Archive for July, 2013

There’s No Quick Fix, Mr. Weiner

Thursday, July 25th, 2013
Anthony Weiner ... still sexting

Anthony Weiner … still sexting

By Bob Gaydos

Anthony Weiner, please go away.

Take your smart phone or your laptop and sex text to your heart’s desire, if that’s what you want. We don’t need to hear or see any more of you than we have already experienced and New York City definitely does not need you as its next mayor. While you’re at it, maybe get a little help for that sexting thing.

On the off chance, dear reader, that you haven’t heard about Weiner’s latest escapade — maybe you don’t live in the New York City area or watch late night TV talk shows that thrive on ridiculing the ridiculous — the guy who quit Congress because he was caught sending pictures of his penis to a woman who was not his wife has done it again. This, after saying he was sorry. Wouldn’t do it again. Would not put his family through the humiliation and embarrassment again. Would get it under control.

That “control” thing doesn’t seem to be working. In fact, the whole sexual texting with other women went on right after he resigned from Congress and said he was going to “take care of it.” He was lying through his apology.

There is so much wrong with this scenario, it’s hard to know where start, but saying he should drop out of the race for mayor of New York is a good one. That he entered the Democratic primary for mayor just two years after quitting Congress (he said he had dealt with the problem) suggests an arrogance and denial, which is reinforced by the fact that he kept up the behavior even as he was “apologizing” for it. And that behavior bespeaks a kind of recklessness that most people would not find appealing in a mayor.

As long as I’m attaching adjectives to Weiner’s behavior, let me add more: juvenile, irresponsible, untrustworthy, deceptive, self-indulgent, uncaring, exhibitionist, delusional, selfish, egotistical, evasive, compulsive and misogynistic.

And yet, even as he was saying I’m really, really sorry this time, honest, believe me, there were some supposedly enlightened, “progressive,” liberal-leaning web sites (Salon, AlterNet, The Progress Party) who were defending Weiner, saying it was “just sex,” a private matter between the serial sexter and his wife, no reason he shouldn’t stay in the mayoral race. Besides, he supports gay marriage, one site pointed out.

Nonsense. First of all, any Democrat in New York City who runs for office supports gay marriage. It’s irrelevant in this case. Secondly, when sexual infidelity is involved, it’s never “just sex.” It’s also lying and cheating and sneaking and a profound breach of a fundamental trust between two people. Personally, I don’t like those character traits in people in public office.

Weiner’s defenders would have you believe he was just a “bad husband,” but not necessarily a bad candidate. Really? In a year in which progressive web sites are trumpeting women’s issues and the need for women to claim sovereignty over their bodies and their lives, they are also being told that all the things that would make them reject a man as a potential life partner shouldn’t matter if he is running for public office?

Weiner’s callous, prideful, even boasting approach to women who are not his wife should not count against him, it is suggested, because he is, after all, a smart, liberal Democrat. His utter disregard for women as anything but sex objects and his continued betrayal of his wife should not matter, one assumes, because we agree with him on some political issues. As if his attitudes — and the lying, don’t forget the lying — would not carry over to his conduct in office. And as if these same defenders wouldn’t be setting his hair on fire if he were a conservative Republican.

A schmuck is a schmuck, people. The fact that Weiner continued the behavior even as he was apologizing for it bespeaks either a total disregard for the rules of decent behavior, a lack of awareness of them or a feeling that they don’t apply to him. None inspires confidence.

Weiner’s wife came forward to defend him and say they are working things out (again). Whatever reasons she has for this (and I‘m hard-pressed to find a good one) does not change the equation.

As for Weiner, some might wonder, if he’s so smart, why does he keep doing dumb things? Others might say that intelligence has nothing to do with Weiner’s behavior, just as it has nothing to do with compulsive, repetitive, self-destructive behavior exhibited by many other people. Let’s review the adjectives I used to describe Weiner: juvenile, arrogant, reckless, irresponsible, untrustworthy, deceptive, self-indulgent, uncaring, exhibitionist, delusional, selfish, egotistical, evasive, compulsive and misogynistic.

