Personal notes.

It’s been quiet on the posting front while the Palace has been entertaining family members: two teenage girls. They are, of course, amazing people and I am thoroughly enjoying my time with them. As we share significant DNA it should not be all that surprising that some of their interests and mine overlap, e.g. food, music, theatre, urban hiking, high-end pedicures, ignoring everyone while riveted to an iPhone, staying up late watching movies and sleeping in. It should be equally unsurprising that some of their interests and mine do not, in fact, overlap (see “teenage girls”). This manifests itself in numerous ways, the most egregious example of which can be summed up in one word: Macy’s.

This is my own (un)doing, really. On a previous visit, they had been looking for shoes (and other items that apparently pass for “clothing” among The Kids These Days™). As savvy New Yorkers know, whenever new women’s shoes are required, one proceeds directly to the main shoe floor at Macy’s 34th Street. However, and I cannot stress this enough, this proceeding MUST be undertaken under the most stringent of protocols:

1. Find out what time Macy’s opens tomorrow, and set your alarm accordingly.

2. Roll out of bed, dress, brush your teeth, eat a quick breakfast, gulp down some coffee and transport yourself to the vicinity of 34th Street and Broadway, timing your arrival — and this is key, people — to fifteen minutes after the doors open*. You will thereby be exposed to the smallest number of tourists, the shortest wait times for service and maximum available stock.

3. Go directly to the new shoe floor on 2. Do not be distracted by any objects on 1.

4. Select shoes. This may take significantly longer than anticipated, given that the new shoe floor on 2 is, like its esteemed predecessor on 5, a sprawling affair that takes up an entire floor of an entire building.

5. Interact with a helpful sales worker to determine the availability of selected shoes in the desired size and color(s). Repeat step 4 if necessary.

6. Pay at the register.

7. GTFO! ASAP! Run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit!

7. Immediately celebrate your successful mission with a cocktail. You deserve it.

These strict protocols also apply to shopping for jeans, lingerie, dresses and other items that apparently pass for “clothing” among The Kids These Days™.

Now, when I had originally suggested to these teens that we hit Macy’s for shoes etc., they were disappointed. “Macy’s,” to them, represented a badly lit store in their local mall with a limited shoe department that catered to “old ladies.” (*ahem* I resemble that remark…) I insisted that they humor me, so off we went the next morning to Macy’s 34th Street and what would ultimately turn out to be the Greatest Ever Shopping Extravaganza Ever In History Ever. We were to attempt to repeat this legendary feat on Tuesday, and they were quite enthusiastic. QUITE. Until, of course, it came time to execute Step 2. When the doors open at 9:00 am, sleeping until 11:30am does not bode well for a successful mission. There were people ahead of us in the shoe department! No more size eights! Lines for fitting rooms! It was bloody awful. The entire ordeal lasted about three and a half hours, and required many, many cocktails afterward to recover.

But truth be told, I am enjoying this little break from following news events and social media so intensely, including yesterday’s FINAL SUPER IMPORTANT FEC FUNDRAISING DEADLINE! BOEHNER! PAUL RYAN! YOUR SUPPORTER RECORD: $0.00! OMFG!!!11!! Although I did flip a few bucks to Alan Grayson, because Alan Grayson is still awesome (“Eight months into the 113th Congress, Rep. Alan Grayson has passed more amendments than any other Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat or Republican.”)

And we could hardly fail to notice (a) the Bradley Manning verdict, (b) Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and has left Moscow airport, and (c) Glenn Greenwald & Co. at The Guardian revealed more classified information and documents about the NSA’s shenanigans yesterday morning, just before senior intelligence officials were about to lie to testify before the Senate judiciary committee. Hahaha. Good one, Glenn. We are also relived to report that, with mostly minor exceptions, the PowerPoint slides released by The Guardian detailing an Orwellian program ripe for abuse called XKeyscore are not nearly as embarrassing as the PRISM slides.

Speaking of news: Patron Saint of the Palace PZ Myers ran our previous post, Casualties of War, as a guest post at Pharyngula, resulting in a serious uptick in our hit count this week. (Hello Horde! Meet my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™.) The comments on the thread are overwhelmingly complimentary, and led to some interesting discussions. Loyal Readers™ may recall that this is why we have a shrine to PZ Myers in the first place.

Finally, we have been busy with a major expansion of the Palace infrastructure, which I hope to reveal soon. But not soon enough, I’m afraid, for today we are off to Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. In Times Square, fer chrissakes. Dawg help me.

*There are people who make it a point to arrive at Macy’s before the doors open, and cluster in unseemly throngs around said doors. Needless to say, you do not want to be anywhere near such people, and fifteen minutes usually gives them ample time to disperse.

Casualties of war.

The War on Drugs is not a war on drugs, at least not as that phrase is commonly understood in the English language. Assess the misery associated with the drug trade, and you would have to be on drugs yourself to believe the War on Drugs is anything other than a total, abject failure. From measures of public health, addiction rates, narco-terrorism, police corruption, gang violence, vast criminal networks spanning the globe to the inhumane prison-industrial complex here at home, the War on Drugs has made the world a far worse place.

