Saturday, July 31, 2010

The last few days have been dominated by repeated consultations with my psychiatrists, pills, and lots and lots of professional and online advice for combating depression, none of which, curiously enough, involved staying up all night, watching the available episodes of Pillars of the Earth, listening repeatedly to "Some Enchanted Evening" and weeping at some unrealized vision of romance. Nevertheless, this is what I've prescribed. (And the last part makes especially little sense when Slim did, in fact, see me across a crowded room and decide I would be his wife which, however you slice it, is very romantic. And very sweet.)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Breaking: Best Tuna Sanwich In NYC?

Well, certainly my favorite: the sandwich was consumed at the Iris Cafe. It was really a salade nicoise on French bread. Tuna, sliced egg, butter lettuce, green beans, balsamic. Everything fresh, local and perfect. My idea of absolute heaven. Try it!

NB: They also have the best sticky-bun in the city, although apparently unavailable weekdays at 3 pm, not surprisingly.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Not to put too fine a point on it, but sometimes I like to dress theatrically. Usually, in fact. And when I'm on a panel or anything, I think it's particularly important, since it both asserts and distracts from the fact that I'm a fraud.

Every summer (this will be the 3rd) I talk to the Columbia Publishing Course, and for some reason, I have always dressed with particular care for this occasion - maybe because I was in the course myself. The first time, I was coming from work, so was actually pretty staid. Just a jersey wrap-dress and some heels. Except this was in '05, right before the jersey wrap dress was ubiquitous, and for some reason this one had been very hard to find and quite expensive. Leaf green, with gathered shoulders. It was a darling frock, and a perfect canvas for the elaborate many-stranded art jewelry necklace I found at a particularly good yard sale and wore that day.

Then, last year, I wore my little suit. In fact, it was this day:

This year presents a challenge. I am seriously considering this early-40's rose lace dress, with white patent pumps and a Fendi-style pompadour. Too much? Should I do the suit again?

I LOVE almost every version of this song, from the popular instrumental to the excellent Marty Robbins. But there's a reason this one won the Eurovision!

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Friendship with oneself is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world." -- Eleanor Roosevelt
I was thinking the other night about appearances, specifically in reference to those we love. When we meet someone, they are as defined by a pimple or a haircut or a sweater as by anything else. When you come to know and love someone, it is as though a lens zooms in and these same things become merely ancillary to the person underneath. Then, when you are no longer so closely joined, thing begin to pan again: once again, you can make a moral determination on someone based on his hair or his clothes. We look for them in someone's ex girlfriend, or an old partner. Failures in this realm become a petty victory; you lose all the blindness - and focus - of love, even if you've reacquired it with someone else. Why can't we translate that property?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

From My Dad

Subject: ALERT!



This is a relief. Big Leon is a baby doll with a sullen expression and a little penis that, when submerged in a bath, can urinate. For the past 26 years, he's sported a blue terry onesie of my brother's.

Here's to wretched weeks ending, and better ones beginning, yes? I was punched on the subway this week. Gramps went into the hosp. Lots and lots of other stuff. But! We're all still here and this too shall pass and here's a bunch of new chances to do the right thing - millions and millions of chances. On that note.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Thoughts On The Song "Janine"

2 things about the song "Janine" by Soul Coughing.

Once, a group of friends and I went to hear M. Doughty play at the Knitting Factory when it was in Manhattan. (This would be, probably, summer of 2000.) He ended with "Janine", and one member of my party was so overcome that she cried, to no one in particular, "I'm going to name my daughter Janine!" This same girl is the only person I know who actually grew up in Williamsburg, once told me that dancing with your feet planted was called "New York Style," and is now a full-time professional Christian.

The other thing: around that same period, I once called my then-boyfriend and, on his answering machine, left the whole a cappella girl part from "Janine." He said he found this creepy.

New York State of Mind

The other day, I locked myself out. While I waited for Slim to come and rescue me, I went to the library. As I've mentioned, our local branch is very peculiar: it has a sparse collection, but then you'll find, say, Hebrew for Dummies. And, in addition, Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food, one of my favorite books that I don't own. It's a wonderful compendium of recipes and histories of old New York institutions and iconic foodstuffs, but I can't own it because it makes me so melancholy. And, indeed, after half an hour with it, I was so depressed at the loss of Lundy's and Luchow's and Mary Elizabeth's and Child's and all the German coffeehouses in Yorkville - to say nothing of the Automat! - that I could hardly bear it.

(As my good friends know, I have a particular obsession with the Horn and Hardart Automats; on a videotape my dad made while she was dying, my grandmother, Sadie Stein I, rhapsodizes about the baked beans, so maybe that's what started it. Anyway, if I ever get patron-of-the-arts rich, the first thing I'll do is force either Museum of the City of New York or the New York Historical Society to install an authentic automat, with original recipes.)

I love old New York. If you've eaten out with me, you'll know that it's my mission to go to only those places that allow me to maintain the illusion that computers are still only used by NASA. Le Veau d'Or, Glaser's Bake Shop, Ferdinando's Foccaceria, Barney Greengrass - these are just the places where I feel most at home.

I've been despairing lately about NYC real estate prices and the near-impossibility of affording to raise a family here, and have been thinking seriously about leaving. And yet, the thought makes me unspeakably blue: after all, this happens to be where I'm from, and my dad before me, and his parents before him. It's not about making it or glamor, it's simply my hometown. I like having family nearby; being able to get a coffee and a buttered roll at any bodega; the sense of being in on the most obvious in-joke in the world.

I've been putting together a NYC mix for a pal who's moving here. She's apprehensive about the move - she's coming from somewhere rural and beautiful where all her family lives - and I am advising the liberal application of both Joseph Mitchell's collected works and Here is New York. As to the mix, I decided "Empire State of Mind" etc. were compulsory - nostalgia only goes so far!


4th of July. I celebrated by being unable to kick some kind of flu bug and alternating between episodes of Inspector Lynley Mysteries, napping, and Joseph Mitchell's Up in the Old Hotel, which is probably one of my top 5 books, ever, and is compulsory reading for any New Yorker in my opinion. (Or, as people are prone to saying on the 'net, IMHO, as if anyone had reason to suspect them of prevarication on subjects like restaurant reviews.) Then we went up to the roof and ate Popeye's and could vaguely make out some varicolored lights. We could hear a lot, though: the neighborhood was full of illegal fireworks and sitting up there was like being in a gigantic bowl of Rice Krispies. Then that gave way to the inevitable whine of sirens - presumably firetrucks, hopefully not ambulances.

On the subject of cold cereal, here are a few combinations I like:

-Rice Krispies and bananas

-Cheerios and raisins

-Special K and blueberries

-Shredded Wheat and strawberries.

The second two are for Spring/Summer. Obviously.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Exchange with Dad

stein1125 to me

show details Jul 2 (2 days ago)

Any interst in a Coronation Souvenir tray, dated June, 1953, and bearing a likeness of young Queen Elizabeth and illustrations of six royal abodes?


Jul 2 (2 days ago)

stein1125 to me

show details Jul 2 (2 days ago)

You got it -- added it to the stash in your room. I'll let you know as other items of potential interest in the basement lair reveal themselves. I'm presuming you don't want the wicker potty -- or do you? (I find it strangely attractive, and tough to part with, and believe any child of quality would be pleased to use it. But that's just me).