Saturday, June 24, 2017

Skim Milk From Skinny Cows?

Monday, June 19, 2017
Are you surprised that 7 percent of Americans believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows?  Maybe you should be encouraged that the number isn't greater.
. . .

The Pew Research Survey that reported that almost four-in-ten Americans (39%) who have married since 2010 have a spouse who is in a different religious group needs a closer look.    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/06/02/interfaith-marriage/

Jews are particularly sensitive to intermarriage, because Jewish affiliation and identity are notably weakened through the generations by intermarriage.  Those eight nights of Hanukkah apparently are not attractive enough to withstand the lure of the Christmas season.  

What I found most interesting in the Pew survey from my atavistic Jewish perspective is how various branches of Christianity "are treated as separate religions."  Do Methodist parents sit shiva when a child marries a Baptist?
. . . 

I have visited Gotham Market, 600 11th Avenue, twice, each time to have the wonderful ice cream at Ample Hills Creamery.  Today, I had lunch at Genuine Roadside, one of the 8 food stands within the market.  It offers a limited menu of hamburgers, chicken, seafood tacos and salads.  I chose the buttermilk battered chicken sandwich with apple/celeric slaw and sambal (chili-infused) mayo ($10.56).  It was sloppy to handle, but delicious to eat.  The only thing that prevented a declaration that this was the best lunch ever, anywhere, was my self-control.  I left without having any ice cream.  
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
In how many Congressional districts do half or more of the adults have a college degree?  Do you live in such a district?   https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/19/upshot/this-list-of-well-educated-districts-explains-why-georgias-election-is-close.html?_r=0   What's the correlation with dairy farming?
. . .

Joe Forstadt, CCNY '61, threw me a lifeline when my legal career stalled in 2009, a kindness that I will never forget.   Today, there was a memorial service for Joe at the 60 Centre Street courthouse, where I worked from 2010 through 2015, a fortunate coincidence.  A very large crowd heard about Joe from friends, judges and colleagues, but the tributes were very much the same regardless of the position of the speaker.  Joe's decency, his sense of fairness and responsibility were recognized by all who knew him.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017     
Today's food section of the New York Times has a mildly interesting, short graphic essay on tartufo, the Italian ice cream scoop enrobed in a hard chocolate shell. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/20/dining/tartufo-history.html?_r=0

I recall a great tartufo from three or four decades ago that has never been approached by later versions.  It was served by Trattoria, an Italian restaurant that sat in the northeast corner of the lobby of the Pan Am Building from 1964 to 1993.  While I have vague memories of good Italian food there, the tartufo remains crystal clear.  It had dark chocolate ice cream with a note of rum, rolled in dark chocolate shavings, not your ordinary configuration, but far superior.  A Hall of Fame dessert. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017
The CCNY Gang had our brown bag lunch today at the law offices of Nick Lewin, Stuyvesant '57, CCNY '62.  I used the catering service of the Halal wagon at the southeast corner of 54th Street and Third Avenue, lamb/chicken combo over rice with a pita on the side ($8).  Before I went upstairs to lunch, I had to confront the legal concerns of the Halal guy whose former girlfriend has gotten an order of protection against him.  He discerned that I was a lawyer (even retired) and was seemingly stymied by the legal system.  As I scurried away, I told him to write everything down. 

Nick is a senior partner at Morrison Cohen LLP, once Morrison Cohen Weinstein & Singer, LLP.  Earlier in this century the firm's name almost became too hot to handle.  Cohen, a founding partner and a recognized authority in certain matters, left the firm to pursue his specialty.  Being a lawyer, his initial instinct was to sue.  He demanded that Morrison Cohen Weinstein & Singer, LLP remove his name, which would entail substantial expense for the firm changing stationary, publicity materials, signage and the like.  However, as a sizable New York Jewish law firm, it was easily able to dig into its ranks for another partner named Cohen, stifling the opposition.

And guess who actually sued Morrison Cohen after he refused to pay $470,000 in legal fees?  He lost, but then sued again when the firm cited its work for him on its website.  The $5 million lawsuit alleged that by touting its work for “the world-renowned Donald J. Trump,” Morrison Cohen invaded his privacy and "engaged in the rank commercialization of Mr. Trump's reputation and unyielding demand for excellence."   Didn't win that one either.
. . .

