Friday, July 31, 2015

Bagels and Bad Guys

Monday, July 27, 2015
Or, in the words of an expert local baker, “San Francisco has struggled with the bagel.’’

Wok Wok Southeast Asian Cuisine, 11 Mott Street, is brand new.  It opened yesterday, replacing the quirky Lobster Boat Restaurant that served garlic bread with everything.  The premises were completely gutted and the new interior is very spacious, holding 50-60 people at tables with light natural wood surfaces.  The walls are freshly-painted cream color, and the floors are an off-white ceramic tile.  Only 7 other people were eating while I was there, but I hope that patronage improves.

The menu is wide ranging over several national cuisines.  There are distinct Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, Vietnamese and Thai elements, with a thread of Indonesian cooking.  I was in a Malaysian frame of mind, so I ordered roti canai ($3.50) and satay chicken ($5.50).  The roti was perfectly balanced between flaky and flexible, but so large that it long outlasted the tasty curry dipping sauce.  The four skewers of chicken, grilled over an open flame, were, by contrast, too skinny.  There just wasn’t much meat there, and it was gone before the interesting peanut sauce was finished.  Still, the quality was evident, and the long, diverse menu warrants more extensive examination.

On my convoluted way back to the courthouse, I found good-looking donut peaches at my favorite fruit stand, southeast corner of Mulberry Street at Canal Street, 12 for $2.50, weighing close to 2 pounds.  If they taste as good as they look, it will be the buy of the year.

A woman is mugged, her diamond engagement ring stolen.  It is uninsured, and never recovered.  She subsequently breaks the engagement, and her former affianced, who purchased the ring, demands reimbursement, pursuant to New York law, which normally supports return of an engagement ring.  Believe it or not, this has never been litigated.  Do you have an opinion?
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Another hot day, perfect for cold sesame noodles, but not at Cha Chan Tang, 45 Mott Street. However, old favorite 69 Bayard Restaurant, 69 Bayard Street, came through with flying colors.  The walls there at each visit are even thicker with layers of dollar bills pasted on.  It’s hard to measure, but the surface photographed here on August 29, 2012 may have been entirely covered by new contributions since then.  The bills are not just pasted on, but messages of all sorts are written on the currency, a federal crime pursuant to United States Code, Title 18 - Crimes and Criminal Procedure Part I - Crimes Chapter 17 - Coins and Currency § 333.  

The cold sesame noodles earned a high grade, A+ ($5.50).  The portion was huge, a critical element in Jewish cuisine.  A lot of sesame seeds and even more bright green chive ringlets topped the dish. The noodles were thoroughly coated with the characteristic sticky, salty, sweet sesame sauce.   

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Trump/Jenner ‘16

The Boyz Club met for lunch at Shanghai Gourmet, 23 Pell Street, on this very hot day.  Even though a heat advisory was in effect, we cool dudes dug into a scallion pancake, cold sesame noodles, soup buns, steamed vegetable dumplings, hot and sour or egg drop soup, chicken with orange flavor, beef with scallions, shrimp with egg sauce, sauteed filet of fish Szechuan style and sauteed filet of fish Shanghai style.  The seven of us paid $12 each, except for the two guys who left early paying me $20 for the privilege of an early departure.

Thursday, July 30, 2015
The donut peaches have peaked and are delicious, one or two cut up in your breakfast cereal.  I’ll look for them again tomorrow to carry me through the weekend.

I was delighted to get an e-mail message from the lovely and talented Sharon C. mid-morning asking for a restaurant recommendation since she was downtown for jury duty.  Better than that, I suggested that we have lunch together. Thus, we went to Kori Tribeca, 253 Church Street, the best Korean restaurant in the area (May 28, 2013, July 15, 2013, March 26, 2014, April 11, 2014).  Well, also the only Korean restaurant in the area.  However, even with competition, Kori would stand out. 

We both ordered lunch boxes, which might be called Bento boxes if Japan has not been such a brutal occupier  of Korea.  Each box had romaine salad, a fried dumpling, cold Japchae, slices of omelette, potato salad (I don't know why), rice - brown or white - and beef short ribs ($14.95) for me and tofu ($11.99) for Sharon (so she's not perfect).

