Sunday, July 31, 2005

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Thanks, but...

This is a lot to live up to.

Sharon urges all French Jews to "rush to start packing [their] bags"

It's summer, which means it's time for Ariel Sharon's second-annual call to French Jews to leave off that "French" bit, trade their just-so scarves for tallises, and make aliyah. Haaretz's Aluf Benn reports:

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ended his visit to France with a convivial appearance before hundreds of representatives of the Jewish community on Thursday. Sharon was respectful of his French hosts and said, "Just as I call on Jews the world over to move to Israel, I call on you as well." A year ago, a similar statement by Sharon provoked a diplomatic storm and a harsh protest from the Elysee Palace. This time, Sharon praised French President Jacques Chirac's resolute action to fight anti-Semitism.

Sharon presented his philosophy at length, focusing on Jewish immigration to Israel. "The central means to ensure the future of the Jewish people is aliyah (ascension) to the land of Israel," Sharon said, adding, "I hope you all rush to start packing your bags."

"The future of the Jewish people also depends on Israel's character as a Jewish and democratic state, and we initiated the disengagement plan in this spirit," Sharon said. "This may have been the most difficult decision I made in my life, but it is vital for Israel's future," he said.

Roger Cuikerman, head of CRIF, French Jewry's umbrella organization, praised Sharon for his "courageous initiative of leaving Gaza." The chief rabbi of France, Joseph Haim Sitruk, spoke of the importance of Jewish unity.

Sharon introduced the new chairman of the Jewish Agency, former Ra'anana mayor Zeev Bielski, and said, "I was born in a village near Ra'anana, which was known throughout the area as having the prettiest girls. I say this to encourage aliyah, because the situation hasn't changed much."

Sharon said that the region's main problem was the refusal of the Arab world to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state in the "cradle of its birth." He said that this was not a reason to stop the diplomatic process, but rather to act with caution, and "not to trust anyone."

Here he offered a personal anecdote. "During the peace negotiations with Egypt, I was in Cairo and Alexandria many times. I had been in Egypt before, but not on a peace mission." The audience laughed as he continued. "My mother, who was a farmer and perhaps 85 years old, would call on the phone to tell me how much citrus she had picked and how many eggs the hens had laid. At the end of conversation, she always said one thing, 'Don't trust them.'"

One of the listeners asked about Israel's Arab minority. "Today, before your arrival, Israel has 5.5 million Jews and just over a million Palestinian Arabs who are Israeli citizens. Most of them want to live quietly and be an integral part of Israeli society.

"There is a small minority who are active, mostly through the Islamic movement and operated by the Iranians and Hezbollah. It is a small minority, but it is growing, and it is not a simple problem. They have identification cards like us, the same license plates, and they can't be stopped on the roadsides. The answer to these problems is to bring more Jews to Israel," Sharon said.

This is definitely a different argument than Israel gave French Jews last year. Sharon doesn't seem to want French Jews in particular to come to Israel, just Jews in general. This is confirmed by Le Monde. It might seem easier to extract Jews from France than from the US. The Haaretz story suggests that the French Jewish leadership was less than horrified by Sharon's suggestion.

Le Monde also mentions that Sharon and Chirac are trying to bring about better relations between France and Israel. France is happy about the Gaza pull-out; Israel is glad to see France speaking out against antisemitism. But can two countries really get along when one isn't a fan of the other's existence, while the other is trying to get 600,000 people from the former to emigrate? Will France become more friendly to Israel as an ally against terror as a result of the recent attacks in London? If antisemitism really does subside in France, wouldn't that make French Jews less likely to move to Israel? Is Israel, as the Jewish state, more interested in seeing French Jews have a better time of it in France, or in just getting them out of there?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Fashion, flipped, UPDATED

A picture of Gwyneth Paltrow in the August Vogue shows her wearing knee-length khaki shorts and--get this--the espadrilles, the very same ones as I just got on sale at Harry's Shoes on Broadway. Apparently that type of shorts, along with white linen, flowing, peasant-clothing are the latest look. No matter what I try to claim from time to time, I am no fashionista, but I somehow managed to find both of those looks in Chicago this spring. At the GAP on Michigan Avenue, hardly the cutting edge of obscure boutiques. I had assumed that both looks already were trendy, but that I'd somehow missed the trend, being in/at Chicago and all.