There are rooms full of people around the country attending 12-step programs to help them deal with one type of harmful behavior or another which they cannot control. Maybe Weiner should take a break from the Internet, forget about running for mayor and take a step in another direction. Work things out in private with his wife and himself. And don’t bother saying “I’m sorry,” until he can prove it by his actions.

And for those web site managers who think Weiner’s serial sexting is none of our business, when he keeps his privates private, he can think about running for public office.



Weiner Again

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

By Jeffrey Page

So let me get this straight.

Anthony Weiner is a man whose name is now a fast, needless-to-explain punch line. He is an exhibitionist, a liar, a member of Congress forced to resign a Brooklyn seat that could have been his forever. He is a betrayer of his constituents. He is a man who at age 47 sent salacious photos of himself to women on the internet. He reportedly engaged in on-line sex in the last year with a 22-year old woman.

And none of that, he wants you to know, should disqualify him from being mayor of a town of 8 million people, many of whom don’t have time to have fun with on-line sex because they’re too busy trying to pay the rent and make sure they still have jobs next week.

And so, Anthony Weiner (aka: Carlos Danger), having apologized once, has now apologized twice, has hauled his wife out before the cameras to tell the word – and especially New York voters – that Anthony is just one sweet guy. What is it with her?

By the way: “Carlos Danger?” What is that all about?

When the Weiner pictures first showed up on line, his response was that the guy in the photo might have been him but he couldn’t be sure, truly one of the more bizarre responses since Bill Clinton’s educating the grand jury in the Lewinsky Affair: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

When it became clear to Weiner what “is” was, and that it sure was himself in those pictures, he vanished for a few months, emerged, got himself a sympathetic interview in the Times Magazine, entered the race for the Democratic nomination for mayor, swore off his heedless ways, showed some terrific poll numbers over the former frontrunner Christine Quinn. He has lost some numbers in the last few days, which indicates to me that maybe the voters are sick of playing the fool to Weiner.

Now, Weiner finds himself trying to talk his way out of a little problem of having sent more pictures of his revealed self to three women – for about a year after he quit Congress in disgrace and announced he would seek therapy.

Who knew that the correct spelling of “schmuck” begins with a-n-t-h.

I think a man’s fantasy life is something that ought to remain between the man and his pants, but it should now be clear that Weiner has been playing the voters as a bunch of gullible morons who will accept anything he says – as long as he looks troubled, looks contrite, and as long as his wife, the unfortunate Huma Abedin, stands by his side at yet another news conference to declare that no matter what Weiner did, she very strongly believes that his mistakes are “between us and our marriage.”

But that of course is not the case at all.

What Anthony did is not a private little trouble spot in a marriage, which would be none of anyone’s business. But because he seems to have trouble with the truth, especially when voters are concerned, an enormous problem exists between Anthony and the nearly 3 million registered Democrats of New York who are eligible to vote in the primary. Are they supposed to believe Weiner in this playing out of Strike Two? What about when this fiasco is over and a new one emerges?

If there is another incident, could Weiner really go before the press to say again that he’s learned his lesson and that if you don’t believe him, just ask Huma what a great guy he is.

Of course a man’s private life is private. But that’s not how it works in politics, a fact that Weiner would embrace when he’s ready to be honest with himself and with the voters.

“This is entirely behind me,” he said in this year’s Weiner confession. Voters might disagree, and this time, Weiner could be roasted.

Bugs vs. Us: Guess Who Wins

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

adult mosquito

adult mosquito

By Gretchen Gibbs

One of the things I liked to do best as a young girl was to lie in the tall grass. I liked staring up at the clouds. I liked the sweet taste of the grasses when you pulled the grain awn out of its socket and sucked on the white stem. I liked to eat the buttercups and sorrel as well. The smell of red clover today is enough to make me gasp in remembrance of things past. There was the hum of insects, the song of birds in the distance, and the sense of escape from the world.

I liked lying in the grass as an adolescent as well. My boyfriend and I “didn’t have no place to go,” as Joni Mitchell put it. We went on endless walks through the local fields and forests. We tried various locales, but tall grasses were the best for keeping us hidden. The worst thing that ever happened to us was a bad case of poison ivy, which we had to keep secret from our parents because of the body parts involved. 

