Up The Rebels

April 23rd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

April 24 will be the centennial of the Easter Rising Rebellion in Dublin which eventually led to the establishment of the independent state of Ireland. Among other events, there will be a gathering of Irish bagpipers at St.Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. HG will be sorry to miss that because there are few things more rousing than these bagpipers (specially when they are leading the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade) or saddening (when they play at the funerals of fallen police officers or firefighters). Alas, New York (principally Manhattan) seems to have lost the Irish flavor it had during HG’s younger days. HG misses the Irish politicians (Boss Flynn, Bronx Borough President James J.Lyons, Mayor Bill O’Dwyer, etc.) who had a human touch and a flair for creating consensus. HG misses the rich Irish brogue of the Transit Workers Union (TWU) chief, “Red Mike” Quills; the Irish tones of Fifth Avenue bus drivers; the Irish-tinged voice of the fighting liberal, Paul O’Dwyer. HG misses HG’s sandlot football teammates in The Bronx, tough guys with nicknames like Mick, Binny and Paddy. HG misses collaboration with his brilliant Irish public relations protege, Bruce Maguire, the president of the 61-year-old firm, Freeman Public Relations. HG misses the humor and insights of Irish journalists like Joe Flaherty (died at 47 of cancer). Like Jimmy Breslin (thankfully still alive and writing a Sunday column for the New York Daily News) he had an affinity for New York’s working class. Brooklyn-bred Flaherty left high school at 16 to work as a longshoreman and for years combined dock work with writing (he was a reporter for the Village Voice, author of four books and was the campaign manager for the Norman Mailer-Jimmy Breslin mayoralty ticket). Though the Irish are not noted for creative cuisine or fine dining, HG loved the food at Irish-owned Dinty Moore’s in Midtown (the only Irish joint with gefilte fish on the menu). HG misses the down to earth Irish saloons on Third Avenue (they vanished when the El came down and Third Avenue became the site of lofty office buildings and fashionable apartment houses). The saloons always had jars of hard boiled eggs and pickled pig’s feet on the bar (nice accompaniment to HG’s journalist dinner of rye whiskey with beer chasers). HG exhales a nostalgic sigh at the thought of saloon platters of corned beef and cabbage and open faced pot roast sandwiches smothered in brown gravy. The Irish seem to have vanished from Manhattan to enclaves in Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Staten Island, Long Island, Westchester and Orange Counties, New Jersey, etc. Manhattan Isle isn’t the same without them.

1916APTop

Gallagher’s Gets a Reprieve

January 24th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Good news. The venerable (opened in 1927) New York steak house, Gallagher’s, is not going to close. Found a last minute buyer. HG frequently lunched there (liked their sliced steak sandwich with sauteed onions and good French fries). Columnist/Novelist Jimmy Breslin was often at the bar. Gallagher’s was number three in HG’s ranking of New York steak eateries. Number one was the much missed Christ Cella (alas, long closed) and number two was Spark’s (still thriving). HG has never been fond of Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn. Overrated. Gallagher’s isn’t a charitable institution. They’re not giving food away. Sirloin steak is $46.95. Shrimp cocktail is twenty bucks and some sliced onion and tomato sets you back $14. Guess it’s all in line with New York apartment prices where a one room unit the size of a modest walk-in closet rents for $2,000 (or more) a month.

“Trib” and “Bleeck’s”

January 9th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

HG’s favorite newspaper (and BSK’s) was the New York Herald-Tribune. Unlike the Times, it was never stodgy. And, its editors valued good writing. HG read the “Trib” (as it was familiarly called), from HG’s high school days until the paper ceased publication in 1966. Its sports page columnists, Red Smith (later with the Times) and Joe Palmer (who covered horse racing), transcended sports. Their columns were founts of wit and erudition. Later, Jimmy Breslin did a column (as did the late Dick Schaap). Homer Bigart was a great war correspondent. Walter Kerr was the drama critic. Tom Wolfe made his bow in the Trib’s Sunday Magazine, “New York”, guided by two brilliant editors, Sheldon Zalaznick (later with Forbes) and the late Clay Felker (Felker headed the group that bought ‘New York” after the Trib folded and turned it into the weekly magazine that continues to sparkle today). The hangout for Trib reporters and editors (as well as guys from the Daily News, Newsweek and Business Week) was the eccentrically named Artist and Writers Restaurant (formerly club) at 215 W. 40th. Nobody ever called it by that name. It was “Bleeck’s,” named after its proprietor. The cuisine was German (so were the waiters). The bartenders were Irish. The big activity at the bar was the “match game.” Loser in the game bought the winners drinks. The Trib’s society columnist, the gourmand-dandy-fashion plate Lucius Beebe, played the game with golden matches he kept in a special leather case. That guy had style. HG dined (and drank) at Bleeck’s many times. HG only supped on one dish, Konigsberger Klopse. This is a Prussian dish — veal-beef-pork meatballs in a lemony sour cream and caper sauce (an abundance of capers). Bleeck’s added a handful of dill to the dish and served it with boiled potatoes (or noodles) plus braised red cabbage. Mighty tasty and perfect with dark German beer. Tom Wolfe and Jimmy Breslin (both in their eighties) are alive and productive (as is HG). But, Bleeck’s, like the Trib, is long gone.

Pete Hamill

February 27th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

If you enjoy HG’s teary-eyed musing about New York of yesteryear, you’ve got to read the masterpiece of this genre. HG refers to Pete Hammil’s 1987 article “The New York We’ve Lost” that appeared in New York Magazine. An amazing bit of writing that weaves an entire history of New York into only a few brilliantly written pages. These are the journalists who wrote well about the uniqueness of New York’s people and places: E.B. White, Joseph Mitchell, Jimmy Breslin, A.J. Liebling, Meyer Berger and Pete Hamill. Of them all, Hamill is HG’s favorite because of his eye for detail and wide range. Who else but Hamill could remember the Bushwicks and House of David baseball teams and the Brownsville gym where Al “Bummy” Davis trained under the eyes of Murder, Inc.?

Pete Hamill