This doesn't make any sense; styles are supposed to originate with the Paltrows of the world, then appear in Vogue, and only then trickle down to college students in the Midwest. I understand that a picture of Gwyneth in the August Vogue was probably taken some time ago, but how long ago could it have been? Isn't Vogue still supposed to be ahead of the GAP? Vogue is of no use. This latest issue has an article about having your arms lifted. As in, a facelift, but for arms. As in, ugh. But if you want to look hot in the latest Old Navy tank, you've got to do what you've got to do.

And, unrelatedly:

These pants are everywhere. This has to stop.


This, too, must pass. The people I feel sorry for are the hipsters' boyfriends (yes, I am assuming women who suffer for fashion to be, by and large, heterosexual). They get home after a summer night of hitting all the latest semi-secret nightspots, she takes off her leather cowboy boots, which she's been wearing since noon, when the temperature was over 100 F, and... whew! Assuming (I'm feeling presumptuous at the moment) that hipsters live in small, possibly airless apartments (how else to afford living in hipster neighborhoods?), the odor must be unbearable. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for boots with skirts, even cowboy boots in particular, but on days below 70.

Where would Phoebe go?

I had lunch today with my mother and aunt at Sant Ambroeus, which used to be Fauchon, which in turn used to be Sant Ambroeus. I have no idea how either real estate or the restaurant business work, so all I can say is that every so often the awning changes, though the place otherwise stays more or less the same. I think this might have counted as "doing" lunch, since the place is geared towards ladies who lunch, and at the next table were two women with perfectly blonded hair, each with a crisp-looking baby carriage and a large glass of wine. I had a delicious salad (and quite a bit of my mother's still-more-delicious salad). Bread, though, was available only upon request, which is probably because it's so rarely consumed.

Yesterday, I took many subways around the city. At one point a guy was sitting next to me with a "UChicago" bag. It was a Graduate School of Business bag, though, and the guy was listening to an iPod, so I didn't give him the same "yay, Chicago!" cry as I might have otherwise. (I gave a hearty shout-out a week or so ago to a man in a Stuyvesant Class of 1973 shirt.)

Today I was on 125th Street, which now has its very own Citarella. 125th has definitely surpassed Canal in terms of gentrification, which is surprising given that the latter is bordered by SoHo and TriBeCa.

The most wonderful place in the entire world is Chickpea. To put it another way, Chickpea is the most wonderful place in the entire world.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Where to take your neurotic date

Walking around today, I passed something I hadn't really noticed before: An Upper West Side restaurant called "Roth's." I don't think Philip is involved, though my mother did run into him in the same neighborhood. I'd like to think that the diners are all light-skinned African-American men passing for Jewish, very blond athletic Jewish men, half-Jewish daughters with psychological problems, and nebbishy men named Zuckerman, and that the waitresses would all be imported from Iowa, Nebraska, or similar.

Monday, July 25, 2005

My professional activities

I just sent a piece of writing so good that both my boyfriend and my mother (an unbiased sample if ever there was one) think it's worthy of publication to the New Yorker. You heard it here first. And this'll be the last you hear of it, most likely.

