Tuesday, September 30, 2008


"Practice at any stage is just being who we are at that moment. It's not a question of being good or bad, better or worse. Sometimes after my talks people will say, 'I don't understand that.' And that's perfect too. Our understanding grows over the years, but at any point we are perfect in being what we are."

-- Charlotte Joko Beck, "Everyday Zen"

(Photo: Construction gate in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Sept. 2008)

Monday, September 29, 2008


This huge mural by the British artist Banksy just went up in SoHo, at the corner of Wooster and Grand. Turns out that Banksy himself didn't paint the side of the building, but instead contracted with a sign-painting company to do it. That's prompted a lot of spirited debate among my Flickr friends about the nature of art, specifically street art, and especially Banksy's work.

Some people think Banksy is the ultimate sell-out for commercializing his name and "brand" on ventures like this. But the way I look at it, virtually any street art could be called self-promotion, and artists have a long history of employing assistants to help with pieces. I don't see anything wrong with Banksy having professional painters put up a huge piece that he designed but wouldn't be able to execute on his own. (Particularly given his famously secretive persona.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008


“Ask yourself: How has elitism become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth -- in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn’t seem too intelligent or well-educated.”

-- Sam Harris, Newsweek, 9/29/08

(Photo: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Sept. 2008)

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I went grocery shopping last night to pick up a few things, and I was shocked by how expensive everything has become. Groceries in Manhattan are always absurd, but take a look at my list:

Frozen Tropicana OJ............2.39
Gallon milk..........................4.99
Peanut butter........................3.79
Can tomatoes (2@1.99 ea.)....3.98
Progresso soup (4@3.69 ea.).14.76
Yuban coffee (12 oz.)..............5.99
Arnold bread.........................3.99
Ronzoni fettucini...................2.49
Dannon yogurt (32 oz.)..........3.99


And that doesn't include any fresh produce (which I buy from the produce cart, where it's much cheaper). This is at Gristede's, which is just your average Manhattan grocery -- nothing special.

I remember when I lived in Florida I could buy a cart full of groceries, including produce and all sorts of odds and ends, for roughly this much. Crazy!

(Photo: Another Reya-inspired shot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Sept. 2008)

Friday, September 26, 2008


We are getting quite a bit of rain this morning. I'm lying in bed listening to it fall. I don't know of any more wonderful sound than a rainstorm outside when you're lying in bed inside.

New York moments:

-- I was walking to work Wednesday when I passed a man standing at a fruit cart, holding what looked like a self-help book titled “Who Stole My Bananas?” And he was buying bananas!

-- On the subway I saw a slender, blond, very attractive woman with extremely full, extremely lipsticky lips, reading a book called “Whores and Other Feminists.” Which turns out to be a series of essays by women who work in the sex industry.

(Photo: String curtain in a cafe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Sept. 2008)

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I thought this pay phone, with its "destroy" and "rebuild" stickers, was a good metaphor for our dire economic time. The market surges, it crashes, it surges again; stocks go up and down; the tide comes in and it goes out. Destroy and rebuild indeed.

I haven't been too nervous about the markets and their fluctuations. I don't plan to cash out anytime soon, so paper losses and gains mean nothing to me. It's what happens over the long term -- say, the next couple of decades -- that will really decide whether or not I eat cat food in my retirement. Besides, I figure that as long as all our savings and investments drop in concert, we'll all be in the same boat, more or less. Everything is relative, right?

Which is not to say I'm shrugging off our economic crash. I think there are serious questions about the federal bailout and its viability, and who we're really helping. Some people need their money now, and they're going to be in pain. And Bush's speech last night did give me a sense of foreboding.

Still, this is all part of the long haul. It's a serious storm, but it's one we'll weather, one way or another. We have to. Destroy and rebuild.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


When I was a kid, my mom, who worked at the University of South Florida, would occasionally take me and my brother to theater productions there. We’d put on our suit jackets from J.C. Penney, and our clip-on ties, and go see “Pippin” or “West Side Story.” It was an exciting night out and it taught us to enjoy, and how to behave at, a live performance.

One year the production we were seeing -- it may have been “Pippin” -- shared the printed program with the play “Equus.” I remember the program featured a line drawing of a horse. I told Mom I wanted to see “Equus” too, but she said no, that was an adult play. Ever since then, even after reading about it here and there, I’ve wanted an opportunity to see it.

