Archive for September, 2011

Militancy, Non-Violence, and Religion

September 23, 2011 1 comment

This item is over a week old, but I can’t resist writing a post that gives me the opportunity to present the extraordinary graphic above. In a September 14 post, Spencer Ackerman wrote about recent FBI training material on Islam acquired by Wired’s national security blog, Danger Room. As Ackerman explains,

The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding mechanism for combat.”

At the Bureau’s training ground in Quantico, Virginia, agents are shown a chart contending that the more “devout” a Muslim, the more likely he is to be “violent.” Those destructive tendencies cannot be reversed, an FBI instructional presentation adds: “Any war against non-believers is justified” under Muslim law; a “moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah.”

The image above is taken from a slide presentation by FBI analyst William Gawthrop. Ackerman again:

An FBI presentation titled “Militancy Considerations” measures the relationship between piety and violence among the texts of the three Abrahamic faiths. As time goes on, the followers of the Torah and the Bible move from “violent” to “non-violent.” Not so for devotees of the Koran, whose “moderating process has not happened.” The line representing violent behavior from devout Muslims flatlines and continues outward, from 610 A.D. to 2010. In other words, religious Muslims have been and always will be agents of aggression.

We are fortunate to be alive now, at the very moment when adherents of the Torah and the Bible converge on on total non-violence. We were already getting pretty close throughout the twentieth century. Those world wars? The work, I guess, of Koran adherents. Hitler? A closet Muslim. Stalin? Another one. The list is a long one.

For more, including an embedded video from Wired of Gawthrop’s presentation, see this report in the NYT three days ago.

Categories: Politics, Religion

New York Weekend

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

The Sheep Meadow, Central Park

[Taken by me on my iPhone]

I’ve written plenty about our week in Nantucket, but nothing about the weekend in New York that preceded it, except for passing reference the day after we got there to our Seattle–>JFK flight and the press of various family events. I’ll say a little more here.

We got to our hotel on 76th and Madison on a Friday evening. My sister and brother-in-law had arrived from Paris a few hours earlier. Once we joined up, we agreed to walk a few blocks up Madison to E.A.T., Eli Zabar’s restaurant and food shop. I had an old favorite, the Meat Loaf with Fresh Tomato Sauce. It’s a whole mini meat loaf, complete with hard-boiled egg in the middle, and it’s good. For dessert, I had their shortbread heart.

Saturday, we headed over to my parents’ place in the late morning, had lunch (takeout sandwiches from E.A.T.), headed over to the AT&T store on 82nd and Lexington to take care of some family business, then walked back to the hotel in moderate heat but high humidity. I took advantage of the break in our day to write another blog post, then we took a taxi down FDR Drive, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and on to La Flor del Paraiso Bar & Restaurant on Atlantic, just a couple of blocks down from Atlantic’s intersection with Flatbush.

The occasion was the wedding rehearsal dinner for my cousin’s daughter and her soon-to-be husband. We got to see assorted cousins we hadn’t seen for months, or years, and one we had never seen before, my recently born first cousin twice removed. And in due course, after hors d’ouevres at the bar, a slideshow of the bride and groom, and speeches, we ate a dinner of chicken, rice, vegetables and more. My sister held out as long as she could, what with the six-hour time zone change, but a little after 10:00 PM, we headed back over the Brooklyn Bridge to the hotel.

Sunday an old friend of mine came over to the hotel from Brooklyn and we had breakfast downstairs in the hotel restaurant, which is a special restaurant in its own right — Café Boulud. We lingered down there, and not long after we went back up to our room, lunch time had come around. Off we went with my sister and brother-in-law to Ristorante Sant Ambroeus, a fabulous Milanese restaurant, gelateria, and tea shop a block up Madison. When in Milan, do as the Milanese do — I had the Costoletta alla Milanese, breaded veal chop Milanese, served in the traditional style with a topping of arugula. Excellent. With the late breakfast, and a large wedding dinner to come, I made the painful decision to pass on dessert.

