Saturday, August 29, 2009

World's Greatest Dad

A year or so ago I went to this sample sale. Our friends
run this ceramics business and and to help out the elementary school, they
donated their entire inventory of samples to the school to be sold.
This husband and wife team had built a huge business out of selling coffee cups and dishes with cleaver sayings on them. And although I like there products, I walked around the school cafeteria at least a couple of dozen times looking over the hundreds of samples and still could not find anything there that day that struck my fancy.
And then I saw "IT." I stumbled upon this giant coffee mug in teal and white with big letters that said "You are a Wonderful Father ...and an Excellent Husband!"
Well I snapped that sucker up before anyone else could get their hands on it and ran around showing off to all of our school friends the cleaver and poignant gift that I had just bought for myself. I found this to be incredibly funny even though I think that no body else did.

Tonight I saw a movie that I would recommend to anyone who likes my jokes.
The movie stars Robin Williams as Lance Clayton, a single-father-high school English-teacher-failed-novelist whose career would be on the down hill slide had he ever had any success in the first place. His son Kyle (Played by Daryl Sabara) is an incredible jerk who wants to do nothing other than hang out in his room and beat off looking at the most grossest pron he can find. He seems to enjoy sex involving shit and piss although the closest he has ever come to a date is masturbating in front of his computer, which he does while strangling himself to heighten the experience. Things go bad and he ends up killing himself. You can not even feel sorry for the kid because he is such an blight on everyone from his father to his friends from school.
But Lance can't let his loser son leave the earth in such a loser fashion, so he channels his writing skills and authors a suicide note that seems to capture the pain and isolation that Lance feels from the steady stream of rejection letters that he gets for his failed novels, and from having to live with a thankless and awful son who never had any empathy for anyone.

The suicide note gets published in the school newspaper and captures the imagination and sadness of all of the students who rightfully had despised Kyle for being the jerk that he was. But in the prism of the tragedy and the touching note, the students all rally around the lonely English teacher. Lance has been in an on again off again relationship with the school's sexy art teacher (Alexi Gilmore) and the fallout of the tragedy has brought her closer to him. To seal the deal Lance provides her with a post mortem diary that his son supposedly kept. This too is written to capture the hardship of going it alone, and, due to an overly zealous grief counselor, the diary is reproduced and distributed to all of the students whom have begun to build a shrine to Kyle, their fallen hero.

Lance winds up on an Opera style show and is offered a chance to finally publish his books. But this movie, which was written and directed by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, surprises by disrupting the obvious Hollywood endings. And only at the end of the movie do we get to see Robin Williams look comfortable in his skin, as Lance finally figures out that maybe the life of a lonely loser that was his up until now was his because he actually kind of liked it. It wasn't nearly as confusing and disingenuous as the life that came with all of of that attention.

I am reminded of understated and funny abortion movie Citizen Ruth (1996), that starred Laura Dern. In that movie as in this none, flawed figures who are not really capable of handling the huge responsibility are thrown into the center of an American shitstorm over issues that are so divisive that they can't help but look comical even without the dull charaters there to set the comedy in motion. Let's face it, Americans on the whole have never been very good at dealing with the really tough issues. Particularly when they are to be tackled by a large group. World's Greatest Dad is a very funny movie about very uncomfortable things. Not necessarily the suicide, but how we all seem to want something to make us feel better, no matter how trite and stupid it is.

And by the way, you should see how happy I look in mornings these days, now that I have my half full "Wonderful Father" coffee mug to drink from.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I am going to miss Ted Kennedy. And I honestly feel a bit of worry about how we will manage as a nation without him. His personal life was tragically flawed, but I never doubted his public policies and stances and always felt proud of what he stood for. He had the courage to speak for "liberal" ideals even when the conservative bent of this country became so fashionable. And he was ahead of so many with his outcry over the foolishness of the war in Iraq and in his support of Barak Obama and his attempts to get all people access to health care and education.
I will miss him and hope that he has left a legacy that will endure, because it is his kind of thinking that is the greatest hope for all of us as a nation of empathy and leadership.

Monday, August 24, 2009





Friday, August 21, 2009

Dog Days

I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday. We were catching up on our summers.
I was telling my friend that I had just spent the last week or so building giant crates to load up with my art work to send to France. That up until that start of the crate building project I was humming along making my new work and feeling awfully good about myself. But as I started to make these giant boxes with the oppressive heat and humidity on my back, I was beginning to get more and more depressed and self defeated. And I was telling my friend that with it being August with all of the rest of the world seemingly off on their vacations I was feeling more insignificant than ever. And , I was telling my friend that while I had been so patient and kind, once, in the middle of this brutal week of hot weather, I had to ask someone who owed me a bit of money for a very long time to pay me, and was told that I was a very pushy and aggressive pain in his ass, that I was beginning to wonder how it was that I work really hard and do rediculous things t
like make my own god damn crates for my work, that I am treated like such an asshole.

Anyway- my friend reminded me that this is in fact August. And now that my crates are off to France that I should take it easy. Relax. Veg out in some air conditioning.And don't take things so personally from the guy who begrudgingly paid me. ANd be happy to build crates because at least my work has some place to go...

Good advice. I think that in this instance, I really do deserve a vacation.
I've got to get my head screwed on straight again for the fall...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pot Belly's are way cool.

Did ya see the article in the NYTimes Style Section today?
The one by Guy Trebay? It's Hip to be Round.

