There are weeks and weeks that go by without much of anything having happened. No worries. No drama or trauma. No sudden onsets of debilitating disease or injury.
And then there are weeks like the one that finished yesterday. Despite all that was promised, we got through a small invasion of a flesh-eating bacteria that was initially thought to be worse than Covid-19. The outbreaks were limited to New York, Connecticut and Florida, the latter of which is well-tempered to handle such things as long as they’re not in drag. Beyond that, there are cockroaches, the Sunshine State’s official insect and Republican.
We also got through the first Republican debate. It seemed pretty much less a debate than it was eight people loudly spouting off their ideas about a job none of them will ever hold. Major issues—domestic and foreign—were barely addressed; there was a shortage of talk about anything substantive. The highlight was seeing Ron DeSantis get his makeup refreshed—an activity which is illegal in Florida, his home state.
There was also the booking of Trump and 18 of his closest conspirators, many of whom he claims not to know. While about half of the country wanted to see Trump and company in a perp walk, we had to be satisfied with Trump’s expression of displeasure—a scowl of epic dimension. Before he was back in his limousine, his mug shot image was already available on coffee mugs and T-shirts. (Personally, I hope the Biden administration will replace the official portrait of 45 hanging in some room in the White House with the mug shot.)
God bless America. Or, as the Orange Menace might say, “Covfefe.”
But there are other things to worry about, one of which stemmed from my extraordinary observational skills. Fewer and fewer men are wearing neckties these days. Hell, even Trump has been photographed recently without the ruby red noose that pushes his multiple necks into a single fold.
The other big issue of the week was whether Bradley Cooper is some kind of anti-Semite because he chose to wear a prosthetic nose in his portrayal of Leonard Bernstein in the new movie Maestro.
Cooper, a fine actor and director, chose to wear a fake nose so that he would look more like Bernstein. This was because the revered conductor and composer had a large nose and Cooper has a comparatively small one. This is akin to Sylvester Stallone’s beefing up to play Rocky. Credibility is the goal in both cases. Would we, as audiences, accept Woody Allen as Rocky or Al Sharpton as Bernstein? For all the obvious reasons, of course not.
But those screaming about Cooper being an anti-Semite are, in fact, showing a bit of racism themselves. They are suggesting that Jews, in general, have large noses. This is only true in caricatures. Large proboscises belong to any number of characters, from Jews and Arabs and Blacks, to elephants, tapirs and anteaters. Welcome to the world of elongated noses and snouts.
I do have a complaint about the nose Cooper chose, however. It is relatively thin and its downward slope from between the eyes is as straight as a ruler. Bernstein’s nose had a significant rise at the top of the bridge. Besides, they should have worked on Cooper’s chin which is far too pointed to match Lenny’s.
All of that having been said, I look forward to seeing the movie. I’m sure it will be a fine expression of Bernstein’s craft, but not as fine as the four times I saw him conduct.
The necktie, believe it or not, is a French sartorial device meant to catch the juices that flow from the corners of one’s mouth while eating escargot (snails). The invention of this bib has gone through several alterations since first emerging around 1615, give or take. Over the years, the bib grew too thin to catch a single drop of the garlic-butter sauce that takes your mind away from the fact that while you avoid stepping on a snail, you have no problem eating one.
Like its maritime cousin—the octopus—snails are chewy to the point that one either gives up the challenge or delicately removes said wad into one’s necktie.
I happen to like both snails and neckties. This could be something of an affectation in the same vein as my not liking grits while being a big fan of polenta. Similarly, I’d rather listen to Bernstein conduct Mahler than whatever band it was that created “Stairway to Heaven.”
But the necktie is fast disappearing from view. While the network news anchors (male) are still wearing them, most of the correspondents and many of the guest commentators are not. I have nothing against wearing neckties. It’s merely the finishing touch for a man trying to look his best while dressing up.
A week ago Friday, in anticipation of writing this morning’s essay, I happened to tune in to “The Price is Right.” Drew Carey, the host, was not wearing a tie. The next morning, Bob Barker, the game show’s host for 35 years, was dead.
Coincidence? I think not.
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
1 7 oz. can of snails
1 shallot, finely diced
10 tbsp Butter, softened
3 tsp Garlic , minced
1/4 cup Parsley, chopped
1 Tbs. white wine
2 Tbs. Breadcrumbs
Melt 1 Tbs. butter in a pan, then add shallot and sauté until they soften. Add snails for about 2 minutes.
In a food processor or blender, add 5 Tbs. softened butter, garlic, parsley, and white wine. Pulse until it all comes together to make a garlic butter.
Place one snail in each escargot compartment of a baking sheet and cover with about 1/2 tsp. or so of the garlic butter mixture. Then, sprinkle each snail with a little bit of breadcrumbs.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes until they brown.
Cut a baguette into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Lay the pieces of bread on a cookie sheet.
Melt 4 Tbs. of butter in the microwave. Use a pastry brush to brush the top of the bread with butter.
When the snails come out of the oven, set them aside. Turn the oven to broil. Place your cookie sheet with the bread in the oven with the door slightly ajar. Broil the bread until it is toasted.
When the bread is toasted, serve the snails with the toast.
Adapted from ForeignFork.