Friday, September 30, 2011

Going to Jail via the Met

My boy Eric ended up in the hospital after eating a half-smoke at New Shea on Wednesday (more on that later).

Me? I was fine after eating mine, but I think I narrowly escaped a trip to jail after tripping the alarm at the Met's "Sensitivity to the Seasons" show of Japanese screens and such. Take a look at this:

Now, since you're all fired up, go here and check out one of the nice features of the Met's newly revamped website--the infinite zoom into significant works. You can see a much better rendition of the low-res image you see here.
Editorial aside: Disregard what you just read. The infinite zoom thing doesn't seem to be working in the link I gave you and I don't have time to go back and re-find the correct one, nor do I feel like re-writing the above. You DO, however, get a nice hi-res close-up. And you should click through. But don't blame me.
This screen, in the flesh, is a thing of such serene beauty that it takes your breath away. Do you know how sometimes, when you are watch Pan Am and they are fetishistically, if that's even a word, sliding the camera over the stewardesses as they walk, en masse, down the jetway? Like the way Hannibal Lector, had he been a cinematographer, might have photographed Clarice Starling, had she been a stewardess? And you realize that, without knowing it, you've left your seat on the sofa and are now standing directly in front of the television with your nose pressed against the glass?

Well, I had the same experience with this screen. The way they set it up is this: they create compartments in the walls so the screens, which measure maybe 4x12--some longer, can be raised slightly and recessed a couple of feet in the compartment. The screens, if left slightly folded (are you with me here?) stand up by themselves, and the zig zag only adds to the zing of the thing.

There's no glass on the front of the recessed compartment. You appear free, should you choose, to take a Sharpie, lean in, and write something like "Lehman Brothers was the first domino" right on the damned thing. What nobody tells you, however, is that if you try to get too close to the screen, a sensor lets off an alarm.

At which point the violator (me) is given a stern lecture by the security person and made to feel like an asshole. I survived, and I didn't go to jail in the end, but everybody in the room did turn and stare at me. And that's something, I suppose.

One elderly woman hissed, "Aren't you the one that caused the ruckus at the de Kooning show?" Which just goes to show you that word does get around.

I'm having this idea about rejiggering my black and white stuff to engage in a painterly conversation with some of these Japanese screens ("painterly conversation" being another term for "ripping off") and then writing something about the coming European melt-down along the bottom. I haven't quite figured it out, but the first one is going to be called (as differentiated from what is written on the face of the painting) "Love-note #1 to Gretchen Morgensen."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Have we discussed this?

Although I'm fond of it, especially with the dots, I'm not sure how good it is. I wish Clement Greenberg was still alive.

Likewise, have we discussed this?

There is some thinking about retitling the second to read: "It's Even Worse in Europe".
Can you even do that?
Of course I can.
Have two paintings with the same name?
Of course I can.
Are you going to erase stuff? You're like a madman with the white paint these days.
Yeah. I might just white it out and start over. It would be fun to catch the tail end of the Wall Street demonstrations and strike an optimistic note.
You think this painting, retitled, is striking an optimistic note?
Of course I do.
Oh. I kind of liked it the way it was.
I'm of two minds.
Aren't we all.

Live-blogging the New Television Season, Volume 3

Charlie's Angels.

I don't like surprises. So the good thing about Charlie's Angels is that it is exactly as stupid as you thought it would be. Unfortunately, that level of stupidity is extremely high, so they do get a bad grade.


2 Broke Girls

I've received some abuse from regular readers about the grade I gave 2 Broke Girls. Having now seen two episodes, I'm lowering it slightly.


This is why I don't live in L.A.

This is a picture of Vanessa Hudgens filling up her car.

Which isn't important on any level. But how 'bout those three guys taking her picture. Plus the guy who actually took it makes four. Minimum. I mean, she's filling up her car. She's not even dressed up.

