Friday, October 26, 2012

I Love Lucy

Monday, October 22, 2012
Not only did distinguished criminal defense attorney Paul Bergman remember Foo Joy, one of the dearly departed from Calvin Trillin’s list that we examined last week, but he sent along the following, from the New York Times on August 3, 1972, introducing Fukienese cuisine, discussing Foo Joy and giving a couple of its recipes.

The restaurant was at 13 Division Street, now occupied by Oriental Wedding Studio of NY Inc., where beautiful bridal gowns, Eastern and Western, are on display. The Fukienese are relative late comers to Chinatown, and much of the area east of the Bowery, where the growth of Chinatown at the expense of other former immigrant communities seems most noticeable, is populated by Fukienese enterprises. Unfortunately, 40 years after Foo Joy, most Fukienese restaurants still cater to homeys, with little effort to bridge the language gap.

Hing Tai, Inc. just moved down Mulberry Street to the corner of Mosco Street, opening a small, colorful niche in what used to be part of Sam’s Deli, 30 Mulberry Street. You can get a pretty good carved meat sandwich at Sam’s and a place to sit because most of its business is takeout by court personnel. But, the only food available at Hing Tai is paper, as are the cars, jet planes, computers, mansions, liquor bottles and clothing, all made of paper, neatly packaged in the new small retail space.  It's a bit eerie to have this business intrude upon what was eating space, because it serves as part of the Chinese funeral industry.
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These paper items may represent the wealth of the deceased person, or the aspirations of the survivors (I’ve heard both), and are carried in the funeral procession and burned at the cemetery. As I wrote on July 28, 2010, after examining the merchandise at a competitor’s of Hing Tai up the block, I "imagined that the brightly-colored papers figures in the window were toys, a dollhouse, a model boat, a jet plane [18" long for $45]." The increase in the local Chinese population has inexorably led to an increase in local Chinese funerals, and the need for these artifacts. So, Hing Tai, for one, is a growing small business. Which political party deserves credit for its success – Republican, Democratic or Communist?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
I broke another barrier today. Following my near-Steve Jobsean instinct to innovate, I crossed Delancey Street and went to Congee Bowery Restaurant & Bar, 207 Bowery, a sister to Congee Chinese Restaurant, 98 Bowery, and Congee Village, 100 Allen Street, with seemingly identical menus. I estimate that this was about the furthest I’ve gone for lunch as part of this (ad)venture. But, it’s hard to draw a line these days and proclaim You Are Now leaving Chinatown.

The interior of Congee Bowery strongly suggests a pagoda, with lots of wood paneling and lattice work, and large, solid wood tables with cane and bamboo chairs. I ordered Sauteed Beef w. Satay Sauce in Sizzling Hot Plate ($10.95). I believe that I was served and paid for Sha Cha Beef & Vermicelli in Casserole ($8.95) instead. If I hadn’t been charged the lower price, I would not have bothered looking at a menu afterwards seeking an explanation. The sizzling dish of tender sliced beef with onions, green peppers, red peppers, garlic and glass noodles that I was served could go either way. The drama of the bubbling dish in the very hot cast iron bowl was the focus of my attention. And, the spicy sauce might as well have been Satay as Sha Cha. I’ve noted before that no two satay sauces in Chinatown are alike, and rarely even come close. So, I enjoyed the food, not even knowing that I was getting a bargain.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Pell Street is narrow and runs only 2 short blocks, from the Bowery to Mott Street. Yet, it has a collection of better-than-average restaurants, such as Joe’s Shanghai, ABC and Shanghai Gourmet, and an unbelievable number of beauty parlors, barber shops and massage parlors, mostly focused on feet. At lunch time, however, it was nearly impossible to indulge in any fetish, because the street was blocked off for the filming of an episode of "Elementary," an updated version of Sherlock Holmes. Of particular interest is the casting of Lucy Liu, Stuyvesant ‘86, as Dr. Joan Watson, the famous detective’s gender bending, multicultural companion. The filmed action was taking place in front of Joe’s Ginger, and most of the nearby restaurants were unapproachable. I wonder how much it costs the producers to interfere with so many businesses at the height of the lunch hour. I was heading for ABC, but I never got there because I approached Pell Street from the Bowery and would have needed a four-block detour to get to ABC. So, I ate at West New Malaysia Restaurant, 46-48 Bowery Street, Chinatown Arcade # 28, which has become a favorite of mine.