Sant Ambroeus gelato

With all that food again in mind, I decided the best way to use my afternoon free time was to walk. The rest of the family had other plans, so off I went, over to Fifth Avenue and into Central Park.

Despite the heat, sun, and humidity, I was determined to walk for an hour. I did that and more. I entered just north of Conservatory Pond, went around the south side of it, up past the Boat House (where dozens of employees were picketing), and over to Bethesda Fountain and Terrace, where a group of young men was collecting money in the midst of a street performance that had attracted a crowd of perhaps 200 people. From there, I continued west over the north side of the Sheep Meadow, and then up through Strawberry Fields.

I had entered the gravitational pull of my grandmother’s old neighborhood and became powerless to resist. In her later years, she would hang out at the area that took on the name Strawberry Fields just months after her death (in honor, of course, of John Lennon, who lived in and was murdered in front of The Dakota, directly across the street from my grandmother’s building).

I exited the park on the far end of Strawberry Fields, at 72nd and Central Park West, my grandmother’s building and The Dakota just on the other side of the street. There I discovered multiple tour groups standing in front of The Dakota and taking photos, a few of the photographers, having crossed over to my grandmother’s entrance to get a fuller shot of the building. I had to squeeze my way past them as I headed west on 72nd. Soon I was over Columbus and heading to the intersection of 72nd, Amsterdam, and Broadway, just short of which lies Fine and Shapiro. There are many delis in this world, but only one Fine and Shapiro. I suppose it’s no longer what it used to be. Maybe it never was. But it defines deli for me, and as full as I was, I sure wanted to go in, get a corned beef sandwich, a potato pancake, and some seven layer cake.

North a few blocks on Amsterdam, back east on 76th to Central Park West, up to the corner of the American Museum of Natural History, then back into Central Park for the return trip to the hotel. I crossed the bridge over the northern tip of The Lake, then into The Ramble, from which I emerged by the Boat House and another group of strikers, plus three drummers under a tent providing the rhythm for the strikers. I skirted the north edge of Conservatory Pond and came upon a little open area where two guitarists were playing and a crowd was sitting on the many benches.

As I was about to wilt, well over an hour into the walk, I decided that grabbing an open seat was a good idea. The guitarists turned out to be pretty good. Each had a small amplifier/speaker, and they would play jazz and classical pieces, one providing the rhythm, the other playing at times in unison and at other times taking the lead. I had some shade, I was slowly cooling down, and I decided sitting out there listening to music beat the hotel room. Six songs later, I put some money in their guitar case, headed out to Fifth Avenue, and down the block to the hotel.

There wasn’t much time to get ready before the wedding. Around 6:00, we headed over to FDR Drive and down under the Brooklyn Bridge to the South Street Seaport. Our destination was Bridgewaters, a catering facility in the seaport with the most extraordinary outlook on the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, the East River, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.

The wedding ceremony siting took full advantage of the view. Between the wedding itself, the bridges, the river, the boat traffic, and the Brooklyn skyline, there was a feast for the eyes. Following the ceremony and family photos, we headed out to the hors d’ouevres and cocktail area, where another feast awaited as the wedding space was converted for dining and dancing. An hour or so later, we were ushered back into the transformed room, the outside now in darkness, the lights of the city all around, the Watchtower sign dominating across the river.

But forget the view. A new element had been added — an overwhelming one — The Rhythm Shop. What a band! What an initial impression! Five vocalists all in a row, elegantly dressed, and a backing band of six. Or more. I may have lost count. A drummer. A drummer/percussionist. A guitar and bass guitar. Sax and keyboards. Talk about high energy. They were something. You can sort of get an idea from the videos at their website, or their youtube clips, but it’s nothing like seeing them in person.