The thing I like about living in Troy is that people never bug me for autographs or ask to take pictures while I'm eating. I say this with the assumption that I'm way more famous than this woman. Who is she, even?
I thought everybody in Hollywood drove electric cars.
Apparently not.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Live-blogging the New Television Season, Volume 2

Pan Am A+

I'm giving you my grade ahead of time, plus the logo, just so you know where I stand. I enjoyed it a great deal--although I must admit that I:

a--was in a fragile emotional state post-Jets
b--didn't start watching it til perhaps half-past-midnight
c--because of this may have been delirious.

But enough with the disclaimers. Disclaimers are for sissies. I stand behind my grade.

There was a time in my life when I actually did something for a living. A subset of that time was spent flying Pan Am First-Class from New York to London. And back, obviously. I was doing this a decade or so after the period of time in which the show is set (for example, they'd renamed Idlewild as Kennedy Airport by then), but it was before flying had completely gone to shit. And let me tell you, Pan Am to Europe was perhaps the best flying experience the American airline industry had to offer. I probably flew that route a dozen times or so. Certainly enough to get the hang of it.

In the history of commercial aeronautics, you could argue that everything started to go to hell in a hand-basket--whatever that means--the day Delta bought Pan Am. Or at least they bought the planes and the routes and the crews. But the day they whited out Pan Am and wrote Delta on the tail of those planes was some version of the night they drove Ole Dixie down.
Brief personal aside: Am currently reading Killer Angels--the famous Gettysburg novel--so I've got Dixie on the mind.
I tried Delta once or twice after that, then said Screw This and started flying Continental out of Newark. Which was significantly more convenient and, while horrible compared to Pan Am, dramatically better than Delta.

I, by the way, have never forgiven Delta and I refuse to fly them to this day. Easy to say, since I never fly anywhere anymore, but still...

All of which inexorably leads us to Pan Am, the TV show. What's not to like? Everything is so clean and nice. Particularly the stewardesses. One of them, as near as I can tell, even has a side gig with the Central Intelligence Agency as a spy! And I've had a fond spot in my heart for Christina Ricci ever since Samuel L. Jackson chained her to the radiator in Black Snake Moan. And the whole thing is carried out with such frothy aplomb that it makes The Playboy Club (which desperately needs some frothy aplomb) suck even more in comparison.

Pan Am A+

Arch West, dead at 97

It's a black enough day, what with the Jets and the Singapore Grand Prix. But now we hear of the passing of a guy named Arch West. He's widely credited with creating Doritos. Oy gevalt.

On a personal note, we all have little ways in which we practice self-destruction. The human experience is often not a happy one. Life at best, I was once told, is 80%. Which means the average must hover in the mid- to low-60s. No wonder we sometimes look for solace in a plastic bag.
You're not talking about drugs, are you?
No. I'm talking about Doritos.

To paraphrase Paul Simon, "I do declare there were times when I was so [insert chip-appropriate word here] I took some comfort there." By there, at least speaking for myself, I'm referring to a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos and a thing of onion dip.
Not hookers?

Because I think hookers was the original intent of Simon's lyrics.

I'm talking about chips, man.
And I could have used some during the 4th quarter of the Jets game.

But hey, it could be worse. I could live in Europe.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Live-blogging the New Television Season

I don't know if you remember when Ziggy Stardust and his spiders arrived from Mars in the form of David Bowie, but I do. What made Bowie cool back then was his extraordinary otherness. A sort of detachment. As in: I'm gonna play this stuff and you can either like it or not--I don't give a shit. I'm not even from this planet.

Me? I liked it a lot.

Now fast forward to the recent past decade or so. If you have the misfortune of seeing David Bowie perform now, he's smiling at the audience and wrecking the whole thing. Who wants David Bowie smiling at you? I don't want a new drinking buddy; I want the Thin White Duke.

The whole thing reeks of desperation. Like Sally Field accepting her Oscar. It makes me want to puke.

And all of this, dear reader, brings us inexorably to The Playboy Club. Which also makes me want to puke.