Leaving work, I ran into "Elementary" again, this time filming in Franklin Place, a dark alley that connects Franklin Street to White Street, between Broadway and Church Street.  This patch is representative of the renascent downtown neighborhood.  Fancy new condos are interleaved with old, decrepit warehouses.  The ungentrified properties still have their loading docks along cobblestoned alleys while the new buildings have underground garages for their slicker-than-average vehicular occupants.  I couldn’t tell what was being filmed, but it took two blocks of tractor-trailers to supply the equipment and materials needed to capture the images.  And the number of people hovering around the set, any set that I've come across in the last few years, is remarkable.  I don't mean extras, but camera people and sound people and catering people and script people and lighting people and drivers and schleppers and friends of the producers and makeup people and the people who tell me not to walk there.  Maybe TV/movie making is the answer to our employment problems.  Start distributing clipboards and headsets and lanyards dangling IDs to the many eager folk loooking for work.  What I've observed about all these crew members is that they are not so good looking, which is probably why they are not in front of the camera.  On that basis, so many of us would qualify. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Where Are the Snow Peas of Yesteryear?

Monday, October 15, 2012
Every so often, someone asks me for a Chinatown restaurant recommendation. My typical answer, in the best lawyer-like fashion, is "It all depends." One has to consider key elements, such as price, mood, number of guests, degree of hunger, familiarity with Chinese cuisine, and time available, before making such a critical determination on behalf of others. I would be disappointed in myself if I, in turn, disappointed my interrogator and her companions. Fortunately, I recalled that Calvin Trillin has faced this issue over decades and once came up with an ingenious way to address it by imagining that he was to escort Chairman Mao (actually already dead) to dinner. They would not linger in one establishment, but rather go from place to place, dish to dish. He published his itinerary in "Mao and Me," contained in the brilliant collection Alice Let’s Eat (1978), which is also incorporated into The Tummy Trilogy, a gift of love only equaled by a boxed set of 2000 Year Old Man recordings.

Fortunately, my Trillin collection is near complete, and I found the volume quickly. However, upon rereading the essay this evening, I found that my memory was imperfect. Trillin did not limit his imagined excursion with Chairman Mao to Chinatown, but rather encompassed New York restaurants of all stripes. More surprising, or maybe not, was how few of Trillin’s selections survive to this day. After all, in 1978, I was living 2,500 miles away, married to a different tall, dark-haired woman, owned a struggling computer business, and attended no Mets or Rangers games. In my case, plus ça change, plus ça change.

Note that Trillin used short versions of the names of the establishments, provided no addresses, and only made general neighborhood references.

Chef Ma’s – no trace.

Say Eng Lok, once at 5 East Broadway. Mimi Sheraton gave it a rave review in the New York Times on June 11, 1982, but I found the following comment to be the most edifying: "Say Eng Look means 4-5-6, and this East Broadway restaurant shouldn’t be confused with the 4-5-6 restaurant that is opposite on Chatham Square."

Foo Joy – There’s one in Allentown, PA.

Gage & Tollner’s was in business from 1879 until 2004, all but the first 15 years in a beautiful Victorian setting with 36 gas lamps. Tragically, it was succeeded by a T.G.I. Friday’s and then Arby’s, each quickly closing.

Tito’s – Tito’s Italian Grill & Wine Shop, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho? That’s the best I can do.

Coach House – Once a lovely spot in Greenwich Village.