Brooklyn and Manhattan

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On 9th Street Posted by Picasa

Penguins and pizza

Penguins are very fluffy animals. That much (and more!) I learned from "March of the Penguins," which I saw yesterday, on the steamy Upper West Side. Baby penguins are incredible. Not quite as wonderful as polar bears or huskies, their fellow snow-animals, but still very soft, from what I can tell. But the problem I had during the movie was all the talk about how "it's been four months since the penguins have eaten," and so on. Well, all I'd had for lunch was an "almost-no-fat cranberry spice muffin" from the City Bakery, so I was really identifying with those penguins. Not because of their monogamous egg-production (I produce eggs on my own just fine) but because, gosh darn it, I was hungry! So afterwards I wolfed down a slice of spinach-and-tomato pizza so quickly that I was officially named Queen of the Upper West Side and given a pair of Naot sandals and a lifetime supply of organic granola from the Fairway as prizes. OK, no prizes were awarded, but my dining companion appeared to be impressed.


What with the hoopla over public transportation in NYC re: bag searches, I thought I'd pose a more timeless public-transportation-related question: Has anyone else ever seen this happen? You're sitting on the bus or the subway, and you see two people nearby, sitting next to each other, who look like parent and child, siblings, or possibly even identical twins. But then you notice that they're saying nothing to each other, you remember that they didn't even get on the bus/train together, and then one gets off the bus/train without saying anything to, or looking at, the other. The two people are not, at least to their knowledge, in any way related to each other. And yet they look so much alike that there's no way they could not have very close biological ties to each other. Am I the only one who's ever witnessed this phenomenon? It's super creepy.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Some ketchup on your heirloom tomato?

What a fabulous op-ed. Finally, a high-profile take-down of the fine-ingredients, organic-foods smugness movement being led by Alice Waters. As I've admitted here before, I can't help but think better of a cheese that's called "artisanal," or of an apricot from a farmers' market rather than a supermarket or deli. But, like Julie Powell, I dislike the moral high ground taken by consumers of farm-fresh everything. Certainly humanely raised and slaughtered meat is more ethical to consume than the opposite, but in-depth descriptions of how happy the cow was during its life creep me out--you're still eating an animal that was killed so that you could order the beef with broccoli, when the tofu with snow peas would have been just fine. I am not a vegetarian, but I do think that vegetarians do, in a way, have something over those who consume only organic, grassfed, and free-range meat. OK, this was a bit of a tangent, but nevertheless, the same goes for things like the muffins at Pain Quotidien. All the ingredients are super-organic, which apparently is why some of the smallest muffins in the city cost over $3. And finally, Whole Foods may have tasty vegetables, but by choosing it over Dagostino's you will not, I'm afraid, bring about world peace.

Still, there's one flaw in Powell's op-ed: While I have no doubt that Western Beef is cheaper than Chelsea Market, it's often the case that, for many items, supermarkets in upscale areas are less expensive than those in poorer neighborhoods. Relatedly, dumpy-looking supermarkets or delis with a "nothing fancy" vibe do not necessarily cost less to shop at than frou-frou-looking places in the same neighborhood. There's a certain threshold, of course, at which supermarkets or farmers' markets get crazily expensive--Chelsea Market being a perfect example, and Whole Foods just crossing the line--but before that point is reached, you often get more for your dollar at a place where the people around you are in Chanel than at one where your fellow shoppers are in Old Navy. I'd heard about this phenomenon, but hadn't really witnessed it until seeing that Hyde Park's unimpressive 55th St. Co-op supermarket was in fact more expensive than the Gold Coast/"trixie" supermarkets to the north.

So why does this matter? Because Powell's point about class rests on the assumption that poorer people are shopping at less expensive places than the wealthy. "Low-end" and low-quality doesn't necessarily mean low prices, so an argument could be made that the good-ingredients movement is, at least in part, a movement to bring lower-priced, high-quality produce to a larger audience. A recent (somewhat irritating) Vogue article celebrated Alice Waters' attempt to bring such foods to the public schools. This is a direct but potentially offensive way of going about things. But just putting ideas like "microgreens" into the public consciousness may mean that more people--not just the super-wealthy--will start demanding better and cheaper fruits and vegetables. Perhaps in this one case, the rich really do have a point. Cooking is delightful, but smoked meats, French sauces, and burritos, the foods Powell praises, are not going to make Americans any healthier. Why not try and raise everyone's standard of living, and make obesity less common among rich and poor alike?

