them what they need!”

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Wishful Drinking

I have always wanted to see Carrie Fisher’s one woman show, Wishful Drinking, and tonight, I sat down at Studio 54 and watched it.

Carrie Fisher is funny and smart and likeable.

She did not need to do this thing in two acts. One long one would have been plenty.

The best part of the whole play was when a board came down showing head shots of her family tree and all the linked divorces and children. Her father left her mother for Elizabeth Taylor who left him, quickly, while on the set of Cleopatra.

Look—Carrie Fisher has the gift of very down-home humor.

One of the most fun nights I’ve ever had was listening to her commentary on the DVD of Postcards from the Edge. She sounded tanked. Usually, the DVD comments are puffed up with ego and self-importance. Her comments were so self deprecating and witty. It was this DVD commentary that made me a fan of hers. I think I have listened to no more than two of these things in my life. Glad Carrie Fisher was one of them.

I don’t know if you need to break a sweat running to Studio 54 to see this show. But, if you are in town and you want to sit and smile and have a good time, jump in! You can get tickets for half price, easily.

Carrie Fisher makes you feel like she is your friend, really talking to you. That’s a performing gift. Her perspective as a former movie icon come poster child for bi-polar disorder is quite unique. And she thinks it is funny.

And so do others. A good time. Certainly.

Monday, November 02, 2009

People...Lots of 'em

All this abstraction and blame!

People are very judgmental about (yet very involved with) twitter, facebook, you name the mess.

But how dare they? It’s just the natural evolution of society.

Simply, people are isolated by overpopulation and they want to be with other people. But there is no town square. There is no town.

It is just a swamp of mankind…hurling around in their mini coopers and their mini vans.

So let’s give eggs a break. Let people tweet and post.

The only thing that concerns me is---all this time sitting in front of a computer screen—how can that be good for your health?

I am certain that people who spend more time with other people in real town squares are much happier and healthier than people who spend mountains of time, alone, behind a computer screen.

People are reaching out. But in a weird way. We move away from interaction. We become more silicone every day.


Everyone tries to be a star, in their own little online way, because they want to be seen. This is also normal. Though twisted.

Kings always received their witnessing by others. Democratization brings upon kingships, albeit in a pared down manner. Kings didn’t do what they did because of some abstraction thrust upon them. It was monkey behavior, the natural outcropping of human desire left unchecked.

And now, all the monkeys have the time and the resources at their disposal to make themselves seen and heard, or at least give the impression that that is going on.

Fun. Right?

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Susie and Bart tied it on Halloween.
In Athens, Georgia.
They are in love.

It was a great weekend party. Attention to beauty and detail was all there. Soft Autumn color in hilly Georgia. Our best LA friends convened. Good red dirt. The Oconee River.

Congratulations on your marriage. Yes. Love.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Now that the Feds have backed off, California is simply considering legalizing marijuana. And they might as well. Everyone in LA is stoned all the time. Every party you go to, there is pot. Always. And usually the one with the biggest bag is Bill Maher.

If you see someone on a leisurely stroll, chances are, they are high.

It’s the weed state. Humboldt County grows it like Kansas grows corn.


It just makes sense. If everyone is smoking pot, and they are, you might as well make money from it. Nevada is the gambling state. California will be the pot state. Big deal!

One of the things you notice in New York City, whether you’re high or not, is that no one in New York City is getting high. Lack of availability or the devoir that one retains perpetual aggressive behavior in order to succeed in business, precludes rampant pot smoking.

I have to say, the people in LA are having a better time. But, they are not getting as much done. But, maybe, if you consider a lot of what comes out of LA, it might be wise to keep production levels compromised by a mild hallucinogen.

They tax booze, don’t they? Legalize weed, tax it, and build that bullet train. And when you get to the smoking car, light up a joint and fly through the central valley, wave to the poor animals lolling ‘till slaughter at Cowschwitz or Burger Belsen, and think, “Ah, another reason why the living in California is so easy.”

But bring your spinhaler. The air is rough there.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Public, The Sex, The Kings

These three things.

The Public Option is on the table because almost everyone wants it, except for people who are afraid of others.

Much of race prejudice has to do with sexual revulsion. Or, the prejudice leads to sexual revulsion. One way out of prejudice is for society to publicly sexualize everyone. The United States did this very well. Years later, our first couple is very attractive to all of us, and brown.

The titans of business run groups of people that are the same size as kingdoms of yore. It takes about that many people to make a king naturally feel like a king. This king, attached to his ambition, aggression and worth, needs three things: great material wealth, the ability to control others, substantial personal perks. No matter what the government does to try to regulate this, they will fail. The kings will always find a way to deliver what their DNA requires in order to function as leaders. Animal stuff.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

We saw Where the Wild Things Are and when it was over, I was deeply shaken.

