Friday, May 30, 2014

Poor Portugal (Revised)

Monday, May 26, 2014
We landed in Lisbon yesterday, thinking that our 11th wedding anniversary would be the biggest event in town. Instead, we learned that the European Champions League soccer finals on Saturday brought 150,000 Spaniards to town because the finalists were two teams from Madrid. Fortunately, by the time we arrived downtown in Lisbon the Spanish Invasion had receded leaving surprising little evidence of its presence. While our hotel seemed full, the other guests were fellow social security collectors from a number of western nations, not particularly inflamed by a passion for sports, present company excluded. By chance, one member of our tour group is a lovely lady from Montreal, who naively believed that the Montreal Canadiens would leave Madison Square Garden Sunday night tied with the Rangers. As we all know, the series is now 3-1 and the Rangers should should wrap it up tonight in Montreal, but I won´t stay up for the start of the game at 1 AM local time. By the way, only the Internet supplied me with this vital news. Television sports news here, when not fixated on the Champions League, keeps a careful eye on badminton in Pakistan, darts in Wales and boules in France, but no word of ice hockey in North America. If it wasn´t for Al Gore, I´d be in an information vacuum.     

As big as football (soccer) is in Europe, even bigger for some was the continent-wide elections for the European Parliament held on Sunday. Generally, the local versions of the Tea Party made strong showings, possibly bouyed by the overt racism and xenophobia that our domestic breed have kept on low boil so far. Political posters and billboards are all over Lisbon and I was drawn to the PCP, the Portuguese Communist Party. Not only does it eschew revolutionary red as its signature color, choosing almost-royal blue instead, its slogan is Democracy and Patriotism, and who is going to argue with that? It does have a hammer and sickle as its symbol, but much of its display is taken up by a picture of its leader, Leopoldo Mesquita, dressed in suit and tie, with a button down shirt, easily mistaken for an accountant, and I mean Grandpa Alan´s accountant, not Mitt Romney´s accountant.

So, poor Portugal -- It has no hockey and no revolution.

Soccer fanaticism is as close as much of Western Europe comes to revolution these days.  While the Spanish fans left Lisbon standing, Lisbon that is, not necessarily each and every fan, tales of soccer hooliganism leave me baffled at times.  While I am not completely disdainful of soccer, it is slow, low scoring and often marred by melodramatic attempts to draw fouls.  The action on the field (pitch) simply doesn´t seem blood-stirring enough to stir enough blood to explain this headline for the upcoming World Cup: "Soccer Hooligans Will Face 170,000 Brazilian Forces." 

Why then are the normally violence-prone, heavily-armed Americans so pacific when following their favorite sports teams, by contrast?  The answer is simple: Variety.  Allow me to modestly step forward to illustrate my point.  Right now, I am engaged by the professional ice hockey finals, the Stanley Cup tournament, where the New York Rangers are moving inexorably to glory.  At the same time, I have been going to New York Mets baseball games since their season began two months ago and have tickets to another 6 or 8 games this summer.  Admittedly, the Mets continue in their weak epoch, but I remain loyal.  By summer´s end, my New York Giants start their professional football season, weekly battles with the evil folk from Dallas, Philadelphia, and other degraded locales.  With the onset of cold weather, the hockey season will resume, when I hope that the Rangers will be defending the (still-to-be captured) Stanley Cup.  You see, unlike so many Englishmen, Argentineans, Italians, Brazilians, Spaniards, Germans and other monomaniacs, I have a variety of teams in different sports to live and die with.  I can´t spend time rioting in the streets when any one of my teams crushes my hopes, because another awaits my devotion and support, or at least the opportunity to crush my hopes again.  While professional basketball has made some inroads in many foreign venues, the path to civility throughout the overly-stimulated soccer world may be exercises in peace and friendship as practiced by the National Football League and the National Hockey League.     