Powell writes: "I confess that half an hour browsing in that utopia of produce - or the new Whole Foods Market at the square's south end - often leaves me longing for the antiseptic but nonjudgmental aisles of low-end supermarkets like Key Food or Western Beef." She may confess a longing, but where does she actually shop? People choose higher-quality food, unless price or fear of pretention keep them away. So what I would advocate are antiseptic, nonjudgmental high-end supermarkets like the Fairway, but with a bit more aisle space, because good food at decent prices in a non-pretentious atmosphere need not involve quite so many collisions.

What's in New Yorkers' bags?

So our bags will now be checked in the subways. Apparently people carrying illegal drugs can now get arrested during these searches. What happens if other illegal items are found? Say, lap dogs, which may or may not technically be allowed in the subway? Minors carrying alcohol or porn? I'd imagine that not so many NYers are would-be terrorist, but tons probably have something suspect in their bags. So are all these people about to get arrested? Is there any possible way to check bags that will actually prevent terrorists from getting into the train? Yikes. In any case, what with the constant threat of evacuation, it's probably time to start thinking about wearing more practical shoes on the subway. Or at the very least to learn to climb stairs in wedge espadrilles.

Tangentially, why must the "Babu" Seinfeld be on tonight? Is this really the moment to show an episode about a Pakistani immigrant getting deported and threatening to kill people, plotting to "exact vengeance" against Westerners from back in Pakistan?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

96th Street goes both ways

I've been noticing something odd about 96th Street: East 96th and West 96th are so similar to each other it's scary. Gourmet Garage? Check. Deli called "Sing"? Check. Famiglia's Pizza? Check. I know there are others, but I don't remember offhand. In any case, why is 96th Street a mirror image of itself?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dreyfus buff

Been reading a lot about Dreyfus once again. Nope, I just can't get enough. He was a good-looking guy, apparently. Not that it says so in any of the books I'm reading, but there are pictures, and from the pictures he looks not too shabby. And Jewish, too, I hear, so perfect prom-date material. In any case, I just read a couple things that are super-duper-relevant for my long-since-finished BA. One: The Dreyfus Affair was almost completely non-violent. This is significant because.... Because that explains why it often gets overlooked, and why, for a not-so-obscure thing to be interested in, naming it gets a whole lot of "huh"s from otherwise knowledgeable types. And also, I found an essay that says a bunch more about the French Jewish response to the Affair, and which might support or might contradict the arguments I made in the BA. I'll have to think about it.

In other news, crossing over from Alsace into Germany-by-way-of-the-Lower-East-Side, I travelled east for dinner with my parents at Loreley, a German restaurant (and beergarden!) on Rivington Street. I had the cheese spatzle with salad and a gigantic (for me, at least) beer. Photos may be forthcoming. The salad arrived first, and I assumed the spatzle would be under the salad. As I was poking around for it, the waiter arrived with a huge plate of spatzles and caught me wondering if there were spatzles underneath the cucumbers. I'd just assumed a hip LES restaurant would have tiny portions. The waiter had a good laugh.

Monday, July 18, 2005

When the prom queen's no Esther

Amber's right that the Jewish day school with a Jews-only prom is being silly. It's a Jewish-only school, so how often would this even be an issue? Don't most people find prom dates from within their schools anyway? Amber's also correct in pointing out how little whom one attends prom with ends up meaning later in life. Think of all the gay guys (out or almost-out) who escorted single girls to the prom. Think of all the couples who dated for maybe four weeks, but who found that prom fell, conveniently enough, right at the end of week four. Think of all the people who went to prom in a big group, but who had "dates" just because the tickets had to be bought in pairs, and so that they could have the traditional prom-couple photos taken beforehand. A prom date is not a big deal, and any Jewish school secular enough to have a prom ought to be a bit more low-key about the whole thing.

