Archive for February, 2014

The New ‘Breakfast of Champions’

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

By Bob Gaydos

Te breakfast of champions

                          The breakfast of champions                                                                                                        IR photography

“Here it is,” she said with a smile, “the breakfast of champions.”

No, it wasn’t a bowl of Wheaties with a banana sliced on top. It was, check it out: A bowl of coconut/vanilla Greek yogurt, two sliced bananas, a big bunch of halved, red globe grapes with seeds, a mound of whole ground flaxseed meal, a healthy serving of blended trail mix (almonds, cranberries, cherries, raisins and pistachios), and a generous topping of chocolate granola (ingredients to come later).

Breakfast was sweet, rich, juicy, crunchy, delicious and filling. My breakfast partner does not skimp on the portions. And, by the way, it was incredibly good for my health.

When I decided for health reasons to move away from a diet centered on meat and fried foods to one focused more on plants, my major concerns were that I would be able to eat enough to feel full and energetic and that I would find enough food that I actually liked.

No problem, thanks again in large measure to my breakfast partner. And it hasn’t been a problem since I made the decision. What it has been is a gradual process of becoming accustomed to, not necessarily foods that are new to me, but a new way of looking at some familiar foods and a new way of making them part of my regular diet.

I now eat lots of rice and beans and greens and baked potatoes and sweet potatoes and fruits and vegetables. Also some pasta. Pizza is still on the menu. I also eat vegetarian versions of meatballs, bacon, sausage, turkey with all the vegetables, etc. No portion control. Again, the tastes are a bit different, but delicious. It’s all in the way the food is prepared. That, to me, is mind over matter. I think we are conditioned from earliest days to think about certain foods in a certain way and, after a while it becomes automatic — so, lots of red meat is good, vegetables are wussy.

I’ve said it before, but I will repeat myself: I’m not crusading here. I don’t begrudge anybody eating whatever they choose (not entirely true — horses are not for eating). However, since my dietary changes, I’ve become increasingly aware of the strong contradiction in what many people say about their desire to be healthier (to lose weight, to have more energy, to feel stronger) and the food they actually eat. So I write about what I’m going through to maintain my own awareness and, maybe, let someone who’s contemplating a similar change know that it’s possible and not necessarily painful.

There’s a slowly growing awareness among Americans for the need to eat more healthful foods, foods free of chemicals and so-called “natural” added ingredients. You can see this in expanded organic food sections at supermarkets and half-hearted attempts by some fast-food chains to offer what they regard as healthier choices. When the monied interests — the corporations that control our food supply — start offering more choices, even though they may exaggerate their health benefits, I think it’s a good first step. They’re starting to pay attention..

It’s also a signal for consumers to start insisting on more such choices and at more reasonable prices. It seems to me that companies should not get rich by offering lots of cheap food that isn’t good for our health (and may actually be bad for our health) while pricing nutritious, tasty food out of the reach of far too many people. History tells us that, greed being what it is, this corporate mindset won’t change unless enough customers insist on it by spending their food money differently. By putting our money where our mouths are and by insisting that elected officials do more to protect the food supply rather than the food suppliers, we might actually be able to help ourselves become healthier.

Back to the breakfast of champions. It satisfies the various food pyramids’ daily recommendations on fruits, nuts, seeds and dairy in one sitting. It is full of super foods:

  • Greek yogurt: Loaded with protein, Vitamin B12 and calcium. Also has potassium, B-6 and magnesium.
  • Bananas: Good for Vitamin B-6, Vitamin C and potassium. Also magnesium and dietary fiber.
  • Red grapes: Source of resveratrol, which helps dilate blood vessels, which can lower blood pressure. Also may help weight loss by reducing cells’ ability to store fat.
  • Flaxseed meal: Soluble and insoluble fiber. Studies suggest flaxseed as regular part of a diet lowers bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. Has lignans, natural anti-oxidants that protect against unchecked cell growth. Source of alpha-linolenic acid, or omega-3, which can help provide healthy cholesterol levels, reduce cell inflammation (by supporting the integrity of cell membranes of vital organs, thereby protecting the body against disease). Also may lower blood pressure. Studies suggest flaxseed may help protect against some forms of cancer, decrease menopausal symptoms and reduce blood sugar.
  • Trail mix: Good source of Vitamin E, manganese, copper and magnesium (important minerals often neglected in many diets). Also a source of potassium and dietary fiber.
  • Chocolate granola: Among other things, it contains whole grain oats, ground flax seeds, rice and soy lecithin, an emulsifier that keeps the blood slippery..