So according to the piece, Hipster Dudes in Williamsburg are now sporting bellies.
Brooklyn ' Kramdens. It is a sign of totally cool oneness with one's oneness to sport a paunch. I just love the New York Times and there ability to generate a story even if there isn't a story to be told. I mean, come on! It is hip to be a chubby dude. THis is not news to me. Let me just say that I have been sporting a Kramden for years and years ago I was using Ralph Kramden as my Brooklyn Alter ego, measuring myself against his pathos.
Listen here NYTimes, get to the back of the bus for Pete's sake.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I went out last night with a couple of old drinking buddies of mine last night. The three of us all out there looking to chill out on a blistering hot night. What used to be a night that guaranteed multiple rounds and packs of cigarettes and getting home in the wee hours was replaced by 2 of the 3 of us sipping seltzers and the third being hampered by the lack of encouragement. In other words it was not that late of a night. But I still got home after midnight and this morning I am walking around like I have a super hang over, taking an extra hour or so just to get out of the house.

When I was young and used to do a lot of drugs, I used to say that I would keep going and taking drugs was OK so long as I got myself out of bed in the morning and showed up to do a full day of work.
Once getting out of bed became a problem, I weaned myself and moved on.

This morning I am sitting here wondering what it is that I have to give up if I am going to have to be so tired in the morning. Maybe I should just switch to tap water.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I went out for dinner the other night with some friends of my wife. People
she knows, but hasn't seen since law school. These folks live in Southern California, but they keep and apartment on the Upper East Side, where the wife spends a lot of time.
SHe says she hates the West Coast and got a place here, on the same floor of the same building as her High School best friend whom also joined all of us for dinner.

Anyway- these folks were real lushes. All three of them probably have 5-10 years on me and my wife but they still drink like they are still in school. We met a restaurant where the waiters and bar tenders all knew them. And they all kept on ordering different colorful concoctions
to drink. Much of the conversation was about law school folks whom I never ever heard of, but also there were discussions of bars around town and bar tenders. They had bar tenders who not only knew their drinks, but also their drinking rules (Gin during the day light hours for example). Total alcoholics! People after my own heart. I sat there and pounded my seltzers one -after-another hoping to get some kind of buzz or something. The drinks kept on coming along with bottles of wine and many courses of food.

I told these folks about how I had been so sick as a dog last summer and how I had to give up drinking and smoking because my liver was not working and I made sure they knew
that even though I haven't had a drink in a long while, I still held drunks in the highest regard. And that even though I still haven't had a drink since my liver came through it's full recovery, I wasn't some New-Born-postalcoholic -program thumping whiner. I still miss the bar culture....

Then I told them the little story about my son, whom while walking over to the comic book store with me recently , told me that he "missed the drunk Dad..."
I told them that I asked my kid what exactly he missed about that version of me, and he said that I always seemed "to be fat and happy..."

I swear the women were almost in tears. A white sparkle came from the wife's eye.

Before I used to run around all the time drinking and smoking like there was no tomorrow, up until I got really sick and thought that maybe my time was up.
That maybe there really was no tomorrow. THank god I am healthy, but I missed the old care free days. I just wish that all that care free and easy living wasn't so hard on my body, not to mention my check book.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cheap Laughs- NOT FUNNY.

I have never been good at telling jokes and I have always frowned upon the cheap laugh. I have considered myself to be something a a satirist and have always gone for the deeper more penetrating kind of humour even if it was at the expense of being all that funny.

But I have to relate what happened to me today because it was just plane funny for no other reason than it involved fat people and foreigners.

Today I went to the gym on 14th Street. I did a Pilate's class and really stretched out my core. Anyway, after my hot shower I went upstairs to the street and decided to grab a bus up 6th Ave. I had a lot to do and I was tired from working out.

So I am lucky. I see a bus sitting there on the corner of 6th and W15th and I run across the street the second the light changes and just get on the bus.

It turns out that the bus was taking a long time because just after I found my seat, I discovered that the driver was going to help some poor guy in a wheel chair get off the bus. So this guy in the wheel chair is huge. He was fat as a farm animal. And he has this electric wheel chair. One of those 3-wheel models that are meant to get people around on the street and in their small kitchens. The chair is metallic red and also must have weighed half a ton.

The guy on his chair gets onto the unfolding stair case in the back and the driver lowers him to the street. The platform cantilevers so far down that the rmp under it can't open. The guy is too fat to get off the bus.

So the driver asks everyone to get up who is on the passenger side and lean towards the West side of the street. No good.
Then there is this old man sitting behind me. A foreigner with a heavy Eastern European accent. He starts talking.
"Oh thees powerful Eunited Stets. What a powerful nation."
"Oh yees, the pooblic transportation of theese powerful country. What a joke."
"this country is a joke. It is over for this country..."

And I start to think about the giant fat people in the movie Wall-W who ride around in chairs in the spaceship, drinking out of giant big gulp cups as there skeletons entropy.

So this guy across the isle starts yelling at the old man, "Say one more word and I am warning you..."
"Shut the fuck up old man. I live in this country and if you don't like it I will make you leave..."

Finally this dispatcher from the MTA comes up to the bus and finds out what is going on. He tells the driver to pull away from the curb and leave the poor schmuck in the wheel chair on the street where there would be enough clearance to open the ramp.
The driver drives 1/2 a block. The arguments stop as we've made progress and the driver stops to let the guy off in the middle of the street. Then thee bus dispatcher tells the driver,

"go express to 42nd and then put this bus out of service."
1/2 the passengers get off wasting even more of our fucking time.

45 minutes later I am home.
I went from feeling totally great about my day to totally despondent in less time than it took to do my class. Maybe that Polish guy was right.
But thank god for the cheap laughs....