Friday, July 30, 2010

Cup and Saucer

Coming up Eldridge Street, I saw this vision of diner loveliness.  Oh, but I didn't have time to go & eat there!  I'll be back within the next few days.  What a perfect diner name - Cup & Saucer -  and what a no nonsense exterior. That sign gladdens the heart!  From what I gather, the inside decor is of the same vintage, & the kitchen turns out classic, no nonsense diner grub.  Absolutely worth heading over to Canal for.  Cup & Saucer, Cup & Saucer, Cup & Saucer ...

8th & 13th

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bravo Shoe Repair

These guys do a fantastic job.  Prices are very reasonable, & they work quickly. 9th at Sixth.       

Monday, July 26, 2010

On the List

I've been familiar with the 4th Ave. IND station for over twenty years, but until this week, I had no idea that it was on the National Register of Historic Places.  It was built in the 1930's, & got its spot on the list fairly recently, in 2005.  To be honest, I found the place fairly depressing for a number of years, but over time - the thousands of early mornings standing on the platform - I've grown to find it extraordinarily beautiful.  Being at an above ground station is a fine way to start the day, & the light up there is really something. 

"Burn, hang, or beat" the effigy...

Protests against Lindsey Graham for his support of Kagan's Supreme Court nomination.  Ugly stuff.  Via The Dish.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chelsea Flower Show, 1952

On such a miserably hot day, why not look at some archive footage of the Chelsea Flower Show, & discover the source of British patience? If you feel like it, you can also look at the shows of 1936 (nifty clothing) and 1966 (colour!), but I'm quite happy with this one, with a brand new queen.

Seasonal Decorations on Eleventh

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Recently purchased:
Beyond Black - Hilary Mantel (Picador)
Don't Look Now - selected stories of Daphne Du Maurier (New York Review of Books )
I'd meant to read Beyond Black when it first came out, well before Wolf Hall, but didn't get around to it.  The Du Maurier stories, darker & more ambiguous than her better known novels, should be perfect for idle summer days.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Be Prepared

At this time of year, I like to roast a bunch of seasonal vegetables, and use them in different dishes later in the week.  It means one spell of kitchen heat - not fun at this time of year - but makes subsequent days of cooking very casual.  Yesterday I roasted fennel (in a kind of basic gratin) until brown & caramelized, mixed peppers, & tomatoes.  I had the fennel yesterday, & will use the tomatoes tomorrow, in a quick pasta sauce.  Today I used the peppers with butter beans & bacon, along with with plenty of garlic & sage.  This took about 15 minutes max.


Through Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, I discovered Walkers in the City, a beautifully written New York blog.  The latest entry is a tribute to 90 year old Fedora Dorato, whose landmark West 4th restaurant is closing this weekend.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Prospect Park Geese

OTBKB reports that there will be a vigil tonight for the recently slaughtered Prospect Park geese.  Oh please. This is about as ridiculously Slope-ish as you can get.  I agree with  A Year in the Park: the damn things needed culling, & indeed it is a shame there was no free roaming, locally sourced, artisanally prepared goose eating opportunity offered to the people of the borough.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Down by the Water

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights, now in its fourth season, continues to be the best drama on network television.  Last night's episode centered on Becky, a sophomore facing difficult decisions concerning her pregnancy.  As with all the FNL work (except perhaps, the sensationalist plotlines of the second season) the script and acting here was superb.  Characters in this show are contemplative, without seeming pretentious or overwritten,  and articulate their relationship to family and hometown in a manner quite unlike that of any other show you'll see on television right now.  They're really rooted in Dillon, Texas.  I love everything about this show: the fine camera work, the elegaic light falling on highway, ballfield & scrubby pasture; its success in capturing that sweet confused ache of loyalty and small town claustrophobia; the peerless ensemble acting, & the sense of a dense, real community.  The show has garnered serious critical acclaim, but languished in terms of viewer numbers.  For the last two years it has survived on a cable/network partnership, and next season will be its last.  I'm happy with that.  Five years of such high quality work (I'm assuming Season Five will match the others) will be a fine achievement.
Last night's show has attracted quite a bit of critical comment.  Today's NY Times found its treatment of Becky's abortion to be "remarkable" and "particularly resonant", but found its"quasi-Marxist" point of view onesided, with "the opposing view ...depicted as obtuse and out of touch".  The Atlantic Monthly, on the other hand, lauded the wriers' "nuanced" and "apolitical work", and found the episode to be "devoid of political grandstanding or posturing".  Both pieces are worth reading, but I'm with the Atlantic on this one.