Music, toasts, dancing, salad, more music, more dancing, steak, music, dancing, wedding cake, dessert. The Watchtower keeping an eye on us. Occasional conversation with siblings and cousins in the moments when we could hear each other. An exciting evening. And again, as my sister neared collapse, we headed back to the hotel, arriving near midnight.

The next morning, Gail and I had room service breakfast from Café Boulud as we packed, then checked out and headed to JFK for our flight to Nantucket. A great week awaited, but we sure could have used more time, for the city and the family.

Categories: Family, Restaurants, Travel

Ten Years

September 18, 2011 Leave a comment

The tenth anniversary of 9/11 occurred during our trip, giving me a good excuse to avoid reading the remembrances, reflections, and coverage. Then again, we were in New York two weekends ago, a week before the anniversary, and flew back into New York from Nantucket on the anniversary itself, a week ago today. Air traffic delays due in part to Obama’s arrival in New York led to our plane having to sit near the foot of the Nantucket runway for half an hour before being allowed to depart.

Once we arrived in New York, we saw no signs of the day, though we did have a spirited discussion with my brother’s family at dinner that evening about post 9/11 security issues. Oh, and then there was a weird encounter the next day while we were on the security line at JFK’s JetBlue terminal before flying back to Seattle. The man ahead of us in line had a FDNY t-shirt on. After a few moments, he turned to us to explain that he was a retired NY firefighter who had come back to NY for the anniversary. He went on to describe how he had been trapped for six hours under rubble, how a German Shepherd sniffed him or he would have been one more 9/11 casualty, and how he was allowed to keep the dog as his pet. I asked how the dog was doing and he said he had to bury the dog a couple of years ago. Next, he asked where we were headed, and on hearing Seattle, he said we must be (University of Washington) Husky fans. This led to his telling us how Rick Neuheisel was his daughter’s godfather.

Neuheisel is the former UCLA star quarterback who coached two college football teams into scandal — Colorado and Washington — before surfacing yet again to coach UCLA. Despite leading us to an 11-1 record a decade ago and an end-of-season ranking of #3, he left in disgrace after recruiting a team’s worth of criminals and getting enmeshed in a betting scandal. Not only did our friendly firefighter know Neuheisel well, he was part of the infamous betting pool, and Rick had texted him from the sidelines during the UCLA game two nights before to comment on how it was going. Somewhere along the way, Gail and I began to have doubts about our storyteller’s veracity. Who knows?

It was only after we got home that night that I began to read some post-anniversary commentary, notably Paul Krugman’s blog post the day we flew back describing

the two years or so after 9/11″ as “a terrible time in America – a time of political exploitation and intimidation, culminating in the deliberate misleading of the nation into the invasion of Iraq. … It was a time when tough talk was confused with real heroism, when people who made speeches, then feathered their own political or financial nests, were exalted along with – and sometimes above – those who put their lives on the line, both on the evil day and after. So it was a shameful episode in our nation’s history.

I didn’t see much to disagree with there, though of course the right wing blowhards wasted no time excoriating Krugman for using the word ‘shameful’.

Scott Horton had a less strident and more in-depth post at Harper’s on Thursday reviewing how 9/11 changed four key government institutions: the military, the CIA, the NSA, and the Justice Department. Here, for instance, is a good part of what Horton says about the military:

America was founded with the ideal of a citizen army on the model of the Roman Cincinnatus, an army that came together in times of peril to fight an enemy and returned to civilian life in times of peace. Most of the Founding Fathers initially didn’t even want a standing army. But that model wasn’t workable. After the Second World War, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, we settled on a different model: of a large, professional military that relied increasingly on technology to establish its superiority. The idea of a citizen-soldier motivated by an ideal of national service stood nevertheless at the center of this model.

