Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Decreasing Readership

I receive the report each week about my blog readership. It’s tanking downward.

When did I lose my appeal?

Was it all that garlic I ate at the Indian place?

Or maybe I haven’t been digging deep enough…not enough truth coming out.

I know what it is. It’s the recession. People don’t have the time to read my blog---too many pencils and apples to sell.

No more frivolity. Not me. I’m only going to write about the important stuff.


When my mother-in-law sent that bottle of pine tar (for itching) did she not realize that her son would put it on his spider bites and then smell like a janitor’s closet?

When will I ever settle down and get a new dog?

The nature of butter on the thighs.

Gas made from grass.

Princes of Lichtenstein and their boring afternoons.


The loss of innocence, the rise of Socialism.

The best place for a teeth cleaning.

Race politics? What are they? Really—

Is England a country or a county?

Where were you when Karl Rove was put in jail?

Why hospice when you have an oven?

Fear and Stupidity: A truthful reflection of the self.

Sex after forty and before fifty.

Little killings and deaths.

Do people really mean it?

How you were once young and beautiful and now you are old and ugly?

The Rapture as a pop element.

Scoring at bowling could be what you are best equipped to handle?

If green is really the color, then why so much complaining?

Goat capture.

The things you hated that you still hate that never go away.

Toilet maintenance.

If you could, would you ever date a child?

The littlest reasons to love your past.

How is it that you never made a good stack of pancakes?

Will all the people who have ever bought a field book of amphibians ever get together?

Where does your sense of taste land after a lot of salt?


Similar ideas across long periods of time.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Coasts

Sometimes, when I am in New York, I do crave California…and mostly, (in addition to my friends---Hi everyone), it is because of the climate. I tell people this in New York, “I really like the weather,” and I hear retorts, “You can’t live somewhere just because of the weather.”

Sure, you can’t. But it’s not just the weather. It’s the plants. The air. The way it all makes you feel. Look at this hill behind Mary’s backyard.

Mary Yard

Now, get off the subway at 75th and Roosevelt Avenue in Queens and walk by this building every day. The only thing that recommends it, at all, is that it is the ugliest building in The United States of America.

Ugliest building on earth

There is a difference. Face it, California (though so marred) has far more natural beauty simply because of its climate.

There is no lack of hideous architecture in California, either. We all know this. But when you can’t take the hideousness another minute, you can find a hillside covered in wild mustard.

Of course, I probably need to get out of Queens…away from tower-o-satellite-dishes, and I will have a change of heart.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Debt

While spending time with some Republican relatives yesterday (and we all have some), the subject turned to the BAILOUT! Eeek!

Look, I am a moderate Democrat. And basically, I want health care…universal for all. Everything else---open to discussion.

So, when my relatives were going off on all this government spending, I did see their point. I didn’t agree with the finer points of their indignation: Debt for the grandkids! (Didn’t Bush do that, too?), I don’t want to help people who can’t help themselves! (Not even the autistic?), Government is too big! (Is it?), etc. But, I do have a foreboding feeling about this bailout, too. I feel like Obama and friends will be happy to hand out money until the cows come home, or, until the cows don’t have any home to come home to if absolutely everything collapses under this Weimar-esque money printing scenario.

But then, the closest Republican relative of all said, “Well, if you take a trillion bucks and divide by 300, 000, 000 people,” (I calculated it), “Then if everyone just pays $3,333.00 we can pay it off. It doesn’t seem that hard to pay that off.”

So, even the Republicans had different points of view about all this.

Of course, not everyone can afford to pay off $3,333.00 so it won’t happen that way…but rich people and businesses could pull a bigger load of it. And it could be done. (Obama’s plan, basically.)


Handing out cash like candy freaks me out. It makes me want to pull in the reigns.

But it is hard to understand the Republican cry against big government and huge spending when that is exactly what George Bush was up to. Why when our man does the same thing is it suddenly criminal?

It seems to me that Republicans are cool with enormous amounts of money spent on war but not on anything else.

Or something.

Or Democrats simply make them nauseous.

But I have to agree with their fear about this spending a little bit. It seems wildly monstrous.

I am a math man. Just show me the math---get on television, and show me the math of all this. I’ll even swallow projections. And then, we’ll just do it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


It's mythical. It's filthy. It's beautiful. It's Jersey.

I grew up in New York State just a few feet from the New Jersey border. Though we were officially New Yorkers, we did most everything (okay, retail) in New Jersey.

I am here now, visiting my brother who hopped seven blocks--from the New York end of the neighborhood into the New Jersey end. I have to say, the New Jersey end is nicer. More upscale for sure. And certainly loaded with trees and birds.