You could argue that I've been waiting for this television show since I was fourteen. Smiley-face here. And what I got when it finally arrived is such an unmitigated piece of shit that I erased it after the third viewing. It, like the new Bowie, appears desperate to please. Desperate to hit all the right politically correct buttons. Bunnies are depicted as spiritually empowered women--role models for the future. They were, my guess is, really just cocktail waitresses in uncomfortably tight outfits. And since the 60s were a time of great change, the producers have devoted a portion of the show's storyline to emerging gay rights. Really? Gay rights? Lets not even start on the Chocolate-Bunny-as-a-symbol-of-the-Emancipated-Black-Woman business. The guess here is that some kind of pact was made with Playboy Enterprises (or whatever) to depict the whole enterprise as an engine for the social good. The whole thing stinks of desperation.

At least when Robert Johnson made his pact with the devil, the blues he started playing changed the world.

The thing about Mad Men (which is the reason shows like The Playboy Club and Pan Am even exist) is that it goes about the business of crafting immaculate television without caring whether you like it or not. And of course you do. The Playboy Club is so worried about being liked that it has the opposite effect. It makes you hate it.

Maybe "liked" is the wrong word. Maybe, conversely, it's the fear of being excoriated as manipulative sexist cheese-ball nonsense. Although when has that ever been a bad idea on television?

I have a passable ear for dialogue and I believe I could have written a better first draft of a pilot in less than a day.


Your time would be better spent watching 2 Broke Girls.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's Even Worse in Europe, Volume 2

A couple of stops along the road...

Just to show you I'm doing something.

This is why Johnny Depp moved to France

Vanessa Paradis (Mrs. Depp to you) casually tosses this on the table:

Quite a beautiful bit of film. And I love how she lies down at the end. But me? I can't stop watching this one:

If you're a diligent reader you already watched it from a couple of posts ago. To you, I would ask only that you watch the first fifteen or thirty seconds--the long camera push in while she's sitting on that platform.

This is the stillest I think I've ever seen anyone sit while singing. Her mouth is moving--because she's singing--and her right foot is twitching. And that's it. I find it strangely compelling. It's like the Sphinx singing Jumpin' Jack Flash. Kinda.

My favorite part of the Faithfull video is that at the time she was singing it, she had been dating Mick Jagger, of all people, for quite a while. As the video proceeds, there are just a few glimmers of a smile on her face. I like to think that's her thinking about what Mick was gonna say about her performance.

These, of course, are the Stones:

How many times can you hear As Tears Go By? I love Brian Jones playing that Dobro (if that's even what that is) with the feather.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Moveable Feast

Just put on some black and trapped a bug while doing so. Which only adds to the protein content of the work--so that surely must be all for the good. Moments earlier I finished The Sun Also Rises, which was good clean fun for sure, and immediately bought A Moveable Feast.

Which was a mistake (albeit a damned easy one to make--one click of a button on my Kindle and there it appears).

Not a mistake because A Moveable Feast is a lousy book, but because later, when I think back on the two, having read them back to back, I'll never be sure whether the thing I'm remembering comes from the first book or the second. I mean, I'll remember that the bull-fights were in one book and Gertrude Stein was in the other. But the small things... Those are the ones that are going to get confused.

The plus side of the coin? In my incipient dementia I can still paint. I mean, what's to forget? It's all just staring back at you.

It's Even Worse in Europe

Cold rainy day. Priming a canvas and reading the last pages of "The Sun also Rises" and drinking tea. Which is not a bad way to spend a cold rainy day.
Brief personal aside: am trying to write an entire post without using a comma as a nod to Hemingway. Who hated them, as near as I can tell.
Had to buy 7 oz. cotton duck at the neighborhood art supply store and it's like painting on tissue. My hope is that several coats of primer will stiffen it up. It surely would me.

The objective is to paint a black and white titled "It's Even Worse in Europe" and sell it quickly. Not because of an acute need for money but because it would be nice to sell one quickly. Just to see what that feels like.

And I think it is worse in Europe.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

And it wouldn't be TYOMP if I didn't touch on this...

Basketball, as opposed to football, was always my game. Nonetheless, had I played football, I would have wanted this guy to be my coach:

His name is David Bennett and he's the coach of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.

