Michelin Guide Awards Stars To Six Restaurants In Shithole Countries

Following up on their promise to be "the entire world's favorite travel book", the Michelin Guide announced Friday morning that six restaurants located in various shithole countries have been awarded at least one of their fabled stars.

"We at Michelin hope our newest guide book will encourage travel to shithole countries," said Pierre Romaine, director of the Michelin Guide for Shithole Countries. "If you go to a normal country, with actual working toilets, you will, hopefully, have a nice trip. But, if you go to a shithole country, the chances of coming back with a colorful story are greatly increased.  Our new guidebook will help you eat well while experiencing some of the best shithole countries in the world."

Topping the list, the only restaurant in a shithole country to be award two Michelin stars was The Hippo Laundry in Bangui, capital city of the Central African Republic. The guide said this about THL; "Even if The Hippo Laundry was not located in a shithole country, we would praise it or its extremely slowly cooked large-format meats.  Although named after the Hippopotamus, the restaurant's signature dish is 61-day braised cape buffalo shoulder with Yukon Gold potatoes."

The following restaurants in shithole countries were awarded one Michelin star.

"Re Re Re Re Refriend Bean Palace", San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  "Said to be the only restaurant in any shithole country in the western hemisphere that fries their beans five times, "Re Cinco" , as it is known locally, offers an almost porous bean that has played a significant role in uncleanliness of this exciting and rapidly declining central American country."

"Kushner's Kafe at the Martha's Heights Winery",  Katzrin, Golan Heights, Isryia. "Although the winery has produced several bottles of white and red wines that have been awarded over 70 points by Robert Parker (Their '61 Cabernet Blanc scored an impressive 74),  the Kafe is widely praised for its creative use of extinct vegetables. It's souffle of sorghumbaga, a favorite of stegosaurus, is a paragon of historical flavors.".

"Used Fish Grill", Tirana, Albania - "While fresh fish has its charms the less popular used fish have a more pronounced, denser flavor.  No restaurant in any country in Europe - not working toilet or shithole - has pounced on this controversial fad as thoughtfully asUsed Fish in the Albania capital Tirana, a city known primarily for its drabness.  The 13-day-old Adriactic wilted seabass is a highlight."

"Colonel Myanmar's Fried Bruised Chicken", Maungdaw city, Rakhine state, Myanmar.. "While tenderizing meats has been a technique practiced for thousands of years, the practice of punching a live animal then trying to make up for it by frying in lukewarm oil is gaining popularity in Southeast Asia. The Colonel is the best of this lot."

"Paul Bocuse, Port Au Prince", Port au Prince Haiti. "Though the master Bocuse rarely shows up here, his namesake restaurant in Haiti offers many of the classic dishes he made famous, including a modified version of la soupe aux truffes he created for a Feb. 25, 1975 dinner for French president Valéry Giscard D’Estaing. The version at Bocuse's Haiti outpost substitutes truffles with beef jerky."

Yes, one can vacation in New York City and stroll Fifth Avenue or go to Paris and walk down the Champs-Elysees.   You can go snorkeling in Cayman Islands or ski down the Swiss Alps. Have a nice trip.

You might, however,  come back a little envious, even jealous.  But, if you go to one of the great shithole countries, I'm betting you'll have a far more interesting time. Way more stories And when you come back, you'll come back grateful and you might even feel better about your own life.    

My own ancestors came from Armenia, a land that, during World War I, was one of the great shithole countries of modern times. I'm proud of that. And Haiti and all the other shithole countries should be proud, too. 

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Limited "Nancy Dog" At Sumo Rated #1 Hot Dog In America, Proceeds Go To Midnight Basketball League In Watts

For the first time since 1947 when hot dogs were first rated nationally, a version available in Los Angeles has awarded the prestigious "Top Dog"  honors by the Restaurant Critics Association of America, it was announced Wednesday.

The winner, the "Nancy Dog", the creation of Nancy Silverton for Sumo Dog on Western Avenue in Koreatown, will only be available until January 22  and cost $9  with 20% ($1,80) of each sale going to help fund the Nickerson Gardens Recreation Center participation in the Midnight Basketball League in Watts.   

