April 28th, 2020 § 2 comments § permalink

Reading has always been a solace for HG. Did not have the money to buy books growing up during the Great Depression but, armed with a library card, literary riches were available for HG (starting at age five) at the Highbridge and Bainbridge public libraries in The Bronx. During this period of isolation at HG/BSK’s New Mexico home, HG (as always) is finding pleasure in books. Yes, books. No Kindle. The old guy likes the feel of a book in his hands. And, an illustrated book adds to the pleasure. So, what has HG been reading? There were two gifts from gifted daughter, Lesley R., and husband, Profesore Massimo R. One was “The Europeans” by Orlando Figes, an illuminating analysis of the making of a cosmopolitan culture. (Figes books on Russia and the Russian revolution are essential reading.) The other gift was “The Seine: The River That Made Paris” by Elaine Sciolino (she also wrote a delightful book about Rue des Martyrs, HG’s favorite Parisian street). HG is a devotee of everything English so had a good time with Penelope Lively’s “A House Unlocked” (learned much about the English countryside during World War Two; was taught the difference between a walk and a ramble). John Le Carre’s “Agent Running In The Wild” was not up to the master’s scintillating standard. “Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope Along The Grand Concourse In The Bronx’ by Constance Rosenblum, is pedestrian but brought back many memories from HG’s youth. While browsing the bookcase, HG discovered “Italian Holiday” by Ludwig Bemelmans. Haven’t read it in 37 years but it remains relevant and sprightly despite some dated and condescending remarks about homosexuals (illustrations are as charming as ever). Brendan Gill’s: “A New York Life: Of Friends and Others” is the best bedtime reading. His mini-profiles of New Yorkers and others are clear-eyed, graceful and devoid of sentimentality — the product of a steely intelligence, a searching eye and a satisfying prose style. Ben Katchor’s “The Dairy Restaurant” is a very eccentric book. The drawings by Katchor are magnificent. Page after page of prose tells the reader more than he or she might ever want to know about Jewish dietary laws and the tortuous history of New York’s (and Europe’s} Jewish dairy restaurants. Happily, the book ends with profiles (and reproductions of their vast menus) of HG’s favorite four dairy restaurants (all gone) Rappaport’s (Second Avenue); Ratner’s (Delancey Street); Steinberg’s (Broadway in the West 80’s); Famous (West 72nd Street). Made HG very hungry.

Happy Bronx Memories

April 24th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

HG grew up during the Great Depression and World War Two. Grim years. Before Stalingrad, it looked like Hitler might win. But, there were many happy times in The Bronx for young HG. The best was afternoon story hour at the Bainbridge Public Library (located between Kingsbridge Road and Fordham Road). During the winter, children gathered in the Story Room. A comforting log fire crackled in a fireplace. A gentle-voiced (tiny hint of an Irish brogue) librarian read stories to the children (dramatic inflections). HG dreamed of living in a home with a wood-burning fireplace (for the last 60 years this has been accomplished in New York, New Jersey, Colorado, New Mexico, Nantucket, Fire Island, Prince Edward Island homes). Few cars during wartime so there were happy games played in the streets: Punchball, roller skate hockey, stoop ball, box ball, “Association” football. Enjoyed walking and bicycling (rented bikes) the majestic (much dazzling art deco architecture) Grand Concourse, with late, beloved sister, Beulah Naomi. Tastiest food memories were of Mom’s blintzes, pastrami and corned beef sandwiches at Tower Delicatessen on Kingsbridge Road, Sunday smoked fish brunches with fresh bialys, onion rolls and rye bread from a local bakery.


April 20th, 2020 § 1 comment § permalink

Yes, HG/BSK are isolated on HG/BSK’s New Mexico property as Covid-19 threatens the state. HG hasn’t ventured out in more than a month. BSK dons rubber gloves and a mask and shops every ten days. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods take precautions. Customers have to wait outside and only a limited number are allowed in the stores. Personnel are properly masked and gloved. So far so good. BSK keeps busy each day with gardening and maintaining the complicated fish ponds. HG waters the gardens and does a daily walk around HG/BSK’s five acres with Toby, The Wonder Dog. HG writes the blog. and checks investments (could be worse). BSK tracks household expenses and pays bills online. HG/BSK exercise (BSK with yoga online and HG with weights and tension cords). Both swim in HG/BSK’s heated lap pool in the pool house. Prescient BSK stocked up some weeks ago with ample toilet paper and paper towels at Sam’s Club. The BSK-designed wine room is well stocked and there’s a whiskey for HG’s post-dinner sips. BSK makes sure dinner is a joy (last night it was a lusty variation of Vietnamese pho with plenty of rice noodles). A few minutes of venting fury at Der Trumperer’s latest outrage. Then, some escapist TV and so to bed. Hey, life in isolation isn’t so bad. (Few complaints from HG who has the love of his life and a splendid doggy for company).


