Friday, July 27, 2012

Hot and Crusty

Monday, July 23, 2012
Jill and Steve are dear friends and stalwart traveling companions. This morning, we drove out to Long Island to celebrate the bris (ritual circumcision) of their newest grandson. It was a wonderful occasion. I managed to get to my desk by 1 PM, carrying a lamb/chicken combo over rice from the Halal cart at the northwest corner of Reade Street and Centre Street. Tomorrow, I expect to hit a new restaurant in my quest for whatever it is I’m questing.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Mini Express, 14-18 Elizabeth Street, Chinatown Arcade #32-33, is a new joint in the arcade between the Bowery and Elizabeth Street. The interior is stark, but attractive, with black floor tiles, gray faux bricks and gray faux tiles on the walls. Three large, black metal-framed tables with glass tops had four chairs each. Most of the space was devoted to the ordering counter and the kitchen behind it. There was an active takeout business. One flat screen television played insipid Korean music videos, featuring gangs of Korean Justin Bieber imitators, which did not aid my appetite. That was just as well because the plate of “Western chicken fried rice” ($6) wasn’t very good. The extensive menu is almost entirely devoted to noodle and rice dishes, and there might very well be some tasty treats among them, but it will be some time before I’m motivated to find out.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012
A good and wise friend, concerned about the state of our economy, sent me an editorial from his local newspaper, far removed from Sodom, which urged big cuts in federal spending while applying a gentler touch to revenue enhancement (TAXES). The editorial pointed out that increasing taxes on the richest Americans will not work because “there’s not enough of them to use this as a solution to fix the problem.” Whoa there! There’s not enough of any one thing (defense spending, entitlements, agricultural subsidies, mass transit spending, cultural grants) to solve the problem by itself. But, there is a lot of money to be collected from making the very rich pay what you or I typically pay in taxes, and it sends a better message to ourselves about this country and its values rather than letting roads and bridges rot or shrinking public education.

“Blue Bloods,” a cop show that I’ve never seen was all over the area today. The intersection of Reade Street and Centre Street had trucks and equipment in place as I passed by this morning. When I went to lunch, I saw more trucks and equipment parked along Baxter Street then turning into Leonard Street, including two big ducts providing extra airconditioning to some courtroom or office in 80 Centre Street where they were filming interior shots. Then, after lunch, they were actually filming on the sidewalk in front of 60 Centre Street. The scene was a handsome cop and a pretty copette walking and talking along, their gold detective badges clipped to their belts. It is possible that a side, rear view of my head was captured as I walked by. Keep tuned.

I thought that I was headed to a new restaurant at a very familiar location when I climbed the stairs to the second floor at 1 East Broadway. I’ve eaten in four different iterations of the restaurant at street level during the 30+ months that I’ve been on this mission. A couple of days ago, I saw a simple sign on the doorway next to the restaurant that read “BBQ 2 FL.” Looking up, I saw an illuminated neon sign that said “B-B-Q.” So, today, I walked up the flight of stairs which was decorated with two color posters of frosty drinks, expecting to find a new establishment above. I thought for a moment of the Time Warner Center, at Columbus Circle, where Per Se, Masa, Bouchon Bakery, Asiate, A Voce, Landmarc, and Porter House are stacked atop each other. However, the dull silver-painted, unmarked door at the top of the stairs, with a bell and peephole as found in a typical apartment, was locked. I went up the one other flight, thinking that they may be using the European style of counting floors (ignoring the fact that the neon sign was only one flight up), but only found an office conducting Chinese business, or maybe just business in Chinese.

Thursday, July 26, 2012.
I passed 1 East Broadway again on the way to the library branch where I borrow DVDs of British crime shows, and I looked over the BBQ joint situation upstairs. Today, I noticed that the neon sign had the word Open lit, which I had not noticed yesterday. However, the windows overlooking East Broadway were also open, a definite indicator of a preference for natural breezes over the harsh artificial chill of airconditioning. With the temperature and humidity rapidly climbing back up as if the morning’s torrential rainstorm had never happened, I was all for the harsh artificial chill of airconditioning, so I kept walking.

Gude Gude Inc., 42 Eldridge Street, also denied me the harsh artificial chill of airconditioning, but, since I had walked this far, I sat down at one of the narrow ledges running around three sides of the tiny place, hoping that the weak fan and ineffectual airconditioner over the front door might slow the growth of mildew under my chin. Accordingly, I ordered quickly and ate quickly. The simple menu offers grilled beef, pork, shrimp and chicken, one or more at a time, over white rice, fried rice or lo mein. I had beef, shrimp and chicken with lo mein ($5.75). A small bowl of clear broth with a few tofu cubes and some leaves floating in it came as well. The food wasn’t bad. It was cooked to order by the young woman who staffed the operation in its entirety, but the portion was small. Of course, that helped me get going pretty quickly.

Since my recent two-week visit to Israel and Jordan heightened my standing as a geo-political analyst, I would like to comment on an interesting op-ed in today’s New York Times. Dani Dayan wrote under the headline “Israel’s Settlers Are Here to Stay,” I found his opinions credible, if only because he avoided the sentimental anecdotes that often distort the discussion of Arab/Israeli relations. “My great-uncle Yossi carried pebbles in his mouth to build a wall around the kibbutz.” “My second cousin Faisal did not drink water for 30 days to keep that olive tree alive.” Rather, he focused on the fact that over 350,000 Israeli Jews live behind the line, my euphemism for the disputed territories. He gets a little soapy when he speaks of “Israel’s moral claim to these territories,” but much of his argument rests upon “the irreversibility of the huge Israeli civilian presence in Judea and Samaria,” and this is a serious concern.

However, there is another “irreversibility” that Dayan and other supporters of the settler movement ignore. Over time, minorities succumb to majorities. Whether to the Hebrews in Pharaonic times, the Americans in the 13 British colonies, the native populations of south Asia or South Africa, “foreign” rule proved unacceptable. I don’t doubt the successes he cites; “the economies are thriving; a new Palestinian city, Rawabi, is being built north of Ramallah; Jewish communities are growing; checkpoints are being removed; and tourists of all nationalities are again visiting Bethlehem and Shiloh.” Except the Arab birthrate behind the line exceeds the Jewish birthrate (the very fecund ultra-Orthodox Jews live almost entirely in a few communities in Israel proper), and there is no evidence that even greater number of Arabs will be comfortable under Israeli rule than the current population. The great irony, which I sadly recognize, is that the lives and fortunes of individual Arabs would probably be better under an Israeli regime attempting to respect democratic values than the corrupt, nepotistic, and oppressive rule likely to succeed “liberation.” Yet, somehow, “our S.O.B.s” are more attractive than theirs. And, inevitably, they will get their own S.O.B.s.

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