Thursday, April 30, 2015


the flicker of brown trout in the clear water
After dropping Jackie off I walk fast across to 7th Avenue, trying to get to work on time. I’ve learned not to take 18th Street where the mail trucks pull in and out of their loading bays. The way I go is otherwise determined by the walk signals; today I had a straight shot across 20th, past the police station.

Nearly twenty-one years ago I stood on that very sidewalk. Two plainclothes cops had been on the open container detail outside a Dead show at the Garden when they busted me and some friends from Connecticut. I mouthed off while they took their sweet time writing us up. By contrast, they were in a big hurry to slam my face against the side of their van, cuff me, and throw me on the dirty floor in back. They rode me around for a while playing good cop–bad cop, the one shaking his head and saying, Now why’d you go and do something like that? and Geez, you know, my partner’s in a hell of a mood tonight. Why’d you have to do that tonight? and the other berating me, threatening me. What do you have to say for yourself? he yelled. I cleared my throat and began to speak. He cut me off immediately: Shut the fuck up you dickhead from Connecticut.

When we got to the station, where I’d been told I was goin’ in, and goin’ through the system, and where a big, black guy would fuck me in a cell that night, the bad cop instead took me out of the van, turned me around and freed me. He grabbed my shoulders, put his finger up close to my face. Did you learn a lesson tonight? he said. Yes sir, I did. He stared at me for a few more moments and then grandly, imperiously told me to go, go. Enjoy the show.

Today as I walked by the very same spot, a cop was walking out of the precinct door. He was engaged in a pleasant conversation with a man in civvies behind him.

“I love havin' no boss,” the cop said. “I feel so... different.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I try to remember the events of the day, like those of the night after I’ve woken up and noticed the sheet’s bunched up at the bottom of the bed, it’s late, it’s a sunny day, I’m alive, I have a name, an address—all the things you might forget in a dream.

The woman on the train, exasperatedly asking to be excused as she made her way through the crowd from the track side of the car to the open door. She seemed dissatisfied that everyone got out of her way.

The president of the agency, wandering through the halls on his phone, looking preoccupied.

The old hippie intellectual on the street corner, talking to a couple who could’ve been his friends, could’ve been strangers. I tried to listen in. He was talking about having witnessed something, some altercation maybe, in which someone started talking about “white privilege.” Then I got the walk signal and had to go.

Nothing really happened. Really.

Monday, April 27, 2015


He was not going to jail again. No way.
The sunsets have grown more and more spectacular, it seems. Is it the changing of the seasons? I would not have thought so. Maybe it’s that paradox of our polluted atmosphere, getting worse and worse until we get to watch the exquisite apocalypse in all its glory. In any case, there have been spectacular displays outside our bedroom windows these last few days. Deep pink, blood orange, purple over Jersey, with tiny silhouettes of planes floating in and out of Newark. Golden clouds. Art Deco sunbeams shining down between them. It’s ridiculous. Garish. Except it’s real.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

There’s always something wrong with one of the four elevators at work, first one and then the other, then the other, then the other, and all over again. One day you’re riding up to whatever floor: 4, 7, 12. Trying to figure out where to stand so as to cause minimal inconvenience. Still having to jostle around when someone in the back of the car has to fucking get out on a lower floor. And all the while, you’re watching that tedious drip of news on the Captivate screen. Feeling ashamed for watching it, but watching it all the same. Captive.

Then the next morning you find hard-hatted workers huddling around the maw where the elevator doors should be. Segregated from the white-collar populace by their makeshift barrier. The top of the car seems to be right there; you can see the pulleys and the cables—or is it the bottom? Or is it the guts of the shaft itself, where something must have gone horribly wrong, got tangled God knows how; something only old-timey union guys might understand? There’s an array of tools on the precipice and a yellowish light in the hole. Tungsten. You see it reflected on the back brick wall.

It’s a wonder we don’t all plummet to our deaths.


