Monday, August 26, 2013

Moving Up, Down and On

Monday, August 19, 2013
This headline appeared in the Sunday real estate section: "Costly Rents Push Brooklynites to Queens." For those of us raised in Brooklyn at any time up until the Clinton Administration, this headline had to be taken as a joke. Many of us moved, or were moved by our families, to Queens or beyond as a manifestation of upward mobility, often in combination with "white flight." While it would be rash to say that money was no object, our moves invariably involved an increase in rent. Note that few, if any, of the families that I knew of were homeowners, and the new residence was also likely to be a rented apartment. In many cases, this move upward also provided a real bedroom for the parents, freed from the convertible sofa in the living room. This had to be as valuable as being located in a supposedly safe neighborhood. Another vital difference (as confirmed by Arthur Dobrin moments ago) was elevators. There were no elevators in Brooklyn; there were elevators in Queens. It all cost more, no doubt, but there was an inexorable tide rolling east out of Brooklyn. And now again, but this time as farce.

As I passed the Chinese funeral homes at the foot of Mulberry Street, I saw this impressive display.

I wasn’t able to find out who evoked these lavish tributes, because my Chinese vocabulary lessons are only up to "noodles."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013
I was fooled this morning as I approached the courthouse. Demonstrators rallied at the foot of the steps while a group of more respectable types stood higher up, apparently holding a press conference. Even though the signs held by the demonstrators demanded justice for Mechad and vengeance on Jolene, names unfamiliar to me, I thought that I had simply missed a crime/atrocity/controversy not yet given exposure in the New York Times. As I got closer, I expected to see Christine Quinn or Al Sharpton facing the cameras. Within a couple of yards from the group, I realized that this was show biz, not the freedom of assembly that I was observing. Law & Order tricked me by the absence of the trailers, gurneys, vans, dollys, and clipboards that proliferate at the typical recording site. Somehow, they managed to keep all of this production hardware out of sight, while seemingly conducting the ordinary business of criminal justice amid public uproar. As usual, I walked very slowly with my silver-crowned head held high as I went up the courthouse steps, just yards from the focus of the pretend-action. However, no one stopped me and I did not have to reach for the résumés and head shots that I keep handy in my briefcase.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Last night, I went to the Mets game with Gil Glotzer, attorney to the stars. As usual, we sat in our regular seats, not only far above Cayuga’s waters, but far above home plate giving us an expansive view of the entire field. In the middle of the game, in which virtue triumphed, Ezra, my personal Mets ticket sales representative, came to visit us. He chatted a bit and he offered us an immediate seat upgrade for the rest of the game. We moved two tiers lower and at least $50 higher into slightly cushioned seats for the next hour or so. But, that’s not the most important news about attending sports events today.

The National Football League has introduced a draconian policy on what fans may bring into a stadium. Quoth the New York Times: "Shoulder bags, backpacks, briefcases, fanny packs, camera and binocular cases and even diaper bags are now forbidden. Coolers, thermoses and seat cushions with zippers are also banned." Small purses and handbags; small, clear plastic or vinyl bags; and one-gallon plastic freezer bags are permitted, as are gloves, blankets and hats, presumably including Green Bay Packer cheeseheads. Seizing opportunity by the wallet, the NFL has produced a line of clear plastic bags, branded by team, that, mirabile dictu, meets the new specifications. This is, of course, appalling. Except for bulky coolers that inconvenience other fans and deprive the billionaire owners of revenue, and diaper bags because attendance at professional football games should be limited to the toilet-trained, all the other items (Camera cases! Fanny packs!) are what normal people might carry with them when they leave the house, no less go to a football game.

I have not gone to a professional football game since 2005 and, given current ticket prices to NY Giant games and my bad choice of friends, I am unlikely to attend another in this century no matter how I am equipped. However, the NY Yankees have already imposed their own version of this dopey policy since opening their new stadium. "Each Guest is welcome to bring one bag into Yankee Stadium . . . . Briefcases, coolers and other hard-sided bags or containers are not permitted" (emphasis added).  My only visit to the new Yankee Stadium, at the invitation of nephew David P., a rabid Yankee fan, after I had subjected him to a couple of Mets games, was a sold-out weeknight game against the Boston Red Sox. Naturally, I came right from work for the 7 o’clock start. Naturally, the security guy banned my entry carrying my briefcase, although it went perfectly well with my navy blue suit and fashionable tie. The Yankees did not, and still do not, provide temporary housing for such contraband. All that a sucker can do is walk back under the el, opposite the old Yankee Stadium, and check your bag at the bowling alley on River Avenue for $5. That, of course, was an unthinkable alternative for me, so I asked for a supervisor. I told this protector of the Steinbrenner legacy that I came directly from court, showed him my photo ID announcing me as a Court Attorney, and correctly claimed that my briefcase contained "important papers" (important to me at least). With that, the supervisor swung open a side gate and I entered, briefcase in hand. Unfortunately, the Yankees won.

By contrast, while the Mets prohibit a large variety of items, such as glass bottles and metal cans, they allow hand-carried items no larger than 16"x16"x8" that are searched on the way in. Let’s go, Mets!

Thursday, August 22, 2013
Joseph Berger, superb reporter and wonderful human being, wrote an article today that may send you to the dentist to repair the damage caused by gnashing your teeth as you read it. It describes a profound threat to the concept of Jews living in two civilizations, a tenet of Reconstructionism, that obscure branch of Judaism that I subscribe to. I’ll only note my skepticism at the 30% population figure quoted from a survey.  After reading this article, I don’t even want to admit that some of my best friends are Jewish.

We had dim sum à la teen with Eddie and Nathan Silverberg, approaching their 16th birthday and a return to sophomore year in high school, on the menu. We enjoyed the hustle bustle of Jing Fong, 20 Elizabeth Street, along with many of the countless little things on plates, usually 3 or 4 pieces at a time. The boys were not allowed to ask, "What is that?" as an exercise in trust in Papa Jon and Grandpa Alan. There were only 1 ½ lapses, but we suspended punishment and permitted them to continue to inhale the dims and the sums. It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying, including an extra-large portion of beef chow fun from the menu, but the total bill, before tip, did not break $50.

1 comment:

  1. "There were no elevators in Brooklyn"
    Perhaps not in YOUR part of Brooklyn... but I can personally attest to the presence of Otis in Flatbush.