Sunday, May 6, 2012

What's for Lunch New York?

Last week I needed a break from a website that I was working on—I needed inspiration—so I stepped outside with no destination and stumbled into Madison Square Park. “Wow, what have we here?” There, in the middle of the oval lawn, people of all shapes, races, and sizes were groping very large, organic color blobs in all shapes and sizes. And some of them were doing more than groping them, they were pressing their ears up against their smooth ceramic flesh like they were hoping a break dancing fetus would kick them in the head.

I watched, wondered, and waited on line. Why not? When it was my ear's turn, I moved in on the old bubble gum, tongue-looking one. I began rubbing it’s belly like it was a magic lamp. And every time I moved my hand to touch a different spot, the vibrations and rare animal sounds changed moods from within. "Very cool," I thought. So I ran around the park like a little kid touching all of the foreign creatures grazing on the urban pasture. There was a lime green one that looked like a bird, a grey mouse with the rail as a tail,  a yellow foot or was it a nose that was taking up a seat on a bench, and there was phallic purple eggplant. They each has different moans and groans of their own.

All in all, it was a great little escape and I felt refreshed creatively. Sometimes when you need some inspiration, put down what you're doing and just step outside. You never know what you'll find, especially in New York. It turned out that Aliens didn't leave their play toys lying around in Madison Square Park. Acclaimed artist Charles Long did. His interactive installation, Pet Sounds, will be up all Summer. So instead of wasting your whole lunch hour waiting on line at Shake Shake for a mediocre burger, bring a tuna fish sandwich from home, touch a blob, and feel like your Alice in Wonderland in the middle of the concrete jungle.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


13 years ago, when I decided to write PUPPY CHOW IS BETTER THAN PROZAC, I had no idea how to write a book. I had barely read any books growing up except for Lord of the Flies, Orca, and Green Eggs and Ham. But I had a story that I had to tell, and I was determined to get it published.

After over 100 rejections, three lawyers, five editors, two collaborators, a big book deal, a cancelled big book deal, a small book deal, a couple of mental breakdowns, three relationships, three break-ups, one psychotic PR guy, two psychologists, three psychiatrists, and dozens of stuffed black Labradors wearing dog tags with engraved editors names in them, the book was finally published.

Puppy Chow is Better than Prozac didn't sell a million books like I had hoped for, but the story connected with many people that shared similar experiences that I had. And now 狗狗助你摆脱抑郁-特殊的 (Dog to help you get rid of depression - a special "psychiatrist.") is connecting with people in China.  At first I was a little upset that Ozzy wasn't on the cover. What's up the black dog with the red collar? And who's that guy with the black gloves? Is he supposed to be me? But then I realized it's not about me anymore. Like any story, it's about whoever reads it, wherever they are—and what they take away.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Obsessive Compulsive Zipper-picker-upper.

This morning, when I was looking through my dresser for pants to wear, I ran into an old denim friend buried in the back of one of my drawers. I wondered if anything was wrong with them. No holes. No crazy stains. A royal blue. So I tried them on and did a private fashion show down the runway in my apartment. They looked good. They fit well. They were just a little long. But they worked with my big black boots. So after I gobbled down a bowl of Honey nut Cheerios and inhaled two espressos, my jeans and I headed out for the day.

It was a beautiful day. Until twenty minutes later—when I looked down—and I realized why those jeans were in the back of my drawer—the zipper. The broken wouldn't-stay-up-no-matter-what zipper. My forever fallen fly. The mischievous piece of metal that caused me embarrassment, made me self conscious, and made me unproductive at work because I spent more time staring at it than my computer. But since the pants fit well, I never thew them out. I just tried to fix the problem. For example, I tried attaching the top of the zipper to the pants with a safety pin. And it worked. For a while. Just when I’d feel comfortable and confident that my boxer briefs wouldn't be on display for New York City, I'd feel a sharp sting in my stomach, like an ant stabbed me with a thumbtack. Ouch! The safety pin would pop open and poke me—so much for safety pins being safe.

Well, this morning when I realized I was wearing the denim that contained the demon zipper, I thought of going back home to change immediately. But I told myself, they'd be fine. And I'd be fine. As long as I checked down below from time to time. Well, I spent most of my day looking down, and when I looked down, most of the time it was down, so I had to pull it back up, and the cycle continued. I had become so aware, and so obsessed with my zipper situation, that I was obsessively checking it every 5 minutes. Every time I got up in a cafe. Every time I thought somebody was staring at me. My head bobbed up and down all the way down Broadway. I don’t know what was worse, an attractive woman staring at my zipper down, or getting caught struggling to lift it up with two hands?