Of course the U.S. government has long known that (a) military strategies do not work and may actually boost profits for drug traffickers, and (b) drug treatment is far cheaper and twenty-three times more effective than supply-side approaches. If the War on Drugs is such a spectacular failure in every respect, why would the feds continue to perpetrate it? The answer is that it is not a failure in every respect: the War on Drugs provides an excellent pretext for violent action by the U.S. and its client states in the Western hemisphere. Not in service to democracy, freedom and human rights, mind you—strictly for the benefit of elite U.S. business interests.

Since 1946, the U.S. Army has been training Latin American government and military officials at its School of the Americas (now WHINSEC) in “counterinsurgency,” for the purpose of suppressing leftist movements that might interfere with the unimpeded exploitation of natural resources by U.S.-based conglomerates. We helpfully trained these people in various torture techniques, civilian targeting, extrajudicial executions and extortion. We enthusiastically encouraged terrorism, sabotage, arresting people’s relatives and blackmail. We have engineered violent coups and murders to keep in power cooperative governments. We have deposed, assassinated and otherwise interfered with democratically elected officials and other leaders who exhibit the merest hint of socialism.

In recent decades in Colombia alone, the U.S.-trained army and its allied right-wing paramilitary groups have killed thousands upon thousands of union organizers, peasant and indigenous leaders, human rights workers, land reform activists, religious leaders, leftist politicians and their supporters. Some paramilitary leaders have attempted to “cleanse” Colombian society by murdering drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, petty criminals and the homeless. It’s true that some Colombian presidents have attempted to address the social, political and economic issues that the guerrillas claim are their grievances. But the United States government will not have any of that. With assistance from its allies in the Colombian political, economic and military elite, efforts at meaningful reform have all been thwarted. And so those pesky guerrillas—who have no love for the drug trade—will continue to strike back the only way they can: by blowing up oil pipelines. That is why there is a “War on Drugs” in Colombia.

Sound familiar? It should. The War on Terror works exactly the same way in the Middle East. That is, it doesn’t work, at least not for its stated purposes. No one seriously doubts that our policies create far more terrorists than we could ever capture or kill, or that we have long supported and armed some of the most brutal, tyrannical, anti-democratic and oppressive dictators in the region for the benefit of the world-warming, profit-pumping petroleum industry. Take a look at this nifty interactive map of Yemen, and then try to tell me with a straight face that we’re over there drone bombing Muslims to Keep Us Safe™ from terrorists, as opposed to, say, protecting a very cooperative Yemeni regime.

The War on Terror has led to profound changes in American society. The populace has meekly accepted the militarization of domestic police forces, the rise of a vast and insidious surveillance state and the erosion of constitutional rights and civil liberties, all in exchange for empty promises of safety. It’s long been clear that none of it works. Meanwhile, on the home front the War on Drugs has subjected generations of citizens to mass incarceration. More than two million people are behind bars in the U.S.: that is 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Prison populations have exploded since the 1980s, with the majority of the increase comprising low-level offenders, particularly drug offenders, and disproportionally black and Latino men who are no more likely to dabble in drugs than their white counterparts. What happened after the 1980s? The previous go-to excuse for invading, bombing and otherwise imposing our imperial will on other countries—the Cold War—had just collapsed, but the War on Drugs had already begun. Eventually, Osama bin Laden did America’s Owners a big favor, and the rest, as they say, is history. What could be a more perfect pretext than a “War on Terror”? Let’s invade Iraq for oil! We’ll just say Saddam’s in league with Al-Qaeda or something! The press?! Pfft. They’ll help us do it, bro. 

This is not a Republican-Democrat thing. No matter which party is nominally in power, the U.S. government will use every tactic at its disposal keep the American left marginalized as effectively as the Colombians do. Obama saw to it that the Occupy movement was crushed. FBI, NYPD, State Police and other law enforcement agencies have long been infiltrating and monitoring groups opposed to U.S. economic policy, immigration policy, harmful trade agreements, union-busting and racial profiling. The feds are also interested in keeping tabs on anti-death penalty groups, labor organizers, those who support Palestinians or the Israel divestment campaign, and, unsurprisingly, anti-war groups. After all, how are we all going to be duped into the next War on Whatever if we have a formidable peace movement?

All of this is precisely what one would expect from a system of unbridled, imperialist capitalism constrained by neither law nor conscience. The System is the problem.


On Tuesday afternoon, I attended a rally at Union Square. It was the NYC kickoff for an “Abortion Rights Freedom Ride,” a cross country caravan organized by, with rallies planned along the route including places where some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws have been passed: Fargo, North Dakota; Wichita, Kansas; and Jackson, Mississippi. Take Mississippi, for example: since 2002 only a single clinic providing abortion services has been in operation. The state’s legislators and governors, who clearly have no other problems to attend to, have been very busy attempting to shut down that last remaining clinic by passing disingenuous laws purporting to protect women’s health. (As if anyone, anywhere, believes conservatives are concerned about anyone’s health. OMGLOL.) Not to be outdone, North Dakota—another state with only one remaining clinic—passed a ban on abortions after six weeks, a point at which many women have no idea they’re pregnant.