The Silverton creation - with contributions from Osteria Mozza chef Elizabeth "Go Go" Hong and chi Spacca chef Ryan DeNicola -  consists of a beef hot dog from the renowned Snake River Farms, provolone cheese, Calabrese aioli, pickles, onions, pepperoncini and wild oregano on a Martin's potato roll. One good bite and you'll know why the RCAA voted it best hot dog in the country. The worrisome news is the Nancy Dog will only be available until January 22.

The Midnight Basketball league is a nationwide non-profit founded in 1986 by G Van Standifer, a Army veteran and government worker who died in 1992. Here is a quote from him on the website http://www.amblp.com/.   "The Midnight Basketball League is is not just about playing basketball. It’s about providing a vehicle upon which citizens, businesses, and institutions can get involved in the war against crime, violence, and drug abuse”,

In Watts, the league plays not only in Nickerson Gardens, but at the nearby Jordan Downs and Imperial Courts projects as well.  The gym at Nickerson Gardens features a mural created by Brian "Loaf" McLucas - an old friend - which reads "Nobody Can Stop This War But Us"  That is a purpose of the basketball games.

(To read about the Wall  check  this  http://www.krikorianwrites.com/blog/2015/5/20/n402txn86sibadqyn1vvprx0p0amss)

Back to the Nancy Dog. Wednesday was the first day the special treat was made available to the pubic, but several restaurant professionals were given an advance taste over the previous weekend. They were stunned by the depth of flavor. 

"When I first bite into it, I thought I should get out of the haute cuisine life  and try the top the Nancy Dog," said Joel Robuchon.  the world's most honored chef. "But, then I thought there was no way I could top a hot dog made by Nancy Silverton."

Sumo Dog is at 516 S. Western Avenue. The website is https://www.eatsumodog.com/  Sumo Dog opens everyday at 11:30 a.m. and closes at midnight on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 10 p.m. other days. 

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How To React When Your Partner Gets Shot; The Story Of Two LAPD Officers From Rampart

"Well now I'm no hero, that's understood. All the redemption I can offer girl is beneath this dirty hood."  - from Bruce Springsteen's greatest song, "Thunder Road"

LAPD field training officer Antonio Hernandez, 38,  and his trainee, officer Joy Park, 35, were cruising along Hartford Avenue near 7th Street just west of downtown on the night of Dec. 29 when they saw a man with an open container. They stopped and confronted the man who was standing near the hood of a parked car.

As they were conducting an interview, gun shots rang out. By the third shot, Park was in agony.  

**

When Joy Yoosun Park was a little girl growing up in Korea her father, a policeman in Seoul, regaled her with stories of his daily adventures. Joy was enthralled and dreamed one day she, too, would be a police officer.

During that time, across the Pacific, 5,960 miles away in El Monte, Antonio Hernandez was growing up and – after moving to Pomona where he attended high school – considering a career with the LAPD. In, 2002, he joined up and,  after a 1-year probationary period in the 77th, was sent to Rampart Division in July 2003. Hernandez worked the gang unit there for nine years before becoming a F.T.O. a Field Training Officer.

Park was 17 when she migrated to America. After graduating from Los Angeles Lutheran High School in Sylmar she continued her education at Cal State L.A. where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, whatever that is.

Still, her dream of being a cop never blurred. The problem was she needed to be a naturalized citizen. From when she applied to when she finally became a citizen took over a decade. But, as soon as she got that treasured certificate, she set her sights on the police academy. She graduated last April. It was a glorious achievement for her and for her parents.

“Mom and Dad couldn’t be more proud,” Park said. “It’s an honor to our family to have two generations in law enforcement."

Park, assigned to Rampart,  had already passed the first two phases of her probationary period when she teamed up with Hernandez

“Sir, I wouldn’t even consider Park a trainee because she knew her stuff and had already passed Phase Two” of the probationary period,” said Hernandez. “She was compassionate and caring. She knew how to talk to people. She asked me the right questions.”

***

It was about 9:50 when they turned onto Hartford Avenue, a street in the turf of some gang called Witmer Street 13.