Thomforde’s presents a challenge. Thomforde’s Ice Creams & Fine Confectionary was at 351 West 125th Street (at St. Nicholas Avenue) in Harlem, opening in 1903. I can’t find out when it closed, but research shows that it was still operating while I was at City College, often getting off the subway at 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue. Yet, I am not sure that I honestly recollect it. While I had little disposable income in those days, is it possible that I practiced self-denial to that extreme?

The Parkway on the Lower East side served the finest in unhealthy Rumanian Jewish food.

Still Around
Szechuan Cuisine for eggplant with garlic, at 1345 Second Avenue, but originally somewhere else. It has another branch at 40-21 Main Street, in Flushing, which now has its own large Chinatown.

Phoenix Garden for "Pepper and Salty Shrimp," used to be located in the middle of the Chinatown Arcade that runs between Elizabeth Street and the Bowery. Notably, Ed Koch had a seizure there while eating lunch. It is now at 242 East 40th Street.

Nathan’s in Coney Island for French fries.

Peter Luger’s for steak, a recommendation I respect, but usually skip because of its inconvenient location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Junior’s for cheesecake. The original restaurant still operates on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, but has expanded to scattered locations, such as Grand Central Station and Foxwoods Casino. The cheesecake is also available through various retail and mail order outlets.

Focacceria for a spleen sandwich. There is an Italian sandwich shop bearing this name at 87 MacDougal Street, a few short blocks from Trillin’s home, but it offers nothing more exotic than a Fresh Mozzarella, Vine Ripened Tomato, Roasted Peppers & Basil Sandwich at $9. You may choose rosemary focaccia, tomato focaccia or straight Italian bread for your sandwich at no extra charge.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012
I had lunch with a third-year Cardozo Law student through the mentor program. He was a bright, interesting young man, but he erred badly by bringing his own lunch.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
I found a major gaffe. According to my chronological list of new restaurants visited, I ate at Shanghai Gourmet, 23 Pell Street, in August 2010. However, nothing appeared about it in my writings then or since. This is especially disappointing, because I had an excellent lunch there today, confident that I was not breaking new ground.

Shanghai Gourmet offers a variety of lunch plates, with soup and rice, hovering around $6. I ordered orange flavor chicken ($5.95), a portion that might have fetched $10 somewhere else. The sticky, tangy, tasty sauce contained tangerine peels and chile peppers and almost led me to lick the plate. I did not even mind the presence of four pieces of insanely green broccoli decorating the plate. The hot and sour soup was, indeed, hot and sour and hot in temperature, an excellent example of this staple. However, the crowning achievement of the restaurant (which I must have skipped on my earlier unrecorded visit) was its scallion pancake ($2.25) – no, let me remove the parentheses – only $2.25 for the best scallion pancake I’ve ever had. Crispy, not greasy, scallions visible to the eye and the tongue. Wonderful, but. While this was the best scallion pancake I’ve ever had, its consumption was compromised by the sequence in which I ingested my food. The soup was served first, and its hot and sourness properly lingered even after I made all gone. However, this neutralized the salty sweetness of the ginger/soy/rice wine vinegar dipping sauce that always accompanies a scallion pancake, which arrived next. That sauce, which like melted butter or hot fudge, doesn’t really need anything else to justify its existence. So, I was unhappy that I could not taste the sauce after the soup. I’ll have to remember next time to start lunch with the scallion pancake in order to produce smiles for the rest of the afternoon. Skipping the soup is not an alternative because (A) it’s free, (B) it’s very good.

Thursday, October 18, 2012
Speaking to a North Carolina radio station, Tagg Romney, the eldest of Mitt’s five pacifist sons, said he wanted to "take a swing" at Barack Obama during Tuesday night’s debate. The Taggster was particularly upset that the Obama campaign has set out to make his father "someone’s he’s not." You know, I thought that the Mitt Romney campaign was dedicated to making him someone he’s not.

