Peter & Jake

April 14th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

Lucky HG/BSK. Peter Hellman, the distinguished journalist/author/wine authority arrived from New York for a brief visit to the HG/BSK New Mexico compound. And, with him was his son, Jake, an original and cerebral young man who is engaged in doctorate studies at the University of California/San Diego. Peter has been a pal for many, many decades so there was much to talk about. Peter and wife, Susan, are consummate New Yorkers and happy beneficiaries of the rent control system. They occupy a spacious Riverside Drive apartment (excellent river and Palisades views). HG/BSK are pleased that the rent control system enables some writers, artists and intellectuals (too few, alas) to enrich the Upper West Side with their presence. Peter brought with him some Zabar’s (the famed Broadway food and cooking utensil emporium) specialties: A jewish rye bread (with caraway seeds); whitefish salad; gefilte fish. Susan (who, sadly, couldn’t make the New Mexico trip because of work pressures) contributed some goodies from an Italian gourmet shop: A pork-wine-fennel dry sausage and a wedge of superior Pecorino cheese. Peter and Jake did some exploring in the Los Alamos/White Rock area, swam in HG/BSK’s pool, attended a wine tasting at the unique Kokoman shop in Pojoaque. Some very hearty feasting at home. Chicken curry one night and New Mexico pork green chile stew on the next. Farewell brunch was poached eggs (done perfectly by BSK) atop cheese grits. Jake proved to be the ideal house guest. He cleared the dining table after each meal. Scrubbed pots. Stacked dishes in the dishwasher with precision and efficiency (a worthy rival of HG son-in-law, Profesore/Dottore/Uficiale Massimo R., North American champion dishwasher stacker). Peter bought one of BSK’s sculptural pots (a tribute to the Native American and Hispanic cultures of New Mexico). Absent Susan got a gift of a Daumier-influenced head. HG is glad the striking works of art will have a salubrious home in New York.

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Do You Miss New York?

April 11th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Dave Frishberg, the witty singer/song writer/musician, now an LA resident and formerly a New Yorker, is often asked that question. So he wrote a song: “Do You Miss New York?”. And, the answer, of course is: Yes!! HG/BSK have lived in the Western United States (Colorado and New Mexico) and Canada (Vancouver and Prince Edward Island) for the last 31 years. BSK does not miss New York (or New Jersey). HG has complex feelings. There’s nostalgia, of course. HG is nostalgic about the Upper West Side in the sixties. Movie houses. Street scenes (old Holocaust survivors; junkies; professors; musicians; writers; sex workers; crazies; burglars). Apartments (huge and cheap). Food (Zabar’s, Barney Greengrass, Citarella’s, Nevada Meat Market, Broadway Nut Shop, etc.). Dining (Fleur de Lis; Paramount Famous Dairy; Gitlitz Delicatessen; Tip Toe Inn; many good, cheap Chinese and Cuban joints.) HG got a jolt recently while watching Mad Men. Roger and Joan get away from Madison Avenue and dine at Tip Toe Inn (set designers did a great job). They are mugged after their meal. Yes, that was a possibility on the old West Side before the real estate monsters and condo-maniacs chewed up the neighborhood. Zabar’s, Barney G. and Citarella’s remain. All else is gone. Today’s New York? It’s a place where foreign bad guys hide their money and a family has to earn a million bucks a year to enjoy an upper-middle class life (Condo or coop; housekeeper/nanny; summer home; private school for the kids.) HG/BSK had all of those things on $40,000 (or less) a year. Didn’t have a coop but paid $292 a month for a huge apartment (big living room with view of the Hudson River and The Palisades; separate formal dining room; modest windowed kitchen; four bedrooms; three bathrooms.) Read it and weep. There are things about the New York of 2016 that HG loves. The museums are still great (the new Whitney on the West Side and the Met Breuer on Madison are grand additions). Strolling on the High Line. HG daughter Victoria and husband /chef Marc Meyer’s four superior downtown restaurants: Rosie’s (Mexican); Vic’s (Italian); Cookshop and Hundred Acres (farm to table ingredients, American with Mediterranean flavors). Good value, wonderful food, deft service, joyous atmosphere. Dining with SJ in Flushing (Chinese and Korean) and the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens (robust Uzbekistan cuisine). HG’s annual lunch with Victoria at Balthazar, better than any Paris brasserie. Shopping with BSK at Uniqlo. Gallery and museum hopping with BSK. Wandering (and eating) in Brooklyn, much hipper than Manhattan. HG/BSK mourn that they can’t eat at Oni Sauce, the fabulous Japanese home cooking and Asian sauce stand daughter-in-law Exquisite Maiko Sakamoto (and partner) are running at Smorgasburg, Brooklyn’s famous al fresco food court. So, does HG miss New York? Not often, but sometimes.

