Friday, April 3, 2015

Dare To Take A Step

Monday, March 30, 2015
Regard what Ellen Willis, a radical feminist, wrote in 2003:  
“I count myself an anti-anti-Zionist.  This is partly because the logic of anti-Zionism in the present political context entails an unprecedented demand for an existing state—one, moreover, with popular legitimacy and a democratically elected government—not simply to change its policies but to disappear.  It’s partly because I can’t figure out what large numbers of displaced Jews could have or should have done after 1945, other than parlay their relationship with Palestine and the (ambivalent) support of the West for a Jewish homeland into a place to be.  (Go ‘home’ to Germany or Poland?  Knock, en masse, on the doors of unreceptive European countries and a reluctant United States?)  And finally it’s because I believe that anti-Jewish genocide cannot be laid to rest as a discrete historical episode, but remains a possibility implicit in the deep structure of Christian and Islamic cultures, East and West.”

Akimoto Sushi, 187 Church Street, replaced A.A. Yawa Sushi (May 13, 2011) a few months ago.  The menu remains essentially the same, because small Japanese restaurants in New York, like Tolstoi’s happy families, are alike.  The small interior, though, has been redecorated.  The southern and back wall are a natural appearing wood, but more interesting is the entire northern wall made of fitted small stones.  They are real; I tapped them.  But they may have been rolled out on a sheet.  In any case, it was a different look.
I ordered the lunch special of three rolls, with choice of soup or salad, $11.25, only 25¢ more than its predecessor.  I had spicy crunchy tuna roll, yellowtail scallion roll and eel avocado roll.  Each was cut into 6 pieces, one inch or so long.  All tasted very fresh.  The miso soup (I wasn’t going to choose the inevitable few pieces of iceberg lettuce) was hot, but the green tea was lukewarm.  While only about 8 people sat in the 24 chairs available, there was a steady flow of takeout customers and deliveries.  Still service was friendly and efficient.  

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
“The Supreme Court rejected a free-speech appeal Monday from several California high school students who were told they could not wear a shirt emblazoned with an American flag on the Cinco de Mayo holiday.”  The ban grew from a fear of ethnic conflict in the school that has seen fights between white and Mexican-American students.  This could easily extend to wearing a Mexican flag T-shirt on the July 4th, a Union Jack shirt on St. Patrick’s Day, or an Israeli shirt on Ramadan, although, it is particularly ironic that the red flag, as it were, is the Stars and Stripes.  Maybe it’s not surprising that our Supreme Court (in)justices cannot extend the freedom of speech that they have provided to checkbooks to adolescents.  It’s not the first time that mere human beings, although not necessarily grown to their full height and weight, have been thus disprivileged.  See Morse v. Frederick, 551 US 393 (2007) where the suspension of a high school student who displayed a banner saying “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” at “a school-sanctioned and school-supervised [off-campus] event” was upheld.  

Grazin’ * Farm to Table - Direct *, 56 Reade Street, open only two weeks, replaced a sandwich shop/salad bar that I used to go to when I worked further west.  What set it apart was big platters of well prepared fried and barbecued chicken at salad bar prices, around $5.99 a pound.  Three or four pieces and a diet root beer (they had a first-rate canned soda collection) always satisfied. 
Grazin’ in no way resembles its predecessor.  After a gut renovation, the place has a rustic/industrial look.  The walls are either painted dark gray or are covered in exposed brick.  Photographs of farm land and animals are placed above eye level.  The 20 or so 2 top tables are natural wood with a dark stain.  Bench seating along the outer walls are natural wood with a medium stain.  The industrial lighting fixtures, kept dim, go with the open duct work under the ceiling.  

The menu proclaims “Animal Welfare Approved” and bears a sticker to that effect.  Of course, with a menu focused on hamburgers, I imagine that the concern for animal welfare ended somewhere outside the kitchen.  Hamburgers come with a piece of lettuce, sweet pickle slices and onion.  The cheapest is four ounces for $10.  The basic 6 ouncer is $16 and with decorations goes up to $21.  A lamb burger is $24.  I had the Stines (the name unexplained), with carmelized onions and chevre ($18), french fries ($5) and unsweetened iced tea ($3).  It wasn’t a cheap meal.  The meat and fries seemed of high quality, but were burdened with too much salt (and I usually like salt).  The goat cheese was whipped, which made handling the hamburger a messy affair.  I can commend them for refilling the small glass of iced tea at no charge.

For those of you keeping score, Grazin’ does not add to my restaurant count.  While well located, it has no perceptible Asian elements, but I thought it worth reporting.  
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Jennifer 8. Lee (yes), author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, has now produced a documentary film "The Search for General Tso."  There is a free preview tonight at the Tenement Museum, but we are meeting the Glotzer delegation, visiting from Delray Beach, Florida, for dinner.  I’ll have to seek out the film another time.

Speaking of films, the other day I was able to see part of a documentary on “The Secret Jews of Calabria,” the work of Barbara Aiello, the only woman rabbi in Italy.
It seems that some of the Calabrian Jews who converted during the Inquisition, under threat of death, continued Jewish practices as a matter of observance or habit for centuries thereafter.  Try to see the film, which may be ordered at the web site above.  Similarly, look for a copy of “The Last Marranos,” a film about the community of forced converts who clandestinely maintained Jewish belief and practice for centuries in their native village of Belmonte in Portugal. 
Friday, April 3, 2015
For the last 15 years, our Republican Party has been guided by the principle that Nothing Succeeds Like Failure.  Now, that African interloper has done what his predecessors failed to do -- reach an accord on nuclear weapons with Iran.  It's Obamacare and Bin Laden all over again.  We cannot allow him to be forgiven for this.
Shh!  Pass it on.  We leave Egypt tonight.

No comments:

Post a Comment