Finally, last night, I got the chance. Equus is on Broadway now with Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame). It’s certainly a dark play, about a troubled young man who makes horses the subject of his social frustrations and sexual passion. It’s told through the man’s sessions with his psychiatrist, and the play explores religion and repression and other themes.

Gee, why would my mother have objected?

Anyway, it’s a terrific play, and the actors do a great job. And I feel like I finally filled a long-standing gap in my cultural history!

(Photo: Shadow of a chair on Broadway in Midtown, Sept. 2008)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Here's another favorite piece of street art -- this one found on my weekend walk through Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It's by the French stencil artist C215. I love the detail in this piece, and the remarkable way the artist depicts light on the face of the cat. Genius!

By the way, I found out a little more about Elbow-Toe's blue jay, for those of you who asked. It's a linocut, or a print made by carving into linoleum. The colors are stenciled on first, and the black details added last.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Horse Chestnut

The horse chestnut tree outside my window has taken on a tattered, autumnal look. Every spring it starts out fresh and ridiculously green, like here, and as the summer passes the leaves begin to crisp around the edges and get brown spots. Pretty soon the whole tree will turn yellow.

Here's a silly video of me, courtesy of Lettuce, who filmed it while we were in the Catskills a couple of weeks ago with Ched.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Yesterday was a terrific day -- the weather was pretty much perfect, and I walked from the Lower East Side across the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn, and then up through Greenpoint to Long Island City, Queens. I was out virtually all day taking photos and just enjoying myself. Found a great used clothing store where I got a groovy tie-dyed t-shirt for $8!

Then, last night, I went to see Jane Goodall speak about her work with chimpanzees. When I was a kid we got National Geographic magazine, and anyone who read the Geographic in the 1960s knows all about Goodall and her work. So seeing her live was quite amazing. I think it's fair to say she helped awaken in me a love of Africa, which I've never lost.

(Photo: Leaf in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Sept. 2008)

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Inspired by my recent visit to the Woodstock concert site, I spent last night watching “Woodstock,” Michael Wadleigh's documentary about the festival. I remember watching it years ago, as a teenager, and loving the music -- and it remains a great movie and a terrific piece of documentary filmmaking. Thank God someone was there with cameras to record musical and cultural history being made. (But why wasn’t Melanie in the movie?)

My post yesterday shows why I could never be a theater critic. Apparently “A Tale of Two Cities” has been universally panned by the critical establishment and the fate of the show is in doubt. I actually enjoyed it! I guess I just don’t have a very critical eye. Unless something is a real stinker, I’m likely to be entertained.

(Photo: Chelsea, Aug. 2008)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Opening Night

Last night I went with my friend Jay to the opening night of “A Tale of Two Cities,” a new musical on Broadway. Jay is a theater critic for the paper where I used to work in Sarasota, Fla., and this production got its start at a theater there. The opening was quite an event -- the men in black tie, the women in beaded, shimmery gowns. (I just wore my suit, which worked OK, since it’s dark. I didn’t see any need to try to procure a tuxedo.)

I enjoyed the production, which is smart and well-paced, and the music is pleasant. The performances, set design and costumes are terrific. Unfortunately, there’s no catchy number to latch onto -- nothing that you leave the theater humming -- and the show seemed a bit derivative of “Les Miserables” in its overall look. But given the time period and setting, I’m not sure how you’d avoid that.

When we first sat down, I noticed an older woman in front of us, quite beautiful and dressed in a beaded white jacket. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t figure out who she was. She was eating a huge Hershey bar. Then her companion, introducing her to someone, gave her name: Celeste Holm.

So during the show I was partly distracted by the fact that I was two seats away from a Hollywood legend.

After the show, Jay and I went to Cipriani on Wall Street for the opening night party, a huge affair with an open bar and bazillions of people (far more than were at the actual show). I had a couple of gin & tonics and just soaked in the scenery, chatting with people from Sarasota. We were probably the only people celebrating on Wall Street yesterday.

I left with a swag bag, containing some very bizarre items like foot cream, wrinkle cream and something for painful joints. (Very Sarasota, this swag bag.) About the only thing I kept was a box of Le Petit Ecolier biscuits; I gave the rest to Jay.

Home at 1 a.m. What a night!

