A Cubicle Is A Cubicle Is A Cubicle

July 13, 2014


My Work Space

“…the room where the walls come together…”

- E..A. Poe, The Pit and the Pendulum

No matter how management attempts to aggrandize their decision to relocate a hardworking, dedicated employee (moi) from 3 long years in a strangulating cubicle; to a 3-month tease in a vast open space; and back again to a strangulating cubicle, the end result is exactly as Bela Lugosi described it, above, in The Raven. 

Torture. Delicious torture.

In a Q&A appearing in the Business Section of the Times today, Paula Antonelli, Sr. Curator at MOMA, is asked about her office. Her response is the best description about life inside a cubicle I have encountered, outside of Poe’s and Lugosi’s.

This is what she says:

“I have my own office, and I am lucky to have it. It is better to have privacy, but if I were to choose between a cubicle and completely open space, I would choose open space.

The illusion of privacy is worse than no privacy. It bothers you; [whereas] a conversation between two people wouldn’t bother you at all.”

This is the 21st Century. You would never know it the majority of offices. Only in New York? Even in New York.


Where have all the employees gone?

Gone to cubicles, everyone.

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?


June 22, 2014


I hadn’t picked you up in such a long while, No. 8. Why? I don’t know. Too many days elapsed between quality time at the easel? Probably.

Today, you saved my sanity, Bristle Brush. How could I have overlooked you for so long? It won’t happen again.

Weeks of working on this painting; never finishing; never satisfied; always needing more. But what?

The number 8 Bristle Brush!



Wolfgang, Ludwig and Franz; Thelonius; Sinead; JAY Z & Kanye; Led Zeppelin; Black Sheep; Benny Goodman; the Klezmatics; Beausoleil; Steve Earle; Sister C’s fabulous C&W mix; and JC — for the music that enriches my life and nourishes my work; and for giving me the best day — a true gift — I’ve had in a while.

I don’t even mind that tomorrow is Monday.

Cosmic Joke

June 13, 2014









monk “BUT WHERE IS MY CHANGE?” says the monk.


HotDogBank “CHANGE,” says the vendor, “MUST COME FROM WITHIN.”

A Shout Out To My Sister

June 3, 2014



My favorite picture of us, my sister and me, taken at the wedding of my oldest younger brother.

As you may notice on the sidebar of this blog page, I recently reactivated my twitter account.  Twitter is a good place to post great sentences discovered inside the many, many books I’ve read.

But not everything fits in 140 or fewer characters-limit of Twitter.

So here is a very funny, longer  passage I discovered a couple of years ago in Nathan Englander’s short story collection,”What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.” It is taken from a story titled, “Camp Sundown.” (Camp Sundown being an “elder hostel”)

“I don’t know why they call his book ‘Les Miserables’,” she says, leaning into the circle, as if sharing a secret. “As you will discover, this book is not less miserable. It is more miserable than you can imagine.”

This laugh is for you, Connie.


Looking for a fantasy place to live?

May 26, 2014



Earlier this month, on an extended weekend away in Tompkins County, we drove by a cluster of brightly painted cottages nestled in this make believe setting. The brilliant hues seemed more at home in the Caribbean than upstate New York. Someone less jaded than I, at first glance, might think: how charming, how cute.

My initial reaction was CULT. Or extremist Mormons.


I googled Boiceville, NY to find out what this settlement was all about. The results yielded the following information:

Inspired by the Barbara Cooney illustrations in “Miss Rumphius,” a children’s book he read to his daughters, Bruno Schickel designed and built Boiceville Cottages beginning in 1996. Bruno utilized his experience with Schickel Construction, a company he founded in 1985 and continues to run, to design an interior that was complementary to the charming illustrations of seaside cottages that inspired the exterior shape of the Boiceville Cottages.

Okay, it’s a little scary to re-imagine real life as a storybook…

I must confess, the amenities offered by this too-close-for-comfort housing set up are envy-inducing.

