Friday, August 31, 2018

Some Acts of Protest and Praise

I try to shop Costco during the midday, the better to snag and snarf down one, er, many, of the sample foods offered throughout the store. During my most recent visit, Costco was giving out bite-sized samples of Nathan’s all beef hot dogs.

Hard to resist. But I did. At least for the short term I will defer any pleasure from swallowing a Nathan’s dog. It’s a form of resistance to the news earlier this month that Howard Lorber, executive chairman of Nathan’s, a real estate developer and one of Donald Trump’s closest friends, held a $3 million fundraiser in the Hamptons for the Republican National Committee attended by the Trumpster (

I’m under no illusions or delusions that my gastronomic protest will have any impact. Nor am I suggesting starting a consumer boycott of Nathan’s. To do so would be counter to many of my edible experiences.

For example, I obsess over Chick-fil-a chicken strips. Our daughter Ellie has admonished me for patronizing a  chain that in many policies is the antithesis of my progressive beliefs. As I generally only eat at Chick-fil-a when visiting Ellie in Omaha, I mostly adhere to her restriction, when I’m not in Omaha because there are few Chick-fil-a outlets where I live (okay, so I’m not perfect). 

It would be easy to document my other hypocrisies on food and nonfood purchases. For instance, I have never bought a German car. But I use a Braun coffeemaker and electric toothbrush. Go figure.

Which translates to a short recess from my Nathan’s denial.  What can I say? I’m an imperfect extremist. 

Neil Simon died last Sunday. He was the most successful American playwright. 

One of Gilda’s and my early dates was to a Broadway production of Simon’s The Gingerbread Lady starring Maureen Stapleton. I don’t recall any of the plot—the show opened in mid December 1970 and ran for just six months, the shortest of any Simon play, though it did secure Tony and Drama Desk awards for Stapleton. 

What I do recall is that Gilda and I wore jeans to the show. My parents were aghast that we would see a Broadway show so attired. I like to think we were in the vanguard of the movement to democratize theater attendance. 

Some 25 years later, while walking down Park Avenue to Grand Central Terminal after work I spotted Simon walking towards me. He had just come out of the Waldorf Astoria hotel. I often recognize celebrities and sports figures on Manhattan streets, luminaries including Dustin Hoffman, Richard Lewis, Johnny Damon, Al Pacino. My customary reaction is to shake their hands as I express appreciation for their work, all the while careful not to draw attention to their presence among us ordinary folks. 

In retirement I miss those serendipitous moments. 

The Last Word: Since his death last Saturday, John McCain’s farewell plans have pointedly excluded Donald Trump ( Considering how Trump treated him, one cannot really blame the Arizona senator and Vietnam war hero. 

But in publicly shunning, some would say humiliating, Trump by not only failing to invite him to any of his bereavement services but also asking former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to deliver eulogies, McCain might have missed a more visible rebuke. 

Would it not have been more of a reprobation to have Trump seated in the first pew as his two predecessors—men he has verbally criticized—praised McCain’s patriotism, heroism and commitment to bi-partisan American values? The cutting irony would not have been lost on all attendees and the millions viewing on television as cameras switched back and forth from speaker to Trump back to speaker to Trump for his reaction.

It would be reminiscent of Trump’s stern visage as he endured Obama and Seth Meyers skewer him during the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner. Some pundits claim Trump immediately started planning revenge, ultimately enabled by his election in 2016. 

So maybe it wouldn’t have been a good thing to give the vengeful-hater-in-chief another reason to diss John McCain. How any veteran and prisoner of war could support Trump after the insulting manner he has displayed toward McCain is beyond my comprehension.