Friday, September 9, 2016

Pray Ball

Monday, September 5, 2016
Neither Rick nor Ilsa actually spoke the exact phrase, "Play it again, Sam" in Casablanca. Similarly, I don't know if my mother Ruth Gotthelf actually said, "Open a mouth," a phrase I associate with her memory.  However, the idea is a powerful one and I try to keep it in mind.  I thought of it yesterday when I heard a discussion on public radio about safe spaces and trigger warnings on college campuses.  But first, I must apologize for listening to a discussion on public radio about safe spaces and trigger warnings on college campuses, instead of the good jazz on WBGO-Newark or sports talk on ESPN-Radio or WFAN.  I was moving our car to a street parking space to make room for a guest.  Since America's Favorite Epidemiologist had last used the car, she naturally turned to more serious fare than I was likely to choose.

So, I hear this college professor explaining that trigger warnings and safe spaces increase freedom for students, because they buffer the students from oppression by the choice of language, images, and ideas imposed by faculty members, wielding the authority of the institution.  Hoo, boy.  When I attended CCNY in the 1950s and 1960s, faculty members, if anyone, may have needed trigger warnings and safe spaces, because of the intense political debates that were commonplace in any of our social science classes.  Challenging ideas, whatever their source, was central to our education.  As kids from working class and lower white collar families, we came to campus without a sense of deference and we left the same way.  We were not gratuitously insulting, but the trappings of position or office rarely, if ever, deterred us.  

In contrast to the freewheeling discussions in the classroom at the time, the administration and local politicians maintained a speaker ban for years, notably to keep Communists off campus.  We finally defeated it and I nominally hosted the appearance of Benjamin Davis, an officer of the Communist Party USA, who had been jailed for several years for conspiring to overthrow the federal government under the Smith Act.  

Now, more than a half century later, some students claim to be in a (semi)permanent state of PTSD and cower at the ugly words uttered by the tweedy academic at the front of the classroom or in the pages of a reading assignment.  This is, after all, the generation(s) that grew up with slasher movies, rap music and violent video games.  Bah, humbug.  

Thanks to Linda Rich, pursuant to last week's observations, for an update on the state of Zionist iconography.

In a feature on fashions at the US Open (tennis), currently being played in Flushing Meadows, two of the six people interviewed by the New York Times gave their occupation as "social media influencer."  Didn't they get a trigger warning about Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders?

A quick word about The Smith, 1900 Broadway, an enormous restaurant just opposite Lincoln Center.  It has basically a pub food menu and I was quite satisfied with my "Brick pressed chicken" ($25), served on a healthy pile of garlic mashed potatoes.  But, I want to call your particular attention to the unlimited amount of sparkling water served, without asking, at no extra cost.  That's hospitality.

A front page story today describes a new local crime wave, stealing containers of Ben & Jerry’s, Talenti, and Häagen-Dazs ice cream from big stores and reselling them to small stores.  (Talenti makes a high quality gelato in spite of its origins in Minneapolis, Minnesota.)
Fortunately, the story, both in print and on-line, includes photographs of the perps, none of whom I can be said to resemble.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016
The New York Times presents a fascinating graphic feature on income inequality.  It shows that the rich got richer, as did some of the poor, in the last 15 years.  Generally, the middle class (that so-hard-to-pin-down group) saw its income lag or even retreat, but that is not perceived as a problem as long as the rich got richer.

If you're interested in where the elite meet to eat, Opinionated About Dining has released its survey for the coming year.

My application for membership in OAD is pending, although that doesn't stop me from being opinionated.  As I have admitted before, I am consistently absent from the customer rolls of the kind of establishments they feature.  However, in the section of the survey headed Cheap Eats, OAD includes Ample Hills Creamery's Brooklyn flagship (more like a row boat).  I visited and commended Ample Hills's   West Side location recently and would vote for them, when and if I'm allowed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
The Jewish Holy Days are late this year, one of the only two choices that we get.  Therefore, the Boyz Club decided to fill September's spirituality gap by gathering to worship at Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street.  As usual, services were well attended by dissenters from a variety of denominations.  

Ordering for a crowd is one of my favorite activities and I took full advantage, having the kitchen provide fried wonton, duck chow fun, beef chow fun, shrimp fried rice, chicken fried rice, beef with scallions, eggplant with garlic sauce and gong bo (kung pao) chicken (spicy with peanuts).  All for $11 each, tipping almost 30% because we are good human beings and we sat around for a long time taking space.

Friday, September 9, 2016
Unlike my dear friend Jon S., I have stuck with the New York Mets through thick and thin, mostly the latter.  Now, my devotion is being tested.  Tim Tebow, a short lived sensation in college football, has been signed to a minor league contract with the Mets.  While skillful, he was best known for his very public piety on and off the field.  Note that when athletes, such as Colin Kaepernick, quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, try to bring political consciousness into the sports world, eyes bulge, veins burst and indignation rings throughout the land. However, overtly sectarian prayer and other religious mumbo jumbo are welcomed and celebrated in much of our amateur and professional sports.  The solemn kneeling seen on the football field and in the locker room does not seem to divert the players, God love 'em, from their mission of violence.  

So, I don't want Tebow on my team, but I will abide with it. But, Mets beware!   Should DT aim for an ownership position when his attempt to put his brand on the White House fails, I'm outta here.


  1. Great BLOG I enjoyed going to Ample hills. Where is it around here?

  2. 600 11th Avenue, between 44th and 45th.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I know people who earn good money as social media influencers, a second job, and at least two who do it as political volunteers. Fortunately they are all intelligent and well-read and not full of nonsense. And you could not possibly be one of the ice cream perps. Re-sell it ? Then what was the purpose of taking it in the first place? Ice cream and money are not equals.