Donald Rumsfeld was aggressively critical of this concept. He had a strikingly different vision of how the military should be configured and how it should project force. He used 9/11 to reshape our military dramatically, without making formal proposals or seeking congressional approval. 9/11 provided a backdoor. Rumsfeld and many of his key lieutenants were convinced that career soldiers were in the military because they couldn’t find better work in the civilian economy. Rumsfeld also believed that there was hardly a task that the military performed that couldn’t be handled better—more efficiently and at a lower cost—by a civilian contractor. This is a shameful attitude for a person put in charge of the nation’s armed forces because it disrespects the ideal of national service that lies at the heart of the nation’s military service ethos. But using his contracting discretion, Rumsfeld set out to realize his vision. We see the fruits of this in Iraq from 2003 to 2009, and in Afghanistan today, where the number of contractors now substantially exceeds the number of uniformed military personnel. This experiment has been calamitous. The contractor army is vastly more expensive (contrary to Rumsfeld’s claims), less professional, impervious to congressional oversight and, most significantly, essentially unaccountable when things go wrong and people die.

Also on Thursday, emptywheel spun a front-page NYT story on poor internet service in Idaho into a deeper tale of a decade’s worth of investment in infrastructure abroad rather than at home. The starting point was this quote from the NYT article:

“We have a guy here who was dropped into remote, isolated areas of Iraq to set up their telecommunications systems,” said Christine L. Frei, director of the Clearwater Economic Development Association in Lewiston. “He told me, ‘We had better communications in Iraq than you have in central Idaho.’ ”

Reuters reported Monday that “U.S. House Republican Leader Eric Cantor said on Monday he will not support President Barack Obama’s proposal to renovate U.S. schools as part of the administration’s bill to spur job growth.” Pivoting off this, emptywheel concludes:

These things–schools and highways and post offices–are what make us a country, a country that includes cities and suburbs and rural areas. But Republicans think we can’t or don’t need to afford to be a country anymore.

Republicans are literally choosing to fund our empire over our own country. I guess that makes it clear where their priorities lie.

Meanwhile, the book whose author I couldn’t stomach mentioning by name two weeks ago entered the NYT bestseller list today at #1. (On the nonfiction list no less!) No one has brought more shame on our country in the last decade. And yet, our president would rather look forward, allowing him and his fellow lying war criminals to spout off without consequence, free of even the most minimal investigation, thereby ensuring that the shame will continue.

Categories: Politics

Nantucket Addenda

September 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I know, it’s time to move on. The trip is receding. I’ve written enough. But I forgot two items. I will include them here in one final Nantucket post.

1. In my last Nantucket post, Sconset and More, I mentioned our bike ride last Saturday from Wauwinet to Sconset and back, with reference to one of Nantucket’s three lighthouses, Sankaty Head. I spoke in particular of how beautiful “the lighthouse is when one draws even with it on the far side of Sankaty Head Golf Club.” But I forgot to insert the photo I took of it on my phone. See above.

2. In my third Nantucket post, Hangin’ with Teresa and John (Kerry), I gave a brief description of our dinner at Topper’s, the in-house restaurant of the Wauwinet Inn. Getting to dessert, I wrote that “I had a sublime cherry sorbet for dessert, along with blueberry sorbet and strawberry ice cream.” At Gail’s insistence, I had taken a photo of the dessert. Look below and you’ll see the three scoops, along with raspberries, blueberries, a blackberry, and a wafer. It is served in a glass bowl that had been chilled in a freezer beforehand. The photo doesn’t quite capture the elegant presentation. For one, the colors don’t come through well. Nor does the illusion that the bowl was made of ice. A beautiful dessert.

Categories: Restaurants, Travel

The Dark Vineyard

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Two nights ago, I wrote about the first in Martin Walker’s series of mysteries, Bruno, Chief of Police, which I finished earlier this week. I concluded by noting that “I’ve since had to resist jumping right into The Dark Vineyard, the next volume in the series.”