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Written Portuguese looks a lot like Spanish with an random extra "i" and an unexpected "x" in some words.  However, spoken Portuguese sounds nothing like any of the versions of Spanish I am accustomed to hearing around New York City, even if I can only undertand about a dozen of the words uttered.  What is most offputting about spoken Portuguese is how "s" comes out sounding like "sh".  The lends a Teutonic note to what I hear.  While we have had some interesting lectures on Portuguese history, which often contains an unfavorable look at Spanish behavior, no one has explained who or what went wrong in pronounciation. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Lunch in Nazare, Portugal, a city on the Atlantic Ocean often filled with tourists, was pleasant on this quiet pre-season weekday.  Jim. B., a retired lawyer from Buffalo, joined us strolling down the street along the beachfront as we sought a place to eat. We chose Restaurante Celeste, Avenda Republica 54, which featured seafood as did most of its competitors.  Jim and I shared the Celeste fish stew (25€ for 2), a dish similar to cioppino, although less spicy, served in a large pot, that is a large amount of fish, potatoes, onions, green and red peppers, and pieces of toast, served in a large pot. 

Suddenly, harkening back to my experiences in Greece and Bulgaria 11 months ago, I found myself ejecting a small, hard, off-white object from my mouth.  Some of you may recall my futile attempt on that trip to keep all of my newly-installed teeth in my mouth and the unsuccessful efforts of dentists in Salonika, Greece and Sofia, Bulgaria to keep my grimace intact.  Histroy seemed to be repeating itself.  Southern Europe and my mouth were simply incompatible.  Well, it looked like a tooth, but as I moved my tongue over and under, back and forth, I couldn´t find a vacancy in my mouth where a tooth most recently rested.  The tooth-sized, tooth-shaped, tooth-colored, tooth-hard object wasn´t a tooth, at least not my tooth.

Thursday, May 29, 2014
Our charming traveling companion from Montreal drew some encouragement from the Canadien´s victory bringing the series 3-2 favor of New York.  Tonight, however, the teams play in New York for what, I hope is the last time in this round.  This trip, though, has been so enjoyable that defeat would not be as stinging for me as under normal circumstances.  Our crew consists of well-traveled, friendly folk from all over the US, Toronto and Montreal.  One woman lives three blocks away from us in an apartment building that we looked at when we made the Great Leap.  Our guide, Helena Baltazar, resident of Porto, incorporates an almost unimaginable amount of charm, warmth and knowledge of her country.  It´s been such a good trip that I feel no need to itemize the points of interest; instead, I urge you to visit and see for your self.  Food has been good, wine has been good, weather has been good, and I have not had to test the local dentistry.

Friday, May 30, 2014
Rangers win the series 4 games to 2.  No evidence of rioting in the streets, according to NYTimes.  I´ll be back in New York for the ultimate round against an opponent still to be determined.  At least, it won´t be Brazil. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Foot in Mouth

Monday, May 19, 2014
I made a terrible mistake this weekend. We went to a retreat with other members of West End Synagogue at a camp about 100 hundred miles north of New York City. That, in itself, was not the mistake. Quite the contrary, the event was a thorough success. One exceptional session was devoted to Ari Shavit’s important book on Israel, "My Promised Land," conducted by America’s Favorite Epidemiologist. Need I say more?

The problem that arose was my failure to notify the New York Times that we would be away for the weekend. So, when we returned to the front gate of the Palazzo di Gotthelf late Sunday afternoon, there sat all of Saturday’s and Sunday’s newspaper. This was a mistake for a couple of reasons. First, my time utilization plans for the rest of this week are shot. I am now presented with so much reading to catch up with that I may have to hurry a meal or two. More important is how even the briefest scan of the front pages dispelled the reverie induced by a weekend in the country. Thoughts of peace, love and harmony could not withstand the news of strife and turmoil from parts far and near that we had been sheltered from in the absence of radio and television, in a location with very spotty internet service. Even news of Saturday night’s rousing victory of the New York Rangers over the Montreal Canadiens only partially balanced word from the Ukraine, Nigeria, and the New York Times executive suite. On balance, ignorance was bliss.

