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olt! is a way station and oasis on the ancient road from Bedlam to Bellevue, dedicated to free and open discussion of topics moving heart and spirit.
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My computer shows a vicious storm cell approaching the City but timing should work out just right and we'll be able to get in dinner al fresco at Chinatown Brasserie, a new restaurant not far from home on Lafayette, specializing in dim sum and BBQ. We're the only ones outside, the beautiful people are all inside in air-conditoned comfort, but we get to see East Village hotties parade by and participate in the excitement of two separate alarms at the nearby fire station, engines pulling out, screaming sirens, while we sip our wine, a bottle of an Australian Rhone-style blend: Three Gardens Langmeil, syrah, grenache and mouvedre. It's actually a very nice peppery syrah even at a premium restaurant price; the same can be said of the food which is somewhere between standard and good Chinese fare. Tasty, but at a premium. Someone has to pay for comfortable wicker chairs and huge umbrellas guarding the tables, the sumptuous lacquered interior, not to mention the large, fat and obviously happy koi in a basement pool.
We'll have to take a closer look inside some other time, the clouds thicken as we finish our mere tastes of Pork Tenderloin - your ordinary tender slices of Chinese restaurant pork - Seafood Dumplings, Duck and Shrimp Dumplings, and Pork Potstickers - standard gyoza actually - all served appetizingly decorated with various sauces.
There are chocolate fortune cookies on top of the bill. Note: Langmail syrah and chocolate fortune cookies are a match. I think I managed to decipher the deep meaning of my fortune:
On the way home we stop at a market for Banana Split Häagen-Dazs and make it almost to our front steps where a sudden blast of hot air full of city grit is followed by rolling thunder and lightning. The first big drops start falling as we open the door. Excellent timing.
it's cool inside, ice cream coming up shortly ...
For a while there, many moons ago, I spent some time ray tracing and managed to create this one. The shadow of the rings was a surprise when it showed up in the rendering.
It's the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet at the Joyce tonight, ArtiePasta is located conveniently half way between here and there on Greenwich and serves a decent basic Italian dinner, mussels in a white wine sauce with lemon and garlic, tender fried calamari with a spicy marinara dip, linguini with olive oil and garlic, and a thin slice of pork loin with mashed potatoes, anchovies, garlic, and capers, all washed down with a fruity and juicy bottle of Chianti. We are prepared to brave the cold for the few short blocks to the theater.
At the Joyce it's a pleasure to watch the women glide effortlessly across the stage, the men lack the same finesse. Sweet Fields choreographed by Twyla Tharp is the highlight, set to hymns and traditional Shaker songs, an haunting ethereal theme of life and death coming from Ms Tharp that I hadn't seen before.
It's impossible to forget the first time I saw Twyla Tharp years ago, probably the first time for most people. It was a dark and foggy night in September, Shakespeare in the Park, the open air theater in the middle of Central Park, had a special performance of up and coming dancers and choreographers, endless performances running late into the night at the end of the Summer, a few better than most. There was one more troupe, doing something called 100 Steps. Now I may be confused by the actual sequence but it must have been about 11pm with the fog settling in when Twyla comes out, solo, doing 100 odd movements on stage. Most of the audience has left by this time leaving just a few hundred aficionados and friends of performers, lots of empty seats. Twyla finishes her 100 movements when, as it becomes clear, 25 members of the audience get up and rush the stage: 25 dancers line up and on cue they each do four of the movements Twyla did earlier. 25 more join the crew on stage and do two steps ... you know where this is going. Only a handful of friends and lovers of dance are left in the audience when the last 50 of the troupe join to do just one step each. End of the program. The few remaining watchers head into the night under rustling trees, heading for the nearest exit of Central Park.
Back at the Joyce: We've been members since they opened twenty five years ago, and from the looks of it so has the rest of the mostly subscription crowd who know each other by now. The seats are filled with old fogies, there's only a sprinkle of young 'uns. I hear one man complain to his wife that he has to sit next to that snorer again.
We'll be doing it again in a month or so.