And before you jump to conclusions, let it be said that this is a man widely admired by people who should know such things. The Times, in all its wisdom, wrote a virtual love-letter to the man. Read it here. Lovely.

It's guys like David Bennett, and Shelby Foote, and Irby Cauthen, and William Faulkner that make it sometimes okay to imagine living in the deep South.

Let all the children boogie...

Lately I've stopped typing band names into the Pandora selection box and, instead, have been inserting song titles. To wit, I typed in "Sister Morphine". I was then offered the Stones option and the Marianne Faithfull option. I chose the Stones' version.

Wow, the stuff that came out. Everybody from Cobain to Robert Johnson. And some other stuff too. And eventually, out came "Wild is the Wind" by David Bowie. Which I then typed in the search box and wow, the stuff that came out. Not the least of which was the version of Starman he recorded for the BBC Live. Really, it was just lovely.
When you type in Robert Johnson, are you referring to the Johnson & Johnson guy?
No. That's Robert Wood Johnson.
I'm referring the old blues guy who, reputedly, sold his soul to the devil.
And you don't think the Johnson & Johnson guys have done the same thing?
Anyway, somebody once wrote that Keith's guitar work on Sister Morphine was the finest musical embodiment of the heroin experience ever performed. Hard for me to tell, not having gone down that road, but I do like the song. I was watching an interview with Keith on that Charles Kuralt show a couple of weeks ago and the inquisitor asked something like: "You've given up a lot of vices. Which one do you miss the most?"

Keith stares into the distance for a minute and then says, "I really miss heroin." Then he laughs and adds, "But what junkie doesn't?"

Which, of course, brings us to this:

She looked less-good strung out.
To quote The Kinks, "I'm dying to get at her."
All I can think about is Mars Bars.
You are a very bad man.
She's not quite as vivid a performer as Mick, is she?
No. But what's that quote about Communism on a sunny day?
"Demure de merrier?"
"To see her in sunlight was to see Marxism die." Perhaps that one?
You know it is.

Friday, September 16, 2011

No One Is Safe, plus a list of The Best Movies Ever

Brief personal aside: I post this because when I was in New York I stopped by the Sunshine Theater (Houston between 1st and 2nd) and watched "Senna." More on this later.
No one is safe if the trend towards remaking "Rendezvous", Claude Lelouche's epic Ferrari-hurtling-through-early-morning-Paris documentary, continues. This one, apparently, features a Porsche blasting through a European city I don't recognize. My preference would be that the woman shut the hell up, but I, obviously, wasn't the sound guy.

All of which is fine, but if you only have time to watch one 9-minute madman-hurtling-through-the-gloam movie, watch this one instead. If for no other reason than the driver's complete disregard for red lights (@18 of them by my count), this wins hands down. It is simply unbelievable:

The miracle of this movie is, of course, the sound. The current thinking is that the camera itself was mounted on the bumper of a high-performance Mercedes sedan because the ride, and thus the image quality, would be smoother. Lelouche then created the soundtrack using a Ferrari 275. Because no matter how you slice it, Ferraris sound better than Mercedes.

And, as promised, here is a list of the best movies ever:

Documentary, under 10 minutes: "Rendezvous" (see above)
Documentary, under 20 minutes: "I'm Keith Hernandez" (insert this phrase in the TYOMP search box and you'll find it)
Documentary, 60 minutes or longer: "Senna" (in theaters now)
Documentary, 60 minutes or longer, not involving cars: "Confidence Game" (Directed by Nick Verbitsky and still in post-production. I just saw a rough-cut. Interviews with yours truly, plus my portrait of Jimmy Cayne featured heavily.)
Full length Fiction: I'm still going with "McCabe and Mrs. Miller." But I could be wrong on this one. All my taste is in my mouth.

I have some additional thoughts about both Senna and Rendezvous, but I'll wait on those for now.

U.S.Open update

Back from several days in NYC and doing some housekeeping. Thus, a couple of items:

I was delighted to see that Serena Williams got her ass handed to her on a platter in the finals. She's one of my least favorite athletes. Conversely, I'm a big Venus fan, and am saddened by her recent illness. So don't be calling me a hater. That being one of the things Ms. Williams called the chair umpire during a tirade during the match she lost and is, to my mind, a suggestion that she believes she's discriminated against during tennis matches because she's a black woman.

