The Google Ghost in the Window

Google-Bugs-thumb-350x262

Who among you onliners has not Google Mapped your own address? The satellite bird's-eye shots are thrilling enough, especially when you see how your neighbor's yard looks like hay while yours is a plot of emerald. But city folk can make street-level swoops up and down stoops and even jaywalk without being mowed down by taxi or bike. You may guess in what season the image was grabbed by checking trees and clothes, though NYU "boys" in my East Village nabe wear fetching shorts at all times, even in the snow. The other day I typed in my … [Read more...]

Occupy My Wallet?

"Protest Stencil Toolkit" pages in a gallery

Late last week I received this email: Attn Jeff Weinstein, Blogger Out There In light of the current Wall Street protests, the PROTEST STENCIL TOOLKIT could really come in handy. A clever book of die-cut stencils, each page reflects a concern (financial, environmental, political...) while including examples from the great protest movements of the 20th century. An interesting resource for designers and artists, this book is also a serious look at the powerful graphics of protest. J-pegs and books are available upon request. Thanks for … [Read more...]

Ciao! Ray’s Pizza Bows Out

Ray's Pizza, 27 Prince Street, New York -- but not for long

If you read the New York Times, you may know that Ray's Pizza is about to bite the dust. I'm going to direct you to a piece I wrote for Obit Magazine on that very subject in just a minute, and all the pertinent links are there. But first, I need to say some things to those few who hadn't heard the tremendous news and are now beginning your slow swoons of nostalgic regret. Ray's isn't that good. It never was. It's just OK. Ray's, the first one on Prince Street and not the many famous original first authentic namesakes around town, isn't … [Read more...]

Writing: My 9/11 Time Machine

Like many of my colleagues, I am quesy about the full-scale media attack on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Of course, I understand the civic need to weight the event and personal need to recount our losses, but I am less sure about the form any media memorial should take. Still, I'm going to take a risk and post a piece I wrote right after 9/11 for the Philadelphia Inquirer, if only to demonstrate to myself how words can erase a decade. I was then a back-of-the-book arts editor, and though departments dissolved as we all pitched in to … [Read more...]

Storm Food, or Why Beefaroni Matters

Beefaroni and sunflowers

Well, on the Friday before Irene was to devastate Wrong Island (friends, that's Long Island to you), I realized that we hadn't prepared for disaster.  So I exhumed our limp flashlight and menorah emergency candles, tested the 1985 Sony shortwave ("skies are clear in Pacific Samoa") and drove to the drugstore for a life-saving flat of water-filled plastic. But what if we lose power for days on end? Bulbs flicker when even the shadow of a smile clouds WIPA, the Wrong Island Power Authority; our Costco meat-bounty would be fly-encrusted in no … [Read more...]

Facebook Writes a Piece for Me

How Obit Mag piece writes itself, step one

Facebook has been taking so much of my time, funneling the long, elegant, profound writing I am sure I would be doing into a digital kiddie pool surrounded by a classic backyard fence. It's as if, by adding my occasional two cents, I can claim the whole Facebook fortune. No jokes, please. But I really like my loquacious Friends, and so, I thought one recent lazy morning, why don't I ask them to tell me about stuff, things, objects in their past like girdles and 8-tracks that they are glad are gone. (I was really thinking about Facebook … [Read more...]

Will Bert and Ernie Ever Eat Zabar’s ‘Lobster’ Salad?

Bert (left) and Ernie

Oh, the sadness in Friday's New York Times. Hundreds if not thousands of Upper West Siders have been scooped, scooped! by one Doug MacCash, art critic at the Times-Picayune in balmy New Orleans. Doug, who's a charming and sensible guy, usually gets embroiled in what-price-graffiti tussles or wins team Pulitzers for rowing the newsroom skiff with his managing editor on the night Katrina visited. But this time, he was visiting New York with his family and must have hopped on the wrong subway, because he found himself on the Upper West Side -- … [Read more...]

MoMA Raises Price Again, Slits Own Throat Again

No Art

On September 1, walk-in admission for adults at New York's Museum of Modern Art goes from $20 to $25, from $12 to $14 for students. Art lovers under 16 are still free, and here's the press release. First, transparency: yours truly has done and still does freelance work for the museum. Yet I'm sure you know where I come down on this. MoMA is a business, a not-for-profit business to be sure, but still, a business should never chase customers away. Perhaps its tax-exemption should be applied on a sliding scale: the higher the price of … [Read more...]

George Lang Had an Answer

George Lang book cover

An extremely pleasant and perfectly bright acquaintance surprised me by stating with his usual attractive confidence that food is a frivolity and cooking not part of our cultural life. His spouse, whose every meal gives the lie to such silliness, just smiled.So I asked them if they knew that George Lang, best known as reinventor of New York's Café des Artistes, had just died. His life, I said with my own brand of confidence, may be worth a look, because he personified and made public the need to feed as well as be fed. How can hospitality not … [Read more...]

I Never Cooked for My Father

Littleneck clam

"I learned about cooking and flavor as a child, watching my mother prepare food in our kitchen in Virginia." Maybe I'm worried that it's too easy, or dislike the part of me that's a permanent boy, but I've become increasingly shy of drawing from the same family well to recount my early fascination with food. Recently, though, I came upon a recipe for creamed scallions by the late chef Edna Lewis taken from her kindly and expert "memory" cookbook, In Pursuit of Flavor. The line at the top of this post is that book's opener, and here's how she … [Read more...]