The court objected to the selling of packages of motion pictures to television where

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

As I stood at the urinal today I caressed the white, rectangular tiles on the wall. They were slightly convex. Cool to the touch. Of course, cool. Like tile. Like the white, rectangular, slightly convex tiles on the wall by the urinal you’re pissing in would have to be. Still, I thought to myself, Remember this moment. How odd it is to actually be experiencing something; to think about it, to think about thinking about it. That’s what I thought, anyway.

And I knew, hours later, I’d write about it. Not just down the train tracks and under the river in Brooklyn, but in the future. That impossibly distant place.

And here I am now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

There I was on the platform, waiting for the train. There I was in the hallway, on the way to the coffee machine. There I was on the sidewalk. Looking over my shoulder. Making sure I wasn’t followed.

When Jackie and I were on our way out at 14th Street there was a commotion around the stairwell. A bigger crowd than usual. There were groans and weary exclamations. It was pouring rain. Just a little earlier it was crystal clear, blue sky. I opened my umbrella and handed it to her. Outside, everything was wet but gleamed a little from the sun.

There’s that very nice freelance copywriter, always remembers my name. So I made a point of learning hers.

Monday, April 20, 2015

I was never completely awake today. Through the windows in the office the rain was coming down almost sideways and I thought, I should really feel something about this, but I can’t. There’s kind of a feeling you get when you’re in a large, bustling space, a corporate space, and the weather outside is chaotic. I’m sure I’ve had that feeling before. In the old Heublein building in Hartford, maybe. Temp days. It’s an insular feeling. A feeling of enforced kinship. Almost a cozy feeling. But I didn’t feel it.


anymore or they're just too busy trying to raise families

Friday, April 17, 2015

Have a Good Night

As I flipped through the channels on the TV last night I saw that a few weren’t working—they all had “Try again later” error messages on the screen, and there was no trying again later. They didn’t work. I restarted the cable box and watched its mysterious, glacial countdown from behind the kitchen island: L7, L6. L5 for a long time. L4. Finally it turned on again. The same channels were out. I decided to forget about it and go to bed.

Tonight it was still fucked up. And thing is, it wasn’t even anything I wanted to watch. Just some high-number sports and syndication channels. Yet I decided to receive it as deep aggravation. An affront, almost. I knew this was beyond meaningless and vain. But there I was, at the end of another day, another night; the TV’s on the fritz and I’m about to lose my mind.

I called the cable people. As I navigated the automated branches—verify your account, what’s the nature of your call—I felt a strange, desperate anger well up inside of me. I somehow knew I’d explode with rage, eventually, when the rep inevitably asked me to reboot the box again, to stall for time or try to get me to give up. I began to imagine the things I’d say. I’d be cursing—of course—in a harsh and tremulous voice. All my frustration, my rage, my helplessness—it would all be manifested in senseless, anguished demands. Sara would race over, alarmed, asking me what was happening, telling me to calm down. I’m pretty sure I’d smash something. One of those rocks glasses that fit so nicely in the fist. I could see it all. Including later, after I hung up: I’d apologize and cry to my wife, tell her that I had just had a mental breakdown and I didn’t know why.

Finally a woman with a faint accent answered the phone, presumably in far-off Mumbai. She asked me to read the error message on the broken channels so I switched to one. But there was Jerry Orbach following down a lead, crystal clear and beautiful. I switched to another. It worked. And another. Everything was working. The woman graciously credited our account for two days of outage and asked me if there was anything else she could do for me. No thank you, I replied.

“Have I addressed all of your questions and concerns to your satisfaction, sir?” she asked.

“Yes you have. Thank you very much.”

“Well then thank you for calling and have a good night.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Up to that point there had been nothing unusual about the management training session. Everyone—the facilitator, and the co-facilitator, of course—but the rest of us, too, were playing our roles properly. Professionally. Be cheerful, inquisitive. A little self-deprecating. Try to participate. But try to listen. Try to participate and listen at the same time. Look like you’re participating. Look like you’re listening.