April 17th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

The New York Times recently mused whether (given lack of enthusiasm for Biden) young voters, fans of Bernie Sanders, African-Americans, Latino-Americans and undecideds would not vote for him this year. David Sedaris, the brilliant and very funny writer, made the most incisive comment on this dilemma (HG believes it appeared in The New Yorker): “In perspective, I think of being in an airplane and a flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and eventually parks it beside my seat. ‘Can I interest you in the chicken ?’, she asks, ‘Or would you prefer a platter of shit with bits of ground glass in it ?’. To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.”

Hey Jerems!

April 16th, 2020 § 1 comment § permalink

Sadly, HG/BSK’s son, Jeremy, will no longer hear that greeting from Adam Schlesinger, his lifelong best friend and virtual brother. For HG/BSK, Adam was a second son, watching him from birth to growing up on New York’s Upper West Side and Montclair, N.J. . From his earliest years, Adam was precociously musical. HG will not comment on Adam’s musical career. There have been numerous obituaries (from the New York Times to Rolling Stone) praising his contributions to popular music, movies, and the stage. The best critical analysis of Adam’s work was by Jody Rosen of the New Yorker. What HG can comment on is that Adam was brilliant and funny, a serious wit. It is very hard for HG and BSK to write or think about our second son without becoming tearful. However, we will never forget him. HG/BSK have a memorial grove on HG/BSK’s New Mexico property. There are three pine trees in the grove memorializing three remarkable people: HG’s sister, Beulah Naomi Freeman Katz, beloved by all whose lives she touched; BSK’s father, Roy Kent, a decorated bomber pilot in World War Two. A true war hero; BSK’s uncle, David Kent, a Canadian judge specializing in family and juvenile law. He focused his Christian beliefs on justice and mercy. When the pandemic allows, HG/BSK will plant another pine in the grove. In memory of Adam Schlesinger. Be assured the tree will get much sunshine and water.

Comforting Risotto

April 14th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

HG has often posted about the comforting virtues of risotto (see this POST for instructions on how to prepare). HG never orders risotto in American, Paris or London restaurants. The exception is Venice where risotto is good. (The best, although wildly expensive, is at Harry’s Bar). Risotto takes a long time to prepare (constant stirring after adding ladles of stock to rice). Obviously, the labor costs are extreme so flavors and textures suffer because of shortcuts. In Italy, making risotto (or polenta) is a job for men. HG follows that example. BSK is in charge of vegetable additions. In spring, it’s asparagus (last night BSK added perfect steamed asparagus which BSK, masked and rubber-gloved, bought at Whole Foods in the morning). In other seasons BSK adds peas or baby spinach. HG is very generous in adding butter and parmesan to the creamy rice. A robust red wine like Sicilian Nero d’ Avola is the best companion.

Hey New York, Please Get Healthy!

April 12th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

New York City is being devastated by the Corona Virus pandemic. HG’s heart goes out to all those who have lost family and friends or are suffering and sick. New York, one of the very great travel designations in the world, is defined by its restaurants, theater, music, dance, art, style, and sports. All of which have been severely affected by the Corona Virus quarantine. The economic ramifications for people that work in these industries have been dire. HG’s restaurateur daughter, Victoria, and chef/husband Marc Meyer have closed their four restaurants (Cookshop, Vic’s, Rosie’s, Shuka) and put the pre-pandemic Shukette on hold. Typical of Vicki and Marc, they are busy raising money via a GO FUND ME campaign for their employees who have been without paychecks for weeks. HG/BSK hopes restaurant workers are recognized by the city and state’s leaders when enacting government programs to confront this crisis. We can’t lose these dedicated workers who serve millions with skill, industry and humor.


April 7th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Unlike millions of people around the world, HG is not fascinated by English royalty. The other day, inadvertently, HG listened on CNN to Queen Elizabeth Two’s speech to her nation on the coronavirus pandemic. Surprisingly, HG was impressed. The Queen was rational, eloquent, reassuring. No medical information. She leaves that to the scientists. And, she looked great (though a few years older than HG). Regal and rather chic. For a while, HG was a semi royalist. Big contrast between her and the former TV reality host and would-be dictator. HG agrees with the St. Louis Post Dispatch editorial. TV media should stop broadcasting Der Trumperer’s “daily briefings. They provide no useful health information and are nothing but campaign speeches our taxes pay for.

More Busy BSK

April 4th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

HG forgot to mention, in a previous post, some additional BSK daily and weekly activities — HG heath: BSK monitors HG’s high blood pressure with frequent testing. BSK changes the batteries in HG’s hearing aids to ease HG’s balance and amplify conversation. Pool house: BSK keeps the pool’s water level at the appropriate depth and runs the fan at timely intervals to prevent undue condensation and resultant mold. BSK also waters the plants in the pool house. Sweeps up all debris and cleans pool-house bathroom and changing room. Night: BSK does the major part of after-dinner cleanup including scrubbing pots, etc. And this is after cooking and serving a splendid dinner. Following the cleanup, BSK finally relaxes while watching Netflix (current favorite is the “Longmire” series.) However, BSK’s tasks are not over. Rain, snow or cold, BSK is off outdoors with Toby, The Wonder Dog, for his before bedtime walk. Finally, BSK goes to sleep in a bed where BSK changes the sheets, pillowcases, etc. every Sunday.

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