Spring? in New York

Finally it is time to observe the old ritual/of opening the windows, easily performed.

Snow in New York on April 15, 2014

Snow in New York on April 15, 2014

It is spring./Crocuses break forth. The dogwood trembles/Persephone touches the Earth with her wand.*

(*From Billy Collins’ Spring Fever)

Overlooked New York Part I: Tunnel Approach and Tunnel Exit

Forget Wall Street, Park Avenue and Broadway. 20140414_105838Tunnel Approach and Tunnel Exit Streets, perhaps the most heavily traveled thoroughfares in the city, remain the least visited.20140414_110853Only a few blocks from Grand Central Station, Bryant Park and the United Nations, to say nothing of the Midtown Tunnel, these aptly named streets give access to the city for some 70,000 cars per day.  20140414_105729It is true the Tunnel Street sidewalks are narrow.20140414_110603However there is an abundance of artwork 20140414_110449Plenty of street food20140414_110415Even a few wildlife specimens. 20140414_110745One only has to look beyond changing lanes to see.20140414_110355

Stephen King’s Plagiarism of Albert Camus

One of the keys to the success of Stephen King’s The Shining is the revelation that the main character, Jack Torrance, is going mad: All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.tumblr_lm4fguaftf1qbpsncThe manuscript on which Jack has been working throughout the story contains this same phrase written again over hundreds of pages and is an excellent device to convey his lose of touch with reality.2009shining_chairAnd it this very device that seems to have been plagiarized from Albert Camus’ The Plague in which Grand’s emotional imbalance is realized late in the narrative when Dr. Rieux reads over a manuscript of 50 pages documenting the same phrase again and again:One fine morning in May, a slim young horsewoman might have been seen riding a glossy sorrel mare along the avenues of the Bois, among the flowers…LaPesteAnd while the purpose – and indeed content – is quite different, the device is not. The repeated phrase – a secret held from the reader and all other characters – is only revealed late in the story as a surprise to all. Did King acknowledge his source? Did he give credit to Camus?

Camus Or does he, like so many of the writing workshop gurus, rely on the specious credo that all writers steal from each other. I, for one, am not buying it.

The Ten Worst Concerts of My Life

Concerts are not always what we expect. Indeed they can be so fraught with the promise of excitement, that they turn into just the opposite. BadticketsUnderstanding that some of the worst events have probably been permanently deleted from my brain, I offer the worst concerts which I remember:

10. Amon Tobin (Brooklyn Masonic Temple, October, 2011) Amon Tobin - ISAMA spinning electric thing mess that clacked and clanked, all so monotonous and loud.

9. Sebadoh (The Rage, Vancouver, September 1996) SebadohLiveMikalaTaylor4The highlight of the evening was the lead singer announcing that tour t-shirts were available “for anyone who still has a pulse.”

8. Bob Weir & Rob Wasserman (Ontario Place, Toronto, July 1990) 220726_198378933539730_171771132867177_538449_2519996_oBob Weir should never play lead guitar nor sing Take Me to the River again. Ever.

7. Elton John (Barclay’s, Brooklyn, October 2013) Elton John-1342899The song-writing great went through his catalogue and butchered every last one. That wasn’t Rocket Man, was it?

6. Destroyer/Dan Bejar (Miller Theater, New York, September 2009) destroyer_daniel_bejar_googleganger_1-1Bejar subjected the audience to a naval-gazing slide show and wincing music.

5. Cabaret Voltaire (Concert Hall, Toronto, May 1985) cabaretvoltaire310112wArriving two hours late, the band played a haughty 45 minutes with slaughterhouse videos as a backdrop. No encore, thank goodness.

4. Bob Dylan & Tom Petty (BC Place, Vancouver, July 1987) farmaid_2Great music transformed into distorted abominations. Like a Rolling Stone wasn’t even decipherable.

3. Jimmy Cliff (Roman Amphitheatre, Carthage, July 1989) amphitheatreCliff’s terrible Las Vegas style performance was undoubted torture for the performing ghosts from centuries past.

2. The Grateful Dead (Syracuse Dome, Syracuse, October 1984)1983-03-29warfield6Terrible sound and energy, low-lighted by Jerry Garcia missing verses and, in the end, unable to pick up his coffee off the amp.