Full disclosure, the chocolate granola, being a commercial product, contains sugar and cane juice. But people are free to mix their own granola. Like I said, I’m no purist, just a guy trying to live a longer, healthier life. One spectacular breakfast at a time.


Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 02/28/14

Thursday, February 27th, 2014
Red Hills

Red Hills

By Carrie Jacobson

My heart and soul respond with joy to the colors of the West. I have loved seeing and painting the known places, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley – but what has made my painting soar are the unprotected places, the empty, unnamed lands, the spots beside the road that people drive every day to work.

These rough places, these daily sights, these truly stir me. I love the yellow grasses that line the edges of the roads. I love how the sage is green and in these winter days, a soft and gentle blue. Wildflowers grow in soft and fragile colors, and tumbleweeds blow through. The red earth delights my eyes and spirit, and the streaks of color in the mountains amaze me – and make me want to get out of the car Right Now and paint!


Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Arizona & gays                                             The way it almost was.

Bill Hogan

The Too-Slow Death of 1062

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

It took long enough, but Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, after several days of contemplation, finally found the need to veto a piece of legislation that would have set civil rights statutes in the morning trash.

As you probably know, State Senate Bill 1062 would have restored some of the odious Jim Crow laws of decades ago – not that its sponsors would agree. Briefly, SB-1062 would give shopkeepers and business people the right to refuse to serve gay men and lesbians. Arizona knew just how to talk up SB-1062. It wasn’t anti-gay, Arizona said, it was pro-religious freedom.

Arizona has good practice in describing certain travesties. It’s Arizona, after all, where police officers are required to check the immigration status of anyone who looks like he might be in the U.S. illegally. Can you take a guess who the state has in mind? Clue: It’s not Poles, Lithuanians or Canadians.

SB-1062 might have reminded you of the south before the Sixties, but its supporters say it was really a matter of ensuring religious freedom. Take a grocery store owner, for example. If he can show that selling a can of tomato soup or a pack of English muffins to a gay couple would violate his “strongly held religious beliefs,” he could point to the door and tell the two not to come back.

Question: Where in the Bible does it note that God would be greatly offended if he ran a luncheonette in Phoenix and two lesbians walked in to order tuna sandwiches on rye and coffee?

Question: Where in the Constitution of the United States did the framers define marriage?

And if SB-1062 – approved by the Arizona State Senate by an anemic vote of 17 to 13 and by a less than overwhelming Assembly vote of 33 to 27 – had become law, how easy or difficult would it be to allow shopkeepers with “strongly held religious beliefs” to refuse service to certain other people who don’t hold those same beliefs.

In considering undoing what the State Senate did on Feb. 19, Governor Brewer consulted with politicians and business people who feared that SB-1062 would harm the Arizona economy. She most likely was pushed along the road to veto by the National Football League’s starting talks on yanking next season’s Super Bowl game out of Phoenix if SB-1062 was enacted. It could be said that in Arizona, the economy trumps “strongly held religious beliefs.”

The NFL, several corporations, politicians from around the country, and Arizona’s two U.S. Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, all appealed to brewer to make SB-1062 disappear.

They were joined by three of the state senators who voted in favor of SB-1062 and who were now looking for a way to kill it. Their reasoning for introducing the bill was misunderstood, they said.

In their letter to the governor, the three state senators said: “We must send a clear message that Arizona is a state that values religious tolerance and protects and values each individual’s ability to follow the dictates of their [sic] own conscience.”

That’s about as close as they ever got to the word “gay.”

Next, the measure went to Brewer for approval or veto. It took her seven days to kill SB-1062. It should have taken seven seconds.

