Friday, October 24, 2014

Comings and Goings

Monday, October 20, 2014
Dimes, 143 Division Street, was identified a couple of weeks ago as "a new restaurant in Chinatown" in the New York Times. This may be geographically correct in light of the inexorable eastward expansion of Chinatown into what was once the heart of the Yiddish-speaking Lower East Side. It is barely 100 feet from 13 Essex Street where Mother Ruth Gotthelf née Goldenberg was born in 1909. Whether Dimes qualifies as a Chinatown restaurant gastronomically by any measure is less certain. On this bright, crispy day, I thought a long walk was in order, so I hied off to Dimes.

It’s a small joint and people were waiting outside to get one of the six small (two-person) round tables. I sat at a counter on the right side of the restaurant on one of six stools, against a white-painted wall. Opposite was a white-washed brick wall. One guy prepared coffee drinks at a nook in one corner in front of the kitchen. The menu is interesting, different than my normal lunchtime haunts. I ordered a spicy beet sandwich ($10), and I have to confess that I liked it. The spicy beet(s) were really present in the form of chrain, the beet-infused horseradish dressing for gefilte fish. The sandwich was on thick slices of multi-grain bread also containing roasted eggplant, pickled carrots and a hard boiled egg. Dimes was not exclusively vegetarian. There was one chicken sandwich and a gussied up BLT on the menu, but, looking over the salad-laden menu, I temporarily abandoned my carnivorous ways, with a good result.

Walking back to the courthouse, I went into the post office on East Broadway and found exactly what I sought, the special edition Batman stamps – a pane showing the Caped Crusader in four different poses. However, I discovered that the postal service had recently released a Janis Joplin commemorative stamp, which was now out of stock. I’ll have to track this down. Thinking of Joplin’s hectic life and death and the seeming inattention to issuing a stamp in her honor, I was reminded of the reaction of some Domestic Enemies of Sanity to the W.C. Fields stamp issued in 1980, on his 100th birthday. After all, said one at the time, "his reputation as an alcoholic, child- and animal-hater was also renowned." And, what better reason to issue a stamp?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I have very mixed emotions about The Death of Klinghoffer. Generally, I approach absolutism on censorship, not because of the homilies about the free market of ideas, but out of a visceral distrust of the censor, any censor. (Note that Rudy Giuliani was one of the speakers outside the Metropolitan Opera House last night, opposing presentation of the opera.) On the other hand, facile anti-Semitism is being restored to its place in Western thought, among intellectuals and thugs alike. So, I am unable to be conclusive about this work of art. However, Tom Morris, the director of the current production, said that "it dramatizes terrorism, it does not condone it." (Video embedded in In that regard, I must comment that shooting a wheelchair-bound cruise ship passenger and throwing him into the sea, just because he is Jewish, is pretty dramatic to begin with. Skip the singing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Better than Goodnight, Ladies?
"In one of the more inexplicable mysteries of Chinese culture, [Kenny G’s] 1989 saxophone ballad ‘Going Home’ has for decades oozed from speakers across Chinese public spaces at closing time, triggering rapid exits by the masses. The song has no lyrics, yet somehow, when it is played in a mall, Chinese shoppers know what to do. They go home." (From

The Chinese may meet or exceed the US in crowd control, but they still have a lot to learn from us about democracy. Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying "said that one reason fully open elections could not be allowed here was because they would result in ‘a numbers game’ that would force the government to skew ‘politics and policies’ toward poor people." (From Don’t worry, Chief Leung, the Home of the Free and the Land of the Brave has amply demonstrated that universal suffrage has done little to skew politics and policies toward poor people.

It rained all night and through this morning’s rush hour. However, by lunchtime, it was only damp and cold, which led me to the warm confines of Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street. But, lo and behold, there was no immediate seating, so I retreated to street level and went to Shanghai Asian Manor, 21 Mott Street. I didn’t feel entirely thwarted since I had eaten at Wo Hop just yesterday. With no chow fun on the menu at Shanghai Asian Manor, I ordered scallion pancake ($2.75) and wonton Szechuan style ($5.70), resulting in a very good meal. The scallion pancake was near great, big and crispy, but excessively oily. Had it been properly drained, we would have had the new scallion pancake champion. The eight wonton were simmered in a hot Szechuan sauce, peppery, garlicky, spicy, yummy.

The crummy weather kept the crowds away from the post office on Doyers Street, where I continued my search for Janis Joplin. Success! I saw Joplin twice in person, at what used to be call the Fillmore East on Second Avenue, and the stamps bring back distant memories.  Additionally, the kind postal worker pulled out panes of Jimi Hendrix and vintage circus posters, a particularly colorful issue. Given the few times we actually mail letters, I’m equipped for years of correspondence to come.

Thursday, October 23, 2014
I’m attending another CLE (continuing legal education) session at lunch time, so food from the one brother on the Two Brothers Halal food cart will more than suffice.

Friday, October 24, 2014
I had the pleasure of the company of Alan Silverman for lunch. We shared a Peking duck at Mottzar Kitchen, 70 Mott Street, where I have found a consistently high level of duck. Crossing over Mulberry Street, I came across the funeral of someone (I couldn’t get the name) who was either very popular or was in the flower business.

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