Friday, January 31, 2014

Can You Believe He's 6?

Monday, January 27, 2014
I was disappointed to find Gold River Malaysian Cuisine, 21 Division Street, near empty.  Its nearby rival, West New Malaysia Restaurant, 46-48 Bowery, is usually 75-80% full at lunchtime, in a larger space.  While West New Malaysia is tucked away in the center of an arcade running between the Bowery and Elizabeth Street, Gold River’s position east of the Bowery places it in no-man’s land as far as most people who visit Chinatown, or even work in the municipal/judicial complex centered around Foley Square.  Malaysian food might also lack the pulling power of the more familiar Asian cuisines, but one of its greatest attractions, I think, is the presence of Chinese, Thai and Indian dishes in its repertoire, or maybe that’s backwards and the Chinese, Thais and Indians took from the Malays and made it their own.  In any case, I returned today to continue sampling Gold River’s menu and had chow kueh teow, a noodle that is or resembles chow fun mixed with shrimp, egg, sausage, chives and bean sprouts ($6.95).  Very good. 
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
I am a supporter of Barack Obama.  I did not hesitate voting for him twice, especially because I believe that McCain and Romney checked their conscience at the door when seeking the prize.  However, even though there is not, I repeat not, an important hockey game on tonight, I will not watch the President’s State of the Union address.  It’s not just the engineered slogans and unachievable promises that I wish to avoid, they come with the territory.  My mind reels and my stomach turns watching the popping up and down of this country’s purported leadership at the sound of some ringing presidential declaration.  While knee bends may have some physiological benefit, it would be so much more efficient, if homage is to be paid to the President (and this ain’t a Democrat vs. Republican thing) to keep standing.  Were those in the House chamber to remain in one position throughout, perhaps rising, or sitting at the end, they might look less goofy.  Goofiest, of course, are Biden and Boehner, or whoever preceded them, as they rise and fall on a strictly partisan basis, standing directly behind the President, being watched by tens of millions of people.  If accompanied by music, their movements might be taken for performance art, or over stimulated children.   

Pie Pie Q Café, 24 Bowery St. (sic), is a new joint, more a bakery than a café, although it’s a bit larger than most other bakeries, with 9 two-top tables, and two counters faced by a total of seven stools.  As usual, it has shelves of sweet and savory baked goods which I have learned to avoid.  The reason I gave Pie Pie Q a look was the small steam table at the back end of the serving area.  It held a few sorry looking items, but that’s never stopped me before.  I had a bowl of rice ball soup and a dish of sticky rice, $5.50 total  – I’m not sure how much for each.  But, since I plan never to order them again here, it doesn’t matter.  The rice balls themselves were interesting, like slightly chewy gnocchi.  The broth was tepid and also contained some strange meat and onions.  The sticky rice was well beyond sticky.  It was a nearly-solid clump of rice, peanuts, carrots, peas and diced pork.  While the people behind the counter were friendly and helpful to their only non-Chinese customer, nothing was good.  Even though Pie Pie Q had a big beverage menu, the hot tea I asked for came with a Lipton tea bag.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
I had the pleasure of sharing a Peking duck with Ilana M., a young colleague, at Ping's Seafood, 22 Mott Street.  Its name aside, Ping’s is one of the best Chinatown restaurants for almost all fare. Our large duck, served with 12 pancakes, cost $45.  Additionally, and unfairly to my mind, Ping's charged $2 for tea.  The duck was good, but far from fat-free.  It failed on the price/performance ratio.  However, Ilana and I exchanged some legal teasers – “What would you do in this case?” – and generally had a good time.  We will hunt ducks together again, I hope.    

Thursday, January 30, 2014
While I haven’t gone to a hockey game in exactly two weeks, last night I saw my third Broadway show in one week, Matilda last Thursday, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder on Sunday and The Glass Menagerie last night.  Looking back over these three disparate works, I realized that they all deal with people trapped by their living conditions, particularly families that are unsupportive, even hostile, to their aspirations.  One thinks her way out of her dilemma, one murders his way, and one sails away, leaving his even more damaged mother and sister behind.  Unfortunately, I started with the most optimistic tale of the three and wound up with the most hopeless.  Maybe that’s what you have to expect of life.