Tonight, I finished reading "Homage to Catalonia," George Orwell's memoir of fighting the Fascists rebelling against the elected left-wing government in Spain.  Much of the work describes the internecine warfare (often violent, not just verbal) among the four major groups supporting the government, socialists, anarchists, Communists and Trotskyists.  Orwell eventually fled Spain ahead of Communists hunting him down because of his Trotskyist sympathies.  

What struck me was how Orwell's attempts to deal systematically with Communist lies and hypocrisies in Spain and internationally hardly differ from examinations of the professions, protestations and promises of our unpopularly-elected president.   https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/23/opinion/trumps-lies.html?_r=0
  


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Outer Boroughs

Monday, June 12, 2017
The New York Times published its list of the best movies of the 21st century this weekend.   https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/09/movies/the-25-best-films-of-the-21st-century.html?_r=0
I cannot affirm or rebut its choices, because it seems that the number of hockey games that I attended this season exceeds the number of these movies that I have seen this entire century.  You will notice, however, in my partial defense, that many of these selections fall between obscure and unknown.  
. . . 

While I have several well-publicized vices, I have kept at least one secret until now.  With all my gallivanting around Manhattan (primarily), I have found secret satisfaction at my neighborhood's hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant, Wok City, 153-155 Amsterdam Avenue, so small that it shouldn't even have a whole number for an address, no less two numbers.  It is perpetually busy, with three high schools immediately nearby, along with Julliard around the corner, and several large construction sites, in addition to a gaggle of high rise residences.  With six stools against a narrow ledge, almost all the business is takeout or delivery.  

Usually, I order sesame cold noodles ($4.25), a large portion that earns a solid B+ rating.  Today, I ventured into the list of 39 lunch specials, mostly $6.75 including white or fried rice, for shrimps with lobster sauce.  It was prepared to order, contained 5 good size shrimps, and improved with the addition of mustard and soy sauce.  It still lacked that garlic touch that defines a first-rate lobster sauce, somewhat offset by saving subway fare to leave the neighborhood.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017
I'm not an epidemiologist, but I was drawn to the title of this article atop my young bride's pile of reading material that gets straight to the point: "Infectious disease risks from dead bodies following natural disasters."  
. . .

I had the pleasure of spending several hours with Hadassah Nakiza, a college student from Uganda on her first visit out of her country to spend the summer in the United States.  Hadassah is a member of the Abayudaya Jewish community in Uganda, which began practicing Judaism in 1919.  Here's more information.   http://kulanu.org/abayudaya

We walked from Tribeca through to Chinatown.  We stopped at the African Burial Ground National Monument on Duane Street, where the bones of at least 420 colonial era slaves and freedmen (women and children, too) were uncovered in the excavation for a government building in 1991.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Burial_Ground_National_Monument

We continued to another historic site, the First Shearith Israel Graveyard, established in 1682 by the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue a/k/a Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, itself dating from 1654. 
It sits on St. James Place, just off Chatham Square, and is now only a fraction of the original property, as is the case with the African Burial Ground.  

These sites were the highlight of our time together.  We had lunch at Buddha Bodai Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant, 77 Mulberry Street, one of two certified Kosher restaurants in Chinatown, because Hadassah keeps Kosher, and I thought that an assortment of their dim sum would please her.  
But I've been wrong about women before.  She nibbled and picked and poked; I don't think that she made it to 100 calories.

Fortunately, at the corner of Mulberry Street and Bayard Street, in a completely renovated space that used to be a fruit and vegetable store, a dessert joint just opened, Justin Tea Inc. a/k/a 196˚C NIce Cream, 69 Mulberry Street.  In addition to a large menu of teas hot and cold, it makes ice cream right in front of your eyes, in the same fashion as Smitten Ice Cream, 5800 College Avenue, Oakland, shooting liquid Nitrogen into a swirling bowl of ingredients.  You're not going to get me to say that I was smitten with Smitten, but I liked it a whole bunch (March 6, 2017).  