The cottages are furnished with a washer/dryer (what I wouldn’t give to have my own washing machine again); fridge; stove; even a dishwasher for goodness sake — not to mention a 5′ x 10′ garden box to plant your own organic vegetables.

And if you attend Cornell, the university is 15 minutes away. However, there is no partying in Boiceville, where even pets are well behaved. Boiceville is life in the Quiet Car.

By the way, rental rates are not listed on their website. So it may be a case of if you need to ask, you can’t afford it.

Yet the other amenities: no fire truck horns blaring at the traffic light (no traffic lights!), no ambulance sirens (no hospitals nearby!), no mega bus engines (no subway stations to commute to!), no thumping car stereos to disturb your sleep…are also very attractive.

My present state of mind could be described as one of longing. Longing for the peace and quiet of Rosebarb Farm, where we stayed in Caroline, NY, earlier this month, about a 10 minute drive from the mythical Boiceville.

Wouldn’t I love to be sitting in the gazebo at the farm right now…listening to bird songs and sonorous ringing of wind chimes…horses whinnying in the barn…drone of spring peepers (teeny little frogs) from the fields…


View from the gazebo

…and later on take a drive up to Trumansburg for NYC pizza…


…and chill out.

Ahhh. Next October…

Sunday Fragments

March 2, 2014

TorsoAndLimbsWaiting for Dept. of Sanitation truck – 82nd St., Jackson Heights

Every Sunday in the Metropolitan section of The New York Times, a column appears called “Sunday Routine.”

In the column, the day-of-rest activities of a well-heeled artist or celebrity de jour – which are unfailingly steeped in joie de vivre, presented hipper than thou, and sounding suspiciously fabricated – appear as succinctly texted selfies (sort of type-set, look-at-me-I’m-special paragraphs) positioned beneath subheads and choreographed to the brand the subject wishes to convey.

I don’t know why I read these columns week after week. Wishful thinking? Morbid curiosity? Combing for clues on how I can convert my Sundays into days of leisure?

Probably all of the above.

So to have some fun, I borrowed the subheads and one-liners from today’s “Sunday Routine” column (bolded below); and added on responses of my own.


BTW, the “Subject” of this week’s column is a TV actor.

  •  Hello Sunshine

“Sunday is the most domestic day of the week. Sunday is the day when I feel the least pressure to get anything done.”

Hello Clouds. Sunday is the day when I feel the most pressure to get everything done. On Sunday, the last thing I want to think about is housework.

  • Square Meal

“I make kind of a heavy, farmer’s protein breakfast…lately she’s making these green smoothies.”

At 6:30 am., very significant other makes a quick trip into the frigid outdoors to buy the paper. He returns with two sugary cinnamon rolls from Starbuck’s. Bless him.

  • Reading and Writing

“Then we take care of the paperwork, or I should say the electronic work….I’ll get my laptop out and try to get a handle on the week to come.”

Very significant other leaves for work. I read parts of the newspaper — or I should say The New York Times — then I’ll get out the tarot cards and try to get a handle on my future.

  • Shift Gears

“Around noon, we’re still in our jammies, and that seems wrong somehow.”

Around noon, I’m still wearing my “house clothes,” but I’m standing before the easel, and that seems totally RIGHT somehow.

  • Man About Town

“I dress more formally than the other boys do. I will generally wear a tie and a vest. Not necessarily a jacket.”

Around 5:00 P.M., I’m a Woman About Town, walking down the avenue, picking up fixings for dinner. I dress, shall we say, more warmly than the other girls do. I will generally avoid eye contact — which is not necessarily unfriendly. Just street smart.

  • Fans Approach

“I get recognized. It happens regularly.”

If I see someone I recognize, I dodge into a doorway. This happens regularly. Time is of the essence when hardly any of your time is free.

  • Possible Detour

“My default mode is to wander. I went recently to see a show of Czechoslovakian pop-up books.”

My default mode is to get the hell out of Foodtown as fast as possible and return home. However, I went recently to the Polish deli to see their selection of perogies.