The problem I have with Amber's post is that she seems to miss the difficulties of interfaith dating/marriage while suggesting that those who date outside the faith are especially courageous and are having an especially great time. She refers to the problems that arise when dating someone Jewish as "heavy baggage," as though they're no different than the ones that come up when dating someone who'd just gotten out of a serious relationship.

More upsettingly, she refers to Jewish teens who choose to date outside the faith as "Jewish Romeos and Juliets." Is it so inconceivable that, while they like to annoy their parents just like all other teenagers, some Jewish kids might feel enough of a committment to Judaism--and not just to their own Jewish parents in particular--that they'd seek out fellow Jews and fellow Jews only for serious relationships? There's nothing intrinsically exciting or romantic about dating someone non-Jewish for most Jews. It's not as if there are just tons of conflicted Alex Portnoys or Woody Allens out there in today's Jewish high schools and campus Hillels. For nearly all teenagers, Jewish and gentile alike, it's a given that parents don't want you having sex, period, and that's danger and excitement enough in itself; the religion of your partner isn't the issue. It's not as if Jewish kids can say, "I'm sleeping with Goldfarb, Goldstein, and Goldman these days," and receive a thumbs-up from their parents.

But as for what right a school has to keep a prom one way or another, as versus what rights parents have, it's worth noting that any parent who wants his or her kid to only date Jews has two options: move to Israel or choose Jewish schools. Neither is a 100% guarantee, but both point the child in the intended direction without turning the issue into one of parents-vs.-children, in which the parents will often lose. Most people in America aren't Jewish. Most people even at secular colleges where Jews are statistically overrepresented aren't Jewish. To tell your child to stop relationships at a certain line (say, hanging out with and maybe even dating non-Jews is OK; marrying them is not) is a silly and futile plan of action. Parents have many different reasons for choosing to send their children to Jewish day schools, but surely intermarriage-avoidance is one of them. (Similarly, campus Hillels may do many different things, but pairing people off with Jewish spouses is no doubt one of the big ones.) So complaining about the Jews-only prom at a Jewish day school is a bit like complaining about prayer in parochial schools. Sure, some people end up in religious schools who don't buy into the whole thing, but that's why public and secular private schools exist, to let those families who want their children to be free of these constraints (or who want to be the only ones imposing those constraints) do so. Part of the mission of Judaism is for it to continue. Jews don't go in for prostlytizing, so that really does just leave one option.

Mission Espadrille accomplished

Harry's Shoes, the half-price table. Who'd've thought?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Who wears long shorts?

Once again, I have shown myself to be ahead of a trend.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Blogging in Styles

Two stories in the Style section send the same message: blog and beware. If you blog about being sent away to a camp to make you straight, then you'll start a movement and a backlash. If you blog about not liking your job, after telling your boss to go look at your blog, then you'll get fired.

The nanny who told her employers about her blog and then wrote on it about how much she didn't like the job and how babysitting made her wish to be sterilized is either a new level of idiot or a self-promoting genius. Perhaps she knew she was working for a successful writer, and hoped to get herself discovered. Now we can all sit back and wait for the inevitable book version. "The Kinky Nanny," or, "The Nanny Goes Both Ways." Eh.

As for the kid whose parents want him to become straight, it sounds like the parents had lost before they'd even begun. His blog--and the fallout--just confirm things. The University of Chicago hosted a self-described ex-gay a few years ago, and my account of his visit is here.

Stomping grounds, new and old

As the pictures show, I went to the Bronx Zoo, which I don't remember having been to before but which my parents claim I had in fact visited. It's much more of a Six Flags kind of place than the Central Park or Lincoln Park zoos, with many opportunities to buy trinkets and fried food, and with long stretches between each exhibit, that seemed especially long because I'd had the brilliant idea of wearing jeans on a day that was far, far too hot for pants. Heat and trinkets aside, the zoo was really quite amazing, with some fabulous monkeys, a red panda, a really uncomfortable-looking polar bear, and some gigantic fish and turtles.