Japchae are sweet potato noodles stir fried in sesame oil. Delicious.  They are not offered as a course by themselves, although other noodles are on the menu.  I intend to go to Kori at some off hour and ask for a pile.  Then, I probably will have found the best cold sesame noodles in Chinatown.

Friday, July 31, 2015
There are Big Bad Guys and Little Bad Guys.  Much of the time, I am agitated by the destructive conduct of Big Bad Guys, Madoff, Mugabe, the Koch brothers, impelled by their lust for wealth and power.  They take a large toll of people and institutions.

By contrast, Little Bad Guys only hurt a few people, usually quite close to them.  However, often the stupidity or ugliness of their behavior leaves me despairing for the human condition, ready to tear up my ACLU membership card.  

Today's paper has a couple of ripe examples, although tragedy was avoided in the first instance.  Sheldon Richardson is one of the best defensive players in the National Football League, playing for the New York Jets.  He is currently suspended for the first four games of the upcoming season, because he violated the league's substance abuse policy.  In spite of that, he managed to get arrested a few days ago for driving his car, a 2014 Bentley Silver Spur, MSRP $200,500, at 143 miles per hour.  According to the police report, the car also contained a 12-year-old, a fully loaded handgun and smelled of marijuana.  

No one in Sheldon's car or in any vehicle in his path was injured, although the potential for disaster was very high.  Will he ever understand the benefits of delayed gratification?

The other story was a real tragedy that seems to confirm my belief that the moral arc of the universe bends towards chaos.  T.R. is a Brooklyn teenager.  Her story just came to light, because she was charged with murder yesterday.  According to the New York Times, "[a]t 14, she went into labor with her first baby before her mother even knew she had conceived a child.  A year later, prosecutors say, she secretly gave birth to a second baby, this time in the bathtub of her apartment.  That baby has disappeared.  The Brooklyn teenager kept yet another pregnancy secret from her family, giving birth in October 2013 in the bathroom of a friend’s apartment in Queens. The birth came to light only because the next day, she and her friend were arrested on shoplifting charges at the Victoria’s Secret store in Manhattan’s Herald Square.  A security guard, smelling a faint rotten odor, found a dead 8-pound boy in her tote bag, along with a stolen pair of pants."  

Spare me the sociology. That's evil.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Post-Modern Ice Cream

Monday, July 20, 2015
The theological insight of the week emerged from Donald Trump’s appearance before a Christian conservative conference on Saturday. Becky Kruse, of Lovilia, Iowa, noted Mr. Trump’s comment about not seeking God’s forgiveness. "He sounds like he isn’t really a born-again Christian."

I’m back to Heaven on Earth, Chinatown and my pursuit of superior sesame noodles. It is 93 degrees, so, fortunately, the first place I went into, the very close by Tasty Dumpling, 42 Mulberry Street, had them for $3.50. Tasty is a reliable source of good, inexpensive food in a totally characterless setting. The plates are paper and the forks are plastic. Much of its business is takeout which allows the 4 four tops to accommodate those of us who are either preoccupied or insensitive to our surroundings.

The large portion of noodles had ample sauce, many slivers of cucumber on top, but no sesame seeds. It rates a B, not memorable, not offensive.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
The Palazzo di Gotthelf is normally occupied by only two people, quite a contrast to last week’s time spent under the roof with 7 others, not all of legal drinking age. I keep looking around to make sure that a toy or a small child is not underfoot as I move about. There is a noticeable difference in background noise, as well. Last week, it was the sounds of nature, primarily the wind and winged creatures, interrupted by shouts of "it’s mine," and "no" from the youngest generation. This week, I listen to the traffic noise, the sirens on emergency vehicles, and the Hound of the Baskervilles who has been ensconced in a nearby apartment. I am not prepared to declare a favorite.