When I got home, I thought about throwing the pants out, not even sending them to the salvation army. I didn't want to curse anybody. But then I thought, it wasn’t the pants fault. So I decided to just bury them in the back of the drawer, behind the old socks and underwear. Who knows, one day I might need a cool pair of pants to wear?

Today, I Prey on the Paparazzi.

They're fast. They're fierce. And most of them are short. They lug around large, clunky, black backpacks, armed with Nikons, multiple lenses—some bigger than their heads—so they're prepared for any celebrity drop-off occasion. They never know when they’re going to have to climb a telephone pole or scale a building to get their shot. But they do know where it’s going to take place.

The paparazzi procedure goes down like this: They get the tip—most likely from a paid-off driver named Manny, or a hotel manager: “So-and-so is gonna be at the Greenwich Hotel at 4:45. So be there, get your guys. Be ready." So they get there and they wait and they wait, because the celebrity is late. Always late. And they kneel, and they lean, and they smoke, and they drink fruit punch Gatorade and they suck down Red Bull. And then one of them gets excited. He jumps up and points. "Hey, there she is! There she is!" The limo rolls up. And everybody looks, gets ready, pulls out their $800 point-and-shoot bazookas, and it's nothing but disappointment. A false alarm. It’s just a chunky lady with ugly dog.

"Wait, there she is!" Another guy screams. They get up. Here we go again. They're ready to work. Earn their fee. All they need is that shot. That one shot. The money shot. The one we'll see all over the magazines: People. OK. US. Entertainment Weekly. And when that Escalade rolls up, and the door opens in slow motion, they start snapping away. Flash! Flash! Flash! It's the red carpet as far as these hard-working guys are concerned.

It so happens that one of my favorite coffee shops, Peace and Love, is located across the street from Robert De Niro's Greenwich Hotel. So I’ve seen the privacy-invading paparazzi storm the personal space of celebrities like Cameron Diaz, Seal, and Heidi Klum. And just a few hours ago, the paparazzi preyed on the stunning Katherine Heigl, but what they didn’t know was that today, I preyed on them—the paparazzi.

Monday, January 23, 2012

She Watches Us Through the Mist.

This morning, I was walking along the water, caught up in my foggy thoughts, when I saw her. I stopped dead in my tracks—I stood in awe. And I thought, man, this woman has seen it all:

From our grandparents arriving at Ellis Island to The Gangs of New York. From the Great Depression to Prohibition, to two World Wars. She saw King Kong climb the Empire State Building. She saw our Towers fall. And I’ll never forget when she showed up at my wedding, when our yacht pulled up along side of her. And she glowed.

As a gift from the French in 1884, Our Lady Liberty has stood the test of time. And today, she watches us through the mist, smiling, in our harbor. Waiting to see what we do next.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Panic Attack Over a Bagel with Lox

I'm a creature of habitat. I always like things the same way, and when things are shifted out of the ordinary, I don't feel okay. Like this past Saturday, I met my wife and daughter at the community center where they go swimming. We always go to the same diner for pancakes afterwards. Well, on that day, my wife shocked me: "Why don't we just grab some bagels from Zucker's, and bring them back to the community center. It’s so much cheaper." It was, but doing something different made my heart skip a beat. But I sucked it up, took Brooke’s order: A cinnamon raisin with cream cheese, and for Rowan, eggs.”

Zucker’s was bagel madness. Crowded. Long Line. And about 10 guys yelling, taking orders. No eggs for Rowan. I was not going to hold up this crazy line. But I didn't know what to order for her so I looked up at the huge chalkboard. “Oh, man.” Too many choices. I started sweating. I didn’t know what I wanted either. Well, I did know—a bagel with lox, but I felt guilty paying 10 bucks. I couldn’t make a decision... READ MORE >

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Writer, the Twelve-year-old Trumpet Player, and the Rude Aussie.

About twenty minutes ago, I went downstairs to the reading lounge in my building to get away from the yo-yo playing, baby-screaming, "I wanna watch Winnie the Pooh!" string bean flying, dinner-time insanity.

As I entered my soon-to-be word-crafting haven of my evening, I was greeted by a cute, spunky girl with shoulder-length hair. Okay, it's nice to have company, a study partner, I thought. Until I heard what she was studying—she pulled out a God damn trumpet. "I hope you don't mind," she said. "It's gonna be really loud." God bless head phones and the Pink Floyd's. Comfortably Numb.

She just left a moment ago as I'm writing this post. "Aw, silence at last." Not quite. In walks Crocodile Dundee and heads towards the couch and the big flatscreen. "I'm gonna watch a little teley," he says brushing by me, as if he acknowledges me studying, and that he will try and keep it down. So i say, "Yeah, I'm okay." Then he says, "Yeah, you will be."