My resistance didn’t last long. I downloaded it a few minutes later and started reading before I went to bed. I’m a fifth of the way through and eager to get back to it. Bruno is good company, and unlike Bruno, Chief of Police, which spends many pages setting the stage in Bruno’s small town in the Dordogne before a crime takes place, The Dark Vineyard plunges straight into the action. Not that it’s fast-paced. It’s not that sort of book or series. But a crime has taken place, eco-terrorism and genetically modified foods may be relevant, and Bruno once again is making the rounds with his keen eyes, attention to detail, and insight into his neighbors and their lives.

And with his love of wine. I find myself wanting to accompany Bruno on his investigation so I can taste the regional wines he keeps sampling. It’s not difficult to imagine a digital version of the book with links that would allow me, when I read about a wine, to click and order a bottle of it. But who wants to wait for delivery — assuming the wine of the given vintage is available? What I want, and its day will surely come, is a wired and plumbed home in which I can click on the wine in the text, then walk into the kitchen and grab the glass of it from the beverage dispensary. Or perhaps it would be poured in the den or bedroom. (I grew up in a simple time. Why, in my childhood and a good ways into my adulthood, I had to get up and walk right up to the TV to change the channel. I think I could handle walking to the kitchen to get my freshly poured wine.)

Meanwhile, I’ll be studying a full-sized version of the wine map below. (Map hat tip: Andrew Sullivan. See also this interview with the map’s creator, David Gissen.)

Categories: Books, Wine

Bruno, Chief of Police

September 15, 2011 Leave a comment

I explained two weekends ago how I was led to download Lee Child’s third Jack Reacher novel, Tripwire, on the eve of our New York-Nantucket trip, so I would be prepared with a thriller on the Kindle when we arrived in Nantucket. As I further explained, I couldn’t wait that long. I began reading it the moment we took our seats on the Seattle-JFK flight, finishing it a week ago this morning. The other book I planned to read on the trip was 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. I was already some ways into it, and with Tripwire finished, I picked up reading where I had left off.

However, by the end of the day, I decided I wanted to read another thriller or mystery instead. Just the previous Sunday, in her weekly NYT roundup of mystery novels, Marilyn Stasio had mentioned several of possible interest. She led off with George Pelecanos’s newest. There was a time when I would leap at his new books, but no longer. He wore me down with his emphasis on father-son tales in DC, less mystery and more morality tale about the importance of families. I was intrigued, though, by Stasio’s description of Martin Walker’s Black Diamond:

The residents of the quiet town where Martin Walker sets his enchanting village mysteries relish all the good things about life in the Périgord region of France: the food, the wine, the friendships and the black truffles that grow among the white oaks in its dense forests. But all it takes is a murder to stir up the animosities of people who, while still fighting old wars, are quick to take up new ones. … There are truffles to gather and market days to attend, as well as a sumptuous funeral banquet for a murdered truffle master that surpasses any meal cooked up thus far in a series that always makes your mouth water.

I looked through some of the reader comments about the book at Amazon, noting one reader’s observation that although the book was the third in the series and he hadn’t read the first two, he felt under no disadvantage. Okay, I thought, I don’t need to start with book one. But I wasn’t sure this series was for me.

The next night, after more of 1493, I was ready. And even if I didn’t need to start with book one, why not do so? I downloaded Bruno, Chief of Police: A Novel of the French Countryside from Amazon and began.

Pretty slow going for a while. Way too much setting up of the characters. Finally, the murder victim is discovered, an eighth of the way in. Not that that speeds things up much. But soon I realize the book is heading in directions I hadn’t imagined, as it delves into issues revolving around Arab immigrants and their integration into French society as well as divisions among families going back to Vichy France, with the resistance and Nazi collaborators. There’s lots of food along the way, and a pretty good mystery, but much more than that, there’s the serious treatment of French society and culture. As for the food, even the treatment of that connects to broader issues, namely the conflicts between European Union regulations and French food-making traditions.

I had planned to finish the book on the plane flight back here Monday night, but I couldn’t do it all. Thanks to JetBlue, TV was available on board, and that meant there was the end of the Djokovic-Nadal US Open final to watch, followed by the final episode of TNT’s series The Closer. By the time I got to the book, it was getting late, and soon I fell asleep. At home, nearing 2:00 AM New York time, I read to the point where the final pieces of the mystery were falling into place, leaving the wrap-up for morning.