Trip Advisor has declared favorites including the supposed 25 best zoos in the world.
I don’t consider myself particularly chauvinistic, although my own list of favorite anythings has a distinctly New York tilt. The reason is my familiarity with local sights, sounds, flora and fauna, and my investment in distinguishing among them. In any case, I was surprised that the Bronx Zoo did not make the top 25 list of zoos. I’m not familiar with any of the selected group, but I think I know why the Bronx Zoo was overlooked, when the Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Nebraska, the Colchester Zoo, Colchester, England, and the Taronga Zoo, Mosman, Australia made the list. With all due respect to the civic leaders of Omaha, Colchester and Mosman, the Bronx Zoo has some formidable competition for tourist time and money that might overshadow its efforts at animal husbandry. The out-of-towner, who is likely the source of and audience for Trip Advisor ratings, may never get to the Bronx Zoo after delving into some of the other pleasures of a visit to New York City. A trip to the Bronx probably targeted Yankee Stadium at most. So, it is left for us 8 million New Yorkers alone to enjoy the gorilla forest, the giraffe house, the pheasant aviary, the bison range and the monkey house and, as we do in so many other regards, keep our opinions to ourselves.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
The New York Times takes an early look at the bagel:

In an interview posted on-line, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. railed against the "post-modern" concept of liberty allegedly adopted by the majority in the same-sex marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges. "It’s the freedom to define your understanding of the meaning of life." However, the freedom to define your understanding of the meaning of life is precisely what Alito touts in writing for the majority in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which permits corporations to limit insurance coverage to employees based on the religious beliefs of the owners who "assert that funding the specific contraceptive methods at issue violates their religious beliefs . . . [a]nd protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga, and Mardel protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies." In sum, Samuel "God-forbid-you-call-me-post-modernist" Alito finds that the meaning of life as understood by the owners of Hobby Lobby is Good Old Fashioned Liberty while those rainbow-bedecked creatures are trying to assert Post-Modern Liberty.

I thought that I would wait a while until I had more cold sesame noodles and then I didn't. Old Sichuan Cuisine, 65 Bayard Street, is a small dreary place, with any interior that appears to have been no more than half finished, and the completed half ill conceived and ill executed. That didn't stop the "cold sesame glass noodles" ($4.95) from rating an A.

The portion was large, with sesame seeds, cucumber slivers and little chive ringlets on top. There was a generous amount of sauce, which, if a little stickier, would have earned the dish an A+.

Thursday, July 23, 2015
10 Below Ice Cream, 10 Mott Street, is still in its first week of operation, but three column inches in the food section of Wednesday’s New York Times has called attention to it. It is "a shop that uses a Thai method. Cream or custard is poured over into a chilled metal container and worked with trowels until it freezes to a creamy consistency. . . . Fruit and other ingredients can be folded in. It’s then scooped, in rolls, into a cup with optional toppings." You have to see it to understand. 

In any case, I was there with about a dozen Chinese-American teenagers who were so giddy that I can only imagine that they had just received their Ivy League acceptances. I ordered S’mores Galore, too safe and dull a choice. The base ice cream is vaguely vanilla for all concoctions, the add-ons providing taste and identity. A generous cup is $6, tax included. The small space, actually down 6 steps, is newly-painted battleship gray. There are two ledges, two small, high round tables and about 10 stools to park yourself. Right now, it serves nothing but ice cream. If I return, it will be to try the peanut butter and fig jam combo.  Sounds very post-modern to me.

Friday, July 24, 2015
Kiki’s Greek Tavern, 130 Division Street, got even more space in Wednesday’s New York Times. The favorable review noted that it is somewhat of an anomaly, a Greek restaurant planted in the expanded turf of Chinatown. Indeed, the name on the awning is "written in Chinese characters, with no English translation," an equal challenge for a visitor from Athens or the Upper West Side.

Stony Brook Steve, having seen the same article, ventured downtown to join me for lunch.  The place successfully aims to be funky, with an interior resembling an old warehouse.  It uses a lot of wood, barely finished.  There are two rooms, the front room off the street has 10 tables for 2 or 4 people, and a side room, set at a right angle, has 6 high tables for 2 or 4 (tightly squeezed) and a long, high counter for 8, all with high wooden stools.  We estimated that any two patrons might not exceed the age of either one of us.

Service was very friendly and the very typical Greek-American menu was moderately priced.  We shared a plate of taramosalata ($6), creamy fish roe, and a portion of grilled loukaniko ($10), sausage with barely discernible orange peel.  Instead of pita, they served a (whatever the Greek word for) Tuscan bread, brushed with olive oil and toasted over an open fire. 