Nowadays I would no more dream of lying in the tall grass, especially without my clothes, than of entering a lion’s den. Ticks are everywhere, and even when I take precautions on a walk, I may find several on me when I return. My cat brings them into the house, so even there I am not completely safe. In addition to Lyme disease, there are now three or four additional kinds of illness carried by the deer tick, as well as others carried by the larger dog tick.

Both The New Yorker and The New York Times have recently published articles on chronic Lyme disease, and the difficulties in treating it. I have several friends who have had Lyme four or five times, and one friend who has the chronic variety, which she is treating with Chinese herbs. I had a patient who was referred for depression, and who turned out to have chronic Lyme, with any depression secondary to the illness.

Then of course there are mosquitoes, and what they carry: malaria, dengue fever, encephalitis, yellow fever, and other viruses, with West Nile being the most recent scare. The ubiquitous flea, with which my cat is covered despite how much toxic chemical from the vet I spread on him, also transmits many viruses dangerous to humans. These include, of course, plague, an outbreak of which occurred not long ago in the southwest.  

This year we have the 17-year cicada hordes, not disease causing, but certainly a nuisance. How about the current curse of bedbugs, such that many people are afraid to travel because they will have to open their suitcases in that hotel room frequented by who knows whom. Even libraries are having to take precautions against bedbugs. Some schools are reporting an epidemic of lice. On the other hand, our insect friends the fireflies, Monarch butterflies, and bees are on the decline.

What I am saying is that our relationship to nature has changed, and I think it is largely because of insects. It may be that we simply know more about insects – in the Middle Ages, nobody knew what caused the Black Plague. But I think it is the bugs themselves. They have existed for millions of years, adapting to whatever environment presented itself, and they seem to have got the hang of twenty first century civilization. (I am not even mentioning the insects of the Third World.) Insects have conquered us. They win. I have to stop writing now so I can put on long socks, covered by long pants, with rubber bands around the ankles, and a long sleeved shirt. I have to mow the lawn. Got to keep those grasses down.  


‘I Am Trayvon’ After Run-in With Cop

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

By Michael Kaufman

Bennett Weiss wore an “I Am Trayvon” button when he joined fellow Newburgh residents and others at a rally in that city July 17 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Others in the crowd wore similar buttons, including young African American men around the same age as the unarmed 17-year-old shot and killed by Zimmerman in February 2012. For Weiss the button was a gesture of solidarity, one he says “had a little extra meaning” after an incident that occurred earlier that day.

He had driven his minivan to a remote parking lot of the heavily wooded Cronomer Hill Park, where he was about to walk his dog. “I had one shoe on,” he recalls, and he was bending down to put on the other one.  At that moment a “very angry” Town of Newburgh police officer ordered him to get out of the car. “Put your hands on the side of the car. NOW!” yelled the cop. “What are you doing here?”

Weiss says he responded as calmly as he could despite the “infuriating” circumstances: “Why are you acting like this? I did nothing wrong.”

“What are you doing here?” repeated the cop in a tone Weiss remembers as “even harsher.” Although his brain screamed, “NONE OF YOUR @$$%^! BUSINESS,” Weiss explained that he was about to take his dog for a morning walk.

“He asked for my name and address and if I am the registered owner of the vehicle.” Then, Weiss says, the cop thundered, “What are you hiding in the car?”

“Nothing, officer, and I don’t appreciate being treated like this. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

“Get over there, lean against my car and don’t move.”

“He searched my car,” says Weiss. “He found nothing in it…. except my hard-to-miss 100- lb Newfoundland.”

“Why were you reaching under your seat as I pulled up?”

Weiss pointed to his one bare foot. “Uh, to get my shoes on. Did you happen to find a blue, size 13 sneaker?”

According to Weiss the officer gradually calmed down and explained that he was acting on orders from “the Chief” to crack down on suspicious characters in the park. He said several incidents of “public homosexual lewdness” were reported to have taken place on the grounds.