One story that I caught up with this morning particularly agitated me, maybe because it attempts to propagate ignorance as the price of bliss.
The opening sentence captures the absurd idea at issue. "Should students about to read ‘The Great Gatsby’ be forewarned about ‘a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence,’ as one Rutgers student proposed?" 

Now, Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn, where I grew up, was not exactly the Wild West. We did not have to face herds of stampeding buffalo, and attacks by fierce Apache warriors were limited to our Saturday afternoons at the movies. However, we learned that stuff happens, unpredicted, unwelcome, and unsettling. Nature and our fellow humans, by chance or by design, sometimes hurt us and the ones around us. We heard adults say, "Why me?"; "Why her?"; "Why them?" Many of our family and neighbors, as Jews, escaped extermination by leaving Europe, sometimes guided by hope, sometimes propelled by fear. We knew that life was not just a bowl of cherries.

And now, some students are urging "explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans." Blame the words, not the world! seems to be their message. That simply won’t work. The world is often too much with us.

While I realize that words may hurt us as much as sticks and stones, the sort of intellectual delousing that these protesting students propose (because, after all, such alerts must lead to euphemism at least or excision at worst) denies us the only effective, yet fragile, weapon that we have for healing and betterment – ideas. If you think I am insufficiently sensitive to the mental health of rape victims and war veterans, I suggest that they seem to be only the front for a broader attack on all sorts of life’s irritants. A draft guide for faculty on "trigger warnings" at Oberlin College in Ohio reads: "Triggers are not only relevant to sexual misconduct, but also to anything that might cause trauma. Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and other issues of privilege and oppression." I would be surprised if Mother’s Day and Father’s Day greeting cards aren’t high on some students’ lists of trauma-inducements.

Taste of Northern China, 88 East Broadway, around the corner on Forsythe Street, just opened and is very small. It took over the space occupied by Xi’An Famous Foods, where 1 ½ people could stand and eat. Taste added on an extension, about 4' x 8' where 6 stools sit against a ledge. The preparation area holds two women fixing dishes, and one young man taking orders and payments. In that crowded space, one of the women was hand-pulling noodles.

I ordered one lamb, one beef and one chicken skewer ($1.25 each) and a meat sandwich ($3). The skewers, which had been grilled over an open fire, were tasty as almost anything with a lot of fat grilled over an open fire will be inevitably. The shredded meat (pork) sandwich was served in a 5-inch round near-pita, authentic Chinese the young man told me. It was mildly seasoned and cooked with a bit of onion, nothing like the spicy lamb burger served by Xi’An except in outward appearance.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
The police chief of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire has resigned. He was overheard, in the words of the Union Leader, the state’s most influential newspaper, "call[ing] President Obama a ‘f*****g n*****’" and refused to apologize. According to the 2010 census, Wolfeboro, The Jewel of Lake Winnipesaukee™, has a total population of 6,269, of whom 6,119 identify as White and 11 identify as Black or African American, which probably explains the chief’s ethnic expertise. I am holding my breath for the chief’s views of Jews, because, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives (the US government avoids the topic), there are no measurable traces of Jews in Carroll County, New Hampshire, where Wolfeboro is situated.

325 Broadway has been the site of two failures recently. In 2011-2012, Sushein, Kaiten Sushi Bar & Restaurant operated briefly. This was a Kosher sushi restaurant where the plates travelled on a conveyor belt, allowing you to pick what you wanted. The physical layout of the restaurant was awkward and maybe the culinary focus was too narrow. In 2013, a young graduate of MIT took over the site and opened Siring Asian Grill, a pan-Asian, stir-fried to order restaurant. However, even with the conveyor belt removed, the space was poorly laid out and unattractive. Also, the menu, while more broadly conceived than Sushein’s, did not have a natural audience. I had occasion to speak with Smith, the first name of the young owner, of Thai background, a few times. I could not hide my pessimism as we sat alone at the peak of the lunch hour.

