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Soupy

October 23, 2009 Leave a comment

soupy

Soupy Sales died last night. For a brief period 45 years ago, he was a big part of our family’s life. That would be the fall of 1964 and the winter of 1964-65. I was in 8th grade. My brother was in 12th grade. I wasn’t that big a fan of Soupy, but my brother was. And reading the NYT obituary tonight, I realize that that was the peak of Soupy’s career.

Drawing on the physical comedy of the Marx Brothers and Harry Ritz, he entered show business after graduating from Marshall College in Huntington, W.Va. Working as a teenage dance-show host and D. J. on television and radio, he appeared on stations in Cincinnati and Cleveland, then began “Lunch With Soupy” in 1953 on WXYZ-TV in Detroit. He took the name Soupy Sales in part from the old-time comic actor Chic Sale. After appearing on local TV in Los Angeles and on the ABC-TV network, he made his debut on WNEW in the fall of 1964.

Then came an infamous moment. On New Year’s Day 1965, Soupy Sales asked youngsters to go through their parents’ clothing and send him little green pieces of paper with pictures of men with beards. He later reported receiving only a few dollar bills and said he donated them to charity, but Metromedia, the station’s owner, suspended him briefly after a viewer complained to the Federal Communications Commission that he was encouraging children to steal.

That stunt only heightened Mr. Sales’s appeal to young people as a tweaker of authority, and when he headlined a rock ’n’ roll show at the New York Paramount the following Easter, perhaps 3,000 teenagers were snaking through Times Square hoping for seats at the morning performance. “He’s great, he’s a nut like us,” a 13-year-old boy told The New York Times.

Aha! So the period I remember him so well from was none other than the period when he entered the New York television market, on WNEW. That makes sense. Of course, I had no clue at the time what shows were local and what were national. Especially confusing to any kid growing up in New York was the fact that the call letters of the local network affiliates are WNBC, WCBS, and WABC. After a network show, when someone would announce, “This is CBS, we pause now for station identification” and another voice came on to say, “This is WCBS,” I never knew what the point of that silly little exercise was. WNEW wasn’t a network affiliate. I knew something was different about it, but I doubt I knew whether an afternoon show like Soupy Sales was local or national.

In any case, my brother spent some time in the hospital that year, first for what was supposed to be routine surgery, then again after some complications. It was a scary time. I was busy preparing for my upcoming Bar Mitzvah. (The Bar Mitzvah pictures serve as a permanent record of his weakened, post-hospital state. They’re also the last record of the time when he was taller than me.)

I didn’t pay too much attention to Soupy, except when we’d go to the hospital to visit my brother, for whom he was the daily highlight. We’d watch him together. The nurses would join us. Everyone laughed.

Whatever else Soupy was, he was a godsend to our family.

Categories: Family, Obituary

Julia Child at Rover’s

October 23, 2009 Leave a comment

roversbook

I’ve written several times about our lunches this year at Rover’s, the highly regarded Seattle restaurant just down the street from us. They serve lunch on Fridays only, and we made it in there back in January with the Williams. After another lunch in March, I taught a course in the spring that precluded Friday lunches. To make up for this, Gail and I had lunch there every week or two in July and August, culminating in a farewell lunch with Joel the day before he took off for Grenoble. Then we were off ourselves, to Nantucket, and we haven’t made it back since.

Until two nights ago, when the Williams joined us there for dinner. Rover’s has a special running for two months, through the end of November, featuring a menu in honor of Julia Child. There is of course the usual menu to order from, and the Julia Child items are available à la carte, so one can mix and match, but we all chose the fixed price Julia Child menu, at a most reasonable $55. With the amuse bouche, it’s really a five-course menu. You can review the menu at Rover’s website, but it won’t be posted there forever, so let me copy it below:

Amuse Bouche

Salade Lyonnaise
Frisée Salad with Poached Egg, Bacon and Red Wine Vinaigrette

Potage Parmentier
Potato and Leek Soup

Filets de Poisson à la Meunière
Sautéed Halibut Filet with Spinach, Baby Beet, Oyster Mushrooms and Lemon Brown Butter
or
Boeuf Bourguignon
Beef Stew with Red Wine, Pearl Onion, Carrot and Mushroom

Soufflé au Chocolat
Chocolate Soufflé

The amuse bouche was three amuses in one. One was a small taste of a beet and carrot soup. One had a tiny bit of toast with little bits of lamb. And one was a smoked salmon. Each, suitably expanded, would have been a perfect appetizer. The other menu items are self explanatory except for the soup, which is not quite what we had. We had a butternut squash soup with roasted butternut squash cubes, braised leeks, and chive crème fraiche. (Thanks, Gail, for remembering.) It might just have been the best part of the meal. But everything was superb. Well, I can’t speak for the halibut. I had the beef stew. Four of us did. Cynthia chose the halibut. I would have been happy with half of each, but that wasn’t an option.

One could also choose a wine pairing, as Gail and Cynthia did. Under the wine pairing plan, five different wines were served, one with each course including the amuse. All were French wines, and they seemed to be a success. I can only speak for the wine Gail was served with her beef bourguignon, since I had a glass of it. It was a Rhone wine and I was very happy with it. I don’t remember the details. I didn’t see it on the menu; I just took the waiter’s advice when I said I’d have a glass with the beef and he proposed that I simply have the wine pairing selection for that course.

Pretty good soufflé too. I’m not as big a soufflé devotee as Gail, but this could make me one. If only we weren’t going away, we could go back another time or two while the Julia Child menu is available. On the other hand, I bet we’ll have some satisfactory eating options on our trip.

Categories: Food, Restaurants