Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Watching the very sad and scary news from India. Shootings and bombings all over the city—a city which under normal circumstances exists in a state of permanent functional mayhem. I spent a month camped out at the Taj hotel around this time last year. It's now under siege, its old wing in flames, hostages taken—pure terror. It's as likely a target as any I guess, an iconic fortressed preserve in a city that has few identifiable landmarks. A report from someone at the scene described gunmen entering one of the hotel's restaurants to round people up. Gin and tonics are nearly twenty dollars a watery drink at the hotel bar. I've had my share. You drink them knowing that people are sleeping on the pavement outside—literally across the street from the little back exit, away from the grand entrance which opens up onto the Gate of India and its touts and milling crowds and the usual mess of costumed bellmen and comings and goings and waiting drivers. You sip the gin and tonics inside because it's quiet, thinking all the while: I don't know what to think. Easier to think once you're home, a million miles away. Tonight, from safe, holiday-cheery New York, I feel terrible fear for those inside the hotel and for those still in danger. And sadness for the rest whose lives will be damaged by this indirectly. Bombay is a compelling insanity and it gets under your skin.
(Above, a resident crow in the usually bucolic courtyard, Taj Mahal Palace, Bombay, 10.24.07)


Thursday, November 20, 2008


Upstate this weekend with some nice people for Rapoport's birthday. Made a beef-and-bacon-and-stout pie which was pretty good. Better than the pie (and continuing the English theme) was the by-product: beef shank bones. Roasted them per Fergus for 20 minutes or so & scooped the beautiful marrow onto toasts, with a simple parsley salad. It is stupid not to do this more often.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


(Left to right: Sydney, Dubai, Hobart)


"Reflections in water belong to this kind of poetic strangeness. It is a great joy for me to observe them, especially on hot days, when the the light is perfect and the strangest symmetries are generated: two swans swim toward each other, with two other reflected swans, perhaps a heraldic insignia. Tropical islands, doubled ships, trains passing upside down over a bridge, the moon. Everything with perfect colors. If you look only at the reflection, and not at the reflecting part, you see a gratuitous reality that exists for you alone… In New York you may happen to see a sunset on the East Side, the sky there acting as a mirror to the sunset. The real sunset, coming from New Jersey, is uglier, as though the fact of coming from New Jersey made it in bad taste."—Saul Steinberg, Reflections and Shadows.
(Above: Lago Ritom, Piora, Switzerland. 10.5.08)


Wednesday, November 05, 2008


As promised, a return to the timeless, important topic. Here, a classic: The bacon appetizer at Peter Luger. Had it again on Saturday at lunch with my friend Val who was visiting from Chicago. Our next president is also from Chicago. Come to think of it if you turned the plate a little and cleaned up the sauce a bit and added a few more strips of bacon (and why not?) this would actually resemble the brilliant Obama 'O' logo…



Good work, beautiful strangers. So many big and true and better things will be said by others about what happened yesterday. But I want to write something, if only just to feel I'm marking the moment in my tiny way. This week I got a nice email from an old lost friend of mine from Page Ave, Louisville KY days which got me thinking about the things we did as kids. Sometime around the bicentennial, my existence became very focused around the stickers that said "Spirit of '76". Maybe they came in Cheerios boxes. I remember the stickers arriving suddenly from everywhere and being suddenly everywhere, stuck on bikes, on all surfaces in my room. Patriotism wasn't a concept I really could wrap my six-year-old brain around. I was just intoxicated by the Spirit of '76, like some kindergarten Kerouac jazzed up on the idea of that giant abstract adult thing America stretching out beyond Page Ave and celebrating an unimaginably big birthday. I guess Star Wars would come and distract us all a year later, but for a while it felt like being an American alive right then was the coolest, luckiest thing ever. And that's sort of how it feels today.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


It's sunny in New York. From the little window in my little office, it looks like a bright and beautiful day out there. And it feels like one too. I've sat in this office on a lot of sunny and easy days. I also sat in this chair and listened as fighter jets circled the sky in the days just after September 11th when you had to show identification to get below Houston. That sound—American war planes above your home, there not for an air show or a practice run but for protection—is not one I ever thought I'd hear and not something you soon forget. The feeling then was that the world was changing for the worse but that we as Americans were coming together. That happened for a while and then it kind of un-happened. Today it feels (to me anyway) like we have a chance to come together while the world changes for the better. I really hope so. This is a big and wonderful country. And we as a whole are better than our baser elements and stronger than our fears and smarter than the moronic cliques that try to divide us. This isn't a political blog. As Hodgman has noted the only pork issues I tackle are of the cured, smoked and salted variety. The only job I've ever had in politics was during the strange, lost year I lived in Washington DC after college. I worked for a Democratic polling firm during Bill Clinton's first campaign. I honestly can't remember what I did at this job other than I walked to work and brought my own sandwiches from home and felt vaguely relieved that I had a place to wear my one suit. I remember though watching the election returns at the office all night and going out to celebrate with my co-workers who had real jobs and knew what they were doing. They were nice to let me feel a part of everything. Stumbling home as the sun was coming up, I walked by some dancers getting off work. They asked what had happened and I told them the news and we all cheered in the empty street. I'm going to refrain from making a joke here. It was just so exciting, all of it—the feeling the next day of generational change, of hope and possibility. Just wanted to check in here before I go vote, with a moment of honest optimism in my brain and heart, tempered by a bit of abject fear in my stomach and the excitement of a big day finally here. See you tomorrow, when I will again take on the larger issues of what I had for lunch and where I'm going on vacation.

Monday, November 03, 2008


From top: There's Many Dog Shit In Your House, Tokyo. Wall, NYC. Sweet sobagaki, Tokyo. Street sign, Auckland NZ.