To which I say, give me a break.

The only person I know who loathes her more than me is George Vecsey of The Times, although he's too nice a person to come right out and say it. His recent observations about the difference between her on-court belligerence and her cloyingly cutsey, little-girl persona during post-match interviews was satisfying reading. For us haters at least.

The whole piece can be read here, but the relevant snippet is this:
... This time the anger again tumbled out fast, a huge contrast to the girlish giggle that Williams affects in her mandatory interviews after matches. They are extreme opposites. In between there is no responsible adult, no attempt at reflection or remorse, even feigned.
Second, and more important, is a correction to the tennis post of a week or so ago. The Grandstand (which The Times refuses to capitalize, by the way) is not appended to Arthur Ashe stadium. It's stuck on the side of the Louis Armstrong stadium.

I apologize for the error because I know you people treat this stuff like it's gospel.

Sir, you'll have to get up or we're calling the police...

Do you know that old thing about how infants go to sleep in response to sensory overload--like really loud music? Prior to this week, I always thought about it in the abstract, although its very disintuitiveness makes it almost certainly true. Kind of like Wall Street.

But all that is history now. Rewind to this past Tuesday, the sixth floor of the Museum of Modern Art, and me coming out of a perfectly pleasant nap with a prison guard ... no, make that a security guard ... nudging me with his night stick ... check that ... walkie talkie, and saying something along the lines of "Wake the fuck up, you miserable bum" ... no, check that too ... perhaps more like "Sir, you'll have to get up or we're calling the police."

So I struggle to my feet and ask what happened.

"I found you asleep in the final room of the de Kooning show," the guard explains, not without a bit of attitude.

And an old crone (cue central casting: Scene One/MacBeth) hissed "And you were sucking your thumb!"
I'm not sure I'm comfortable with your use of ellipses in the second paragraph.
Me neither. But dashes didn't seem to be doing the trick.

Hmmm. Certainly commas wouldn't have been enough.

They're like eunuchs.



Yes they are. Certainly in this day and age. Although a portion of the blame for that must surely be laid at your very feet.

Because you feel that I overuse them, is that it?

It most certainly is. An apt parallel would be super-bacteria, nosocomial infections and the societal overuse of antibiotics.
Wow. I might have gone with a comma after "infections."

That's because you like to tell people you studied at Oxford.
Perhaps I should stop doing that.

Perhaps you should.
All this by way of saying that the Willem de Kooning show at MoMA was literally more than I could stand. It's arranged chronologically, and by the time I hit the late 70s I was experiencing a profound melancholy. And by 1985, I was starting to gently weep. I couldn't help but lie down for a bit.

My boy Willem gets a lot of shit for his really late work; the rough argument being that you can't paint masterpieces if you are experiencing dementia.

Me? I don't accept that. For one thing, what's to forget if the whole thing is sitting on the canvas, staring back at you? It's not like writing a novel where you have to remember what happened in Chapter Two as you're writing Chapter Thirty. And although there was plenty of intellectualizing back in the day (the fusion of background and foreground to create a unified image in portraiture [see: Woman I by W. de Kooning; The Annotated Fed by G. Raymond] was certainly carefully calculated to rock everybody's world), I think my boy Willem was more of a doer than a thinker.
That is a crass simplification of the reality of de Kooning's process.
Yes it is. Can you just shut up and let me finish.

Please do.
Thank you.
I understand that this is a crass simplification of the reality of de Kooning's process, but that doesn't mean it's not without its own bit of truth. And if he became even more of a gesturalist in his leaner days, that doesn't mean he couldn't still bing out a good one every once in a while.

This one jumps to mind:

Me? I'm sharp as a tack and I'd have a hard time squeezing this out. Shows you that clarity of the mind is an over-rated quality. Anybody from the Peter McManus Cafe can attest to this.

