Friday, June 30, 2017

Fashion Forward

Monday, June 26, 2017
Here's my dilemma, right here.
I've had these jeans (dungarees we called them in Brooklyn) for ten years or so.  They are not completely worn out because they are not my only pair.   On the other hand, they clearly show signs of age, faded color and near-threadbare patches.  That's okay.

My problem is that spot on the left leg, that hole.  I earned it more than five years ago, falling on my face on the sidewalk near my home.  I got a scraped knee along with it, some blood initially, then a 3/4" scab for a week.  I did not buy torn jeans; I would not buy torn jeans.  Which seems to distinguish me from the entire under-30-year-old population of New York and those pretending to be under 30.  

I try to wear these jeans outdoors now only under the cloak of darkness.  I have been called many things in my life, but I shrink from the prospect of being called trendy.  While the small hole does not resemble the carefully shredded garments bedecking so many folks, the potential for embarrassment weighs heavily on me.  I'd rather admit to being a klutz than be taken for a mindless consumer.
. . .

The Sunday real estate section of the New York Times contains an interesting chart, estimating the annual salary needed to afford a median-priced home (combining mortgage payments, taxes, insurance) in major US cities.   The source data is found at

San Francisco is the most expensive location, requiring an annual income of $161,110 to afford the median-priced home.  Pittsburgh is the cheapest, needing an income only of $31,508, less than 1/5 of San Francisco, to afford its typical $122,600 home.
. . . 

Speaking of location, location, location, I found this headline interesting: "Food & Wine Magazine Will Leave New York for Alabama"  Costs allegedly propelled the move and the new home is in "the multimillion-dollar complex — housing 28 test kitchens and 13 photography bays and video studios" opened in Birmingham, Alabama in 2015.  

While I'm not French, I admit to being a chauvinist.  What it boils down to is it's Sunday morning and you crave bagels and lox and you remember that you are in Birmingham, Alabama.  Or you pine for the crowded, underground confines of Wo Hop for quintessential Chinatown Chinese food, or you must have a real pastrami sandwich on rye, something becoming more difficult to get even around here.  I suspect that the decision to move was made by millennial MBAs who grew up on microwaved meals.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017
While our wives went off for their own evening on the town, Michael Ratner and I spent a wonderful evening together.   We started at the Cornell Club, where Kevin Baker, a novelist and historian, spoke on "How the Dodgers Saved Brooklyn -- By Leaving," the subject of a book that he is now writing.  While the title was a bit overwrought, Baker's presentation was excellent, thoroughly researched and concisely delivered.  

He examined the conflict between Walter O'Malley, owner of the Dodgers, and Robert Moses, the Goliath who controlled the development of virtually all local public works for decades, and their respective plans for a new baseball stadium for the Dodgers.  O'Malley wanted a facility that would generate vast wealth for himself, which he achieved in Los Angeles, while Moses wanted the keystone for a complex that combined his transportation and recreation projects in Queens.  

Baker maintained that either project would have had such a deleterious effect wherever situated that the city benefited by the failure to reach a deal, resulting in the Dodgers moving to California and the New York Giants following.  
. . .

After the talk, Michael and I went to Urbanspace, the food court at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and East 45th Street.  I had been there before at lunchtime with hordes of young white collar workers from the surrounding office towers, but I never expected most of them to still be hanging out there at 8 o'clock at night.  Nevertheless, we found a little space to sit after ordering at separate food stands.  Michael had a lobster roll from the Red Hook Lobster Pound, while I had a combo from KBBQ, K for Korean.  That included 8 excellent deep-fried meat dumplings, a spicy bowl of marinated chicken thigh meat mixed with kimchi, vegetables and rice, and a traditional Korean Diet Coke, all for $20.  We enjoyed our food and the other diners navigated the generation gap without much difficulty.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017
We joined Arthur and Lyn Dobrin, he also a product of Pitkin Avenue, in visiting the Bronx Botanical Gardens, an absolutely idyllic spot on this beautiful day.  However, we did not simply venture forth to smell the roses, countless thousands of them, but to see the exhibit of Chihuly glass works spread over the grounds.  I admit that until a couple of weeks ago, I would have guessed that Chihuly was a brand of Mexican hot sauce.  

While there are reminders in his work of the glass artisans of Murano, the small island in the Venetian lagoon, Chihuly is an American artist who creates brilliantly-colored glass pieces, some small enough to sit on a coffee table, some occupying an entire room.   

If you would like to forget almost everything and everyone bothering you, at least for a few hours, go the Bronx.

While there, do as we did, head to Roberto's Restaurant, 603 Crescent Avenue, usually packed at dinner, but completely accessible at lunchtime.  Roberto's, a block or two from the other restaurants in the Bronx's Little Italy, stands above them in quality.  

We shared Parmigiana di Melanzane e Zucchine (breaded eggplant and zucchini layered with melted bocconcini and dried mozzarella) ($12), and then variously had a grilled pork chop (daily special, $20), swordfish with sauteed fennel ($24), Pollo Con Spinaci (Chicken with spinach, prosciutto, melted mozzarella, and marsala wine) ($19), and Cavatelli con Salsiccia e Broccoli di Rapa (Cavatelli with Italian sausage and broccoli rabe sauteed in garlic and oil) ($21).   Add $3 or $4 to these prices at dinner.

Note that the friendly Chef Roberto usually makes a pass through the room at dinner; the restaurant closes from 2:30 to 5 weekdays; it is not open on Sunday; and, it now takes reservations through Open Table (hooray).   

Thursday, June 29, 2017
Ollie's has been operating in Manhattan since 1989, changing location and format along the way.  Stony Brook Steve and I went to Ollie's Sichuan Restaurant, 411 West 42nd Street, now the chain's flagship, for lunch.  While it has 30 lunch specials, all but 2 at $8.95, including white or brown rice and choice of soup or soda, we went the dim sum route.

We had a scallion pancake ($5.25), crispy from deep frying; very tasty cold sesame noodles with a tablespoon of chopped peanuts on top ($6.50); 2 fried vegetable spring rolls ($4.25); 6 steamed vegetable dumplings ($6.95); 6 pan-fried chicken dumplings ($6.95).  In all, a quite satisfying lunch.  

Friday, June 30, 2017
Our one and only granddaughter will be four years old tomorrow and, of course, there will be appropriate festivities.  Therefore, we hit the road today to join the family celebration.  

1 comment:

  1. I share your jeans dilemma exactly. A favorite pair (Duluth Ballroom) is shredding at the Left knee. Not due to falling and scraping but to much wear and now tear.....what to do ?
    Any advice ?
    I am a Brooklyn boy so for me it's the Brooklyn Botanic Garden >Not as you might think the Botanical garden. Why the difference ? No idea. Maybe you can find out. The Cherry Blossoms in the springtime rival Washington's and was the site several years ago where I learned my lines for the Chekov play of the same name. PH