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.

[Click to enlarge]
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 CafĂ©, 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.    

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