Steve ordered a Greek salad (horiatiki $10) for his main course, while I, having to lift the scales of justice this afternoon, had moussaka ($11).  It was very good, even though it came without the side of heartburn that I was used to.  In fact, all the food was very good and made Kiki's worth visiting and reporting.  However, in spite of its location and the writing over the front door, it does not make in onto the list of Chinese restaurants.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Country Idyll

Monday, July 13, 2015
We are staying in a beautiful house in Great Barrington.  It is large and carefully finished and furnished.  The 5 bedrooms and 4 ½ bathrooms offer the 6 adults and 3 children, plus an occasional guest or two, ample room to interact or hide.  There is also over 12 acres surrounding us with green space and trees and a pond full of frogs.  While there is no swimming pool, there is a serious hot tub.

Normally, I avoid reporting ordinary pleasures, but we had so many interesting and pleasant experiences that were characteristic of the region that I have to pass them on.

On Saturday, we went to the Berkshire Botanical Garden, 5 West Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, on 15 acres of cultivated land.  It had flowers and trees and shrubs and vegetables presented with attention to information and aesthetics.  Not the sort of destination that Grandpa Alan usually seeks, but definitely worth a visit.  Lunch, for those of us who could sit still without banging a toy on a table, was at Prairie Whale, 178 Main St., Great Barrington, with somewhat untypical, better than average pub food.

Saturday night, the second generation feted America’s Favorite Epidemiologist (Mom to some) with a dinner prepared in house by Chef Marianna Morrison.  The Moroccan menu included eggplant croquettes with tarragon aioli, watermelon, mint and feta skewers, babaganouj, hummus, labine, spiced salmon with chermoula (cilantro-based) sauce, couscous with citrus, pomegranate and pistachios.  You may be drooling just reading about it, and, while sloppy, that would be an appropriate response.  Consider using Chef Morrison for a celebration anywhere in the Berkshires.

Sunday morning, we went to Tanglewood for an open concert beginning at 10 AM.  We sat on the lawn under a cloudless sky, necessitating moving around to stay in the shade, except when I fell asleep.  The 2+ hour chamber music program was eclectic and far reaching, including Mozart, Debussy and a couple of modern composers, Marc Neikrug and Natalie Draper.  For the giddy among you, the overall theme of the concert might have been Bach to Bach, Johann Sebastien Bach, Cantata No. 155 (Mein Gott, wie lang, ach lange, appropriately translated as "enough already") to Jan Bach, a contemporary American horn player and composer.

Monday, we visited Mass MOCA in North Adams.  While some of the works on display are opaque, to be polite, there were some particularly interesting items, notably Clifford Ross: Landscape Seen & Imagined, featuring a 24' by 114' (yes, feet) photograph of a mountain.  For dinner, we had grown to 11 people, and headed for a pizza joint in Great Barrington.  Although we thought that, in spite of the size of our group, an early dinner on a Monday night would not be a problem.  Wrong, especially when ahead of us was a party of 21.  20 Railroad Restaurant, 20 Railroad Street, Great Barrington, a popular pub found room for us, with very good results.  The Oakland Heartthrob and I shared a delicious portion of “Dragon Wings,” chicken wings in a sweet and spicy sauce laced with bourbon.  I followed that with a chili Thai burger, what an excellent hamburger would taste like in Bangkok.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Given the close quarters with our three grandchildren, my fund of knowledge was increased.  I learned, for instance, that there is a video game entitled “Plants vs. Zombies.”  The official description is “A mob of fun-loving zombies is about to invade your home, and your only defense is an arsenal of 49 zombie-zapping plants.”  The scary part was not the zombies, but how the 4-year 11-month old grandson had completely mastered this bizarre arrangement of lights, sounds, colors and shapes.  Remarkably, the game requires a strategic sense in selecting and placing your zombie-zapping plants, which this kid handled with the aplomb of an eight-year old.  

Ten folks came over for drinks in the afternoon, and to swoon over our (temporary) lavish accommodations.  And they started swooning even before they started drinking.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Everyone but me went to the Clark Art Institute, 225 South Street, Williamstown, a gem of a museum abutting Williams College.  I had a couple of errands to run, so I went driving over hill and dale for a few hours.  Back together, we went to Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, 358 George Carter Road, Becket (or, 1 mile from Burt’s place), for the free 6:15 PM “Inside/Out” show.  New Generation Dance Company, a tango-inspired company, performed on an outdoor stage in front of an expansive green landscape.  All of our generations enjoyed this, one of a large number of free programs now offered at Jacob’s Pillow.  If we were staying around longer, I’m sure that we would go back.