Spike Jonze directs movies beautifully and, for me, this is his most beautiful of all. Letting in this kind of movie is not that natural for me. I am not drawn to kid stuff. But this movie is primal. And it is very very sad. Leaderless wild things. A kid who is lonely and loving and powerless. James Gandolfini, a very emotional, bullying, needy monster mess, who has fits of controlling rage followed by crushing disappointment and longing for love and sadness.

The original soundtrack by Karen O and the Kids is also quite moving. Light, lyrical, right on.

Visual poetry, this movie. As a kid, I never really liked the book. I did not understand it, exactly (mostly because I was not the conquering type). But I always liked the images of the monstery beasts. They were funny. They also looked like mischievous, knowing creatures, which I liked. Their pointy teeth were unsettling to me. In the movie, they are all a bunch of existential messes with free floating depression and anxiety. It’s an interesting writing choice, all a transference from the inner life of Max.

James Gandolfini voicing over the main monster, Carol, standing at the edge of the sea when Max takes his farewell, crying and wondering why they can’t all just be together, in a happy pig pile, pretty much did me in. It could have been saccharine if it wasn’t so real and base and, yes, again, I’ll type it—primal.

It’s one of those movies about love, but somehow makes love, again, primal.

Solid. Beautiful. Love the big hairy suits. Max Records is a winning kid. Catherine Keener’s edge is always palpable. James Gandolfini could get a Golden Furbie Award.
Lauren Ambrose schlepped around admirably, with smart care.

It’s a great movie. It is a strange takeoff from the book. But good movies are.

The Dave Eggers short (from the novelization) in The New Yorker was also very good. He wrote the screenplay, too, along with Mr. Jonze.

This movie did not exactly bring me back to being a kid. But it did bring me back to being much younger and thinking about what it was like to think about what it was like to be a kid. We do grow up. But it does get nasty.

Peak Weekend, Mahwah, New Jersey

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Friday, October 23, 2009

The Royal Family

The Royal Family, by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber: What fun?

Splendidly acted on a splendid set. But one wonders why do this ol’ chestnut?

Well, for the FUN of it! Why not? Fun is fun.

She’s a long one, with two intermissions.

The Biltmore Theater is quite pleasant now that it has been refurbished into the Manhattan Theatre Club at The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Lovely building. Great columns.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Long Days

Be careful what you wish for. In a good sense.

The day has now come that I am writing all the time, interrupted only by my social schedule and business assumptions.

Lucky me.

But what this means is, while the whole world is out there working, talking to each other, carrying on, making a difference or no difference at all, I am in my hamster house on my wheel.

It is fun. And you can certainly fit in doing laundry, sinus lavage, stomach crunches, a little guitar playing, a run to the cheap (but very good, we are near Elmhurst, you know) Chinese take out, a meditation during sunset looking at the skyline, some phone calls, email. Really, a perfect day.

But, you do build up a libido for yacking.

There is something interesting about getting what you want. You can still feel antsy, if you are someone who has been antsy for a long time. And trusting it, well, trust is a whole thousand other blog entries.

But when you settle into it and you really take it on, that feels right.

I have always been ridiculously romantic about being a writer. A big part of the romance is being able to be alone every day for long periods of time. But the capper is to see people after all is said and done. And when you tend to work late…it’s hard to make that happen.

So, you spend some days completely alone, working. And then, you spend days with people and you don’t work as much or not at all.

You go in and out. You go in and out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Republic Morphs

The Feds have backed off. If you have medical marijuana flying around in your state and it is legal by state laws, the Feds will stand off.

Pretty good. If you’ve been on Melrose lately in Los Angeles, you would need a few tanks to take out the medical marijuana stores.

13 states have laws on the books allowing marijuana to be grown for medical purposes.

The Feds don’t want to mess with 13 states.

Lucky 13.

I believe if we wait for about 13 states to allow gay marriage, the Feds will repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

Sometimes, a Republic is a good thing. But it takes patience. Which blows. I have no patience. It takes a certain generosity of spirit to exercise patience. And trust.

Here we go.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ulster County, New York, Autumn

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Camera Phone, capturing the Fall death. I did not remember how beautiful everything is, mid-October, in New York. When every berry has dried and split and every leaf has crinkled red and brown, you get pretty riled up looking at it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

For the Record

I am so fucking totally for the public option.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Informant!

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, starring Matt Damon, The Informant!, is funny, smart and odd.

Wonderfully, this movie (if I am remembering correctly) had no soundtrack at all.