I had recently written a piece mentioning and their refreshingly plain language and savvy messaging: “Abortion on Demand Without Apology.” “Women are NOT incubators.” “Forced motherhood is female enslavement.” When their campaign started to gain attention, the liberal hand-wringing came right on cue. There were concerns, you see. This Abortion Rights Freedom Ride will be “too confrontational, too vociferous and may turn off people to the cause.” The activists will be viewed locally as “invading outsiders.” Mass political protest only “distracts from important court cases.” Besides, it’s better to “rely on officials channels of politics.”

Really. How’s that been working out? In the past three years, states have passed nearly 180 restrictions on abortion, and 2013 is already on track to record the second-highest number of abortion restrictions in a single year, ever.

And these concerns sounded familiar. Where had I heard this before? Oh, that’s right: from critics concerned about the Occupy movement, who in turn echoed nearly verbatim critics of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, and critics of the women’s suffrage movement before that. Quiet down, they said. Wait. Work with The System. Please. When has anything short of confrontational, vociferous, mass political protest ever yielded more than lip service or a few table scraps from The System?

America’s Owners do not care one whit about abortion rights, except insofar as the issue drives conservatives to the polls to elect their Republican servants or outrages liberals enough to elect their Democratic servants. Indeed, they have every reason to keep the War on Women raging.

This is why voting is not enough: the game is rigged. As Chris Hedges put it so succinctly, “There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs.” Democrats have concern-trolled themselves right into irrelevance. They are The System. The System is the problem. The math is not hard.

I’ll leave you with something promising. There are people who get it. I met some of them at the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride rally.

rallyMeet (L-R) Noche Diaz, Jamel Mims, and Carl Dix, members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and defendants in cases brought for nonviolent civil disobedience actions protesting the NYPD’s Stop & Frisk practices. To be honest, when they were first introduced I wondered why three d00ds would be speaking together at an abortion rights rally. It didn’t take long to find out: their explicit message was that if women, who make up half of humanity, are not free, then none of us are free. They spoke powerfully and eloquently about the oppression that they and their communities have faced—and linked it directly to the same source of oppression and exploitation that women, workers and millions of marginalized people face, here and abroad: The System.

The difficult part is predicting what will spark the revolution—and where we will end up after it’s all said and done. To have a shot a desirable outcome, we need more citizens to realize that we, too, are casualties of war.

I’ll see you in the streets.

Happy Pride.

prideflagThe gay community has much to celebrate this year: the death of DOMA in the Supreme Court means that discrimination against gay citizens may no longer be codified in federal law. This single decision has many positive ripple effects, from immigration rights to inheritance benefits. A delicious side benefit, of course, is that it drives religious conservatives positively apoplectic. We approve of this very, very much.

Another effect seems to be the unusually raucous and jubilant crowd outside the Palace walls today at the annual pride parade. (The Palace is located near the very end of the parade route, where marchers disband and floats are dismantled and every bar stool in the vicinity becomes inaccessible to Palace denizens until some time tomorrow afternoon.) Before we could see or even hear the impending arrival of the Dykes on Bikes — the traditional lead off contingent — the enormous crowd was happily shouting, whistling, chanting and applauding. There hasn’t been a lull since, and it’s now going past three hours — and raining. Occasionally, the din is overwhelmed by house music blasting from a passing float, or by someone speaking over a very loud PA system. But overall, there is just the electrifying sound of joy ringing through the West Village, ringing in a new era of legal recognition for our gay brothers and sisters. Their hard work and that of their allies to bring this about should make us all proud as Americans.

The goal of equality is far from accomplished, but this country has just taken a big step in the right direction. I have to say, it brings a tear to my jaded eye.


Also: fuck you, conservatives. Every time you lose, this country gets a little bit better.

Naked Bike People.

[TRIGGER WARNING: pictures of naked people on bicycles.]

Via email yesterday, longtime Loyal Reader™ born on the wrong continent gave the Palace a heads-up that it was World Naked Bike Ride day, which is apparently a Thing.


Ride is rain or shine!
No matter what the weather is WE RIDE
In solidarity with World Naked Bike Ride, wear your hottest, fiercest hot pants on this clothing optional extravaganza through the streets of New York.
Climate change is real (Thanks Obama!) and it ain’t getting any cooler out here. Get comfortable in our future climate and show some skin.
We love Short shorts! Mask up, pants down! As comfortable as you please.
Reclaim your body! Reclaim your streets! Reclaim your planet! Ride your bike! The Hot Pants Ride is a safer space for all bodies to ride free of harassment or pollutants in the physical or mental environment. To participate each rider is asked to respect that the liberation of bodies requires freedom, autonomy, and justice for all. This begins with joy and commitment to self-determination. And of course bikes!!!
What: An afternoon of fun, free community, and direct action, including a clothing-optional bike ride. We celebrate our bodies, celebrate cycling in NYC!

And all I can say is thank goodness for Mr. born’s alerting us. Otherwise we might have been puzzled, or possibly even perplexed, to catch a glimpse of this through the open air windows of a bar on Christopher Street:

WNBD3It takes a lot to get anyone’s attention on Christopher Street. Or to get me to leave my bar stool. I’m pretty sure that’s unprecedented. WNBD2Butts on bikes, Greenwich Street.