Today, on the way to work, many months after Siring closed, I stopped in Smith’s brand new enterprise, a Burger King franchise. The space has had a gut renovation, making it seem larger and far more inviting than previous designs. I think that it will be successful, although otherwise unremarkable, because familiar fast food will appeal to the many office workers nearby and tourists on foot in this historic and colorful neighborhood within striking distance of Century 21. On the other hand, it’s highly unlikely that I will be ordering a Whopper any time soon.

Thursday, May 22, 2014
I went to Jing Fong, 20 Elizabeth Street, expecting some good dim sum, which I got, and ample space to do my crossword puzzle, which I got. I did not mind being racially-profiled when I was seated at a round table with four suburban women close to me in age and complexion. I enjoyed giving them some guidance in what had to be an inaugural gastronomic experience for them. However, I was a little late to avoid one serious mishap when they got their digits crossed and wound up with chicken feet instead of chicken fingers.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Three New Ones

Monday, May 12, 2014
I’ve spotted several new restaurants in my recent meanderings and I hope to get to two or three this week.  First is A Wah Restaurant II, 48B Bowery, at the entrance to the arcade connecting Bowery and Elizabeth Street.  It replaced Yummy Noodle, which was only half right.  A Wah II is bright with pale yellow walls only modestly decorated with large framed pictures.  It has three large round tables, all fully occupied when I arrived.  I noticed that all the occupants seemed to be in the same generation, in contrast to the three or four generations typically seen crowded around a big table in Chinatown.  In fact, all 24 or so customers seemed to belong together, but their common link eluded me.  There were also eight four-top tables where we unaffiliated folks were distributed.

Their picture menus are printed on stiff cardboard, like children’s books meant to be chewed as well as read.  I ordered fried shrimp & pork dumplings ($3.95) and salt-baked chicken over rice ($4.95).  Instead, I believe that I was served fried vegetable dumplings and soy roasted chicken over rice.  They were both very good and not radically different from what I thought I was getting.  I observed the discrepancy with the hostess, but not as a complaint.      

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Well, if there is an A Wah Restaurant II, there must be an A Wah Restaurant I.  Indeed, A-Wah Restaurant, 5 Catherine Street, is two short blocks from its progeny, which apparently lost its hyphen along the way.  This used to be QJ Restaurant and little has seemed to have changed since my visit on January 28, 2010.  The gloomy, boxy back room holds 6 four-tops and one small round table, occupied by five or six people spread out.  The open kitchen in front though, hung with chickens, ducks, sides of ribs, was busy with takeout orders. 

I ordered House fried chow fun ($8.95), which turned out to be Singapore chow fun, complete with bean sprouts, green peppers, red peppers, onions, scallions, egg, shrimp and slivers of three meats, the least appetizing part of the dish, with broad noodles with a mild curry taste.  For once, there was solid evidence of David Goldfarb’s theory of One Big Chinatown Kitchen.  The dish was effectively identical to what I had at Xing Wong BBQ Inc., 89 East Broadway, exactly one week ago, for almost $2 less.  That newer, brighter, cheaper place is obviously preferable, with the cardiovascular benefit of three extra blocks to walk.  Maybe it will become A Wah III.   

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 
The Anti-Defamation League, a vigilant defender of Jews worldwide, yesterday released a survey on anti-Semitic attitudes.  It collected responses from 53,100 adults in 102 countries and territories.  More details at
.  Central to the survey were about a dozen questions about the respondent’s view of Jews, such as, “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars,” and “Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind.”  The question that evoked the highest agreement was “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to [your home country].”     

Some of the results were highly predictable, the West Bank and Gaza (together) display the most anti-Semitic attitudes.  I was a little surprised that immediately following was a group of countries that share two characteristics – almost Jew-free and Islamic – Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia.  A nicer surprise came at the other end of the list, the least anti-Semitic countries – Laos, Philippines, Sweden, Netherlands and Vietnam – quite a hodge podge.  

One of the most bizarre results was Greece, with a score of 69% surveyed expressing anti-Semitic attitudes, far outstripping Germany for instance, at 27%, when Greek Jews suffered the highest death rate of any occupied country during WWII.  The current Jewish population of Greece is estimated at 4,500 to 7,000 (according to how Jews are defined), 0.042% to 0.056% of the population.  Apparently 99 and 44/100 percent pure ain’t pure enough.