There is a thrill about taking a train out of Manhattan. You know, everyone loves New York...but secretly, what everyone REALLY loves about New York is how easy it is to GET THE FUCK OUT when you need to and to GET THE FUCK IN when you've had enough of suburbia.

It's a thrill...New Jersey. There are real people here who plant trees for a living. I drank a whole bottle of home made wine. Sure, the grapes come from California...but these Jersey freaks make wine every year in their garage...I am all for it.

Look, we all know New Jersey has its own sense of cool. It's a grounded place. It's industrial as hell. There are some pretty fabulous suburbs. And the people are ready to rumble.

But really, what it's all about...it's about these trains.

It Gets So Late

Something about being in New York but still sort of living in California that makes a man unclear about his time zone.

I don’t mind so much. I’ve always been a night person. Actually, in New York, I am even more nighty because it gets real quiet and that’s how I like it.

Funny, I am so sound sensitive and it has little to do with my ears. It’s the larger problem of taking in energy. Whatever is happening outside of me, I simply take it in and it resonates in me. I guess this is my “artistic sensitivity.” But one would like a little more control over when that kind of thing comes in.

I actually don’t want to shut off this inflow. And I don’t want to control it. But it gets to be a bit much at times. So the best I can do is to limit the volume coming at me. Staying up late helps.

And if you don’t drink, you can get a lot done.

I am back at my book. (Thanks Noel and Moose Purse).

So much traveling around, lately. It feels great to sit and focus. To construct and edit.

Time expands. Experience is full and very internal and grounding.

Things become clear.

Monday, March 23, 2009


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Don't be alarmed. It's just a church yard. Simple. It is Spring in New York. We just need the winter wind to go away.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Visiting Blogger: On British Pop, Daniel Kaufman

I was listening to some Lily Allen and I formulated a question that I sent to my good friend, Dan Kaufman, who used to live in Great Britain.

The question was this:

Why is Great Britain the only country in Europe that really understands pop (I refer mostly to music, but other forms of pop as examples are welcome)?

Discuss in terms of cultural history
Island geography
Imperialism, including its relation to the birth of The United States
Superior aesthetic compared with France, Germany, Italy and Spain
Paganism, local natural forces, resistance to the church
The class system

And now, a few words from Daniel Kaufman:

Brit blacks.

The blacks who brought their music to the UK did it by way of Jamaica. Jamaican pop music was their version of what they heard from the American radio they were able to pick up on the island.

There was no interesting pop music in the UK until Jamaicans got there in the 50s. You need a folk culture that isn't constrained by the need to remain pure and black people to reinterpret it through their African lens.

In fact, American/English folk, like our language and culture, always sought to appropriate what is best about societies we encountered by whatever means.

I remember being at a festival in Strassburg listening to a brass band. They had the same instruments, or similar variations, of the ones played by Duke Ellington's group, but the music that came out was incredibly stale polka. It had no swing, no soul singing rhythm, no crotch grabbing beat. It probably sounded the same for the past 200 years.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Cool Woods

I have never seen an episode of Jay Leno before tonight. There, I admit it.

I’ve walked by and the television was on and he would be talking and I didn’t care too much.

But I wanted to see my furor.

So I hauled out the little television here in Queens and set it up on the little table and I propped the rabbit ears on the sill and I sat there and watched.

Jay Leno was funny, sometimes. Which was pleasing. A 99 cent store roast, parading out silly products, tickled some.

And then out came our literate guy, the man with the answers, the Health Care/Energy/Education president. A very cool customer.

A smart guy. Right?

I thought, “Oh yeah, he’s like all of our friends except if he was in our group, he’d be the smartest one.”

I am so glad he’s the smartest one.

He stays on point. But his smile, his talking about the silliness of his motorcade, his daughter’s love of candy on the plane, the future dog, all of it, was pretty much perfect smooth television. No wonder this guy won. He’s our Havel. He’s actually creative.

And Jay Leno, a righty, was completely gracious and only cut Obama off (not allowing positive applause to last too long) when a conversational topic had a whiff of government spending about it. ---One wonders why Jay Leno cares---Hard wired?

Obama is a great big story teller and perfect little story teller. He is forest and trees. Fresh.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Question to any Republicans about Obama

How can you remain so unexcited about someone with such a huge stimulus package?

We’ll be here all week…

The Class

The French movie, The Class, if you can find it playing, go see it.

All the best intentions cannot move the immovable.

Some can change.

Some cannot.

Is change possible or is it even right to try to help someone change?