Back to the man with the open container. You might say “Why bother? It’s just an open can of beer.” And I get that. But, this wasn’t your normal open container. It was a 23.5 ounce can of Four Loko, an alcoholic caffeinated beverage so notorious even the Washington Post referred to it as “a blackout in a can”.

So, this Four Loko guy is going along with the program, cooperating and about to get a citation, when the gun fire erupts on Hartford. 

Hernandez intuitively ducked for cover behind the parked car, then saw that Parks had been shot in the leg. Park was in tremendous pain and couldn't speak.  Immediately, Hernandez pulled her to cover behind the parked car as he scanned for the source of the gunfire. 

"I didn't see any blood, but I saw the hole in her pants," said Hernandez, adding that in those first frenzied seconds he pulled drinker man to safety, too. "I was trying to figure out where the shots were coming from .It seemed like they were coming from 8th Street."

As soon as they were all semi- shielded, Hernandez got on his radio. “We need help! Officer down!”, Hernandez yelled into his radio, his adrenaline up, his awareness sky high. Time seemed to slow down.

As he waited for back-up and the first volley of shot stopped, Hernandez had a dreaded thought. “The guy could be reloading and getting closer. I was very concerned for my partner.”

But, within seconds, Hernandez could hear reinforcements coming to the rescue. "In less than a minute there were 50 officers there."

Soon Park was loaded into an ambulance on on her way to County USC. .

Not long after that, a suspect was arrested.  Wednesday, Ivan Castillo, 27, was charged with two counts of attempted murder of a peace officer and two counts of assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm. Castillo was also charged with attempted murder and assault with a semiautomatic firearm on the Four Loko guy who was near the officers at the time of the shooting.  Castillo is being held on $4 million bail at Wayside. If convicted of the charges, he faces up to life in prison.

Last Thursday, nearly a week after the shooting. Park gave three interviews from her hospital room where she is starting rehabilitation. Two interviews were to local television stations. Soft spoken Park was quick to praise Hernandez.

“He was just like you are supposed to be, He was cool and calm.  When I got shot, he was my first thought.”

One of her other thoughts that night was her mother.“I was so worried about how my mother would take the news and if she would get sick," said Park, her elegant mother sitting a few feet away, saying nothing, but looking proud.. 

Park faces several months of rehab.  Dr. Steven J. Hsu, the associate medical director of the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Keck Medical Center of USC, said Park suffered "a significant, high impact injury that fractured her femur" and she will need four to six months of treatment but a full recovery is expected.    Hsu said by about one inch, the bullet missed Park's femoral artery,  a wound that often results in death.

The day after the shooting, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said this of Park and Hernandez; “They were doing their job and were targeted for it by a coward.”

Sunday, yesterday, during a visit at Men’s Central Jail, Cleamon Big Evil” Johnson, a well-known gang member from 89 Family Swans, said this of the shooter after hearing he had “ambushed” them from up to 500 feet away. “That’s not an ambusher, that’s a coward.”

It was the first known time that Big Evil and Chief Beck agreed on something.

Nobody in the LAPD wants their partner to get shot.  They might have disputes, and the guy or gal riding shotgun might annoy the shit outta them at times, but no one really wants their partner shot.

But, somewhere in the recesses of their brain, I’m betting most of the men and woman in the LAPD, or any police force, for that matter, have wondered how they would react if their partner was, indeed, shot and wounded.

The officer down, well, she or he doesn’t have a whole lotta wondering to do on how they would react. They’ve been shot and not a lot is expected of them other than to go horizontal and writhe in pain. The partner, though, all eyes turn to him or her. Just the way Park’s frantic eyes turned to Hernandez’ “I got you” eyes .

Hernandez fends off the praises that he was a hero, prompting me to think of that line up top from “Thunder Road”.

‘I’m not a hero,” he said. “I don’t consider myself a hero. I just did what I was trained to do.   And I was there for my partner when she needed me the most.”

When I asked Antonio Hernandez to send me a photo of himself, he replied "I'd rather not sir."  

park officer

(Editor's Note- Saji Mathai, the copy editor for Krikorian Writes is on strike, hence....)