I saw the first crocuses of the year on my walk along the Hudson today, nestled on a slight rise facing south. It's still a bit brisk with few people by the river other than regulars walking their dogs including one hapless owner I've noticed before whose lab only moves about 50 feet before stopping.
The dog needs a treat to do the next 50. Sometimes he manages, say, 75 feet when being led by the scent of a treat, but then he sits until he gets it. I watch them disappear down the walk in fits and starts. Something went terribly wrong with training there.
Dogs are smart and capable of learning to do the most amazing things. Owners often aren't. For the most part here in the city they have learned to pick up after their dogs, leaving little brown spots everywhere; they look to be incapable of understanding the curb your dog part though and congratulate their charges, giving them treats for pooping right in the middle of the walk or by the front door of a restaurant.
You can't blame the dogs, they obviously haven't been told, they are perfectly able to hold it and drop it in the right place just the way people do. I've seen a neighbor's dog strain at his leash to get to the storm drain at the corner where he always poops. Now that is a smart owner.
I suspect it's a way for people to express long suppressed frustrations from their childhood toilet training days, the doggies get to poop at will, whenever, where ever.
I don't really like shark since it tastes like shark, but a dare is a dare. We hit all the usual spots: Trader Joe's, The Whole Foods Market, The Essex Street Market, and of course various sidewalk mongers in Chinatown with their aquariums of live shark. After an afternoon of wielding our lasers I finally had enough nicely-charred meat to make a good stew. Shark is notoriously tough, only lasers will adequately zap the stuff enough to even think of eating it. Several times I thought Chams was going to beat me to the kill but I'm faster and had more incentive: a bottle of Carmenere from Chile I've been saving for just such an occasion (rich, peppery and meaty!) Besides, I've been using fish lasers for over 10 years now.* He was really dragging low when he wandered off and left it. I imagine he headed to the veggie market for dinner to feed his kids tonight. Hah!
After combing the Web for recipe inspiration, I combined celery and onions, threw them in a sauce pan with some olive oil, stirring over medium-high heat until the veggies softened and started sticking to the pan, then added tomatoes with a handful of coarsely chopped cilantro, bringing it all to a full boil over high heat while pushing pieces of shark down into the veggies, finally turning down to a simmer on low heat until the shark turned opaque but still moist in the center. The charred bits flaked off nicely at this point, giving the whole stew that savory "just lasered" flavor.
I served the stew ladled into bowls over plain white rice, more freshly chopped cilantro, table spoon of yogurt for each bowl, juice from lime wedges, salt and lots of freshly ground five-pepper variety. I like pepper. The cilantro, yogurt and lime really did the trick, hardly tasted like shark. .
As usual, Cat turned up her nose at the fishy offering though she gave it one lick; I could see she really wanted some - just didn't want to spoil her record.
The supermarket is out of jello chocolate pudding, dammit; jello chocolate vanilla swirls pudding simply doesn't hack it.
Allow me to me explain.
I am a Social Christian, meaning I follow NORAD's track of Santa taking off from the North Pole on Christmas Eve and hide eggs for kids on Easter. When Pope Francis calls for World Peace on Easter Sunday I'm all in favor.
In the spirit of the occasion I asked Bing's Image Creator to create an image of Obama and Trump shaking hands in a desert, what could be more symbolic than that? To my surprise Bing tells me I'm way out of line there. .... threatens me with suspension for posing such an impossible task?
... OK. How about Gandhi and Jesus shaking hands in a desert?
Two strikes against me. Guessing at the problem, I ask for two unnamed guys:
man in a robe with long hair and a man in loincloth and bare feet shake hands in a desert with blue sky
and voila ...
Interesting: there are no feet and making it 'man from India' also gets the warning, I may be banned for life!
In any case, I wasn't quite happy with the loincloth look there, so I went with swimming trunks instead?
and there you are, it's my contribution to World Peace ...
Easter Dinner ... green eggs and ham on a dinner table with checkered tablecloth
[Peas? Did someone order peas?]