 Yeah, I will be? Is he serious? I would've said something to him but he probably would've killed me.
 Well, as you can see, he's sitting in front of me. That's him, stringy grey mop, ugly boots on the arms of the old pleather couch.

All he had to do was ask if it was okay to blast his soccer game, be a little polite, like trumpet girl. But now, he has no idea who he's pissed off—a writer. Oh, my friends, the pen is mightier than the sword tonight.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I hate Pikeys (a Sunday clip)

I just caught SNATCH for the 20th time. What a great flick, thought I'd share.

"I fuckin' hate pikeys, they're not English, they're not Irish, they're.... just.... well.... fuckin' Pikey." — Turkish (Jason Statham)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Defeat the Cavity Creeps without Seeing the Dentist..

Everybody says one of the great things about getting a job—a full-time job—is getting health benefits. Well, that's true to some degree. However, if you're fortunate, you can make more money (a small fortune) freelancing than having a full time job, and have enough money to pay for your own medical and dental plan. I highly recommend Freelancer’s Union, they welcome pre-existing conditions, like if your wife is pregnant, or if you have some wacky disease.

Well, unfortunately for me, I haven’t made a fortune freelancing so I never signed up for their dental plan. Instead, I took a chance with my teeth to save some money. Why pay $50 a month, when I might not have a cavity all year? Or a good ol’ fashioned root canal? But if I happened to get a gummy bear stuck in between a molar, then I’d be in sticky situation, an expensive one.

So let’s talk about the tooth-attacking evil monsters in the illustration above: Some of you might remember these hardened, sugary maniacs, known as the Cavity Creeps. They were created for an ad campaign for Crest toothpaste, back in the day. Basically, the Cavity Creeps represented the sugary junk that attacks your shiny happy molars, and by using Crest—you can defeat them

Well, I'm still a freelance writer, and I haven’t been to the dentist in 3 1/2 years. I've been pushing it off and pushing it off, until I found a good full time job that would pay for whatever dental work would need to be done. But that wasn't happening anytime soon, and my teeth have really started to hurt lately, so I made an appointment with Dr. Schloss—charged it—and I just got back one hour ago.

I dreaded going upstairs, the painful ice-pick cleaning that awaited. I cut see the blood and dead skin dancing around in the sink after I rinsed my mouth out. But I really feared having cavities—I've had all kinds of health problems—but there is nothing worse than the smell of burnt teeth.

Miraculously, I didn't have any cavities! Hooray. The dentist was amazed. After 3 1/2 years of drinking coffee, eating cookies, and guzzling gallons of Gatorade, I walked away without having to come back and sit in their electric chair, having to undergo modern Nazi teeth torture.

Well, you might wonder, how I managed to walk away Cavity Creep-free? Because I took the advice of the dental hygienist that I had 3 1/2 years ago. She said, "Off the record, make sure you floss and rinse with Listerine, the fire-breathing kind, and you should be okay." It turned out I had the same dental hygienist today. I said "Thanks for the advice,” after she jabbed at my bleeding gums, and I was on my way”

I’m currently sitting @ RBC downtown on Worth street. I’m on my second double espresso, and only a few crumbs remain on the table from the giant double-chocolate—extra sugary—chip cookie that I just ate.  Remember friends, occasionally floss and Listerine.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Animal Puppet Psychology.

Just another day at Barnes and Noble in Tribeca. If Hunter won't nap, I'm gonna eat him.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Filling Your Kid Up with Pancakes and YouTube, so You Can Enjoy Your Breakfast.

About an hour ago, I had breakfast with my wife and kids at our favorite diner in Tribeca: Gee Wiz. It's the best diner around, because they cater to kid craziness—not hung over hipsters—that happens when you bring along your food-throwing, plate-dropping, crumb-making little darlings.

Sitting there on Greenwich Street, it seemed like just yesterday we took Rowan, (now 3 1/2 ) out to restaurants, and we were able to keep her contained in a high chair, like we are now able to do with our nine-month-old, baby boy, Hunter. The only damage Hunter can do on high chair lock-down is fling his food, throw forks and knives, stick is fingers in jelly, and occasionally headbutt the table. But Rowan, these days, she can be wild.

Today she wanted pancakes, so we ordered a short stack, which was actually larger than her whole face—the only reason she ordered pancakes was because I had recently turned her on to one of my childhood heroes, Chilly Willy. Chilly didn't say much, but the penguin sure loved pancakes. Well, for those of you who have kids, and are brave enough to take them out to eat, you know that some days are easier than others. Today was not one of the easier ones. Hunter wouldn't eat. Whenever I tried to shove strained peas into his mouth, he closed it shut like a vise. The little maniac wouldn't stop grabbing at the muffin basket either. And watch out for the forks and knives if you happened to be sitting near by. I must have yelled out to our neighbors, "Watch out! Incoming! Oh, so sorry." Not to mention, through all of this—I was so hungry. I took about two bites of my overeasy eggs. They were now cold and runny. Not funny.