  • Who’s on TV

“We’ll watch some TV event. It could be a show that either [my wife] or I have a role in that everyone hasn’t already seen.”

Now that we have binged out on every single episode of House of Cards,  we have come late to the party for Six Feet Under (and loving it).  Also, possibly my favorite show ever, Portlandia, is back for a new season.

  • Sunday Night Blues

“I still get the old, childhood Sunday night feeling. The end of playtime and the beginning of responsibility comes over you. The Sunday night blues. I’ll take a Benadryl maybe. A Benadryl and a dull book.”

Okay, I completely agree with him on the Sunday Blues — except for the Benadryl and dull book part. If I need something dull to help me fall asleep this Sunday night, I’ll turn on the Oscars. Guaranteed instant snooze.

Big Rat Invades 37th Avenue

February 4, 2014

The Big Rat has come to Jackson Heights!


Welcome to the neighborhood.

This is the most notable event in Jackson Heights since the Thai Restaurant opened for business a couple of weeks ago. The excitement continues on 37th Ave.

Who Moved My Jeeves?

November 22, 2013

9:00 AM, 57th Street



5:00 PM, 57th Street



The Medium is the Message


The Holy Trinity of APPLES

November 20, 2013





“…that every thirst is satisfied that Fall and ourselves have been


that the stars in the street have been blossoming in broad

daylight and hold out their fruits to us now low and easily

within reach”

- Aimé Césaire, THE THUNDER’S SON

Our Excellent Vacation – Day 3

November 16, 2013


BrooktonsOutsideBrookton’s Market

Monday morning meant breakfast at Brookton’s Market. No need to drive. The Rosebarb’s alerted us to a shortcut running through the woods not far from the farm. A steep downward trek on a one-lane incline (so steep, it’s closed in winter) brought us just yards away from Brookton’s.

As soon as we walked inside we fell in love with Brookton’s. We ordered two scrambled eggs sandwiches with Pepperjack cheese on onion bagels.  We sat at a small table up front. Willie Nelson’s voice, relaxing and heartfelt, singing acoustic covers of Kris Kristofferson songs, streamed out of a “boom box” on the counter.

BrooktonsCounterA view of the counter and coffee bar from our table

The nostalgia-inducing songs provided an easy segue into conversation with a woman stocking shelves. She seemed not old enough to know Kristofferson’s songs. But she said loved them and hummed along to the classic “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”

Paintings by local artists hung on the walls. If I’d had an extra $250, I would have purchased the painting in the black frame, a glowing river snaking through a surreal forest.


We watched local people come and go. An electrician setting out on the road for work left with coffee and an egg sandwich; a lady farmer, plaited silvery hair hanging down her back, dressed in baggy jeans, fisherman knit sweater and handmade Tyrolean-style hat that rose to a point on top of her head. Helping herself to donut from a tray by the coffee carafes, she was tickled to discover the donut was free (fresh baked, yesterday).

When Mr. NinthHouse asked for a photo of the two women working behind the counter, the cook said, “Sure, so long as you don’t use a flash. I don’t like those bright lights.” Her younger assistant added, “Watch, this’ll probably wind up on a blog!”

2 Women Market_cropCorrecto-mundo.

Directly across the road from Brookton’s was this picturesque stream. We crossed the road to take in the view.

CreekOppositeBrooktonsThe name might be 6-Mile Creek (if I’m remembering it right)

An elderly resident who spotted us taking photos walked over. Six miles down that way, she told us, pointing, we would find the source of the creek. She suggested we hike to it. When we told her where we were from, she said she didn’t think she would ever visit NYC. She had no reason to and, anyway, it might be just too much for her.

(Ditto the hike, for us, without the proper shoes. Later on, we’d get in the car and drive to the mouth of the river).