“After a while the officer explained that he had felt endangered by my bending over out of his sight. He said that for all he knew I had just robbed a bank and would as soon shoot him as go to jail.  Aside from the fact that no reported bank heists had occurred that morning, even the dumbest bank robber wouldn’t make a minivan plastered with easily identifiable homemade bumper stickers his getaway car.” But Weiss says they parted amicably and he was able to clear his head “on a long hike with my best friend scampering about exploring the wonders of his far simpler world.” And then, Weiss says, it hit him:

“What if instead of my being a 64-year-old, grey bearded white guy with a big black dog, I had been an 18-year-old effeminate Black guy with a French poodle? Or a 27-year-old tattooed Latino with a pit bull? Or simply a person of color of any age? How much more threatened would this veteran officer of the law have felt?

“And what if instead of being a uniformed cop, he had been a ‘neighborhood watch’ wannabe? I surely would not have stood idly by and let him abuse me like that. I would not have been able to hold my tongue. Running at my age is not an option. I would have had no choice but to ‘stand my ground.’ And had I been shot dead, the ground stood would have been his.

“So, am I Trayvon? Do I have a right to wear that button? Yes. We all do. And the ground we must stand upon has not yet been reached, so we must keep marching till we reach the higher ground.”

Judging from some of the comments I’ve heard lately and recent letters to the editor I’ve read, we’ll be marching for a long while.

Michael can be reached at




Baseball in Somewhat Later Years

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

By Ken Goldfarb

Unlike a lot of “real” sports fans, I cannot recall many specifics about baseball, the game that I have learned to love more and more as time passed.

Games I have seen, along with major league records or player stats or even who won the World Series in any particular year, are a blur.

Then again, that’s not always the case if it involves the Mets, or the old Brooklyn Dodgers.

As a kid growing up in Brooklyn in the early 50s there was only one team to root for, the hometown Dodgers. How two very famous Brooklyn boys failed in that regard – Joe Torre rooted for the old New York Giants, and Rudy Giuliani went with the Yankees – is beyond me.

For me it was the Duke, Jackie, Pee Wee, Campy, Gil and the rest of the Boys of Summer.

Similar to Mike Kaufman’s experience, which he wrote about in last week’s Zest of Orange, my first view of the unbelievable green of Ebbets Field was awesome to this 5-year old. You have to remember that back then, color television had not yet reached the average viewer. So to watch Dodgers games on WOR-TV in shades of grey, and then to actually see them in person (with the vibrant colors of the field and the players’ sparkling white uniforms), took my breath away.

I have no recollection of who the visiting team was, or who won the game. But, I do remember Roy Campanella, the very talented but ill-fated catcher of the Dodgers, hit a line drive straight at us sitting in the leftfield stands. This wasn’t one of those parabolic home runs with an apogee somewhere high over the grass that then slowly came down into the seats. This was a rocket aimed right at us. The ever enlarging ball seemed at first to have me or my dad as its intended target. But it flew above us and was still going up when a man seated directly behind us stood and tried to catch it in his bare right hand. He failed, and the ball dropped down and wandered under the seats to someone a few rows in front of us. But the man who first put flesh to Campy’s home run shot was now suffering. From the ball’s impact, his hand had swollen to almost twice its normal size.

As for me, I had no baseball skills back in my youth. I was usually chosen last in any of the Brooklyn street games, and my two seasons of Little League ball were un-noteworthy.

Jump ahead a few decades and I got talked into playing in a casual coed softball game. I still didn’t have much success, but enjoyed playing.

Then, six years ago, when I was 62, I had the guts to join a senior men’s baseball team.

Yes, baseball – hard ball – the real game. Now, I have to say my skills are still quite limited. On top of everything else, I am the oldest player on my 55-and-over team. But there are magical moments. Such as when you hit a baseball with a wooden bat and hear and feel the proverbial crack of the bat. It is a sound that enters your entire being with a thrill rarely matched by other experience.

Almost as thrilling was a particular at-bat that stands out as my proudest moment as a ball player. It was in my second year, and I was on a new team after having had an off-season disagreement with the manager of my first team, the Cougars. I was now on the Hawks and we were playing the Cougars.

The game was tied – we were the home team – and I led off in the first extra inning. For the first time in my life I decided to bunt, and a very successful bunt it was. I beat the throw to first base for an infield hit, but the ball couldn’t be handled, and I ended up on second base. Then I got to third on a ground-out.