I’ve since had to resist jumping right into The Dark Vineyard, the next volume in the series. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to wait, but now that I’m home, there’s too much else I should be doing. Meanwhile, if you haven’t made Bruno’s acquaintance, I recommend him. As you might expect, he’s not just a simple rural cop. Outsiders may under-estimate him, but he’s sharp guy, with an interesting past, and well worth getting to know.

Categories: Books

Nantucket 4: Sconset and More

September 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Sconset Post Office

We left Nantucket last Sunday afternoon. It’s over four days later and I still haven’t wrapped up my Nantucket series. I’ll take care of that here.

When I wrote Nantucket 3 last Friday night, we had just come back from dinner at Ventuno, the Italian restaurant that had replaced one of our favorites, 21 Federal. The food was great and we had the delightful surprise of being joined, shortly after we got there, by local residents John Kerry and Teresa Heinz. Our plan for Saturday was to reprise our Wauwinet-Sconset bicycle ride of two years ago.

It’s about 6.7 miles from Wauwinet, in the northeast part of the island, to Sconset, in the southeast corner. Not far, and the island is flat for the most part. But what we learned two years ago was that it’s not that flat. Indeed, although the variation in elevation is minor, it’s non-stop. Up and down and up and down, shifting constantly to find the right gear. We hadn’t been on bikes since that last ride, and the bikes the Wauwinet provides aren’t the best fit. My seat was too low last time, and no matter what effort I made to adjust it, it kept returning to its lowest position, with the result that my thigh were killing me.

This time Gail was the one with too low a seat. I didn’t fare so badly. Or maybe I’m just in better shape than I was last time. We headed out a little before 11:00 in the morning, intending to get to Sconset for lunch and then return. I found the ride down a pleasure. No doubt it helped that I knew the landmarks along the way and therefore had a better sense of where I was. One of those landmarks is the Sankaty Head Lighthouse. Two years ago, I mistakenly thought it was in Sconset itself. When I reached it and the town was nowhere insight, I despaired. Now I knew better. And what a beautiful sight the lighthouse is when one draws even with it on the far side of Sankaty Head Golf Club‘s famed course, home to the country’s last summer caddy camp.

We arrived in Sconset, parked our bikes by the Sconset Market, and headed around the corner to the Sconset Cafe, entering just moments before the noon rush.

Sconset is the second largest settlement on the island, a good deal smaller than the main town, but larger than anything else. It has the market, its own post office, and several restaurants, the most notable of which is Chanticleer, where we have yet to eat. Next year for sure. (Sconset also happens to be where my parents stayed during a short vacation a few months after I was born. My mother believes it is where she was infected with polio, by which she was beset soon thereafter. Jonas Salk had begun testing his vaccine that very year, but it would not be available for general use for another three years.)

The Sconset cafe was perfect for lunch. Gail had a salad while I ate a chicken sandwich. Then we took a walk, down to the beach, then back up to a road that runs south parallel to the beach and south a few blocks along the road, looking out over the beach and ocean. As we began to head south, there was an odd assemblage of people, one guy talking in a booming voice while another seven or eight gathered around. It almost looked like a tour group. As we drew near, I realized it was indeed a tour group, led by the booming voice guy, who was talking about the northernmost house on the street. I eavesdropped for a few seconds, learning that some movie actor a few decades earlier who was just making it big had spent a few weeks in that house each summer. The guide drew out the story for dramatic effect, listing those movies that first made him a superstar, by which point we all knew the mystery actor was Robert Redford. Did Redford really stay in that house? I’m not convinced that he did. Nor can I imagine why one would want to head all the way out to Sconset just to see Redford’s house. Whatever.

