Friday, January 23, 2015

Homeward Bound

Monday, January 19, 2015
The New York Times had an article about a study conducted by psychologists attempting to foster intimacy between strangers aiming for love and marriage. They have crafted 36 questions to be answered by the participants to each other, much more profound than the introductory palaver usually exchanged on first dates. For instance, "Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?" rather than "What’s your favorite movie?" Or, "If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?" rather than "If you could be any kind of sandwich, what would you be?" Sharing such personal feelings with a stranger so soon, it is felt, hastens (forces) the development of a close relationship.

The full set of questions is at
I asked myself the questions and grew very fond of me.

Speaking of close relationships, we remain in privity with the Hotel Lucerne, because the fine craftsmen restoring the splendor of the Palazzo di Gotthelf are not yet finished.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Even if the New York Rangers were not playing the Ottawa Senators tonight, I would not watch President Obama vs. the Republican Senators and Representatives, too. I like Obama, and have admired many of his speeches, but, as in past years, I will not tune in the State of the Union address. It's not the politics of the event, but the aesthetics that repulse me. I loathe the popping up and down of attendees in conjunction with certain rhetorical points, whether performed by the full assembly or limited to partisan supporters. It’s especially ludicrous with Joe Biden sitting next to John Boehner, two men whose current political scripts couldn’t differ more. It's like some silly adult version of Whack-a-Mole. I might look in only to see if Boehner’s skin is now darker than Obama’s. Another feature of these performances that keeps me away is the presence of sentimental totems in the gallery, a demonstration to the American people that the President really cares about plain folks and that he reads USA Today.

It’s not easy serving history. I set out today for the new location of Mission Chinese Food, at 171 East Broadway. Mission, the spawn of a successful San Francisco restaurant, first opened and closed on Orchard Street in less than a year, in spite of a very imaginative menu and being labeled "the most exciting restaurant of the year [2012]," by the New York Times’ restaurant critic. I visited on January 2, 2013, accompanied by some of the Boyz, and was not surprised that this space, rescued from behind and beneath a classic lower East Side tenement, was soon found wanting by health and safety authorities. When I learned that another iteration opened a month ago, I made it one of my New Year’s resolutions. The long walk from the courthouse took me to the foot of the old Forward building, once the home of the leading Yiddish newspaper among many. And, in line with many other new "hot" downtown joints, Mission is now open only for dinner. Admittedly, it’s in an odd location for normal lunchtime traffic (present company excluded), but I’m not convinced that there aren’t more than a few gourmands out there who prefer their MSG while the sun is still shining. 

Fortunately, I espied brand new King’s Kitchen, 92 East Broadway, on the outbound leg of my journey. Open only two months, King’s is a bright, busy place with 24 two-top tables, and comfortable padded chairs, almost all occupied. Most of the room is off-white with attractive orange accents. About one-quarter of the floor space is taken by a long, narrow prep space, where ducks and chickens are hung out to dry. There is also a kitchen in back. The menu is quite basic, focusing on rice dishes, congee and noodles. I tested the King, as I often do at a new joint, by asking for Singapore chow fun, unlisted but not far removed from "Singapore Style Curry Mei Fun." My choice came, using the broad noodle, at the same price as the mei fun angel hair noodle ($8.95). The portion was large and full of green pepper, red pepper, scallions, bean sprouts, shrimp, eggs, carrots, pork and mushrooms, cooked with the distinctive tangy curry powder.

Thursday, January 22, 2015
The sidewalks in front of the federal courthouse next door were crowded with reporters and camerapeople waiting for Sheldon Silver, New York State Assembly Speaker, to emerge after turning himself in on charges of bribery and extortion. Silver, arguably, has been the most powerful man in New York State politics for several decades, and took full advantage of that. One lone camera crew stood apart and they explained that they were covering another criminal case in the Moynihan Courthouse that has gotten little attention, but may have major international implications, the Silk Road case. Silk Road operated a web site that, in the words of the Associated Press, "allowed anonymous users to buy and sell illegal drugs, weapons and other illicit items." This wasn’t video games.

Friday, January 23, 2015
A strong-voiced preacher got onto the subway as I rode to work this morning. From 14th Street to Chambers Street, on the express, he exhorted us to follow the Way. While he spoke too loudly to allow me to concentrate on the New Yorker magazine, he explicitly precluded asking for money. As he preached intergroup tolerance and understanding, he concluded that the best way to learn about and appreciate other peoples was to eat their food. Amen, Brother! 

And, Amen, Sister!  America's Favorite Epidemiologist has successfully navigated a path through an overlong and complex renovation process, allowing us to recover possession of Palazzo di Gotthelf this weekend.  Normal life (as we understand it) will soon resume, thanks to her.

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