Posts Tagged ‘New York’

The year was 1911. The movie camera was new

And when it captured the young old souls

In the pinned frames and licked their faces

Onto emulsion, the timeless New York jaywalker

Paid his debt

To posterity by showing,

Abreast the speeding cars,

He still didn’t give two fucks

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The train coughed off its riders

Who would watch hockey or meet a friend

Or hoped to meet a girl

Some had been drunk on the train

To get ahead of the way they hoped they’d feel

A young teen explained to his friend

How to mug Long Islanders

“They’re so stupid, when you stare at them,

They just give you their money.”

Another woman chatted

As loud as she could

In the quiet car

And for a while it was enough,

For me to just watch the city

The firework box of surprises


Then I went to the street corner

And yelled “fuck” as loud as I could


I heard once the bulls of Pamplona

Like to knock spectators off the walls sometimes

And gore them.

And I remembered, no matter what city you’re in,

You really should participate.



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The long line of cars fed the Lincoln Tunnel
Drivers were transfixed on their anger
A CD player played the sacred syllable “Om.”
While Shiva fed the digesting tunnel with destroyed memories
The tunnel and god-restored
River, the cold blue baby
Forgot who you were again, didn’t you?

There is no driver
There is only a constant forgetting of how to drive

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My novel TrafficTraffic Waitress Cover 3 Waitress is now available on Amazon.com as a digital book. I hope to be releasing the paperback version of the novel within the next few months.

Traffic Waitress is a series of eight interconnected stories that follow a group of outer-borough New Yorkers from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds during a few crazy months in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Many of them struggle to a certain extent with their cultural identities. We meet a man who grew up an Orthodox Jew but has left the faith and is now alienated from his family. We meet a Japanese-American college student who tends to flee from what he’s good at and needs a few months to flounder personally before he goes off to med school. We meet a former runway model and Harvard grad who gave up her uptown life to be a rock ‘n’ roll groupie. We meet a stripper who refuses to identify as gay even though she finds herself repeatedly falling in love with women. We meet a closed-off computer geek whose bottled up feelings about Sept. 11 lead him on a bizarre journey in a rental car.

From the book description: “Outer-borough New York is changing at the turn of the 21st century, and eight people from different cultural backgrounds and socioeconomic groups crash into each other in strange ways, as they flail about in their personal ambitions and life’s inevitable sorrows.”

I originally wrote Traffic Waitress in 2005; it’s been sitting on my computer getting tweaked for more than a decade. I’ve put the official copyright at 2012, though I’m not sure how correct that is.

But as always … if you’re into it …

The cover design is by Corey Brian Sanders.

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(Originally posted Tuesday, September 23, 2008 )

NEW YORK (API) — As the last of the old Wall Street investment banks were, with the swipe of a pen, written out of existence, the United States financial system as known for most of the past two centuries was finally dismantled today, and America was well on its way to becoming once more a land of cheese makers, candle molders and butter churners.

“It makes you want to cry,” said former Lehman Brothers analyst Jacqui MacQuarie, a tear forming in her eye as she stood outside her old offices in Midtown Manhattan. “Two weeks ago I was splitting up tranches of triple-C rated unsecured debt. Today I’ve got my pink slip and I’ve got a job interview planting rutabagas. I’ve got to tell you, though, it’ll be nice to start doing some honest work for a change.”

As thousands braced themselves for more bad news from the stock market, with the Dow Jones up and down in equal measures by some 900 points in the last week, many stock brokers’ eyes turned to simpler and more stable jobs like raking asphalt and working in gravel quarries and smelting pig iron.

MacQuarie and her former co-workers met together for one last time at famous Wall Street rathskeller Ulysses’, where many traders have gathered to await news about their fates over the last week.

“Hank Paulson is doing the right thing,” said Angus Stewart, a Scot who had come to America ten years ago to pursue his dream of being a stock analyst. “It was right for the Treasury to pay $700 billion to nationalize the financial system. Pretty soon, the process of collectivization will take place, and you know that if Republicans are doing it, then there really was no choice. Now I’m going off to learn how to coagulate cheese or maybe start a printing press. Smell the air. It’s so clean. It smells like truth.”

Stewart then began chatting up a female employee of Merrill Lynch who had up until a few days ago been a senior trader.

“She’s probably feeling pretty vulnerable right about now,” he said. “When an alpha female crashes, she crashes hard, if you know what I mean. Easy peasy.”

All five of the major independent investment banks that defined the landscape of modern Wall Street just six months ago have ceased to exist this week, having either imploded under the titanic weight of dubious loans, been folded into bigger commercial banking companies, or changed their status into regulated commercial bank holding companies to protect themselves from the fallout of bad debt–a virulence that has undone the great bulls of the financial world like a recalcitrant strain of bovine rinderpest.

“I’m going to cut limestone with a pen knife,” said Jason Hofstedder, an MBA from Wharton who up until a few days ago analyzed consumer durable junk bonds. “Side by side with my Dad. I used to think he was a fool. How wrong I was to have confidence in things of phantom value like capital and credit.”

“I’m going to build Earthen berms with recycled tires,” said Martha Salsbury, a merger arbitrage specialist. “God, it feels so good to think of doing something meaningful with my life.”

“I’m going to grow banana plots on the side of the river and sell them to passing boats,” said Lawrence Needlebrook, a commodities futures trader. “It’s time that I stopped looking at a banana as a market commodity with excess trading value and time I started eating it.”

A few hours later, the long urban valleys of Manhattan whistled in eerie silence as people took their goods away from the city in oxcarts, droshkys and baby prams.

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