Matt Damon is pleasingly, well, I would say plump, but he’s fat. He put the weight on for the role. He walks around like a refrigerator. It’s quite something.

The style of the early 90’s was worth the gander.

Okay, so it’s a whistleblower movie, but it turns out the whistleblower (M. Damon) is a liar.

Based on a true story, you might get some chuckles out of this one.

At times, I was a little bored. Matt Damon is a fine actor. Soderbergh knows what he’s doing.

Dancing Lemurs of Madagascar: Join us

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday at the Movies

Stella Adler, the famous ol’ timey acting teacher, once said something like, “All stories are about class difference.”

And today, so were the two movies I saw, sort of.

People are sick of Michael Moore. Frankly, I can’t get enough of him. I think what he makes is total leftist porn. But when I am politically jerking off, this is exactly the kind of smut I want to watch. So, since no one was interested, I went ahead and popped into the movie theatre in Chelsea on 23rd and 8th and had me some Capitalism: A Love Story.

I loved it. And I highly recommend seeing it. I don’t think it’s really about Capitalism. It’s really about the richest people of our country getting away with profound theft and the culture of corruption that is Wall Street-Washington-Saunders-Rubin-Greenspan-Cheney-Bush-Goldman Sachs-you name it. Okay, so it is about Capitalism, and how Capitalism hijacked our Democracy. From a Michael Moore email below (yeah, I’m on his blast):

And it's true. I've been surprised (and slightly annoyed) that, with all that's been written and talked about "Capitalism: A Love Story," very little attention has been paid the mind-blowing stuff in the film: (airline) pilots on food stamps, companies secretly taking out life insurance policies on employees and hoping they die young so the company can collect, judges getting kickbacks from the private prison industry for sending innocent people (kids) to be locked up. The profit motive -- it's a killer.

He’s a fun filmmaker. Not the best ever. Not the smartest. A total chubby clown. But he’s our chubby clown. And we need to laugh now more than ever. Bring it on Falstaff!

Capitalism: A Love Story

Nick Hornby, writer of About A Boy, has adapted Lynn Barber’s memoir into a screenplay. An Education

There’s nothing but spoilers if the movie is remarked upon in detail. But, we know this: an older man seduces a high school student. And it’s problematic. There, I said it.

Acting is superb, really. Though Sarsgaard—he gets cast and, well, you know there’s smarm a-comin’.

Good story, but such obvious dialogue in the screenplay, you get sort of annoyed. Plus, the language doesn’t feel quite British. It’s almost as if they made sure this movie could be easily understood by an American audience.

But who am I to judge? I’ve never made a movie. Okay, once. Sixth grade. About a lemonade stand that turns people into monsters. And the film didn’t film. But I’ve told you this before.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

You Say Obama. I say Christian Bigot

I watched Obama on You Tube give his speech to the HRC. I mean, the President does not believe in Gay marriage, but does believe in all the same rights for gay couples. So, basically, he’s a separate but equal kind of guy.

I wonder which water fountain he uses at The White House.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Friday List


Something about the Healthcare Plan and the budget and it all working out--and Democrats are whooping and hollering and Republicans are getting all conspiracy about it, like the Dems have one set of books for the public and another set for themselves-- well, it cuts many ways here. Republicans are paranoid, by nature (at least your latter day, what’s-left-of-the-party-ones)—but it would make anyone paranoid if all you ever spent your time doing was worrying that someone less advantaged than you got something that they didn’t deserve.


Sometimes, when you get sick, it is best to relax into it. It has its own kind of Dengue Fever pleasure.


There are some damn fancy stores in Manhattan.


Doing your own laundry is a good reminder of something, of what, I don’t know. But my momma taught me: Just let your good button-down shirts tumble in the dryer for only five minutes. Then, hang them up to dry on hangers, buttoning and straightening. You don’t have to iron later on.


I saw a dog in a dog stroller today. I would like one of each.


As the days get shorter, we have to be grateful. We get to see the sunset even sooner than we did the day before. It’s fantastic.


Why do we write using “we”? There are so many assumptions with “we.”


I read, yesterday, in the NYTimes that after some experiments, they have concluded that evolution cannot go backward (at a cellular level). This is something we all know intuitively. I love, and sort of hate, when something you just kind of know is scientifically proven.


COMPELLED to get to ten?


I wish every great movie, show, art thing, dance were not all premiered in autumn. This seasonal stuff seems a little old timey, sheep-like. NO MORE SHEEP!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Autumn Can't Be Stopped

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GET OVER IT! Summer is Over! YAY! However, the wind, leaves and mold (that is eating the leaves?) are in cahoots---pounding my eye sockets with sinus trouble. Ah, I thought it would be over when I left LA.