Our next batter hit a slow ground ball to the third baseman and I was immediately off and running for home, easily scoring the winning run. What a grand moment – and against my old team. It doesn’t get any better.

By the way, I’m still playing, and got a nice hit in the recent brutal heat with a hard ground ball down the foul line that the third baseman couldn’t touch.

Not bad for an old man.

Ken Goldfarb was news director at WVOS in Sullivan County and later a reporter for The Times Herald-Record of Middletown and the Daily Gazette of Schenectady. He now works in public relations.








July Heat, All-Star Tilt Spur Memories

Friday, July 19th, 2013

By Michael Kaufman

I am nine years old on a crowded bus en route to Fritz Costigan’s day camp in Long beach on a hot day in July and one of the kids shouts “National!” In a New York second another one hollers “American!” Thus begins a game of who can yell the loudest: kids who will be rooting for the National League in the impending Major League Baseball All-Star Game (a temporary alliance of Brooklyn Dodgers fans and supporters of the New York Giants) versus those who will be cheering for the American League (Yankees fans and perhaps an oddball or two who favor an out-of-town team, i.e. the Boston Red Sox or Cleveland Indians).



The shouts gett louder as more people join in, evolving into a rhythmic call-and-response:“National!”


In the days leading up to the All-Star Game the shouts on the bus provided a welcome break from the endless singing of “Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” I’ve always suspected that this experience has served me well later in life, especially at anti-war demonstrations. I am always among the first and loudest to shout “Peace!” when someone hollers “What do we want?” and “Now!” when someone bellows “When do we want it?”

I loved the All-Star Game Tuesday night despite the fact that my team lost and in spite of all the annoying ways the game has changed since I was a kid. I hate the hoopla and hype and sideshow events such as the Home Run Derby they put on the night before. The game doesn’t need it. No Home Run Derby or other falderal can provide a memory as splendid as Mariano Rivera’s final All-Star appearance when called upon to pitch the eighth inning: the cheers for the great Yankees closer roared long and loud from a crowd composed largely of Mets fans as players from both teams stood and applauded in appreciation.

Watching the game Tuesday night triggered other treasured baseball memories: my father taking me to Ebbets Field to see Jackie Robinson and the Dodgers; Jim Bunning’s perfect game against the Mets at the Polo Grounds; getting autographs at the Polo Grounds from Stan Musial, Gil Hodges and Casey Stengel, and Opening Day at Shea Stadium in 1964 (when a stranger handed me and a few high-school friends passes that got us into the Diamond Club for a fancy post-game reception).

In 1975 I took my five-year-old son Kenny to Shea to see his favorite team, the Yankees. (Lord, where did I go wrong?) The Yankees played their home games there in 1974 and 1975 while the old Yankee Stadium was being refurbished. We had seats close to the field between first base and right field and as Kenny’s favorite player, Lou Piniella, trotted past us between innings, Kenny called out to him by name—at least what he thought was his name: “Loop! Loop!” Piniella looked up and smiled and to this day that is one of Kenny’s baseball memories too.

A few years later I took Kenny to Yankee Stadium to see an American League playoff game between the Yankees and Kansas City Royals. That was the year George Brett came close to hitting .400. The Yankee fans sitting near us didn’t take kindly to my cheering for the Royals. One guy poured beer on my head. Another, who had obviously had one too many, pointed at me and loudly told Ken, “Get rid of him. He’s no good!” We still laugh about it.

I took my daughter Sadie (who I sometimes inexplicably call Kenny) to her first game when she was seven. The Mets played the Pittsburgh Pirates that day and I don’t remember who won–but I will never forget the look of wonderment on her face when we entered the ballpark and she saw the field of green for the first time. (I felt the same way at her age at Ebbets Field.)

In the years that followed we went to many a game together, including game seven of the 2006 National League playoffs. The Mets lost to the St. Louis Cardinals that night but we saw one of the greatest plays of all time: the amazing catch by Endy Chavez, leaping above the left field wall to rob Scott Rolen of a home run in the top of the sixth inning. Two years later we said goodbye to Shea at the last game.That seems a fitting place to end on this hot day in July. I think everyone who loves baseball has a unique set of personal memories. What are some of yours?