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For The Entire Year of 2017 There Were 2 Homicides In LAPD's Hollywood Division

I look at crime stats the way I used to look at baseball statistics when I was a kid. Now, instead of checking on Sandy Koufax’s strikeouts, I check the homicides in each Los Angeles police division.

The other day, on the LAPD website, I came across one stat that struck me as stunning, though in a good way. As of then — and as of midnight, New Year’s Eve — LAPD’s Hollywood Division recorded two homicides in 2017: Jimmy Bradford, 47, and Bryan De La Torre, 21.

Hollywood Division has never ranked in the stratosphere of homicides. It’s not like the 77th or Southeast, where in violent years past more than 100 killings were not unusual. (In 1993, there were nearly 300 killings in those two divisions) But two? The last few years, the Hollywood total has been seven or eight, and the peak was 35, back in 1995.

Then, as I took a closer look, I noticed that while homicides were down 71% compared to 2016, and robberies down 5%, aggravated assaults were up 21% — 680 compared to 581. That seemed odd. 

I had lunch with the commander of Hollywood Division, Capt. Cory Palka, and he gave me his explanation. Not particularly politically correct, he came out fast with a reasonable rationale.

“The decline of what I call neon club culture,” he said. “We closed three clubs in Hollywood that were a magnet for the urban crowd of South L.A.”

Hollywood’s story is to some extent the city’s story: Killings are down. Assaults are up.

It doesn’t take a sociologist to figure out “urban” means black.

“Of course, the vast majority are good people. But with an urban crowd from South L.A., you are going to have some gang members. That’s just the facts. And you have club owners with an encouraging attitude — over-serving alcohol, not having proper security — that fuels the situation. Throw in gang members from different neighborhoods, and you get killings.”

Palka said that in each of last few years there were always two or three club-related killings in Hollywood. Because of strict enforcement of various codes, the Cashmere, Cosmos and Supper Club were closed. Last year, no club-related killings. And just one related to gangs, that of De La Torre.

There is still a vibrant clubbing scene in Hollywood, but according to Palka, it caters to a different, often gay, clientele. “That’s fine with us. You don’t have Rollin 60s going there because of the gay element.”

He also cited a crackdown on the so-called Yucca Corridor open-air drug market, as well as local gang prevention and gentrification as keys to making most of Hollywood safer.

The gangs in question — the 18th Street Hollywood Gangsters clique, Mara Salvatrucha 13, White Fence — have had their presence diminished by years of pressure and a new tactic Palka and the division’s gang unit endorse: respect.

“We build relationships,” said gang unit Lt. Jeff Perkins. “It goes both ways. But they know, if [you] commit a crime in Hollywood, we are gonna come after you and you will go to jail.”

Gentrification has meant an increase in the division’s Hollywood Entertainment District force, which now has a lieutenant, five sergeants and about 80 officers. They patrol the area bounded by La Brea, Argyle, Sunset and Franklin, prime tourist territory.

“There are billions of dollars invested in Hollywood and there is a concentrated effort by the police to keep that area safer,” Palka admitted. “I’m all for more expensive restaurants coming to Hollywood. I’d rather have the customer willing to pay $10 for a beer over the customer who pays two bucks for a beer.”

He gave an example of what “safer” means.

“Around the corner from the Pantages, there were a couple vendors selling illegal ‘Hamilton’ T-shirts. Husbands would go on this darkened street and pull out cash because the bastards were too cheap to pay 50 bucks for their wives for a real shirt. And they were getting robbed left and right. We put a stop to that.”

As for the aggravated assaults: “My commanding officer, Mike Moore, says, ‘Your numbers are up, your numbers are up.’ But we have traded major assaults with gang members that can lead to homicides for a homeless man hitting another homeless man with a wrench. Do I want that? Of course not…. Would I rather have that? Yes.”

He also said he knows that sounds wrong, but the truth is the truth.

So Hollywood’s story is to some extent the city’s story: Killings are down (not in every division, but most: the 77th recorded a city-high 49 homicides, sadly about par for the course the last few years; but the once-deadly Rampart Division had 12 killings in 2017, compared to 22 in 2016). Assaults are up. Tamping down gang activity helps the homicide count but the assault problem is bad, and about as intractable.