There is only one remedy at this point: I have to have a tiny hit of weed and watch ELF.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Greetings from Woodside, Queens and Points Beyond

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There are some things in New York City that are so old and falling down, you just have to stand there in awe.

Walked from Jackson Heights, Queens, to Greenpoint, Brooklyn today with pal, Margot. It's a two hour walk. It goes through some well known sections of Queens: Woodside, with its old and still highly functional Irish pubs, Sunnyside, with its cute brick buildings surrounding gardened courtyards, the hip-art area of Long Island City near Vernon-Jackson Boulevards (and PS1-MOMA and the tallest building in Queens-the Citibank blue rocket), get to Newtown Creek. Now, really, this creek is an industrial canal. Much like the Gowanus in Brooklyn. To get to Brooklyn from Queens, at this spot, you walk across a well traveled bridge. Cars, walkers and bikers all use it, the walkers and bikers together, protected by a concrete divider. And then it happened.

And it's the reason why so many of us don't ride bicycles.

This young man put on his brakes because he was flying too fast down the lump-toward-Brooklyn part of the bridge and another biker cut him off (who might have been trying to avoid hitting us walkers) and well, the guy who got cut off put on his brakes too hard and went flying to the ground. It was a bloody scene.

So we helped him. Now get this---there we were helping this guy, and he's a Black guy, and I can't really recognize his scrapes, for a long time.

I remember when I saw a dog's erection for the first time as a kid, I knew it was some sort of inner-blood thing---and it took me a while to figure out what the hell was going on.

But there it was, today, and I am full grown--and this guy has scrapes all over his arms and leg and a very bloody hand...and my mind is taking the longest time registering what the hell these marks are on his body. With the exception of some guy named Lance from day camp a million years ago, I don't remember having seen bloodied black skin. And there I was...agog...slowly registering reality. I even wanted to stare longer than would be polite in order to fully register this new visual experience.

So, let's give eggs a break. We are all different and sometimes, even when it's blood, it takes a while to take in the new information. Or at least, give me a break. I felt so stupid taking that long to recognize simple road burns. (But I DID vote for Obama even though it did register, immediately, that he was a Black man running for president.)

We walked our poor guy to a store and got him bandaids and such. Afterward, he limped off to the subway to finish out his ride to Fort Greene with the aid of the MTA.

Margot and I then went and had Polish at Christina's. When in Greenpoint, go to Christina's. On Manhattan Avenue, right across from the huge red brick church. I love Greenpoint.

And always wear your helmet. Anne. Jeff. All of you.

Monday, October 05, 2009

New York Now

The ten things I have noticed about New York City since I lived here back when I was a younger man.

1) Central Park is crawling with raccoons. In broad daylight, they forage through trash receptacles and eat like pigs. They are cute. They are like our local pets.

2) Really rich people take themselves very seriously. This behavior would not fly so well on the West Coast.

3) Manhattan has lost its young generation of artists. With an older, less-risk-taking crowd, the island has become safer, easier to manage and better maintained. But less interesting. However, it is comforting to know that if you are crawling the streets at 4AM, chances are you will not get bopped over the head.

4) There are still dive bars and they are still very cheap.

5) Outer boroughs have become perfectly fine places to move to. Though Queens is still not considered that hip. Brooklyn, while hip, is almost ludicrous.

6) People work hard in the way that people used to always work hard. In Los Angeles, people work toward big pay outs. In New York, people sell, sell, sell so they can buy, buy buy. Endlessly.

7) There is so much water here.

8) The flora is truly lovely. The trees are extremely old and large.

9) The sound systems in most movie theatres could use upgrading.

10) Most people in New York do realize that it is just one place and not THE place any longer. However, it is amazing to listen to the smug narcissism that spews forth…I mean, the depth of narcissism a person must be gripped with to still feel like the center of the universe when there are all those other people around—stops the mind.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Tsunamis and You

No one particularly likes a tsunami. But what I don’t understand is why anyone dies at all in one.

I mean, if you live in Canada, you pretty much make sure your house has heat.

If you live on an island in the middle of the Pacific, wouldn’t it make sense to have SOMETHING that would help you out in case of a big old wave surge? A very good warning device?

It is tragic, of course, when people die in a natural disaster. And I don’t mean to be flip here.

But why are people not prepared? And it can’t all be about poverty. Really poor people in Canada have heat.

Something is up.

I Love the 14th Amendment

Get Ready Folks. It’s coming.

Equality Across America

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Our Town? Yes.

See Our Town. Go online right now and get tickets.

Then, once you have the tickets and if you don’t live within driving distance of New York, buy your plane tickets.