Justin, however, did not evoke that level of esteem, probably because of the inexperience of the staff, who took far too long to produce one generous cup of ice cream for $6.95.  The finished product wasn't bad; Hadassah dug into it and I sampled one spoonful.  For future reference there is a Häagen-Dazs store one block away at the corner of Bayard Street and Mott Street.  

I delivered Hadassah to the lovely and talented Viviane Topp at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and, after 4 hours in the 90˚+ heat, I went home, took another shower and headed to Ben's Best Kosher Delicatessen, 96-40 Queens Boulevard, Rego Park, to dine with Michael Ratner before we went to the Mets game.  Michael, who bears no grudge that his name has been removed from one of the multi-meat, special sandwiches that Ben's features, and I enjoyed our food far more than watching the mauling that the Mets later endured.  I had a simple roast beef/pastrami combination that was a tribute to the art of sandwich making ($20.95).

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Speaking of pastrami, the ever informative New York Times today describes the efforts of a Tuscan veterinarian to introduce pastrami to the Italian diet. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/world/europe/persuading-italians-to-hold-the-prosciutto-and-pass-the-pastrami.html?_r=0
. . . 

Closer to home, the paper has a very interesting article and chart about the political preferences of clergy from 36 measurable denominations, Reform Judaism to Wisconsin Lutheran (more of them than I might have imagined), that is, from most Democratic to most Republican.  The study was done by matching about 130,000 identified clergy with voter registration records.   

There's a lot of other good stuff reported here, including that clergy in the three major branches of Judaism - Conservative, Reform and Orthodox - live in higher income census tracts than any other denomination.  Good to be a Jew for a change.

Thursday, June 15, 2017
My advocacy of Ben's Best Kosher Delicatessen was put to the test today when, as a byproduct of running an errand in the deep southern reaches of Brooklyn, I had lunch at the Mill Basin Kosher Deli, 5823 Avenue T, Brooklyn.  In many regards, Mill Basin holds its own against Ben's.  It is about twice as large, more recently redecorated, brighter and displaying a nice collection of art.  Prices seemed to be a tad lower, a buck or so here and there. 

The food?  I ordered a sandwich combining corned beef and brisket on rye naturally ($19.70) and a side of French fries ($4.95).  The meat was high quality, lean without being asked for, but losing some taste with the missing fat.  I didn't bring any measuring instruments, but I think Ben's sandwiches generally are bigger.  A fair judgment on Mill Basin would require more visits, chopped liver, kishke, pastrami, chicken soup.  I don't mind subjecting myself to such an experiment, but Mill Basin is at least one hour away by land from Palazzo di Gotthelf, so we may never know.
. . . 

Would you consider it ungrateful or simply unnecessary for Jews to seek Jewish food in China?   http://www.momentmag.com/searching-shanghais-jewish-food-scene/

Friday, June 16, 2017
Lyn Dobrin, pillar of Long Island journalism, posed an interesting quiz to us.  "What are the 10 Yiddish words that any foreigner coming to New York should know?"  Our household submitted the following list, in alphabetical order:
Chutzpah
Macher
Mazel
Megillah
Mensch
Nosh
Nudnik
Qvell
Schmuck
Yenta

We will accept substitutions, but not additions.  Comments from you foreigners are also welcome, that is, Europeans, Latin Americans, Asians and anyone residing more than 7 miles west of the Hudson River, north of Westchester County, or south of New Brunswick, New Jersey.
. . .

Another errand took Stony Brook Steve and me into Queens today, giving us the opportunity to have lunch at a famous spot.  
It turns out that Goodfellas and good food don't necessarily go together.

Friday, June 9, 2017

It's Not Chinatown, Jake

Monday, June 5, 2017
I'll leave it to others to describe West End Synagogue's annual retreat this past weekend, that is, if there is a market for such reporting.  However, Viviane Topp's photograph of the campgrounds on Sunday morning is of transcendent value.

