My PIC and I couldn’t wait to get outside and go for a walk. The sun was bright, there was just the touch of a cool breeze, but the air was still warm enough to go jacket-less. We meandered happily uptown – there were errands to run, stops to make. But first we were going to swing by the bank and make a deposit in the ATM.

As I waited, I glanced at the double glass doors leading into the bank. A very disreputable and unmistakably homeless person, in full raggy regalia – pushing his cartful of foul crap, was about to enter.

Something came over me and I, who assert (see above: THERE ARE A LOT OF CRAZIES WALKING THE STREETS) the importance of avoiding encounters with the psychologically unfit, was filled with outrage and a call to action. I briskly walked to the doors and held up my hand. NO, I said, YOU CAN’T COME IN HERE. THIS ISN’T YOUR HOUSE… I would have continued, but the now clearly wild-eyed and agitated citizen began to yell and curse me. He was lucid enough to be clearly understood, as he insulted every aspect of my being: from my race to my age to my height, to my…well you get the picture. He was, simultaneously, now moving with some effort (his cart was way full) inside the bank’s ATM room, toward me.

Like the smart coward I am, I ran fleetly up the escalator and approached a bank employee. I quickly told the story (from my vantage point) and asked that they remove the now really scary man who was – in fact – already coming up the escalator, too. I was, thankfully, spirited away down an elevator, while the sounds of “excuse me, sir” and “I can damn well be in MY bank” echoed – now mercifully in the distance.

Back out in the street, my PIC and I commiserated and continued on. I understand there was a full moon last night – which may explain the fact that, although we weren’t pulled into any other frightening engagements, there was a massive shitshow going on on each block. Four cars at unnatural angles were blocking a major intersection; several men were trying to disentangle that mess. There were two couples coming close to fisticuffs in front of a large market; the issue at hand seemed to be about who cut in front of whom on line. We quickly crossed the street to avoid. There were also strange smells – gas-like, making me feel that frisson of fear of imminent doom that I am olfactorily (I’m sure there should be an “i” between the “l” and the “f” – you’re wrong, Mr. Google) prey to.

And so, I double-timed the rest of the route until I was safely inside my apartment, door double locked. I think I’ll stay in. Maybe for a while…




It’s been said many times before – and probably quite a few times by me: New York is heavily dosed with crazy. By that I mean – just walk the streets, any streets; at least once on every block (or maybe a little less on the UES), you will encounter someone whose frame of reference is determined by an aluminum hat or the fillings in his back teeth.

How, you may ask, will you know a crazy if you see one? Come on, really? If you can’t spot a psycho at twenty feet, you won’t make it here, and I seriously doubt that you will make it anywhere with a population above fifteen hundred.

Crazies come in several distinct varieties. There are the Thrashers: They are in the midst of an active fit; they scream and move wildly. You will feel immediate fear (which is appropriate) and you will flee ASAP. Then you have your Smilers. You may, at first glance, wonder if this is someone you know. After all, they are smiling at you, and no one does that in New York. As you get closer, you will notice that their eyes are sort of glazed. That’s your signal. Jump away, cross the street, duck into an alley, do something. Because, if you don’t, they are the ones who will grab your arm, looking deeply into your eyes, and say something unintelligible that they nevertheless require an answer to. Hard to extricate yourself. Even the quite old Smilers have preternatural strength and you will have to peel their grip off you.

The third, but I would say my favorite category of crazy, is the Nudie. Not exactly sure why getting naked or flashing or displaying some typically covered part of their anatomy is so compelling for them. But they will lift a skirt to reveal their pants-less condition, pop out a boob or bend over in a grossly upsetting manner as your paths cross. To avoid them, you will have to stay tuned in to the “vibes” around you; a problem in that you also want to three-monkeys it as much as possible when you’re on the street – just to preserve whatever shreds of sanity you may still retain. A quandary, yes? I leave you to figure out your own personal solution. May I offer one possibility? How about – don’t leave the house. Many of us rely on that a fair amount of the time. You know, it can be so exhausting – why not just get everything delivered.


The influx of Citi Bikes combined with the extended “good” weather has made walking in the city a high wire act.

The bikers a) don’t stop for stop signs or red lights and b) ride on the sidewalks when the whim strikes. (Two such assholes were just coming at me traveling from Broadway to Amsterdam on W.95th St.)

I am not that young but I’m pretty agile. So I can duck and weave when necessary. But Christ on a stick (sorry for the offense), why do I have to? When did we – the perambulating rank and file – become so much potential road kill?