Michael can be reached at

Mariano Rivera Saves the Night (for Me)

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

By Bob Gaydos

Mariano Rivera waves to crowd at All-Star Game.

Mariano Rivera waves to crowd at All-Star Game.

I started the practice, which soon became a habit, in my early teens. When I picked up the morning paper (my mother religiously bought four or five papers daily) I always turned to the back page first, the sports page of one of New York city’s two tabloids, the Daily News and the Mirror.

At first, this was because that’s where my interests were. As I grew older, it was because I found it to be a gentler way, if you will, to enter into the daily fray. It was sports, after all, fun and games. Nothing life and death or depressing there. For some time, I felt guilty about this habit, feeling I should be paying attention to the front of the paper and all the “important” news. The bad news. The annoying news. The depressing news. The infuriating news. But then I found out that other seemingly bright, responsible people started their daily newspaper the same way — on the sports page. So I stopped beating myself up over it.

There’s no back page where I get much of my news today, on the Internet, but Tuesday night I found myself turning figuratively to the back page of Facebook. The social media site’s front pages, if you will, screamed with anger, hatred, bigotry and ignorance prompted by the not guilty verdict on George Zimmerman. Then there was Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, people shooting people everywhere, bees still in a death spiral, people being denied food stamps while millionaire farmers got subsidies, American citizens being spied on by their government, which is owned by a small group of very rich people, children and animals being abused, politicians arguing about abortion and sex instead of creating jobs, Brits still wondering how horse meat got in their hamburgers, chemical companies controlling our food supply, and the Republican Party solidifying its identity as the racist reaction to the nation’s first black president.

In exhaustion, I turned to sports, to baseball’s All Star Game. To Mariano Rivera, an oasis of inspiration, reassurance and dignity in a world gone seemingly mad for the moment.

Dignity is not a word often used in connection with sports figures these days, what with steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs eroding trust in the athletes and alcohol and drug-connected behavior making respect difficult to bestow.

But Rivera, “Mo” to legions of spoiled Yankee fans, has always been the model of dignified behavior. No hint of cheating. No scandal. No bad-mouthing opponents. Just consistent excellence and humility.

That he also turned out to be the best ever at what he does on a baseball field, makes him all the more special. If you’re a front-of-the-paper reader, Rivera is a “closer,” the pitcher brought in at the end of a game your team is winning, to shut down the other team, lest it have any ideas about rallying to win. Over the years, the mere sound of Metallica‘s “Enter Sandman” playing on the Yankee Stadium public address system and the sight of Rivera jogging in from the bullpen, became enough to silence opponents’ bats before he threw a pitch. No one has saved more games than the slender Panamanian and Tuesday night he appeared in Major League Baseball’s All Star Game for the last time.

This is Rivera’s farewell tour year. He is retiring at age 43 with more saves than anyone else. He has been given warm welcomes, been treated with admiration and respect, in every visiting team’s ballpark on the Yankees’ last visit. He has also asked to have an informal meeting with employees of each team on his last visit — to thank them for what they do. Ushers, security guards, grounds crew members, cleaning crew members, office workers have had a chance to chat with the Yankees’ new goodwill ambassador.  At the All Star game being played in the new stadium of the New York Mets, the Yankees’ crosstown rival, Rivera received a standing ovation from every fan and all-star in attendance. It lasted 90 seconds and the rest of his team did not take the field in the eighth inning until the ovation was over, leaving him alone on the pitcher’s mound to soak up the love. Then he retired the three batters he faced and his work was done.

The official “save” would go to Joe Nathan, who pitched the ninth inning, but Mo saved the night for me on Facebook. It’s not that I ignore the other stuff, the issues and causes and injustices of the world. In fact, it’s what I usually write about. I have had a career, in fact, writing about man’s incredible capacity for stupidity and cruelty. But I have always appreciated a standing ovation for a Pavarotti, a Perlman, a Fonteyn, a Streep. The best of the best.

