Friday, March 21, 2014


  1. No luncheonettes yet, but I did finally get around to trying the best $6 sandwich in Philadelphia, on my way home from the farmers' market this morning.

    Because nothing polishes off shopping for the week's supply of eggs, spinach, microgreens, carrots, potatoes, pastured stewing hen, chicken livers and goat cheese quite like a giant Italian sausage sandwich from a shack attached to a Home Depot. ;)

    I think I need to head out to far West Philly tomorrow to try one of their many hole-in-the-wall-type West African places for lunch...

    1. You guys should follow Jay's link to the best $6 dollar sandwich.

      Our friend is starting to write a blog concerning the basic, down-home deliciousness found in the regions and counties around Philadelphia, PA.

      This means that Jay will have no choice but to become an expert on the world famous Philly Cheese-steak Sandwich.

      Oh, poor him!


    2. Thanks, Mike.

      I only wish I would have started this project fifteen years ago! This does give me an excuse to go out of my way and revisit old favorites to document, though, like Hackensack, New Jersey's White Manna, home of the greatest burger on earth; as well as other classic New Jersey slider joints like Clark's White Diamond, Highland Park's White Rose, Newark Italian hot dogs, and of course the wide world of frozen-in-time luncheonettes scattered around Philadelphia, and its Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Jersey suburbs.

      Louis' Lunch in New Haven, CT is definitely on the agenda as soon as I can get up there for a day. Probably in conjunction with a day trip to Boston sometime this summer.

      This Fall I'm planning to spend a few days wandering Ohio, mainly to finally spend some real time in Cleveland. At least two days with an overnight stay there, and I figured while I'm there I should also visit Cincinnati, Youngstown, Akron, Dayton and other such places. Would like to also spend at least a few hours in Cumberland, MD and Wheeling, WV on the way out there, with a day and an overnight stay in Pittsburgh on the way back home.

      The trip will certainly be at least partly food-centric, of course, and I'm sure small town Ohio can still produce some classic roadside Americana gems on that count. ;)

  2. The Flyers current winning streak of five in a row, launched by the back-to-back sweep of Pittsburgh last weekend, our 12-2-1 record in the last 15 games, and Steve Mason's goaltending brilliance in a 4-1 win over the team with the best record in hockey yesterday, has me more excited about hockey than I have any realistic right to be. ;)

    With an Eagles team making all the right moves, led by my favorite football coach ever; a Phillies team that probably needs to blow it up and try again in a few years but which nonetheless has, incredibly, made some pretty good moves this offseason and doesn't look awful; and a Sixers team with like $700 million in payroll room, already featuring perennial next decade all-star Michael Carter-Williams, and holding a ridiculous number of high draft picks in one of the most loaded classes in decades, I'd say it's a pretty good time for Philadelphia sports.

    Now if only Temple can get back to winning basketball again soon!

  3. This piece by Daniel Gordis pretty much nails the situation as I see it, concerning an issue we often wonder about here.


    "Then it was Ben-Ami’s turn to respond, and he made the most important comment of the entire evening. “I just find that so depressing,” he said. In not so many words, he was just saying that he cannot accept a world in which the options are so bleak – so he chooses to believe that there is a way out.

    Because my view is depressing, it must be wrong.

    It was the most significant comment of the evening, I thought, because it was also the most honest. What defines Israel’s position in the world today is a division not so much between those who care about Palestinians and those who don’t (though there are sadly many of the latter), not between those who tolerate the Jews and those who can’t stand them (though there are tragically a growing number of the latter), and not between those committed to a secure Israel and those who would be happy to see Israel crumble (though there are many of those, too).

    The real divide is between those who can accept reality for what it is (with all the sadness thereunto appertaining), and those who cannot tolerate that bleakness – and therefore opt for delusion.


    I would use a word other than 'delusion' myself, with its connotations of mental illness, generally a weak argument of last resort often used by those who have no actual point to make. For example, I was called a 'lunatic' multiple times in a Facebook discussion last week, for disputing, with facts and common sense, the irrational -- hey, there's a good alternative descriptor! -- claims of two persistent fools that the United States has a worse human rights record than even the Soviet Union did, is somehow currently one of the most violent and racist nations on earth, and also that Presidents George W. Bush (who, I noted, actually left office in a democratic transition of power right on schedule, and which one of them seemed to dispute!) and President Obama were / are worse than Soviet throwback, Russian Dictator Vlad Putin. Of course people like that would call me insane for patiently swatting away each and every one of their silly 'arguments.' Because what else are do they have?