Anyway, here's the kicker:

I googled "late de Kooning" then, once it came up, hit "images" to find the juicy example of a late de Kooning you see above. I found it on the second page. Google (if you don't know) is nice enough to tell you the source of the image when you click on it. The source of this one, I was delighted to find, was

Which really is kind of magical, if you think about it. The entire post, from about 2 years ago, reads like this:


Live-Blogging the Mets, Volume 2

As if!

Actually, I watched the Mets/Yankees game last night virtually live. Started on time, but then paused and painted during the commercials. Eventually I got far enough ahead to control my own destiny.

Fun game. Less fun at the end. But that's not what I'm here to talk about.

I'm here to talk about Derek Jeter ... and the aging of same.

Me? I'm a huge Derek Jeter fan, so don't take what I'm about to say the wrong way. But watching him last night made me wonder if we weren't watching Father Time slide the rug out from under the guy. Sure it's just one game, but he looked like hell.

We'll get to this in a minute, but this is a de Kooning ribbon painting from the very end of his life.

I love that little hint of a breast in the white panel on the right side. Good to know the old bird was still thinking about women.

Back to Jeter. He's 36 years old, just for the record. Which is old for a shortstop, let me tell you. And watching the Mets' ground balls carom off the tip of his glove over and over again last night reminded me of watching Kareem Abdul Jabbar's final season. It was as if he was aging right in front of our eyes ... and it was a painful thing to see, dear reader.

There's a part of me that's thinking all this talk about a contract extension for the guy may be a bit premature.

Anyway, when de Kooning was dying of Alzheimer's Disease, there was a lot of talk about how his late work was somehow invalid (as in NOT valid). I always thought this was a bunch of guff.

Here's another late-stage work:

And here's one of the de Kooning Motherships (Woman V, it's called--the kind of stuff he was painting when he was dating the then-deceased Jackson Pollock's former girlfriend, Ruth Kligman) :

All of which brings me to the story about how I almost burned up my kitchen the other day, but I'm not really in the mood to talk about it right now, other than to say that the beauty of being a painter is that the whole thing is staring right at you. It's not like being, say, a novelist. Where you have to hold plot strands in your head and remember what you wrote in Chapter Four as you craft Chapter Eleven.

No, dear reader. It's all right in front of you.

Isn't it.


Which shows you, if nothing else, dear reader, that I have one or two original thoughts and just keep churning out slightly modified versions to feed your appetite for my stuff. I apologize.

I would have gone with a question mark at the end of that last sentence.
I would have too.

Monday, September 05, 2011

And furthermore...

For the record, this is the Red Bull Formula One car.

Although it is hard to tell from the picture, it is almost certainly, as depicted here, kicking everybody's ass. Given that the unofficial sponsor of TYOMP is Ferrari, this troubles me beyond belief.

The simple fact is that the Red Bull cars, at least for the last two years, have been hurtling around the tracks behaving very much as if they are fueled by Red Bull energy drinks. The others, including the shiny red cars from Maranello? I'm thinking chamomile.

If I were a rich man

I was sitting in a bar the other day with a bulldog named Cannonball Adderley, drinking the heart out of a beautiful day, reflecting on what I might do if I were a rich man. Not rich like your accountant calls you up and says your net worth just exceeded ten million for the first time kind of rich. I mean giga-rich. Buffet rich. And it hit me.

I'd do exactly what the Red Bull guy did. I mean, how much fun is this guy having? I was sitting in the bar, absentmindedly staring at the television, which had no sound on, and realized that I was watching one of those airplane races where they drive between pylons floating on huge rafts in the Hudson (This was, of course, pre-Irene. The pylons are gone by now, I'm sure). And one of the planes was festooned with the now (if you are a Formula 1 fan) familiar red, white and blue Red Bull colors.

I mean, how much fun is this guy having?

Prolly not so much. The problem with guys like the Red Bull guy--whose name I don't even know, but he's Austrian so it might be something like Gerhard Richter or something like that--is that if you are driven enough to become giga-rich, you're less inclined, from a personality profile kind of a way, to kick back and enjoy the peripheral stuff. Like going to every F1 race on the planet.