Today, I was down by Stuyvesant for the first time in a while. The whole area has gotten really posh. Not that when I was in high school it was some kind of dump, but 9/11 seems to have, if anything, made way for a total Upper East Sideification of the area. The terrorists most definitely have not won. Grungy pizza places, a Blimpies, and the pretzel place have been replaced by a Ceci Cela patisserie, a less grungy pizza place, an expanded Bouley, and a population of well-dressed businessfolk and iPod-toting joggers, including one in a Harvard Business School t-shirt. The really filthy places I used to go for sushi and cappuccinos have been replaced by... much cleaner sushi and cappuccino places. So it's not exactly gentrification if there were sushi and cappuccinos to begin with, but it's... well, it's something.

Bronx Zoo

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Famous by association

-So I watched the "Beauty and the Geek" reunion show, and wow, is it ever weird to hear a friend from Chicago answer questions about his virginity, right there on national television. Still, as I may or may not have already mentioned, I'm really disappointed that there's no upcoming "Beauty and the Geek" with geeky girls and conventionally attractive guys. Since the WB's definition of geek is pretty much anyone literate, pasty, and with a nerdy-sounding hobby, not necessarily someone who'd be, say, geeky by Chicago standards, I would definitely audition. And, even losing the self-referential angle, I think such a show would be fun to watch, since geeky, inept girls are less of a cliche than geeky guys, and since good-looking guys... might as well be on television.

-Have they discontinued Pantene's "Clarifying" shampoo, or is it just the Duane Reade chain that's not carrying it anymore? My hair will never feel as clean again.

-I think there's a "Seinfeld" on I should be watching, an article I should be writing, and a nectarine I should be eating. Maybe all three at once?

The truth about cats and dogs

Is there any way not to see a subtext in this story about an Israeli experiment to see whether dogs and cats can get along?

Haaretz reports: "'Most people think that cats and dogs are opposites that cannot get along,' says Netali Feurstein, a master's student at Tel Aviv University. 'I think that is incorrect.' According to her, the cat and the dog were domesticated thousands of years ago, but communication between them is something new."

Dachshundwatch (and more!)

-New York Magazine's "Look Book" this week features a longhaired dachshund. Well, a man with a longhaired dachshund.

-As some of you know, a friend from college, Joe Hanson, is a reality-TV star. He just sent out an email about a reunion show for "Beauty and the Geek" airing tomorrow night. I still haven't seen him on this show, so I'll definitely be tuning in.

-The "I have no (viable) sandals" dilemma has been solved. Flip-flops that I'd thought had disappeared were just in the front closet. While these would be ideal, for now, flip-flops it is.

-What a frappe it was! I spent an entire day on the Upper East Side. I saw more dachshunds than I could count, not surprisingly.

-I'm writing an article. That, not blogging, is what I should really be doing now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Masha, Masha, Masha! (plus a cat on a leash)

Masha, bringing uptown downtown. Posted by Picasa

Me, stabbing a Napoleon, evidently ungrateful for his role in emancipating French Jews. Side note: Never has my chin looked so huge. Posted by Picasa

Clever ironic statement, statement-maker unknown, Lower East Side Posted by Picasa

Cat on leash, St. Marks Place Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 11, 2005

Cleansing NYC, literally

Just now, sitting near me on the bus was a church youth group from the South, in town, according to their tote bags, key chains, etc., for this. I've heard of religious people coming to the big city to purify the place, to cleanse their surroundings, but things went a bit further; they had with them a plastic bag filled with many containers of Lysol disinfecting wipes. What were these for? The bus itself could have used a good wipe-down...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Time for Aliyah?

