Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/

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Location: 3103 Arlington Avenue,, Bronx, NY 10463, United States

April 15, 2010


Time out today for a different look at yesterday's NY Times! Not the domestic political or economic scene, not foreign policies discussions, not horror stories of child abuse! But unless you are swallowed up by celebrity stories of on and off married bliss and about celebrity pregnancies and other non-earth-shaking events on the Post's Page Six, let's take a look at some items that turned out to be entertaining. Yesterday's Times displays some flotsum and jetsum of ordinary NY life. In the Dining section, Julia Moskin writes about the struggle of Jewish delicatessins to meet today's challenges, not to move ahead but to go back to the better salami and the carefully brined and smoked pastrami of Jewish grandparents. Ideological and cultural challenges are sometimes faced. Non-kosher butter is the best for mixing with the chopped liver! The tensions between the neo and the retro are sometimes resolved; sometimes not.

The article's perambulations through the Jewish delis of Montreal, Los Angelos, Ann Arbor, and New York examine the various nuances in pickle and meat preparation. Reminded me of hearing a customer, ordering a pastrami sandwich, shout out, "Lean, lean!" And I recall my occasional trips south from my Epiphany parish to the revered Second Avenue Deli. Always crowded like rush hour on the subway, but infinitely more companionable! You share a culture! The waitresses, well beyond their prime, would salute you. "Hello, dolly. Waddiya wont?" Matza-ball soup and boiled beef with horse-radish sauce connected the dots for fine evening dining. One night a chap at an adjoining table called out, "Hey, waiter, come back. I wanna change my order." Waddah ya mean? Change your order? I already got it written down?" Jewish waiters are reported to be well schooled to manifest an even degree of surliness.

Jim Dwyer has a column about mortgage-fixer Sal Pane, Jr, who appeared on several TV channels with a persuasive pitch as an expert. After several individuals paid up-front fees (illegal), Mr. Pane proved difficult to reach after the fee-payers' houses were found to have foreclosure notices glued to the front door. Last Tuesday, State Supreme Court Justice Emily Goodman issued a permanent injunction against Mr. Pane's business and referred the matter to the district attorney. He has not appeared as an expert in any recent news channels. Life goes on! The good guys won!

Anthony Tommasini supplied his review of Rene Flemings' recent performance at the Met. I am not an opera buff, having once nearly crashed my car while listening to a WQXR Saturday opera broadcast. The soprano seemed quite hysterical. I've been unreasonably prejudiced against opera ever since. But I always read Tommasini's reviews, whether about opera, symphonies, or string quortets. His fine writing discloses insights and understanding of music that become contagious.

Back to the dining area! Sam Sifton, who succeeded Frank Bruni, better watch out! His caustic and humerous review of Nello might earn him a horse's head in his bed should there be a mafia connection. He writes of diner food at champagne prices, a dinner party of four with a check for $593.37 before tip, sawdusty chicken livers, pasta with truffles at $100, vitello that looks good but tastes like sliced shoe, stale desserts and so on. Nello is for the rich: black cars out front; at lunch, wealthy women dressed like their daughters, "air kisses and the tinkle of tennis bracelets against wine glasses". Siftton's flame thrower does not spare the customers: a small man in an ascot and green Tyrolean coat slapped the table with a grossly satisfied "AAAH" and then, repeating his signal of fulfillment, beckoned the waiter for another bowl of pasta. But one worries about the writer. He chats with the cigar-smoking owner, self-likened to Vlad the Impalar, who spits on the sidewalk and then enters his restaurant, with a "fierce almost predatory" expression. Sifton gave Nello's the lowest possible rating,"fair". Sam, please be careful.

There is another fine line in yesterday's Times. I cannot now locate it but it can stand on its own: "A thin lady who seems to have been held together by her jewelry."

Sam, we thank you for your words that express the tone and atmosphere of a curious example of the flora and fauna that lies beneath New York's surface. We now know better what "scorched earth" and "napalm blasted" means.

We thank the NY Times for a delightful post-breakfast morning: for fine writing and a richer understanding of our city.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

may the blessing be always with you!! ........................................

April 18, 2010 at 9:37 PM  

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