Lunch today was with the Feingold Claque, which meant a combo over rice, with a pita, lots of white sauce and a little red ($5) from a Muslim couple sharing a cart at the corner of 41st Street and Third Avenue.  The luncheon gathering was in the conference room of a prominent Midtown law firm, which was easily arranged by one of our gatherees whose name happens to be on the front door of the office.  Typically, the host provides beverages and maybe a little sweet, and that’s where I encountered something gastronomically significant, possibly the best cookie ever.   Mixed in with the oatmeal raisin cookies, mini cheesecake bars and such was something like a hand-shaped Milano (Pepperidge Farm, you knew that), very buttery, dark chocolate filling and partially covered with slivered almonds.  Fabulous.  I had only two out of my deep respect for the high quality of this offering, not wanting to cheapen the experience by simply inhaling all that were on the platter.  Instead, I bit slowly and chewed deliberately.  I’ve sent a message to our host asking about the source of this singular treat, and I am certain that he will take the time from his busy professional life to respond, because he is, after all, CCNY Class of 1960 and a fellow gourmand.     

Friday, January 31, 2014
It's the start of the Year of the Horse and we’re off to celebrate with Boaz, the Super Bowl Birthday Boy.  Since his auspicious debut, he has been joined by a younger brother and a sister.  That means that we can look forward to a weekend of eating with hands, running noses and yelling while standing. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Saving For A Rainy Day

Monday, January 20, 2014
Sam Polk and James D. Hoff probably don’t know each other, and I don’t know either one.  Polk is in his mid-30s and Hoff is 42-years old.  I read about them in separate articles in the New York Times Sunday and Monday respectively.  The juxtaposition is sickening, to my mind.  Polk, in an article he wrote himself, said that in his last year on Wall Street, three years ago, “my bonus was $3.6 million – and I was angry because it wasn’t big enough.  I was 30 years old, had no children to raise, no debts to pay, no philanthropic goal in mind.”

Polk is an Ivy League graduate, who had been suspended from Columbia University for burglary, arrested twice and fired from an Internet company for fistfighting.  I can’t say that his employer was influenced by these qualifications, because Polk admits that he kept them off his résumé.

Hoff finished his Ph.D. in English literature, about 18 months ago.  He has been unable to get a fulltime teaching position, so he struggles to earn a living by teaching several courses as an adjunct at different institutions, this semester at Manhattan College and Fashion Institute of Technology.
When he collects four courses during a semester, his annual earnings are about $24,000.  Right now, he is only teaching three courses, and earning closer to $20,000.  Hoff is married, with an infant daughter.  He and his wife recently moved from Manhattan to the Bronx to save money.

I don’t want to see Polk unemployed or uncompensated, although his service to his community, his nation or the world is, by his own account, minimal.  “ I was a derivatives trader, and it occurred to me the world would hardly change at all if credit derivatives ceased to exist.”  Let him and Hoff make $120,000 annually, somewhat more than I do, which should keep them  afloat as middle-class New Yorkers, with tax policy leveling some of their lifestyle differences.

If you would like to grind your teeth more, see bp-working-for-few-political-capture-economic-inequality-200114-en.pdf #sthash.ClRIn1sD.dpuf
which reports today that “In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.”

The Upper West Side’s Power Couple, having this holiday off, went to a travel agent to discuss an anticipated trip later in the year, details to follow.  Since we were in midtown in the early afternoon, we took advantage of the time and the place and window-shopped along 47th Street, the Diamond District.  This excursion was strictly for aesthetic, not acquisitive, purposes, and we kept our credit cards firmly tucked away.  Every time that we paused in front of a display, a pretty woman inside the store behind the window popped up with a wave and reached for a hand-written sign announcing a sale today only, 50-60% off.  In spite of the singular honor of being welcomed for a sale this day only, we passed by merely exchanging a modest grin for the effusive greeting.