Thursday, July 16, 2015
We had lunch at Spoon, 26 Housatonic Street, Lenox, an excellent choice for breakfast or lunch.  I had two small pieces of fried chicken on a waffle, drizzled with maple syrup.  Really good.  The congenial Cohens came over for drinks and stayed for dinner, helping us wind up a wonderful week.

Friday, July 17, 2015
Our drive home was uneventful, no traffic until we hit area code 212.  Clearly, I stayed away from the BIG ISSUES while on this vacation, but I had a joyous reentry to the real world when I read the bold words of Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, on the trail to the Republican presidential nomination.  A reporter in New Hampshire asked him yesterday if he was a conservative or an independent.  While we know that Walker never finished college and, therefore, may not have taken a full sequence of political theory, he responded thoughtfully: “I’m an American, that’s what I am.  I’m an American.”  Could Fillmore, Harding or Bush have said it better?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Street and Road Food

Monday, July 6, 2015
I read the New Yorker regularly.  With the Sunday paper, it takes most of my weekly reading time.  I also give a gift subscription, one now, 2 or 3 in the past, to friends far removed.  Therefore, I was bothered by the recent renewal notice for the magazine -- $99.95 for the first subscription (mine) and $89.95 for each and every gift.  That's already money.  It seemed like 50% more than when I last noticed.  I didn't want to curb my generosity, as limited as it is, or cut myself off, but I felt squeezed.  So, I put the renewal notice aside for a time.  

Then, I noticed what we naturally ignore, those flimsy postcard inserts that flutter out of a magazine's back pages.  They are called "blow-ins" and are properly considered an annoyance.  Calvin Trillin once suggested that we all deposit those blank postage-paid cards into the mailbox to teach publishers a lesson.  This evoked a harsh response from a spokesperson for "serious direct marketers."

Muttering over the prospect of paying almost two hundred bucks for a magazine, I saw that the card dropping to my feet from the latest copy of the New Yorker claimed to be offering a good deal on subscriptions.  As little as $1.47 a copy for 47 issues (a year's worth with double issues) plus a tote bag.  I called the customer service line found on my renewal notice and went over the math with the customer servicer.  Indeed, 47 times $1.47 equals $69.09, considerably less than $99.95,or even $89.95.  She reupped me (and my beneficiary) and threw in two tote bags, for $138.18.  Silence ain't golden.

Sesame Street is proving to be a bit of a rocky road.  I walked in and out of several joints today that don't serve cold sesame noodles: Wonton Noodle Garden, 56 Mott Street; Golden Mandarin Court, 61 Mott Street; Amazing 66 Restaurant, 66 Mott Street; Big Wong Restaurant, 67 Mott Street; 456 Shanghai Cuisine, 69 Mott Street.  Finally, I connected at Canton Lounge, 70 Mott Street.  The medium large portion was sprinkled with sesame seeds and generously sauced ($3.95).  The sauce was a tad sweet, keeping the dish from the top ranks.  It was good, though, and I made all gone.   

Queen Anne, Rainier or white cherries, they may not be the same, but I bought two pounds for $5 from the little lady on the southeast corner of Mulberry Street and Canal Street, a reliable source of fruit.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015  

My logic may not be fool-proof, but I see a parallel between the Confederate flag controversy and the Arab-Israeli conflict.  In both instances, it is the losers who have been trying to set the terms for the future.  Admittedly, the quagmire in the Middle East has several critical elements, but the refusal of Arab states to accommodate and assimilate their displaced brethren, pretending that return to territory lost in battle is a viable option, is no better than celebrating the flag of a defeated (and dishonored) cause.

The New York Times gave the results of a survey of 3,244 subscribers, not meant to represent the public at large.  The question was "How old were you when you first traveled out of the country you were born in?"  I can't find the link, so I'll repeat the results: 9% under 5 years old, 14% 5-9, 16% 10-14, 19% 15-19, 24% 20-24, 18% 25 or older.  Since I did not come from a household that offered me anything but a junior year in a part-time job in the bar association library, I thought that I would land on one end of the bell curve with my first trip to England at age 43, even though I've picked up the pace since then.  