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 2/22/14

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014
140219 grand canyon 1

South Rim of the Grand Canyon

By Carrie Jacobson

The Grand Canyon is more amazing than you can imagine. It is stunning, vast, transporting. It is rich with colors and patterns and shadows, with history and geography and the forces of earth and nature. I stood at the edge of it and fell silent with wonder. I imagined the forces of the earth that caused it, the sharp and violent upheavals, the slow and nearly imperceptible carving by wind and water. I imagined the Native Americans living on the banks of the Colorado, deep, deep below the rim. I imagined the first white explorer to reach the rim, and the awe – and terror? – he must have felt.

I know you’ve seen photos and movies and pictures and paintings. You’ve flown over it, seen it from the sky. But you must, must see it in person. You must stand at the edge and look out over its impossible beauty, its nearly incomprehensible colors, its phenomenal depth and size. You must stand there and feel your own version of the world shift. You must stand there and feel awe.

So go! Now! Start making plans. Take the kids, take the spouse, take the grandparents. Or just go.

p.s., it was pretty scary and pretty challenging to make this little painting.

140219 grand canyon p in p

My painting in the landscape

PB Diversity Rallies Lacking in Diversity

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

By Michael Kaufman

I have some advice for those Pine Bush residents who are organizing the rallies designed to highlight their community’s commitment to diversity:  Get a few people in front of the camera who don’t have white skin, maybe a gay couple or two (preferably with their kids in tow), and (for icing on the cake) some Orthodox Jews. It would be ideal if they were Hasidic but that is probably too much to ask, considering all the fuss over that darned housing development they’re trying to erect in Bloomingburg.  Why, they’re even seeking approval to build a “discriminatory school” to go along with the housing: a private religious school for girls that will drain funds from the public schools because the Pine Bush school district (which includes Bloomingburg) will have to provide services for their children, including those with special needs.

I see your point there. I’ve seen it ever since the Reagan years when the education laws were changed so as to allow certain funds intended for public school use to be diverted to private and parochial schools. (The Warwick school district, for example, provides nursing service to St. Stephen’s.) Far be it for me to suggest there may be a smidgen of anti-Semitism involved in the current outcry from the denizens of Pine Bush and Bloomingburg.  But why am I talking about this when you keep telling me the Pine Bush thing has nothing to do with the Bloomingburg development? (Hint: Maybe it’s because you’ve been saying it so much it has forced me to think about it a lot more than I would have otherwise.)

In any event, just to recap: Your efforts to highlight your devotion to the cause of diversity are in response to negative publicity generated by an article that appeared in The New York Times on Nov. 6. The article reported on a lawsuit filed against the Pine Bush Central School District by three Jewish families who allege that their children (and others) were victims of cruel harassment in school and that the district knew about it and did little or nothing to stop it. The children gave testimony describing incidents that included the drawing of a  swastika on a seventh-grade girl’s face as she was held down by two boys; middle school students being called “Christ killer,” “stupid Jew,” “disgusting Jew,” and being subjected to jokes about the Holocaust; and students having coins thrown at them. The article led to widespread criticism of Pine Bush by some heavy hitters (Gov. Cuomo, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and the Anti-Defamation League, to name a few).

But at least you have the support of Stuart Feuer, a Jewish dentist who practices in Pine Bush, where he has lived with his family for 25 years. He wrote a letter published Nov. 9 in the Times saying that no one in his family ever experienced any anti-Semitism. “I am very saddened,” he concluded, “that this negative attention is being brought to our beautiful, peaceful hamlet, which is filled with good-hearted, hard-working people.” He reportedly got upset later because someone unknown to him from New Jersey wrote a letter describing him as a “self-hating Jew.”

I have met Feuer and I doubt he is a self-hating Jew. He may, however, be a self-serving dentist. As one of the few Jewish residents of Pine Bush his practice is dependent on the goodwill and patronage of his non-Jewish neighbors. John Barker, a mechanic who lives in Pine Bush, must go to another dentist. Barker is quoted in the Times article as saying of Jewish families, “We don’t want them in our town.”