WNBD4NYPD escorts. I’m so glad they’re keeping a watchful eye on the naked bike terrorists.


Spring in the West Village.

spring201301Every year like clockwork Spring arrives, and the neighborhood trees bloom in floating clouds of white and pale pink blossoms.  Hurricane Sandy knocked out a few prize specimens last fall, but for the most part young trees have already been planted to replace them.

The West Village is beautiful even in the dead of winter, mostly 19th century masonry and a few brick-&-glass monstrosities built before the neighborhood acquired official historic status.  The zoning change made it exceedingly difficult to build anything out of character.  But developers and architects with high-end pedigrees soon set their sights on the West Side Highway, along the Hudson River, heralding a new wave of modernism.  The Richard Meier buildings were among the first to sprout; Barry Diller’s IAC building followed soon after.  The new Whitney Museum by Renzo Piano is the latest:  it is expected to be amazing, and also to send property values in West Chelsea rocketing from already astronomical orbits.  I like modern architecture.  I am especially enamored with Shigeru Ban’s Metal Shutter Houses.  I just do not want to see all of the antique masonry, plaster walls, working fireplaces and tiny gardens buried under a blizzard of luxury condos.

But this post is not about that.  It’s about Spring.  In the West Village.  And the extent to which its charms can be captured by Your Humble Monarch on her trusty iPhone.

Pics and pith below the fold.

Continue reading

Random musings on a Monday.

The wind is howling, and this is the current view from the Palace windows:

palacewindowI think it’s snowy rain, or perhaps rainy snow, but I am just not curious enough to actually go outside and find out.


Support for gay marriage hit a new high in a Washington Post-ABC poll:

The poll shows that 58 percent of Americans now believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married; 36 percent say it should be illegal. Public attitudes toward gay marriage are a mirror image of what they were a decade ago: in 2003, 37 percent favored gay nuptials, and 55 percent opposed them.

YAY 4 GAY!  That is remarkable progress in a decade.  (Hey, maybe by 2023 women will be considered humans worthy of equality.  A broad can dream, can’t she?)  What is wrong with the 36 percent of holdouts?  I’m guessing there’s a very big overlap with “religion,” but the report on the poll doesn’t say.


I am not posting about the Steubenville rape convictions.  I’ve participated in other threads on this topic elsewhere:  suffice it to say that the reaction to the verdict and the sentencing, particularly in the mainstream media but also among presumed allies, has been disappointing though alas, not surprising.  (Also: triggering.)  For example:

While reporting on the verdict and sentencing of the two Steubenville rapists, the CNN news personalities told us repeatedly how difficult it was to watch these boy’s lives being destroyed. How their crime will haunt them.

These criminals destroyed their own lives, when they decided to repeatedly rape an incapacitated girl. When they decided to film and share their horrific crime.

Not once did CNN mention the person whose life was most destroyed by their crime, who will also be haunted for life by their crime… their victim. The young girl who they violated and raped.

Not once while they discussed the pain and humiliation these vicious and cruel criminals now face, did they acknowledge that her life was also destroyed, by them. That she would have to carry around the pain, humiliation, self doubt and self loathing, the stigma of rape, for the rest of her life. Not once did the CNN pundits mention the pain and humiliation these criminals repeatedly inflicted on their victim.

Not once.

While I emphatically disagree with the pronouncements that the victim’s life is “destroyed” and that she “would have to carry around the pain, humiliation, self doubt and self loathing, the stigma of rape, for the rest of her life” — those are assessments only she can make and they are by no means inevitable — I agree that CNN’s coverage of the verdict was inexcusable and deplorable.  And CNN was hardly alone.  Here’s a petition to CNN demanding an on-air apology if you are inclined to sign it.

***Before you comment here on this topic,
Shakesville’s Rape Culture 101 is required reading.*** 


This is one of the best online shops I’ve ever seen.  I’ve ordered two hard copies of the catalog: one for myself, and one for longtime Loyal Reader™ nubs goodyear who will totally get it (and will hopefully never, ever send me anything from here).  A small sampling of what’s on offer:


Chrismukkah reversible gift wrap. “”Christmas & Hanukkah motifs. Great for diverse families & friends. Classy hot rod art on both sides.”


Cupcake Soap Dispenser.


Dear Leader Tongue Scraper. Because “Kim Jong Il wants you to have a clean tongue.”


Emergency Inflatable Brain. I need cases of them to send to people I encountered online today. And every day.

It turns out there are many emergency products for sale at this particular emporium, including items for emergencies I have never even thought of and would have preferred not to imagine, including Emergency Glow in the Dark Googly Eyes, Emergency Inflatable Rubber Chicken, Emergency Inflatable Toast, Emergency Meow Button, Emergency Santa Kit, Emergency Toilet Seat Covers (Okay, I totally get this. Where have you been all my life?!!), Emergency Underpants Dispenser, and — last but not least — Emergency Yodel Button.


Foie Gras flavored bubble gum. Yep.



Inflatable beard of bees. I could totally rock this look.


Macaroni and Cheese air freshener.

