Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The Upper West Side’s Power Couple took a road trip for the last few days visiting friends and family in New England. Since several lovely meals were taken in people’s homes, I found myself eating far more salad than usual, leaving me with little to report on. However, on the four-hour drive down from a sylvan lakeside cottage near Harrisville, New Hampshire, I had a revelation. I know how the Republicans can win the presidential election and, since they deserve a chance to resume dismantling American society, I offer this guidance.
Don’t nominate anyone for president. Obama can’t win when compared to nobody. Left and right disdain this Socialist, Muslim tool of Wall Street, leading from behind in world affairs while ruthlessly killing American citizens and innocent civilians by the reckless dispatch of drones, who has a degree from Harvard and a birth certificate from who-knows-where. If the American people don’t have anyone to compare to Obama, they will not reelect him. Dear Republicans, you have come close to not nominating anyone by allowing Mitt Romney to become your leading candidate for the presidential nomination. He believes in nothing and promises no more. However, he exists and thereby has characteristics that will turn off some voters. He is very rich and that might bother the few of us who are not also very rich. He paid “at least 13 percent” in taxes, which might indicate his inability to master our economic system by not paying any taxes at all. He speaks French.
And finally, he is Mormon. Now, I’m the last one to discriminate on religious grounds even if some claim that Mormonism is 19th Century Scientology. As to the underwear, better than a thong. Avoiding Coke and coffee just promises a calm demeanor. Polygamy? One is more than enough. But, did you know that traditionally Mormons referred to all non-believers as Gentiles? That’s it. I’m not voting for anyone who calls me a Goy.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Someone special is two years old today.
The restaurant review in the New York Times today is for Biang!, in Flushing, one subway stop beyond CitiField, the home of the Mets. The reviewer awards one star to this “cleaner, brighter and more modern offshoot” of Xi’an Famous Foods, which started in Flushing. Since I was not going to ride the subway for 50 minutes or so one-way in my one-hour lunchtime, I went instead to Xi’an Famous Foods at 67 Bayard Street, one of my local favorites. On my last visit, with Art Spar, a health inspector entered just as we did, and, while she eventually was satisfied with her inspection, her presence sufficiently disrupted the operation so that we never got anything to eat. No problem today as I ordered spicy cumin lamb noodles ($7), a wonderful dish. The portion was modest, but the flavors are so strong that I came away satisfied. Reminder, when going to Xi’an Famous Foods do not wear light-colored clothing, because most of the sauces are reddish-brown and seek a resting place on textiles.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
It is the middle of a notably hot summer and I naturally want to focus on ice hockey. Not the game played on the rink, but the business of professional ice hockey, the National Hockey League. This comes to mind because of the poor progress of the NHL’s labor-management negotiations as a new season approaches. The league, the owners, proposes that the players take a 24% pay cut, amounting to $450 million annually. The players’ union counter with an offer of a more gentle decline in player salaries over three years, not, as you might expect, an insistence on even higher salaries. The players are willing to cooperate, at least to some degree, because several teams are not economically viable, unable to fill their 18-20,000 seats with any regularity. Of course, team finances, unlike attendance figures, are hidden from the public, so the quality of management cannot be examined with the attention to detail given to the team on the ice. In fact, some of the financially struggling teams have been and remain competitive athletically, even while the owners go around asking for the players and/or the taxpayers to support them.
In other words, these alleged capitalists want nothing to do with classical competition, the purported lifeblood of capitalism. They are another example of “socialism for the rich,” in the apt phrase of John Kenneth Galbraith. While I cannot imagine too many Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, I believe that we have reached the tipping point for NHL teams in the United States, 24 at present of the 30 total. But, asking an owner to fold his professional sports team is unthinkable, although Tower Records and Pan Am and Circuit City and S. Klein and Nedick’s and Walden Books and Digital Equipment Corporation and Davega and ComputerLand and the Automat are all history, succumbing to the pressures of the marketplace (and stinking management in some cases). However, nine NHL teams averaged under 90% home attendance last year, all in the US, five in the Sun Belt, a thoroughly unnatural setting for ice hockey, and likely candidates for corporate welfare. Play on the ice is not the source of all these woes. The New Jersey Devils (Hiss! Boo!) went to the Stanley Cup championship and yet had regular season attendance of 87.4%, 24th of 30 in numbers.
Part of the problem is Commissioner Gary Bettman, who indulges the worst instincts of the owners having presided over two lockouts during his tenure. What the sport needs is a tough manager, unafraid to place efficiency and profits first, willing to allow the weak to sink and the strong to soar, who will not hesitate to outsource to anywhere, even Canada. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mitt Romney.