Monday, July 5, 2010


I'm a regular reader of Jeremiah Moss's blog, Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, and was pleased to see his op-ed piece in today's Times.  It concerns his search for the site that inspired Edward Hopper's Nighthawks.


I heard that there was some sort of police activity around the OTB last night, & while idly googling for information, came across Billy Boy. Who knew that the local OTB was the opening setting for a 'psychological crime thriller' currently available as an 'All Romance E-book'?  No mention of dates here, but I'm thinking it's set in the mid to late 80's.  The opening extract has quite a gritty pull:

The Off-Track betting parlor at the corner of Brooklyn's 12th Street and 5th Avenue didn't attract many local shoppers. But it had its loyal contingent of pensioners, laid off truck drivers, and a small but active fellowship that convened there for something other than the action at Belmont or Hialeah. The OTB especially came in handy for Billy Conover when he wanted to cop an ounce of pot or a handful of Black Beauties.  This morning he had a hangover which only a mega dose of ups could cure.
..."Tito around?" he asked a dope fiend who had been a junkie when Billy was still sucking his thumb. Fat now, and permanently stoned on the legal dose he picked up at his clinic, chased down with a pint of cheap wine, the meth-head held court at the OTB like a veteran warrior, one of few survivors of a generation decimated by overdoses, gunshot wounds and AIDS.
"Try Manny's."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Quickening Maze

"John Clare and Alfred Tennyson occupied radically different worlds. Clare was the Northamptonshire “peasant poet” whose nature verse kindled a flicker of fame before he sank into madness; Tennyson was the Cambridge educated son of a rector whose stately poems would later win him the post of Poet Laureate. But in the late 1830s they shared a home, pacing the same paths and breathing the same air, at High Beach Asylum, in Epping Forest. Adam Foulds has chanced upon this knot in history and unravelled it into a remarkable novel - an intensely felt, sharply focused, beautifully strange account of seven seasons in and around the asylum.
...Foulds's exceptional novel is like a lucid dream: earthy and true, but shifting, metamorphic - the word-perfect fruit of a poet's sharp eye and a novelist's limber reach.   Tom Gatti  - TheTimes

I'm only glancingly acquainted with Clare's work, & have never had much interest in Tennyson.  This is a slight book in terms of plot, but it's a beautifully textured work, dipping in and out of the consciousness of each of the central characters. It's wonderfully observant of nature, in a direct, clear prose that avoids sentimentality.  What surprised and delighted me about it most was Clare's encounters with the gypsies.  In their company, Clare experiences his most profound affinities with the natural world, but this bliss leads only to severe punishment on his return to the asylum. He is both too gentle and too wild for Society. With the gypsies, in their dispossessed state, Clare endures a state of exile that is both politically and spiritually charged.  The gypsies are at the heart of things.
Reading this took me back to a sequence of reading infatuations in the late 70's & 80's, starting with Edward Thomas, and going back to Richard Jefferies, William Cobbett, and George Borrow.  George Borrow was a contemporary of Clare, and his book Lavengro: The Scholar, the Gypsy, the Priest (1851), a memoir/novel about his travels with gypsies, offers a rare look into Romany life in mid nineteenth century England. A 1930's copy of the book, belonging to my mother, had been sitting on a family bookshelf throughout my childhood, but I didn't discover it for myself until I hit my twenties.  I still have my mother's copy, and am rather inspired to read it again.  The only other book I have read recently that really threw me back to that reading period was The Goshawk, by T.H. White, an account of White's hermitic existence training a wild goshawk, using a seventeenth century falconry treatise as a guide.  The three books mentioned here are highly recommended.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Questions of Travel

"Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?"