Category Archives: apartments

Subway Slashing Sonnet

train victim diptych

There are two unfortunate souls right here
The pregnant woman whose young face was slashed
Thinking about being a new mother dear
(& how to keep herself together lashed)

The other’s ridden life’s roller coaster
Hoping the bottom of the descent’s near
When younger, perhaps she was a “toaster”
Angel Dust, Dope: starting with pot & beer

So onto train ventures the mother new
Avoiding she that’s fighting her demons
(Beelzebub says: “don’t let her dis you!”
Sitting elsewhere was what that was seemin’)

Into her bags she reached for the bright shiv
Payback for dis was what she did give


Prophet Housing


12/18/07 04:56:38 AM

So our new lives in our new apartment have started. I took Chandler to meet Aneka at 46th Street on the seven train. We were there so early Chandler has renegotiated for an extra 10 minutes of sleep today. I was a work by 7:30 and If I continue to do this I’ll have time to go to the gym in morning. Apparently Lennox and Mason’s drop off also went well. Linda and I went to Costco to buy a TV, which I think we’ve put off in the hopes that we can buy the kids more of what they want this “holiday” season. Funny thing about that ironic use of quotation marked holiday.

I found a copy of Khalil Ghibran’s The Prophet (that I had bought on telegraph avenue used) and in it was a bookmark. The page it marked was the Prophet’s response to the Mason. “’Ironic,’ thought I, it is addressed to my son.” But the opening line is “Then a [M]ason came forth and said speak to us of Houses” (34). So, since I spent the evening unpacking my seemingly endless supply of things and assembling them I was intrigued by the synchronicity of the bookmarking.1 This is the electronics (and modern) version of feathering my nest. We’ve got to get all of the twigs and grass just right so that the chicks and their parents will all fit comfortably. I imagine a bird’s nest of wires, surge protectors, USB cables and transformer power lines in which we comfortably cuddle together. (God, how I digress.)

The first few “stanzas” were pure anti-city, and I’ll include a bit here as an illustration: “Would the valleys your streets and the green paths your alleys… [and] In their fear your forefathers gathered you too near together” (35). These nods to the bucolic piss me off. Besides the fact that the human condition is social, and there would be no wilderness if we spread people out like that, even in 1922, I just want to dissent a bit further on this romanticization of the bucolic.

(Digression Alert) I remember one week when Scott and I lived on Maui. This was before we got food stamps, in deed it might be why I got food stamps. We had “no visible means of support” and we had alienated those off of whom we could beg. But there was a mango tree and an avocado tree that were in season near where we were camping. We could fill ourselves nicely on these huge trees for the cost of a climb. Guavas, I think were also ripe in a pasture a couple of miles away. Before seven days had passed I was crazy and hungry though my stomach never went empty. There is a reason that we are a social and agrarian species. The hunter gatherer thing is too much work. (I think it is also why we are omnivores, but that is another rant.)

Then the prophet gets to why I am writing this now:

Tell me have you [peace, remembrances and beauty] in your houses?

Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house as a guest, and becomes a host, and then a master?

Ay, it becomes a tamer, and with hook and scourge makes puppets of your larger desires.

Though its hands are silken, its hear is of iron.

It lulls you to sleep only to stand by your bed and jeers at the dignity of the flesh.

It makes mock of your sound senses, and lays them in thistledown like fragile vessels.2

Verily the lust for comfort murders the the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.

But you, children o space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed.

Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast. (36)

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Funky Smell


We, Linda and I,  woke over and over again two nights ago because there was an awful smell in our apartment.  We thought that maybe one of the neighbors had killed the other and was stewing the remains in the bathtub.  Turns out our fridge’s compressor was broken and was emitting the smell.  Lennox drew the picture above.

The Horns of My Dilema

From my journal:

6/27/2007 6:41 AM

When we came home the other day in the mail was our lottery number for the Mitchell-Lama buildings on Queens Boulevard and 60th Street. The Number is 1! Apparently there are vacancies and in the next few months we will probably be moving in. It costs a pittance and the fees are about half our current rent per month. Linda and I walked around there yesterday and the place is a classic towers and gardens development of big buildings with balconies on a well-manicured campus. A bit sterile and off the beaten path, but for a rent reduction of about 50%, we’ve got to consider it. I feel most sorry for Mason who has made friends and goes out and plays here in the neighborhood. Chandler is pitching a bitch.

onion-pyramid-4173-small.jpg dscn5025-small.jpgdscn4510-small.jpg

6/28/2007 4:33 AM

I tried, but couldn’t get back to sleep this morning. Yesterday was the kids’ last day of school for the year. Good grades and good kids. Chandler came home jokingly bewailing her next class assignment, “nerds, nerds and more nerds.” Mason went with his friends from school and hit Burger King and then hung out at the park playing soccer. Lennox went to the zoo with school and Linda went with them. It was a good day.


As I walk around Sunnyside Gardens, which was recently landmarked by the City Council, I was struck by how much I really love the neighborhood. It is living like this that I came back to New York for. Trees, stores, livable scale, neighbors are all in a pleasant neighborhood. Sigh. Of course to turn our noses up at the savings that living in the Mitchell Lama co-op would offer would be foolish. So what I have is a battle of my two basic flaws or strengths.



I am an esthete of some sort. I like the way things look and the style and livability matter a lot to me. How I feel in a particular place, how it pleases me aesthetically really, really matter. This is both because I think of myself as a man with my own, uncompromising philosophy of style: good living is something that validates my specialness. And finding the beauty tucked away in a crowded immigrant neighborhood is the exact type of aesthetic ur-elitism that I link to my identity.

I am also frugal. Actually it is a strong sub-current of my personality. I think it is both genetic and learned from my salty New England mom. I don’t like to waste things. As I’ve stretched into middle age I’ve noticed that I behave I a lot like depression era seniors: rubber bands, paper clips, and other expendables get saved because I might have to actually buy them later. I am an ant in the ant/grasshopper continuum.

Now these are not exact analogies, but I think that this comparison works: my inner Martha Stewart is in a life and death struggle with my inner Susie Ormond. They are locked in a Canadian Cage Match-Up, fighting to the death. GRRRR. 47 years old and I’ve got blond bimbos fighting it out for my soul. I thought I outgrew this whole lust thing with puberty. Susie Ormond, played by Jessica Simpson, fights tooth and nail to defeat Paris Hilton as Martha Stewart for my eternal soul, and the future happiness of my family.


Will the tag-team of Ormond and Simpson win and cast me into the perdition of the towers of doom, where my monthly expense will be cut in half, though my elitist sense of self will wither and die? Or will it be the paroled Paris Hilton with her ex-con partner Stewart, with their ineffable sense of style (perhaps seasoned by time in stir), that will win out and cost me thousands of dollars a month to maintain a haughtier image of myself? Oh, the fates are cruel, my life decided by an all blonde-ambition WWF tag-team fight to the death in (and for) my soul.

So these are the horns of the dilemma that I live on now. Fortunately I alone am not responsible for this decision, and I will lean heavily on Linda and the kids to make the choice (though it ain’t lookin’ good for the doyen of style and hotel heiress and their frivolous ways).

Please, good readers, if you are out there, weigh in on this one: let me know what you would do. Send me an email, or leave a comment here.