Saturday, July 5, 2014

Brown Shirts and Black and White Athletes

Monday, June 30, 2014
Fascism is a convenient shorthand description of the US Supreme Court’s gilding of its blend of corporate and state power with a veneer of religious fanaticism. It has followed an agenda of narrowing access to the voting booth while expanding access to lethal firearms. This at a time when the right and the left are expressing increased hostility to established institutions of all stripes, and each other as well.  I guess that's what guns are for.

Shopping tip: The fish department at ShopRite of Englewood, 40 Nathaniel Place, just off Palisade Avenue, has freshly-made salmon burgers, weighing about 1/4 pound each, at 2 for $3. Gently pan fried in olive oil, they are delicious. And, with salmon prices at all-time highs (, this is an incredible deal. I hope that it stays around for a while for your enjoyment.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014
It’s hard reading the newspaper this morning. The lead domestic story is the despicable Supreme Court decision elevating the religious beliefs of some people (with power) over the health and safety of other people (without power). More focused cruelty is demonstrated in the death of the three hitchhiking Israeli teenagers. While both sides will try to trace root causes back to the conduct of the other, we should, momentarily at least, announce the simple facts of the event: Three teenage boys were shot to death by one or more strangers. Placing the atrocity in the Arab-Israeli cauldron should not rob it of its human character, but it probably will.

One bright spot for those of us who go to work every day and play by the rules is the $8.9 billion (yes, billion) penalty for BNP Paribas, a French bank, which, for at least 10 years, falsified records on illegal transactions. Now, if prosecutorial zeal can be aimed a little closer to home.

Another cause for hope is the demonstrations in Hong Kong calling for greater democracy. Hundreds of thousands of people marched earlier today (there is a 12-hour time difference), opposing the continued oppression by the Communist regime. This inspired some of the leading capitalist advocates of freedom and justice for all to speak up, to take a stand. According to a column in the Wall Street Journal, "[t]he Hong Kong affiliates of Ernst & Young LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte LLP and KPMG LLP published a half-page Chinese-language advertisement in the local press Friday voicing concerns about the Occupy Central movement [a leading pro-democracy group]." The advertisement said, "We worry that multinational companies and investors might consider moving their regional headquarters from Hong Kong, or even remove their businesses, in the long term shaking Hong Kong from its position as an international financial and commercial center." So, our brave CPA freedom fighters take a bold stand for the supremacy of international finance and commerce. Their mothers must be very proud.

Even with the temperature at 88, I didn’t mind the long walk through Chinatown, and its unrivaled collection of smells, to get to Quan Sushi, 375 Broome Street, a really tiny Japanese restaurant, visited for the first time. Quan has 6 two-top tables which have to be bunched together to fit in the floor space. Additionally, there is a two-person sushi bar opposite the chef. Its menu has a bit more variety than you might imagine in the limited room to operate, with bento boxes and other lunch specials. I ordered three rolls ($11.50), spicy tuna, eel cucumber and salmon skin. They all tasted very fresh, made inside out, with a thin layer of rice on the outside. Each was cut into six 1" pieces. They were accompanied by cloudy miso soup and a very predictable small iceberg lettuce salad with a slightly interesting dressing. Most other people would have found the airconditioning adequate.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
The temperature hit 90 and I was unwilling to go far afield for lunch. Therefore, it was roast duck chow fun ($6.95) at Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, which actually would have been worth a long trip.

Thursday, July 3, 2014
I’ve written of the death of my cousin Allan S. Gotthelf on August 30, 2013. Less than one year apart, but in different grades, we went to the same elementary school and high school simultaneously. Then, for three years, we overlapped in municipal colleges, me City College, him Brooklyn College. In retrospect, the confusion was less than you might imagine, although, whenever I was taken for a leading acolyte of Ayn Rand, I wasn’t pleased.

He and I were both amused, however, when I shared a letter that I received, in 1969, from a former girlfriend of Alan Gotthelf who actually never had the pleasure of the company of either of us. This woman, then living in Kansas, wrote to remind me of her romantic interlude with me, that is Alan Gotthelf, in Colorado a few years earlier. (I still have the letter.)  Cousin Allan insisted that he had never been in Colorado and I was not to get there until a brief business trip in the early 1980s. I called her, of course, to explain who I was and who I wasn’t, also exonerating cousin Allan. I only learned a little bit more about her Alan Gotthelf, but was convinced of her sincerity (and sanity). Now, I’ve found another piece of the puzzle.

[Click for better focus]

This monument is in Sons of Israel Cemetery, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Internet inquiries show that Mother Martha, now 94, is still alive, living in Denver.  I haven't been able to reach her on the telephone yet. Of course, I have to be very careful of my opening lines when we finally get into conversation, or else it may sound like an old script from the Twilight Zone.

Friday, July 4, 2014
On this day celebrating the good old USA, it's appropriate to celebrate the legacy of the late Strom Thurmond, the long-lived, long-serving Senator from South Carolina.  Watching the World Cup, we see that many of our best players, such as Jermaine Jones, Timmy Chandler, John Anthony Brooks and Julian Green, are the products of liaisons between black US soldiers and German women.  It was Thurmond, nominally a segregationist, who advanced the cause of athletic excellence in fathering a daughter by a black domestic in his household.  While our soccer team was eliminated in the round of 16 earlier this week, with Green scoring the only goal for the US, we can only hope that Thurmond's example furthers our competitive position in years to come.

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