I know. Our Town? Really? I must be kidding, right? That hoary chestnut?

The one.

The genius here, as directed by David Cromer, is a smartness and a sadness colluding into some sort of spiritual ecstasy. Again, not kidding.

At the very end of the play, one of the lines, and I paraphrase, is, “People live their lives without really seeing.” --I imagine David Cromer used this as the full metal spine for this particular back.

There is a sense in Act I of people living their lives, kindly, in a turn-of-the-last-century White Yankee New Hampshire Republicanism—while awaiting execution.

Act II, as you know, is all about the wedding. And it is not joyful. It is cause for hysterics. Oh that Mrs. Soames. (Order your tickets. Our Town)

Of course, Act III is the dead in the cemetery. But in this production, when Emily goes to visit her twelfth birthday---well, I can’t tell you! It was such a surprise. I just, I can’t say.

This was, certainly, a brave, fantastic production. And the actors, well, these New York stage actors are the best. It’s true. They are.

Get your tickets. Our Town keeps getting extended and I bet it will end up in some bigger venue (possibly ruined). See it downtown at the Barrow Street Theatre.

Tickets, Here:

Our Town

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Sinful Fish Tale

When I was a wee kid, I went to elementary school in Spring Valley, New York which was a great town of Jews. We got off for the major holidays, naturally.

It was always such a treat. You start school right after Labor Day and within a few weeks, there are days off!

And now for the fish (and since William Safire is dead, this is my wee homage to him).

Word Play: The atonement will arrive with fins!

I heard of Yom Kippur long before I heard of a kipper. But once I did learn of kippers, well, my mind immediately played that little trick where you start to think of kippers every time someone starts to atone.

So, here’s to Yom Kipper! (And, they used to pronounce it that way back in Spring Valley. And William Safire—what’s in a word?)

I hope everyone has looked inside their sinning selves and has taken note and figured out how to be better people from now on. Yahweh knows, we need it! And then, well, we will all feel lighter and have a better time. To all my Jews and non-Jews alike: Enjoy the kippers!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Everyone Is Dead But I Feel So Alive

My sister turned to me last weekend when I was jumping up in down in joyous approval of this Northeastern Autumn air and said, “The weather is really a mood driver.”

She’s so right! Some people get depressed by dark winters. Not me. I get so cozy, so gemutliegkeit, I almost turn into a Hummel. Fall is so wonderful, you just want to be outside hugging the trees, in ecstasy.

Spring is hopeful and sexy. Just ask anyone.

And then, well, then there’s summer. And that’s when it gets dark for me. Being hot all the time. No thank you. Summers are made for wretches, mechanics and lunatics. I feel off in the summer and I think about all my relatives who are dead in the summer. I think about lonely, hot apartments and relatives that have expired, alone, in the summer. And it just seems so depressing.

But then, the weather gets better and all the relatives are still dead, but I feel so alive.

“The weather really is a mood driver.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's All About Movement

You sit in these New York apartments like veal…and every day, you think, “I GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE!” So you hit the streets for hours at a time. Mostly eating.

Movement becomes very important here.

And with that, I give you these two clips. Because, you know, they’re great.

Chinese Bicycle Acrobatics

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sand Animation? Yes

Maybe this is old news, but we interrupt this Wednesday to bring you UKRAINE'S GOT TALENT!

This is one of those things, like, if you've never had your country invaded, you might not get sand animation.

But, there's something about this thing.

Thanks Sarah.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Aspire

The coolest man on earth, on Letterman.

How does he remain so calm? So funny? So smart?

And black, too? Wink.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Manhattan: Land of the Beaver

When in New York, I highly recommend Mannahatta at the Museum of the City of New York.

It ends October 12.

Look, even if you don’t care that Manhattan was once a huge beaver pond with over a hundred streams and 23 micro climates, you should go just to see the cool 3-D relief map that has images projected upon it. They show where the Lenape camps were, all the streams, the huge ridges and the valleys. Manhattan really once was a beaver-infested garden of eden! (I bet there was a mosquito or two, too.) This land-o-islands-in-the-harbor is where the Arctic meets the sub-tropics.

Sort of.

So—go. It’s very cool. If you are at all interested in the earth-island upon which New York was built upon. What a difference four-hundred years makes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

No Public Option

The Baucus Bill has no public option. But it does have the odd not-for-profit Coops…which, let’s face it, are sort of like the public option, but let’s face it, too, not really.

But let’s not get all stuck on one thing.

The deal is---if BY LAW an insurance company is not allowed to turn anyone away and must continue to pay out no matter how sick someone gets, well, I am all for it.