In a utopia, there wouldn’t be any homeless people attacking each other. And in even a junior utopia, the homeless encampments along the freeways and underpasses would be as safe as Hollywood Boulevard.

I got word about two months ago that an old friend was homeless and living along the Hollywood Freeway near Western Avenue. I checked it out. I didn’t find my friend, but I discovered a sad, eerie tent village, with a foot-wide path separating the shelters from a rocky, 45-degree dropoff to the 101.

The LAPD can’t make that dangerous encampment disappear, and officers might not work a homeless-on-homeless assault like they would a lady from Kansas getting attacked in front of the Chinese theater, but a homicide is still a homicide.  As Michael Connelly’s fictional detective Harry Bosch says. “Everybody counts or nobody counts.”

Jimmy Bradford, one of the Hollywood’s two 2017 homicides, homeless - and black -  was stabbed to death near an on-ramp to the 101 on June 12. On the board at West Bureau Homicide next to Bradford’s name it reads “cleared by arrest.”

As for the other homicide victim, Bryan De La Torre, his case hasn’t been cleared. “But homicide is still working it,” said Palka. “Working it hard.

Reprinted from L.A. TIMES Op-Ed January 4, 2018  Here's the link to the Times' op-ed    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-krikorian-crime-rate-hollywood-20180104-story.html

 

LAPD Capt. Cory PaLka , commander of the hollywood division 

LAPD Capt. Cory PaLka , commander of the hollywood division 

Adam Boardman's Resignation From Pizzeria Mozza Denied By Nancy Silverton, He'll Pull A Double Christmas

After an extraordinarily moving Facebook post regarding his departure from Pizzeria Mozza, Adam "PuroHombre" Boardman's resignation has been denied by Nancy Silverton and he has been ordered to work on Christmas, even though the restaurant itself will be closed. 

"If Nancy says Adam can't leave, then guess what? He can't leave," said Michael Krikorian, Silverton's head of security on The Corner.  "It's kinda sad in a way because his resignation was so heartfelt. I actually teared up myself reading it."

Reached at Leonardo Da Vinci Fiumicino Aeroporti in Rome, Silverton said her decision was basically economic.

"Adam was and is and will continue to be a outstanding server," said Silverton via a lengthy text. "But, let's face it. The boy can talk a customer's ear off.   But, that's good because we get too busy and he slows the orders down.  If he left and we actually got a shy server to replace him, I'd have to hire three, four more cooks."

Boardman, who on a gold medal in the 1,500 meters at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, was shocked by the news, but understaning.

"Hey, like the man says, if Nancy says you can't, then you can't," said Boardman, adding that the scheduled drinks for him tonight at the Village Idiot 11 p.m. will go on as scheduled. 

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Laughter At The Gloomiest Place In Town

“To the memory of those who made us laugh: the motley mountebanks, the clowns, the buffoons, in all times and in all nations, whose efforts have lightened our burden a little, this picture is affectionately dedicated.” – “Sullivan’s Travels”, 1941 Preston Sturges film.

The gloomiest population in all of Los Angeles is found at the Sunday morning gathering in the inmate visitor’s waiting room of the Men’s Central Jail, aka CJ..  

There may be more doomed locales in town – the coroner’s identification room, a hospice where the only hope is that the end will soon come – but, for a mass gathering of gloom, nothing beats the CJ crowd on a Sunday.

It’s depressing here every day, but there’s something extra glum about the Sunday morning visit. Perhaps it's the thoughts visitors have of being elsewhere: Of still being in bed or attending a morning church service or taking the family on a Sunday drive or having some early cold ones with the boys before the resurgent Rams or Chargers play an outta town game at 10 a.m..

Instead, here they are, in the main lockup of the largest jail system in the United States where nearly 20,000 inmates are housed. Some of the visitors are seeing loved ones off before they take the long bus ride to Corcoran or Susanville or even San Quentin's Death Row. Some are there to encourage those still facing trial. But, most are there to let the incarcerated know they are not forsaken.

Me, I’ve been here I don’t know how many times. I think less than a 100, but that I even have to think that lets you know I’m no stranger to the gloom. I’ve even been the one the visitors were waiting to see.