Who is stupid, but not really?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


It’s homosexuality? Let’s face it. This Bromance is.

Even I, a card carrying gay guy, would never sidle up to some guy who is not my boyfriend.

I mean, I have very strong friendships with straight guys. And we even hug hello. It’s lovely. It’s no different than saying hello to a female friend and giving her a peck on the cheek.

But this whole bonding and deep loving thing between two grown men? If it isn’t twisted homosexuality, then I don’t know what it is.

Except for this:

Years ago, when I was the tin man in the Wizard of Oz in this children’s theatre truck show (Oh man), my roommate was the scarecrow. We were excellent friends. Every night in a Day’s Inn.

Then: The wrestling in our underwear began. Which usually ended with us sitting in the bed together, holding hands, watching T.V. I imagined one simple thing: Gay gay this is gay, gay. Take off those drawers.

But it wasn’t? The guy said he looked up to me. He thought I was cool. He said he wasn’t gay but if he was, it was me who he’d be gay for. He said his father was real old and he never got to really bond with him. Ultimately, he lacked male camaraderie, love, affection and he was working that out, underwear wrestling, in a Day’s Inn. And he swore that’s all it was. People.

After a couple of weeks of this carrying on, he had a full blown relationship with the freaky woman who was in love with me who I was in no position to be in love with and told her so.

So perhaps, perhaps, my wrestler really was just a guy looking for a Bromance. It could be true. We were in our twenties and it all felt a little bit like we were twelve and he was working something out. It was sweet and I guess harmless.

So maybe men, all men, need man love. I don’t know. It’s so confusing.

You go to a gay bar in West Hollywood, you used to get a hunky gay guy who waited on you. Now, it’s a sweet Guatemalan woman named Cleritze. There’s no order any longer.

It’s all turned on its ear.

So let whoever wants to have their Bromance. I just find it all a little confusing. I don’t understand what it’s about.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Obama is Up to Something

I believe the president is warning against optimism for a quick recovery for the economy because he knows it will take a few years to switch to our green economy with greater affordable health care.

Sure, we could have another bubble, I guess, in something…and pretend the economy/culture is thriving, but bubbles run out. And when they do, that just means we’ve exhausted the bubble possibilities. Time to change things.

When the economy starts taking off in three years, just in time for the next election, President Obama will be well situated for reelection.

He is up to something.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Queens is the Future

From the window of my apartment in New York you can see the sign, "Queens is the Future."

Adam, my Recognized-by-the-state-of-California-Domestic-Partner, made a tuber about it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Separate but What?

I think of Ann Coulter, Rush, the others…and I say, sure, the gimmick used to work…

The problem with the howlings of the right is the judgmental brimstone.

They don’t see it as fervor, but that’s all it is. An addiction to adrenalin.

A very large fear danced very large.

People, especially black and white thinking people, want to feel separate and better. I understand it. I want to feel separate and better, too. But I fight it. Strive all, sure. But why not give other people health care, too, while you go after your mania? Or understand people who are not as strong or as smart as you are? Or as thin or as energetic or as assertive. Or as greedy.

You are not better. Get off the fear wagon and join us. We’ll have you. Jump in. Use your intelligence to solve problems. Do not to run away from challenges with your smiling chime, “The free market will take care of it.”

You’re smart people. Help out. Join us. Make it all work better. Get in there and figure out some efficient ways to do things. And we’ll grow on that.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Central European Ball Cutters

I was reading in the newspaper tonight about legal castration in The Czech Republic for sex offenders.

Sure, why not?

A couple of years ago, traveling around Germany, we went to a medieval punishment museum. I thought the punishments were equal to the crimes. Big masks with waggy tongues for those who talk too much, stockades for thieves, a cage here and there for the morally repugnant…

Is corporal punishment crueler than living in a cell? I don’t think so.

If I had to choose between thirty days in a cage in the town square having people throw garbage at me or three years in a dark cell, I’d take the cage and the garbage.

Now, if I was a sex offender (and I am so grateful that I don’t find anyone under twenty-five years old attractive), but if I was a sex offender…and I just could not control myself, I guess I would just ask to fix it. Just do it. Fast. Cut them. Dice them. Call it a day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Cabin Life

Strangely, living in New York City in a studio apartment, is like a trek back in time. No dishwasher. Laundry in the basement. Not so much space. You know, the rough life.

I wonder why we shy away from small labors. They make you feel very in control of your life.

Though I am completely more comfortable with house living, this small apartment living is worth mentioning. It forces you to be very introspective. Spare. Almost Japanese. I feel less crass, yet oddly downscale, too.

But purer. Closer to the bone.

