Friday, July 19, 2013


Monday, July 15, 2013
I’m not a taxi kind of guy.  I grew up in modest circumstances in Brooklyn, but my father had a car and took the family just about anywhere we needed to go.  For adventures in “the City,” the A train was three short blocks away.  After we moved to Queens, where travel either started with a seven-block walk to the elevated or a bus to the subway, taxis were not part of my repertoire for two reasons – money and availability.  Even if I could have afforded a taxi, there were none to be found in our neighborhood, none that were unoccupied at least, since the only ones to be seen were driven by a few experienced cab drivers who knew that the best way from Idlewild Airport (later JFK) to Manhattan was up Woodhaven Boulevard.  Once I moved to Manhattan, I still avoided taxis because my advanced subway knowledge, bred by my weekday trips to Stuyvesant HS and then CCNY, usually led me underground, and the frequent use of surface transit in Manhattan has been acknowledged as a defense to many felonies.  In any case, my taxi rides are usually confined to strange and remote places, such as Chicago, where we spent the weekend.  Going from and to O’Hare Airport entailed close to 30 minutes in a Chicago taxicab, ample time to read the detailed fare card facing the back seat.  The basic rates were unsurprising, yielding trips costing $40-50 (including tip) between airport and downtown hotel.  However, I was struck almost physically, squirming in my seat, seeing the $50 Vomit Cleanup Charge.  Even considering my limited experience as a taxi passenger, I simply don’t recall the likes of that anywhere else.  It’s not unreasonable, of course, but I wonder about actually implementing this.  Does the driver ask for payment in advance?  Or, once the facts are in place, so to speak, can such a financial transaction be conducted simply and neatly?

Hallelujah!  At two o’clock this afternoon, my mother’s apartment was sold.  More than 58 years after we moved into the two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in a leafy part of Queens, it is out of our hands.  The transaction, which occurred almost 8 months after the apartment was put on sale, went smoothly.  Since I had to be in Queens in the early afternoon, I could not have a celebratory meal in advance.  I’ll have to wait until after the fact.  I may even use part of the proceeds to take a cab to a nice restaurant.     

Tuesday, July 16, 2013
At lunchtime, the various weather reports are reporting numbers such as 96º (Weather Underground), 99º (Weather Channel), and 90º (AccuWeather).  Hot, in other words.  However, it has been a long time since I had lunch with Alan Heim, an Oscar winner from CCNY, probably much rarer than a Nobel Laureate from CCNY, so I was not deterred.  We ate at Kori Tribeca, 253 Church Street, that very pleasant Korean restaurant (May 28, 2013).  The complimentary soup today was a chilled, mildly-sweet and sour vegetable broth, compared to the hot miso soup upon my last visit, more in line with the outside temperature.  I ordered the lunch box with short ribs, accompanied by soba noodles, salad, brown rice, a vegetable dumpling and potato salad, of all things, but a very good potato salad. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The weather remains in the 90s as I meet the Boyz for lunch at West New Malaysia Restaurant, 46-48 Bowery Street, Chinatown Arcade # 28, a place that has become one of my go-to favorites.  We ate roti canai, satay beef, satay chicken, sungai wang kway teow (mixed meat lo mein essentially), Bangkok seafood fried rice and beef rendang (listed as dried curry beef, but really a very good wet curry beef).  Several servings of Diet Coke vintage 2013 brought the bottom line to $21 each.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013
As a follow-up on last week’s comments on sinful politicians, you may be interested in, a study of the voting public’s reaction to scandal-tarred incumbents.  While many hastened to retire or resign, Scott J. Basinger, a political scientist at the University of Houston, found that nearly three-quarters of those who decided to run again survived their primaries and 81 percent of those who made it to the general election retained their seats.  So, the wages of sin continue to be paid by the taxpayers.  Note that Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer do not have the benefit of incumbency, but neither do any of their opponents. 

The consensus on the temperature is 97º as I went to 325 Broadway today, the third visit to that location: Sushein, Kaiten Sushi Bar & Restaurant, the Kosher sushi place with the conveyor belt (December 19, 2011); Siring Asian Grill, the struggling pan-Asian joint trying to cope with the architectural features left over by Sushein (April 10, 2013); and, what at a distance I took for, a new joint called Blue Moon.  It turned out that the bright blue neon sign was advertising a brewery, not a new name for the resident eatery.  I went ahead and chose among the various foundations, meats, vegetables and dressings to come up with tasty chunks of beef and mushrooms over vermicelli in a bland Thai salsa sauce.  

Fortunately for me, but maybe not for him, Smith, the owner/operator of the restaurant, walked by my booth and recognized me from my last visit.  Again, he asked for my candid appraisal of the food, which I enjoyed more this time.  Even while we sat and talked, I could see people peering through the large, thick, clear glass doors, and turning away.  You definitely get a visual hodge-podge when you approach Siring that way.  Until you move several yards into the long narrow space, you can’t tell what you are getting into, or what might be getting into you.  

Smith, the young MIT graduate of Thai background, has not yet introduced the big changes that would draw in customers that we spoke of in my prior visit.  He has been tweaking the menu and his recipes, and changing suppliers, but this can only be appreciated by someone comes in, orders and eats.  While I must admit that I was delighted to have Smith seek my opinion, I’m not sure that I qualify as more than a know-it-all busybody, which is how I was recorded on the United States Census.  On the other hand, when several people timidly entered the restaurant and started to look around, I was heard to bellow my appreciation for the good food in front of me, giving them some reason to continue to the ordering station. 

Friday, July 19, 2013
Back on America's highways and byways to see our expanded family in Massachusetts.  Bubbe a/k/a America's Favorite Epidemiologist is positively quaking with anticipation at seeing her first ever granddaughter.  The air seems thick with visions of party dresses and silk ballet slippers and doctoral dissertations covered in Coach Leather.  Grandpa Alan, always more down to earth, simply anticipates taking her to hockey games at Madison Square Garden.  


  1. On your next trip to Chicago, take the train into the city from the airport. The CTA is cheaper and faster, with no extra charge for cleaning up anything you may leave behind.