Saturday, March 18, 2017

Real George

Monday, March 13, 2017
I wonder which makes Republicans feel better as they contemplate the repeal of Obamacare, the big tax breaks for the very rich or the removal of health insurance from 24 million Americans? 

It was an odd coincidence yesterday when we saw the matinee performance of "Sunday in the Park With George," one of Stephen Sondheim's masterpieces.  It wasn't the presence of George Stephanopoulos in the audience, although I was surprised to see how small he is.  Rather, it was the presence of Mandy Patinkin, who created the role of George Seurat, the George in the title.  I saw the original cast version, but both Patinkin and Bernadette Peters, the two leads, were absent the night I attended.  Yet, even though I saw two other subsequent  productions, their voices and personas have been ingrained in me by listening to the original cast recording innumerable times.  I can report that Patinkin, seated a few rows ahead of us, applauded the whole cast and his successor vigorously.  In this instance, I imagine that the new guy listened avidly to tapes of the old guy.

Many people in the northeastern US are anticipating the arrival of a blizzard, due to hit the Holy Land at midnight tonight.  As a prophylactic measure, I went to Chinatown for lunch and discovered a great fortune.  Well, the Great Fortune Chinese Restaurant has recently opened at 5 Catherine Street, replacing QJ Restaurant (January 28, 2010).  In classic style, the front of the restaurant is taken up by a couple of men cooking in the window, with roast ducks and barbecued ribs hanging near their heads.  In back are ten 2 tops pushed together in pairs and one round table.  The walls are covered by 9" x 24" ceramic tiles with a wavy surface pattern.  Six rows of white tiles sit over five rows of black tiles, lending a clean, spare feeling to the space.

The menu is enormous, 315 enumerated items, another 34 by weight or piece for takeout, and 15 in Chinese only.   Speaking of Chinese, speaking Chinese is an advantage when ordering here, unless you hold your finger very steady when pointing to the item on the menu you want.  Additionally, a sign in the window for Peking duck buns at $1 each, not found on the menu, held a strong appeal for me, but, since I was unwilling to pull the waiter outside into the very cold air to show him what I want, I went without.

In spite of the number of options on the menu, I kept it simple: Three dumpling soup ($4.25), identified as shrimp, pork and mixed vegetables; "Three Precious Ingredients" ($5.50), roast chicken, roast duck and a fried egg over a mound of rice and boiled cabbage.  The soup was piping hot and aromatic, holding 8 dumplings, whose contents were not easily distinguished, but rather seemed to combine the three different fillings in varying proportions.  The rice dish was hearty, with small, tasty portions of chicken and duck.  It all added up to a filling and reasonably priced winter lunch.  Bring on the storm.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
I recollect that, with the exception of Spiro Agnew, the Nixonians waited to take office before committing crimes.  Today's team showed no such restraint.

When the House Judiciary Committee voted on three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon on July 27, 29 and 30, 1974, 10 of the 17 Republican members voted No each time.  We now call that Ryan's Courage.  

These historical insights emerged as I sat indoors today, watching the snow fall.  It wasn't pretty.  There were no lacy patterns on the tree branches below our windows as the heavy winds swept them bare.

While almost all prudent New Yorkers stayed home this evening as the city moved slowly back to normal, Mossad Moshe and I ventured forth to see a screening of "American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs," a new documentary, at the Socially Relevant Film Festival.  We promised each other next time to be first in line at the Socially Irrelevant Film Festival.    

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Sorry, Julius.

Unless you are very lonely, you probably resent receiving robocalls, computer-dialled telephone calls with a recorded message about a person, place or thing of no interest to you.  Their technology often outsmarts Do Not Call lists.  The worst part for me is that there is no human being on the line to be remonstrated about the unwelcome intrusion or to be threatened with being tracked to the ends of the Earth.  There is hope, however, as Jon Silverberg instructed me.   

Nomorobo intercepts robocalls on most popular carriers and cuts them off.  You hear one ring and no more.  One step in the sign-up procedure stymied me, but I got Verizon's help.  You may be more educable and sail through the process unassisted.  In any case, it is a joy hearing that one ring followed by silence.

Legitimate automated calls, such as, medical appointment reminders and school closings, are not interfered with.

It got a bit colder today, so too many sidewalk intersections combine snow, slush, ice and very cold water.  I might have stayed home if Stony Brook Steve had not suggested lunch, but a man's got to do what a man's got to do.  So, we bravely headed to Shun Lee Café, 43 West 65th Street, the casual portion of one of the most honored Chinese restaurants in the city.  I don't think that I have been to the main room in about 20 years and I know that I have never been to a dim sum lunch at the café.  That streak continues, since it was not the weather that kept us out, but the calendar.  Shun Lee Café is open for lunch and dim sum only on the weekend.  We settled for an ordinary lunch at an ordinary joint, distinguished by the quality of the conversation and insults.

Thursday, March 16, 2017
It has stayed cold and my car is frozen in place, so I stuck to running (walking actually) local errands.  Since one stop was the theater district, I hied off to Dim Sum Palace, 334 West 46th Street, for lunch, a new destination.  It offers over 40 dim sum items, chosen from an illustrated menu.  There are also a couple of dozen noodle, rice and soup dishes.  

I ordered rather conservatively, steamed shrimp and chive dumplings ($5.25 for 3), shredded roast duck dumplings ($5.25 for 3), chicken shu mai ($4.25 for 4), and pan-fried shrimp and chive dumplings ($5.95 for 3).  Everything was brought within one minute of each other, freshly cooked and piping hot.  The duck dumplings, which should have been the most interesting, were the most innocuous.  Only when I looked at the check did I remember that I ordered them, rather than some miscellaneous meat thing.  The other items were truer to their name.  

There is a bar at the front and about ten tables in a square space.  Then, a long narrow corridor with a single line of tables leads to another boxy room.  The corridor is decorated with an interesting antique-looking Chinese mural, roughly 24 feet by 6 feet, depicting a waterfront village in great detail. Unfortunately, there's just no room to get a perspective on it.  Service was friendly and efficient; when I remarked on the $8 charge for pots of unordinary tea, my waitress suggested ordinary tea at no charge, which hit the spot.

Another errand today took me to the post office, where I bought stamps, an extremely colorful Oscar de la Renta issue, a panel of 8 WPA posters (evoking real American greatness) and, sending a chill down my spine, a John F. Kennedy commemorative on his 100th birthday.  

Friday, March 17, 2017
It won't be pleasant, but I urge you to place yourself among the have-nots of our post-industrial society at a performance of "Sweat," a play by Lynn Nottage, at Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street.

I admit that I am normally insulated from witnessing "the bonds among a group of working-class friends and family [being] frayed to the breaking point by the pressure of an eroding economic future," as you might be as well.  Tonight, it was a small but important step in permeating my college-educated, white collar, financially-solvent bubble.


  1. Nomorobo is free for 1 month and after that costs $1.95/ month. I'd rather just do what I have always done - never answer a number I don't recognize. If it is important they will leave a message.

  2. Verizon does not support nomorobo! When I get these calls on my cell I just block the number.

  3. No charges for the winning side of the Civil War.
    This works for landlines, not wireless.