Busy BSK

March 30th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK got up early to let Toby, The Wonder Dog, out for his morning functions. (Toby woke up early bird BSK by jumping on HG/BSK’s bed and licking BSK’s face. Drowsy HG awoke at 10:30). After feeding Toby, BSK made a big thermos of coffee (enough for BSK and late riser HG). Today, BSK breakfasted on scrambled eggs while reading the latest news on the internet. Next: Laid out a dozen vitamins and medicinals for HG (HG gets much health attention from BSK). Next: Gathered and then tossed laundry in the washing machine and later removed and folded the contents of the dryer. Next: Watered the gardens and spread some compost. Next: Into the BSK studio to check financials, read the NY Times online, pay some bills, read family communications. (Ah, that magic internet). Next: Into the beautiful wine room (Designed and decorated by BSK) to check red wine supply. Running low. Next: Called nearby wine shop, Kokoman, and ordered a well-priced Italian Nero D’ Avola. Taking all of the necessary precautions, BSK drove and picked up the good stuff. Next: Back to studio and yoga mat for online yoga. (Naughty Toby has the habit of jumping on prone BSK). Next: Unkempt HG had a studio makeover from BSK. First, a manicure (no nail polish). Then, a beard trim. Finally, using only clippers, BSK gave HG a haircut. The result of these activities was a neat, handsome old fellow. Next: Forgiving Toby bad yoga behavior, BSK took The Wonder Dog for a long, invigorating walk. Next: Into HG/BSK’s warm indoor lap pool for light weight exercises and a swim. (HG follows for exercise and swim). Next: While HG swims, BSK dries BSK’s hair and body before sipping a white wine spritz. Next: Preparing and cooking a splendid dinner. Tonight, HG anticipates a dinner of lamb kefta, quinoa, roasted tomatoes, fried onions and yogurt sauce (HG is writing this as BSK paddles in the pool). In conclusion: BSK is a beautiful energy machine. BSK makes art—glorious pottery that enhances HG/BSK’s home (plus the homes of others). BSK is not only a talented and versatile artist, BSK does all of the mundane household tasks and does them with style.With good grace, BSK allows HG to revel in deep thoughts and serene contemplation. Yes, HG has a glorious New Mexico life. Without BSK, HG would only be a memory. The country song was written for BSK: “What My Woman Can’t Do, Can’t Be Done.”

HG Misses Restaurants

March 29th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, self-isolation has its rewards (as HG has pointed out in previous posts). However. HG misses the food and ambiance (not to mention the normalcy!) of HG’s familiar, casual restaurants in HG/BSK’s New Mexico neighborhood. El Parasol, Sopaipilla Factory, La Mesita are all closed. As noted many times, El Parasol’s green chili menudo has been HG’s lunch favorite. For breakfast or brunch, HG has favored the cheese enchiladas smothered in green and red chili sauce (Christmas style) at Sopaipilla Factory. Topped with two sunny-side up fried eggs and accompanied by warm, freshly made sopaipillas with honey, this is lusty New Mexican cuisine at its best. La Mesita is where HG/BSK went for a down-home dinner: Fried chicken with home fries or French fries (HG has sometimes chosen mac and cheese). In Santa Fe, HG’s lunch spot is Saigon Cafe and its huge bowls of steaming pho. Sazon has been for special occasions. Very creative Mexican cooking with outstanding moles. HG/BSK avoid the hyper marked-up wine list and drink ale at Sazon.