Is this more of the evil DeBlasio’s hidden agenda to kill us all in the service of his ultra-liberal mindlessness? I wish to have him strapped to a board (similar to a firing squad) and have a volley of bikers who aren’t really paying attention aim their two-wheeled instruments of mayhem in his direction… Let’s see him play dodgeball!!

A visit from Brownstein

I was – as you can imagine – really excited. Brownstein was coming to visit. It was an auspicious occasion, to be sure – the gathering of our small clan featuring the erstwhile but fabulous Uncle Greg. Our numbers included the quite famous Sheridy-shoo, HRH Louis the Kind, and the-best-boy-in-the-world-who-is-now-a-man, Alec Alerstein. Brownstein had organized this event; for her it was quite simple. Wizardry has many practical uses – like sending invitations via magical conduits (on the wind – which, as it turns out, is quite a cooperative force).

We six convened (Miss Amanda the Panda, the seventh of our number, was, sadly, not able to attend) at the first of what was to be two restaurants. Brownstein decided to stay in and guard the homestead. (Okay, that’s not the whole story: the restaurants in question had an archaic policy regarding those of the four-legged persuasion. That plus B’s continuing self-consciousness due to her shorn coat – and the attendant lack of her full magical ability – sealed the deal.) She would wait, singing her dirge-like song at the top of her lungs, for all who cared to listen (and that would be all the neighbors in all the adjacent apartments and anyone who entered the lobby).

I attribute what followed to a combination of random New York City crap and the pall cast by our heroine’s absence. We sat down in restaurant one – a much touted (by me!) Peruvian place. It became quickly apparent that the din was designed to push all to the brink of madness. It is more than passing true that some of us live way to close to that brink on a good day. And so, after reflexively ordering a round of drinks which we left on the table (but paid for), we fled.

Our scout, aka my PIC, did some advance work so we knew that the Italian restaurant on the corner of the same block had space for us. We effected a quick relocate and ensconced ourselves in a far more civilized environment.

We quickly ordered one of everything (or so it seemed) on the menu, and fell to. Much joy and tasty food was had by all. In the meantime, Brownstein continued to wait, with a building matrix of feelings: outrage, hunger, frustration and – did I mention hunger? She has instincts that don’t rely on her magical abilities (after all, she’s a dog, not a chicken!), and she could smell (from a city block away and through the many intervening doors) the fragrance of our meal. WHERE”S MINE, her mind kept repeating. It was truly incomprehensible: How could we do this to her? She would be much more kind and considerate if the positions were reversed. Oh yes, she would!

Finally, we returned, to receive quite the (deserved) tongue/bark-lashing from our furry girl. I mollified her with several pieces of turkey – which she more or less inhaled and then returned to her verbal spanking.

Just this side of hysterical, B gave us all “what for” and I petted her and apologized until she was somewhat appeased.

Guilt is mine, incontrovertibly – and it is well deserved. How could I put the best canine girl in the world through such a traumatic incident? I’m deeply sorry, Brownstein. All I can ask for is forgiveness. I imagine that when her coat is restored and her full wizardly powers return, there will be a second act to this drama. Be kind, O Brownstein. Be kind.

You call it grooming, I call it humiliation.

Thus spake Brownstein – more with her limpid brown eyes than with her voice. As the story goes, her fur got matted during the long multi-phased journey to see her human great-grandmother. The journey was arduous – for all concerned, but when you are a small four-legged person, trains, planes and automobiles are an infinitely greater trial. To the magnificent Brownie’s credit, she maintained her fabled good humor despite the stressful nature of traveling from New York to Florida.

So it all made sense when B’s primary roommate (some would say “master” but not me) decided she needed to visit the groomer. Sadly, said groomer felt a shave-down, to get rid of the snarly stuff, would be the best idea. All that remained of our heroine’s lovely coat was a lioness-like head of fauxmane.

Why did it have to be done? Couldn’t a well-directed nail-scissor have done the trick on those knots? Being naked and chilly and losing the very definition of her fabulous figure is a bridge too far. Grow fast, Brownie’s coat…grow fast. Return her to her glory.

Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention: The Brownstein wizardliness is offline when her fur is absent. If not, she could have abracadabra’d it back in a flash.


The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 90

It’s been a month and not a hey or a hiya or even a snort. Where has that boy been? Should I worry? Should you? Wait a minute, I hear something. Can it be…?