With lunch hour upon us, we took advantage of the locale and went three floors up to Taam Tov, 41 West 47th Street, a strictly Kosher restaurant, serving the large number of Orthodox Jews who work in the Diamond District.  It’s a simple, square room, with windows overlooking 47th Street and a bearded Buddha-like rabbi seated by the cash register to enforce adherence to the sometimes-Byzantine rules of Kosher food preparation and service.  Interestingly enough, Taam Tov offers Chinese food at lunch time, that is a half-dozen beef and chicken dishes variously sauced with vegetables.  Experience has taught me that Jews should only eat Chinese food, not cook it, so I looked elsewhere on the menu, where the Middle East takes over from the Far East.  I ordered Shwarma over Laffa ($14), a 4" round, 11" long tube stuffed with marinated diced chicken, hummus and French fries.  Laffa is bigger than pita and spongier, making an excellent wrapping for the hearty filling.  It was a really good dish (taam tov means tastes good in Hebrew) and well matched to a 2014 vintage Diet Coke.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Elderly Jews from the New York area have been migrating to South Florida for generations.  First our grandparents, then our parents and now our friends and neighbors.  That’s why today’s news from Florida was surprising.  The state has been ordered by a federal judge to provide Kosher food to its prison inmates who request it, based only on a professed belief in Judaism, although suspicions about the quality and contents of normal prison food may have inflated the demand.  It seems that Florida is one of only 15 states who do not ordinarily provide Kosher food in its prisons, citing the much higher cost of the meals prepared and packaged by outside kitchens, reportedly $7 vs. $1.54 daily per person.  However, a 2000 federal law protects inmates’ religious freedom, and Florida, with the nation’s third largest prison system, has been ordered to comply.  As if cantankerous, retired New York Jews needed another excuse to ignore the laws and customs of the Sunshine State.

Speaking of sunshine, snow started falling as I left for work and continued throughout the day, so I went no further than H.K. Wonton Garden, 79 Mott Street, for a big bowl of hot soup with won tons and noodles, served with some mediocre sweet and sour chicken on the side ($7.95).

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Justice will be dispensed today at New York County Supreme Court in spite of the 11" of snow officially recorded in Manhattan yesterday and the 9 degree temperature this morning.

I try to deal honestly in my everyday affairs, although not claiming sainthood.  Last week, for instance, I told the waitress that she left a bottle of wine off of our restaurant bill.  Now, I’m being put to the test.  Last night, I found it necessary to clean up the pile of papers on the sofa in the den in order to make room to sit and watch television.  In the mess was a month-old check for an interesting amount from my health insurance carrier.  The explanation of benefits page was missing, and, I must admit, I can’t connect the amount (not the typical $37.46 reimbursement) to any particular activity, although the last quarter of 2013 included examinations and/or treatments of eyes, colon, teeth, heart and associated bits and pieces.

It’s possible that this check was not even meant for me and that’s the problem.  In the past, when such an error occurred, I found it impossible to return the check or get it reissued in a corrected, lesser amount, spending hours on the telephone trying to do the right thing.  The system simply doesn’t allow it.  All of us take for granted that any error will be in the insurance company’s favor.  Roomfuls of computer hardware, large software libraries, and legions of programmers are dedicated to keeping the last nickel on the company’s side of the table.  When the unthinkable happens, which may or may not be the case with my check, the system is thrown into disarray.  Reasonable attempts to play Boy Scout will likely be frustrated by hours spent on the telephone trying to effect corrective action.  So, I’ll deposit the check, always alert to refunding the amount in whole or part, if the insurance company tells me its mother’s maiden name, favorite food, and last four digits on its passport.

Thursday, January 23, 2014
The new normal ain’t so normal.  According to Prof. Andrew Schepard of Hofstra Law School, and member of the Feingold Claque, writing in today’s New York Law Journal, about 1 million U.S. children live with parents in the middle of a divorce each year, and about one in four children live in a divorced household.  If you are as old as I am and able to remember anything that happened earlier than breakfast this morning, you can remember not growing up around divorced people.  Maybe you observed couples who should have divorced, but it simply wasn’t done among people you knew – your family and the families of friends.  In the second semester of my freshman year in college, I heard for the first time from a friend that his parents were getting divorced.  I’m not claiming that it wasn’t happening out there, just not along Pitkin Avenue or Woodhaven Boulevard.
Friday, January 24, 2014
Two people come to mind as the Umbrella Man, the teenaged accomplice of the so-called Capeman in the stabbing death of two other teenagers in 1959 in a park on Manhattan’s West Side, and a man standing by the side of the road in Dallas as John Kennedy drove by on that sunny day.  Now, I propose a new Umbrella Man and unlike those other two, he represents kindness and generosity.

