Monday, December 4, 2016
Yes, it's true. I voted two-and-a-half million times.
This excellent article discusses the parallel retreat into nationalist cocoons in Britain and the US. http://nyti.ms/2gDAv47
Many people, commentators and clergy for instance, are calling for us in the popular majority to listen to the popular minority a/k/a the electoral majority, respect their concerns and find common ground. To which I say "horse feathers." While grievances may be found in any population segment, the other side seems to be prone to exercises of the imagination that leave little room or inclination for bargaining. Example "Pizzagate." [When I wrote this on Monday, this subject was hardly known to most of us who are able to walk and chew gum at the same time. However, by Tuesday, the tortuous thinking that animates some of the minority of voters who chose our next president had produced one known criminal act that made it to the front page of the New York Times - http://nyti.ms/2h8nPmp - and a host of threats.]
As if pizza and pedaphilia weren't enough for some of our fellow citizens, here is another headline: "What Is Pizzagate Telling Us About Wikileaks, the CIA, the Illuminati, and the New World Order?" (If you want to read the article, I'll send you the link upon receipt of a self-addressed envelope and a new £5 note, the plastic one with the embedded tallow, offensive to Hindus and vegetarians alike.)
Speaking of vegetarians, I am told that the beet salad and tagliatelle with cherry tomatoes and breadcrumbs at Trattoria L'Incontro, 21-76 31st Street, Astoria, were particularly delicious last night, even as I consumed the baked clams and lasagna. Although we (Art and Shelly Spar joined the Upper West Side's Power Couple) all delighted in our choices, the food was almost upstaged by our Ecuadorian waiter's 5-minute recital of the day's specials. You might just order a drink, hear the performance and go home. Whether for a long or a short visit, put L'Incontro on your hit list for excellent Italian food; reservations needed. Driving to get there is easy, so you don't need me to tell you. Else, one block past the last stop of the N train (Astoria-Ditmars Boulevard); catch it at Times Square.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Rudi, my favorite Latvian, has come through again. Feeling my pain at having my jury duty, and the attendant opportunity to lunch in Chinatown day after day, so abruptly ended, he forwarded this classic episode of "The Odd Couple," where Felix and Oscar first meet as jurors in New York Supreme Court. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
As further balm to my soul, Michael Ratner asked me to go to Chinatown with him for lunch today, an offer I couldn't refuse. We headed to Oriental Garden, 14 Elizabeth Street, a restaurant that often sits at the top of best Chinese lists, and gets favorably reviewed in the Michelin guide. However, I have never warmed up to it and averaged one visit every three years. Today, at lunchtime, when it focuses on dim sum ordered from an illustrated menu, only 4 of the 16 tables (holding 4 to 8 people) were occupied. Although the staff were personable and efficient, the atmosphere wavered between dull and low-key.
The food mostly can't be faulted. We had a small plate of roast duck ($11.95), chicken sticks (3 skewers for $5.95), seafood dumplings, chicken shu mei and fried shrimp won tons ($4 each plate). I could have used a little more duck, with a little less fat, but the other dishes tasted very good and were worth the price. Dinner is probably much different at Oriental Garden, with its reputation drawing big crowds, I imagine. Still, it might be three more years before I return, given all the alternatives in Chinatown.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
75 years and the date still lives in infamy, as FDR declared in a speech to a joint session of Congress the next day. I wonder how long it might be before we apply a similar label to November 8, 2016.
There has been a Thai restaurant on the corner of Baxter Street and Bayard Street, directly across from the Tombs, the jail connected to the criminal courthouse, for forty years or so. It was identified as Pongsri Thai Restaurant, 106 Baxter Street, until it underwent a complete renovation this year and was renamed Thai Jasmine Restaurant. Stony Brook Steve and I went to lunch there today, part of my relieve- the-grief tour after being cut off from jury duty so abruptly last week.
The new interior is neat and clean, not particularly Asian. While it always was and remains crowded at lunchtime, the restaurant was not especially noisy and did not feel claustrophobic. The food was very good. I started with Roti with Masaman Curry ($5), a cup of spicy curry containing two pieces of potato and some small slices of chicken, with an Indian pancake to dip. Then I had Pad See Ew ($9), their version of beef chow fun. At dinner time, the price of most of the main courses goes up $2 or $3; look for the "Lunch Specials" at the back of the menu. My quibbles -- no chopsticks and tea only by teabags
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Attention adults! The New York City Transit Museum gift shop in Grand Central Terminal has a wonderful, compact model train setup that squeezes city and country landscapes together, even including an elevated subway line. The display is small, but very carefully designed and constructed, and will be running until the end of February.
Since you don't have to rush out of the house to see the trains, you should spend some time with http://cooking.nytimes.com/68861692-nyt-cooking/1064684-chinese-dishes-you-can-make-at-home.
This is a veritable Hit Parade of Chinese cooking, including several vegetable dishes and only a few in which pork and/or shrimp are so intrinsic that the Kosher cook would have to pass. Of course, I am available, with proper notice, for food tasting.
I just learned that Don Elliott, a great friend, died two weeks ago in Park City, Utah, where he continued to ski aggressively into his late 70s. While both of us were Brooklyn boys, we had substantial stylistic and philosophic differences. Yet, we worked together almost seamlessly and developed great respect and then affection for each other. I was fortunate to know him.
Friday, December 9, 2016
27 Down - Home security measure. 4 letters, starts with L.
This morning, I got one of those annoying telephone calls from a man allegedly from the "Technical Department." When I began to discuss the meaning of "scam" with him, he hung up. My telephone displayed his number with an area code of 648. I thought, possibly naively, that area codes were unique, one vast chain of numbers circling the world. Asking Google about area code 648, I learned that it is found in Fuga, Sudan, Camargo, La Cruz and San Francisco de Conchos, Mexico, and Dormaa Ahenkro, Ghana. Had I known this at the start of the conversation, I would have skipped scams and asked instead for restaurant recommendations for wherever he was.
I am considering demanding a recount of the poll that ranked Stuyvesant High School only third in the nation among high schools. http://www.newsweek.com/high-schools/americas-top-high-schools-2016 However, I was initially startled to learn that 47.3% of its students live below the poverty line, none of its nearest competitors even close (#1 and #2 have poverty rates of 2.2% and 0%). Upon reflection, it became more obvious that the current Stuyvesant student body, a majority the children of Chinese immigrants or immigrants themselves, are still a few steps away from living a comfortable, middle-class existence, although it is inevitable that most will, as did their predecessors, with advanced degrees from first-class institutions. Arguably, their parents are no better off than the prototypical, disgruntled, opportunity-has-passed-me-by DT voter, but the former spend much of their time urging their children to better themselves instead of reading Tweets.