However, I started thinking back – 1982, corporate conference in Toronto; 1974ish, vacation in Montreal; 1973, day trip to Tijuana; 1972, business junket to Germany; and, from the deep recesses of memory, 1950, family vacation trip around New York State in brand new, pea-soup green, 4-door Dodge sedan, including Niagara Falls, both sides.  So, I am more well-traveled than I first thought, but I doubt that many recent college sophomores would trade their upcoming academic year for all my early travels put together.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 
I'm not eating cold sesame noodles every few days in order to see how many cold sesame noodles I can eat every few days.  Rather, I think that this popular dish is a natural for lunch as the weather turns warm and warmer.  By popular, I don't mean as popular as chopped liver at a Shabbos dinner.  In fact, I'm discovering that cold sesame noodles aren't as popular in Chinatown as I first imagined.  Today, Delight 28 Restaurant, 28 Pell Street, and Nom Wah Tea Parlor, 13 Doyers Street, said no noodles.  However, Shanghai Gourmet, 23 Pell Street, came through as it does consistently.  Their cold sesame noodles ($4.25) rated A- (I'm abandoning the mealymouthed use of Good and variations thereof in discussing cold sesame noodles).  The portion was medium large; slivers of cucumber on top, but no sesame seeds.  It was amply sauced, but the sauce lacked an edge.  Maybe a bit of soy sauce or hot sauce was needed.  Since I was at Shanghai Gourmet, I ordered a scallion pancake as well, since I have praised it here often enough.  However, I could have given a little more consideration to the choice of starch plus starch.  I'll try to remember next time.

Maybe I have not been following Republican politics closely enough, because I only learned today that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker does not have a college degree.  This distinguishes him from all of his competitors for the Republican presidential nomination, although occasionally the benefits of higher education appear to have eluded them.  The question then arises, "Would that make him a bad president?"  
This article by two political scientists concludes " we don't think so."  Their opinion is backed by their recent dry-as-dust academic paper on the subject:
Whatever your opinion of Scott Walker or of the value of higher education in general, I find the study far from conclusive.  The major problem is that they cast their net too far and include  "randomly audited municipalities in Brazil" alongside "data on close elections in the US Congress."  While I am not an American exceptionalist, I find it easy to separate Brazil, ("where the nuts come from," quoth Charley's fake aunt Donna Lucia D'Alvadorez) from the US Congress (where the nuts go to).  

Friday, July 10, 2015
Today begins a seven day vacation in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where my young bride has rented a house to gather in our three generations under one roof to celebrate her birthday.  I am sure that we will eat during this interlude, but I am uncertain how far east the menus will extend.  I will try to continue reporting even thus inhibited.
In fact, on the way up, we stopped at one of our very favorite on-the-road joints, Another Fork in the Road, 1215 Route 199, Red Hook, New York, just a short distance from the Red Hook exit of the Taconic Parkway.  If you have any reason to be in northern Dutchess County or southern Columbia County for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner, take Another Fork in the Road.  They make their own soda, use local products as much as possible, and offer surprising and surprisingly well-prepared dishes, such as Warm Duck Confit Salad, eggs benedict with smoked trout and shakshut, the spicy Israeli egg dish.  It made a great start to our vacation.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Right Reason

Monday, June 29, 2015
I continued my trip down Sesame Street today.  However, Ping’s Seafood, 22 Mott Street, one of the nicest restaurants in Chinatown, did not serve cold sesame noodles, nor did Hop Kee, 21 Mott Street, sitting directly beneath Shanghai Asian Manor, where I started on a high note.  I turned the corner and found cold sesame noodles at Sichuan Hot Pot Cuisine, 34 Pell Street ($5.25), but I was disappointed.  The portion was large and sesame seeds were sprinkled on top, but the sauce was salty and sharp, almost acrid.  I only ate half of what was on the plate.