Bravo Señor Alvaro Reinoso, manager and part owner of Andanada, 141 West 69th Street, a Spanish restaurant open just over one year.  We’ve eaten there a few times, enjoying the three different types of sangria and the interesting tapas, usually skipping a main course after a bunch of tapas.  However, it’s not the food or drinks, generally quite good, but not cheap, that I wish to pay tribute to.  On Saturday night, January 11th, a very rainy night, we ate at Andanada with friends.  I parked my umbrella in a bucket near the front door.  Now, this wasn’t your ordinary $2, bought-on-the-street, self-destructing umbrella.  It came from Brooks Brothers and its oversize canopy was, appropriately enough, pin-striped.  It was a cherished gift from Nate Persily to replace the umbrella that I had lent him that he lost, which, in fact, was a present from my cousin Michael Goldenberg, who, as marketing manager for a cosmetics firm, had some umbrellas left over after distributing them as premiums with purchases.  I’m sorry, but I don’t recall the name of the product advertised on that sturdy black umbrella.

In any case, after dinner, as we collected our coats, I found that my umbrella was gone, while more modest ones remained in the bucket.  Sr. Reinoso looked for it where it shouldn’t have been, with no luck.  He said that he would call me with any news of the umbrella in the next few days, and promised to make amends (although I knew that he was under no obligation to do so).  I dropped in again about one week later, since Andanada is right across Broadway from the Palazzo di Gotthelf, and gave him the umbrella’s pinstriped sheath which I had removed before going out in the rain, so that he could confirm its return if and when.  So, I was delighted to receive a telephone message on Wednesday from Sr. Reinoso asking me to visit him regarding the umbrella.  Last night, on the way home from seeing Matilda, a delightful musical import from Britain, I stopped into the restaurant where this fine gentleman, apologetic for my loss, handed me a brand-new umbrella from Brooks Brothers.  While the pinstriped version is no longer available, this umbrella has a smart plaid canopy and a firm wooden handle.  How about that!

Now, I want you all to eat and drink at Andanada, give regards to Sr. Reinoso and keep your umbrella to yourself.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Strike Out

Monday, January 13, 2014
Bud Selig is the commissioner of baseball, a job strictly beholden to major league team owners, yet empowered to govern the entire professional sport.  (While countries such as Japan and Mexico have fully-developed systems of leagues, they defer to North American baseball – there is a team in Toronto after all – when it comes to critical decisions, those involving real money.)  Selig’s first name is really Allan, and even there he gets it wrong.  A Milwaukee car dealer, he sold his interest in the Milwaukee Braves, née the Boston Braves, when the team moved to Atlanta.  He then bought the bankrupt Seattle Pilots and moved the team to Milwaukee as the Brewers in 1970.

The Brewers, under Selig, had one of the worst periods of team performance in baseball history, appearing in the World Series only once.  He also played a leading role in colluding with his fellow owners to squelch players’ free agency, which cost the owners damages of $280 million.  They, recognizing his talents where other baseball observers failed to, made him acting commissioner in 1992, where he then orchestrated a 232-day strike in 1994 and the first, and only, cancellation of the World Series, which for 23 of the prior 24 years had been a non-event for him in any case.  Not surprisingly, when baseball resumed in 1995, attendance and television audiences fell significantly.

What redeemed baseball and inflated Selig’s reputation, at the time, was the emergence of superstars engaged in a contest to break the most mythic of baseball records for home runs, particularly, the battle between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 for the most home runs in a single season, with McGwire eventually breaking Roger Maris’s record.  Selig, in fact, became the official baseball commissioner in 1998, having the “Acting” removed from his title then.  Of course, the fly in the ointment was actually the ointment, pills, liquids and other chemical compounds which enhanced McGwire’s, Sosa’s and many other players’ physical performance.  Selig, in 2006, testified to Congress that he was alert to the issue in 1994, “before anybody was really talking about steroids in baseball.”  However, in what may have been a senior lapse in 2005, Selig told reporters, “I never even heard about them [steroids] until 1998 or 1999.  I ran a team and nobody was closer to their players and I never heard any comment from them.  It wasn’t until 1998 or ’99 that I heard the discussion.”

Now, as the Alex Rodriguez steroids controversy swirls around us and Selig’s role as the Great Enabler is properly raised again, I’ll give you my ultimate beef about Selig.  In his early days as acting commissioner, when almost everyone expected Selig’s term to be brief, George W. Bush (yes, that one), then part owner of a baseball team, wanted the big job for himself, according to several reports, including a book by Selig’s predecessor, Fay Vincent, The Last Commissioner: A Baseball Valentine, wherein Vincent quotes Bush on the subject.  “I’ve been thinking about it.  Selig tells me that he would love to have me be commissioner and he tells me that he can deliver it.”  Vincent claims that Selig actually wanted to stay in the job, sending the former Yale cheer leader to search for other fields to conquer.  Oh, what might have been.