Friday, October 19, 2012
The ABA (American Bar Association) Journal offers an on-line edition, which is transmitted weekly. Today, one article has this headline: "Some Law Firms Are Quoting ‘Suicidal Prices,’ with Possibility of More Dissolutions, Consultant Says." Analysis supposedly shows that "a high degree of fixed costs, including occupancy and compensation" have led to this risky path. The article ends with the consultant observing that 25 years ago average partner pay at the nation’s top 100 law firms was 11 times higher than that of the average American worker, while today it is 23 times higher. I wonder how much that multiple has to be reduced in order to give the average American worker access to some of the heavy hitters of the legal profession?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Buttons and Bozos

Monday, October 8, 2012
Please note that I will not feed the unhealthy curiosity some of you have demonstrated about my purportedly errant conduct at Stuyvesant High School which necessitated a visit from my parents to the school.  Actually, the invitation that I found the other day was only one of two they received during my senior year to discuss my behavior.  Today, I would likely be drugged up and sent to “professionals” to uncover why I consistently cut the last period of the day, gym, to hang out at the luncheonette next door on East 15th Street operated by the immigrant lady and her two daughters, and smoke cigarettes.

It’s good to have an older brother, especially one who preceded you to Stuyvesant High School and CCNY by four years.  It was not a matter of passing down exams and term papers, a practice that we never contemplated.  Rather, it was the passing down of school buttons (pins) that seemed to be ubiquitous back then, as seen by the collection that I uncovered as I cleared my mother’s apartment after 57 years of occupancy.

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Most of these buttons were acquired when issued, although close examination shows a 1942 G.O. button and a 1950 senior button from Stuyvesant.  At CCNY, class loyalty was not an issue (after all, we all thought of ourselves as proletarians, not sophomores or seniors).  Instead, the preservation of free tuition (a 100+ year tradition eventually destroyed by Governor Nelson Rockefeller, talk about the 99% at the mercy of the 1%) and victory in basketball over local opponents were the causes we advocated.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012
The following is an exact excerpt from a recently-received e-mail message:
“We were meant to understand from our findings that you have been going through hard ways by passing through difficulties to see to the release of your Seventeen Million United States Dollars Only ($17,000,000.00), which has been the handwork of some miscreant elements from that Country.”  This message purportedly came from the United Trust Bank of London, acting for the Government of Nigeria.  Since we have begun the process of probating my mother’s estate, I paused for a moment to consider her possible connections to Nigeria.  I know that she visited Israel twice, but otherwise limited her travel exclusively to North America.  In fact, no member of our immediate family has ever set foot in Africa, although our good friends Arthur and Lyn have extensive connections to Kenya.  So, as much as I would like to deal a blow to some miscreant elements and put the hard ways behind me, I will desist from further communications with Dr. Arlester Ricks at the bank concerning my entitlement to $17 million.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Today is Republic of China/Taiwan National Day and Chinatown is bedecked with Taiwanese flags.  Taiwan apparently does not celebrate an Independence Day because of its unsettled relationship with the mainland’s People’s Republic of China, and significant divisions within its resident population, including native Taiwanese who have a long history apart from that of the Han Chinese, the predominant ethnic group among Communist and Nationalist Chinese.  So, there is no agreement about who should be independent of whom.

The day started out misty and drizzly, but turned sunny and pleasant by lunchtime.  I went to Mott Street, Chinatown's longtime Main Street, hoping to catch a dragon or two celebrating National Day, but I had no such luck.  There was loud music playing, but it came from a loudspeaker at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Society, 62 Mott Street.  Still, I intended to be festive and went into 456 Shanghai Cuisine, 69 Mott Street (September 19, 2011), with duck in mind.  So I ordered crispy fried duck (half for $16.95) and lost much of my festive mood over this disappointing dish.  It looked like a duck, although a four-legged duck, because there were two legs on my plate.  It just did not taste like a duck, or at least good duck. Walking back to the courthouse, I encountered no celebrations, but there were floral tributes at the base of Sun Yat-Sen's statue in Columbus Park.