One of the main things keeping me in NYC is the frappe at Yura. Not the main thing, but probably among my top 5 or 10 reasons. I broke my parents' blender last summer in an attempt to recreate the Yura frappe at home. The ice was too much for the blender. Israel, though, is now the place to go to get icy coffee drinks, the kind that can only be made with an industrial blender. I'm not a big fan of Starbucks's Frappuccinos, so it's entirely possible I wouldn't like the Israeli versions either, but the Haaretz article mentions the immense range of frappes available in what's apparently the land of coffee and syrup, so I'm sure I'd find a few to enjoy.

Murray's Cheese and Chelsea Market

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Say goodbye to the hat picture

Co-blogger Nick will be replacing the hat picture with another, hatless one soon. Very soon. How soon? Only Nick can say for sure, but I'm thinking sooner than you'd think.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

What to put on pasta

Raffi Melkonian and Will Baude point out that pecorino romano is a good, cheaper alternative to parmigiano reggiano. I'd go with ricotta salata, which is usually much cheaper than both, but which makes a much lighter, more summer-appropriate pasta topping.

What to do about those teenaged skanks?

Reihan's response to the NY Magazine piece about girls'-school girls who go for older men differs from my own, but that doesn't mean I disagree with it. He argues that, "Strenuous labor ought to be part of a real education." Would strenuous labor make kids less skanky? While we did not have to travel 30 miles in the snow barefoot to get to school, Reihan's and my classmates at a certain institution had, for the most part, crazy commutes that entailed, from age 13 or 14 on, learning to navigate the NYC subway system cleverly enough to arrive at an inconvenient location near the West Side Highway in time for 8 am classes. And, by and large, Stuy kids aren't all that skanky. This is probably due to other factors, now that I think of it, and even the most difficult commutes--for instance, those involving the LIRR--don't really count as strenuous labor. But, moving on...

I agree with Reihan that teens should have more day-to-day contact with adults, and that that would demystify 17-year-old girls and 35-year-old men to one another. (Would that make 17-year-old girls lose their appeal to 35-year-old men? Doubtful, but the mystery would no longer work both ways). By the same token, I'd add that coeducation is not a bad idea, either. The girls profiled in the NY Magazine piece are dismissive of boys their own age, but how well do they even know that demographic, since they don't have any male classmates? True, high-school boys aren't the greatest, but whatever charm they have is appreciated by generation after generation of high-school girls, who don't so much as consider that they'd have other options.

That's really the missing link here: single-sex education turns all male-female relationships into sex-related ones, everything from sex-appeal-derived power to, well, sex. These girls know about getting guys--this is something even 5th and 6th graders at the girls' schools discuss, or at least did when I was that age--but don't know much about working with them, talking to them, or arguing with them as friends and classmates. No wonder the girls profiled in the NY Magazine piece are interested in seducing older men and getting pregnant--if the end goal is a man, preferably a high-status man, why not just accelerate the process?


Today I was taken on a tour of Flushing, home to some of my favorite sitcom characters--the Costanzas on "Seinfeld" and the nanny on "The Nanny"--as well as real-life home of a much larger version of Manhattan's Chinatown. Sam convinced me to try a fried turnip cake (very tasty) and tofu rolls in curry (couldn't quite get past not liking curry). I made the mistake of ordering Westerner's Special ("vegetarian stirfry," I think) which resulted in us both being handed forks.

All told, a fabulous trip to the country (because, you know, everything other than Manhattan--Chicago included--is the country), though I have mixed feelings about the 7 train. No, not for the same reasons as John Rocker--I just wasn't a fan of the escalator ride from the 7 up to the 4-5-6 at Grand Central. It struck me as the worst place in the subway system to be in the event of anything terrorist-like happening, aside from the always-empty but way-too-far-underground 63rd and Lexington station. My official position on taking public transportation in this post-9/11 world is that I'll just keep taking it as always, but I strayed a bit from this position today, getting out of the subway before my stop. Claustrophobia won, hands down, over not letting the terrorists win.