Comfort

March 26th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

These are terrible times. They are filled with concerns about the health of friends and family. And, worry for those loved ones who are hospitalized with coronavirus or battling the disease at home. HG/BSK are heeding the warning from New Mexico’s Governor: “Stay at home !!”. Much to comfort HG/BSK in self-imposed isolation. Playing with Toby, The Wonder Dog. Admiring the record growth of daffodils and hyacinths in HG/BSK’s garden (tulips will bloom in a few days). Listening to lots of Bach and Mozart as interpreted by Yo Yo Ma, Jascha Heifetz, Pierre Fournier. Swimming and exercising in the pool house (lap pool is a comfy 89 degrees). BSK working in the pottery/painting studio (pausing for online yoga). Walking HG/BSK’s five acres of meadows and orchards. Reading (always a solace). For HG, a stronger cocktail before dinner and more bourbon after dining. BSK drinks more wine than usual. Comfort food: Congee, BSK’s made-from-scratch black bean soup (super); asparagus risotto; vegetable pastas; brined pork chops; chicken in Korean sauce; red lentil soup; pho variation. HG/BSK met in March 1963 (married in July of that year). A 57th anniversary looms. Still together and full of love. That’s true comfort.

Hungry Gerald Followers

March 25th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

HG’s post “Bronx Slavery” used some information garnered from a book about The Bronx’s Grand Concourse by Constance Rosenblum (NYU Press, 2009). If you share HG’s fondness for Bronx history, good and bad, you will find this book invaluable. Yankee Stadium, Loew’s Paradise, Ascot Theater, Lewis Morris building, Arthur Kober, art deco, Roosevelt Gardens, Andrew Freedman home, Concourse Plaza Hotel, CO-OP City, Kingsbridge Armory, Bronx Park, Poe Park and more, very much more, are some of the topics covered. Buy it and enjoy. Nostalgia for older folk and insightful urban history for the younger generations. For HG: Bittersweet memories.

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Bronx Slavery and Mom.

March 23rd, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

“The Bronx Slave Market.” That’s what African-American journalists called it when they called the issue to public attention. A shameful period in Bronx history. During The Great Depression of the 1930’s and ending with the USA’s entry into World War Two (brief rebirth from 1947 to 1950), “Bronx Slavery” was a disgraceful fixture in the Jewish neighborhoods of the West Bronx. With unemployment disproportionately high in Harlem (and other African-American enclaves), African-American women would line up on Bronx street corners to be hired by Jewish women for a day’s housework. Top pay was 75 cents an hour (went down to a low of ten cents an hour). Many of the workers were viciously exploited and cheated. Marvel Cooke, an African-American journalist, went undercover to line up with the day workers in 1935 and wrote a fiery article about it in the magazine, “Crisis.” Harlem photographer Robert H. McNeill photographed the Bronx “slaves” as they waited for a job on a bitingly cold day. There were many outcries about the injustice from left-wing whites and African-American activists. But, the “slavery” continued. In 1939, ten-year-old HG was old enough to hate the “slavery” and tried, to no avail, to arouse HG’s friends and classmates to action. That year, there were five in HG’s family living at home: HG, Mother and Father; late sister Beulah Naomi (working during the day and attending CCNY at night); late elder brother Bernard (studying to get his optometry degree at Columbia University). So, lots of work for Mom including hand scrubbing and clothesline drying of laundry. Bernard insisted that Mom hire a Bronx “slave” for a day. The family protested but Bernard insisted. Mom was a socialist (liked Trotsky, hated Stalin), a militant trade unionist (friends had died in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire). Finally, Mom gave in and hired a worker. But, first, Mom cleaned the house (“Don’t want her to think I keep a dirty house”). The dignified African-American woman arrived and polished “company” silverware and washed a light load of shirts and table cloths. Worked a few hours. Mom made her sit down and have a lavish lunch of tuna salad, lettuce, tomatoes and scallions plus rugelach for dessert. Mom paid her five dollars and emptied much of the refrigerator and pantry for the woman to take home “For the kinder (children)”. That was it. Never repeated. One “shandeh” (shame) was enough.