Addendum: The New York Times hated it.

(Photo: Stencil in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Sept. 2008)

Thursday, September 18, 2008


You know how old-fashioned stockings used to have a seam? When women wore them, you’d see a dark line running down the back of each leg. Well, last night, on Broadway near SoHo, I saw a woman who’d had those lines tattooed onto her legs -- she wasn’t wearing any stockings at all, but she had seams. Interesting.

I bought a big bag of pears at the grocery store a few days ago, and now my refrigerator smells wonderful.

(Photo: Chelsea, Aug. 2008)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Part of my editing job over the past several years has been to read the food columns that run in the smaller newspapers owned by the company where I work. These newspapers are mostly in the South, and to say that Southern cooking is different would be an understatement. We still laugh about the time one of our columnists wrote about “Deep-fried Macaroni and Cheese with Mayonnaise Dipping Sauce.”

Now we’ve developed methods by which readers can submit their own recipes to the newspapers, creating an online database. That’s how, quite by accident, I found this little gem:

1 package instant butterscotch pudding
2 chopped apples, do not peel
1 small can crushed pineapple
1 cup dry-roasted peanuts
8 ounces Cool Whip
Cooking Instructions: Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Good Lord! I love how this is called a “salad.” As in, “Gee, I need to lose some weight. I think I’ll just have a salad.” Anybody who ate this would consume about 4,000 calories.

I also came across a “Cauliflower Salad” that contained two cups of mayonnaise, 1 cup of cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar and 8 to 10 pieces of crumbled bacon. Oh yeah, and some cauliflower.

Lipitor, anyone?

(Photo: Chipped paint in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Sept. 2008. I thought it looked a bit like Earth seen from space!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Last week I saw Woody Allen's movie "Vicky Christina Barcelona," which I really liked. It gave me the feeling that I should be more adventurous in living my life, you know? Why shouldn't I go to Barcelona for the summer and have a crazy affair with a married Spaniard? (OK, so I don't have the money and I'm over the hill. Are those reasons?)

I'm only half kidding. I love movies that remind me that there's a big world out there, both geographically and emotionally, and I should go live in it more often. I think we all need those reminders. Otherwise we'd all come home to our studio apartments every night and eat peanut butter.

I thought Penelope Cruz was great. I'm really a fan of hers. She is beautiful, with a kind of dark, take-your-breath-away, Sophia Loren fierceness and intenstity.

(Photo: Sag Harbor, Sept. 2008)

Monday, September 15, 2008

David Foster Wallace

I was sorry to read yesterday about the suicide of author David Foster Wallace. Though he’s probably best known for his novel “Infinite Jest” -- which I’ve never read -- I remember him for a piece he wrote in Harper’s magazine in 1996.

I save very few articles. But I do have a file folder that contains those I just couldn’t bear to throw out, and Wallace’s piece is one of them. It’s a hilarious and brilliant dissection of the experience of going on a luxury cruise.

I got it out last night and re-read it. One of the introductory paragraphs:

“I have seen a lot of really big white ships. I have seen schools of little fish with fins that glow. I have seen and smelled all 145 cats inside the Ernest Hemingway residence in Key West, Florida. I now know the difference between straight Bingo and Prize-O. I have seen fluorescent luggage and fluorescent sunglasses and fluorescent pince-nez and over twenty different makes of rubber thong. I have heard steel drums and eaten conch fritters and watched a woman in silver lame projectile-vomit inside a glass elevator. I have pointed rhythmically at the ceiling to the two-four beat of the same disco music I hated pointing at the ceiling to in 1977.”

I wish I could convey the brilliance of this article, but really the only way to do that would be to reprint the article itself -- footnotes and all. (I think it did make its way into one of Wallace’s books, but I’m not sure.)

He describes the temperature of the ship, which he dubs the “Nadir,” as “uterine” and the outlandish luxury of meals where passengers could get two, even three whole lobsters. (“Not until Tuesday’s lobster night in the (restaurant) did I really empathetically understand the Roman phenomenon of the vomitorium.”) And he portrays so perfectly his fellow passengers, in their heavyset, guileless, typically American bluster. It’s laugh-out-loud funny.

