Monday, April 30, 2007

A satiating spring weekend

Union Square Farmer's Market. 1:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Cool-ish spring weekend in New York with some spritzing now and then and occasional rays of sunshine.

City life. On Saturday afternoon I made my regular weekly trip to Zabars, this time followed by JH and the Digital Vid. I love the neighborhood around Zabars (80th Street and Broadway); quintessential Noo-Yawk, one of hundreds of hubs of local activity – people walking their dogs, their kids, shopping, browsing at the curbside bookstands (discount prices for new titles) and just lotsa stuff happening.

Part of the attraction of Zabars for me is historical. Growing up in a small town in Massachusetts, as a kid I would sometimes accompany my mother to Romani’s Butter and Egg store where the place smelled like cheese and coffee and all things good to eat. Zabars has that quality (and aroma) although it is much larger, has a far wider array of things to buy and is rhapsody of weekend leisure activity with people just trying to make their way through the throng clamoring amidst the sample counters handing out samples of cheese, meats (Parma ham, for example), sausages, and cookies.

Duchy Originals
Saturday over near the coffee department they were passing out samples of “Duchy Originals Organic Ginger Biscuits.” Described thusly on the package: “Slow baked with organic spicy crystallized stem ginger.”  And then underneath that on the package is printed: “profits donated to the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Foundation.”  The Duchy being Cornwall (as in the Duchess of Cornwall).

Prince Charles, as you may know, has gone the route of Paul Newman whose Newman’s Own brand produces a host of edibles that bring in millions which Mr. Newman donates to all kinds of charities. So, liking ginger cookies anyway, I sprung for them. $8.49 for the box of sixteen cookies wrapped two by two in cellophane. JH grabbed a box too. I was thinking, that’s a lotta money for a few cookies, but then I thought: well, in a bakery they’d probably be a dollar a piece. East Side or Downtown in Manhattan anyway.

Meanwhile, goods chosen, paid for and bagged, we were out on Broadway again where there was a little boy sitting in his stroller screaming his head off. Bloody murder and for no apparent reason; his parents stood by quietly watching him scream. This kind of a scene is commonplace these days around my neighborhood too: kids screaming hysterically, so hysterically that at first you are alarmed into thinking that there a situation of abuse going on.

However, on Saturday there were just two quiet parents try to negotiate a little quiet from their obstreperous one.

Then some guy came along and told the parents the kid was too big to be put in a stroller. “He should be walking around. That’s why he’s screaming – you’re restraining him by keeping him in a stroller. He’s trying to tell you to let him out.”  Maybe; I’m not so sure.

The guy was intense in voicing his unsolicited solution to the problem, and while he was talking,  the kid stopped screaming long enough to listen. When he was finished the kid continued screaming. “He’s too big to be restrained in a stroller!” the guy re-iterated.  I could see his point although I couldn’t help thinking: what business was it of his? It wasn’t his kid. (Athough it was his ears.)
Kids today are increasingly screaming intensely in a variety of situations that defy explanation. And parents are increasingly passive (or restrained about it). Sunday afternoon I had my terrace door open and heard a kid screaming. I went out to look. Right below me (four storys) was a little one bellowing and jumping up and down in protest, pointing toward the park that he and his mother (or nanny) had obviously just left. Then he threw himself on the sidewalk and kicked and kicked. And yelled and  screamed. The adult stood about two feet from him quietly trying to negotiate a peace. But the kid was having none of it. (I always think of my mother and father who would have had none of it. From me, that is.)

Screaming, shrieking, the kid wanted what he wanted when he wanted it! Well, why not, isn't that the way it works in life? Finally the mother/nanny picked him up and carried him home (screaming).

One gets the impression that the parents don’t mind the EXCESSIVE and WILLFUL noise that is very disturbing and disturbing the peace. All that comes to mind for me is: what’s this kid gonna be like when he grows up and has to follow the rules like the rest of us? Or FOR the rest for us. Will he grow out of it? Or into it?
Coincidentally, the Sunday edition of the London Independent (which I read online) had two articles on related subjects, or more specifically “the breakdown of manners or civility.” Evidently in Britain they’re starting to teach it: manners/civility/courtesy. (Remember when it was taught in the home?) (duh.) Coincidentally I was reading the piece when I heard the kid on the sidewalk below bellowing.

I’ve discussed the matter several times with young parents I know. They don’t say so but I know they think I’m a curmudgeon. Why not let little Johnny scream his bloody head off. Who cares?  You can’t tell me it’s fun to live with. And you can’t tell me it’s gonna be fun to live with when little Johnny grows up (and hopefully can read).

The article in the Independent  cited many instances of adults (and children) behaving abusively toward anyone who calls them on their s**t. You know it’s not gonna just get better and stop, just as you know those glaciers up in Greenland are just not gonna just stopping melting and slipping into the (rising) sea because we want them to. God help us. Please.