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Happy Visit From The Craggs

April 9th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Though they are now American citizens, Antony and Claudia Cragg retain many engaging Briticisms. Antony has the looks, bearing and accent of nobility. Claudia is in the great tradition of English women with outsized personalities and intellect. Antony is a financial wizard specializing in the Asian markets. Claudia, a journalist and author, is a star interviewer on alternative radio. The Craggs arrived at HG/BSK’s New Mexico home with daughter Cleo (an Oxford student) and her boyfriend, Jason (a Nottingham University student). Engaging and attractive young people. Happily, the Craggs also brought their two delightful dogs, Boodles (a female Labrapoo) and Genghis (A Havanese cross who looks likes a smaller version of Toby, The Wonder Dog). Toby was in heaven. Playmates!! Toby and Boodles formed a romantic relationship while feisty little Genghis bounced around like an animated toy. There was a splendid welcoming dinner on Friday night. HG’s guacamole as a starter. Then, a traditional meat loaf prepared from the many decades-old Craig Claiborne New York Times Cookbook recipe. Wrapped in thick strips of bacon, the loaf was juicy and herbaceous. Accompanied by perfect haricots vert. HG prepared a massive amount of thinly sliced potatoes fried in duck fat. Alas, HG overcrowded HG’s cast iron pan and the potatoes were rather greasy and not crisped enough. The courteous Craggs ate them without complaint. Dessert was chocolate biscotti dipped in red wine. There was a special treat. After dinner, Cleo, who is a member of Pink, an a cappella vocal group, sang for the dinner group. Sheer joy. The evening continued by the fireside, with snifters of Sabroso, a Mexican coffee liqueur. HG topped the drinks with a pour of sweet cream. Better than a sundae. On Saturday morning, the Craggs swam in HG/BSK’s pool and then were off to stroll the colorful streets of Santa Fe. They returned in the afternoon for a brief rest and change of clothes. Then back to Santa Fe for a five o’clock visit to Meow Wolf. This is a mind-blowing, multi-level art installation that uses dazzling resources of sound, light, color, paintings, sculpture and decor. Both adults and children are lost in a world of wonder. You are introduced to Meow Wolf by a parking lot that sports huge metal sculptures of a robot, a dog and a spider. Meow Wolf is witty, original, creative. It should not be missed by any visitor to Santa Fe. Dinner at The Compound, the very good restaurant on Santa Fe’s Canyon Road. HG and BSK each had a perfect meal. One starter to begin. Another starter as the main. A shared plate of a special–morels in a light cream sauce–and a shared dessert. BSK began with tuna tartare with preserved lemon, walnut bread, caviar. Perfectly grilled, plump sea scallops as a main. HG stated with a salad of crisp fried frog legs, radicchio and watercress. HG also chose the scallops as a main. The shared dessert was tart key lime cheesecake in a graham cracker crust, key lime curds and coconut sorbet. Drank an abundant amount of Gruet sparkling wine. Everyone at the table was equally pleased with their choices, which included roast duck, chicken schnitzel with caper sauce, papardelle in duck ragout. Brunch was at the HG/BSK home Sunday morning. BSK’s tasty egg, cheese and bacon casserole. HG’s shrimp and grits with a sauce of shallots, butter, olive oil, smoked Spanish paprika, smoked black pepper. Sad to see the Craggs leave. Toby, The Wonder Dog, was desolate. Farewell to playmates and the abrupt end to romance.