After a weekend in the country, with fresh air and trees and grass, I sought to restore the natural order of things by heading to Pinch Chinese, 177 Prince Street, for lunch.  Once inside, I realized that I had been there less than two months ago, but I stayed because there is no other Chinese restaurant close by.  While Pinch offers a $19 three dish lunch special, I chose pan fried beef dumplings ($10) and sesame noodles with chicken ($15), because you get more dumplings and the noodles were not part of the set menu.

The noodle dish was carefully ordinary, with vermicelli (mei fun), bean sprouts, bamboo shoots and scallions in a timid sauce.  The 6 small dumplings were quite good by contrast, juicy, delicately pan fried.  In all, I'd rather be in Chinatown.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Today is David & Irit's wedding anniversary.  They have been leading a rich and happy life, so I hope that they will be able to celebrate today with dim sum for lunch.
. . . 

A number of local errands kept me from getting to Chinatown today, but I headed to The Cottage, a Chinese restaurant at 360 Amsterdam Avenue as a stopgap measure.  I am not sure if I have ever been there before, although it has been around for a long time.  I may have it confused with a place called Silk Road, which seems to have disappeared from the same neighborhood and also served free cheap white wine during dinner.  Since it was lunchtime, I was in no danger of having to deal with cheap white wine.  

It has about 20 two tops in a small space paneled with dark wood and beige wallpaper.  While it was busy at midday, I am sure that it keeps a fleet of bicyclists busy at night feeding every other person in a half-mile radius.

While The Cottage offers lunch specials, I strayed onto the regular menu and ordered egg drop soup ($2.60), scallion pancake ($3.95), and seafood dumplings with Szechuan sauce ($5.95).  I ultimately enjoyed my lunch, but the tiny bowl of soup was so overpriced that I almost lost my perspective.  The scallion pancake was deep-fried, but not overly greasy.  It suffered, however, from being accompanied by a sesame sauce rather than the normal rice wine/soy sauce blend.  Normally, I will lick sesame sauce off any table top in my reach, but it simply didn't work with this scallion pancake.  Still, I came away satisfied, because of the abundant quantity and quality of the dumplings, which sat in a spicy, soupy sauce loaded with crunchy little ringlets of green onions.  I can't vouch for whether the contents of the dumplings ever spent time in a body of water of any size, but the total effect was delightful.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Still yearning for the real thing, I headed downtown with Michael Ratner, but only got so far as Tim Ho Wan, 85 Fourth Avenue, the New York outlet of a very successful Hong Kong dim sum chain (January 31, 2017).  I had good reasons for stopping short of Chinatown: 
A) I enjoyed the food at Tim Ho Wan the last time I visited. B) Burt G. and Geri M. had generously given me a gift card as a birthday present.

The wait to get in was 45 minutes, 15 minutes less than last time, still allowing Michael and I time to walk over to the Strand Bookstore to browse.  Once seated, we dug in -- baked buns with BBQ pork, deep fried eggplant with shrimp, steamed rice with minced beef and fried egg, steamed dumplings in Chiu Chow style, steamed tofu stuffed with fish cake (actually, the fish cake sat atop the tofu), steamed shrimp and chives dumpling, and deep fried vegetable spring roll.  Each of these dishes, generally three pieces to a plate, cost $4.50 to $4.95, totaling $48 with tea, tax and tip.

The food and service were excellent, but we agreed that Tim Ho Wan does not replace Jing Fong, 20 Elizabeth Street, as our premier dim sum destination.  Jing Fong offers a far greater selection of dishes; its enormous space always exudes a party atmosphere; and, with the exception of one Chinese New Year, we have always been seated immediately.

Thursday, June 8, 2017
You remember Saudi Arabia, our BFF?  Consider this headline from a World Cup qualifying match in Australia: "Saudi Arabia footballers ignore minute's silence for London attack victims"
Maybe the guys were just unhappy that there was no commemoration of the 15 (of 19) 9/11 hijackers who were Saudi citizens.

