Saturday, November 19, 2011


        I am in Manhattan – a sort of Total Recall movie scene subterranean Manhattan – and I’ve just left a business meeting somewhere on lower Broadway.  The office where we met reminded me of my first childhood  basement.  It had the same shiny "knotty pine" paneling.  It's possible that the people at the meeting were relatives I no longer speak to.  I couldn't see their faces and I don't remember their voices, but their name is Legion.

    I recall a business dinner (important) scheduled for that evening but I haven’t confirmed it.  Is it at 7 pm or 8 pm?

    The light outside is alternately bright sunlight and darkly overcast.  I need to find Chez Panisse. 

    I've never been there.  I hunt through a series of passageways that remind me of the Century City shopping center in Los Angeles. 

    I find the restaurant.  They’re nice and seem gracious.  Jane and I are soon seated. Why is Jane there?  

    We get up for a moment and find that our places have been cleared.  We have nowhere to sit.  We are confused and other diners are staring down hard at us.


  1. Curtis,

    You must have a "sixth sense".

    That's EXACTLY what the place is like.

    At the bottom of the nightmare tunnel chute lies total penury, but hey -- worth it. And upon exiting you can take a pictures of yourself & co. on the steps, under the famous gate, beneath the famous Araucaria (which no patron can ever identify, of course), from which depend abundant coconut-like fruits, which must be trimmed-away annually, lest they bop some unsuspecting moneybags patron on the gourd.

    ("Liability issue", there, as you would imagine.)

    Nothing much funny ever happens there (on the OUTSIDE I mean, of course), unless you count watching the overfed and overliquored fatcats being taken out to the ambulance... where they sit and laugh, and of course are always Okay.

    Once I observed a couple exiting. She was goggle eyed, still ogling the souvenir menu as though it were a bit of the True Cross.

    And he, in muffled disgruntlement, let slip a one-word review that gave the whole show away forever:


    (Couldn't blame him, a big chunk of that week's stock profits had just spiralled down the funnel, all for the dubious privilege of having dined among the four stars...).

  2. Thank you both. A lot. It's funny about 6th senses. We own a great many cookbooks -- our own and those that were in our parents' libraries. One book I like a lot, actually, is the faux-childrens' one Alice Waters published a long time ago, which contained simple, "summer at the Jersey shore"-themed recipes. It was a refreshing change from some of the "over-egged" fare on display everywhere else. The ambulance observation is funny. Years ago I had a friend who was out on a sort of "date" with someone who adored him and was in a position to help his career. My friend is occasionally pure enough of heart that he rebelled at this situation and became what appeared to be ambulance-fare at the old Russian Tea Room in New York. He greatly embarrassed the woman I'm speaking about (also a friend, I'm afraid) by accepting the restaurant's offer of a serving of tableside oxygen. It was a disaster that somehow wound up being assigned to the "our fault" column by both parties, which took years to be semi-forgotten. I believe I've actually run out of dreams to write about. All the ones I've recounted occurred over the course of a couple of nights and I'm not sure what chemical mix in my mind and body produced them. But like those old Stan Mack cartoons that appeared for years in the Village Voice, every word is guaranteed to be true and verbatim. Curtis