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Konrad Heiden

April 5th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

When HG was 23, HG began living, on and off, with Jeanette L., a wordily woman some 20 years his senior. It was a very instructive and rewarding relationship. Jeanette lived in Paris for a number of years and was friends with esteemed sculptors Ossip Zadkine and Chana Orloff. Jeanette gifted HG (almost 63 years ago) with an exquisite drawing by Zadkine’s wife, Valentin Prax. It hangs in HG’s New Mexico office and HG stares at it for a moment as HG types this post. Jeanette was close friends with many great German journalists, artists and musicians who emigrated to the United States after the rise of Hitler. Jeanette, a libertine, had intimate relations with many of them. One afternoon, on New York’s West 72nd Street, Jeanette and HG were lunching at Eclair, a delightful restaurant and pastry shop favored by European refugees. Jeanette introduced HG to a distinguished German journalist/historian, Konrad Heiden (1901-1966). Heiden encountered Hitler very early in the Nazi’s career. In 1923, when Heiden was one of Germany’s most prominent journalists, he described Hitler as “a demagogue at the head of an army of the uprooted and disinherited.” Heiden was frighteningly prescient. In 1937, he predicted The Holocaust. Hitler and the Nazis, he said had a “cooly calculated plan for the mass murder of Jews”. The “mass murder,” he wrote,”would be on a scale the world has not seen. We can only venture guesses on what the technical means these executions are to take.” In the late 20’s, Heiden went to a Berlin dinner party given by a society hostess. Hitler, a guest, was silent at the party, confining himself to eating many pastries and cookies. Then, the hostess made a light remark about Jews. Hitler arose and delivered a 30-minute tirade, his voice rising to a scream. He then left. Heiden remarked: “His voice was the most penetrating and powerful I have ever heard.” Heiden wore a number of books about Hitler and the Nazis. “Der Fuhrer”, published in 1944, was a best seller in the United States. Heiden said Hitler was a “great propagandist.” Heiden wrote: ‘The great propagandist hears the murmur of the masses. His actions are contradictory and misleading. However, the lies of the great propagandist reveal deeper truths about the world’s cynicism and dishonesty. By his lies the great propagandist involuntarily shows himself to be a self revealing prophet of the Devil.” Heiden’s words seem very relevant in terms of today’s political scene.

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Noel & Yossi

April 3rd, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

A happy time. BSK’s sister, Noel, and brother-in-law, Yossi (plus their amiable dog, Sophie) are with HG/BSK for a New Mexico visit. Much fun and feasting. Spatchcocked chicken; spinach and mushrooms; smashed potatoes; Middle Eastern lamb burgers with “eggplant caviar”, Israeli couscous, yogurt spiced with zaatar and sumac. Plus an Asian dinner featuring Japanese dumplings, Chinese pork buns and Vietnamese pho with chicken and cellophane noodles. N and Y are an interesting duo. Noel (in her late sixties) looks 30. Lean, fit, very strong, sun bronzed. A forthright, direct, scrupulously honest and handsome woman. HG estimates Noel spends about $1.47 a year on beauty aids and apparel. Looks great. Yossi, a bit older, is equally fit and wiry. Both are celebrated equestrians and teachers of equestrian arts. Noel has been a leader in the popularization of vaulting (acrobatics on a swiftly moving horse). Once an obscure activity, vaulting is now a World Equestrian Games sport. They have been married some 46 years. After her third year of college, Noel took a break and traveled to an Israeli kibbutz. Shortly after her arrival, she was startled and shocked when a young American girl resident at the kibbutz had her leg blown off when she stepped on a mine. Welcome to Israel. Yossi was a “sabra,” born on the kibbutz, Shaar Hagolan, located close to the Syrian border and the Golan Heights. Not a serene and peaceful neighborhood. Yossi was in charge of banana cultivation. Noel, with Yossi’s aid, began an equestrian program for handicapped Israeli war veterans as a way of helping restore their confidence and physical skills. Besides his agricultural expertise, Yossi is a paratrooper veteran of the Six Day War and an accomplished trumpeter, singer and choral leader (he had earlier visited the United States as a member of The Grand Musical of Israel). Noel and Yossi married on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and took off on a honeymoon camping trip (with a Uzi assault weapon strapped on Yossi’s shoulder). This was followed by a stay in Tel Aviv and then emigration to the United States (Cincinnati) where Noel completed her college education and went on to receive a Masters in special education. Yossi took graduate courses in music and education. While in Cincinnati, they lived on a farm in Kentucky, a few miles across the Ohio border. While living there, they studied equestrianism under Bill Beckman, a former member of the US Cavalry Demonstration Team. They credit Beckman as being a major influence on their lives and equestrian careers. Yossi and Noel moved to Colorado (Golden Gate Canyon in the foothills between Denver and Black Hawk) where they rented a house on a horse ranch. Yossi was now an accomplished horseman and they combined equestrian training with teaching (Yossi at a Jewish primary school in Denver and Noel in a Golden public school). Some decades ago they decided they wanted a ranch of their own and bought acreage (scenic views) near White Ranch Park (just a few miles below HG/BSK’s Colorado ranch). They then accomplished an impossible, arduous, herculean task. While living in a trailer and then in the saddle and tack room of the barn they built, they constructed, from scratch, a beautiful log home (and then a guest cabin). They peeled logs, hauled them in place, laid a foundation, etc., etc. All of this was done without electricity (for the most part) and two young children, sons Erik and Matthew, to be cared for. And, winter in the Colorado foothills is cold and snowy. It took them three years before they took occupancy of their home. When HG queried Noel about the hardships, she answered with two words: “Never again!!”. Before long their property sprouted into Little Spring Ranch, a renowned center for equestrian training and vaulting (their son, Erik, is a vaulting champion and an equestrian showman in Las Vegas). A year and a half ago Noel and Yossi, (both retired as special education professionals) decided to change their arduous lifestyle. Sold Little Spring Ranch to son Matthew, a forensic engineer, and bought a lushly fertile property near the south shore of Prince Edward Island (just a few miles from Panmure Island). They love PEI (as do HG/BSK) but they are not having a lazy time. Yossi is growing very tasty potatoes (they are a favorite of HG/BSK grandson, Haru) and other vegetables (including a giant pumpkin which won a prize at a PEI provincial fair). Noel is engaged in construction, making their farmhouse comfortable and rebuilding a giant barn. Both (often accompanied by HG/BSK) do productive clamming in the nearby waters. Yossi is a rarity, a truly charming Israeli. Thus, he has made numerous local friends (happily including lobstermen and gatherers of sea scallops). HG, BSK, Y and N enjoy many savory seafood feasts together. During the winter, Y and N hitch up their trailer and tour through the southwest and that’s what brought them to New Mexico on their way back to PEI. Lucky HG/BSK.

