Monday, July 9, 2012

Steady heat

Rooftop lounging. 7:45 PM. Photo: Jeff Hirsch.
Monday, July 9, 2012. More heat in New York. Those of us who have lived most of our lives in the Northeastern United States are used to very hot summer days.

Many are now used to being relieved by air conditioning also. This heat, however, has been steady both night and day for more than a week.  Meanwhile all these buildings of brick, concrete and glass are holding it hostage, reminding us as to Who really rules in these lives of ours, big and small.

On Saturday I went over to the West Side to have an editorial meeting with JH and one of our contributors. Then to Zabar's for a quickie. Riding home in the air-conditioned taxi, I saw a young man – shirtless – jogging in quick long strides with his Jack Russell following on a leash. The JR was keeping up, panting all the way. The runner’s torso was shiny from great perspiration. Not so the dog, of course. Obviously the owner didn’t know that his beautiful little JR’s torso can’t sweat the way we do. In nature, if it weren’t for this enthusiastic (and stupid) master of this dog, the dog would seek the quietest, coolest place to rest. To preserve its life.
This weather is even more brutal for dogs and cats because they are not only victims of the heat but victims of the stupidity of their owners. Sorry, but there’s no other word for it. Oh, actually, there is a more applicable word: morons.  I see them on bicycles and roller blades in the Park zipping along in the heat, expecting their four-legged devoted, loyal friends to keep up. “Oh, he doesn’t mind,” they’ll say when asked about it. Yeah, like the master whose ignorance shields him from all reality. Wouldn’t it be great if they were made to wear fur coats and leashes and keep up the running with some cyclist or roller-blader?

The result: heat stroke. And often death. It’s bad enough in an apartment that isn’t cool. And worse when they have no water handy.  To give the unknowing owners, the benefit of the doubt, pass on this link to those you know who need to know to keep their pet’s love alive.
The entertainment factor of chic. On Saturday night, I was a guest of friends at La Grenouille, the great French restaurant on East 52nd Street between Fifth and Madison which has been in the same family (the Massons) since it opened in the early 1960s. I was surprised, when my friends extended the invitation, to learn that Grenouille was open on a Saturday night in July, for it is famous for its sophisticated and often worldly clientele who are very often away from the city on weekends and especially in this part of the summer. I was even more surprised to see that not only was it open but that it was busy. 

Many guests were, no doubt, also visitors to the city on their way to or from distant capitals and watering holes. La Grenouille is one of the last, perhaps the very last of the great international restaurants in New York, where there remains a dress code which, if not enforced, is understood by anyone with their eyes open. As a result, all aspects of the dining experience – the menu, the service, the décor – with the corresponding flowers to enhance it all – appeal to the simple aesthetic of beauty. Perfectly cool (not freezing), a perfect antidote to the city’s sweltering days.
Sunday night down by the river.

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