Bring it on Baucus!

Have you ever been to his home state of Montana? Beautiful place. Almost no one lives there. Worth the trip.

Come on Health Care!

You now Senator Snowe from Maine is going to sign on.

Montana and Maine, figuring in large. It takes people from really cold places to understand the need for communal action.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Twelve and a Half Percent

Reports, reports, reports. The recession is over, but it’s a jobless one, with 40 Million people living below the poverty line. Etc.

Funny, since I was a kid, the approximate number of poor people in our country has been 12.5% of the population.

I am a mathy type. So, I think about this and I ask the question, “Have we collectively decided that in order to be the richest country on earth, we need about one out of every eight people to be poor, to remind us to work even harder? Or steal even harder?”

Look---when it comes to money and the allocation of goods, you have to look at it in terms of math---and how you end up with that math. Human nature is at the bottom of it. We are a punitive bunch of beasts. “You’re kind of lazy and stupid? DIE!” “You have emotional problems and you weren’t raised right? DIE!” “You are a low skilled person? DIE!” “You snuck into our country illegally---DIE!”

And though it seems a little over the top and drama-queenish to type DIE! four times, with exclamation points…it is, really, what we are choosing for others. Their death. Because living in a crappy hole of a place (or no place of your own at all) next to an industrial slurry pit, with diseases breaking out all over your body, and no way to take care of it---well, that’s a death sentence. Surely, the poorer you are, the sooner you die. This is a fact.

So, we sentence to death poor people. Is this a natural culling? And if so, then should we not admit it? And if so, should we not also assume that these poor people, if we never help them, should not, naturally, rise up and help themselves? By force, if they must? I know I would.

Or is it a choice? Is it really a choice? Come on.

No baby born on earth asks to be raised next to a mountain of zinc tailings. No little child on earth asks for incest. No teenager asks for abuse and hunger and a lack of decent education. No adult asks for misery. For some people---it’s just the luck of the draw.

Me? I pulled a good card. What the hell do I care?

I do. I don’t know why I care. I mean---I don’t volunteer. I do vote for liberal candidates. I don’t send much money to charity. I do vote for higher taxes and programs for education and wealth redistribution.

Yes. Redistribute it. Why the hell not?
What do you really need?

12.5% That’s a lot of people. 21% is probably enough for a revolution. But 12.5%--- maybe not quite enough---just math. And maybe, 12.5% is the magic number---where you can actually control that many people with a certain size of police and a certain heft of prisons—and things work. And people are fine with it. Somehow, that 12.5% is fine.

I wonder why. Seems like a big number to me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We All Love Our Bloggy Pudding

So---with Christmas approaching, sort of, I wanted to get a jump start on my list.

I only want two things, my elfin pals.

ONE Stop this damn recession. People have had enough. Jobs. Clean Green Good Ones.

TWO Health Care Reform that includes The Public Option. Bush Lied about Iraq. Obama is lying about The Public Option (Come on---if we have a Public Option---it won't be 5% that joins it. It will be 95%). Give me it. Every president gets one big lie. Health care, now.

That's it. Two things. It's only September 16. There's time to pull it together!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Helios Studio Plug


From my friend, who has launched a fabulous new career, as people do (and I can get super vouchy about this. She’s great.):

After a long and fulfilling career in the music industry, I (Stacie Negas) have partnered with Gavin Jones at Helios Studio as a photo retoucher. Since leaving the music industry, I have been studying Photoshop and was fortunate enough to train with the very talented Gavin Jones, who perfected his skills while working with renowned photographer Dahlin. My experience working with designers and photographers on countless projects throughout my music career has provided me with ample experience to make the transition into photo retouching.
Helios Studio is a hands-on operation that brings a creative eye to the process along with competitive rates and the highest quality work, while always meeting your deadlines. We are a post-production photographic studio specializing in beauty, advertising, fashion and product retouching.
If you have any need of our services, please contact us.

From Don again: THIS IS MY FRIEND who worked closely with Bono and a whole lot of other musicians over the years, making sure their CD packaging was stellar. So, you know, if she’s good enough for Bono, maybe she’s good enough for you. Get your stuff retouched.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

St. Teresa. But Which One?

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We took our usual Sunday neighborhood crawl. We pick an area to see in New York, get on some shoes, and take a good 8 mile walk.

Today, we did a C shaped tour of Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Fort Greene in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn is confusing. You kind of think you really want to live there because there are these extremely beautiful neighborhoods and some of these neighborhoods have the sweetest stores and restaurants. But then, it all looks a little bit like Downtown Disney and you want to, maybe, run.