Thursday, May 15, 2014
I felt that time traveled backwards today, when I went to my third new restaurant in one week, something that became very difficult as I moved beyond the first year of this (ad)venture.  Dumpling Cafe, 153D Centre Street, is a small joint in an excellent location just south of Canal Street.  Behind an all-glass front, there is a space about 8' x 12' in front of a kitchen.  There is no seating, but three ledges are attached to the walls for in-house dining.  

The menu, not yet printed, is limited, and drinks are pushed as much or more than food.  I had hibachi chicken ($7), a very good dish with a name that conveys little information about what to expect except that it’s chicken.  The cubes of white meat chicken are cooked in a mildly spicy brown sauce with onions, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, red pepper and sesame seeds.  It is served with freshly-cooked fried rice and a small dish of a tomatoey mayonnaise.  Quite enjoyable, but I wish that I could have ordered a chair.    

Friday, May 16, 2014
The anarchic Jews of West End Synagogue are taking to the woods for a weekend retreat.  For the third year, I am leading this effort at spiritual and community growth, armed with my own version of Holy Writ, several crossword puzzles.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Song and Dance

Monday, May 5, 2014
Do you know this man?

As Secretary of the West End Synagogue, I want to thank Republican state senator Stacey Campfield of Knoxville, Tennessee for his concern about my tribe. Drawing a parallel with the Holocaust in his blog, he wrote "I think Jewish people should be the first to stand up against Obamacare. When you have government deciding who gets health insurance and who doesn’t, what services they get and what services they have to provide, they’re really deciding who lives and who dies."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
I would like you to exercise your powers of observation over the next week or so to test the following propositions:

(A) Whether the American politicians most enthusiastic about the imposition of Christian prayer at public governmental meetings simultaneously sympathize with the manifestations of Islamic law anywhere in the world?

(B) Whether those American politicians most devoted to limiting government intervention in people’s lives stand up against the imposition of Christian prayer at public governmental meetings?

After all, the US Supreme Court held yesterday that "a challenge based solely on the content of a prayer will not likely establish a constitutional violation." While admittedly we New Yorkers (New York City actually, since the offensive decision focused on upstate New York) are unlikely to be regaled by invocations of Jesus Christ, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon or Rabbi Menachem Schneerson every time two politicians consort in public, you real Americans may expect to be Hallelujahed until your urine turns to sacramental wine.

Ah, I already hear the rumblings from the Domestic Enemies of Sanity. How can Grandpa Alan, an admitted card-carrying member of the International Jewish Conspiracy, oppose government-sponsored religious observance? Well, I simply believe that religious practice, like sex, should be conducted among consenting adults in relative privacy.

I set out on a long walk at lunch time to get far away from the US Supreme Court and the news of the increasing danger to the health and safety of my grandchildren posed by climate change. I passed by Division 31, not really expecting that they had dropped the hot pot in favor of feeding me lunch, and found it closed, with a sign announcing that it would be closed from April 1 to April 31 (sic), reopening May 1. It’s still closed and I’ll keep an eye on the space. Also, Gold River Malaysian Cuisine, 21 Division Street, a few doors away, was closed, without any explanation.

I ended my walk before reaching my mythic destination when I saw a bright sign and new storefront for Xing Wong BBQ Inc., 89 East Broadway. The medium-sized joint has 7 round tables and 5 four-tops, in a light and airy setting. The menu focused on noodle and rice dishes. Pointing to Singapore chow mei fun and beef chow fun on the menu, I asked for Singapore chow fun, the natural result of combining them ($7). I received a large portion of the wide noodles, cooked with that slightly tangy curry flavor, combined with shrimp, red pepper, green pepper, scallions, egg, onion, and slivers of 2 or 3 different meats, differing in color rather than taste. The food was good, service prompt. The potted plants decorated with red ribbons signaled the restaurant’s newness, but my poor language skills prevented me from learning just when it opened.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014
The Boyz Club met for lunch today at Mottzar Kitchen, 70 Mott Street, to enjoy its Peking duck, distinguished by excellent preparation and low price. Five of us shared two large ducks, served with puffy buns and all the accouterments. There was also one conscientious objector, possibly harkening back to fond memories of Donald, Huey, Dewey and Louie. Additionally, we had some mediocre small dishes, but the ducks stood out – well, stood out even though laying down.