Hey Karen, what’s shakin’, anything bakin’? That makes me think I would LOVE some bacon. Got any bacon, oh Creator?

 Just hold the phone for a sec, Coolie J. Coolstein. You have had us all worried. Well…maybe not worried, just wondering whether we should worry. And that counts too. Where have you been, my bright-eyed boy. And…may I say…your eyes do look especially bright. If memory serves (and you know it doesn’t always), last time I saw you, you were all about Robocop; you had an encounter with Shtew. But that’s all I know.

 Oh, Karen, the stories I could tell…

So, tell!

 Oh, okay. Here goes…but, first, could I just have a few pieces of bacon?

Sure, sure. Eat up and then tell us what’s been doing down, or up, or on, or….we’re all ears.

Uh oh! Is that my fault? Did I fail to protect my Creator and friends from the Ear Monster? Should I go on an immediate quest to find the antidote?

Whoa! Slow down. Figure of speech. We have not become ears on the hoof, we’re all okay. Just dying of curiousity.

 Oh no! Not dying. Help! Someone help! Don’t let them die!

Coolie. You have to calm down. No one is dying. It’s just another turn of phrase. (I really must remember how literal the boy can be. I don’t want to keep dislodging him and sending him into panic). We are all very interested in hearing the tale of “What Happened to Coolie in August;” I am sure we will all be fascinated, so please share.

 Sure thing, KK and company:

There I was hanging with Robee (that’s the way he likes to spell it). He’s not much of a talker, but somehow I always knew what he wanted to convey. With a certain clinkety-clink of his metallic hands, he invited me to his special world. Yes, Roboworld. It’s not just a myth – it’s real!

On the highest mountain in the eighth continent (you thought there were six or seven, right – nuh-uh), one whose peak is actually only a quarter mile from the moon, there is a land of robots. They are not the well-behaved artificials that we might expect. No. They are a most unruly bunch and require much policing. Ergo: Robocops. (Doncha just love the “ergo?” I am getting smarter every day!) By the way, in case you are wondering (NOT dying to know, please!) – that continent is called “Maurice.” Some call it the gangster of love. Some speak of the pompatus of love. Let’s just stick with Maurice. It’s so much easier to remember. And besides, it looks like a “Maurice,” if you know what I mean.

Ummm. Coolie. I don’t actually know what you mean. But that’s really okay – so, please continue.

(The cool one paused, unsure about whether he needed to explain. He shrugged the big “whatever” shrug, and continued.)

The Robots were – at first – pretty much in awe of me. They kinda thought I was a god. I didn’t like that much. I’m not big on having to rule or issue edicts or be the font of wisdom. I like to keep things low key, doncha know. So I gave them a few, “I don’t knows,” followed by my most quizzical look (another great word, right?). Before long, they started to treat me just like a regular person. Which is to say, they ignored me. Well, I didn’t like that so much. It reminded me too much of Sylvie and Morris.

What I did next led to a very unexpected but seriously cool thing. I took out the pack of gum (it’s Black Jack) that I always carry – cause I just love licorice, and the flavor lasts a really long time. All the Robee’s and Robeetta’s (yes, there are two genders. I explain later – if I remember) stopped, frozen mid-clink. They watched. Their titanium jaws dropped (which made quite a din – I had to stick some gum in my ears). Their beaming, far-visioned robot eyes shone with fascination. Fortunately, I had my sunglasses with me – cause the light was blinding. I removed the wrapper and began to chew.

Well, this – apparently – was the coolest thing they ever saw; they broke into the Robot Happy Dance – which is known to cause earthquakes, but is the funnest dance I every saw. They are able to jump up, turn their bodies perpendicular to the ground and clink their heels, then round the circle and land (with a heck of a crash) right back in the spot they started. The girl robots – who are distinguished by their two different colored eyes – one lavender, one pale orange, as compared to the boys who have two yellow eyes – did an extra flip when they landed – backwards, with their feet crossed. Very pretty.

This went on for – well I think it was two weeks. After the first 15 minutes, I was transported to yet one more alternate state of being. And that’s a good thing. Cause it was there that the best stuff happened.

What happened, Coolie? We really want to know.

 Let me think. Give me a minute. I’m gonna take a power nap and then we’ll talk some more.

 You know…there’s not much anyone can do. When Coolie needs a nap, a nap he shall have.


My new science fiction novel, RAYMÒN AND SUNSHINE, is available on It’s about the relationship between an autistic man and a female android three hundred years in the future, when what was once seen as a disability is merely a difference. Here’s the link:

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