Sports figures used to be looked upon as role models, people you could point out to your children and say, “That’s the way to behave.’’ Those role models are hard to come by today. Ironically, Rivera has had a teammate throughout his career who also fills the bill, Derek Jeter. They have spoiled Yankee fans for a long time and when they finally go, both will be missed.

But Tuesday was Rivera’s night, in Queens and on Facebook, and for that, I am grateful. I will return soon enough to writing about greed, arrogance, ignorance and bigotry and the need to fight against all of it, but for one night it was a relief to witness excellence, elegance, admiration, dignity and mutual respect. Thanks for the save, Mo.


The Wreck of the Red Apple

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

By Jeffrey Page

Once, the Red Apple Rest, halfway between Manhattan and the Catskills, was the perfectly located lunch stop on Route 17. It was a bustling place, where the men behind the counter would slap a hot dog onto a bun and, before you could reach for the plate, they’d be barking “Next!”

Though the opening of the Thruway reduced the crowds at the Red Apple, the place carried on for several years and the parking lots always had a respectable presence of cars and buses. There was something about the place, maybe the whimsical huge red apple that sat on the roof, that made people feel a little younger. Or maybe it was moms and dads with children remembering when their own folks took them to the Red Apple when they were kids.

Once, my family and I stopped on our way home to Liberty and I spotted Harry Seletsky in the parking lot doing a kind of waltz in tribute to his chocolate ice cream cone while slowing down every few seconds to take another lick. At the time, Harry was a Sullivan County elections commissioner and the chairman of the Sullivan County Republican Committee. You would not pay public homage to an ice cream cone in Monticello or South Fallsburg. But at the Red Apple Rest, it was all right.

The bill of fare was unquestionably slightly Jewish. The Apple’s vegetable soup with barley was renowned. It was one of a few places where you could order tomato herring sandwiches on onion rolls, or skinless and boneless sardines on pumpernickel. In spring, around Passover, the Red Apple served gefilte fish and matzoh, as well as leavened bread. Knishes were a fzvorite.

And always there was ice cream and custard, and what seemed like dozens of varieties of Danishes and muffins.

Another attraction was the presence of Mr. Reuben Freed, who opened the place in 1931. He did not sit in an office. He did not glad hand everyone who entered. Instead, Freed would clear tables – this in a suit and tie; always the suit and tie – greet long-time patrons, find tables for people with young children, and make sure no one on staff was malingering. He was in his eighties when I first saw him at work.

The crowds diminished as the resorts of Sullivan and Ulster Counties diminished. In an often used line, Milt Kutsher of the third generation of owners of the hotel bearing his name, once asked me, “You want to know what killed the Mountains? Air conditioning and airplanes.” They helped kill the Red Apple Rest as well.

In 1985, the Freeds of Monroe sold the place, and the crowds shrank some more. It might have said “Red Apple” in big letters on the side of the building, but it just wasn’t the same place. You’d walk in for breakfast and see maybe one guy sitting alone at a table finishing his eggs and coffee. Or you’d notice the stack of unsold newspapers. Even on weekends you no longer had to wait for a table.

The buyer of the Red Apple was Peter Kourakos; he closed down in 2006. One year later, officials condemned the building and it’s been going to seed ever since.

I mention all this because I was heading north on Route 17 the other day when I got to Southfields and saw the ghost of the Red Apple Rest. Most of the paint is gone. The big red apple up on the roof is gone. The big red lettering of RED APPLE REST on the building is crumbling. So is the invitation WASH ROOMS – though the fact is that even in the Apple’s last days under Freed family rule, the men’s room was by no means appealing. 

The building is surrounded by fencing. The front door seems to be falling apart. A bit of unintended irony is a sign on the door warning customers that they must wear shirts and shoes if they expected to be served.

The roof, which used to be a bright crimson, now is gray with a million flecks of red paint peeling off. You get the sense that one stiff wind would knock the place over. The day that happens, nothing will be left but the memories.

