Friday, August 1, 2014

Fruitful Memories

Monday, July 28, 2014
The author of a letter to the business section in the Sunday Times was identified as a “professor of communication sciences and disorders.”  I couldn’t make sense of that until going to her institution’s web site, which discussed its department of communication sciences and disorders.  I learned that they were talking about speech pathology, a familiar term, possibly too familiar in this world of grandiose labels and grade inflation.  What threw me off, and still strikes me as inapt, is the use of “communications,” such a broad term, in which speech is only a small part.  Arguably, communications sciences could be devoted entirely to telephony, satellite transmissions, fiber optics and/or emojis, those overly precious symbols appended to text messages, themselves the subject of an article in the paper yesterday as well.  But, in this case, the communications disorder is found in the college’s use of language, its apparent need to disguise an easily and widely understood subject behind a sexed up label. 
As soon as I sat down at Jing Star, 27 Division Street, for dim sum, I started reading Ten Green Bottles, the story of a Viennese family that fled to Shanghai to escape the Nazis, that I just got from the library around the corner.  It broadly echoes the plight of the Bergers, my former in-laws.  The author, Vivian Jeanette Kaplan, was born in Shanghai, as was my ex-wife.  She calls her work “a memoir in the creative non-fiction genre,” because she writes entirely in her mother’s voice.  

The (parent) Bergers were very close-mouthed about their Shanghai experiences, and my wife and her brother seemed to learn more from family friends who had shared the journey physically and emotionally with them.  In the 1970s, very little was known about the expatriate Shanghai Jews, and I have since tried to gather information as it became available through books, documentaries and exhibitions.  

As I read, I had wide rice noodles wrapped around shrimp, shu mei, tightly rolled up strips of chow fun topped with ugly pieces of pork belly, steamed buns containing diced pieces of a pale root vegetable, ground meat and peanuts, and baked triangular barbecued pork buns ($12 before tip).  The place was about half full, but very lively, in contrast to the low energy, and lower prices, that I found on a prior visit (February 15, 2012).  
Tuesday, July 29, 2014 
Reuters – “More than a third of U.S. adults have bad debt that has been handed over to a collection agency and their average debt in collections is $5,178, according to a study published on Tuesday by the Urban Institute.”  Maybe I’m naive, but that’s shocking news.  I’m not sure whether I am more worried about the hardships faced by this large number of people who are unable/unwilling to control their financial affairs, or their potential for social and/or political disruption.   
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The sports section of the Times this morning sadly described my visit to the ball park last night: “A grand slam by [Philadelphia Phillie] Chase Utley off [Mets] reliever Josh Edgin in the seventh sent fans to the exits early.”  
On the other hand, lunch with Stony Brook Steve was not cut short by any adverse heroics.  We went to Thai Son Vietnamese Restaurant, 89 Baxter Street.  We shared a large order (8 pieces) of  cha gio, fried spring rolls ($7.25).  I had bun bo lui, grilled beef with sesame seasoning & lettuce on rice vermicelli ($6.25); Steve ordered bo xao bong cai, beef with broccoli in oyster sauce ($9.50).  Food was OK, but the company was far better.  
The following headline popped up on late this afternoon: “Arab Leaders Silent, Viewing Hamas as Worse Than Israel.”  That seems to leave only the good Christians of Western Europe to be convinced.  
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Speaking of communications disorders, my letter to the elderly mother, in Denver, of the deceased Alan Gotthelf has gone unanswered.  In it, I introduced myself, enclosing printed evidence of my existence, and suggested further communications without explicitly expressing my curiosity about Alan’s life and very premature death at age 37.  While I have not found any evidence of marriage or children for him, I’d like to validate this information.  Nothing indicates that he had any siblings either, so I may have to let Alan simply rest in peace. 
I met Mark Nazimova, poet and seeker, for lunch at North Dumpling, 27A Essex Street, just doors away from where my mother was born almost 105 years ago at 13 Essex Street.  North is one of Mark’s favorites, but new to me.  My guess is that Chinese takeout was not a regular feature of the Goldenberg (né Chelchowsky) household in its first American home back then.    
Mark and I shared one order of 8 steamed vegetable dumplings ($3); two orders, 10 each, of pan fried pork and chive dumplings ($2.50); chive pancakes (2 for $1.50), 3 ½" discs filled with chives and fine rice noodles (mei fun, vermicelli, angel hair pasta); 1 sesame pancake with beef, a triangular wedge very close to focaccia, sprinkled with sesame seeds, with a thin slice of beef, shredded carrots and slight amount of a pungent sauce in the middle ($2).  
North is small, 2 tables, 6 chairs, one ledge and 2 stools.  While we lingered, many people came in and out for takeout orders.  When we left, I regaled Mark with stories about the old neighborhood that I learned from my mother and her older sister Sophie.  Had the weather been a little cooler, he might have walked away faster.
Friday, August 1, 2014
I’m having great success on my new diet, which limits me to fresh fruit when I am not eating Chinese food or chocolate chip cookies.  So, I’m happy to give my latest Chinatown sidewalk fruit report for the corner of Mulberry Street and Canal Street: donut peaches, $2 for 20 oz. package; blueberries, $1.25 a pint; raspberries, $2 for 6 oz.; blackberries, $1 a pint; pineapple, $1.50 (never saw such a low price).  I purchased all but the pineapple for dessert tonight and should thereby be able to avoid scurvy at least through the weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Here, English and Art are hidden in the Department of Verbal and Visual Arts, which helps to explain why so many of our students lack good writing skills.