Anna Merlan, a blogger for the Village Voice, checked out comments from Pine Bush residents on social media after the Times article was published and found that “reactions were divided between people who said they, too, had experienced or witnessed prejudice, and those who were shocked, shocked to hear that such a thing might be taking place in their town.” The most revealing responses, she noted in her Nov. 11 post, came from Pine Bush teenagers and young adults. Some took to Twitter and Facebook to say they were “embarrassed” or “ashamed.” But others made no attempt to conceal their bigotry:

“This is pine bush, and if you don’t like pine bush you can geeeeeeet out,” Tweeted Charlie

“I think this is all coming up because the Jews want to take over Bloomingburg and the people aren’t letting that happen,” chirped I Am McGlory.

“(Bleep) all ya why cause more drama then there already is in this town. The jews just needa go back to kj where they belong,” cursed the uncharitable Christian.

“Don’t believe things people say just to get money from the school district,” opined Joey.

And after a hearty “lol” in homage to Joey, Amanda proclaimed, “…that article is retarded. No one threw coins at the (bleepin) jews.”

Maybe you “good hearted, hard-working people” in Pine Bush don’t know what these young people have been saying.  Surely Feuer never saw those comments. Like Feuer, author Michelle Zink lives in Pine Bush and is raising her children there. Unlike Feuer, she does not depend on the goodwill of her neighbors for her livelihood. Three days after Feuer’s letter was published in the Times, Zink posted a blog on her website titled Anti-Semitism Is Alive and Well in My Home Town. I suggest you read it before your next diversity rally.

Michael can be reached at






Hogan’s View

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

What is Christie



Bill Hogan

Kutsher’s R.I.P,

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

Grossinger’s was gone. The Concord was gone. The Brickman, Brown’s and scores more as well. But Kutsher’s, with its more than 400 guest rooms, soldiered on before finally giving up the ghost. Earlier this month, the auction sale that seems to accompany all dying Catskill resorts, was held.

This was the last of the great ones, the place where Helen Kutsher, who died last year at 89, used to greet returning guests with “Welcome home.” Recently, Kutsher’s, facing the humiliation of a break in its roof and snow on its floor, slipped away after bidders bought all matter of Kutsher’s stuff. Plans call for the hotel to be razed and replaced by a health spa and resort, reportedly a $90 million venture. Why do I think that herring, lox and cheese danishes will be replaced by quinoa, kale and tofu?

These hotel auctions are attended by people wanting a piece of the old Catskills, which thrived during their now-ended Kosher Century. At the height of their popularity with primarily Jewish clienteles there were close to 500 such resorts in Sullivan County alone. Bidders want menus, furniture, kitchen equipment, memorabilia, anything actually, and all the better if it bears the name of the dead hotel. But such named pieces aren’t always available.

A number of years ago, when the Concord had gasped its last, we attended one of these sales and went home with an enormous metal mixing bowl. It was battered and dented, emblazoned with nothing identifying it as from the Concord. But we knew its origin. Once, it might have been used to mix potato pancake batter. Nowadays we use it to catch rain water from a leaky chimney.

At the Kutsher’s sale some people were interested in a walk-in refrigerator, which eventually went for $650, according to a compelling story in The Times Herald-Record. Others bought sports goods, perhaps remembering the late Milton Kutsher’s love of all games, but especially basketball. And so, the Record said, a basketball signed by Bob Cousy went for $250. Same price for a baseball signed by Sandy Koufax.

Milt Kutsher – Helen’s husband, and one of the nicer guys in the hospitality industry – died in 1998. But there are people who’d swear Kutsher’s the institution could never die. After all, it might have been the first kosher resort in Sullivan County and lasted a century. It opened in 1907, seven years before the storied Grossinger’s, which always seemed to get more publicity than Kutsher’s.

But there were quiet, unreported stories of Kutsher’s, the kind that families love to tell and re-tell. In New York around 1915, Mr. Elias Blau was to be married to Miss Rose Weicholz. Mr. Blau believed Miss Weicholz was simply too skinny and so decided that in order to get her to gain some weight, he would send her to Kutsher’s to do some serious eating. The resort, run in those days by Max Kutsher and his brother Lou – Milton’s father and uncle – did the trick for Rose and whichever family member it was who accompanied her to the mountains. Rose was happy. She ate enough so that when she returned to Brooklyn, Elias was happy.

Milt Kutsher was delighted when I told him this story roughly 60 years after the fact. “The kitchen did it every time,” he said.

