Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Decade/Same Old Crap

What's next for us?

I was so happy last year thinking that in 2011, they'd stop making these stupid sunglasses.

The double zeros we had in the 'oughts' (as a few people have called them) lent themselves to the ridiculous eyewear.

And in a way, the glasses were the perfect symbol of a decade. A decade when, it seems, we all got dumber. And we were subjected to awful clothes and terrible music and we could have it all instantly through our phones while getting a root canal and watching CNN.

I guess we’re stuck for another ten years.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fashion Must-Haves

If you buy only one accessory this year, make it an animal hat.

I like to keep an eye on the ‘tourist fashion’ trends—clothing and accessories bought—usually when the weather in New York is different from the homeland—from street vendors and souvenir shops.

This winter, animal hats are the rage. Most of the time the hats are knit. These appear to be made from actual stuffed animals.

Mom thinks of herself as a kitty (although at this angle, it could also be a pig) and Junior fancies himself a chipmunk. Dad—not so fashion forward—sports the more traditional faux hunter headwear.

Mom and Dad argued during the entire tour in a language that involved a lot of phlegm.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas in NYC

Looking out onto Columbus Circle

They don’t call the shops at the Time Warner Center a ‘mall.’ It’s called ‘a vertical retail experience.’
It’s a mall. And there’s something very comforting about being in it during the Christmas season.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

'Here' is DUMBO

Sent via BlackBerry by Sean Kershaw

"York & Jay St. DUMBO Brooklyn"

FYI: Sean Kershaw refers to Manhattan as the tiny island off the ‘mainland.’ HHW

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Here is Between Heaven and Hell's Kitchen

I like that we consider Brooklyn Lager an import in Manhattan.

‘Here’ is the bottom of my pint glass in my other ‘office,’ Perdition  on 10th Avenue.

I love Perdition. Almost all the first drafts of the stories in You Are Here were written in my Moleskin while sitting at the bar. They have free wi-fi here, so I can get other work done as well.

Sean makes a mean Bloody Mary. Scotty is just plain mean (in a very good way). Dylan is quick with the snarky comments (and actually times how long it takes you to finish a drink). Jess has a great laugh and hair to dye for (pun intended).

You never know when the Dead Kennedys or Tom Jones will come on the iPod shuffle or when you’ll suddenly be having a fascinating conversation about  Conan O'Brien or the creepy murals at the Denver Airport.

Not Quite in the Gutter

I found this when I was getting off the tour bus on 8th Avenue and 48th Street the other day. I’d done it in 2008, but forgot about it. I’m on that block all the time—it’s where our uptown tours leave from—but I’m never here by this one spot.

I’m glad I found it. It looks better now than when it was first done. It has a healthy patina of NYC schmutz. And the pigeon poop is a nice touch. As is the black polka dot of gum.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Heather Holland Wheaton's laptop. No, it's not a Mac

‘Here’ is my laptop that contains pretty much my whole life—writing, music, photos. It’s in my home office—which is really just a wider part of my hallway. I like my office though. It doesn’t need to be any larger. The window looks out onto an airshaft.

In the summer, I can hear everything that goes on in my neighbors’ apartments. One of my neighbors has a Zippo lighter. I can hear him flick it, light his cigarette and then cough up a lung.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Reading

I’m be reading from You Are Here at the fabulous KGB Bar on Saturday, November 13th. It’s part of the Trumpet Fiction Series from Kristine Tenace and Sally Koslow will also be reading.
It’s free, but I’m sure you’ll be tempted to have a cocktail.
Copies of Eight Million Stories and Wet Paint will be available AND I’ll have fun, free You Are Here stickers to kick off the big Where is ‘Here’? Sticker Project.

85 East 4th St. between Bowery and 2nd Avenue
Saturday, November 13th 7PM

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reasons Why I Love Living in Hell’s Kitchen

● It’s in the center of the Center of the Universe.

● Despite the gentrification that’s going on, it’s still a real neighborhood. There’re people who’ve lived here all their lives. There’re people here who’ve never even left the ‘hood.

● It’s cheap.

● The Hudson River is right here.

● We have several names: Hell’s Kitchen, Clinton, Chelsea Heights, Hell-Sea, Midtown West and Heck’s Kitchen. There’s that one poor neighborhood on the Eastside in the 20’s—not quite Gramercy Park, not quite Murray Hill—that has no name at all. How sad.

● The beautiful assortment of tenements.

● There’s a good assortment of people who live here. Stagehands, actors, photographers, construction workers, engineers, artists, bartenders…and they come in all colors and ethnicity.

● Amazing food, although too many Thai restaurants.

Can you think of any to add?

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I went to the top of the Empire State Building yesterday. Like most New Yorkers, I’d never been before.

It was fun, but I think the Top of the Rock is by far superior—you can see all of Central Park. And the observation decks at the Empire are very small and you’re cramped in with all these rude tourists. The tourists that go to the Top of the Rock are a better class of people.  

The best part of my experience was I could see my apartment building. I can’t see that from the Top of the Rock because Worldwide Plaza is in the way. I like the idea that the 3.5 million people who visit the Empire each year get the opportunity to see it as well. I doubt that any of them actually see it since it’s just a tiny little tenement and hard to spot unless you know exactly where to look—and why would any of them bother to do that?

Still, it’s a nice thought.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I looked at a bunch of apartments with a bunch of real estate brokers this summer because I thought I was going to move out my place (where I’ve been living for the past 13 years).

This was a studio in an elevator/doorman building on 86th and Broadway—the Upper Westside! A place where they actually have bookstores instead of just restaurants! And it was the same price as my one bedroom railroad in a Hell’s Kitchen tenement with cruddy, slanted floors.

What was so strange about this place was that someone was still living there. Her things were on display. Her dishes and five rolls of paper towels stacked above the cupboards in the tiny kitchen; her plug-in Vanilla-Holiday air freshener in the bathroom; her light pink Victoria’s Secret bras hanging on hooks in the closet. And her neatly made single bed with a teddy bear on the pillow.

It was a nice enough place. I liked the tiny kitchen since I never cook. And I kind of liked the idea of a new neighborhood, but the teddy bear creeped me out. If I’d moved in, I’d always think about it and I think it would depress me. The teddy bear would remain there long after the girl moved out. And only because I’d seen it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You Are Here

Ta-da! The front cover (done by Frank Black) of my new book that will be coming out in April from HK Publishing. Note the title of it—You Are Here is same as the title of this blog. Shameless cross-promotion.

And this blog, like the book will be about the sense of place. Something a lot of us take for granted most of the time.

I love the place of New York. It’s my favorite place. It ends up actually being a character in most of my stories. Larger than life and usually lovable, but occasionally a bit insensitive and despicable.

And New York is made up of oodles of smaller places that I’m going to write about here. Don’t expect too many excerpts from the book. Why give away the milk when you’re trying to sell the latte?

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Photo by John Quilty

My friend John Quilty took this photo from a high-rise on 59th Street. He says he knows I was the tour guide on the bus because he could hear my voice. I believe him.

People are always trying to spot me on the bus. “I saw you in the East Village,” they say. “I could see your red hair. I called your name, but you didn’t hear me.”

Being a tour guide on a double-decker bus is a very high profile job.