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 07/17/13

Thursday, July 18th, 2013
The Purple House

The Purple House

By Carrie Jacobson

Like my painting itself, these new paintings sort of showed up out of the blue. There were hints of them early on, in how much I loved certain paintings in an “unfinished” stage… but for the most part, these paintings have simply appeared and declared themselves, and left it to me to make something of them.
It’s pretty clear that these are a good addition to my portfolio, in terms of sales. Of nine paintings that have sold in the past two shows, seven have been these minimal ones – and I have not priced them cheaply.
I need to find out how to be sure they are a good addition in terms of heart and soul and the character of my painting. I need to apply myself, learn what works in these and what doesn’t. Learn how to make them interesting and evocative and exuberant, when they are so lean and so spare. Learn how much is enough, how much is too much and how much is not enough.
I like knowing that I’m facing these challenges, and finding these answers. Any reactions you all have, I’d love to hear them, too.


In Covering Mets, the Times Drops Ball

Friday, July 12th, 2013

 By Michael Kaufman

I’ve known for a long time that The New York Times often falls short of its boastful claim to provide readers with “all the news that’s fit to print.” The Times has dropped the ball on any number of important issues over the years, including such weighty issues as the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But it has also dropped the ball on less weighty, but nonetheless irksome, matters, exemplified by its biased coverage of New York’s two major league baseball teams. And frankly, I’m sick of it.

Wednesday afternoon the Mets completed a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants, defending World Series champions and a contender for first place in the National League West. It was the 16th win in the last 25 games for the Mets and was especially noteworthy for the outstanding pitching of rookie right-handed hurler Zack Wheeler. Marlon Byrd, who hit a grand-slam home run in Tuesday’s game, hit a two-run homer Wednesday. The 35-year-old veteran outfielder has been a key contributor to the recent success of the team, with his glove and fine throwing arm as well the bat.

Another veteran, Omar Quintanilla, has been making spectacular plays at shortstop since taking over for the injured Ruben Tejada, and has also delivered a number of clutch hits with men on base (though none Wednesday). So what was the headline Thursday in the Times article about Wednesday’s game? “In Managing Harvey’s Innings, the Mets Make an All-Star Allowance.” Huh? The first 16 paragraphs of the article dealt with a topic that had already been widely discussed for days, namely that the Mets planned to rest their All-Star pitcher Matt Harvey during the final games before the All-Star Game, presumably in the hope that he would be named starting pitcher for the National League in the game Tuesday night at Citi Field. This is certainly an interesting topic and I have my own thoughts about it too—but it is not what I want to be reading about for the first 16 paragraphs of an article about Wednesday’s game by beat writer Andrew Keh. Even the Times Herald-Record, which hasn’t assigned beat writers to the Yankees and Mets for years (and which also has a long history of favoring the Yankees) got it right in their headline above a workmanlike article produced by the Associated Press: “Clean sweep for Zack, Mets, Wheeler mows down Giants.”

The Times’ bias against the Mets has been blatant all year.  Both the Yankees and Mets opened the season at home April 1. The Mets won their game against the San Diego Padres by a score of 11-2.  The Yankees lost to the Boston Red Sox, 8-2. The next day, the Times article about the Mets game was about a third the size of the article about the Yankees game. And, as noted in an email from Tad Richards (poet, director of Opus 40, and Mets fan) “It’s mostly about what a terrible team the Mets are and they can’t expect to have too many days like this. Instead of writing about what Cowgill and Byrd did in the game, they wrote about what they did last year. And, well, I could go on and on, but ‘Bleep the New York Times’ covers it.” (Only he didn’t say “Bleep.”)

Tad’s email, sent to a small cadre of Mets fans scattered across the country, drew unanimous agreement. After the Mets swept a four-game series from the Yankees in May, it was Tad’s daughter Caitlin who wrote, “Why can’t we get any respect?  We just swept the Yankees for the first time in history, we played four great games, yet the Times articles are making excuses for the Yankees rather than applauding the achievements of the Mets. They were amazing. Let them have their moment.” Peter Jones agreed, noting, “The Times treats the Mets as if they were from Boston.” To which Tad added, “More like as if they were from Poughkeepsie.”

But I think Jon Richards, Tad’s brother (film critic, cartoonist for Huffington Post, and co-author of Nick and Jake) who may have said it best: “The Times sees the Yankees as the pinstriped Lords of Wall Street, and the Mets as the poor outerborough slobs who lose their house even if they’re paid up on their mortgage.”

Michael can be reached at