Thursday, October 11, 2012
According to the current public opinion survey sponsored by 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair magazine, 7% of Americans believe that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Abraham Lincoln.  See; contentBody.  I could not find information about the sample size and makeup, but this poll has been around for several years and its results widely disseminated.  What I’d like to see now is a survey of the reactions to this survey of Americans who were still in school on their 12th birthday.  Some commentators ascribe the results to confusion surrounding assassins with three names, which may only partially explain why Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony, makes an appearance with 1%.  Is this a great country, or what?

Mimi’s Café, 165 Church Street, appears to be an ordinary luncheonette, serving sandwiches, salads and freshly-squeezed juices.  Most of its business is takeout, but there are 10 stools scattered around two tall tables and a ledge against one window.  It merits an entry and an increment to my count, because about a half-dozen of its sandwiches are Vietnamese.  I had a Vietnamese grilled chicken baquette ($7.95) (banh mi), which was accompanied by a fresh small salad of red onions, cucumber and lettuce, a pickle spear and a banana.  The sandwich itself held red lettuce, red onions, cucumbers, cilantro and shredded carrots.  I skipped tomatoes, but accepted hot sauce.  In all, it was a decent amount of good food for the price.

Friday, October 12, 2012
Wo Hop downstairs (17 Mott Street) was very crowded when I went there for a simple lunch of "real Chinese food," as my mother used to say.  So, I went to the next best thing, Wo Hop upstairs (15 Mott Street), now called Wo Hop City.  But, I'm not sure that I now would even call Wo Hop upstairs the next best thing.  I ordered won ton soup ($2.50) and shrimp fried rice ($5.95).  The portion of fried rice was enormous, especially at that low price.  However, I had to lace it with mustard (commendably hot) and soy sauce to taste anything.  The soup was okay.  In all, I was reminded why I had abandoned Wo Hop upstairs for its subterranean neighbor.  Let me note that I was not the only one, since upstairs was only about half full while downstairs had people standing on the staircase to get in. 

According to the Associated Press today:
"A freshman congressman [Scott DesJarlais, Republican from Tennessee] running for re-election on a pro-life platform urged his pregnant mistress to get an abortion a decade ago, according to a transcript of the recorded conversation." 

At least there is no speculation about his sexual orientation.    

Friday, October 5, 2012


Mayris Webber spoke these words:

Dear Family and Friends,

Alan and I  met almost 17 years ago when he responded to a personal ad that I had placed in a Jewish weekly newspaper. In an attempt at humor, I wrote in this ad that one of my "must haves" was a Jewish man who didn’t hate his mother. Alan responded to the ad immediately, almost before I realized that it had run. Given Alan’s age and mine at the time, it was perhaps surprising that Ruth played such a big part in our lives – but she did.

First and foremost, Ruth was amazingly brilliant, even when I first met her at age 85. Denied a Stuyvesant High School education, in fact, denied graduation from any academic high school, her ability with numbers was startling. She balanced her checkbook to the penny and routinely called the bank if they erred in her account. Her memory for both old and recent events was formidable – she never failed to remind Alan, when we passed a particular exit on the Long Island Expressway, that in 1987 he ran out of gas here while they were on their way to a Thanksgiving dinner. As recently as August 2012, about 6 weeks ago, she called me to get the address of my son David’s house, as she knew that 2- year old Noam was having a birthday soon and she wanted to send a check.

As a childrearing parent, she was a captive of her time, perhaps stinting in expressions of love to her two sons, Harold and Alan, but not to me. Alan would stand by, shocked at first, as he heard me say, at the end of a call, "I love you, too." "What?" he would say to me. "She says ‘I love you’ at the end of every call?" "Yes," I answered, she always does and I always say "I love you, too." And it was true.