Normally, I concentrate on the metropolitan Chinatown area, but I had a nice surprise and good news for those of you laboring in the fields of east midtown Manhattan when I stopped off on the way home. Just yesterday, Jacques Torres, the distinguished chocolatier, opened a small shop in the retail corridor running from Lexington Avenue into Grand Central Station, not the food court, but the passageway immediately south of it. Torres has been making and selling chocolates in New York since 2000. While his quality is high, his prices are reasonable, not cheap, but better than many competitors.

Less often than America’s Favorite Epidemiologist suspects, I visit his store on Amsterdam Avenue at 73rd Street. My favorite is his chocolate chip cookies, the best that I’ve ever had. Now priced at $3 each, they are four to five inches in diameter and made with discs of chocolate, not chips, that melt into the dough as they bake. This produces a pattern akin to the geological strata of the Grand Canyon. How wonderful.

Friday, May 9, 2014
Last night we saw "Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill," a reenactment of one of Billie Holiday’s last nightclub performances, shortly before she died in 1959, only 44 years old. I strongly recommend it to you for two reasons: Audra McDonald, a major concert and Broadway star, brilliantly recreates the drug- and drink-dissipated jazz singer whose public persona could not be at greater odds with McDonald’s own; this work, although ultimately fiction, brings back Billie Holiday for our entertainment and education. Inevitably, I thought back to the few live exposures that I had to Billie Holiday. I saw her either once or twice at outdoor jazz festivals held on Randall’s Island, beginning in 1956, an underutilized spot of land under the Triborough Bridge, notable then only as Stuyvesant High School’s home football field. The combination of her physical condition and my teenage callowness left me disappointed, at best, more likely dismissive of what I had witnessed.

A far more rewarding memory for me and some of the American public came in December 1957, when CBS presented "The Sound of Jazz," a one-hour live show, without tricked-up camera work or bloviated commentary. The show, almost a throwaway at five on a Sunday afternoon, featured Count Basie, Gerry Mulligan, Thelonious Monk and a thrilling mix of traditional and modern musicians. Without benefit of any recording or time-shifting mechanisms, I sat rapt in front of our black-and-white, monaural, 13-inch Dumont television set. Billie Holiday was outstanding, singing Fine and Mellow, reunited briefly with Lester Young, her ex-lover, on tenor saxophone.

Thanks to the example set by my big brother, I was already devoted to jazz, separating myself from my rock’n’roll contemporaries. While I later moved into the ambit of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, almost every minute of that 1957 broadcast remains with me 57 years later. I consider myself lucky for that reason.

Just as I was about to publish this blog, shut the computer and head to the Mets-Phillies game, the Associated Press released the Social(ist) Security Administration's list of most popular baby names for 2013.  I find these things fascinating.  Sophia, without the benefit of Sofia, leads all girl's names; Noah, the most popular boy's name, in spite of the movie reviews. 
While it did not make last year's list, I understand that many Republicans are currently naming their newborns Benghazi. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Not Too Smart

Monday, April 28, 2014
The headline today reads "‘Smart’ Firearm Draws Wrath of the Gun Lobby."
As I understand it, the gun nuts fear that the intelligence of their weapons might exceed the intelligence of their wielders.

