Friday, July 22, 2016

No One's Right or Wrong

As I walked the dreary walk down Carmine Street to the subway after work I passed a young woman sitting on the steps of Our Lady of Pompeii Church. She was talking on her phone and weeping.

“It's not about being right or wrong!” she sobbed. “No one’s right or wrong!”

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Last night we watched the rainless lightning illuminate the clouds. It was right over Lower Manhattan, or maybe it was over Jersey behind it.

As I lay on the beach on Long Island on Saturday I closed my eyes and listened to the conversations around me. A girl had worked in real estate and done real good, she bragged to her friends, but she didn’t want to ever go back. After a while, a man wandered up to them with a rap about how he learned to swim.

“My family had a boat when I was a kid. A lot of us. We were in a bay and we all jumped off. The last one out forgot to drop the anchor. We had to be rescued by the Coast Guard the following day.”

There were murmurs of admiration from the girls.

“You didn’t swim, you didn’t survive,” he said. “Now two of my cousins are Olympic swimmers.”

More cooing. Oh! Ah!

“In the Army they tell you water is like, an obstacle,” he continued. “In the Navy it’s a refuge. The water like, protects you. You not gonna get shot.”

A group of two or three men walked right by our tent, in mid-conversation.

“Sounds like a liberal,” one said.

“... so he gets all naked and starts going on about Donald Trump,” said another.

“Sounds just like a liberal,” he repeated. The word liberal pronounced not with disgust exactly but a kind of exasperated disappointment.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I hit my head hard under Jackie’s loft bed today, and bit my lip. I wondered, Is this where I see stars? But I didn’t see stars. I dutifully collapsed on the arm of the big blue chair for a few seconds. But there was nothing wrong with me. I was almost disappointed to realize it. There was nothing to do, really, but to stand up and go on.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


“If you knew what the oath would cost you, you might be less willing to pay the price, son.”
The events of the day defy description, honestly. Not because they were remarkable but because they were not.

Still there is an unseen world of splendor behind every door, over every wall and under every floor.

Monday, July 11, 2016

There was a young couple sitting cross-legged on Carmine Street this morning, with their dog and their cup. They reminded me of those mangy kids on Haight Street, trying to make a buck off some long-dead idea of beautiful, eternal youth. Except these two were alone among the oblivious passersby like me, trudging to our jobs. There was no scene for them. As I walked by I noticed the boy was drinking a tall Bud Light Lime Straw-Ber-Rita. Who knows, maybe life was good.
While the players took turns passing out and falling in love in the panoramic production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Prospect Park, I spied a couple a few yards in front of us on the lawn. They were conversing softly, intimately, oblivious to the drama before them. They sat close on a blanket, their limbs in easy, affectionate contact. But she had a pained look. It seemed like she was inquiring about something troubling. He’d say a few words, apparently serenely, and she’d press him, her brow tense with worry. Was a couple breaking up in the audience of a play about couples breaking up? I imagined that he’d cheated on her but considered it to not be a big deal—they were young, they didn’t have kids, they’d only recently started going out for real, the other woman didn’t matter to him, it was her that he wanted, he was sorry, of course he’s sorry, but what more can he say? He loves her. It’ll never happen again. All the usual lines.

Then she smiled and touched his arm, and I realized maybe this is just the way her face looks.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

What am I about to dream about?

Naked in the supermarket, didn’t study for the test?

Something erotic?

A familiar city, but strange? Driving in a car without a steering wheel?

What am I about to dream about?

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Notes Written Upon Waking Up About a Dream I Can No Longer Remember 2

I took acid with Steve and someone else, a friend of his but no one that I know in real life. I wanted to have enough left over to sell. I really felt high when I took it. Felt high in my dream.

The neighbors upstairs.

A bus ride.

Dragging a suitcase through the mud.
I wondered how many times there was a man overboard. Must be lots. The railing is pretty low. It was crowded on that deck on Saturday, tourists from everywhere. People must get jostled, get pushed. Or jump. Then there’s the drunks going back to Staten Island on weekend nights. Maybe they just huddle in the cabin, bracing themselves against the seasick spins.

It was a beautiful day. Sailboats darting across the water. Helicopters buzzing overhead. The Statue of Liberty right there. I’d seen it up close before. But every time I do it seems like the first.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

The Enterprise - 54

There might have been a malaise in the office. I don’t know. Couldn’t quite feel it myself. Days would go by when a hush would fall upon the space. Everyone with their headphones on. Staring at whatever on their screen—maybe some tired old code, maybe The Times, Yahoo!, Fucked Company. When you got up and looked around, you could almost hear the click of a mouse.

“Neil, Alan’s in your office,” Robyn called out one day as Neil emerged from the elevator after lunch.

Neil stopped and turned to her. “Alan?”


“Alan Epstein?”


“He’s in my office?” Neil asked, pointing at his opened door.

“He’s at your desk.”

“He’s at my desk?”

“I think so,” Robyn replied airily.

Neil shook his head in bewilderment. I watched as he entered his office. Alan was standing behind the desk, poking through whatever was on it like you would a pile of magazines at a doctor’s office. Neil shut the door. It was the first time I’d ever seen Alan. It was the last time I ever saw Neil.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Welcome to the Club

Nothing but the finest for the most refined and sophisticated gentleman. A man such as yourself—well-versed in the ways of the world, women and their wiles, expensive food and drink. A smoker of Cuban cigars. A player of golf. For you, we offer our most exclusive and luxurious package. Three days of deep, intense pampering. Three nights.

You are keenly discerning. A man of few, though judicious, words. Whose strength and vitality is evident to any ordinary passerby who spies you heaving your hulking frame from the back of a limousine, accepting—though not requiring—the gloved hand of a mustachioed chauffeur.  Know the softer touch of Maarja, our Estonian masseuse. She has been trained in the use of oils. She is aware of your unwillingness to engage in conversation. You have a lot on your mind. She’ll help you forget it.

Admire the awning. Our name in gold leaf. Cursive—of course. You’d accept nothing less. Inside you’ll find a peaceful, welcoming sanctum. Do you see the walls? Italian rose marble. No expense has been spared to create an appropriate space around you. Do you see the writing on them, carved by long-dead craftsmen?

Your personal realm is appointed with the best French silk, the best faux Louis chairs, the best Scandinavian wood. The best, the best, the best. Open the armoire to find a sleek, regal, sixty-inch flat screen. Run your manicured fingers softly over its cool, dark face. Does it not seem to pulse with mysterious, otherworldly power? Upon this screen you will have the opportunity to view a cornucopia of expertly curated pornography. You have very specific desires and expectations. BDSM, roleplaying, bukake. Special Ops interrogation. Boardroom humiliation, food & tears, Learjet orgies. Grooming accidents. Nothing too esoteric or risqué. You know yourself. And we know you. Prepare to enter an onanistic paradise without peer, designed and programmed for the one and only you.

Sometimes a man needs a counterpart, a foil. Especially a man of great distinction. How else is he to properly stand out among other men, lesser men? At your leisure you will have the opportunity to shout at the help. Dial one on your room phone and an insecure, introverted, bookish young man of dubious sexuality will present himself at your door to welcome your abuse. Dial two and an unaccountably confident, headstrong young woman will appear. Dial three, a black. Four, a Mexican. Five, a second-generation Middle Eastern immigrant. You may say anything you wish to them. As loudly as you like. Let it all out. Feel your cheeks glow red with righteous rage. You are permitted to touch yourself, but please: not them.

Welcome to the Club. You’ve arrived. You deserve it. You. You. You. Sit on the edge of your king-size bed. Now take off your shoes. We’ll knock your socks off.