Am I shallow to respond so much to my surroundings?

Or young.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Bring on the Socialism

What’s all this talk about Obama being a Socialist? I wish it were true!

I think Obama wants to be liked by everyone, so I imagine a very moderate guy, making some smart moves, getting some things in place to regulate this and that, getting more uninsured people insured…hardly Socialist. I see an incremental leader making up for many of the increments that were not touched over the past eight years. But a revolutionary? Hardly.

Please, health care. Get to it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

This is my Greenpoint

You can walk from our apartment in Queens to Brooklyn. Sure, it's a long walk, through Jackson Heights, Woodside, Sunnyside, Hunter's Point, over the Pulaski Bridge into Greenpoint...but you can do it. And we did. Our reward? A large Polish meal at Christina's. Great Polish food at 1981 prices. The Warka beer went with it correctly. I doubled up on the pierogies. Greenpoint. Yes.

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God of Carnage

God of Carnage, by Yasmina Reza, is one of those plays where you know something awful is going to go down and you just can’t wait for it to blow up.

The cast, get ready: Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden (as the Beaver).

You guys—if you are in New York, zip right down to see it (Jacobs Theatre, West 45th Street). It you are not in New York, by all means, jump on a plane (big sales right now) and see it.

Look, Yasmina Reza is really smart and really funny. She understands the worst nature of human beings. However, she treats it lightly. She is indicting and forgiving at once, something I aspire to be.

The play is simple: One kid breaks two teeth of another kid in a playground. We never meet the kids. We just watch the two sets of parents talk about it. Jeff Daniels is a nasty lawyer, completely honest about his me-first lifestyle. Hope Davis plays his wife. She attempts to smoothe things over. And is a bit of a puker.

Marcia Gay Harden, the conscience in heels, devolves incredibly beautifully as the mother of the child victim who lost his teeth. James Gandolfini, her long suffering and depressed hardware wholesaler, is wise beyond his station.

All four of the actors are outrageously spot on.

The direction, by Matthew Warchus, is as smooth and deep as Y. Reza’s writing. The set design, grotesquely overstated and understated at once, that is to say, a minimalist apartment-loft in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn expanded to a grotesque size, sets you into rage and quease.

The play is a bit like Albee’s The Goat or Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? But who cares! What play isn’t?

The translation from the French by Christopher Hampton is another stroke of brilliance. He replaces all precious-parent Parisian references with precious-parent Brooklyn references, so much so, that one understands my friend Megan’s lament about the place, “The borough that is dead to me.”

Look, once in a while a great play comes along (Let’s remember, she also wrote Art), and when that happens, and you want to be thrilled, you should just do it. Jump over.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Don Has Facebook Ass

I finally did it. I made a folder and a rule in Outlook. So whenever the Facebook notifications come, they go into my Facebook folder, where they can sit.

I know, you say I can turn off notifications on Facebook and stop this madness…with no need to filter out those pesky messages into their own folder.

But it is good to read them as they come in willy nilly. Then, push them to the side for a while.

How long can a person sit at a computer and work?

To spend your life at a terminal? Really? Because you like sciatic pain?

Up and off, push back, go outside.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Fizzle of Adrenalin: A Depression

Talking fiscally with my agent, and steering him away from, “This is the toughest year…” toward something more optimistic like, “My play is so cheap to produce!” we stumbled upon something, or rather, my agent did and I noticed it.

He said, “No regulation is fun. It’s exciting. Capitalism is exciting. You feel like anything can happen. But it doesn’t work.”

Nice work.

Could it be that libertarians and conservatives and all sorts of Republican types are simply addicts who are addicted to the thrill of the hunt? After all, they do acquire much and then they want to acquire more, so it can’t really be the acquisition that is satisfying. It must be the hunt. And they don’t want us to muck with that. Why? Because it’s the only thing that might be keeping THEM from falling into a miserable depression.

Ever notice when you are in a manic state that what lurks beneath is a desperate despair you are trying to avoid?

Could a fiscal environment that lacks regulation be the propitious arena where depressed and hungry monkeys can assuage their dipping brain chemistry by rampant hunting? Thus, revving up their dopamine? And who knows what other neurotransmitters!?

It has been proven, or at least shown in a study, that liberals are a gloomy bunch. Liberals foresee problems before they happen, worry more in general, think more about others and do tend toward pessimism. Sure. I’ll buy that. So, a world that is more depressed might seem more normal to the liberal soul.

A world that is more depressed disgusts the conservative fighter. And I understand why. I prefer to be a prospector. Joyful. On the hunt. But too much of that and what do you get? This.