The Streetsingers will be in Stuyvesant Square, near Second Avenue and 15th Street, from 2 to 4, and the East Village Sacred Harp singing runs from 3 to 6 at Jimmy’s No. 43, Second Avenue and 7th Street. So SH friends can hear my polyphonic self and RSS friends can come and sing the shapes afterward, if they want.

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Lamb’s liver.

Babylonian haruspicy in comic form. By Jed McGowan in The Appendix.


My friend Z and I had our annual July 4 American movie date. There was nothing with car chases that we had any interest in seeing, so we went to the last theater in town (the Loews on 11th and 2nd) that was still showing The Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s a Wes Anderson quirkfest, delicious to look at and neatly cast, but despite all the activity and admirable moral (be nice to people and they’ll invite you along on their jailbreak) it ended up feeling longer than its hour and a half length. I’m glad I saw it, don’t get me wrong.

Wes Anderson’s apartment is not far away, something Z knew because he’d been there once on architectural business. It’s a totally bland and rather shabby six-story building on 14th St east of First Avenue that Allen Ginsburg once lived in, and Anderson’s apt. used to be owned by the painter Larry Rivers. Oh, here‘s more about it that Z sent me later.  The building runs through the block from 14th to 13th Sts., so it’s long and narrow, and Anderson has the only full-length apartment, 200 feet long and maybe 25 feet wide. Z also said that a freight elevator was installed years ago; it had to be big enough for Rivers’ paintings, so it’s super-long but very narrow. Anyway, we went and marveled at its ordinariness, and then had a beer in a bar on 6th Street next to one of the nicest of the many community gardens around there, and after that I got on the F train and managed to get back in time to see ten or fifteen minutes of the big fireworks display from what turned out to be a great viewing location around the corner from my place.

I congratulated myself that I was not among the crowds trying to get out of the neighborhood (or the people with poor taste in loud music playing down the block) and settled down with the cat.

Short Poem About the Cat

Little nudnick
kneads and nuzzles

Seventeen days before the kalends of April.

I missed Haruspex Day, so in recompense I offer up this post from the Getty’s excellent blog, The Iris.

As Caesar entered the Senate, he supposedly said to Spurinna, “You realize the Ides have come?” (As in, “How good a seer are you?”) Spurinna’s reply: “You realize they have not yet gone?” (As in, “Just wait!”).

I’ve keepit dacent company a’ my days and I’m nae gaun to change my

ways noo. At this moment Jamie Duncan’s playing ‘Mony Musk’ in

four flats, and I say that the man that wad do that is fit for ony kin’ o’


Jamie Laval plays (in how many sharps, I cannot say):



Kale soup and harbor view

Sadly, I have pictures of neither.  (Well, kale soup isn’t very attractive, actually, but I’m sorry I can’t show you the view.)  I went down to Fairway in Red Hook this morning, my mouth still sore and sour from some hardcore dentistry on Thursday, intending to buy coffee and olive oil and root vegetables for mashing.  Soft foods, you see, are called for.  I dithered and wondered in front of the vast display of olive oils; no samples had yet been set out.  Gloomy, uncomfortable, and indecisive, I decided to have a cup of milky coffee at the café, look out at the view of New York harbor, and read my library book, To Eat by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd.

The wind was blowing hard from the east, pressing wavelets out of the water; further out a low mist hung over the bay, and dark clouds towered on the southwestern horizon, while others moved quickly westward.  Dock cranes in New Jersey traced white on the dark.  Big barges moved up the river.  Gulls struggled into the wind or found a way to glide, and a couple of ducks flew close to the water.  Everything was damp, the red bricks of the dock warehouses darkened.  When I turned away from the view, I read Eck and Winterrowd’s chapter on chard, which includes a short, simple recipe (from Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta) for Passato di verdure, greens soup, and decided I should have some of that.  My tooth stopped aching.  I finished my coffee, went back inside, tasted a bunch of olive oils and made a decision, backtracked to the produce section and picked up shallots and kale for the soup, and headed for the checkout lanes and home.

The soup is delicious.  The book, too, is charming.

(How to make the soup? Put chopped carrot, chopped onion, chopped shallot, garlic, and shredded greens in a soup pot with olive oil and sea salt, cover with water and simmer an hour or an hour and a half, then blend. The recipe calls for celery, Swiss chard, spinach, and kale, but says you can choose whatever greens you like; since I’m making it just for me, I didn’t feel like getting four different kinds of leaves, so just used regular old kale.  You are specifically not asked to sauté anything but since I threw the vegetables in as I got them chopped, the alliums and carrot wound up cooking for a while in the oil.)

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Ecstatic voices

The Renaissance Street Singers will be on NPR’s All Things Considered tonight (Sunday, August 25) in a segment called Ecstatic Voices, about varieties of sacred music across the country.  It will probably run a few minutes after 5:30.  If you miss it, the archives are here:

Thanks, NPR and Joel Rose (the producer/reporter) for including us with the nuns, church trombone bands, Hollywood muezzins, and other spiritual sounds.


New header photo, June 2013

Was taken by me! In Central Park in the spring.  Since then, my new camera has failed.



hollow square remnant at rear

hollow square remnant at rear

In May, I had some friends over for a house singing. I made four things to eat and they all came out well. I’d had some trouble with under-cooking the chicken at a couple of these events, so this time I made sure this wouldn’t happen by not making any chicken.

Two recipes came from Smitten Kitchen, one was a variant of a David Lebovitz dish, and one was based on a delicious salad Nancy Werlin (famous authoress) (follow her true-life comic!) had made at the mini-reunion I’d been to the week before.  I recommend any or all of them for a party.  My guests brought fruit, super chocolate desserts, and chocolate covered almonds; we finished the evening with obscure liqueurs and the nuts.   

ristotto, lasagne

risotto, lasagne

Artichoke risotto (made with barley, not freekeh, because I am trying to use up the mad variety of grains and pastas in my house before buying any more).  Frozen artichoke hearts from Trader Joe’s.

Mushroom lasagna.  I was low on mushrooms by the last layer but no one complained.  Timing issues: I put it in the oven at the break, and then it was done 45 minutes later but the singing wasn’t; it would have been better if I’d timed it to come out right before we came to the table.  Nevertheless, it was delicious. New experiences: I’d never made a garlic béchamel before (nor, for that matter, a barley risotto).  I used no-boil lasagna noodles as that’s what I found, but I soaked them a little in hot water before layering them to fend off dryness, as warned in blog comments.  And I made use both of my brand new pot

new pot

new pot

and my ancient Mouli grater.

grater, descended through the matriarchal line

grater, descended through the matriarchal line


Salad, slaw


Broccoli slaw.  An opportunity to break out the food processor, obtained under latke duress in December.  I used red onion throughout, and soured milk instead of buttermilk.  The cranberries for sweetness and chewiness, and the almond slivers for crunch, are important. 

Nancy’s salad: Romaine lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, canned salmon, avocado; lemon dijon dressing. 


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