Last night the Irvington Institute for Immuological Research held its annual “Through the Kitchen” buffet dinner at the Four Seasons restaurant. This year was the 25th anniversary of the dinner which was hosted by  NBC’sPerri Peltz and her husband Goldman Sachs banker Eric Ruttenberg and Liz and Jeff Peek. Ms. Peltz’ ma, Lauren (Mrs. John) Veronis has been the moving force in this benefit since its inception. Between mother and daughter (and hosts like the Peeks), they bring out a big group of prominent New Yorkers who after the cocktail hour in the Grille Room, don their chef’s aprons and go into the kitchen with their plates and help themselves to this most stupendous buffet featuring just about everything you can think of – from cold cuts, pastas, dumplings, seafood tables, sushi, lamp, turkey, chicken, all kinds of veggies, tacos, guacamole and desserts that could send you into a hypoglycemic meltdown. But fun. Doesn’t matter who you are: buffets like that are irresistible.

The Mayor was present, which Perri Peltz pointed out when she interrupted the dining to thank everyone. The tables this year (decorated again by the very clever DuJuan Stroud) were all about city government.  The Mayor was at the City Hall Table which, as Perri Peltz pointed out, amongst its decoration featured “a cash surplus” (play money of course)(last night, that is). And when the hostess thanked him for making an appearance, he responded that he’d go “wherever your mother invites me!”
Through the Kitchen for the Irvington Institute's dinner last night at the Four Seasons restaurant.
In the crowd: Besides the mayor and his companion Diana Taylor, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Veronica Kelly, Joel Klein and Nicole Seligman, HRH Princess Firyal, Sid and Mercedes Bass, Mariana and George Kaufman, Judy and Al Taubman, Nancy and Henry Silverman, Nancy and Joe Missett, Nazee and Joe Moinian, Somers and Jonathan Farkas, Jenny Conant and Steve Kroft, Margot and Norman Freedman, Laurie and Peter Grauer, Bob Hormats, Jane Rosenthal and Craig, Roberto and Joanne de Guardiola, Duane Hampton, Fleur and Leonard Harlan, Lisa Burns, Marlene Hess and Jim Zirin, Pamela Gross and Jimmy Finkelstein, Alex and Louis Rose, Jessie and Rand Araskog, Christy Ferrer, Jo Carole Lauder, Deborah Norville and Karl Wellner, Dalia and Larry Leeds, Daryl and Steve Roth, Debra and Harlan Peltz, Shirley Lord Rosenthal, Sarah Simms Rosenthal, Nina Rosenwald, Peggy Siegal, Herb Siegel and Jeanne Leff, Charlie Gargano and scores more than you could shake a stick at.

Meanwhile, brass tacks: the Irvington Institute for Immunological Research is a world leader in the funding of basic research in immunology – the study of the body’s defense system against disease. The research it supports can lead to therapies and cures for AIDS, cancer, diabetes, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis among other serious conditions and diseases. Through its Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, investigators receive three years of funding to carry on their research under the mentoring of senior scientists at leading universities and medical centers in the U.S. Their focus is mainly on a group of 80 chronic debilitating syndromes – autoimmune diseases – that afflict more than 14 million Americans – more than 80% of them women in their prime.
Perri Peltz, Lauren Veronis, Betsy Gotbaum, and Liz Peek
Deborah Norville and Princess Firyal of Jordan
Christy Ferrer, Joe Moinian, Michael Bloomberg, Nazee Moinian
Bill Haseltine, Duane Hampton, and Cece Cord
Veronica Kelly, Sarah Rosenthal, Ray Kelly, and Shirley Lord
Karl Wellner, Jeanne Leff, and Herb Siegel
Last Thursday night, the swells turned out for the Preview Gala at the Spring International Art and Antiques Show (A Wendy Show) at the 67th Street Armory. The evening benefited the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House and there was a dinner after the opening, with tables set up in the aisles and decorated like nobody’s business. Great dinner by Glorious Foods, great music by Tom Finn (who also provided the music last night at the Four Seasons), and they raised a million dollars for the Neighborhood House (where the kids being looked after while their moms and dads are working don’t scream when they don’t get what they want)(why is that?).
Leslie Stevens and Dan Ragone
Chappy and Melissa Morris
Renee Landegger and Susan Rose
Barbara Liberman and Betty Lawrence
Andrea Stark, Alison Minton, and Michel Witmer
Guy Harley and Lara Trafelet
Daniel Urzedo, Dan Ragone, Ellen Niven, and Mark Gilbertson
Nancy Baker and Krik Henckels
Leslie Stevens, Nina Richter, and Frances Schultz
Keith Langham, Barbara Burton, and Alison Brokaw
Nancy Sambuco and Amy Hoadley
Tom Finn, Amy Hoadley, and Mark Gilbertson

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