Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Don't Know What To Say

My dear friend Daniel Bernheim has died. His friendship has been the longest I have had since I moved to New York.

I have valued his gloomy perspective on life as much as I have roared with laughter at his absurd sense of humor. I don't yet know what else to say...
He nothing common did or mean
Upon that memorable scene,...

But bow'd his comely head
Down, as upon a bed.
-- An Horatian Ode, Andrew Marvell

UPDATE: I don't know on which day of June Daniel died, but I emailed him on the 23rd, and he would have appreciated the perverse, unintentionally ghoulish words generated by something deep inside the bowels of America Online: my email had an immediate response...:

> ----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors ----->

Daniel might have said: "I've had a permanent fatal error, alright."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

'A dollar spent on medical care is a dollar of income for someone'

Look out for this quotation and for this man, in the coming debate over U.S. healthcare reform:

I recently came on a phrase in an article in the journal "Annals of Internal Medicine" about an axiom of medical economics: a dollar spent on medical care is a dollar of income for someone. I have been reciting this as a mantra ever since. It may be the single most important fact about health care in America that you or I need to know. It means that all of us -- doctors, hospitals, pharmacists, drug companies, nurses, home health agencies, and so many others -- are drinking at the same trough which happens to hold $2.1 trillion, or 16% of our GDP.

-- Abraham Verghese, The Myth of Prevention, Wall Street Journal.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

He Was a Pot Banger From an Early Age

Max Neuhaus died in February 2009, aged 69, according to his New York Times obituary. I am sorry to have only found out this news now, but glad that I have the opportunity to write about his art and in particular, one installation of Neuhaus' which I find utterly compelling.

In Times Square since 1977, if you walk across the triangular traffic island at 45th Street, you come across a section of grating through which you can see a drop down into the subway system and a lot of cigarette butts and some assorted trash. But it's not what you see...'s what you hear.

A strange, intense, reasonably tuneful sound, a constant sound, unchanging yet modulating and colorful. All around you is the clash of sights and sounds that is the full-strength unfiltered craziness that is Times-Square-New-York-City-U-S-A-In-Your-Face-And-YELLING! but at that one spot, it is Neuhaus' sound installation, called Times Square, which reaches upwards and envelopes you.

Neuhaus stipulated that there should be no sign to indicate what the sound is. "A thousand people an hour" he said, may cross the tiny traffic island, and if most hear the sound of Times Square, without actually realizing what is that strangely melodious machinery noise? his art has achieved its aim. Here's a short film about Neuhaus and the installation of Times Square.

“He was a pot banger from an early age,” said his sister, Laura Hansen. “I think he was in the sixth grade when he got [a drum kit]...”

We So Gay!

Research suggests gays existed as far back as 1972, as this ancient photo-graph shows.

From New York Magazine: how wide is the current gay generation gap? Very. And does it make your gay ass look fat?
'Here’s the awful stuff, the deeply unfair (but maybe a little true) things that many middle-aged gay men say about their younger counterparts: They’re shallow. They’re silly. They reek of entitlement. They haven’t had to work for anything and therefore aren’t interested in anything that takes work. They’re profoundly ungrateful for the political and social gains we spent our own youth striving to obtain for them. They’re so sexually careless that you’d think a deadly worldwide epidemic was just an abstraction. They think old-fashioned What do we want! When do we want it! activism is icky and noisy. They toss around terms like “post-gay” without caring how hard we fought just to get all the way to “gay.”'

Monday, June 22, 2009

Maybe the Jukebox is Too Loud?

A man walks into a bar and notices a man 12 inches tall playing the piano. He asks why and the barman tells him he'll tell him later.

So he orders a drink and the barman says: "Before you get your drink you get to rub the magic beer bottle and make a wish."

"OK," says the man.

He goes to the bottle and rubs it and, boom, out comes a genie, who says, "You have one wish."

The man thinks about it and then wishes for a million bucks. A cloud of smoke fills the room and when the smoke clears there are a million ducks crowding the bar.

He tells the barman, "Hey, I didn't want a million ducks."

The barman replies, "You think I wanted a 12-inch pianist?"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

That's a Very Wet Rain

New York in June should be sun, sun, sun, but it has been an unusual month, weather-wise: rain, rain, rain.

Rain! Blaaaah...
This morning I was walking through the lobby of the W Hotel on Lexington Avenue at 49th Street and the combination of rainfall, wet floors and my boots nearly threw me to the ground. A security guard near me grabbed my arm at the right moment, enough force to help me keep my balance. Since then, I've slipped an additional three times... This weather sucks.

Photographs are from a photo essay on the web site of the New York Times.