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from "The Sopranos: The Book." c. 2007 HBO.

(These are a few of the fake nails designed for Adriana La Cerva of The Sopranos.)


RKP Proctor Theatre, 1915
112-116 Market Street

“Built to replace the smaller Proctor’s Theater on Park Place, this was a classic example of the vaudeville and cinema palaces that were going up all over the country in that period. It was designed and built on a grandiose scale and in a modern commercial style, with lavish use of polychromed terra cotta ornaments. It stood as a symbol of Newark’s place as an entertainment center. For many years exclusively a film theater, it was in 1966 the site of a short-lived attempt to revive burlesque and vaudeville in Newark. For a time in the early 1970s, after it had closed as a theatre, it was used for classroom space by Essex County Community College.

The building, now vacant, is owned by the city of Newark.”

from Newark: A Study in Steel and Stone. 1982

You’re not guilty of anything except the way you think. And that’s a private ordeal that causes plenty of agony. No one else need step in and punish or even admonish because you take care of that on your own in that same dark place. The true test is the way you treat people when they fail you, or just fail themselves in your presence. And the way you behave when others fail is a pretty good indication of how you treat yourself when you do the same.

And what do I mean by fail? Bad food choices? Dishonesty? A loss on a trade?
A nap is a kind of failure.

But can you really change the way you think? Maybe not. The content is certainly repetitive and mundane enough, not a lot of new material coming through the tube. You can change the way you react to your thoughts, certainly. Or you can numb and dumb them down, cover the raw places with some pretty polish and a couple of stick-on, rhinestone studs.

Something’s failing in an abandoned theater and the failers have long since moved on. In fact, they are dead of natural causes. Here’s an entire city and no one knows what to do with it. The buildings. The people in them. Smart people trying really hard. And it’s not the only one.

Empty theaters are spooky. Yes. But you should try the abandoned lunatic asylum on the road out to where I bought the marble slabs for my kitchen counters. The guy who owns the place is from another country and he has done well here in the United States. He came over and smoked cigarettes in my hallway. He yelled at me because I had bought my tiles elsewhere.

“You see?” he said, kicking at the box. “These are flawed. They are shit. You should have bought them from me. You messed up.”
I started to cry.
I hated the tiles from that very moment.
I hate them still.