Carroll Gardens, an old Italian neighborhood, is now incredibly gentrified. We ran into a parade today. The Saint Day parade of Saint Teresa. It was like something out of deep Sicily. We saw the saint statue coming down the road and I asked one of the old Italian lady paraders (matching in all black with a gold sash like all the others) which saint this parade was for--she responded, happily, with a big smile, "Teresa."

I went to Wikipedia. Apparently, there are six Saint Teresa's, so I have no idea which one this parade was for. But, these old Italian people, they want their saints, their traditions, their parades.

I find Brooklyn confusing, but mostly because I haven't lived in New York and was not around to watch it happen. The transformation. It is sort of fantastic that Brooklyn has been so violently gentrified. It is understandable. The housing stock is past charming. It is romantic and beautiful, practically Southern and Gothic. So, of course, the world moved in.

But, frankly, it's too South for me. I want to be able to escape to Canada, if necessary.

The Gowanus is going to be the next thing. It is going to be like the 10th arrondissement in Paris, with it's barge canal, all industrial-turned-arty. You can see it about to happen. And YOU WANT neighborhoods to get safer, better, richer, with better food and stores and to be colorful and delicious and well maintained. And then it happens. And then you get a little sad about it.

Because it's a kind of sameness. A wine bar, cheese store, gourment burger kind of, Northern Italian cuisine, Asian fusion kind of sameness and you have to ask yourself, "Is it really all about ME and MY comfort?"

Or something. And forget the strollers. As targets, they are too easy. But too big, too. I mean, these babies come at you like Cadillacs on the sidewalk. You just don’t know if you are going to survive. But at the last minute, they swerve.

But man, o-fancy man-o , S. Portland Street in Fort Greene. It is the most beautiful place on earth. Just go there. The trees. The parlor floors with their original stamped and decorated ceilings. The lights. The whole thing. Dark and light, at once.

But back to Carroll Gardens. I am struck by the Italians In Carroll Gardens. Being half Italian, but never really caring too much about it, even feeling alienated from it as my family did everything they could to become "American", it was quite something to see these old Italians in the streets with their idoltry Saint I-Don't-Know-Which-One-Teresa, a drum beating, and everyone marching along, oddly miedeval, with the statue up high. It was joyful, sure, for them. But to me, it was also sort of scary and pagan and irrational.

These must be Sicilians.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stormy Weather

In order to maintain my high spirits on this eight year anniversary of the collapse of innocence in the Western Hemisphere, I have decided to focus on one of the great things that I love about the natural world: The weather.

I was a frogs-tornadoes-streams kind of kid. And maps. I like the outdoors. And lucky for me, I am living in a place in New York that has a lot of air and trees: bulky Queens. Tonight, a Noreaster is blowing and teasing. You have to love them. They feel like real local weather coming in, as opposed to the blanket of strange happenings that blow over us from the West.

Though my windows are wide open to let in the breeze, I still wanted context and narrative, so I went to The Weather Channel online because, you know, I wanted to see a swirly map. AND GUESS WHAT? Frank Batten is DEAD!

You don’t know who Frank Batten is? Neither did I. He is the founder of The Weather Channel—the great cable TV upstart of 1982.

Thanks for everything, Frank. I love that I can type in a zip code or a city with the state and find out what the hell is going on. Cats and Dogs? Dry wild fires? Snow on the heath?

Of course, I can just look out the window, which I do. But mostly, when I want to know the outside temperature (for coat reasons), I look it up online on your channel and I feel like I help the environment by NOT buying a thermometer with all that scary mercury in it. Plus, I find interesting, newsy tidbits about the earth's natural (or unnatural at this point) state.

Frank---here’s the forecast: Chance of cold death, with no possible jet stream of return. Hope it feels like a May Day in Southern California. Thanks for The Weather Channel. Dorks like me, we can’t get enough of it. Also, sounds like you were greatly admired. Congratulations on the weather empire. What a great business idea. Weather never goes away and it’s always interesting. Everyone DOESN'T necessarily know it's Windy.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

He Lies?

Funny, the news is obsessed with Joe Wilson, Republican from a Carolina, who yelled out, YOU LIE! after President Obama said the new laws would not cover illegal immigrants.

People (TV) likes a fight.

Of all the things that came out of Obama’s speech, what does the media focus on?

Some over emotional idiot, yelling out like he’s in the Sixth grade.

The pushers of news just want you to look at the fight. It is disgusting.

Obama’s speech was brilliant. Was all of it true? I have no idea. I still hold that having a public option WILL do exactly what the Republicans fear---people will run to it like Wilma and Betty in The Flintstones with charge cards, decimating private insurance.