Last Sunday, I was there to visit an old friend, one Cleamon “Big Evil” Johnson. I first wrote in the Los Angeles Times about Johnson, who has been called the most violent gang member in the city by homicide detectives, back in 1997 when he was convicted of ordering a double and sentenced to the Row. (He spent over 14 years there before his conviction was overturned by the California Supreme Court and he awaits retrial here.)

I bring this all up because of what happened that last Sunday as I waited in the gloomiest room to see him.

I arrived just after 7 a.m. for my scheduled 8 a.m. visit and took a seat on a green metal bench in the “Hi-Power” visitors waiting area of the roughly 12,000 square foot, brightly-lit room. I sat facing the interior of the room, not toward the wall where television was mounted and playing something that – with just a quick glance – struck me as buffoonish.

Facing me in the row across from mine about four feet away were several people including a very solemn looking 40ish black guy, ‘bout 6-4, 250, wearing low top white Converse. Next to him was a grandmotherly looking tiny Mexican lady with a blue and grey scarf. And next to her, also wearing white low top Converse, was a late 20s woman telling a lengthy story in English and Spanish to a middle-aged Latino who was all ears. Behind them, facing me in the next row, was the only white lady here, a toothless meth-looking type with a three-year old kid in tow. There were close to 20 others nearby, but those folks caught my eye

I took out a few sheets of paper and started writing something. Less than a minute later, I heard a lady right behind me bust out with a short burst of laughter.  I didn’t pay it much mind and wrote on. But, maybe 30 seconds later, she laughed again, this time louder and longer. I looked up and tiny grandma is looking up at the TV behind me and smiling. So is storyteller girl. Even solemn big black looks like he is almost fighting off a grin.

I turn to look what’s on the TV and see a white family on a lake outing having difficulty in their boat. An oar goes flying off their boat and the visitors around me laugh louder.

I turn back just to watch the reaction to these people waiting to see their (allegedly) criminal loved ones. Instead of writing what I had planned, I start to take notes on these people. Something else happens and big black gives up and starts laughing. Story teller girl has abandoned her tale and is mesmerized on the plight of the white family. Even Miss Meth is chuckling in loud staccato bursts.

I take a quick look backward at the television. By now, the apparent father is running for his life away from a speeding truck. Of course, dad is running directly in front of the truck in a straight line down the center of the road, having clearly never seen a Gale Sayers highlight reel.

This brings gales of laughter.   Pryor and Carlin would love this crowd.   

Then, suddenly, there is silence as the truck driver gets out and is about to confront dad. He looks like he’s about to clobbered pops with a straight right hand, but instead he unfurls his hand to reveal a ring.

“My ring! He found my missing ring,” mom says. Back to the visitors. They are all smiling. Close call. Big black has a tender smile. So does grandma and the white girl, too.

A few seconds later, there’s another round of laughter. I have been to open mic comedy shows with less mirth.

I am reminded – as any film buff reading this might be – of that ending scene in Preston Sturgis’ 1941 classic “Sullivan’s Travels” when inmates are howling with laughter as they watch a clip of Walt Disney’s 1934 cartoon “Playful Pluto”.

On this Sunday, the mood suddenly reverts to reality when a deputy sheriff starts calling out names of inmates. The laughter stops. The smiles fade. Big black goes back to stern. He gets up when his inmate’s name is called.  

When "Johnson, Cleamon" name is called, I go to my assigned row (H-12) and have my visit. I tell him about the laughter in the waiting room. He says, “I guess they need a good laugh before coming to see us.”

When I got home, I checked the TBS website for their programming. It turns out we were watching “Vacation”, the 2015 remake of the 1983 Chevy Chase “National Lampoon Vacation”, starring someone named Ed Helms.  This version had a Rotten Tomatoes score of 26%, but for the crowd at CJ it might as well been “Some Like It Hot. “

I hope you never have to visit a loved one at CJ. But, if you do, let me give you some advice. Before you make your appointment, check the listings of TBS. If Vacation is playing, see if you can schedule your visit about an hour after it comes on.