I was surprised to find such a good Peking duck ($19.95 a half) at China Village Restaurant, 94 Baxter Street, a place for a quick lunch for many people visiting criminal court and the adjoining detention facility immediately south of the restaurant.  The duck was served with 4 large puffy buns, a generous amount of scallion slivers, but no cucumber, hoisin sauce and a rosette constructed from carrot peels.  The entire half duck was served, a leg and a wing and the rest chopped into 1" pieces.  Only a few pieces held more fat than you’d want to consider ingesting.  In fact, the duck was particularly tasty, and the size of the portion seemed just right for one good lunch.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Last week, I wrote about the fear manifested by uncompromising advocates of the Second Amendment when challenged by someone wielding a word processor.  Now, there is another example of how possession of a gun only seems to increase the paranoia of a gun nut rather than providing the comfort and confidence that one might expect when carrying a lethal weapon.

On Monday, near Tampa, Florida, a retired police captain shot and killed the man sitting in front of him in a movie theater after they argued about how much noise the man was making while texting during the movie.  No punches were thrown, but the shooter claimed, according to police reports, that “[t]he victim turned and stood up, striking him in the face with an unknown object.”  With that, the shooter pulled out a .380 semiautomatic handgun from his pants pocket, fired one shot killing the other guy.

This incident brings into question Florida’s notorious “Stand Your Ground” law, which removes a person’s duty to retreat when he fears mortal danger.  The police found nothing but scattered popcorn at the scene, the only object, aside from a bullet, that hit either party, according to witnesses.  Appropriately, the movie playing was Lone Survivor.

Speaking of standing one’s ground, the New York Times reports about the problem facing a McDonald’s in Queens where elderly Koreans gather to pass the hours, consuming little more than a random cup of coffee or a small portion of fries.  The local police precinct said there had been four 911 calls since November requesting the removal of the entrenched older patrons, who admittedly return shortly after being scattered.  For reasons no one can explain, another nearby McDonald’s and Burger King, as well as neighborhood community facilities, see an ordinary amount of foot traffic, while the joint at the corner of Northern Boulevard and Parsons Boulevard draws folks using “walkers, or with canes, in wheelchairs or with infirm steps, as early as 5 a.m. and [who] often linger until well after dark.”  So far, no shots have been fired.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
The Boyz Club met for lunch at XO Kitchen, 148 Hester Street.  As on my solo visit (July 2, 2010), the House Special Pancake with Peanut and Sesame Paste ($5.95) stood out.  It would make a fine dessert, breakfast dish or late night snack even for people (should they exist) who don’t like Chinese food.

Thursday, January 16, 2014
As I got on the elevator this morning to go to work, I found three other residents of our large building (almost 500 apartments).   Only one, however, had won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and has continued with other successful play and movie scripts.  Cool guy that I am, I did no more than nudge his dog nibbling at my ankles.  I also did not point out that I got his autograph on my theater program the night before the official Broadway opening of his award-winning work.  My self-control is consistent with his desire for privacy since his name does not appear on the building’s directory.

Given the size of our building, it’s no surprise that he and I are not the only notables in residence.  Candido, the now-retired Afro-Cuban jazz percussionist, who started recording in the 1950s with Dizzy Gillespie and other musicians, lives here.  He issued well more than a dozen recordings, and was a sideman on many more.  Now, I see him leaning on a beautifully-carved, African walking stick, his smooth brown skin resembling some of the planes of the walking stick.  Also, let us not forget the president of Hadassah.  

Friday, January 17, 2014
I was pleased to receive an invitation to the Chinese-American Planning Council’s 49th Anniversary Chinese New Year Fundraising Dinner, celebrating the Year of the Horse on February 6th.  I don’t think that I will be able to be a Diamond, Ruby, Gold or Silver Sponsor ($25,000, $10,000, $5,000 or $3,000) of the event.  However, since it will be held at Jing Fong Restaurant, 20 Elizabeth Street, one of my favorite dim sum joints, I may be curious to see what $150 as a mere attendee brings, when, in the past, I’ve fed about a dozen people there for a bit less.