1. The Who (CNE Stadium, Toronto, July 1980) 7104372_f496A bitter experience with fights in the stands, hollow sound and the empty realization that live music was sometimes a terrible disappointment.

The MFA Panel on Creative Something

The student panel on MFA Creative Writing programs initially promised to be interesting, offering an odd assortment of celebrity facsimiles, including a slim and self-conscious version of Justin Timberlake, a bitter and exhausted Nicole Richie, a middle-aged Ali Fedotowsky,a self-conscious Scarlett Johansson and an itchy, bearded Rick Moranis.

Rick MoranisJustin said little, looking like he just needed something to eat. Nicole spoke tersely and not about writing, instead focusing on the difficulty of being separated from her boyfriend while at school.

shut the fuck up the simple life quoteAli tried to stay on point, explaining that she did a lot of writing in her program. “It’s really great,” she beamed.

“You do a lot of workshopping too,” Rick added.

“Oh yeah, you do that,” Ali agreed.

Scarlett looked on, trying to look like she was seriously listening. ScarlettJohanssonNone offered much insight on anything relevant – strengths of a specific school or programs, key aspects in the application process – except to say that their experience, whatever that was, had been really great.

“I mean, really great,” Ali affirmed.Ali+Fedotowsky+Long+Hairstyles+Ponytail+dbDJYvtVw8OlWhen asked how many schools to which one should apply, Ali replied, “As many as you can. I mean, I was lucky. I got into the one I wanted.”

“Me too.” Rick added; they were at school together.

“Any more questions?”

No one bothered; everything else had already been left unanswered.

Homeless Indifference

While walking home last night, we witnessed a group of low-riding biker kids rocket along the sidewalks of 56th Street. They swerved through the few pedestrians and then around a homeless man asleep against a building. homeless_man“We should jump him!” Two of them spun back while another brought out his cellphone to record. It was an easy jump, and they laughed about that.

I was incensed. “You guys are a bunch of assholes!”

They looked back, half smiling, grunting. What was the big deal? It was just some homeless guy. And off they went.Man_sleeping_on_Canadian_sidewalk

We thought about calling the police but knew that would get the homeless man in trouble as well. And so that was that.

The Existential Play of the Toronto Maple Leafs

The heathen fanbase of teams across the continent – be they in Montreal, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles or Chicago – simply do not understand. blackhawks celebrateThey think it is about winning, hugging and celebrating in a crass display, that this is the point of the game. And I feel sorry for them.Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara hoists the Stanley Cup after the Boston Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 during Game 7 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Wednesday, June 15, 2011, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)They don’t understand that it isn’t this at all, but, as Camus wrote in The Plague, instead is a reminder of our “never-ending defeat.”toronto_maple_leafs_fans.jpg.size.xxlarge.promoThe Toronto Maple Leafs are only for those who can take it, not the world as we dream, but as it truly is: empty and unrelenting.

Drew McIntyre

Leaf goaltender Drew McIntyre

Yes, the Leafs are only for pure existentialists. Their recent travails – an eight-game losing streak – has even brought The New York Times on the Being and Nothingness train, citing the “disturbing situation”, “devastating slump”,  and Leaf coach Carlyle’s catch phrase, “Just breathe. Take it easy. Breathe.” Toronto-Fans-React-to-Losing-Game-7-Against-Boston-BruinsBut they don’t understand. They use these words devastating and disturbing like they’re a bad thing, like they aren’t needed, like they can be avoided. leafs-kessel1They don’t see the wall behind us, the epidemic that’s surrounds. No. All they see is putting the puck in the net. stargirlsAnd it’s just so sad.

My Problem with the President’s Selfies

President Obama is a fine leader. Calm and judicious, he has tried to apply common sense in a time where few seem to give a damn.

Although he hasn’t applied the same reasoned approach as of late.

Nelson Mandela's funeral

Nelson Mandela’s funeral

David+Ortiz+selfie+with+President+Obama+cropIt seems that he has forgotten that selfie tomfoolery is beneath his office, connecting him too much to ‘folks’ like these…bieber KK1 selfie-selfie-beautiful-girl-1382219169He just needs to be reminded of where this road goes.

Carlos Danger

Carlos Danger