Pleasant Quarantine

March 22nd, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG/BSK are in self imposed quarantine at HG/BSK’s New Mexico home. This is in response to the coronavirus emergency declared by New Mexico’s Governor. HG/BSK are finding the quarantine quite pleasant. Accompanied by Toby, The Wonder Dog (immune to the virus), there are pleasant strolls on HG/BSK’s scenic five acres of meadows, orchards and gardens (daffodils have made an abundant appearance and forsythia has begun to flower). Prescient BSK stocked up on toilet paper and paper towels at Sam’s Club. Lots of food in the freezer and pantry. Last night there was a wonderful Chinese stir fry of ground pork and vegetables. The night before, there was a down-home Jewish dish of egg barley and orzo with fried onions and mushrooms. Topped with sour cream (by HG) and crumbled Israeli feta cheese (by BSK). An Asian spicy red lentil soup for tonight and thick pork chops tomorrow. The wine room (designed and stocked by sommelier BSK) is full of good bottles. Splendid dining and drinking habits are being maintained. Much swimming and exercising in HG/BSK’s pool house. The lap pool is heated to a comfy 89 degrees. BSK keeps busy making pottery art in the BSK studio. HG, writes, reads and thinks in HG’s office. Only anxiety is the sharp downward curve of HG/BSK’s conservative preferred stock portfolio. However, HG/BSK believes that government and bank financial measures will create an upturn. So, in the meantime, HG/BSK are staying healthy (knock wood). As the wise and wily Hyman Roth character said to Michael Corleone in “Godfather Two”: “Michael, Good health. The most important thing !! “.

Festive Company

March 18th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK have not been alone during this week of coronavirus threat and stock market disaster. BSK’s sister, Noel, and husband, Yossi Martonovich, stopped by for a four-day visit to New Mexico (and HG/BSK’s casita) on their way from Las Vegas to Prince Edward Island. Joy. HG has written often about their Ocean Mist Farm on PEI. A verdant paradise. Raspberries. Blueberries. Grapevines. Apple and cherry trees. And, the ultimate kitchen garden: Mineral-rich potatoes; lettuce; radishes; carrots; corn; pumpkins and more. Much more. Since both are professional equestrian trainers, there are horses, of course. Plus sheep. Not sure if they still have pigs. Noel and Yossi share generously with lucky HG/BSK their produce and meat. During their stay, Yossi cut many fireplace logs from tree branches. Made sure HG/BSK will stay warm during chill early spring nights. Lots of happy dining during the visit. BSK prepared festive meals of spatchcocked roast chicken; Vietnamese pho; cod, PEI mussel and clam chowder; butterflied New Zealand boneless leg of lamb. And, after N & Y left, Rob and Patti Reuteman stopped by for breakfast (they were on their way to the hot springs in Ojo Caliente). For some years before The Rocky Mountain News closed, Rob was the talented business and financial editor of the paper. He made the business/financial section the liveliest and most informative section of the newspaper. As a freelance, he was the major source of news for national media on the revolutionary, impact of Colorado’s legalization of Cannabis. He will soon retire from a distinguished second career as an instructor of business journalism and news writing at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. Rob and Patti gifted HG/BSK with a lush bottle of Old Vine Bogle Zinfandel. Toasted the lovely couple last night with many glasses of the vintage.

Park Plaza

March 16th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

The Bronx has a cluster of handsome art deco apartment houses on the southern portion of Grand Concourse (plus the “moderne” Bronx County Courthouse). Some need restoration and others, including the renowned “Fish Building”, with its glowing mosaic of an aquarium, are still looking good. The first art deco apartment house built in The Bronx (1931) is Park Plaza at 1005 Jerome Avenue (no elevated on this portion of Jerome) and W. 164th Street. Designed by architects Horace Ginsbern and Marvin Fine, Park Plaza is an eight-story structure divided into five sections. It contains 200 apartments ranging from one room to five rooms. The most prominent feature of Park Plaza is its facade embellished with magnificent art deco polychromatic designs. Developer Bernard Noonan was so impressed by Park Plaza that he commissioned Ginsbern and Fine to design Noonan Plaza some blocks north (HG recently did a nostalgic and admiring post about Noonan Plaza). Park Plaza and Noonan Plaza are both designated New York City Landmarks. The late Julien J. Studley, who created one of the country’s largest and most innovative real estate firms, was also intrigued by the elegance of Park Plaza. He bought it in the 1970’s knowing that rent control had done much damage. HG is quoted in The Studley biography, “Shaping the Skyline” by Peter Hellman: ” ‘Julien thought he would make a better world by being a caring landlord,’ said Gerry Freeman, his press agent-cum-confidant.” The tenant response to such caring was a destructive rent strike. Julien was forced to give up Park Plaza. Said Julien: “That was my first taste of total failure.”