    But anyway...

    Yeah, aside from that, I think it's mostly a pretty good piece worth a read.

    1. Y'know, Stuart objected to our discussion of "Jewish Stockholm Syndrome" on just the same grounds. He felt that it was an unjust way of psychologizing, and thereby dismissing, alternative points of view. I certainly agree that smearing someone as "crazy" or a "lunatic" represents the very lowest form of political discourse. It's also a form of intellectual laziness because when you dismiss a pundit or a thinker or a politician as "insane," or whatever, it means that you need not actually face the challenge being offered. You need not address the questions being asked.

      I have to say, man, I do very much think that the western Jewish Left is at a cross-roads, whether they acknowledge it or not. The political movement that we both come from is forcing us to choose between solidarity with them or solidarity with the Jews of the Middle East.

      For me that choice is easy.

      As for Gordis, I like the guy very much. He once said something like, "I am one of the very few people on the planet who can say that he voted for both Jesse Jackson and Arik Sharon."

      It slays me. He voted for Jackson in 1979 because he's a good-hearted liberal. He voted for Sharon in Israel because, for among other reasons, he favored Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

      But Gordis represents a terrific case for how politics around the Arab-Israel conflict is so far from black and white. Is the guy on the left or is the guy on the right? What does left and right even mean when it comes to the Arab-Israel conflict? And just why is one "bad" and the other "good"?

      What I think is that things are very much in flux at the moment and that we need, therefore, to maintain flexibility. If we entrap ourselves in old ways of thinking - the Failed Oslo Assumptions - then we are trying the same thing over and over and over again hoping for a different result... even as the rockets continue to fire from Gaza.

    2. That's not exactly what my objection was. I have little doubt that there are people on all sides of this issue that are delusional. Delusions tend to be a symptom of ideologies. My objections were because Jews were singled out for a special kind of delusion, absent in non-Jews. I did, btw, voice identical objections when the useless idiot made a similar anti-Semitic claim that Jews who think differently from him, do so as a result of a cultural psychosis.

    3. Stuart,

      it seems to me that the question is this:

      Why do so many progressive-left Jews continue to assume that the Arab-Israel conflict is primarily the fault of the Jewish minority of the Middle East?

      I think that you are a good man and that you want what is fair and just. But given your writings in the past I have the distinct impression that you are more disappointed with the behavior of the Jews in the Middle East than you are of the far larger and far more powerful Arab majority.

      As for the notion of "cultural psychosis" you are, I suspect, referring to Kevin Levin's book The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege. What can I tell you, my friend? Levin is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard University.

      But, you know what? I ultimately agree with you. Progressive-left Jews who think that Israel is primarily at fault for ongoing Arab aggression are not suffering from a psycholigical impairment, but from a misreading of history due to ongoing and continuous anti-Jewish propoganda coming from the Arab world and absorbed by western liberals.

      You need to know that I respect you.

      I do.

      But we are both emerging from a western and American political movement that is turning against the Jews of the Middle East.

      We can either face that fact directly or hide our head.

    4. "disappointed" is a word I would use to describe the behavior of people with whom I feel a connection. And Jews, whether they be in the middle east, or anywhere else would qualify. Behavior of people with whom I have no connection are more likely to result in words like disgust. So you're probably right, though I'm making a purely semantic and pedantic distinction. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, my disappointment is maybe a 4. My disgust is a 10.

    5. Stuart,


      My impression was that your disappointment with Israelis outweighed your disgust with their neighbors. I am very happy to read that this is not the case.

      I think that for a very long time the general tendency within the Jewish community, particularly the diaspora Jewish community, has been toward outreach. The hope has been that if we dialogue with Arab and Muslim communities we can ease tensions as we move toward a two-state solution.

      My voice does not contribute to this endeavor simply because I no longer find it worthy, nor do I find it honest.

      We need to tell people in very direct terms that the Jews in that part of the world are a tiny minority that is being harassed by a much larger, hostile majority.

      That should be the core of our argument, because it happens to be the truth.

      What do you think?