But he also gets at the sad heart of an experience that’s meant to sate a passenger’s every desire, yet ultimately teaches only that every desire can never be sated -- that human nature is such that we manufacture desires no matter what richness surrounds us. One paragraph seemed especially prescient, and perhaps gives some insight into the more recent news about Wallace:

“There’s something about a mass-market luxury cruise that’s unbearably sad. Like most unbearably sad things, it seems incredibly elusive and complex in its causes yet simple in its effect: On board the Nadir (especially at night, when all the ship’s structured fun and reassurances and gaiety ceased) I felt despair. The word ‘despair’ is overused and banalized now, but it’s a serious word, and I’m using it seriously. It’s close to what people call dread or angst, but it’s not these things, quite. It’s more like wanting to die in order to escape the unbearable sadness of knowing I’m small and weak and selfish and going, without doubt, to die. It’s wanting to jump overboard.”

(Photo: Second Avenue, Sept. 2008)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blue Jay

Here are some photos of one of my current favorite pieces of street art, by the artist Elbow-Toe. Great stuff, huh?

Yesterday I went walking in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and found tons more art. So if you're into it, stay tuned on my Flickr!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

World Music

Today, I thought I'd share a couple of fun world music videos.

The first, by the Iranian singer Googoosh, I blatantly stole from Tut-Tut's blog just because I really love it.

But hearing it reminded me of a song I liked when I lived in Morocco, by the singer Majida al-Roumi. Called "Al Kalemat," or "Words," I first heard it when I was working in a remote health clinic and I bought the cassette as soon as I got to a major market nearby. Be warned: It's a long song, and you can ignore the cheesy visuals in the video. Just listen to the music.


(Photo: Random street art in Chelsea, Sept. 2008)

Friday, September 12, 2008


In reading "Affluenza," I was struck by a Bible verse that the authors excerpted as a chapter heading. Here's the version from my great-grandfather's old Bible:

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. -- Timothy I, 6: 7-10

I thought that was exceptionally well-put. It describes so much of the misery in the current economy, and came to mind as I was reading this morning about the apparent collapse of Lehman Brothers. I don't pretend to be completely content with just "food and raiment," but I think the reminder to consider what we really need is worthwhile.

(Photo: Sag Harbor, Sept. 2008)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

After Sept. 11

Two days after the terrorist attacks in 2001, I wrote this column about what life in New York was like at that moment. I wrote it for the newspapers I work for, but none of them used it, being deluged with more urgent and less reflective stories. In retrospect, I probably tried to be a little too optimistic -- it sounds a bit forced -- but let's face it, I was still in shock. At any rate, here it is, never before published.

The wind shifted Wednesday, finally bringing the black, burned-rubber smell of disaster to the upper reaches of Manhattan.

Until then, many like me – living on the Upper East or Upper West sides, working in the concrete canyons of Midtown – had little direct exposure to the unspeakable destruction in the city’s financial district. Some could see the World Trade Center from their office windows, but I work on a lower floor and can’t see that far downtown. Like the rest of America, I watched everything on television.

I learned what happened when I emerged from the subway in Times Square on Tuesday morning, into a standstill crowd gazing up at a massive TV screen. Both planes had already struck. I walked the block to my office, past unknowing pedestrians who seemed perplexed at my tears.

By Tuesday night, a plume of smoke was clearly visible down the broad avenues of the Upper East Side, set off by an eerie urban glow as it drifted south over New York Harbor.

But the tangle of metal, the ash and crushed concrete, were all out of sight, miles away from the tony apartment houses of Park Avenue and the tree-lined terraces of Fifth Avenue, or the more humble apartments of Yorkville.

In upper Manhattan, life is resuming a semblance of dampened, shell-shocked routine. Many people are going to work again, even as they protest that there’s no way they can concentrate. Subways are running, at least partially, and some bridges and tunnels have reopened to New Jersey and Queens.

Of course, that’s not to say we’re removed from the carnage.

On the door of my gym, for example, relatives of one young man – a 26-year-old broker who worked on the 86th floor of one of the World Trade towers – posted a sign seeking information about him. I don’t recognize him, but I wonder who else is missing. How many other people I saw every week, there or at Gristede’s grocery or in the hall of my apartment building, will I never see again? How many windows in the apartment houses around me will remain dark?

When I see a familiar face I’m thankful, even if I only know the person by sight – the blond woman on the treadmill who works out every Thursday, for example. She was there this morning, one element of a fractured daily routine in its proper place. I felt like hugging her, and I don’t even know her name.

