Wednesday, October 28, 2009

politics as usual II

Oh New York, how easy it is to love you, but also how easy it is to be disgusted by you, especially when it comes to politics.

We've got a city-subsidized* brand new $1.5 billion baseball stadium already falling apart (and already in violation of ADA compliance regulations) brought to us by companies either linked to the Mob or under indictment. It's always so heartening to know where our tax money goes.

We've got Bernard Kerik, once upon a time NYC Police Commissioner, close friend to one Rudolph Giuliani, and George W. Bush's nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security, now being indicted on 16 counts of conspiracy, corruption, tax fraud, and mail fraud, and facing jail time pending his upcoming trial.

We've got a mayor who, drunk on the glory of elected office, saw fit to overturn New York's term limits in order to run for a 3rd term, spending millions upon millions of dollars in a race in which he's been consistently well ahead in the polls ("blowout" is the term currently being bandied about as a probable outcome of next week's election), and bringing in the aforementioned Giuliani, race-baiter and fear-monger extraordinaire, to campaign on his behalf. As a friend of mine recently put it, "Right, if you're already winning, why piss off half your constituency by bringing in the fascist?"

All in all, I'm still not decided on who I'll vote for come next Tuesday morning (and all you loyal readers know how much I love to pull that lever). It seems poor Thompson is a lost cause at this point, but it's bound to be low voter turnout and it'd be nice to see Thompson at least give Bloomberg a run for his money.**

*"In 2006 the New York Yankees were given about $1.5 billion in tax benefits and public funds for the building of a new Yankees Stadium. Over $500 million was direct cash and tax relief."

**Bloomberg's taking a lot of flak these days about how much money he's blowing through on this campaign alone ($85 million and counting) and cumulatively on all of his campaigns ($250 million and counting), though it's also been pointed out that $250 million is about what was spent on the latest Harry Potter movie. It is, granted, an insane amount of money, and renders the whole election process arguably up for grabs to the highest bidder. But still, doesn't it seem a little perverse to compare it to the cost of a movie? $250 million to run one of the biggest cities in the world for twelve years compared to $250 million for a few hours' entertainment? And the first one is the one worth condemning? Really?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

'no one's laughing at god when they're saying their goodbyes...'

A coworker's sister passed away earlier this week and I can't help but simultaneously cry in sadness for his loss and cry in gratitude for the brother I am so very lucky to have.

(Regina Spektor, Laughing With)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

fever dreams

I'm not feeling feverish or anything but this little infection I have, if left to its own devices, could theoretically spread to the kidneys and cause all sorts of problems. (Never fear, Mom, I've got a doctor's appointment first thing Monday morning and will get the proper medication!)

I would not claim to have 'the constitution of an ox,' as my friend Lauren describes herself and her Herculean ability to ward off the germs of a roomful of first graders year after year, and am somewhat prone to headaches and colds, but in the grander scheme of things I know these complaints are small. I have not needed antibiotics since the spring of 1986 and I find it slightly unnerving to need them now.

What I remember most, if fuzzily, about that last course of antibiotics is actually the year leading up to that spring of 1996. What I remember is being sick. On-goingly sick, spending the better part of an entire summer on the west coast in a haze, dazed and burning or vomiting and chilled to the bone. I remember shaking with cold, in the midst of a hot July, in the loft at my grandmother's house in central Washington. I remember shivering in the August sun at the end of the dock at my grandparents' cabin, huddled in a towel and miserable while all the cousins went swimming and water-skiing and motor-boating around the lake. I remember being dropped into a large inner tube in that cold cold lake water, my parents and grandparents on the verge of panic as my temperature crawled upwards of 104 degrees in that cabin on Lake Coeur d'Alene, an hour's drive from the nearest hospital.

I remember finally (and to everyone's relief) being diagnosed that September with nothing more than a particularly virulent (and atypical, given the complete lack of sore throat) form of strep throat. I remember spending much of the following year dutifully taking my penicillin, camouflaged disgustingly in a bright pink cherry-flavored viscous liquid, being healthy for a few weeks, and then getting sick again.

And I remember the fevers. And the fever dreams.

I remember hours (days?) spent lying in bed convinced that my ankles and wrists were pressing up against miles and miles of concrete; that I was swimming through lagoons filled with garbage; that snow fell constantly down on me from all those white ceilings. I remember sitting hunched in the armchair at the head of our dining room table, wrapped in a much-loved pink and green crocheted blanket and trying to drink lemon tea with honey, crying because my arms, gone all elastic-y and long, kept escaping my control and tangling, Gumby-like, in terrifying pretzel-like knots.