I know what you’re thinking:  and yes, there are macaroni & cheese band-aids and macaroni & cheese gift bags, too!!!


Pickle-flavored candy canes.

There are also Pickle Gumballs and Pickle Lip Balm for all your pickle-flavor needs.  Or, I don’t know, maybe you might consider just buying some actual fucking pickles?


I don’t watch American Idol, but someone posted this video from the show of contestant Candice Glover singing “I Who Have Nothing,” and I am in awe.  Enjoy.


Merry Crispmas.

quentincrispVia an informative email from Don Ardell I received on Christmas day, it came to my attention that English writer and raconteur Quentin Crisp shares a birthday with Our Lard and Savorer Jeezus Haploid Keereist.  Don quipped, “I’m tempted to create a little manager scene next year for the baby Quentin.”

I figured why wait?  I sent him back this:


Not to be outdone, Don replied, “Merry Crispmas.”

And so it was that I found myself culling Quentin Crisp quotes from various online sources to add to the Palace’s extensive quote collection.  There was just one problem:  there were so many good ones.  Twenty-five, in fact, and I could have easily added many more.  Because Don had sent me down this particular rabbit hole, I asked him to help cull the Crisp collection down to a more reasonable number.  He obliged, but “only under duress.”  “If tortured,” he said, “I might pretend to have favorites.”

* * * * *

Born “Denis Charles Pratt” in a conventional English suburb on Christmas day in 1908, Quentin Crisp grew up with “effeminate tendencies, which he flaunted by parading the streets in make-up and painted nails, and working as a rent-boy.”  He spent over thirty years working as a professional model in art colleges, an occupation he likened to being a “naked civil servant.” The Naked Civil Servant would become the title of his memoirs, published in 1968, and subsequently made into a television movie starring John Hurt in 1975.  The film rocketed both its lead actor and its subject to stardom.

Crisp spent the next decades performing his smashingly successful one man show (in London, New York and on tour), acting in films (he played Elizabeth I in Orlando), writing books and penning movie reviews and columns for U.S. and U.K. publications.  He lived in New York for many years on 3rd Street in the East Village.  Just as he had in London, Crisp maintained a publicly listed telephone number and considered it his duty to have a conversation with absolutely everyone who called him.  He would also accept almost any dinner invitation.  Dinner with Crisp was said to be one of the best shows in New York.

Sometimes called a “20th century Oscar Wilde,” Crisp was well-known for his witty bon mots: once asked if he were a “practicing homosexual,” he replied, “I didn’t practice. I was already perfect.”  Quentin Crisp died in 1999 at the age of 90.  But he left us a legacy of wisdom and hilarity.

* * * * *

While putting this post together, two things occurred to me.  One is that the spacious Palace is nowhere near capacity; it turns out that after babbling on and on here for more than two years, we have used up only 2% of our allotted space on the WordPress servers.  (And even that limit can be increased as much as desired — for a fee, of course.)  For all practical purposes, I am the proprietress of a virtually limitless domain.  Why, then, should my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ be denied some arbitrary number Quentin Crisp quotes?  To save space?  For what, if not more Quentin Crisp quotes?

The second thing I realized is that Don is seriously onto something with putting baby Quentin in a manger and “Merry Crispmas.”  That’s right, people:  all that War on Christmas shit?  It just got real.  Your mission, all you godless heathens and/or people who hate Bill O’Reilly and would love nothing more than to see his head explode, is to work on imaginative ways to celebrate Crispmas next December 25.  Do whatever you can to spread the good word.  I’m getting right to work making Quentin Crisp figurines to substitute for the baybee Jeezus in nativity scenes all over New York.  I figure it’s the perfect time of year to do all the reconnaissance for appropriate sizing, placement and access.  Meanwhile, perhaps you can find some inspiration and enjoyment in these ditties.

All twenty-five of them.

* * * * *

Keeping up with the Joneses was a full-time job with my mother and father. It was not until many years later when I lived alone that I realized how much cheaper it was to drag the Joneses down to my level.

In an expanding universe, time is on the side of the outcast.

Exhibitionism is like a drug. Hooked in adolescence I was now taking doses so massive they would have killed a novice.

To my disappointment I now realized that to know all is not to forgive all. It is to despise everybody.

There was no need to do any housework at all. After four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.

Health consists of having the same diseases as one’s neighbours.

God, from whose territory I had withdrawn my ambassadors at the age of fourteen. It had become obvious that he was never going to do a thing I said.

I now know that if you describe things as better as they are, you are considered to be romantic; if you describe things as worse than they are, you are called a realist; and if you describe things exactly as they are, you are called a satirist.

Another friend began to say, “Well, Quentin has a problem of adjusting himself to society and he…” This sentence was never finished. The ballet teacher expostulated, “I don’t agree. Quentin does exactly as he pleases. The rest of us have to adapt ourselves to him.”

If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your style.

If love means anything at all it means extending your hand to the unlovable.

The very purpose of existence it to reconcile the glowing opinion we have of ourselves with the appalling things that other people think of us.

I recommend limiting one’s involvement in other people’s lives to a pleasantly scant minimum.

Ask yourself, if there was to be no blame, and if there was to be no praise, who would I be then?