Aside from the burned-out smell, we see other reminders. A woman on the subway read The New Yorker, her arm bandaged after a blood donation. A man sat holding an orange safety vest and a surgeon’s mask, headed south to the disaster zone. Supermarket shelves are devoid of bread, and bogus bomb threats continually empty buildings.

A prolific street artist chalked “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” on the sidewalks along Lexington Avenue. Someone scratched that out and wrote beneath it, “No tolerance for terrorism.” It’s anyone’s guess what will happen next.

I wonder whether we will ever again build on such a scale. Will we still erect monumental testaments to engineering, freestanding vertical cities in themselves that make such easy targets?

Yet the green peppers are piled high in the grocery, and the man who sells toy cars from a card table at the corner of 87th Street and Lexington was back at his post Thursday. I watched a woman stop on Columbus Avenue to examine a display of Calphalon cookware in a store window.

We are all balanced precariously between shock and daily life, uncertain how to proceed with what seems so trivial. Today I am less likely to burst into spontaneous tears, as I did repeatedly Tuesday and Wednesday. I slept six hours on Wednesday night, after two the night before. I’m unbelievably lucky, because all my friends seem accounted for – even those who worked in the fallen twins.

As has often been said, none of us will ever be the same. The world is a different place, and I feel older, less naïve, more able to believe in evil on a colossal scale.

But I also think the door to this dark room I inhabit will open. The smoke will clear – as it did Thursday in upper Manhattan when the wind shifted again – and while I and my neighbors are forever changed and uncertainty rules the moment, I think we’ll see light again. Even here.

(Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001)

(Photo: 9/11 mural in the East Village, c. 2003, now painted over.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I really like this photo from my weekend in Sag Harbor, because I was lucky enough to snap it just as a bee was hovering near these flowers. You can see the bee near the left side of the cluster of blossoms, and its shadow down below.

Last night I went to see Wall-E. Like most of the Pixar movies I've seen, it was terrific. A great commentary on the direction of our society and our all-consuming, leisure-addicted, polluting lifestyles. I'm not sure about the wisdom of personifying robots so heavily, but whatever.

Yesterday I created a "memory map" on Flickr. Click here for a visual illustration of my childhood in Florida!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Not much to report today. I'm getting back into my routines after my weekend trip. Unfortunately I also feel like I might be getting sick, but maybe I'm just tired. I'm going to take it easy the rest of this week and hopefully this feeling will pass!

I'm reading an interesting book called "Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic." It's about consumerism, the psychology that drives Americans to be hyper-consumers, and the ways that corporations try to maintain our levels of desire, shopping and debt. Fascinating!

Last night I watched a movie called "The Fan," from 1981, one of those films that every gay man is supposed to know. It features Lauren Bacall as a Broadway star who's being stalked by a deranged male fan. I didn't love it, but I can see why it has earned a following, with its tough iconic female lead, cute stalker and campy special effects.

(Photo: A city tree in SoHo, Aug. 2008)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sag Harbor

I just got back from a terrific weekend in Sag Harbor, out on Long Island, with my friend Stuart. It was kind of a last-minute trip, and really welcome and needed, especially since I didn’t get away for Labor Day. Stuart has a beautiful house out there.

On Saturday we cooked and ran errands and even went out to the beach to watch the big gray waves from Tropical Storm Hanna crashing in. The sky was very dramatic -- layers and layers of clouds, all moving very quickly -- but the storm never turned into much. We had quite a bit of rain, but away from the beach it wasn’t especially windy.

Sunday was gloriously sunny, and we walked through town, went down to the wharf to look at the yachts, and I even went running. (I only went about four miles and that nearly killed me, so clearly I’ve fallen somewhat out of shape. Back on the treadmill!)

It was such a great weekend that I’m sorry to be home. And that’s rare for me -- usually I’m happy to get back to my routines!

When I was in downtown Sag Harbor a couple of years ago, I took photos of some seashells lined up on a windowsill. They’re all still there, as you can see from the photos above, from this weekend. Makes me wonder how long they’ve been there, weathering like that!

