Monday, April 22, 2013
From the New York Times: "Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the most senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, opened a hearing on immigration legislation by stressing that the issue was important ‘particularly in light of all that’s happening in Massachusetts right now and over the last week.’" Senator Grassley asked "How can we beef up security checks on people who wish to enter the U.S.?" Of course, Senator Grassley was among those who subverted the President’s modest effort to curb gun violence last week. In other words, watch out who gets into the country, but, once in, don’t you dare consider how and where and why and when they acquire lethal weapons. He also belongs to that principled group of legislators who seemingly wish to protect children from harm only until they are born. I guess the International Arrivals Building at JFK Airport is a lot like the maternity ward at Allen Hospital, Waterloo, Iowa, the nearest to Senator Grassley’s residence, in that regard. Once you get out the door, you’re on your own.
On the whole, NRA-type gun owners do not live in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. They fear leaving their home (their fort?) without the ability to kill other people. Yet, it is exactly the weaponry that they embrace that causes death and destruction for tens of thousands of us each year. These frightened people offer up a scarce few anecdotes about armed civilian good guys stopping armed bad guys that are years (decades) old while every day armed guys, good and bad, kill themselves, family members, neighbors and strangers in disproportionate numbers.
Yung Sun Seafood Restaurant, 47 East Broadway, is sort of a strange place. It seems brand new, with its street front entirely made of glass. There are 11 round tables inside, most with pink tablecloths, but a few with their plywood tops uncovered. It has four small round and one medium-sized round crystal chandeliers sparkling on the ceiling. The customary phoenix and dragon were on the back wall against a red background. The entire right hand wall was lined with a four-foot high mirror from front to back. Immediately upon entering, there are nine fish tanks stocked with lobsters, crabs and fleshy fish. And the joint was empty. When I arrived, there was another customer seated alone, but, it turns out, he wasn’t eating. He seemed to be a bill collector who promised to return next week. Later, a few Chinese men and women came in, but they were friends or relatives of restaurant workers come to chat. What I found particularly odd in light of the newness of the restaurant and its total lack of patronage was the condition of the menus. They were all beat up as if they had been open and closed thousands of times in the past.
In any case, I ordered moo shu chicken ($8.95) from the very extensive menu. It came with seven pancakes, although the menu promised six, and the pancakes were square not round. The portion itself was very large, but it wasn’t easy recognizing the chicken visually amid the similarly-pale shredded lettuce, cabbage and onion. The egg, carrot and scallion components were more easily spotted. Also easily spotted was my shirt as I tried to handle the stuffed, juicy, rolled-up pancake. The check seemed wrong at first until I noticed that a 15% tip was added by the waitress which I found acceptable considering the pot of hot tea and the dish of slightly-spicy peanuts to nibble on while waiting.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Thanks to Dean Alfange’s research, I may have met my match. David Chan, a Los Angeles lawyer, has allegedly eaten in 6,297 Chinese restaurants throughout the United States, as well as abroad. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-chinese-eater-20130422-dto,0,6902048.htmlstory
He has documented his accomplishment on a spreadsheet, with the earliest entries going back to his childhood in Los Angeles in the 1950s. I give Mr. Chan full credit, but I must note that my (ad)venture encompassing almost 250 restaurants to date is confined by time and space to the lunch hour for the last 40 months in and around New York’s (Original) Chinatown. I can only imagine if I started recording my experiences at Wu Han, upstairs on Pitkin Avenue in Brownsville, before Mr. Chan was even born. So, let us not compare lychees and kumquats.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Over 150 court attorneys from all over New York City attended classes today at New York Law School. We were given name tags with clever plastic clips to attach to our shirts and blouses. Soon after I sat down in the lecture hall at a location that I thought would be crossword puzzle-friendly, I noticed that my name tag was gone. The room filled up soon, with many people in the rows behind me, thereby denying me the opportunity to enjoy the next several hours. At the first coffee break, I told one of the group leaders that I lost my badge. She asked if I recalled the number on my badge, which, of course, I did not. Then, she asked if I remembered what I had pre-ordered for lunch (which the forgotten number signified). The answer to that easy question came very quickly. "I’d sooner forget my name than what I want for lunch."
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia goes to church regularly. His legal opinions seem to combine a coherent legal theory with a realistic view of human behavior and its imperfections. Yet, I find him despicable because of his willful blindness to our history of racism. In the recent oral argument before the Supreme Court on the Voting Rights Law, he characterized the legislation, meant to redress decades of patent discrimination by whites against blacks attempting to participate in the political process, as "racial entitlement." He derided the surprisingly-strong congressional support for the legislation as political opportunism. "Even the name [of the statute] is wonderful," he mocked.
Maybe Scalia’s time on his knees in church might be better spent in a chair reading American history, such as this year’s Pulitzer Prize winner in general non-fiction, "Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New America." This is an account of four black men falsely accused of raping a young white woman in Florida in 1947. According to the book review in the New York Times today: "One of the accused men never made it to a courtroom. He was hunted down and shot to death by a hastily organized posse. Two others were shot by the local sheriff, Willis McCall, while being transported from state prison to the local jail for a hearing after their convictions were overturned by the Supreme Court. One died on the side of the road. The other survived." That has been the real nature of racial entitlement for most of our history. Arguably, it continues in the efforts to curb minority voting in many parts of the country, although possibly rooted in concerns for preserving the Republican Party not just the white race. Scalia, who searches the annals of 18th century America in support of his views of the meaning of our Constitution, has proved eager to free corporate America from its regulatory shackles, while ignoring the plight of ordinary citizens (including women denied equal pay for equal work). Scalia, typical of so many contemporary conservatives, stayed away from the civil rights protests of the 60s, usually elevating freedom of association above other legal values. Okay. But, now, he and many of his compatriots long to turn back the clock to a simpler time, when the right race was entitled.
Banh Mi, Vietnamese Sandwich, 73 West Broadway, may well offer the best Vietnamese sandwich, as a sign inside proclaims. It is a very small space, with most of its business take-out. There are three small round metal tables, each with a low stool opposite a cushioned bench in the front left side of the restaurant. A park bench is outside for al fresco dining. More than half of the right wall is taken up by beverage coolers holding everything from Dr. Brown’s to cans of tea from the old country. Two of the walls were exposed brick and a large, ornate, unlit chandelier hung high up in the back left corner.
Ten sandwiches are offered, all on fresh baguettes. A majority cost $6.50, including the traditional ham and paté, lemongrass pork chop, vegetarian and the chicken saté that I chose. Salmon is the most expensive at $9. Every one contains pickled carrots, cucumber, cilantro, assorted greens, mayo and balsamic vinaigrette (which is not the way I spelled it originally). You can ask for four levels of spiciness. My sandwich was excellent, the chicken pieces plump and the tastes clearly defined.
Friday, April 26, 2013
I had lunch with Gilbert Glotzer, attorney to the stars, on this lovely day. We met in front of his office opposite City Hall Park, and crossed over in order to enjoy chicken, mystery meat combos over rice in the open air purchased from a fellow Semite (with whom we may have some doctrinal differences). Gil and I had not seen each other for almost 40 hours since we went to the Mets-Dodgers game on Wednesday night. You know the one with the grand slam at the bottom of the 10th inning. There was much less excitement today, however, but we had nothing to eat at the ballgame, so the two events sort of balanced out.