12/31/16…From the edge of the precipice (or not)…..

1. http://ny.eater.com/2016/12/29/14092686/confessions-of-a-culinary-line-stander  This addresses a matter that has perplexed me for some time now, ever since – on the way to the Public – I noted a long line waiting to get into the La Colombe coffee joint on Lafayette St. La Colombe makes very good coffee (it’s my wife’s morning tipple, along with a Kona grown by friends in Hawaii) but come on!  City life used to be organized around the avoidance of lines. No longer, it seems. This article suggests several reasons. To which we might add FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), since joining a line signifies, to one’s Id at least, that this is where the action – what’s hot, what’s Instagrammable- is. This is probably what will drive tens of thousands of idiots lemming-like into Times square tonight. I would submit there might be another reason. Let’s in best Proustian manner call it “la cameraderie de la queue.”  Big cities are famously lonely and detached places, especially nowadays, with individuals immuring themselves in portable electronic silos. But in a line, where everyone is presumably present thanks to some aspect of what’s being waited for, mainly an eating experience, and therefore has something in common with others in line, you can strike up a conversation with perfect strangers – something you never  see happen on the subway or in a bus.

2. Well, maybe it wasn’t: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/30/eight-charts-that-show-2016-wasnt-as-bad-as-you-think On the other hand, perhaps it was: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/2016-is-the-year-the-future-happened Given my narrow view of things, any year in which The Mikado  has to be “salvaged” (see today’s NYT Arts) rates as a top-ten stinker! Salvaged from the scrap heap of political correctness, as the paper of record puts it. Whose political correctness, dare I ask? I saw my first Mikado in 1947, with Martyn Green, Darrell Fancourt, Ella Halman et al,  and have seen probably a dozen productions since, and not once has a Japanese entity lodged a protest.

Well, now that I’ve allowed my dander to get up, here’s an interesting take from The New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/an-asian-american-reimagining-of-gilbert-and-sullivans-the-mikado Note that the writer refers to “modern notions of cultural representation.” Bushwa! And while we’re about it, the highly-praised prologue written for the present production centers on a scene in D’Oyly Carte’s office where Gilbert is hit on the head by a falling scroll. This is praised as original. It is not. In the best of all G&S films, 1953’s The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, starring Robert Morley and Maurice Evans, a Japanese sword falls to the floor with a great clatter, causing Gilbert to think “Japan!” – and away we go!

3.Big year-end shout-out to Danny Meyer. There’s a Shake Shack a couple of blocks from where we live.I visit it pretty often. Today I tried the new order-in-advance app, then walked down, timing my arrival for a couple of minutes before the designated 12:15PM pickup. My order arrived to the minute.  That’s commendable, and the chow was as always good, but what really fired my enthusiasm was the spirit of the place. The employees exude that happiness that comes from people who are decently paid and properly trained. I noted the same the other day at a much more upscale Meyer venue, The Modern, to the bar of which my good wife and I repaired for a restorative after our Dantesque excursion to MoMA . Both of these are “no tipping” spots, and yet when I asked at the Modern about adding a bit to the bill, I was told no. Since one reads about other places having to back off recently-instituted “no tipping” policies, I infer that Meyer is keeping less of the gross than are some others. Anyway, a first-class job performed in a first-class manner. Hip,  hip, Sir Meyer, hip, hip – and Happy New Year!


4. Those in the know will consider the following a significant addition to their New Year’s cheer:


Donald Trump personally booted the author of an unflattering biography off Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach on Friday. Harry Hurt III, who penned the 1993 biography, Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, had come to play with billionaire industrialist David. H. Koch, a Trump club member, and two other golfers. Hurt, who has a scratch handicap and plays in colorful knickers, walked over to Trump on the practice range prior to his group’s assigned tee time, only to suffer a tongue lashing from the president-elect. “I said, ‘Congratulations, sir,’ and shook his hand,” Hurt recalls. “Trump said, ‘You were rough on me, Harry. Really rough. That shit you wrote.’” Hurt says he looked Trump in the eye, and said, “It’s all true,” to which Trump rejoined, “Not in the way you wrote it.” Among the juicy tidbits in Hurt’s tome was Ivana Trump’s allegation in a sworn deposition that Trump had “raped” her during their divorce battle. Trump told Hurt it was “inappropriate” for him to play at the club, and had his security detail escort Hurt, Koch, and their playing partners to the parking lot. “David [Koch] was appalled,” says Hurt. “He branded Trump ‘petty’ and vulgar.’ We played Emerald Dunes instead, which is a much, much better golf course than Trump International.”

Trump has now accomplished a significant double: he has kicked the two biggest assholes named Harry off his Palm Beach golf course. I don’t know if there’s a third highest-level “Harry” asshole out there, but it would be nice to see Trump complete the trifecta. Of course, when you’re talking assholism, it’s hard to top David Koch, and maybe you could throw him in, the way you can substitute dishes on a prix fixe menu. Oh yes, and by now it’s to be expected that Koch will have – no, not resigned – made a groveling phone call to the president-elect.

5. Thrilling to hear the national anthem played by the combined bands of the universities of Alabama and Washington instead of distorted and cheapened by some (usually B-grade) rock, pop or C&W singer. For once, the anthem sounded truly patriotic.

6.Still the best. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/something-about-this-russia-story-stinks-w458439

7. The Curbed website is running a quiz on the theme “What would Jane Jacobs think of your neighborhood?’ Most of the (multiple) choices don’t really fit DUMBO, but I answered as best I could. The result calculated by the Curbed algorithm  is that JJ would describe DUMBO as “a work in progress.” I disagree. After 16 years, I would describe this area as “a work in regress.” On weekdays, techies and hardhats. On weekends: tourists. No street life after dark. Huge street-level spaces vacant. Small retail shutting down or driven to less good locations by rent increases: so far: two bookstores, a Bubby’s, a dress shop, a Pinkberry.

8. Reflecting on New Year’s Eves past, I can recall one in the course of which I saw a group of celebrants who had enjoyed themselves – gotten more out of the evening – more than any I’ve seen since. It was the millennium  Year 2000 turnover. I had accompanied my late stepmother Poppi to a dinner not far away and once the ball descended we drove back to her house in Old Brookville. It was late, and common sense dictated that we go around back and let ourselves in by the rear entrance. So I drove in the back driveway, and my headlights played on the chicken house in which Poppi kept a number of rare breeds. The lights clearly startled the partygoers within, for suddenly out of the coop trotted a trio of clearly sated foxes! Delicacy forbids me to describe the carnage revealed by the next morning’s inspection.  Thus ended Poppi’s experiment in exotic poultry. Happy New Year! Cluck, cluck!

9. My New Year’s wish: never to see or hear of these people again!  http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/12/hillary-clinton-2016-loss-democrats-214570

Tomorrow I’ll review the bidding. For the nonce, bless you all (subject to editing) and Happy New Year!