And even if you don't ever go to Men's Central, - and I'm doubting that you will - you oughta still check out something funny, even if it's on the stupid side. Lotta people looking for a laugh these days, even if they ain't visiting someone on their way to Pelican Bay. 

You don't want to get the green light here.

You don't want to get the green light here.

Scorsese Blasts AFI For Ranking "Annie Hall" And "Megan's Shift" Above "Raging Bull"

While the media is focused on repugnant Hollywood sexual abuse scandals, those who actually make movies are embroiled in a completely different - and, in these times, welcomed - controversy; the latest ratings of the greatest American films of all time.

Saturday, storied director Martin Scorsese went on a social media tirade against the American Film Institute for dropping "Raging Bull", his greatest movie, two positions on the prestigious list of top 100 American films

Raging Bull, which had been ranked the 24th best American movie, was passed by "Annie Hall", Woody Allen's 1977 classic, and :"Megan's Shift", Zeke Farrow's harrowing 2017 ode to the working man's struggle and growth.

Though both films that moved into the top 25  - Annie into 22nd and Megan to 24th -  touch on important social issues, they are essentially comedies. This was a particular point of contention for Scorsese.

"I made a dramatic masterpiece, black and white, by the way,  that is often thought to be on of the 10 greatest works of cinema ever produced anywhere, not just America," said Scorsese via text message. "And what happens? I get topped by one movie whose most famous scene is chasing a lobster around a kitchen and another that begins with a recital list of ingredients in a Nancy Silverton salad. Absurd.  What's next? 'Cocktail' above 'Casablanca'?"

But, the voters who compile the AFI list clearly disagree.

"First of all, Raging Bull, while clearly a superb film, is hard to watch once, let alone  repeatedly,"  said Tess Neidermeyer, an actor and  prominent Lebanon sympathizer. "On the other hand, I've seen Megan's Shift at least 12 times, and Annie Hall probably six. Both Megan and Annie are films more relevant more than ever today as we need laughter and hope."

Another AFI member said too much has been made of Robert DeNrio gaining 30 or 40 or 80 pounds for his title role of middleweight boxer Jake LaMotta. 

"Yeah Bobby D ate a lot to change his body and that was sort of a landmark," said Daniel Day-Lewis, an actor. "But Arturo Ortiz? He didn't gain a pound and his screen presence was just as powerful as DeNiro."

(Arturo Ortiz, a former - and probably current - member of the Sinaloa Cartel, plays a key role in the beginning of Megan's Shift.)  

You judge. Annie Hall and Raging Bull are available on Amazon and probably Netflix. Megan's Shift, can be seen on Film Shortage. Here's the link -   http://filmshortage.com/dailyshortpicks/megans-shift/

For the record, the Megan the film's title refers to his based on the real life - and legendary - Pizzeria Mozza server Megan "Athena" Tropea.

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Silverton-Reichl Feud Results In Grilled Cheese Sandwich Competition And Benefit

The tentative truce between Nancy Silverton and Ruth Reichl over who makes the best grilled cheese sandwich unraveled this weekend and has morphed into the first annual Grilled Cheese Shoot-Out,(GCSO)  a benefit open to the public this coming week..

The GCSO will be held Monday and Tuesday from noon to 3 p.m. on the Melrose Avenue sidewalk in front of Mozza’s Chi Spacca. All proceeds of the competition will go for the funeral expenses of Pattie Porter, the mother of Hayley Porter, an Osteria Mozza line cook. The sandwiches  - with either a glass or lemonade or a cookie - are expected to be $12.

Silverton fled to Mexico early Saturday morning, but will participate in Tuesday’s  event. Reichl will not be on hand for either GCSO.  The storied duo’s most iconic versions of the grilled cheese sandwich will be prepared by Osteria Mozza executive chef Elizabeth “Go Go” Hongian and garde manger of the Mozzarella Bar, Anna “North Tower” Nguyen.

Go Go and North Tower said Ruth’s version - called in the contest "The Ruthie" - will be made by smearing the outside of the bread with mayonnaise – and a little grated cheese – rather than the traditional butter. In addition, the filling will be cheddar and bacon and - with a decidedly non Ruth touch - pickled jalapenos..