We continued our walk, reaching another restaurant, The Summer House, which has a building on the road and space down below along the beach that was being prepared for a wedding. Yet another place we’ll need to try. Then we returned to the center of Sconset, wandered around the market, which in its small space manages to stock just about every food and paper supply one might need as well as a full line of Sconset souvenir sweatshirts, t-shirts, bags, and hats. Another two blocks and we were able to check out the Chanticleer menu as well as wandering into the house that has the galleries of artists William Welch and Frederick Charlton.

No visit to Sconset is complete without peaking in at the tennis courts of the Sconset Casino. Usually at least one or two are in use, but not last Friday. It was a quiet day. We returned to our bikes, mounted, and made the ride back to Wauwinet.

In late afternoon, we headed out onto the Wauwinet’s lawn (I’m using “Wauwinet”, I should explain, as the name of both our inn and the region of the island) to sit on the chaises. After five consecutive evenings of dinner at restaurants in town, this was to be a more relaxed evening. We would read, then head to Topper’s bar in the inn for a light dinner.

That’s before we realized that the inn was about to be taken over by a wedding. Between the lawn and the harbor is a wooden deck built over the sand on which about 40 folding chairs were set up. Two afternoons earlier, I had seen what I now understood was the rehearsal for the wedding that was about to happen. The inn’s small lobby and back porch were overrun by people in suits and dresses. A guitarist was setting up on the deck. The minister, it emerged, was about 40 minutes late, the result being a steady stream of fancily dressed people milling about between the inn, the lawn, and the deck. After a while, everyone was seated or standing on the deck except the wedding party. Then, around 5:30, the party headed through the lawn to the deck. We watched it all. In fact, I filmed some of it with my iPhone. I haven’t bothered transferring it to the computer yet to watch. I’ll spare you here.

The wedding was entertaining, but the one downside was that they were going to stick around. We headed up to our room as the wedding ended and discovered that next up for the wedding guests was cocktails on the patio below our window, with saxophonist and guitarist. I suggested to Gail that we discuss in-town options with the concierge at the front desk, who was able to confirm that the party would move into Topper’s at 7:00. Private room and all, away from the bar, but I wanted out. The concierge got us a table at the bar at Boarding House and we took the shuttle into town.

Boarding House

The bar at Boarding House is never quiet, especially on a Saturday night. We squeezed into a two-top right by one end of the bar, with a TV near us on which we watched the Nadal-Murray semi-final at the US Open tennis championships.

The bar, with our table in center back of photo

I suppose Topper’s might even have been quieter, but we had had plenty of meals there already, and hadn’t been to Boarding House in a couple of years, so we were happy to be there again. We both had their soup of the night, tomato and eggplant with some fried cheese thing floating around in it — better than I’m making it sound. And we both had one of their specialties, their Chicken Under a Brick, served that night with chick peas, red pepper, and some grain I can’t remember, farro perhaps. We then shared their incredible chocolate chocolate chip cookie dessert with small glasses of malted milk shakes on the side. Our last walk around town followed, and then the shuttle back to the inn.

Chicken Under a Brick

That’s pretty much it. Sunday we had breakfast at Topper’s, packed, checked out, made a request for our favorite room for next year, then spent another couple of hours on the lawn, reading and having lunch, before taking the taxi to the airport. Our JetBlue flight to JFK was delayed a little. Once it got in from JFK, they got us on pretty quickly, only to have us taxi out and learn that we wouldn’t be allowed a landing slot at JFK for another half hour. It was 9/11, and the pilot explained that there were air traffic delays in New York, in part due to the president’s earlier arrival. The demand for landing slots was over-subscribed and we would have to wait our turn, which we did.

Once in the air heading west, we encountered clouds. Our day and a half of perfect weather was at an end. New York was completely clouded over, as we soon discovered. We landed, collected our bags, took the AirTrain to Hertz, got in our rental car, and began the last 24 hours of our trip, some family time in New York.

Categories: Restaurants, Travel