Over dinner…

Sitting in Chaat, a Bangladeshi eatery in Shoreditch, down a difficult-to-find Red Chapel Street, I am the only customer – they are booked for the night, all 16 seats of their 25’-square restaurant – but the coffee-colored skin lady welcomes me at 6:00 when she realizes it’s just me.  Her first party is at 7:45, and I assure her I’ll be long gone before then.  I am fresh from the British Museum – where I learned more about King Nebuchadnezzar, saw the first known map of the ancient world, a painting of Daniel in the lions’ den that was sublime, and the Rosetta Stone – listening to vintage Bowie – Jean Jeannie – to be followed by Marvin Gaye and Lynyrd Skynyrd, quite the eclectic mix, and reading about San Francisco’s Lesbian Avengers group in The112008machinedance Sun magazine.  The writer expresses her frustration over her erstwhile lover’s decision to “transition” to become a man, wondering aloud to the reader, “why would anyone consciously choose a role that throughout history had encouraged insensitivity and aggression?”


Then I thought about Jesus.


Didn’t he – the King of all kings, the one who had created maps and song and art and men and women – take on a role where he assumed, and absorbed, the ultimate form of aggression by people who were insensitive to him, and then laid down his life for those very aggressors along with us?


I ate my samosas, mutton with peppers, basmati rice and hot alloo, with raita, and listened to this forlorn woman in the Bay Area, who – though she says she later hugged her lover with his “broad, flat chest with satisfaction” – nevertheless, “walked home alone.”



photo:  machinedance


Heid’s of Liverpool

I found this helpful advice on a blog called ishbadiddle (http://triptronix.net/ishbadiddle/):

“I’m having trouble getting my ketchup out of the bottle in a timely manner. Do you have any suggestions?”
“First, make sure the cap is on tight. Then, holding the bottle upside-down, vigorously shake it from side-to-side, so that the top of the bottle describes an arc. This will force the ketchup toward the top of the bottle through centrifugal force. Next, remove the cap. Tilting the bottle at a 45-degree angle hit the top side of the bottle several times. Hitting the bottom of the bottle is more frequently done; however it is less efficient. Hitting the top forces the ketchup down, enabling air to break the ketchup seal at the top of the bottom. Then gravity will do the trick. Never put ketchup on a hot dog if you are older than 12; they were meant to be eaten with mustard, relish, onions and/or kraut if you are so inclined.”

I usually don’t post other people’s stuff here – perhaps some of you wish I would – but I thought this was a novel way of solving the age-old problem of getting Heinz 57 out before it becomes Heinz 58. The remark about eating hotdogs with ketchup, of course, is the blogger’s own, not necessarily that of this author. Reminds me of driving from Raleigh, North Carolina in 1983 with my college girlfriend Carla and her family up to Fulton, New York, where she was from. Her grandparents lived there. It was eleven hours in the car. Her aunt, her mother’s sister, used to be her mother’s brother – had a sex change operation. I’d never met a transgender person before, though I lived in New York City. Just outside Syracuse – home to the oldest state fair, I am to understand, and bragging rights to those who are insecure because they don’t live in the greatest city in the world to the south, “downstate,” that is – is Heid’s of Liverpool, where they serve the famous frank and coney. I remember we got there and I was … hungry. I ordered a “hot dog.” They looked at me. Just kind of stared. So, Carla’s father whispered, “ask for a frank,” so I did and everything went along swimmingly. Now, their website openly discusses “hot dogs,” once a topic not for polite Liverpool company. Coneys, on the other hand, are white sausage-like hot dogs. I wanted to find more information on them, so I went to Wikipedia, which lacked for specifics, so I added a plug for Heid’s: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coney. MSN Encarta doesn’t include this definition among its five for the word. That’s disappointing. I found this site, which has probably the most complete description of this delicacy: http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/coney_island_coney_coney_dog/. All I know is that is was whitish and looked fairly unappetizing, but it was good. Carla’s grandparents lived in a house that was across the street from a crematorium. Many afternoons, the evidence of their business was in the air. This, from Wikipedia: “During the cremation process, a large part of the body (especially the organs) and other soft tissue is vaporized and oxidized due to the heat, and the gases are discharged through the exhaust system.” So this exhaust is what we’d smell during our time on the front porch sipping tea. My grandparents’ bodies were cremated. I remember being 22 or so and going out on a boat in East Greenwich harbor with my brother, parents, two aunts and two uncles. It was raining. We raised a glass of champagne to toast them – Tootsie and Poppa’s wish that this be done – and then my brother Jim and I poured their ashes over the side, and we all threw flowers on the water’s surface. It was the most peaceful “burial” I had been to. I don’t remember how long we were in Fulton. Carla’s aunt, the transgender person, was nice enough. I don’t recall any outstanding features from that first encounter other than it seemed she was still dealing with some kind of facial skin issue, like razor burn from days gone by.

Coneys, crematoriums and transgenders with razor burn.

Life is not neat and tidy.

photo of hot dog: neadeau

photo of razor blade: brokenarts