New York City

Just like I pictured it.

Does anybody get Stevie Wonder references anymore? I just saw a play, so whacked, that asked the same question about Steely Dan. The two characters were Becker and Fagen fanatics, they wondered if we knew the lyrics, anything beyond the band’s William S. Burroughs inspired name and song titles.

Things change, time marches on. I know this because we went yesterday for carrot cake at Lloyd’s, and back in the sixties whites didn’t go to Harlem, not without being mighty anxious, hands in pockets.

Nor, walk after midnight on the streets.

It’s a new New York.

But it’s still Fun City, babe, although the artists can no longer afford to live here anymore.

That was another joke in “Oh, Hello.” Funny how the world runs on art but we only revere money. I’d like to see a banker from Goldman Sachs up on stage, see how he’d do, very poorly, I’m sure. But they walk like royalty amongst us, buying up all the good seats, being pricks like Chris Sacca, pissed they bought bogus tickets to “Hamilton,” after flying in on their private jets to grace us with their presence.

“Billionaire throws Tantrum after being denied entry to ‘Hamilton'”

We went to see “Hamilton” Friday night. The new cast is not as good as the original, although the guy playing Jefferson is cool and…the play remains. It’s an inspiration. Everybody should see it, we need math and science in school, but it’s the art majors and theatre geeks who truly run this world. They influence hearts and minds. Watching “Hamilton” you’re reminded you only do have one shot, and you’d better make the most of it. Who do you want to be? We’ve got a whole generation of the best and the brightest who’ve decided to become financiers and techies, and that’s just sad, only the lowest common denominator goes into music, because the odds are too long and today if you end up poor you’re an untouchable, never mind starving without a roof over your head. But there are outliers, like Lin-Manuel Miranda. Who reach for the stars, playing by nobody else’s rules. Doesn’t matter if you’re the bastard child of a whore, an immigrant in a strange land, you too can make it if you’ve got enough pluck, desire and smarts. And the written word matters, Hamilton utilized it to ensure the passage of his agenda. Hey, I’m writing right now!

And, Saturday, bright and early, we took a cab to Harlem for the aforementioned Lloyd’s:

“A Tiny Bronx Bakery (They’re in Harlem now too…) Churns Out Carrot Cakes That Travel the World”

It was a hole in the wall peopled by workers who didn’t care but it was the best carrot cake I’d ever had, but not by that much. Is it worth the trip? Probably not. But we’re all in search of excellence, certainly that which we can afford, and you too can partake in the pinnacle of carrot cake. Which we ate in front of an apartment building, the only whites in sight, and there, once again, is the change…

From there we took the subway to Ground Zero. You can take a cab, an Uber, but the underground is faster and you get to do so much people watching, New York has got the best in the world. Short ones, tall ones, big ones, small ones…and of multiple ethnicities. You don’t get up close and personal with the rest of humanity in L.A., but you do in New York. And when we emerged from the subway…

We saw the transportation hub designed by Santiago Calatrava, brand new but a legend already, forget the naysayers, this is breathtaking architecture that both wows you and makes you feel good just to be around.

But we were there for the 9/11 Museum.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

That’s what I took from the museum.

You’ll marvel at the still existing structure, the walls of the “bathtub.” You’ll be affected by the gravitas of the two pools.

But if you pay attention to the exhibit about that fateful day…

You’ll be horrified.

Not only by the jumpers, the woman who straightened her skirt before taking the plunge, wanting to maintain her dignity, and the melted equipment, airplane fragments and a torn page from the United in-flight magazine, but the perpetrators.

They’re out to get us folks.

Funny how a few bad men can impact the whole world.

Makes you want to ban religion.

And wonder if we can beat them. After all, Yahoo coughs up e-mail addresses, the Russians steal Hillary Clinton’s correspondence and…how secure are we?

They don’t pussyfoot, they include the reports that said this was coming, Cheney’s order to shoot down planes… Those in charge have a lot to answer for, which they refuse to. But the rest of us…alternate from being complacent to being scared. 9/11 really happened. And, unfortunately, it will happen again.

What would you do?

You marvel at the heroes, who lost their lives trying to save others.

We’re all just human, flawed beings, trying to make the best of it.

And speaking of humans, we went to see that play last night, “The Humans,” Frank Rich said it was the best of the year so I wanted to see it. Trusted sources are everything.

And in the play…

Everybody has losses.

I thought it was only me.

Now I’m wondering.

That person who acts like they have it all together, do they? Is every family outing fraught with an undercurrent of discontent, people putting on a brave face for the sake of tradition while desiring to bolt at the first available moment?

I’d share my losses, but they’re too raw. Despite a culture wherein memoirs reign and everybody airs their dirty laundry the truth is most of us don’t, or edit, because we’re ashamed, of the time lost, the bad choices, the negative judgments. Life is not a constant upward axis of success. There are bumps. And how you navigate these…

And from there to the Polo Bar, where Megyn Kelly was dining at the next table. I’d hate to be her, putting on her look just to show up in public, what pressure.

And when in presence of fame you gawk. And then I wondered, what for? What had she done? Other than be attractive and sit behind a news desk. The reporters are the talent here, however few there are in TV news. We venerate the wrong people. Maybe because our culture is bankrupt and there are so few truly deserving of accolades.

And New York is so different from L.A. Nobody else was recognizable at the Polo Bar, but they were all dressed like they should be. Whereas in L.A. at every famous eatery there are household names, oftentimes dressed only one step above homeless people. Flip-flops, right off the beach. Polo shirts. Shorts.

It’s what’s inside that counts.

Then again, that’s the east coast ethos. Who you are is most important.

It’s so confusing.

L.A. is image central, but you can be yourself.

New York is phony, but you’ve got to look good or you’re not granted an entry ticket.

I’m still reeling from Allen Grubman’s comments on my clothing at Michael’s on Friday. I’d put on a nice shirt, but not nice enough.

So, it’s a whirlwind of activity. Tomorrow I’m going to be in the belly of the beast, on the Howard Stern WrapUp Show. Heard around the world but just another event in the Big Apple.

Then again, Desert Trip is exotic if you don’t live in SoCal, where it’s only a drive away.

One thing I know for sure, getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing, travel is more enlightening than any book learning. We’ve got a culture that pats backs congratulating ourselves on how great we are, setting the bar so low while Brits travel the world and become enlightened and…

I’m looking for truth.

Funny where you find it.

Right there at Ground Zero, the truth of life and death and threat.

But even more on the boards of the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Where one man reached for the stars and touched them.

Can Lin-Manuel Miranda repeat the trick?


Then again, Stevie Wonder put out five ground-breaking albums in a row, each one more adventurous and arguably better than its predecessor.

They still mean a lot to me. Every time I walk in Manhattan I sing “Living For The City.”

I’m stayin’ alive, it’s all we can do.

We gather our cultural references, play them back to each other and soldier on. We’re looking for hooks to hang our lives upon.

I found some in the past three days.

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