And when we did, this is what we would see tacked to a shed:

AustiticMasonGot to admire this mason’s individual angle on self-promotion

Leaving the creek behind, we took a leisurely stroll back to Rosebarb Farm. Our last full day, we decided, would be all about the farm. Looking down at our feet, we saw dozens of fuzzy black and copper colored caterpillars inching their way all over the empty road.

woolybearWooly Bear Caterpillar

Ultimately, the Wooly Bear metamorphoses  into a Tiger Moth:

tigermothIsn’t nature wonderful…

Man-made can be wonderful, too. For instance, I’ve read that a boater can depart from Ithaca and cruise the Erie Canal system all the way to New York City and as far as the Atlantic Ocean. Going west, the canal leads boaters into the Great Lakes, Mississippi River and as far as the Gulf of Mexico.

erie_canal_mapThanks to the other DeWitt for this miracle of engineering — DeWitt Clinton.

As we neared the farm, the horses were out grazing near the barn. We trekked up the hill through the high grass to greet them.

The biggest, most massive horse (a Quarter horse) I have ever seen, just a sweetheart of an animal:


And Mick’s pals, Grace and Brinny:

GRACEandBRINNYGRACE (white) and BRINNY (brown)

I knew enough to pet them on the soft part right above their nostrils because I recently learned that watching a movie!

We also said, “Hey,” to the turkeys. Turkeys are so social and friendly. Too dumb to come out of the rain is what I’ve always heard about turkeys. Alert and  jovial, they don’t seem to fit that description at all.


Heading for the chicken coop, I spotted this bird flying by:

White-Breated Nuthatch, Cabin Lake Viewing Blinds, Near Fort Rock, OregonI didn’t know it’s name. However, a short time after, while walking with Rita toward the cottage, I would see a painted image of that very same bird on the Rosebarb’s mailbox. I would say, “I just saw that bird. Do you know its name?” And Rita would answer, “It’s a Nuthatch!” excited for me that I saw a live one fly by.

At 3:00 p.m.  the farrier arrived to trim the horses hooves. We were invited to watch!

Farrier 1Basically, it’s a horse pedicure. A hoof, as it was explained to us by Don Barber (Mr. Rosebarb Farm), is essentially a very large toenail. To groom the hoof, the farrier grabs the horse’s leg, gets into a semi-squat and holds the hoof securely between his shins. It is arduous work. With the utmost care, he gouges out the area beneath the hoof. Once that is done, he uses a trimmer (a large set of pliers, but sharp) and cuts away the edge of the hoof. Much like cutting the nails of a pet dog, if you’ve ever done that, it must be done right. If you cut too deep, it causes bleeding and hurts the animal.

It was fascinating to observe. Much like stepping back in time, when you realize trimming hooves been done this way for ages. Horse “shoes” are needed, I learned, only if the horse will be spending time on man-made surfaces, like concrete and asphalt, which can prove injurious to their hooves.

In keeping with the barter system much in evidence in this farm country, the farrier was paid for his work in bales of hay (his family has a horse farm), which was grown and harvested on Rosebarb Farm.

Our last evening was spent with one more run to Brookton’s Market to bring back something for dinner. With regret, we would be leaving for home the next morning — to return to jobs awaiting us and our so-called “real life.” We will miss Rosebarb Farm.

I’d like give to a nod to N.Y. Governor Andy Cuomo, whose TV ads extolling the beauty of upstate New York provided the initial spark for us to make a trip north.

We also delighted in what we are convinced was Governor Cuomo’s brainstorm, to “re-brand,” if you will, the “rest stops” on the New York State thruways by updating the signs:


And another nod must go to the exceedingly accomplished and ever so modest, Don Barber (Mr. Rosebarb Farm). I do hope the best man HAS won this election…


…and that he will continue his successful, untiring efforts to prevent FRACKING by keeping gas and oil companies vultures out of Tompkins County. The unspoiled beauty and tranquility of upstate New York must be preserved.

If it is not, we have too much to lose. As city dwellers, we know very well where our drinking water comes from. Upstate New York is our wellspring.


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