I was fortunate to have lunch with Nancy Dubler, who is on jury duty this week. Besides being one of this country’s leading medical bioethicists, she is an excellent cook and consumer of fine food. We went to Dim Sum Go Go, 5 East Broadway, distinguished by the variety of shapes, colors, and contents of its buns and dumplings. We each had an assorted platter ($11.95), which provided a visual treat along with the good eats. This place was new to Nancy and she indicated that she will return even when not called upon to do her civic duty. On the way back, I identified a few other special joints for Nancy, since I am unavailable for lunch tomorrow. Selfishly, I hope that her tour of duty is extended.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
I had to put my head inside the scooped out dinosaur egg this morning because my eye doctor found the last test results inconclusive. Today’s test results were clearer and more favorable, to me at least, if not to his Second Home on the Riviera Fund.

Lunch will be somewhat impromptu this afternoon because Linell H., my supervisor, is being honored at a reception at 1 PM. She is quite deserving of recognition for the quality of her work, leadership and guidance. She does not deserve, however, to have to put up with me on a regular basis.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
What good news. Our New York team went down to Philadelphia last night and scored a convincing 6-1 victory. That was baseball, of course – the New York Mets over the Philadelphia Phillies. Meanwhile, in the hockey playoffs, the New York Rangers were crushed by the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2. For the uninitiated, 5-2 in hockey is a bigger loss than 6-1 in baseball. In any case, there are 136 games remaining in the regular baseball season, while tonight is the seventh and deciding game in this round of the hockey playoffs.

Nancy has returned home, dismissed after 2 days, the typical stay for prospective jurors in New York County who are not picked for a jury. That left me alone to make my way through the heavy rain to Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, for chicken and beef chow fun ($7.75), so good that my bad hockey-induced mood lifted somewhat.

Thursday, May 1, 2014
Workers of the world, unite! That was the good old days, when that rallying cry actually made people take notice. Today, May Day, no one thinks of revolt or even uniting to dance around the May pole.

75 East Broadway sits under the Manhattan Bridge roadway. It is an open-air stall, offering Chinese food items rarely in short supply at the Palazzo di Gotthelf. However, if you look closely, an eating establishment sits behind it. The small, nameless space inside is crowded with low stools, tables and a counter running along two walls. Two women handle a collection of pots, pans, trays and cookers. I got three buns ($1), about 4 inches across, with a tasty meat center – whether pork or beef the two women could not decide, and hefty portion of mei fun ($1.25), cooked with some lettuce and egg. The noodles were hot and filling, though bland. 

Friday, May 2, 2014
Unlike the anonymity of the hole in the wall at 75 East Broadway, Nardelli's Grinder Shoppe, 540 Plank Road, Waterbury, CT, boldly advertises itself on billboards along I-84 between Danbury and Hartford, CT. That's how I learned about it, and have now visited on each of the last four trips to Massachusetts for grandchildren inspection.  It turns out that there are 9 Nardelli's in Connecticut, with more franchises still available, but I've only been to this location, about 100 yards from Exit 25 on the highway.  

Aside from Nardelli's calling hero sandwiches grinders, I can only commend them to hungry travelers about halfway between New York and Boston.  They offer a whole or half sandwich and, to give you perspective, I find the half sandwich more than adequate.  It measures about 5 inches long by 4 inches wide, the bread always fresh.  The menu lists about 18 cold sandwiches -- chicken salad, prosciutto, cheese, salami -- and about 20 hot sandwiches -- eggplant parmigiana,  garlic chicken, sausage & peppers -- ranging in price from a half at $4.59 to $8.95 a whole. 

So far, I've only had delicious chicken salad and roast beef sandwiches, with meatball parmigiana in my cross hairs for next time.  Every cold sandwich comes with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, diced marinated vegetables, provolone cheese, olives and hot sauce, unless you opt out.  On the other hand, you can opt in, at no extra charge, with oil & vinegar, salt, pepper, raw onion, honey mustard, cranberry mayonnaise, horseradish mayonnaise, mustard, oregano and/or pickles.  If enough is not enough, extra provolone, extra meat, bacon, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, sharp cheese and/or fresh mozzarella may be purchased, along with a stepladder to assist you in approaching your sandwich.  Some hot dishes, salads and sides are also available.  

Nardelli's was founded in 1922 and merits another 92 years, but don't wait that long.