Friday, November 4, 2016

Home Again

Saturday, October 29, 2016
The New York Times considers whether operating a restaurant in New York City is a viable proposition and compares it to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In sum, it finds that New Yorkers may have to go hungry.  Space costs much more in Manhattan and Brooklyn; labor is cheapest in Los Angeles; fruits and vegetables are cheaper in California, closer to the source; "even red meat, chicken and some fish are cheaper in the West."  New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have more restaurants than anywhere else in the country — 16.9 per 10,000 people as of spring 2016.  However, the choices may not be to your liking. "Chains are growing and independents are closing, with the steepest decline in New York City.” 

The biggest financial news of the past week was the proposed acquisition of TimeWarner by AT&T, to the tune of $85,400,000,000.  That's a big number, but I was drawn to another big number, almost 100, the number of lobbyists AT&T has on retainer, according to the New York Times.

The Center for Responsive Politics claims that "80 out of 113 AT&T Inc lobbyists in 2015-2016 have previously held government jobs."   We might be thankful to AT&T for keeping these former legislators and public officials away from our schools, playgrounds and scout troops. 

Being a practical guy, I'm thinking about how much this costs., a specialist in compensation reporting, states that the "median annual Lobbyist salary is $105,695, as of September 30, 2016, with a range usually between $85,092-$145,911."  No special rate exists for those most adept at ignoring the common good, former members of Congress.  The aggregate expense for AT&T currying favor is probably just a fraction of the $85.4 billion purchase price, although it would probably provide a lot of pitchforks to the peasants out there, an earlier form of influencing opinion.

This deal differs from the typical horizontal merger, where competitors join, typically drawing anti-trust scrutiny.  Here we have a vertical merger, buyer and seller combining for perceived efficiencies.  The law and economics of this entire area is a mystery to me, but I can contribute a memory: In 2000, AOL purchased Time Warner for $164 billion.  The new enterprise named TimeWarner proceeded to lose $99 billion in 2002 and the value of its stock subsequently went from $226 billion to about $20 billion.  In 2009, AOL was spun off into oblivion.  Et tu, AT&T?  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Last year (September 1, 2015), I was disappointed when I belatedly discovered that the big, black metal cube poised on edge that sat on Cooper Square, the intersection of St. Marks Place, the Bowery, Astor Place and Lafayette Street, had been removed.  It had been there for over 45 years and I, along with other adolescents of all ages, would give it a twirl when I passed by.

Like the Dodgers returning to Brooklyn, I never expected it to be restored.  To my surprise, I saw today that you might be able to go home again.

I was in the vicinity on the way to Drunken Dumplings, 137 First Avenue, to begin to make up for not eating Chinese food for almost two weeks while away.  It's a small joint, 8 two tops and a ledge with 8 stools along one wall, exposed  brick on the other.  Very good soul music played at just the right decibel level to stimulate your appetite.  

The menu is very simple, a few dumplings, either pan fried or boiled at $8.75 for 6 pieces, or 3 types of xiao long bao (soup dumplings), $10.75 and $11.75.  One of the soup dumplings I had never seen before, five inches in diameter, taking the entire bamboo steamer.  If you know your soup dumplings, you know that this cannot be finger food.  You need a straw to zup up the soup and then chopsticks to finish it off.  That was too complicated, so I ordered fried chicken with cashew dumplings and boiled shrimp with bacon and orange slice dumplings.  The dumplings were well prepared and only the orange flavor eluded me.  However, I had this feeling that the food was too clean.  One of the charms of Chinese (Indian food, too) is the suspicion that your mother would be shocked if all the ingredients were laid out in front of her.  These dumplings seemed to contain exactly what was said on the blackboard menu, nothing mysterious, nothing to raise offense or eyebrows, a bit dull, in other words.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
By now, I am back in a New York state of mind.  On Sunday, we had bagels and lox for brunch.  Yesterday, I had Chinese food for lunch and went to Madison Square Garden to see the Rangers play.  Today, on the way to a doctor's appointment, I passed Woody Allen on Park Avenue and shopped at Zabar's on the way home.

Thursday, November 3, 2016
Not everyone thinks that I am just an old fogy; here is the title of an e-mail message that I received:  Alan, enjoy exclusive savings on a new Maserati

Friday, November 4, 2016
Appropriate for the season, Trader Joe's has pumpkin ice cream.  Do not buy it if you hate your mouth.

1 comment:

  1. As far as I could tell when I visited TJ's just before leaving the US, if it could be made of pumpkin or somehow flavored with pumpkin they were selling it. Pumpkin overkill on steroids if that could be a thing. Fortunately here in Britain with no American Thanksgiving looming before Christmas, we have moved past Halloween pumpkin flavors and are full-steam ahead with peppermint.