Thanks, Jamie!

March 13th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK may be landlocked in New Mexico, but surprisingly good fish (and Prince Edward Island mussels) can be found at Whole Foods in Santa Fe. Petrale sole is the big winner and the Atlantic cod and “Dover” sole are quite good. Yesterday, BSK scored a thick piece of very fresh swordfish. HG cooked it for dinner using a variation of Jamie Oliver’s Italian recipe. HG cut the swordfish into three horizontal and slender slices. HG cooked the fish on the range in a mix of two-thirds olive oil and one third lemon juice mixed with chopped parsley, mint and garlic. Plus a sprinkle of capers. Quick-cooking to keep the fish firm and juicy. Dusting of lemon zest and a pat of butter. Voila!! A superb fish meal. Served on a bed of buttered orzo and flanked by steamed asparagus. (Ultimate seafood meals will be at HG/BSK’s oceanfront summer home on Canada’s Prince Edward Island. In a few months HG will be shucking scores of oysters, feasting on local sea scallops, mussels, lobsters and more).

Noonan Plaza

March 10th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Growing up during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, young HG would walk from the family apartment at 1210 Woodycrest Avenue, The Bronx, to elementary school, P.S. 11 on Ogden Avenue. HG would always pause and look into the courtyard of Noonan Plaza, the art deco apartment complex masterpiece which occupied most of the square bounded by W. 168th Street, Ogden Avenue and Nelson Avenue. The courtyard was magic. It contained a pool inhabited by swans and fish. There was a waterfall and the pool was crossed by rustic Japanese bridges. Noonan Plaza consisted of eight and six-story white brick buildings containing 281 apartments ranging from studios to three-bedroom units. Designed by Horace Ginsbern and Marvin Fine, architects, with much Mayan/Art Deco ornamentation on the buildings’ facades. It was built and owned by Bernard Noonan, an Irish-born real estate developer who built many apartment houses in the Highbridge section of The Bronx. Noonan Plaza opened in 1928 and was immediately occupied by upwardly mobile Jewish families fleeing the Lower East Side. Besides the design and the “moderne” bathrooms and kitchens, Noonan Plaza buildings were sited so each apartment received a maximum amount of sunshine and fresh air. Fortunately, HG’s beloved late sister, Beulah Naomi, had friends who lived in Noonan Plaza, so HG had many opportunities to visit apartments and stroll in the courtyard. It was HG’s dream to live in Noonan Plaza someday. It reminded little HG of Hollywood movies. As The Bronx decayed in later years and the middle class fled to the suburbs, Noonan Plaza did resemble a Hollywood movie.. A horror movie. It was occupied by drug addicts and drug peddlers, squatters, vagrants, etc. Much was destroyed as addicts ripped apart and sold anything that could be sold for drugs. As vandalism increased, at one point only five apartments were occupied. The last owner abandoned the complex and The New York Savings Bank, the mortgage holder, took over. Architect Frederick Ginsbern, the late Horace’s son, was dismayed at seeing his father’s masterwork destroyed. He was gratified when the bank contacted him and asked whether he had the architectural plans for the complex and would he design a restoration. It was difficult to find a builder who would do the job. Finally, Glick Construction signed on. It took two years to bring back Noonan Plaza to glory. A garden has replaced the pool. There are security gates and a manned security station. When it reopened in 1982, there were 2,000 applications for the affordable and rent-subsidized apartments. It cost $9,000,000 to reconstruct Noonan Plaza. Today, almost 20 years later, it would probably cost upwards of $100,000,000 to build a complex of this size. Noonan Plaza was designated as a New York Landmark in 2010.

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