Friday, July 31, 2015

Suppose it were Friday cvii: Rainy day people

I don't know anyone who doesn't
very much like them - the rainy
day ones. By definition, they
wear so well, compared to the
rest of us, habitually dependent
on small talk's Nice day, isn't
it, to cover a multitude of gaps.

What is it about such weather,
that they show us its mercies,
just as fair skies might have
yielded to some grating ex-
ploitation? They tell me, an
be in Florida today, to call
for putting aside the past on
Cuba. Nice day, isn't it, has
never gained by being voiced.
Yet who resists claiming it,
when it's already given?

Mind you, the prevailing tenden-
cy to indulge the rainy day's ex-
cuse for a nap, ensconced in its
sympathetic acoustic blanket and
not necessarily uncompanionably,
at that, only elicits the genius
of the rainy day person. Who can
count, the rainy day people whose
name it would have been tempting
to know, selfless promises lost
as well, in respectful silence?

Such weather may come again, as
much as we may grasp, it doesn't
do anyone any good to expect it.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Goshy gloomy weekend reading to get past

Unhappily, TNYT has put together
another holiday-discordant proj-
ect for us all and slipt it in-
to the supplement with the cross-
word and the snazziest ads. It's
getting so that a fellow can't
welcome the warmth of newsprint
to his sideboard on a Sunday any-

I can't counsel bathing before
slogging through this kind of
Dashiell Hammett Red Harvest of
political carnage and small-
town shame, which is just about
the perfect scale the editors
have adopted for showing how
our gangsters have obliterated
the gains and protections, as
well as now the text, of the
Voting Rights Act. They go a-
bout in robes and limos, but
their thuggery is nasty, crude,
and reeks of clawing greed. Un-
congenial, one could almost say.

Why the merchant candidates of
Progress aren't all banging out
a Hudibras on this, I'd rather
not conjecture. But that just
means we all have to read on
for ourselves. Bad news for 
the bad guys, but possibly no
comfort for their rivals: the
conclusion to be drawn is pro-
gressive, and only the People
are of this Party. Sometimes.
Sometimes, inadvertently.

This still leaves the problem
of the hollandaise in the bain
marie, and the fate of trem-
ulous yolks upon the poaching
plain. But there you are, a fig
for digital: a tablet serves a
neutral aromatic, and this is
all the morning one could ask.
Better to be brisk than torpid
at that hour; and wow, is one 
going to want a bloody mary.

Jim Rutenberg
The New York Times
  A Dream Undone
July 29, 2015©

E.P. Thompson
Customs in Common:
  Studies in Traditional
  Popular Culture
The New Press, 1993©

i   Nate Hill
ii  William Hogarth

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer renovations and developments

By daring at all to open the
subject warned of, above, an
innocent seasonality in the
structure of the problem im-
mediately divides a reader-
ship already tested repeat-
edly by opinion, into halves
separated by the Equator.
We must allow, therefore, a
reasonably ambiguous portrait
of ourselves to launch this
impartial inquiry. We cannot
allow one man's Summer to
stand for another man's envy,
burrow as one may toward the
preferred hemisphere.

Who can know how much those
synchronised rotations of an
academic year have thrust us
upon the season of abandon-
ment to self-discipline, so
repeatedly, as to have endow-
ed that liberation with such
residual interferences of hab-
itual "achievement," as to o-
verlay our innocence with ac-
quired reflexes of guilt for
simple play? Do we ask if this
is fair; do we even remember

There, one may find oneself,
turning a simple mushroom bav-
arois from the cookbook of Le
Gavroche - summer camp child's
play of yore (recipe to follow)
- in one of those ongoing fits
of renovation and self-improve-
ment which found us reading Ol-
iver Twist in childhood on the
sand or, dare we say, the snowy
slope. The inertia of competi-
tion with time, itself, is at
its most visibly extenuated in
Summer, needing to look good.
Still, Dickens on deprivation
pairs nicely in the mind loosed
upon a season of free-range re-
freshment, with its rarer del-

Fitzgerald, usually our re-
liable guide to such distinc-
tions on either side of par-
adise, closed his Summeriest
of all creations with that
timeless reference to a beat-
ing back against the current,
which we come to identify as
the self-selected Summer syl-
labus. I hazard the guess that 
we revisit - relish - the con-
duct of those encounters for
their trials of our framing,
of desire and extrapolation.
We mean no betrayal of self-
improvement, to improvise ap-
proaches offering pleasure.