But who can blame them? It is one thing to let the invisible hand of the market take care of bicycle sales and toothpaste. But for your liver? Or your tumor? The market? For that? Are you tired old white people insane?

President B. Obama was wise to conjure the spirit Ted Kennedy. You could feel our recently departed, beloved senator’s compassion and moral standing in the room. Is it called the Ted Kennedy bill? It should be.

I do not understand Republicans who sit, all grumpy, against progress. It all looks like greed to me. If you regulate an industry, you diminish its power to concentrate cash, which is just terrifying to the piggies. But WHY oh WHY do these people think it is a good idea to send so much cash toward one industry? Okay, they know this is not a good thing. But then, why do they not come up with any solutions other than obstructionism? Fearful. Goodbye to them. They are to be ignored.

It feels like the momentum for healthcare reform is there and something will happen, soon. Obama leads. He leads as a smart, measured guy with real humanity. Is this thing all hammered out? Obviously not. But it is getting there. And I will say it again: I am ALL FOR the public option---I hate insurance companies—been denied too many times for a preexisting condition (allergy shots, my friends) and I will gladly join the ranks of the rank and file for low budget Post Office style national insurance so the monthly shots I get will not be followed by the ritual I currently face after each visit: three phone calls. One, returning the doctor’s office call about my denied eligibility. Two, calling the eligibility department to tell them to flip the switch, ‘cause my Cobra is all paid up. Then, three, the claims department, after the bill arrives, telling them to reprocess. All this? What a colossal waste of time. Give me the post office. I know the line is long. But I know once I get through the line, the package is on its way to Duluth and I NEVER have to hear about it again.

Big question---why four years? One hopes, when it comes to a time frame, Obama is under promising and will over deliver. I want my public option insurance next Tuesday!

Congratulations, President Obama. You did what is needed. Now, keep fighting like a dog. A mean dog. Please.

It's Obama Eve!

I am excited. The leader of the free world (a fine salesman) is about to get in our faces and tell us what is good for us. I'm clearly on board.

I would like the Public Option. I really would.

Imagine? Anyone can slide into the Public Option at anytime and get their shit fixed!

Sounds sane to me.

Monday, September 07, 2009


Finally saw HAIR this weekend for my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner, Adam’s birthday. All that hair, and I still can’t get married in the state of New York or California?

Woodstock, Monterey, you name it. Be-IN, Love-IN, Freedom, Happiness?

Okay, to the play. I love the music. I do. And the play, basically, is about a bunch of kids who want to be kids and don’t want to go to war to get killed. And who can blame them? WHAT ON EARTH WAS VIETNAM? I mean, really. When I was a kid, it was just a strange word. Hippies were everywhere. My cousin who was living with us in the suburbs of New York did come back from Woodstock covered with mud in her green Volkswagon. So the lore goes.

The cast of HAIR was sublime. One of the great things about overpopulation is it does create more and more talented people who have to compete even harder for fewer spots on earth. By the time someone gets to sing on Broadway, they have completely risen past the ranks of the medium good, the very good, and the best. It’s quite something.

Directed by Diane Paulus (I’m a big fan), this play was a big romp, the cast in the audience, clothes off at intermission, hippie vaudeville, great movement, solid humor, and the singing, as I’ve said.

For me, the show was pretty much about golden voiced Gavin Creel. I would say this is because I am a letch, if I thought Gavin was still a kid…but of course, like most musicals, the kids are being played by full blown adults. This is something I don’t love. Mostly because a younger cast might still be full of rage and piss. Older professionals, you can tell they are pounding through their careers and this is one of their stops along the way. Tant pis pour eux! We get to enjoy their talent. And, well, if they do look like current day well-taken-care-of American kids---it’s not their fault. I do wonder, though, if they really get what they’re doing. I bet the old folks of the Seventeenth Century probably thought the Hamlet of 1660 was just not that authentic.

The music of Galt MacDermot is the star here. It is one amazing song after another, as we all know. I especially like the long pieces in Act 2 from Black Boys to White Boys to Walking in Space all the way through Ain’t Got No.

I remember my Uncle Gene had the record when I was a kid and my parents wouldn’t let me listen to it. In college, I was cast in the play which was performed at Harvard’s Kennedy Center---I dropped out because it was pretty silly and shoddy (with an updated script by a student---making most of the action all flashback. Songs cut, etc.) Then as a youngster in New York---I was cast in a European tour…as the understudy of Berger, during the Christmas break. I didn’t do it. How can I be away from my American Christians at Christmas? Alas, I was never in the play and have contented myself with banging the songs out on the piano for years on end.

If you come to New York and you want to hear some amazing music in a sharp, polished production, head on over to HAIR. It’s solid.