Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Excerpt/New York City

I check out several library books each week, usually dashing into the midtown branch of the New York Public library 15 or minutes before it closes, making choices mostly on titles and blurbs alone, preferring to get the package home and open it like a present. Sometimes I'm disappointed, as when I checked out a book last week on the famous philosophers and found it abysmally written, but other times I get gems.

Yesterday, though, I was in my own neighborhood and decided to pop into my local branch to see if I could find a CD promising to teach the listener Spanish. I found one but also found another thick book, "Writing New York: A Literary Anthology", containing essays about the town written, as I discovered when I cracked the book this morning, by Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe and other giants of literature.

Each morning the temptation is there to fill my head with junk knowledge from internet headlines. I resist with the good stuff, and, this morning, as I say, cracked my new book, wondering if it would entice or repel. I came across this:

"New York City is the most fatally fascinating thing in America. She sits like a great white witch at the gate of the country, showing her alluring white face, and hiding her crooked hands and feet under the folds of her white garments---constantly enticing thousands from far within, and tempting those who come from across the sea to go no farther.

And all these become the victims of her caprice. Some she crushes beneath her cruel feet; others she condemns to a fate like that of galley slaves; a few she favors and fondles, riding them high on the bubbles of fortune; then with a sudden breath, she blows the bubbles out and laughs mockingly as she watches them fall."

James Weldon Johnson, "The autobiography of an ex-colored man", 1912

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

P.O.'d at the P.O.? Not I.

I came prepared. I brought an iPod and a Zen mentality when I went to the post office in my neighborhood, which is dirty and slow. Reallll slow.

The whole "I'm gonna use this as a chillin' exercise" thing went straight out the window pretty soon, though. The line just to mail a package was 13 deep, and my line, the one for picking up packages, had but three people waiting on it. But the other line had an advantage in that an actual clerk was waiting on those folks, movin' 'em along, however slowly.

My line grew to 4, 5, 6. I was second.

Finally, I moved in close and rang the bell for service. Just kept ringing it. Not with any anger. I just thought someone "in the back" would hear some guy ringing the bell for a minute, two minutes, whatever it took, and say, "Would someone PLEASE go to the service window?"

A woman appeared at the window, I backed off, and a few people behind me applauded.

No need to get hot under the collar, chums!

Drive-in theatre favors th' hits

Click me, clicky.

And here are some more pics of Andy Cohen's rig.


Spool thing.

Th' film from last week.

Reel cool

Friday, July 25, 2008

Quote o'the day

"I don't know how to not have fun. I'm dying and I'm having fun. And I'm going to keep having fun every day I have left. Because there's no other way to play it. You just have to decide if you're a Tigger or an Eeyore. I think I'm clear where I stand on the great Tigger/Eeyore debate. Never lose the childlike wonder. It's just too important. It's what drives us."

Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist whose "last lecture" about facing terminal cancer became an Internet sensation and a best-selling book, shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer today. He was 47.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I choose not to swim-bike-run

There is a triathlon in beautiful Lake Placid in September.

But I am not competing in a triathlon. Not this year.

And it's not because a dude died over the weekend while swimming in a jellyfish-infested section of the Hudson during the New York Triathlon. Even though, as it turns out, that's not what killed him.

It's because I done done it.

I fell on my face within the first ten seconds of last year's Bear Mountain tri---

and got a severe asthma attack that lasted 2 days and I called upon my dead father for help during the biking portion. But I finished. The below pic shows a compatriot, seeing me bleeding and gasping, running alongside me, urging me to go go go. And then she was off.

Came in third in my age group. Got a medal.

I proved to the self that the self could finish.

Not only finish, but finish in what Marsalis in "Pulp Fiction" said to Zed---"Mr. Soon-to-be-livin'-the-rest-of-his-short-ass-life-in-agonizing-pain".

I don't need to do it again. Not never---just not this year. Instead, I am biking 6 miles to Lasker pool in Central Park three times a week, swimming 10 or so laps, biking back home and being at my desk by 9 AM. As work wraps in the early evening, after I see to my music, I look at what further short exercises can be done.

And I've been joined here and there at the pool by a colleague, which is delightful. I don't work as hard when accompanied, but I like that someone says I am motivating them. "If you show up," she says, "I'll show up."

So what goal do I aim for, in absence of a tri?

I'm now exploring that long-neglected area of the Max body---the midsection.

Like an E.Q.---y'got your highs, midrange and bass. All these years, I've been adjusting the treble and bass and neglecting the mids.

I had done maybe 10 crunches my whole life. The belly was to be avoided---just too painful. I thought "Weights-running-biking-swimming means the abs will take care of themselves."


So---for the last three weaks, I have been attending "ab blast" classes at my gym. Last night was my third. ("Weaks" isn't a typo.)