Reviewing the US Supreme Court’s opinion on same-sex marriage, much attention had been paid to Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent, wherein he is unable to find same-sex marriage in the Constitution.  Allow me, a mere New York State law clerk to edify him.  First, marriage of any flavor does not appear in the Constitution, but that has not removed it from constitutional law.  Most appropriately, we have a precedent in Loving v Virginia, 388 US 1 (1967), where the Court held that a state violated the 14th Amendment by prohibiting “white” and “colored” people from marrying each other.  The state law deprived plaintiffs of liberty, the “freedom to marry [that] has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men [and maybe women?].”  Roberts and many conservatives choose to agonize over what is marriage, when the issue is what is liberty.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
We went to the bris for Bari and Howard’s son this morning.  If you stand far enough back, a bris is a very lovely event.  The food afterwards was superb.  I concentrated on the sable (smoked cod) and whitefish, not even pausing at the lox.  In order to save room for the rugelach and pain au chocolat, I skipped the blintzes and the omelet station.  The coffee was very good, too.  Mazal tov to all, including the caterer.

It would have been piggish (decidedly not Kosher) to go out for lunch after such a big late breakfast. Also, the airconditioning in my office was particularly effective as the afternoon heated up, so I stayed at my desk.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015
A birthday for a beautiful granddaughter.

Bite of Hong Kong, 81 Chrystie Street, is brand new.  It is bright, decorated in white and brown. There are 9 large 4 tops and three large booths which can easily hold 6 people.  Fresh pink carnations were on every table, about 2/3 of which were occupied, only one other by a non-Asian.  The menu is pretty typical and includes 35 lunch specials, either $6.25 or $6.75.  That also gets you soup, a small bowl that looks like dishwater, but tastes a bit better, rice and tea.

I was hungry so I ordered seafood siu mai ($4.95) to start and beef with pepper and black bean sauce ($6.75), a lunch special.  It was fortunate that I chose two things because the portions were small.  In fact, the siu (shu) mai were tiny, four small spheres barely 1/2 inch in diameter.  The contents were so finely ground that you could not tell whether they originated on land, in the air or in the sea.  The beef dish was very good, however, containing green and red peppers, red and yellow onions, celery and sliced beef in a pungent black bean sauce.  The area, still the informal terminal for a lot of Chinatown buses, is getting "nicer" and Bite is a sign of that.

I have excluded my sex life, real and imagined, from these writings for prudential and practical reasons.  Ultimately, it has been relatively ordinary and I would be more embarrassed by boring you rather than scandalizing you.  This distinguishes me from Tavon White, an occupant of the Baltimore City Detention Center, who has fathered five children with four of the female guards while inside the prison.  He seems to be the natural successor to Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

Thursday, July 2, 2015
Stony Brook Steve is here for lunch and we returned to Sesame Street.  We went to Yeah Shanghai Deluxe, 50 Mott Street, and found it to be as reliable as it has been in the past (February 19, 2010, July 12, 2010, April 12, 2011, May 8, 2013, June 12, 2013, September 19, 2013, November 6, 2103, March 18, 2015).  We shared cold sesame noodles ($3.95) and two lunch specials, orange flavored beef ($5.75) and diced chicken with black bean sauce ($4.95).  Each lunch came with a tasty bowl of egg drop soup.  The beef was very good, with the sticky, gooey sweet sauce that you spoon up after the plate is otherwise clean.  The chicken was well prepared, but the black bean sauce was bland, in contrast to yesterday's at Bite of Hong Kong.

The sesame noodles were very good, the portion medium to medium-large.  A few sesame seeds were sprinkled on top and the sauce very good, but not quite as good as Shanghai Asian Manor's.  Overall, though, we ate well, in decent quantity, at a very reasonable cost.  I'll continue on Sesame Street next week.

Friday, July 3, 2015
The jurisprudence of Antonin Scalia:
On voting to uphold DOMA -- "We have no power to decide this case.  And even if we did, we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation.”
In oral argument before voting to repeal the Voting Rights Act -- "That’s the — that’s the concern that those of us who — who have some questions about this statute have.  It’s — it’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress.”

This inconsistency is quite characteristic of the Supreme Court.  Felix Frankfurter was probably the last justice to attempt to practice a consistent jurisprudence, and he wound up isolated and ignored by his peers, and many legal scholars as well.  Scalia simply pretends that he is not peddling his politics, while his chirpings sound right at home amidst the ever-expanding roster of Republican presidential candidates.

Paul H. forwarded this article on Yiddish, which should evoke nostalgia in many of you.  The rest should envy us.

This is the Birthday of all Birthdays.  We have, in order of seniority, David G., Aryeh G., Nate P. and Meredith S.  Happy Birthday to all.

Finally, a little puzzle to start your holiday.  It's simple, but has some serious implications, or not.