Now we gather to remember dear Ruth, Chaya Ruchel, with love and pride for a long and fruitful life. May her memory be for a blessing.

Monday, October 1, 2012
I returned to work on this beautiful day. While I observed much of the traditional Jewish mourning practice for the last several days, I resumed my more secular pattern of observance today, the first day of Succos (Succoth, Sukkot). This holiday probably originated as a pre-Exodus harvest festival, but was coopted to connect to the trek across the desert. Jews are supposed to eat all their meals for seven days in crude huts (sukkahs), covered by no more than reeds, palm fronds, or tree branches, reminding them of the fragility of their existence while crossing Sinai. While I know people who build a sukkah in their backyard or even on apartment balconies, I’ll stick to a solid roof over my head.

The mourning period, shiva, from the Hebrew word meaning seven (days), was limited by the calendar, with the Sabbath in the middle and the advent of Succos. Our house was loaded with relatives, friends, colleagues, and neighbors during every available hour. Many knew my mother Ruth Gotthelf, yet many did not, visiting to comfort the mourners, a fine tradition shared by many religions. They also came to feed us, more often than not cookies, but also some interesting offerings that we immediately presented to the next people coming in the door. In the end, we could not dispense the generous provisions fast enough, and we sent bundles of cookies and cakes in four different directions. I even let go, untouched, of a large collection of chocolate-covered pretzels, one of the Pillars of the Universe.

Dealing with the loss of someone close is ultimately a private matter, but shiva is a public event with some ingrained customs and traditions that sometimes chafed. Most difficult for me was the supposed rule against greeting, thanking or attending in any way to your visitors. Quoting from WikiPedia: "no greetings are exchanged and visitors wait for the mourners to initiate conversation." Try that. Someone walks in, poised to say "Sorry for your loss," but waiting on you to say something. You can’t say "Hello," so how do you start? "Nice shoes." "Should the Wilpons sell the Mets?" "I hope you’re taking that box you’re carrying home with you." It’s not easy.

WikiPedia continues: "The mourner is not allowed to serve food to the visitors." Well, that puts so much of what I learned from my mother to a stress test. Ruth Gotthelf, for most of the ten plus decades of her life, would not abide with a visitor not eating something, and then something else and a little something more. For the host to withhold such an offer was not regarded as a virtue, but approached an insult, almost as bad as the guest refusing to accept. In this regard, I am proud to be a Mama’s Boy. I could not refrain from urging food and drink on our shiva visitors if I saw them empty-handed. Maybe I was OK because I did not actually put stuff into people’s hands, merely relying on a loud voice and a bullying manner.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
It probably does not take much to surround a significant event in metaphors, ironies and strange coincidences. Unfortunately, my mother was in no condition 10 days ago to appreciate that her favorite epidemiologist was promoted to full professor. Additionally, Thursday, the day of her funeral, my promotion became effective from Senior Court Attorney to Associate Court Attorney, although it certainly sounds backwards. Of course, the overriding metaphor, in Jewish terms, surrounding her death was its occurrence in the very last hours of the year, as the Book of Life was closing, with our fate sealed for the coming year. One may believe that she had been awarded one last full year ending only a couple of hours before the beginning of Yom Kippur at sundown.

In response to several inquiries, any charitable donation in memory of Ruth Gotthelf would be appreciated. Our suggestions are the Ruth Gotthelf Scholarship Fund (established 2001) at Cardozo School of Law, 55 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003, or West End Synagogue, 190 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10023.

As a result of the confluence of the coming of the new year and the passing of my mother, I seem to be more moderate in my reaction to events around me, more accepting, less agitated. Therefore, I’ll ask you, in the absence of my traditional voice, to provide your own commentary on the following subjects:

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Leon Cooperman
Woody Johnson
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Only time will tell if the kinder, gentler me will survive the buffeting of reality.