Brooke wasn't laughing either. Sitting across from us,  Rowan was kicking her, stepping on her toes, and gave her a mean headbutt. All accidents, but the kid wouldn't sit still. She was standing up on the seat, looking out the window. "Rowan, would you please sit down and eat, already!?!"I screamed. "Can I have more syrup, dada?" she asked. I told her she could. So she grabbed the syrup dispenser and went bonkers. She kept pouring it and pouring it until the pancakes looked like islands in some sugary sea, and then she started eating it with her hands. "Use the fork! Rowan, would you please use your fork!?!" And then she took the muffins out of the muffin basket, took bites out of them, and put them back in. I couldn't take it anymore. "Rowan, stop doing that!" I exclaimed. "Please just stop!"

Then, I had an idea. Bribery.  It was time to make a deal.  Living with my three-year-old is all about making deals. I just had to be careful, she's become quite the negotiator. "Rowan, if you finish your pancakes—with a fork—we could watch Chilly Willy on my Evo, (giant screen) at the table, with the kickstand. She looked interested. "Is that a deal?" I asked."You wanna shake on it?" She looked at me, all serious, "Can I have more syrup?" she asked. I said, "Yes." "Can I have more butter?"she asked.  I said, "Yes." She smiled, "Okay,"she shook my hand. Then gave me a fist bump. "Now, put it on. Put it on Dada. You can watch with me if you want."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Resolutions Are Useless Without a Burning Desire and a Definite Plan.

Every New Years, people around the world set their goals for what they want to lose, gain, or change for the following year. Some resolutionaries want to lose weight, some want to stop smoking, some want a new job, and others hope to meet that special someone. 

Speaking from experience, most resolutions are never followed through. For example, shelling out a thousand dollars for a one-year gym membership is useless unless you have a burning desire, a definite plan, plus the ability to see yourself living in the moment of your accomplished goal that you set forth, and saw yourself achieving that one year ago.

For example, my sister was overweight—100lbs overweight—a few years back. When she reached her breaking point, and knew exactly why she wanted to lose the weight, she could’ve just joined a gym, and said I hope I lose it this year, or I want to lose weight this year, or “Please God, help me lose this weight.” But instead, she figured out exactly how much weight she wanted to lose, by exactly what date, and by what means she was going to use to reach it. Then she made a sign that read: ONE YEAR FROM NOW, ON MY 3OTH BIRTHDAY, I LOST 100lbs, AND I LOOK AND FEEL AMAZING. That’s all the sign said. But she posted it on a wall where she (and her powerful subconscious) was able to see it every day.

My sister had no doubt about achieving this goal. In her mind, she had already reached it. — On August 3rd, she lost 98lbs (let’s give her the two points) and she looked and felt amazing. She was glowing. People asked her how many days she had worked out at the gym. She said, “None.” She joined Weight Watchers, followed her diet, and did some walking on the boardwalk. 

“ANYBODY can wish for riches, and most people do, but only a few know that a definite plan, plus a burning desire for wealth, are the only dependable means of accumulating wealth – Napoleon Hill

My first example of reaching a goal by this method took place in 1995, when I got a big book deal with a top publisher in the industry. Why? Because I had burning desire. I had no doubt whatsoever about being an author—not being concerned about having zero experience in writing a book before. And I had a definite plan.

I wrote down how much of an advance I was going to receive on a specific date with a specific publisher, My sign read: ON JUNE 23RD, __________IS PUBLISHING, PUPPY CHOW IS BETTER THAN PROZAC AND I AM GETTING A ____________ADVANCE. I hung it around my apartment for my subconscious to work on it. My friends and family thought I was nuts.

In the Fall of 1997, I got the exact advance that I had asked for. The date was a little off. But I would’ve never received that advance without having a definite plan. People have said to me, “Bruce, you have great luck.” It’s not luck. It’s not being psychic. And it’s not easy. You have to work for it. But the rewards are whatever you ask for. This way of thinking goes far and beyond monetary results. It works just the same for spiritual and health related issues just the same.

A few years ago, a friend told me to read this book, THINK AND GROW RICH by Napoleon Hill. He said I had reached my goals by the methods taught inn his book. It’s the best $6.95 I’ve ever spent. (I don’t make a cent off this book, and the author is long dead.) So get it. Read it. Believe it. And call me in a few months with your results. I’d love to hear your success story.
I’d say good luck, but there is no need to.  

“Whatever THE MIND OF MAN can CONCEIVE and BELIEVE it can ACHIEVE.” — Napoleon Hill

Have a Happy New Year!