"The Nancy" will be the classic; bread, Gruyere, mustardand butter. However, by Sunday morning, rumors were running rampart that Nancy’s sandwich - with a supplemental - would deploy Rodolphe Le Meunier Beurre de Barrate, the butter often considered the best available in America.

“Yes, we took advantage of the spat between two beloved giants to help out a fellow cook in her darkest hour,” said North Tower Nguyen during a break on a typically busy Saturday night at the Mozza Corner. “Cooks, like Hayley, they don’t work for money. They work for the love of cooking. So, hopefully, the GCSO will raise enough money for her not to have to work for money and be able to take some time off and be with her family to grieve.”

Hongian, a Jewish Korean Armenian, used a more direct approach to raise funds.

"How much money do you have in your wallet?" she asked a man who walked into the Osteria kitchen.

"I have a fifty dollar bill.."

"Give it to me."

He did.

Pattie Porter, 53,  a special education teacher, passed away at her home Saturday.after a cancer attack. A Go Fund Me account has been set up for her by Osteria Mozza chef Nicolas "Never Tardy" Rodriguez. Here's the hyperlink -   https://www.gofundme.com/mozza-helps-hayley

It was just Friday evening that Reichl was the keynote speaker for an event at the Harold Lloyd estate in Beverly Hills honoring Silverton for her work with the No Kid Hungry campaign. (More than $300,000 was raised to help feed children across the nation.).  Reichl spoke with great admiration of Silverton, ending her speech with question she asks herself when confronted with charity requests; “What would Nancy do?”

Reichl was even staying at Silverton’s Windsor Square home, but apparently between the Friday night event and Reichl’s abrupt 5 a.m. Saturday morning departure, something went terrible awry.

Sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Silverton’s longtime boyfriend, crime reporter – and well-known instigator - Michael Krikorian, may have exasperated the tenuous peace between the two American food legends by, well, by instigating something.

Reached by telephone, Reichl said the competition was "rigged".

"I think this is a rigged contest!," she said. "I'm not there to defend my sandwich!"

The Goddesses in Paris in better times on a street named after legendary NYPD cop Denny Malone (Photo by Robin Green,  AFP)

The Goddesses in Paris in better times on a street named after legendary NYPD cop Denny Malone (Photo by Robin Green,  AFP)

Usage Of The Word "Dotard" Expected To Reach All Time High In U.S. This Weekend

An estimated 18 million Americans are expected to utter  the word "dotard" this weekend,  a term most of them have never spoke before learning this week that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, aka "Li'l Rocket Man", used it to describe President Don Trump.

According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary a dotard is "a person in his or her dotage." Dotage is defined as ."a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness."

Li'l, apparently reacting to Don saying he would or could "totally destroy North Korea, was interpreted to have said  "I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue. I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.",. 

A lengthy put down indeed,  but it was the single word "dotard" that grabbed the headlines and seemed to almost to endear itself to a public that is eager to learn more refined disses.. 

The previous highest usage of dotard,  which meant "imbecile" when it was first used in the 14th century, was on May 1, 2003, when then-President George W. Bush, referring to the war in Iraq,  said "mission accomplished" on the USS Abraham Lincoln. aircraft carrier.  The "dotard" count that day was a mere 475,000, a paltry sum compared to the numbers expected both Saturday and Sunday. 

Here are some sentences with the word, most of them from the website www.wordsinasentnce.com 

"But, in the histories of the wars with his vassals he is often little more than a tyrannical dotard, who is made to submit to gross insult."

"When the dotard entered the political arena, very few people voted for the man due to his old age and lack of coherent explanations."

"Patience was needed by the young cashier as the 80-year old dotard was not comprehending what she was saying and seemed utterly confused about where he was."

"As the dotard slowly walked with a cane, he struggled with figuring out where the senior citizen center was located even though he had been there dozens of times."

After reading that last two examples, one is inclined to feel sorry - or even fondness - for a dotard.

Though many languages, including Swahili, German, Mandarin, Finnish and Portuguese, have no equivalent word, some do.. The French word for dotard is "radoteur".  The Spanish word for dotard is "viejo chocho" which also translates to "old pussy".

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