Friday, September 26, 2014

Auld Lang Zion

Monday, September 22, 2014
Mmuseumm ( is located on Cortlandt Alley, which runs two blocks from Leonard Street to White Street, bisecting the wide block between Lafayette Street and Broadway, just around the corner from New York County’s Family Court, a woeful place to be sure. (Nearest subways – Franklin Street on #1, Canal Street on #6, R, N, Q, J, Z.) It is referred to as the smallest museum in New York, but there is evidence that it may be the smallest museum in the world. There is an operation in Superior, Arizona that carries that title, but it claims to be 134 square feet, while New York’s alternative is only 60 square feet.

Mmuseumm occupies the former ground floor stop on a freight elevator, that neighborhood once occupied by light industry and warehouses. It’s open only weekend afternoons, but the slits in the door allow a look into the illuminated interior.

It is devoted to the jetsam of contemporary life, exhibits such as toothpaste tubes from around the world, "200 New Delhi Mosquitos Killed Mid Bite" and plastic spoons. These exhibits come from folks just like you and me, only weirder. 

I thought I was paying a return visit to 27 Sunshine, 46 Bowery, for dim sum today, but I could find no record of ever going there before. Then, I realized that this was the site of HSF, a very popular, early dim sum joint, and I merely assumed that I had been there more recently. In any case, lots of other people, all Chinese, found their way to this large restaurant, bright with yellow linen. I wasn’t very hungry, so I only had steamed pork dumplings (3 fat ones), steamed shrimp dumplings (4) and deep fried (not pan fried) shrimp dumplings (4), from the carts that came around pretty quickly. The steamed dumplings were nice and hot, contrary to Silverberg’s Law on Circulating Food, although the fried shrimp dumplings were no more than room temperature. All else went well, except for the math on the bill, which must have included the tip for the three adjacent tables.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
The Texas legislature, with the hearty approval of Governor Rick Perry, has been trying to eliminate abortion in the state by imposing strictures on abortion clinics, forcing many to close. Perry proved to be almost as good a medical diagnostician as he was a mathematician during the 2012 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival on Sunday, he said: "It was interesting that, when Joan Rivers, and the procedure that she had done where she died, that was a clinic. It’s a curious thought that if they had had that type of regulations in place [that have been imposed in Texas], whether or not that individual would be still alive."

Rock on, Rick.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
I've heard Barack Obama and Rabbi Marc Margolius, of West End Synagogue, quote Martin Luther King, Jr.'s optimistic adage that the moral arc of the Universe bends towards justice.  I've never accepted that idea for two reasons: Philosophically, I don't believe that there is any overarching meaning in the Universe, and practically, the history of humankind is marked by continuing exploitation and savagery.  I'm reminded of this by the front page of the New York Times, which reports people shouting "Death to the Jews!" and "Gas the Jews!" on the same European streets where this was successfully urged over 70 years ago.

The worst part of these events, in my mind, is the complicity of European intellectuals and academics in this behavior, even as they maintain silence at the news of the beheading of Westerners and the ethnic cleansing of Christian, Yezidi, Turkmen, Shabak, Kaka’e, Sabaeans and Shi’a communities by ISIS.  Who should be boycotting whom?

The following is written in advance, as the Jewish new year holiday (Rosh Hashanah) begins at sundown.  We are having dinner with Aunt Judi and Uncle Stu, as we do on other important occasions, especially Passover.  While there will be less of a crowd than at their fabulous seders, Judi will certainly provide a large variety of dishes to please us all.  The menu for tonight, I am told, is: French onion soup or zucchini pear soup with matzoh balls; beef brisket in a cranberry-onion sauce; honey-lemon glazed chicken with onion, mushroom and matzoh farfel stuffing; roasted turnips, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes with shallots and garlic; carrot muffins; and string bean salad.  Of course, there will be home-baked sugar cookies, chocolate chip mandelbrot (a personal favorite), and brownies.  Beverages hard and soft, hot and cold complete the fare.  Unlike Fox News, I will not invent facts and give opinions in advance, but I anticipate delight. 

Since no Chinatown lunch can serve as an appropriate lead-in to tonight's dinner, I chose something completely different -- sushi at Tokyo Mart, 91 Mulberry Street, a Japanese supermarket with a little sushi stand.  Since my last visit, they replaced the counter inside the front door with a high round table, still using three stools.  The sushi was packaged, but my serving of a cooked salmon and avocado roll, dusted with salmon caviar, cut into seven pieces, and four pieces of grilled eel sushi ($8) was quite fresh, as if it had been made to order.  The contrast with my reasonable expectations for this evening was complete, fish vs. no fish, solitary dining vs. a raft of relatives, primitive surroundings vs. stylish decor, but it was thoroughly satisfying in its own way.    

Friday, September 26, 2014
Welcome 5775.  I can't offer undifferentiated wishes for health and happiness to all; that's not my style.  But, your fate is in your own hands to a great extent.  Do good things; have good things happen to you, and I'll take retroactive credit.

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