Posted on November 28, 2015




November 28, 2015

Opening Quote

“In a time of universal deceit–telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

George Orwell  (1903-1950) is one of the 20th century’s most admired and renowned authors. Two of his works–1984 and Animal Farm–have entered the canon of “Great Books” that all who consider themselves literate would be wise to read. Born in India, Orwell moved to the United Kingdom as a young child and attended a well-known boarding school followed by Eton. He then returned to India for a five-year stint as a policeman (not having the money to go on to university). George Orwell was a nom de plume: his real name was Eric Arthur Blair. In addition to fiction, Orwell also was an essayist, travel writer, and critic, and his first published work, in 1933 was Down and Out in Paris and London. He fought in the Spanish Civil War against Franco and returned to England seriously wounded and ill with tuberculosis. To support himself and his wife (he was married in 1936 to Eileen O’Shaughnessy) he published reviews, literary criticism, and other non-fiction. Soon after 1984 was published, Orwell died of his tuberculosis.


The next time some yahoo denies that climate change is tranforming our planet’s environment, act deaf and dumb. Simply hand the denier a small slip of paper on which you have provided hard, comparative data. A November 23 report, issued by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction discloses that between 2005 and 2014, Earth experienced an average of 335 weather-related disasters. This proliferation, the report asserts, is “an increase of 14% from 1995-2004, and almost twice the level recorded during 1985-1995.” The report estimates that natural catastrophes were responsible for 606,000 fatalities from 1995 to 2014, and had an economic impact of $250 to $300 billion annually, or a staggering $5.5 trillion in total. Since many critics of climate change do not believe in the objectivity of science or fact-based evidence–preferring the comfort of faith–you probably will not change an idiot’s mind. But you will achieve the self-satisfaction of having tried.


This is what a sandwich looks like at Katz’.
Photo Credit: “Katzs deli corned beef” by Flickr user dyobmit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/dyobmit/73690588/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Katzs_deli_corned_beef.jpg#/media/File:Katzs_deli_corned_beef.jpg
As a junior and senior in college I went out with a woman who lived in New York City’s South Village. Her apartment was a few steps away from the intersection of Houston (How-stun) Street and Sixth Avenue. Frequently, on a weekend evening, we would smoke a bit of weed and then with the munch gene totally engaged we would head out and walk East on Houston Street until we reached Katz’ Delicatessen. There, we would order a sandwich for each, plus side orders of french fries, cole slaw, and potato salad together with a Dr. Brown’s cream soda. I look back upon this vast quantity of food and can only say that teenagers are voracious, especially when hunger is stimulated by weed. We returned again and again because Katz’ pastrami sandwich, in my opinion, is the best in the world. Pastrami emigrated to the U.S. with Eastern European Jews, and Katz’ can trace its history back to 1888. The restaurant’s current design is unchanged since 1949. One would never confuse eating at Katz’ and a fine, high-end place. As you enter, you are presented with a narrow ticket which you keep with you as if it were your passport. Overhead are harsh banks of fluorescent lights. In point of fact, there is no interior design: just row after row of four-place tables stretching to the back of the large open space. If there for a sandwich, you walk up to the counter and choose one of the artists on the business side who will hand-slice your preferred meat. With the practiced hand of a sushi chef, the knife man then carves from a complete brisket the meat that will be yours. The human touch guarantees that each sandwich is different, with thicker slices than delis usually provide. If the knife man is in a good mood, he’ll take a slice of meat, put it on a small white plate, and hand it to you. This amuse bouche causes your sensory system to snap alert and as you are still appreciating the aftertaste, your overstuffed sandwich is put on top of the counter and you take it. The server then takes your ticket and scrawls the cost of what you’ve ordered. Seating is primarily cafeteria style; you sit wherever there’s an opening. Joining you are representatives of all ages and ethnic groups. Whether you converse or not with your table mates depend upon how serious you are about your food. After smearing mustard on the top half of your bread or roll, you take your first bite. All of your problems disappear as the flavor and texture of the pastrami overwhelms your consciousness. Perfection though is not cheap; a pastrami sandwich now runs $19.75, about three times what I used to pay as a student. Yet even with the high price, Katz’ goes through 15,000 pounds of pastrami each week. In describing the pleasure of this culinary experience, The New York Times became somewhat poetic and called the meat “juicy, smoky, rapturous.”


Last night I stopped into Salisbury’s Back Street Grill, a local bar and cafe that’s comfy and relaxed and serves the best burgers I’ve had in many moons. Being on the Lower Eastern Shore, the special price on Saturday evenings for a hamburger is $5.00, and is definitely one of the great deals going. When I’m alone, as I was yesterday, I sit at the bar. The man who fate put next to me was a Cro-Magnon male. Physically, he resembled the missing link with a massive, protruding forehead and an extra-wide face. Somehow we began talking politics and his views should prompt wise souls to take cover. His favorite political leader is Vladimir Putin. When I pointed out the Russian leader’s KGB background, this guy found that fact to be a distinct plus: the KGB knew how to get things done. He wanted the U.S. and Russia to form an alliance in Syria to end the ISIS crisis by simply dropping multiple nukes. The Syrian refugees were all faking their pain and really were ISIS terrorists. He would ship them all back to Middle East DP camps. Obama was the worst president in history: someone who wasn’t even born in the United States; someone who was Islamic; someone who faked all his credentials. He hasn’t done a thing in two terms. The man to lead America is Donald Trump because he speaks the truth and isn’t afraid to say whatever is on his mind. This, my friends, is one citizen’s world view, but I fear his ignorance and rage is shared by millions of others.


When I first posted my “Season of Love” note card on Facebook, one friend commented: “This is wonderful…love it…literally.” Creative men and women thrive on comments like that. So now that the “Black Friday” shopping orgy is over, and the people of America are getting their Christmas card lists in order, I would suggest that if you want to send a unique and lovely card to your special friends and family, please consider what I’ve taken to calling Love Cards. Each features my original artwork “Romance,”  and are produced on a feel-good off-white stock. They are printed on a high-end digital press. The cards are 5 x 7, and run to four pages. The interior and back cover incorporate a sophisticated, graded tint of pink-violet–a perfect space for your personal message. Cards are sold in packs of five in my shop on Etsy.com.


The cover and interior of the “Season of Love” card.





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