Does anyone know if there are female leprachauns?

Friday, January 10, 2014


Monday, January 6, 2014
I thought that the phrase, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” must have originated with Shakespeare, Othello perhaps.  Actually, it first appears in the 1839 play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy, by the English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton, even better known as the author of the infamous opening line “It was a dark and stormy night.”  The same thought, however, goes back at least 2,700 years or so to the Assyrian sage Ahiqar who said, according to WikiPedia, “The word is mightier than the sword,” although probably not in English.  Since then, others uttered similar phrases.  I found the brief article on the topic quite interesting.

You might think that the uncompromising defenders of the Second Amendment (UDOTSA) thoroughly reject this concept.  After all, their near-carnal grasping of firearms seems to empower them as nothing else does.  Somewhat like an adolescent boy under the covers at night, they appear to be governed by the principle “I shoot, therefore I am.”  That’s why I was a bit surprised by Guns & Ammo magazine dropping Dick Metcalf as a columnist.  Metcalf is a longtime contributor to the magazine and normally counted as an UDOTSA, with far-from parochial credentials as a historian at Cornell and Yale.  Recently, he wrote a column entitled “Let’s Talk Limits.”  Well, talk wasn’t cheap in Metcalf’s case.  His television show evaporated along with his magazine by-line.

This is not an issue of rights.  Guns & Ammo may publish or ban anyone they choose.  It’s just that I marvel at the manic insecurity manifested by UDOTSA when a whiff of moderation is in the air.  What’s the good of all that heavy firepower if their arsenals are really at risk from an onslaught of word processors?  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014
I thought of Dinah Washington this morning on the way to work.  I saw her perform at the Apollo Theater in 1969 on a jazz program that included, as I recall, Count Basie and his orchestra.  After so long, I still remember the reaction of the audience as she leaned over the edge of the stage wearing a low-cut evening gown.  Her greatest hit, which made it onto the Top 10 list in 1959, was “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes.”  This came to mind as I saw that the temperature sign at 72nd Street read 4 degrees; yesterday’s high temperature at 9 AM was 55 degrees. just published the following: “Eighty retired New York City police officers and firefighters were charged on Tuesday in one of the largest Social Security disability frauds ever, a sprawling decades-long scheme in which false mental disability claims by as many as 1,000 people cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, according to court papers.”  It’s just so disappointing to be reminded again of the power of greed.  I’ve noticed that when brought down, the fraudsters never seem to say “I did it and I’m glad.”  Rather, they offers tearful pleas for forgiveness and leniency.  How boring.  Can’t they even have some pride in a bad job well done?  By the way, it’s not just these literal blue collars who got caught today. “Princess Cristina, the younger daughter of King Juan Carlos of Spain, was formally accused of money laundering and tax fraud by a magistrate on Tuesday and was summoned to appear in court on March 8.”

I realize that those of us gathered under the shelter of this blog have diverse ethical, religious, moral and political views, but, unlike the fraudsters, I believe that we mostly share values based on fairness with a reluctance to exploit others.  The words that I live by are: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs, and then let’s redecorate the apartment.”

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
I was happy to find Gold River Malaysian Cuisine, 21 Division Street, open after its brief shutdown within days of its opening.  However, I was concerned when I found that I was only the second person seated around 1 PM.  Fortunately, while the other person left, he was replaced by nine others.  This Malaysian food certainly deserves a larger audience.  I had two of the most traditional dishes, roti canai ($3.50), although their too-flaky pancake/crepe/blintz made it hard to deal with the buttery curry dipping sauce, and nasi lemak ($6.95), a mound of rice surrounded by cucumber slices, boiled peanuts, half a hardboiled egg, a couple of small chunks of curried chicken and potato, fried tiny anchovies, and sambal, a spicy, chili pepper-based condiment common to Malaysia and Indonesia.  Gold River compares favorably with West New Malaysia Restaurant, in the Chinatown Arcade, one of my mainstays, because, so far, Gold River adds a little more spice to its food.  However, there’s a big menu ahead and I have my work cut out for me.  I hope that I am up to the challenge.