I remember those out-of-control knots, that garbage, the concrete and snow, with a certain marked dread, and also a certain relief that they are just far-flung disturbances, rising up out of long-ago childhood fevers.

After nearly nine months of antibiotics and nearly a full year of getting sick every few weeks, my doctor finally decided to take out my tonsils. I haven't had strep throat, or any other infection or illness requiring antibiotics, since.

The antibiotics I will get in two days' time will, I have no doubt, remedy this infection of mine right quick. And yet there is a lingering dread, an ever-present if subtle distrust, in the medical establishment, in the resiliency of my own generally healthy body, perhaps even of bodies in general. I was complaining to a friend earlier this evening about having to (oh the horror) visit the doctor on Monday and he said if it was him he'd probably forgo doctors, diagnosis, and medication, and just hope he didn't die. There is a certain blase comfort in this attitude, a certain faith in one's own survival, that I kind of wish I had.


(Anathallo, Dokkoise House)

Friday, October 09, 2009

strange, or, only in berlin

This has got to be one of the strangest things I've ever seen, even remotely via Big Picture, and I can't begin to imagine something like this taking place here in New York. But as I sat there last night at my (brand new and beautiful!) desk scrolling ever so slowly through these photographs I found myself strangely moved, even as I knew I just wasn't quite getting it.

Take a gander your own self:

The Berlin Reunion

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Sunday, October 04, 2009

sunday in the city

From the 9th Annual Pickle Festival (on the Lower East Side, of course) to the 16th Annual Medieval Festival (in Fort Tryon Park near the Cloisters, of course), it was a wonderful, gorgeous day in this fair city of mine.

doughnut holes

Michael, Evan, and I made doughnut holes yesterday afternoon. We'd been planning to head downtown to Michael's favorite doughnut shop but NOAA was predicting thunderstorms all day so we thought better of walking around in the rain. Thus doughnut holes.

They were delicious. We used our homemade yogurt in place of the buttermilk, but otherwise pretty much followed the recipe. Well, I snuck in a little more cinnamon and nutmeg, and the dregs of a bag of crystallized ginger may have made its way in to the proceedings.

This was just the beginnings of a delicious food-filled day. To accompany the doughnuts we had spiced hot apple cider & rum. Then we put out some cheese from Fairway and some garlic & rosemary crackers from Trader Joe's. Then I made up a pot of curried squash soup with blue cheese sprinkled on top and served that with a pretty decent bottle of red table wine from Jumilla. And then we ate Michael's homemade banana cream pie. And then we all passed out on the couch.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Evan has been teaching me how to make yogurt. It's actually surprisingly easy, at least going by his seemingly fool-proof recipe, and delicious. I've been eating it with leftover Indian take-out, or with dried cranberries and a dollop of buckwheat honey, or with a handful of Grape-nuts and a drizzle of maple syrup, or with a spoonful of raspberry jam, or as this morning, stirred into a bowlful of oatmeal.

Here is what we've been doing:

Heat a half-gallon of milk (we've been using 2%, though you can of course use any kind you want) over medium heat to boiling, stirring occasionally and looking out to not let it abruptly boil all over the place and make a frothy, sticky mess, as I find milk is wont to do.

Remove from heat, insert a candy thermometer, and let cool to 120 degrees. (This can be expedited by placing the saucepan in an icebath.)

Stir in 1/2 cup of active-culture yogurt (either one grocery-store bought container of yogurt, or remnants from a previous batch of home-made yogurt).

Pour mixture into plastic containers (quart-sized wonton soup take-out containers are my favorite, or at least what I've had on hand, but of course pretty much anything will do) and place in oven next to the oven light, which, if left on, should keep your oven at about 100 degrees. You might want to check this with your candy thermometer though, since some oven lights are more equal than other oven lights. (Also, beware assuming that if you turn on your oven and set it to 100 degrees, it is actually a steady 100 degrees. My oven, for example, is closer to 120 degrees when set at 100.)

Leave the yogurt in the oven for about 7 hours, and then check to see if the whey has separated and the yogurt has set. If not, leave in the oven with the light on and check every 30 minutes or so.

Once the yogurt has set, you can either pour off the whey, leaving a thicker yogurt, or, as we've been doing, just stir it back into the yogurt, making it nice and creamy.

Absolutely scrumptious, any way you have it.

One piece of advice: start this little project at a time when you won't have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to pull the yogurt out of the oven. I'm just saying. Learn from my mistakes.