My trip to non-rural Queens

The hometown of the nanny from "The Nanny" Posted by Picasa

"She was working in a bridal shop..." Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 08, 2005

Things are Tasti in Murray Hill

A NY Observer article (with photos by Cady Susswein, photographer for both UChicago campus papers--how odd yet cool that she's now a photographer for the Observer) tells of how recent college grads from the suburbs have started moving in droves to Murray Hill, where they get together and consume such things as beer and Tasti-d-lite. From the article, it sounds like Murray Hill is basically NYC's version of Chicago's Lincoln Park--an upscale neighborhood only for the young and unmarried, geared towards the sort of people who couldn't imagine raising families in the city. Native NYers, along with all those who've moved here because they love the city, tend to be put off by these communities, and the Observer piece is hardly favorable. To me, Murray Hill sounds very much like the Greek scene at the University of Chicago--Murray Hill is un-New York, objectionable to diversity- and eccentricity-loving New Yorkers, yet by virtue of its existence, it actually adds to the diversity of the place, showing the militantly quirky that the bland are in fact people, too.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Not again

A possibly al-Qaeda series of bombs have just hit London's public transportation system. This is scary stuff.

To do:

1) Learn to drive.

2) Keep up my French, improve my Hebrew,* and learn some Japanese; failing that, eat croissants, falafel, and sushi. (And no, not all at the same meal.)

3) Find the espadrilles of my dreams.

4) See that movie with John Cusack and the fluffy dog.

5) Finish reading La France Juive.

*So far, my attempts at improving my Hebrew have included watching "Walk on Water," chatting with the cashier at Holyland Market about what kind of chocolate I was looking for, and an ill-fated attempt at listening in on a conversation some Israeli men were having a couple of tables away at a Vietnamese restaurant. Why ill-fated? Because my attempt at subtle eavesdropping led to not-so-subtle beckoning nods from one of the men at that table. After a millisecond of weighing the pros (chance to practice Hebrew) with the cons (uh...), that language-enhancing possibility was cut short before it had even begun.

The range of American education

A post of Will Baude's begins, "My former T.A. Chad Golder along with Yale Law Prof Paul Gewirtz have an op-ed in today's New York Times." I have nothing to say about his post itself as I am not up to taking apart "judicial activism" at the moment or, arguably, at any moment, but the sentence makes me think of the things I'd have been able to say, re: my teachers' media presence, had I kept a blog during high school: "My former teacher was just shown on NY1 being taken out of the school in handcuffs." Or, more recently, "My high school principal was on NPR, telling the nation just how terrible the Stuyvesant teachers really are." Stuyvesant and Yale are both prestigious institutions (though Stuyvesant might be more "institution" than Yale), yet clearly what draws people to the two places is quite different. Oh well.

Can't really complain, though--for all the carting out of teachers and all the NY1-worthy scandals, how many other public high schools send out graduates who've read the Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid, not to mention who've done their darndest to read the Inferno but who, for reasons of adolescent distraction and general restlessness, never made it all the way through Dante's supposedly great work.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Beautiful things, Part II

Seems there's a movie starring John Cusack, Dermot Mulroney, and a giant fluffy Newfoundland-type dog. I'd have gone with Lior Ashkenazi, Yehuda Levi, and a Berner, but Cusack, Mulroney, and a Newfoundland are still some more-than-acceptable casting choices.

Century 21 not so avant-garde after all

A misguided attempt at finding espadrilles led me to Century 21, the famed discount department store. The shoe department was low on espadrilles, but had a ton of Marc Jacobs shoes, including some very shiny ones. It was clear why they'd ended up at Century 21--many were missing shiny add-ons, many were in either size 5 or size 10, and none made sense for any activity other than lounging around a swimming pool circa 1960. Disappointing, discounted-but-shiny Marc Jacobs... this is becoming a pattern.

Beautiful things

If I were a tea person, I'd use this tea set. Posted by Picasa

If I had a dog, it would look something like this. Posted by Picasa

If I had a car, it would look something like this. Posted by Picasa