Kutsher’s guests had a never-ending appetite and that kitchen was designed to keep them happy, and sated. Something else that kept guests coming back was the sight of Helen or Milt patrolling the lobby and greeting vacationers by name and asking about their trip up from the city.

Milt Kutsher, who took over the place after World War II, always seemed to be the prescient owner who understood what the public wanted. He booked top name entertainment, created a sports academy whose instructors’ names were usually found on the sports pages, and made his hotel the home court for the annual Maurice Stokes basketball game. Stokes was the NBA all-star who died of a brain injury at 36. The game was a fundraiser to make Stokes’ last years bearable and affordable.

One view of the downfall of the resort industry held that some hotel keepers failed because they didn’t keep up with the competition. One owner, for example, believing there was money to be made as a winter resort as well as a summer place would install an indoor pool, and woe to the hotels that didn’t keep up.

But there were other causes. There was the much quoted line – often attributed to Milt Kutsher, but not necessarily his own – about the fate of the industry. “You want to know what killed the mountains? Air conditioning and airplanes,” he told me sometime during the seventies, a time when the bigger hotels were still hanging on.

All of a sudden, the hot summers of New York could be tamed, and all of a sudden, a summer trip to Paris or Rome seemed more exciting than playing Simon Says in Monticello.

Then, it was only a matter of time.



R.I.P. Marius, the ‘Surplus’ Giraffe

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

By Bob Gaydos

Marius the giraffe, is butchered in front of audience full of young children.

Marius the giraffe, is butchered in front of an audience full of young children.

They killed a giraffe in Denmark Sunday. Executed him, actually, with a bolt gun, at the Copenhagen Zoo. Then they performed an autopsy and butchered his body while an announcer explained what was happening to a crowd of onlookers that included lots of wide-eyed, young children.

Finally, they fed the carcass to the lions and tigers.

The Romans couldn’t have made more of a spectacle of it.

The giraffe, Marius, was 18 months old and, apparently, in the best of health. He posed no known threat to any other living creature. His “crime,” according to the two men responsible for killing him, was that he was too normal. The product of a breeding program at the zoo, Marius was apparently unfortunate enough to possess the type of genes that the scientists said were already well-represented in the zoo’s giraffe population. Allowing him to continue as part of the breeding program would not be good for the giraffe population as a whole, they said. He was surplus material.

Bam! Bye,bye, Marius.

There’s more. Copenhagen Zoo officials had an offer from Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Britain to take Marius off their hands. The British zoo is part of the same breeding program as the Copenhagen Zoo and has a state-of-the-art giraffe program. In fact, Marius’ older brother lives there. But Copenhagen Zoo officials didn’t even bother to answer the British zoo’s inquiries, saying they felt Marius and his surplus genes would also be taking up valuable space in the British zoo’s program. The offer of a private individual to buy Marius for $680,000 and place him in a wildlife preserve was also ignored.

One more thing. When word of Marius’ impending execution was revealed, more than 20,000 people signed online petitions to find him another home rather than kill him. Rather than discuss the matter with people who organized the petition, zoo officials moved up the execution without telling anyone.

There is so much wrong with this story, it’s hard to know where to start.

Let’s go with the arrogance that permeates this entire affair. First of all, giraffes are not considered to be an endangered species and the zoo scientists acknowledge the animals breed well. So why the breeding program in the first place? If the species is taking care of its diversity on its own, why do humans have to meddle in the process? Because we know better what’s good for them? Breeding a giraffe in captivity and then killing that same giraffe two years later because he possessed no special genetic makeup (Oops! We made a mistake.) hardly suggests a higher order of thinking. Callous disregard for life, yes. Enlightenment, no.

To then insist that the pubic butchering of the animal and feeding him to the lions was a scientifically and culturally valuable experience for the young children who watched is utter nonsense and reeks of a desperate attempt to justify the act. I have no idea what was going on in the minds of parents who allowed their young children to be subjected to this abuse, but this was not “natural” as zoo officials insisted. This was a man-made spectacle. In nature, Marius would at least have had a chance to evade his predators. Zoo officials lured him with a piece of rye bread before they shot him in the head.

