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.

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