Buffalo Grass Returns

photo: manhattan, from ferry to ellis island

To be honest, earmuffs are handy to have in New York
in the winter.

Earless In New York

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 27. January 2003:- The mayor ought to spread some sand around and roll out the palm trees. Radio-FIP interrupted its non-stop music program to declare Paris' temperature to be 14 huge degrees above freezing, and the sky is so clear that it is almost possible to see Amsterdam from my lofty fourth-floor penthouse.

Winter sunshine might not be exactly suitable for grilling like sardines on the Seine's banks - but it looks as bright as New York's sky often was. Now, if my neighboring Tour Montparnasse could only be replaced by the Chrysler Building, I would run right out and have a big hot dog instead of reading Le Parisien's forecast for today.

It starts off with - hey now! - it starts off with new designs for its maps of France and the Ile-de-France. Then it says, "Un ciel encore triste..." How about 100 percent wrong?

The predicted high for today is on the money, but I see no 'triste' anywhere on my visible horizon, with or without the silly '...' - the dribble-dot - which is what writers are increasingly using when they've forgotten the utility of using the single 'dot' for a period.

After the declaration that the high was a near-record 16 today at Orly, tonight's TV-weather news is not reassuring. Isabelle smiles nicely while she says coming highs are only going to drop by five degrees - per day.

This means nine or ten for Tuesday, rotten and five for Wednesday and a high of one and terrible for Thursday. She didn't bother frightening us with Friday, but Le Parisien indicates it will be worse than terrible.

Since things are happening in New York, TV-news showed blue skies there, but with winds tearing at the UN's flags. I remember that wind. There may be some of it here tomorrow too. My gloves, scarf and hat are still handy.

Café Life

Buffalo Grass Time

Totally dazed last Wednesday on arriving back from New York, I happened on Dimitri and Dennis who were in the café Le Bouquet, plotting a replay of last years' Buffalo Grass-Vodka drink-fest, which coincides with Dennis' 59th birthday.

Now that I think of it, I had returned from New York then too - after failing to turn up any Buffalo Grass inphoto: italian bakery sign Brooklyn's Little Odessa on Christmas Day. Since then, since Oleg has been on the job, the Daguerrotypistas have secured a steady supply from an ancient market lady who operates from a stall in Kiev.

But this is not to forget all the readers who suggested where it might be found - in one club member's backyard in Chicago - or on various plains-like places from Texas to northern Alberta. Anyplace where buffalo may roam, is where you can find Buffalo Grass. Even if there are no buffalo in sight.

If you have had a chance to sniff the commercial Polish version that comes with it already in a bottle, then looking for the real thing is worthwhile if you think you might like really fragrant vodka. What's good for buffalo may be good for you too - Dennis continues to claim last years' batch saved him from a bout of pneumonia.

To add to this year's festivities, Dimitri arranged to find a part missing from Dennis' fireplace, lying on a sidewalk. He picked it up and when he showed it to the fireplace, it fit perfectly. With a couple of bricks substituting for the one remaining missing piece, the little fireplace chugs away, putting out a lot of heat with very small fires.

This inspired Dennis to rearrange his living room, to focus two modest sofa chairs as close to the fireplace as possible. This allowed a lengthwise dining table situation, which in turn offered more places for guests last night.

These turned out to be the same as last year's small gathering, plus about six more. Dennis borrowed some big pots and using a traditional Tuscan recipe - with modifications - he turned out an amazing dinner for a dozen or 14.

More guests meant more gifts, and it was kind of magical the way Dennis opened them with glee and each seemed to be more extravagant than the proceeding, although all were modest. Paris is a good place for finding rare and offbeat items for the Marx Brothers' biggest 59 year-old fan.

The only hiccups during the affair were Jonathan's forgetting the sparklers, but the fireplace was a good stand-in. Guests who arrived ill left healthy, which is not exactly a 'hiccup' - and nobody actually had any of these.

The evening had several high points without having any low ones. One nobody will forget soon was Dimitri coollyphoto: cash register, il mare chiaro bar opening a bottle of Champagne, with a vicious-looking hatchet, surgically and neatly by whacking its top off - using a little-known Cossack manoeuvre usually performed with a saber.

This was done observing all required safety precautions - like having a basin on the floor - and clearing a line-of-fire for the cork and the bottle's top. It did not put a big dent in the wall by the fireplace.

The cash register in Dennis' favorite New York bar.

It now seems pretty certain that Dennis' 59th birthday is going to turn into an annual affair. If the number of guests keeps increasing by 50 percent per year, he will have to find a suitable banquet site - one that is pretty liberal as far as behavior in public is concerned.

While On the Subject

Dennis claims his favorite bar in New York is the Il Mare Chiaro, at 176 1/2 Mulberry Street. This claim is based on several factors. On the last day of his last visit - a Sunday - he met two friendly Polish ladies in the place.

The bar's other claims to fame are somewhat less exotic. No less than parts of 11 movies and one TV-series have been filmed in the place - from 'Contract on Cherry Street' with Frank Sinatra to 'Godfather III' to 'The Sopranos.' This original 'Little Italy' bar is one that requires no set decoration for 'wiseguy' movies.

When movies aren't being filmed on location in it, there is the jukebox, which is full of rare '50s hits such as 'The Flying-Saucer People.' The bar also boasts a real payphone - for customers only! The same goes for the bar's toilet.

The National cash register was installed in 1908, and second-generation Tony Tenneriello carries on the family tradition of 'no credit, no checks and no plastic' while his father gazes mildly over all from a large painted portrait facing the door, beside the stuffed owl perched on a Moose's antlers above the bar's original clock.

Earless In New York

This is an episode I would like to forget even before it is over. Several readers have written with understandingphoto: f line subway to brooklyn, trompet player and helpful suggestions, but I did not have a head full of wax. Anyway, being slightly deaf in New York cannot be all bad.

Entertainment is provided on the long subway ride from Queens to Brooklyn.

But having a bandage hanging out like a nun's flying wig, off an infected earlobe - full of antibiotics - well, it's not so bad in New York either because nearly everybody is foreign - and besides, I couldn't see it.


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