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Glickman Was “Good Like Nedick’s!!!!”

April 1st, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

“March Madness” is almost finished and HG has been enjoying the basketball battles of the lengthy athletes. When the ball goes in the basket, HG murmurs: “Good like Nedick’s !!”. The late Marty Glickman, the radio voice of New York sports for many years, used that phrase when Nedick’s, a New York hot dog chain, sponsored Knicks games.(Glickman also intoned “Swish!!” when a ball went into the net without hitting the backboard or rim). The phrases became part of New York street language. After making a good shot on the asphalt courts that dotted The Bronx, the player would shout: “Swish!!” or “Good like Nedick’s !!”. (HG had previously mentioned the excellence of the super-cheap Nedick’s lunch of the 1950’s: Two hot dogs on toasted buns. Special, tangy mustard relish. Good orange drink. Cost was less than a dollar). Glickman’s voice was ubiquitous on New York radio. Staccato delivery. Accurate coverage of games. In addition to the Knicks, he was the voice of the New York Giants football team; the Jets; college basketball from Madison Square Garden. Glickman was born in The Bronx of Jewish immigrant parents and raised in Brooklyn where he was known as the “Flatbush Flash.” He was a star football player (Scored two touchdowns in a famous upset of Cornell) and a track team sprinter at Syracuse University. Selected for the U.S. 400-yard relay team in the 1936 Berlin Olympics (along with another Jewish dash man, Sam Stoller). One day before the relay event in Nazi Germany, the Jewish athletes were replaced by Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, both African-American. The American team won the event in record time and helped Jesse Owens attain immortality by being the first athlete to gain four Olympic medals. Glickman claimed that he and Stoller were replaced because of the anti-Semitism of US Olympic Chairman Avery Brundage who wanted to appease Hitler by not having two Jews standing on the winner’s platform. Glickman was always bitter about the incident even after the US Olympic Committee apologized in 1998 and gave him a gold plaque (Sam Stoller had died earlier). Some other notes: Contrary to the legend, Hitler did shake hands with Owens and Owens carried a photo of the handshake in his wallet the rest of his life. Owens was angered that President Franklin D. Roosevelt never invited him to the White House or sent him a congratulatory message. (Hitler said Black athletes should be barred from future Olympic games because their physiques were “superior” to those of Whites). Two years after the Berlin Olympics, in 1938, Hitler awarded Brundage’s construction company the contract to build the German Embassy in Washington, D.C.

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