Thursday, January 9, 2014
Mens rea plays an important part in our criminal law.  A “guilty mind” is a necessary element in defining many crimes.  Today’s New York Law Journal reports on a yegg who put this concept to the test in his appeal from his conviction for attempted robbery.  He was arrested after he showed up at the back door of a fast food joint just before it opened wearing a mask and displaying a gun.  No, no, he argued before the appellate court.  That doesn’t prove that I intended to commit a robbery.  I might have been there to commit murder, rape or kidnapping, he contended.  The court reasoned that, since the weapon he carried was only a BB gun, murder was improbable.  Further, he didn’t know anyone in the restaurant, so the court found rape or kidnapping to be a reach.  Now, you might think that this was a trivial issue for the learned jurists, but, in fact, the vote to uphold the conviction for attempted robbery was 3-2, leaving the bad guy guilty as a bad guy instead of innocent as a worse guy.
Friday, January 10, 2014
David Goldfarb, that distinguished scholar, has challenged the validity of my claim to have eaten in scores of different Chinese restaurants in Chinatown.  Rather, David claims that there is one master kitchen dispensing foods out of a collection of storefronts.  I’ve challenged this theory before using beef satay (August 9, 2010) and chicken with garlic sauce (October 6, 2010) as examples of the unified theory of menu printing, the same name applied to diverse dishes.  Today, I encountered still another example at Thai Son Vietnamese Restaurant, 89 Baxter Street (August 25, 2010), and, as in the other cases, I am not uttering a complaint, but merely offering a rebuttal to David’s misguided idea, admittedly a rare deviation from his usual laser-like perspicacity.  I ordered Vietnamese steak with fried rice ($8.95), a very tasty dish, by the way.  However, the generous serving of rice on the plate wasn’t fried rice as I know and love it.  It was a mound of steamed yellow rice akin to what a Mexican or Tunisian joint would serve, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Just, there was no evidence of oil used in its preparation (a healthy choice) as I was gearing up to compare Vietnamese fried rice to Chinese fried rice, probably best exemplified by Wo Hop.  Of course, I would be the last one to impose censorship or any rigor on the use of language in menus, especially as these experiments in vocabulary add another kind of flavor to my lunchtime excursions.    

Friday, January 3, 2014

Out With The New

Monday, December 30, 2013
I visited Tasty Dumpling, 54 Mulberry Street, early in this (ad)venture (February 8, 2010).  Today, I found that they just moved down the block to roomier, brighter quarters at 42 Mulberry Street.  All else seems to be the same, but, with the bigger space, even more customers crowded in to sit at the four tables for four or the two stools against a small counter against the wall on the left as you walk in.  One order taker/cashier kept the flow of orders going to two very busy cooks in the open kitchen area that takes up nearly half the joint’s floor space.  One other person sat alone in the back stuffing dumplings to be cooked on the premises or frozen and sold for home preparation and consumption.

I had a small hot and sour soup ($1.50) appropriately on this chilly day.  The soup did not have a distinctive taste, but it was thick with chunks of bean curd and mushroom slices.  The eight boiled chicken and mushroom dumplings ($3.25) were rather bland, but plump and steaming hot.  Each table had squeeze jars of red chili sauce and wine vinegar, but the dumplings really needed Wo Hop’s mustard to amplify their flavor.

So, the old year ends with a new restaurant under the governing charter, inspired by the ancient  proverb: “A journey of a thousand miles begins in a Chinese restaurant.”
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
This is another day off from work as urged by management on behalf of the taxpayers of the State of New York.  It is also the date of my first marriage, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014
From today's newspaper: "A federal judge on Tuesday struck down as unconstitutional a Florida law that required welfare applicants to undergo mandatory drug testing, setting the stage for a legal battle that could affect similar efforts nationwide."  It seems that, whether or not there was any cause, not even probable cause, you had to pee into a bottle in order to get welfare assistance.  I oppose this as a civil libertarian, but, recognizing the need to disperse public funds wisely, I offer an alternative.

In light of our adherence to trickle-down economics, I propose tinkle-down drug testing.  Beneficiaries of government largesse, in order of financial gain, should be required to pee into a bottle.  So, defense contractors, bailed-out bankers, and sports team owners looking to get a new stadium at public expense should line up at the urinals before we ask those folks in the cheap seats to start unzipping for Uncle Sam.  If I achieve a filibuster-proof majority, I would extend the tinkle-down program into the economy at large.  Cocaine use on Wall Street, for instance, has a long and tawdry history.  See
We’ve seen the havoc wreaked by the mismanagement of financial assets by a few well-placed, unsupervised, undisciplined, highly-compensated (make that extremely highly-compensated), possibly over-stimulated white collar crooks.  So, gather in line according to the size of your W-2s and 1099s, you Wizards of Wall Street, and give it up for the lab.    