A fair share of anything is starvation diet to an egomaniac.

The world now seems a stunningly ignoble place. It has not really grown all that much worse but appears to have done so because we know so much more about it than we did.

The formula for achieving a successful relationship is simple: you should treat all disasters as if they were trivialities but never treat a triviality as if it were a disaster.

There are three reasons for becoming a writer: the first is that you need the money; the second that you have something to say that you think the world should know; the third is that you can’t think what to do with the long winter evenings.

Vice is its own reward.

Euphemisms are unpleasant truths wearing diplomatic cologne.

Of course I lie to people. But I lie altruistically – for our mutual good. The lie is the basic building block of good manners. That may seem mildly shocking to a moralist – but then what isn’t?

Los Angeles is just New York lying down.

The worst part of being gay in the twentieth century is all that damn disco music to which one has to listen.

For flavor, instant sex will never supersede the stuff you have to peel and cook.

It is not the simple statement of facts that ushers in freedom; it is the constant repetition of them that has this liberating effect. Tolerance is the result not of enlightenment, but of boredom.

* * * * *

Merry Crispmas, indeed.


Do NOT mess with mah post office peeps.

I arrived at the tiny West Village post office shortly after 11am.  The end of the line spilled out into the tiny lobby.  I’d seen it worse — much worse — as it will no doubt be tomorrow, when I ship more of my inexcusably belated holiday gifts.

I dutifully took my place and whipped out my trusty iphone to read some emails, and corresponded via text a few times with My Amazing Lover™.

As usual for this time of year, the line was excruciatingly slow.  Customers hauled in stacks of packages, filled out multiple forms, calculated international postage, picked out holiday stamps and inquired into endless, inscrutable and byzantine options for delivering objects d’ holiday cheer to places other than Hudson Street in the West Village.

I was finally about third in line when a d00d waving a form in his hand cut the line. He sauntered up to the counter and interrupted a transaction to request from the clerk — let’s call her Beatrice — “the shorter version” of the form he held in his hand.

Imagine, if you will, the following scene taking place against the soundtrack of an inconsolable, wailing toddler.

BEATRICE:  It’s over there with the other forms, sir.

D00d:  No, it’s not!

BEATRICE:  Yes it is sir. You’re looking in the wrong place.

D00d:  Well, you should put all the forms where people can find them easily!

BEATRICE:  If you need assistance you’ll have to wait in line.

D00d:  FOR A FORM?!

BEATRICE:  For assistance.

D00d [reaches over Beatrice's counter and grabs a form]: See this? This is what I needed and I shouldn’t have to wait in line for it!  [D00d heads toward the back of the line then pauses.]

BEATRICE: How ’bout if you need something, sir, you wait in line like everybody else?

D00d:  Unbelievable!  You know what?  You people need to work a lot faster!  See all these people in line here?  They’re all trying to get back to WORK!

BEATRICE:  Uh-huh.

D00d [gets right up in her face]:  You need to work faster!

BEATRICE [smiling and singing to the tune of Happy Birthday]: Merry Christmas to you, Merry Christmas to you, Merry Christmas to you, Merry Christmas to you…

PEOPLE IN THE LINE:  [Laughter.]

D00d [storming toward the door again]:  Well folks, government workers have hit a new low! [turns around and walks back toward Beatrice.]

D00d:  Guess what? See this?  I recorded you on video, singing Merry Christmas!  You’re going to be on Fox News tonight!

BEATRICE:  Oh, great!  I’ve always wanted to be on TV!

D00d:  And it’s going to run unedited!  [storms toward the door again.]

IRIS:  Fox News isn’t news!  [starts video recording of the D00d.]


[D00d goes to the back of the line and loudly appears to engage in a conversation with a Fox News producer about his major video scoop of Beatrice singing Merry Christmas.]

D00d [storming back up in front of the counter]:  Who is the postmaster here?

BEATRICE:  Somebody give this man a hug.  He really needs a hug.


D00d:  You people don’t even know what a postmaster is?!  Incredible!  Okay, who’s the manager on duty!  I want to speak to the manager!

BEATRICE: You have a blessed day, sir, and very happy holidays to you.

ANOTHER CLERK:  The manager is at the Varrick Street post office.

BEATRICE:  Everybody in the line?  Give this man hugs.  He needs LOTS of hugs.

PERSON IN THE LINE:  I think he needs more than that.

D00d:  That’s all I needed to know!  I’m going to Varrick Street! [storms out.]

[It should be noted that during this entire altercation Beatrice never ceased processing her customer's mail. My turn came, and Beatrice was open.]

IRIS:  Wow, you’re going to be a TV star and an internet sensation!

BEATRICE:  I know.  I just wish I had warmed up my voice a little. And fixed my hair.

IRIS:  You sounded great.  And your hair looks fine.

BEATRICE: You know, that guy’s going to get in trouble for recording video inside a post office.

IRIS:   Really?  Shit.  Because I recorded him.

BEATRICE:  You can’t film in a post office.  But don’t worry about it.

IRIS: Why not?

BEATRICE:  He’s going to turn himself in, as soon as he uploads the video.

IRIS:  That’s brilliant.  And you won’t even have to lift a finger.


