I have seventeen mosquito bites on my right leg alone. My clothes reek of sunblock. I’m soggy and puffy from the heat and humidity. The apartment smells like concentrated Eau du Richter. I found a roach napping in my Converse yesterday. I haven’t slept through the night since early June, and probably won’t until mid-September. My sanity slips a bit more daily. Welcome to summer, NYC-style.
My schedule has been full, so there’s no Duranalysis this week. Tons of great suggestions, though –thank you so much to everyone who has contacted me! I should be in good shape for topics through the rest of summer; now it’s just a matter of carving out time to do it. Speaking of the boys, Salon has a very nice piece up about the current tour. Has anyone caught them? They’re playing at the Apollo next week, but tickets are out of my reach at the moment, and anyway, it’s not quite the same without Nick. (As far as I know, there’s still no official explanation for Nick’s absence on the tour beyond “an urgent family matter”; having attended to a couple of those myself, it’s one of those phrases that reflexively makes me feel very, very sad. I’d say “I hope all is well”, but that seems inadequate and, worse, clueless, because whatever’s going on in his life, of course it’s not well.)
Tuesday night, I met up with Ty, an old high school classmate who was in town teaching at an art conference. He’s an artist/art instructor in Seattle; while he was in town, he gathered together a small group of his friends and former students for drinks at McSorley’s, the oldest Irish tavern in New York. It opened in 1854 (or thereabouts); it started admitting women in, ahem, 1970, following a discrimination case brought against it by the National Organization for Women. McSorley’s has sawdust-covered floors and offers only two beers—you can order either the light one, or the dark one—which are both pleasantly unmemorable. The beers always come in pairs, two half-filled mugs with a big head of foam, which are slapped down with enough vigor to make them splash all over the table.
Following McSorley’s, we headed out to Veselka, a Ukrainian diner in the East Village. I like Ukrainian food, but goulash and stuffed cabbage and stroganoff are a bit of a hard sell on a muggy summer night, so I went with a cold turkey/cranberry/chipotle sandwich instead. One of Ty’s friends at this get-together is a lawyer at the Federal Reserve. Seven thousand metric tons (tonnes) of gold are stored in a vault at his office building. I was duly impressed.
Also at this get-together was our fellow high school classmate Jessica Bowers, who is an opera singer. Last night, my sister and I went to see Jessica and her husband, classical guitarist Oren Fader, perform at an open-air concert in Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, framed by an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline.
Jessica has a startlingly rich, powerful, beautiful voice; Oren is talented as all hell. They perform as the Bowers-Fader Duo; if you ever get a chance to see them, I highly recommend it. On the main page of their website, click to hear their lovely interpretation of Mozart’s Das Veilchen.
Before their concert, Ingrid and I grabbed drinks at a nearby craft beer bar called Alewife. It was roomy, dark, cool, calm, and friendly, which was exactly what we were looking for. Comprehensive beer menu, nice bartenders. We split the cheese and charcuterie platter. Four meats, four cheeses. The cheese selections followed the tried-and-true breakdown of cheese platters: Any time you have four fancy cheeses on one plate, you’re going to end up with: 1) one delightful and interesting cheese, 2) one inoffensively tasty cheese, 3) one somewhat off-putting and hard-to-love cheese that you find strangely intriguing (“This tastes like gym socks with a rich undercurrent of fresh mold! Let me try it again!”), and 4) one cheese that you’re pretty sure the chef stuck on there just to mess with you. In this case, it was a gooey, runny goat cheese that smelled and tasted like the goat had taken a whiz all over the plate. My palate was clearly not refined enough to fully appreciate the subtle nuances of the goat-piss cheese, but even so, it was a good time.
I’m still not cooking much because of the heat. Still making a buttload of salads. I’ve only got one new salad recipe this week: I mixed whole wheat couscous cooked in vegetable broth with pickled beets, chopped pickles, baby spinach, goat cheese, and feta (using both goat cheese and feta is a little redundant, but I had a small amount of the former that I needed to use up), with a quick dressing of minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pretty tasty! I mixed it together while the couscous was still warm, which wilted the spinach and the cheese pleasantly.
Song of the day: “Rent” by the Pet Shop Boys. The video, which was directed by experimental filmmaker Derek Jarman (check out Jarman’s 1986 film Caravaggio, which featured the screen debuts of both Sean Bean and Tilda Swinton), is pretty fabulous:
Until next week.