The legal victory above should be credited to the ACLU of Florida, which is led by Howard Simon, CCNY '65, who has been with the ACLU for almost 40 years, the last 16 or so in Florida.  He didn't go to Wall Street or McKinsey in spite of his first-rate education.  He has been doing a real job for decades.  I wish there were more like him and that I had done as much for the quality of American citizenship as he has.

We got to see Domesticated at the Lincoln Center theater on New Year's Eve.  It's all about gender which is a good thing to keep in mind when shopping for clothes.  Afterwards, we skipped all celebrations even though it was the 11th anniversary of my marriage proposal to America's Favorite Epidemiologist.  That memory seemed to be so overpowering that she was asleep before midnight.

Thursday, January 2, 2014
Catching up on our culture, we went to see Philomena yesterday afternoon.  It’s an interesting story elevated by the performance of Dame Judi Dench in the title role.  As a result, I did not watch the televised broadcast of the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic, an outdoor hockey game at the University of Michigan’s football stadium, played with snow falling and the temperature at 13̊, in front of 105,000 people.  However, once we got home, I watched replays of the action, and interviews with players and coaches, and commentaries by various hockey analysts.

Many of the interviews and panel discussions were held, as the game itself, outdoors on or at the edge of the rink.  Everyone on camera was thoroughly bundled up, padded gloves, puffy parkas, scarves and knitted wool hats pulled down to the brow.  However, and here’s the cosmic mystery, more puzzling to me than the origins of the universe or the appeal of Miley Cyrus, why didn’t anyone have a runny nose?  When I walk the few blocks to the subway on a 28̊ day, I require tissues and a occasional swipe of the back of a glove in order to maintain a respectable look.  Those people sat outside, in brutal weather, with cameras in their face, without showing any moisture on their upper lip.  How did they do that?  Commercial breaks, during which production assistants may have rushed to their sides to dehydrate them, were many minutes apart.  For the post-game hours that I watched, I never saw a drip, a drop, not even a little shiny liquid spot, under circumstances that would have labelled me the Faucet King.

The old year ended with a new restaurant and the new year begins with a new duck.  OK 218 Restaurant, 218 Grand Street (April 9, 2010), served a very nice half Peking duck ($16.95).  It came with six pancakes, the last two very dry by the time I got to them, and a generous amount of hoisin sauce, cucumbers and scallions, more thickly cut than usual.  Much of the carcass came with it.  Unlike every other Peking duck in Chinatown so far, they took the trouble of separating the crisp skin from the meat and scraping almost all the fat from the skin.  The only other place that handles a duck like that is the fabulous Four Seasons, 99 East 52nd Street, maybe my most favorite restaurant in the whole world.  Their crisp farmhouse duck with roasted figs is a great choice on the $75, three-course, pre-theater menu.  It is not Peking, but it is worth going an equal distance for.

Friday, January 3, 2014
Getting to work in the Blizzard of ‘14 wasn’t that hard.  Only one subway line closed down under me.  The 6" of snow was less of a problem than the winds and 11̊ temperature on the way to the subway, keeping tissues handy.  Strangely enough, while the courthouse was empty of judges and juries for the last week, I saw two judges this morning, one actually conducting business.  Justice never sleeps, I guess, at least not for long.

Here’s an interesting, although unpleasant, dispute reported today in the New York Law Journal.  A judge in Albany was asked by a divorcing couple to determine ownership of the cremated remains of a stillborn fetus.  The husband-father wanted one half, as might be the case with other marital assets.  The wife-mother prevailed on the basis of biology, since a man produces sperm cells every day, a woman is born with all of her eggs.  The judge wrote that the wife “clearly owned, prior to marriage, the egg from which the fetus developed . . . [while the husband] impregnated the petitioner [wife] with sperm he acquired after the marriage.”  Because there was no live birth, the judge considered the fetus as an extension of the wife’s egg, her separate property.  There was no precedent for this decision, and, with any luck, this issue will never arise again.  

The temperature soared to 14̊ at lunchtime and the path to Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, was clear.  Although no more than 4 other people were seated at any time while I was there, all the familiar waiters seemed to be present.  I kept it simple with shrimp fried rice and lots of hot tea which were, of course, delivered promptly.