I don't have the naturally lean body of my two older brothers nor my mother. I have a body which, like my crazy hair, C
ommunism or fungus, must be contained, addressed, seen to, kept an eye on. It is also a body which has given me almost no trouble at all my entire life. It is, in essence, a perfect body.

It's taken me a long time to realize this.

It's got allergies, it's got asthma, it isn't very long, its nose is a little smashed, its eyes a little small. Its right eye doesn't see in total focus.

It's also got a high tolerance for pain and heat, its ears have perfect pitch, it's strong, and it's got enough energy to accomplish whatever I ask of it.

I'll miss it when it's gone, but until then, I am seeing to its needs. If not me, who?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Some recent photos

Girl holding dog, Brooklyn flea market

145th street and Riverside Drive facing east

Woman with dogs

La Jolla, California, sunset

Mystic, CT, marching band

Poughkeespsie mall girl with cut marks

Storm cloud over Croton Dam, Westchester

Dry-cleaner cat, destination unknown

Houston Street facing West, through windshield during rainstorm

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Somewhere, someone digs it

I was test driving a Porsche Boxster S last Sunday morning in Hyde Park, upstate New York.

I saw three teenage girls in blue t-shirts and white shorts bobbing up and down holding signs reading “Car wash!” My ride was full of dust, fingerprints and bugs, and I was planning to have it washed anyway---to photograph it for the Job.

I slowed down next to the ladies, beeped and pointed this way and that way---which way, guys? They smiled and pointed me in the proper direction, I made the next right and was directed to the back of a building where 6 more women dressed alike waited with hoses, buckets, rags, desolvents---all the ingredients of a car wash.

“What’s this in aid of?” I asked.
“We’re raising money for cheerleading!”
I'm pro-cheer. On I inched.

A middle-aged man with a donation bucket approached. I threw in a sawbuck, got out of the car, let the girls do their magic, and I noted a few things.

Some guys are really into that "women washing cars" thing. You see those scenes in calendars in gas stations and such. I mean it really sends ‘em over the top. I’m a fan of women drinking coffee, talking, swimming, walking, doing women things, just being women. Mrs. M and I often make fun of net women working in the "modeling" profession who grab one appendage and hold it up to their mouth with crossed eyes, for example.

As I sat waiting for my car to be washed, I started thinking of the older men who would have their Jaguar/Porsche/BMW/Benz rinsed specifically for the purpose and pleasure of seeing these young ladies doing it. Somewhere, that's someone's thing.

The ladies, it also must be said, were not attired in habits. Some wore shorts cut up-to-here, two healthy, gleaming, smooth young thighs exposed. (I peeked!) One wore what appeared to be a nightie---literally, she looked as though she was ready to say goodnight. Others bent wayyyyy over, showing the world their fannies.

I thought, “I should really shoot this for my blog.” But then you’d be one of those guys.

There is another aspect. In my travels in the world of tantra, in India and Amsterdam, I learned that some women, who are in charge of divvying out what men turn into dawgs for, learn at a very early age how to walk, talk, stand and be in order to attract the maximum amount of attention, first with their fathers, and then with others, to arrange the world in their favor.

It is not a crime---I also attempt to arrange the world in my favor, in everything I do and everywhere I go. It is a survival mechanism, and it's usually what the youngest in any family does. When such energy is directed at me from women, I try not to fall for it, and almost never succeed. In fact, I am a complete mess when so much as a pair of eyes are batted in my direction.

There was no batting at the car wash, and no furtive hee-hee glances. I just noticed. And listened to that thundering, unspoken mantra of the Western world: “YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO FIND ANYONE ATTRACTIVE UNTIL THAT CLOCK TICKS FROM AGE 17 AND 15/16 TO AGE 18. PLEASE AVERT EYES.”

I averted, took no pics, and marveled once again at this great big goofy world where everyone and everything ----the trees, the animals, the insects, the primates and the humans---procreate. How each creature attracts other creatures, to keep the planet populated. Some do a special dance, some fight other critters for the right to impregnate the queen, and others buy Porsches.

But sometimes a car wash is just a car wash.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


It's come to this. I'm gonna tell you about my bugs.

I've had a recent, extreme and life-changing encounter with a swarm of roaches, little black bugs and even littler black bugs in my apartment, specifically the kitchen. I've never had any roaches in any of the 14 apartments I've lived in in Manhattan, and now they had taken over the counter, sink, three cabinets, the floor.

The little black bugs were dwarfed by the size, ferocity and speed of the roaches, so the roaches were what I became obsessed with.

Obsessed with their lives, first. Eyes, ears, nose, lungs, excretory organs, sexual organs, antennae. A perfect insect, alive as you or me, seeking fortune and survival in the world like anyone.

Obsessed with their deaths. I put out traps, waited for 'em to work, and they didn't do anything.