IRIS:  See you tomorrow.

BEATRICE:  I’m off tomorrow.

IRIS:  Well I’m probably going to be back here Thursday, too.  I can’t wait to see the show!

BEATRICE:  My next show’s today at 2:30, folks!

The tickets are free, but you’ll have to wait in line.

Sandy: A Post Mortem.

Well Loyal Readers, after a couple days without power or running water with no end in sight, I did exactly what all of my training and hard-earned experience as an intrepid, prize-winning* journalist taught me to do:  I said fuck it.  I have safely made my way to my family in Maryland, where hot showers and fresh foods and good coffee and cold white wines are mine for the asking.

But before I bailed like the cowardly and overindulged monarch I so clearly am, I used the last trickle of battery life on my trusty iPhone to take some pictures.  On Tuesday afternoon, after the winds and tides had died down considerably, I made my way down dark hallways and pitch-black stairwells to the streets of the West Village and walked around for an hour or so.  No businesses were open, except for a couple delis operating in candlelight or total darkness, and one storefront bagel shop on Hudson Street.  The line was down the block.

I walked to the piers at the Hudson River Park, about which I had written on Monday before the storm really kicked in.  At first glance, nothing seemed amiss.  The park was officially closed (and still is as of this writing), but the barricades had been pushed aside, no police were in sight, and many New Yorkers were happily taking advantage of the access.  I saw joggers, bikers and hikers up and down the walkway along the waterline, though not nearly as many as one would expect to see on a typical Tuesday.   People boldly strolled out onto Pier 45, and it’s smaller next-door neighbor Pier 46.

Hudson River Park and Pier 45, West Street at 10th Street. (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012)

To get a closer look I walked out onto Pier 46, which as usual was not as populated as Pier 45.  About halfway to the end of the pier I realized that the solid slabs of masonry comprising the walkways had severely buckled; they looked like flowing ribbons.  It occurred to me that it might not be safe to be out here.  But I kept going anyway.  (See? Super intrepid!)

Buckled walkway, North side of Hudson River Park Pier 46, West Street at Charles Street. (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012)

Buckled walkway, North side of Hudson River Park Pier 46, West Street at Charles Street. (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012)

When I reached the end of the pier I was relieved to see that the water level was slightly lower than at normal high tide, as measured by how many of the old pillars are visible above the waterline.

View from end of Pier 46, Hudson River Park, West Street at Charles Street. (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012)

Next I walked out to the end of Pier 45, the one that reaches much farther out into the Hudson River.  There was some obvious damage, but it was remarkable to me just how little.  I saw two steel railing supports broken, although there may have been more that I just didn’t notice.  There were no downed trees, no detectable buckling along the pathways, and the grass expanses looked no worse for wear.  Only one of the mesh screens along the South walkway had come loose.

Mesh broken loose, Hudson River Park Pier 45, West Street at 10th Street. (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012)

Near the end of this pier is a large canvas canopy.  Chunky concrete blocks anchor the poles that support the tent-like structure, and these blocks also serve as seating.  All but one had lost the wooden slats that normally cover them.  But considering the exposure to hurricane force winds and a 13 foot storm surge, the destruction is relatively minor and mainly cosmetic.

End of Pier 45, Hudson River Park, West Street at 10th Street. (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012)

Debris caught at end of Pier 45, Hudson River Park, West Street at 10th Street. (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012)

I took this next shot back on the waterline walkway, facing South.  You can see the Freedom Penis Tower looming in the distance at ground zero, the former site of the World Trade Towers.  Those cranes on top look fine to me.  But what do I know?  (Note:  I know absolutely nothing about cranes.)

Sadly, the iconic tree-lined streets of my neighborhood are now quite a few trees short.  Interestingly, though, none of the downed trees that I saw were ginkgos, which are fairly ubiquitous in these parts.  (Have I mentioned that I love ginkgo trees?  I looooove ginkgo trees.  They are freaking awesome.)

Downed branches, Charles & Greenwich Sts. That inverted umbrella probably flew here from Long Island. (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012)

Destroyed tree, Charles & Bleecker Sts. (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012)

Downed tree, Greenwich Street at Charles Street. (Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012)

Closeup of downed tree, Greenwich Street at Charles Street. (Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012)

Wednesday brought glimpses of crystal blue skies for the first time in days.

Greenwich & Christopher Sts. (Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012)

A handful of neighborhood bars and restaurants reopened, including Palace favorite Left Bank whose Twitter feed informs me:

LeftBankNYC We’re at it again 2nite! RT @BBPR Blackout be damned @LeftBankNYC chef Laurence keeps West Villagers fed apres Sandy


LeftBankNYC Planning a menu! That’s right, we’re open again tonight, with a small menu of 4 fresh selections for $20 each. The…

But as tempting as it was, what I really needed more than anything was a hot shower.  (OMFG, like, more than I have ever needed a shower in my life. You. Have. No. Idea.**)  And so it was that I soon found myself traveling South on the New Jersey Turnpike.  Frankly, I was a little bit taken aback when I read this sign:

“Hurricane Warning:  Seek Shelter.”  Again?  Srsly?