Friday, September 5, 2008


Last night I went to see Joan Baez speak and sing at the 92nd Street Y. I try to go see her whenever I can -- she’s practically a goddess as far as I’m concerned. I saw her back when I lived in Florida, and again several years ago at Town Hall here in New York. Last night, she was speaking in Q&A format with Anthony DeCurtis, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the talk was about the ‘60s. She talked about Dylan, about her brother-in-law Richard Farina and her sister Mimi, about traveling to Hanoi and practicing nonviolence in the civil rights era.

She choked up when she began telling the story of seeing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak when she was 16 years old, and asked the interviewer to move on to another question. But she later talked about King again, saying he was a funny, laid-back man.

She talked of riding to dinner in a car with King, Jesse Jackson and other civil rights leaders on the eve of a protest. She thought she’d have the privilege of hearing them plan a march. Instead, they told jokes the whole time and King indulged himself with a second piece of apple pie for dessert. When she later told one of the men she’d expected to hear plans laid for the march, he replied, “You did.”

She said she’s never endorsed candidates and hates party politics. But she's made an exception for Barack Obama, because she thinks he can unite the disparate elements of activism into a “community” that hasn’t existed since the ‘60s. (She called more recent decades the “hateful time,” or something like that.)

She sang one early song, one middle-period song and one recent song: “There But for Fortune,” “Diamonds and Rust” and “Day After Tomorrow,” the title track from her newest album, which comes out next week.

She talked about how her voice has changed as she’s aged. It’s gotten deeper -- as she put it, gravity acts on everything. Still, it’s always a thrill to hear her sing. Her voice is so familiar it’s comforting, and I admire her so much. She’s awesome.

(Photo: SoHo, Aug. 2008)

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I was walking in SoHo this weekend when I passed a shop called Leekan Designs. The shop was closed and the window grate was down, which cast amazing shadows on the statuary displayed in the window. I could just barely squeeze my lens through gaps in the grate to get clear shots.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Wow, did I sleep soundly last night. I went to sleep at 10 p.m. or so, and next thing I knew it was 6:30. I was still exhausted from all the painting and walking I did over the weekend. Now I really feel refreshed!

Had a nice visit with Barbara and her husband David yesterday. I gave them a 10-cent tour of The New York Times and then we had lunch in the cafeteria. They were in town to see "Hair," and I was happy to see later on David's Twitter that they thought it was "amazing"!

(Twitter is interesting, but I can't imagine using it regularly. I can barely keep up a daily blog, much less zapping regular posts to the Web throughout the day! But as David pointed out, it can be good for letting people know what you're up to on vacation.)

(Photo: Door with a discreet curlicue in SoHo, Aug. 2008)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Backyard Singer

Whew! I finished painting yesterday afternoon, and the place looks great. My right hand is incredibly sore from holding the roller, but otherwise I seem to have come through unscathed.

While painting, I had an interesting encounter with one of my neighbors. He was out in has back yard, which is just below my window, about 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, singing operatically at the top of his lungs. People shouted at him from the surrounding windows to pipe down, but he ignored them, and sang off and on all day. He was singing again Sunday (”The Impossible Dream,” I think in Spanish) although he started at a later hour.

Finally, Sunday afternoon, I called down to him as he stood in his backyard and asked him nicely to please not sing so loud. He took great offense, telling me that I should ask the birds and trucks to be quiet too, and calling me all sorts of unprintable names. I told him if he kept it up I’d call the cops.

Interestingly, he did stop singing. But yesterday he marched around his yard in a rant, yelling obscenities for at least half an hour. I think he was ranting at being asked to stop singing, though I’m not entirely sure. I filed a noise complaint with the city.

Clearly this guy is not balanced. I’ve seen him on the street and to say he is eccentric would be an understatement. I recognize the need for compassion in such situations, but at the same time, his behavior is unfair to everyone else. And I want him on the police radar.

Am I being unreasonable?

(Photo: Subway graffiti, Bleecker Street)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Painting 2

Some of you asked to see photos of me in my Zen getup. I really didn't have any until my friend Jesse offered to photograph me during our recent retreat. Jesse is a photographer extraordinaire, as you can see from these two shots.

If you'd like more, here's a slide show from the week before and during the retreat, showing some preparations and activities of our group.

The apartment painting continues. I've made really good progress, but I still have another half-day of painting ahead of me. For such a small apartment, it's a hell of a job!

(Photo: Cables on the Lower East Side, Aug. 2008)