We are never reading one thing,
imaging one ingredient. I hap-
pen to have open Michel Roux,
and E.L. Doctorow, virtuosi in
the simplicity of superior cui-

         .. I stood across the narrow street in the
         weeds and rocks overlooking the tracks and
         demonstrated my latest accomplishment, the
         juggling of a set of objects of unequal 
         weight, a Galilean maneuver involving two
         rubber balls, a navel orange, an egg, and
         a black stone, wherein the art of the thing
         is in creating a flow nevertheless, main-
         taining the apogee from a kind of rhythm 
         of compensating throws, and it is a trick
         of such consummate discipline that the bet-
         ter it is done the easier and less remark-
         able it looks to the uninitiated .. I was
         juggling my own self as well in a kind of
         matching spiritual feat ..

2.5 cups white button
  mushrooms, thinly

salt, white pepper,

3.33 cups cream

3 sheets gelatin

lemon juice

           Put the mushrooms in a saucepan, season well,
           add half the cream, and bring to a boil; the
           mushrooms will be cooked in two minutes. Soak
           the gelatin in cold water until soft, squeeze
           dry, and add to the mushrooms; purée until
           smooth. Let cool.

           When nearly set, fold in the remaining cream,
           lightly whipped, check the seasoning, and add
           a little lemon juice if needed. Cover and re-
           frigerate for at least six hours

           Using two tablespoons dipped in hot water,
           shape into quenelles and serve with toasted

E.L. Doctorow
Billy Bathgate
Random House, 1989©

  Dedicated to his great
  editor, Jason Epstein,
  whose own Eating: A
  Memoir, 2009, belongs.

Michel Roux, Jr
Le Gavroche Cookbook
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003©

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

House ii

  To mark rmbl's fifth
  year, I happily turn
  to an admired compil-
  ation by J.D. McClat-
  chy which I've cited
  repeatedly over the
  years, without per-
  mission. One cannot
  claim authority, ei-
  ther, not to share a
  a generous creation.

      And suddenly now this small
    Unlooked for joy. Where did it come from,
      With these pale shoots
    And drooping lavender bell? Persistent
      Intruder, whether or not
    I want you, you've hidden in the heart's
      Overworked subsoil. Hacked at
    Or trampled on, may you divide and spread,
      Just as, last night,
    The wind scattered a milkweed across the sky.

J.D. McClatchy
The Rest of the Way
  fragment: 2nd of 2 verses
op. cit.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Suggested, the Biden candidacy

    For the convenience of the reader-
    ship outside of the United States,
    whose interest I value greatly, it
    is enough to beg their indulgence
    in yet another domestic political
    comment, with repercussions, how-
    ever, of broader potential reach.

    It has become the responsible view,
    that projects under way in the cur-
    rent Presidency are of sufficient
    vulnerability to unravelling by a
    successor, even of the same Party,
    to favour one whose professional
    investment in them is unquestion-
    able, whose moral commitment to
    them may be trusted, whose sup-
    port of them will not subject 
    them to extraneous denigration,
    and whose capacity to shoulder 
    them is demonstrable.

    This therefore obligates those who
    concur with the first part, to sup-
    port the implication of the second.
    The only American politician defined
    by these criteria is Joe Biden.

    Let's see that he runs, and let's be
    ready to extend every encouragement. 

President and Vice-President
of the United States, announ-
cing an arms control accord,
Washington, July 14, 2015

Getty Images©

Saturday, July 25, 2015


 When my spirit
 was overwhelmed
 within me, then
 thou knewest my
 path. In the way
 wherein I walked
 have they privi-
 ly laid a snare
 for me.

 I looked on my
 right hand, and
 beheld .. there
 was no man that
 would know me:
 refuge failed 
 me; no one cared
 for my soul.

 I said, thou art
 my refuge and my
 portion in the
 land of the living.


Psalm 141

Richard Meier
Douglas House
Harbor Springs

Luke Smalley photo

Lake Mendota