But I figured with everything else going on in New Jersey right now, updating this particular turnpike sign is not exactly a high priority.  Or even anywhere near the top one million priorities.

Delaware Memorial Bridge…to flood-free happiness. (Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012)

Should you or your loved ones expect to find yourselves in a similar post-apocalyptic scenario (such as a Paul Ryan presidency in 2016), perhaps this next section will be of interest to you.  I call it:

Some stuff I found invaluable.


My little flashlight.  Last year I picked up this small, super-bright LED flashlight at a discount at Brookstone, stuck it in my purse and pretty much forgot about it — until the power went out on Monday.  Then I wore it around my neck like a talisman.  I used it to find my way down dark hallways and pitch black stairwells, and to pee in the middle of the night without the need for lit candles.  It came with both a belt clip and the lanyard, and IIRC it was available in a bunch of different colors.

Okay, so I just went and checked it out for you. These little thingies are currently on sale at Brookstone, two for $15 (it’s a buy-one-get-one-free deal).  And they do indeed come in a bunch of colors.  I also just learned from the highly informative Brookstone website that they are made of “aircraft-grade aluminum,” the “6 high-power LEDs last for more than 100,000 hours” and they are “water-resistant.”  Ooh look!  Shiny:

I am sure you will agree that the black one I have is the most badass, with the all-silver one a close second.


This. Fucking. Radio.

I bought this inexpensive solar/hand-crank AM/FM radio/flashlight online from Quake Kare about ten years ago, when I was making a bunch of go-bags as holiday gifts.  Nowadays most models come with a USB port so you can also use it to charge mobile devices such as cell phones or iPads — a feature which sure as hell would have come in handy over the last couple days.  (I’m ordering a new one with USB capability this week.)  With no TV, newspapers or Internet, I cannot tell you how helpful it is just to have access to the news.  Incidentally, Quake Kare has a huge selection of emergency supplies, and great prices including volume discounts.  (I’ve purchased supplies for Occupy from them in bulk.)

Wanna get your holiday shopping done quick and cheap?  If you know ten people you would want to survive a natural disaster — and believe me, I am certainly not judging you if you don’t — you can get these hand-crank FM radio/flashlights for $11.75 each.  It’s a great gift, although perhaps it may not be fully appreciated until it’s actually needed.  (Note: Quake Kare’s processing and shipping isn’t super quick:  it’s Quake Kare, people,  not Quick Kare.  Order sooner rather than later if you want them before December.)


CASH IS KING.  Those darkened delis?  They can’t run a credit or debit card.  Small bills are particularly useful.


Water and ice.  I prepared ahead of time with gallons of tap water in the refrigerator, a case of bottled water, and a freezer filled with ice:  I filled all of my tupperware*** with water and stacked them in my freezer, so I would have ice packs for perishable food (and insulin) if necessary.  I had also filled up the bathtub with water, which turned out to be necessary to refill the toilet tank after flushing.  UM, VERY IMPORTANT.


Beeswax candles.  In particular, these beeswax candles in glassware from Bluecorn Naturals.  They burn forever — I’m talking through the night and then some.  I am not kidding:  once you burn beeswax candles you won’t want to burn paraffin candles again.

I would be remiss if I did not provide a word here about safety.  My building’s management sent out an email to tenants that said:

please do not use candles for lighting, as they pose a serious fire risk and danger to all other building staff and residents that remain on site.

This is exactly right on all counts.  But of course I did not heed this advice (and come on, you probably wouldn’t either).  I am, however, exceedingly careful about open flames (thus the preference for glassware).  You should always keep candles far away from anything flammable, children, pets, curtains, bedding and drafts, and trim wicks to 1/2 or 1/4 inch if necessary before lighting.  All of these sensible precautions take on even greater importance in the context of emergencies.

So, you know:  don’t be a dumbass.  Please?

And don’t forget to keep plenty of matches on hand.  I’m partial to wooden ones, which I pilfer shamelessly from area restaurants and bars by the purseload.  (I also have a stash of waterproof matches in my go-bag, which fortunately were not necessary… this time.)


Paper plates, cups, and plastic cutlery.  I almost never use them, and buy only the recycled and sustainable types.  But without water to wash dishes they sure do come in handy.  Also: white wine makes a fairly decent cleaning solvent for cookware.  Who knew?


Finally, I will leave you with this:

[h/t burkoff]

Sure, it makes a good point.  But in substance, of course, it applies just as much to Mr. Obama, who has presided as president during an unprecedented U.S. oil and gas boom, enabled partial construction of the Koch Brothers’ unconscionable Keystone Pipeline, and greenlighted drilling in the Arctic for the first time ever, all while these industries continue to enjoy record profits year after year.  Yes, I know:  Romney would supposedly be worse on this issue.  But at this moment, I’m finding it exceedingly difficult to envision how exactly that would even be possible.

* Hey, I have so won prizes!  Okay no, not in journalism.  But important and valuable prizes nonetheless — which makes me a prize-winning journalist.

** My Amazing Lover™ informs me that this experience was very much like camping.  Which only further cements my already-permanently-cemented position that I do not want to go camping.  Ever.

*** By “tupperware” I mean “the plastic containers that my takeout food sometimes comes in.”