I started compulsively windexing them. I rained a shower of toxic stuff upon their little bodies, one at a time, drenching them in poison and watching them run, freak out, wither, and die.

Killed dozens.

I'm not an idiot. This, I said to myself, has to counteract the veganism I began to counteract the pollution I spew and the Middle Eastern oil businesses I support with the cars I joyride in, for money and fame.

But it made me happy to see the roaches die.

Two weekends ago, I bought WMD---a can of Raid. I knew it was toxic, but I was getting desperate, and liberally sprayed cracks and crevices in corners and such before Mrs. M and I left for the weekend.

We didn't really get out of the house in time, and so my throat closed and my eyes burned a little. We drove straight to a service station and splashed gasoline on our faces. Better!

Got home 30 hours later and the roaches were still very much alive, and the can of Raid had dents in it. It was the Windex, then.

And so life went on. Other things had to be seen to. Each night, I left the kitchen light on (I heard roaches hate light) and all the cabinet doors open, and every morning upon awakening, I'd dash into the kitchen and spray, spray, spray, watching them writhe, writhe, writhe, and die, die, die.


I had mental images of being reincarnated like Kafka's roach and being showered with sky-blue, toxic drink that would clog my pores, run into my lungs and make me die.

Thursday, I got a physical glimpse of it. I took my car into a car wash.

The jets rained death upon me as my car inched forward, pounding me with water, cruel, relentless water, not one mirror or bumper left unsoaked. My world, temporarily, was a nightmarish modern trench, and I got a glimpse of what the roaches experience.

I drove 120 MPH out of the car wash and 160 MPH over the George Washington Bridge and 80 MPH into my garage. I sat there, panting, panicked.

But alive. And I will remain so until some foot or giant palm finds me when I cannot squirm into a crack, crevice or under some counter, and finishes me.

I bought a tube of Combat Platinum, and applied it into many, many cracks in my kitchen.
The next day, invasion completely halted. It's been 5 days and not a single bug is to be seen.

All quiet on the Inwood front.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Another day, another smash

Like siblings, the two streets at the intersection underneath my window bicker, gripe and attempt to establish dominance. And, as my father used to say, "Roughhouse leads to tears."

I've never been in a roughhouse.

What IS a roughhouse?

That aside, here is the kabillionth car crash outside my window where these deadly streets meet, from yesterday about 6:30 PM:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Life in suburbia, when

I'm writing a book called "Confessions of an ex-seeker". It's the story of my spiritual quest which took me to India, where I changed my name and my life, and what happened afterward.

Yesterday I was out and about on this:

It's called the Victory Vision, but it should be called "Big ass holy s--t rocket bomb monster".

I stopped in my hometown 40 miles north of Manhattan, and decided to visit the house I grew up in, or, rather, the gas station next to it.

The owner, who I grew up with, owns the station now, and has for several years.

After I pumped up, I asked him to fill in the blanks for one of the stories illustrating the extreme suburban violence I grew up with. Extreme for Westchester, anyway.

He filled in said blanks, and here it is.

On a strip of highway less than a quarter mile long, there were houses where boys of assorted ages lived while I was growing up. Each of these boys had animals of various types---dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, the usual, really. I was the youngest of three brothers, and the youngest on this stretch of highway, which meant I frequently observed events rather than being invited to participate in them.

One neighbor had a collie of particularly disagreeable temperament. This collie's name was Laddie, and she would wander, loose, about the neighborhood.

One day she killed a cat.

The owner of the cat protested to the owner of the dog, they hashed it out, and everyone went on.

Laddie killed another cat, this time a kitten. The kitten was part of a litter, though, so wasn't missed at first, and when the mauled corpse was found, it was too late to really do anything about it. There was no direct evidence that Laddie had killed the kitten, but everyone knew, sort of.

Shortly afterward, Laddie killed one of my brother's rabbits. Broke into the hutch.

Nothing was done. Big fuss, but no authorities called, and no action taken.

Shortly afterward, Laddie attacked Blackie, the dog belonging to our next-door neighbor, the owner of this garage today. Took Blackie's scalp off and the dog went about with this enormous red wound on top of his head for quite a few weeks. Blackie was also lame from being hit by a car previously, and was hardly a worthy adversary for Laddie in the first place.

Two or three days after Blackie's injury, the boys were shooting hoops in the front yard. I was kibbitzing. We heard a series of rifle shots, about 10 in succession.

We stopped. A moment later, 10 more shots. Someone had reloaded.

We ran in the direction of the gunfire, knowing no better, and saw Blackie's owner standing over the body of the motionless, bloody Laddie.

Blackie's owner buried Laddie while we watched, and stamped on the body before he threw dirt on the dead dog.

No one knew for years what had happened to Laddie, and we Max boys kept our yaps shut.

The Dogfather was dead.