When I have the time, I try to go to the gym during my lunch hour. Like every gym to which I've belonged, this one plays a steady stream of the world's worst music, which I guess falls into the techo-pop arena, the sort of thing you might hear in a commercial for a car or for a can of soda or some other facet of modern society that would be considered a blight but for the fact that the revenues from the sale of these products has helped to construct breathtaking vistas such as the above. It makes you wonder if any beauty outside of that found in the natural world can be achieved without oppression, cruelty, and brainwashing of the masses. I mean, like everyone these days, I wear headphones and listen to #podcasts. Still, I sometimes wonder why management insists on playing shitty music, given how pervasive headphones are now. I guess they think it helps people get #pumpedup to work out. Once, at my previous gym, they installed some new treadmills that didn't have video monitors in front of them, which allowed you to observe the street below, which was way more interesting than any daytime television show you could possibly watch on the four channels they offered. I made a point of telling the facility manager how much I enjoyed the unobstructed view of the street and suggested that perhaps they could leave these new treadmills (there were two in a row of probably twenty-five) free of monitors. He looked at me as though I had suggested he cut his arm off for my pleasure and a few days later the monitors were installed. Going forward, we looked at each other with not-at-all disguised expressions of hatred. My new gym doesn't have monitors in front of the treadmills; instead they have a bank of large, flat-screen teevees attached to the opposing wall, so that you can't really help looking at them and, even with the sound off, feel sad and embarrassed about being a citizen of the United States as you watch CNN fixate on "terror" in ways that would be hilarious if they didn't constitute such Orwellian propaganda to disguise the fairly obvious but hideous fact that we, as a country, have pretty much entered a state of perpetual warfare. I've learned not to say anything to anyone involved in managing a gym, however. (In this post, you can substitute the word "government" for "gym".)Well, it's still nice to get a good workout and walk back to my office through the streets of Tribeca, where the median apartment rents for $6500/month. In more important news, the sun is now hitting the block on my walk to the subway every morning. The long shadows offer the illusion that we are all giants making a mark on the world. Not everyone, of course, is deceived. Our house is filled with skeptics who nevertheless try to console themselves with a few small pleasures. On Thursday, I had the opportunity/misfortune to visit 42nd Street, where, for approximately eighteen months, after being sold by my former non-profit employer to a large, multinational corporation with headquarters near Grand Central, I walked from the west side to the east side and back again on my daily commute. Returning here, I had mixed feelings; I didn't miss the commute (or the employer), but I had always enjoyed Bryant Park, as readers of this blog might remember. I thought fondly of the many games of Ping Pong I played in the hot summer nights. (I actually never did this.) I said hello to my old friend the ram, who could still be found guarding the base of the lamppost. A young gay tourist was sadly under-dressed for #polarvortex2015. A very muscular #silverdaddy was playing air guitar in the alcove next to the library entrance. He seemed impervious to the cold, thanks to his cloak. In the global-warming era, such attire will be considered "business casual." The lion was amused by something but maybe a little smug, considering it was about to get very cold.At home, the stray cats who live in our backyard didn't seem too bothered by the cold, either. Do you remember how that famous 'magician' sat on a pole for like thirty hours? Such feats do not impress the stray cats in our backyard. We've tried to get close to them, but they are truly feral and run away if you get within a few feet of them. They never seem to lose their balance, either. For the first time in my life, I was getting more used to wearing a scarf. Red doesn't seem to be a very "in" color this season -- everyone is wearing those jackets with the fringed hoods and the dumb patches -- but I was warm enough with the scarf. It seemed apparent from the weather reports (both literal and metaphorical) that we lived in a beautiful but terrifying country. The sky was brutally clear. And the clouds, soft and puffy like you'd see on a summer day, were manufactured.