Friday, June 9, 2017
In a letter to the New York Times today, a very famous lawyer writes: "With Mr. Comey, it is the word of the president of the United States against a disgruntled, fired federal employee."  I remember handling cases with this very famous lawyer while I was still in the court system, back when he had not yet lost his hearing.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Into The Woods 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017
I was intrigued by a sale listed in the Sunday real estate section.  A one bedroom, one bath apartment at 27 Essex Street, Manhattan, sold for $725,000.  Mother Ruth Gotthelf was born at 13 Essex Street in 1909, in an apartment occupied by her parents, one grandparent and her older brother and older sister.  It was the classic tenement configuration, 330 square feet, one bedroom, bathroom in the hall, shared with other tenants.  The monthly rent was likely $11 plus or minus $2. http://tenement.org/blog/the-rent-is-due-a-history-of-rent-at-97-orchard-street/

The interior of 13 Essex Street has been completely rearranged.  The building seems to consist mainly of two bedroom, one bath units, renting at $2,500 to $2,900 monthly.  http://streeteasy.com/building/13-essex-street-new_york#tab_building_detail=3  Why didn't the Goldenbergs have the foresight to hang on?
. . .

Melania Trump seems to have a better appreciation of value than my maternal relatives.  On her recent trip to Europe, she appeared in Sicily in a floral embroidered jacket by Dolce & Gabbana design that sells for $51,500.  While her husband is allegedly very rich, he doesn't make the list of 2016's highest paid American executives.  http://www.equilar.com/reports/49-table-equilar-200-ranking-largest-ceo-pay-packages.html   As far as I can tell, none of my regular readers are on this list.  Come on, guys, let's bear down.
. . . 

Some years, we don't see any of the movies nominated for an Academy Award; forget the Grammys all together.  By chance, however, we have seen all four of the best play nominees for this year's Tony awards -- "Oslo," "Sweat," "Indecent" and "A Doll's House, Part 2."  They are all wonderful and should not be missed.  

When it first opened, I was disdainful of "A Doll's House, Part 2," expecting it to be a dreary postmortem of Nora and Torvald's marriage.  Instead, as I observed yesterday, it is a witty exploration of the complications of not being married.   The most rewarding and unpredictable element of the play was the appearance of a young adult child of the couple's, abandoned by her mother 15 years earlier.  While many cheered Nora's exit out the door and out of her marriage at the end of Ibsen's work, no one, including the playwright, regarded the children.  In the new work, her daughter's words without dripping sentimentality seem to challenge Nora much more than Torvald's, the husband Nora deserted.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Did you know that no one has been appointed as the United States Ambassador to Italy?  What an opportunity.  If I could secure the post without ever having to appear side-by-side in public with you-know-who, I might do it for the food alone.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017
A few years ago, after 29 years as subscriber, I stopped attending the New York City Ballet regularly in order to spend more money on hockey games.  We remained on good terms and it continues to send me solicitations and publications, the latest a lavishly-illustrated, 64-page brochure promoting the 2017/18 season.  The brochure is particularly interesting because of the quality and quantity of the photographs and the announcement of a 100th birthday celebration of Jerome Robbins, né Rabinowitz, my favorite choreographer.  

So, I hesitantly reprove the New York City Ballet, or at least the dim copywriter for this publication.  In describing several programs devoted entirely to works by Robbins, it says "Fancy Free [which later evolved into the Broadway musical and Hollywood movie On the Town] follows three soldiers on shore leave in the Big City."  Even if you never saw the ballet, the play or the (inferior) movie, you recognize the error from the description itself.

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The three men on the town are sailors.  Soldiers take leave; sailors take shore leave.  i don't believe either arm of our military can be pleased with this misidentification.

The above may be an example of alternative facts, but somethings are primarily errors in judgment.  Helsingborg, Sweden is about to welcome the Museum of Failure, dedicated to ill-conceived products that could not be saved by even the biggest advertising budget.  Here is an excellent (terrible?) example.

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Do you want to put grated cheese on your toothbrush?  More details at the following.   https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/25/arts/museum-of-faTilure.html?_r=0

Friday, June 2, 2017
Today begins West End Synagogue's annual retreat, an attempt to get this collection of anarchic Jews to do more or less the same thing at the same time.  I am halfway through my lifetime appointment as director of this event, so I must cut short this week's review of the passing scene.  However, before I leave, I have one treat for you.
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