As for moving up the execution when public protests grew, the haste with which the zoo, not only killed Marius, but got rid of his remains, might suggest to a suspicious person a sense of urgency to get rid of the evidence. Of what, I have no idea, because I’m not schooled in what zoos might do to their animals.

Which leads me to the bigger point here and perhaps the only good news to come from Marius’ untimely demise: It raises an awareness of the need to find out what exactly does go on in zoos and whether they are really necessary — in any way — for the benefit of animals, as opposed to entertainment of humans.

Copenhagen Zoo officials said such killings are routine in zoos, to preserve and protect the animals. Or perhaps, to balance the zoo’s budget? Zoos are limited in funds as well as space. After all, lions have to be fed and today’s cute giraffe baby can easily become tomorrow’s lunch in such conditions. How routine is this culling of zoo populations? Who decides? Does zoo staff have any input in the decisions? What are the regulations or guidelines? These questions beg to be answered.

Animals also obviously get bored being confined in zoos or even safari parks. And exploitation and abuse of animals is not unknown, especially in zoos lacking oversight by outside agencies. But Marius was killed in a respected zoo in a major European capital in a country with a reputation for progressive thinking. And he was the byproduct of a breeding program to which zoos throughout Europe subscribe and whose scientists endorsed the execution of Marius, the innocent.

In effect, they decided the world, never mind the Copenhagen Zoo, was too small for one more healthy, young giraffe

In the same week Marius was killed, thousands of dogs were poisoned and shot in Sochi, Russia, to “clean up” a sub-tropical city that was chosen to host the Winter Olympics. Apparently, the humans there and in Copenhagen never heard of controlling a population of animals by neutering them instead of killing them.

Such arrogant disregard for life will ultimately be the downfall of the human race.

Lesser Lights

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

By Gretchen Gibbs

Ralph Kiner

Ralph Kiner

In the last few days, the Times has announced the deaths of two of my favorite public figures, Ralph Kiner, the baseball legend and long-time announcer for the New York Mets, and Maxine Kumin, Pulitzer Prize winner for her wonderful poems and the equivalent of poet laureate before we had an official designation. If you think this an odd conjunction of public figures for me to be mourning, keep in mind that Kumin was an ardent Red Sox fan, and Kiner had a relationship with Janet Leigh. People resist pigeon holing.

Did they have anything in common? For all their fame, both Kiner and Kumin received less acclaim than they deserved. Kiner was described in the Times as “vastly undersung.” He had one of the most impressive home run records in the history of the sport, but because he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, perpetually at the bottom of the standings, he wasn’t much noticed. He became an announcer for the Mets from the beginning of their franchise in 1962, because, as quoted in the Times obit, he “had a lot of experience with losing.”

In 1972, I was ill for an entire summer, not in pain, but with nothing to do but lie in bed and watch television. Daytime television in that era was six or seven channels of soap operas, with a little baseball thrown in. In those days there were many more afternoon games than there are today, and I became a Mets fan. Ralph Kiner, with Bob Murphy, and Lindsey Nelson of the florid sports coats educated me and turned me on to the glories of the sport.

Kiner, in spite of a speech problem brought on by Bell’s palsy, still announced once in a while this last season, and his comments were always intelligent and generous. I never heard him make a mean remark about anyone, regardless of their team.

Maxine Kumin certainly achieved fame as a poet, but she always existed in the shadow of her friend, Anne Sexton. Even the obituary in the Times devotes several paragraphs to Sexton. She was a gifted poet who, like Sylvia Plath, committed suicide after years of struggling with the impulse.

Maxine Kumin

Maxine Kumin

The two friends had an open phone line between their houses. Sexton is described, by her daughter and many others, as self-centered, narcissistic and demanding. I can’t imagine a more difficult friend.

I discovered Kumin’s poems in the New Yorker in the 70s, and was pleased to find a great poet of the everyday, who was not suicidal or difficult. “I was not influenced by women writing poetry,” Kumin is quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle. “There weren’t any women to admire.” She herself became the model for many women, including me, who aspired to write.

What is to be concluded? There should be bridges to rename, but that will not happen. I’m sure that some portion of CitiField will be named Kiner’s Korner, and I’m sure there will be a Maxine Kumin prize in the literary world. Let us just remember that success does not always come with a lot of hoopla.