Were it me, I'd hire the best number two guy in the world (which is hopefully what Steve Jobs has done) and see if I could get a ride in one of those planes.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

My friend Howie

Another way you can tell you're getting older is when your friends start collapsing in the middle of the day. My friend Howie ...

... lies in Bellevue Hospital fighting for his life.

I painted him eight or nine years ago. Now I'm just thinking positive thoughts.

Growing Old

My father used to say that getting old isn't for sissies.

That said, and before we get into the meat of the matter, let me just state for the record that I don't give a shit about tennis. Particularly men's tennis. Despite this, I attend the first Thursday of the U.S.Open every year. I'm not sure there's another sporting event in the world that gives you less return on your time invested than a five set men's tennis match. Sure there are exceptions, but you could watch two basketball games in the same amount of time it takes for two guys to essentially play women's tennis for five sets.

By that I'm suggesting that men's tennis used to be sharp and quick. Serve, volley, win the point. Keep moving. Now so much of it involves standing behind the baseline and just wailing away at each other. Sure there are exceptions, but I'm just saying that men now play what used to be more typical of the traditional women's game--and five hours of it is agony.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand:

Me? I don't think I'm old, as such, but I'm getting older. And the older I get, the weirder I feel when confronted with vertiginous situations. If that's even how you spell it--I get dizzy just typing the word.

Case in point, I found myself at the U.S.Open last Thursday, sitting in what's called the Grandstand--which is an architecturally ungainly appendage to Arthur Ashe Stadium. At some point, I wanted to refill my water bottle. So I walked into the shared corridor between the two stadiums and asked the guy in the yellow shirt where I could find a water fountain. He pointed up a flight of stairs, so up I went.

About five flights later, I arrived at the top level of the exterior of the Ashe stadium on a long open balcony that looked directly down at the Grandstand court and the women's match I'd just left. With women's tennis, I always just root for the most attractive player. Since neither player was that attractive, I don't remember who played or won. But that's not the point.
Brief personal aside: The last time I watched a match on this particular court was perhaps five years ago and Maria Sharapova was playing. And she, dear friend, is attractive. And this was before she bulked up--so you do the math. Transported (transfixed perhaps--words fail me), I found myself shouting out my home telephone number during the really quiet moments just before one of the players serves. Until a guy in a yellow shirt asked me to stop.
The point is that I was leaning against a railing, standing fifty feet above this tennis court, watching the balls whiz back and forth. When I get that high, I always have an irrational fear that my glasses are going to fall off (which they simply never do---that's why it's irrational), so I'm holding onto the side of my glasses with my right hand. I'm also concerned that my hat is going to fall off, so I'm holding that with my left hand. And I'm concerned that I'm going to fall over the edge (even though the railing is low-chest high) and I'm not sure whether I want to drop my hat and hold onto the rail.

And I have that feeling in the depths of my bowels, at a point equidistant from my navel and testicles, that I get when panic sets in.

You know this feeling. Flash back to the last time you were pulled over for a speeding ticket. You know that the worst thing that's gonna happen to you is that you get the ticket, you pay it, you deal with the points on your license, and that, more or less, is that. But still, sitting in the car watching the cop step out of his squad car through the rear view mirror, you can't help thinking that somehow you are going to end up in the general population at Rikers, and every Saturday night being gang raped while wearing one of those rubber Newt Gingrich Halloween masks.
The assumption here is that the Rikers' population skews Democratic?
That's what I'm thinking.
As big as Rikers is, they don't have a single Sarah Palin mask?
Believe me, I asked.
You're telling me...
Anyway, that's the feeling I'm talking about, and I'm not sure I would have had the same feeling were I twenty-five.

I stayed for ten uncomfortable minutes (it was an interesting vantage point for the match itself) then went back down to my seat. Troubled by all of the above, I stopped, en route (or en croute. My French is terrible and I'm referring to whichever isn't the one when you're wrapped in dough and baked), and bought a blueberries and cream smoothy (7 bucks). That made me feel a little better.