During introductions we were asked to reveal something about ourselves that no one might guess. That game. I can’t remember most of them. Mine was: I was born in France. (I thought I struck the right balance of revelation and impersonality. I thought this is what was expected. What was desired. Don’t you think? At any rate, people smiled and nodded.)

The guy seated to my left said he has an identical twin. His twin sister. Interesting that’s what came to his mind. Then again, not really interesting at all. Perfect.

During the afternoon—I don’t know how we got to this point. Was it the section about giving real-time feedback? The slide about addressing inappropriate behavior? It was a digression, to be sure, but it didn’t seem out of place. Nothing could seem out of place. Everything that was said or done was rapidly subsumed—by the group, by each of us unconsciously—into the set of expectations for the larger exercise. The accepted protocol. The parameters of toleration. Which really meant: You could say anything. Everyone would pretend it was normal.

So here’s what the guy with the twin said: I don’t want to tell any stories. Come on, tell us a story! we said. I don’t want to tell a story that’ll make me sound crazy. The woman seated to his left said: But those are the best stories. And of course, she was right.

So he said once many years ago, his sister got in a very serious car accident. And at the moment that she was in the accident, as the car was veering out of control, he suddenly was inside her mind, and he could hear her thoughts. He heard her say: I don’t want to die. As luck would have it she did not, and went to their parents’ house to convalesce. He got a phone call from his mom. Your sister was in a very bad accident, she said, and he interrupted her: I know she was.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

In Your Head?

I got out of the eye doctor early and didn’t have to be at work till 1. So I walked, up from Murray Street through Tribeca.

I came across a construction site, veiled behind that blue plywood wall with the little portholes, just one or two, you know, just big enough so you can peer in if you want but you know they don’t want you to. When I did I saw them directing a nozzle, hung from a crane, that poured concrete into a field of rebar. And so there goes up another fucking building.

A French couple was arguing. The man had a little shopping bag with a baguette sticking out of it. So they hadn’t been arguing for long. And better not be for too much longer. She had the upper hand. Complaining, reproaching. Asking those rhetorical questions that make you feel like an idiot. He didn’t have much to say. I lost them at an intersection when they hung back, preferring to bicker than to watch the crossing signal.

An older man in a Yankees jacket was on the phone. Here’s what I heard him say: “In your nose? In your nose? In your nose? In your head?”

Monday, April 13, 2015

On the way home I was fascinated by the Orthodox couple sitting across from me. She was extremely beautiful. A classic Jewish beauty. Raven-tressed. Petite, stylish. He was large and slovenly, bleary-eyed. His chest and belly bulged in his button-down shirt. His wrists were too big for the cuffs. I wondered what she thought of him. What she really thought of him. They sat placidly together, neither making any visible gestures of affection nor of contempt. She looked around the train, as he did, eyes moving up, down, left, right. Once or twice meeting mine. Then he yawned extravagantly, like a hippopotamus. She didn’t seem to mind at all.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Winter won’t release us into spring. We must endure the greasy streets, the gusts; sidewalks covered in sediment left by the melted snow: napkins, newspaper, straws. And dog shit. Dog shit everywhere.

Is it some particular punishment?


Toward the end of 2005, Cassano promoted Al Frost.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

I had management training the entire day at my old office, the main agency, the Mothership, on 42nd Street. As I approached the corner of Third Avenue an ambulance, siren blaring, crept between the vans and trucks stopped at the light. I knew crossing now would be a stupid thing to do, but I knew I might have, if I was a little more mindless than I already was. I sensed the other pedestrians wondering if they could make it; balking for a moment before staying on the curb. Finally it burst into the intersection with about 17 seconds left for us to cross. As I did I looked to my left: a couple blocks up, on the right, smoke poured from a storefront.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015


The school has been run in a very lax and permissive manner.