I was not ready to explore the area today, especially with the steady rain that arrived late morning. When I went to the counter at the rear of Kam Man, 200 Canal Street, the Zabar’s of Chinatown, I expected to eat several orders of the Peking duck wrap that I had enjoyed on December 22, 2011, at the newly-opened Kam Man Noodles. However, the name is now Kam Man Café, with more Japanese than Chinese food, and no Peking duck wrap. I ordered curried chicken ($4.95) and beef teriyaki ($4.95). The chicken was 5 or 6 small pieces of dark meat on the bone, and there were 5 or 6 thin slivers of beef. Each modest helping was served with a medium portion of rice and together made a filling lunch.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Journalist/novelist/friend Tom Adcock joined me for lunch and I introduced him to Xi’an Famous Foods, 67 Bayard Street. A good time was had by all.

Thursday, October 4, 2012
I took off today in order to begin, with the help of my brother, Maria 1, Maria 2 and Efraim Mosquera, to clean out my mother’s apartment. It was both a chore and a delight. I found my birth announcement, all my elementary school report cards, a note from a Stuyvesant assistant principal requesting a visit from my parents to discuss my conduct, photographs from every stage of my existence, and so much more. The presence of some materials was almost unimaginable, such as, a letter to my father, dated 1932, from Mr. Lipman, an administrator at a New Orleans hospital, confirming that Lipman had written a letter of recommendation for my father to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, his eventual employer for 37 years.

As exciting as some of my finds were, the biggest find of the day was registered by Ittai Hershman, a brilliant and dogged researcher. As a result of information I gave him about my mother’s family, the named-from-nowhere Goldenbergs, when he paid a shiva call, Ittai found the manifest of the S.S. Vaderland, sailing from Antwerp on February 13, 1909, landing in New York on February 24, 1909, carrying Malke, Chaim and Sore Chelchowsky, a mother and two young children. The document also specifies that Malke was going to her husband Joseph at 13 Essex Street. Nine months and 2 days later, my mother Ruth was born at 13 Essex Street to Molly and Joseph Goldenberg, joining her brother Hymie and sister Sophie. Through Ittai’s marvelous research, we’ve filled the gap by recovering the consonant-ridden name (as I previously described it) that my mother’s father and his family bore.

Friday, October 5, 2012
An op-ed in a major publication today, written by someone I admittedly dislike, argues for the United States Supreme Court to put an end to racial preferences in its upcoming decision in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas.  His argument, as that of many other current opponents of affirmative action, offers hymns to "a Nation of equal citizens in a society where race is irrelevant to personal opportunity and achievement," as expressed in Richmond v. Croson, when the Supreme Court overturned a municipal ordinance which required non-minority-owned prime contractors awarded city construction contracts to subcontract at least 30 percent of the dollar amount of the contract to one or more minority business enterprises.  The Richmond, Virginia (former capital of the Confederacy) city council acted after it heard testimony that, although minority groups made up half of the city’s population, only 0.67% of the $24.6 million which Richmond had dispensed in construction contracts during the five years ending in March 1983 had gone to minority-owned prime contractors.

The big problem is that the essayist and so many voices on and off the Supreme Court have become race-neutral only very late in our country's history.  Even if they have scrupulously conducted their affairs in a race-blind fashion, not having actively participated in Jim Crow activities, if only because they were born too late, these historians, legal scholars, and political commentators ignore the rich history of racial preferences that characterized this country from its inception until, at least, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination in public accommodations. After 175 years of legally mandated racial preferences in favor of white people, which eliminated educational, political, financial, cultural and social opportunities for millions of people and severely circumscribed them for millions of others, we hear these historians, legal scholars, and political commentators making passionate pleas for supposedly-equal justice. It seems to be of no consequence to them that eliminating racial preferences now (insert shoe-on-other-foot cliché) will enshrine the evil product of white racial preferences for time immemorial.  In other words, 0.67% of $24.6 million spent by a half-minority city is constitutional, in the best American tradition, but 30% is not.