November 2006 Archives
In emulation of Jay-Z, who just performed in seven cities in one day to launch his new album, Kingdom Come, I am embarking on a post-Thanksgiving bicoastal blitz to push The United States of Arugula for the holiday season. (And I expect to shift units in Jay-Z numbers.) On Tuesday, November 28, at 7 p.m., I will converse with the ageless and leggy Mario Batali at Makor, located in the Steinhardt Building at 35 West 67th Street. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.
Then, just two nights later, at 7 p.m. on November 30, I will be at Book Passage in San Francisco’s gorgeous Ferry Building, foodchattin’ with the restaurant consultant, gastronomical authority, and all-around food-world yenta Clark Wolf. Admission is $35, BUT this price gets you a signed copy of my book plus refreshments, AND the proceeds benefit the Center for Urban Education About Sustainable Agriculture, the organization behind the Ferry Building's Farmers Market.
(Kamp photo ©2006 by Anne Day)
For those of you who like to cook to the dulcet sounds of a National Public Radio broadcaster interviewing unthreatening guests... well, Thanksgiving morning, here’s just the thing for you: At 10 a.m. EST, I’ll be appearing on NPR’s On Point with host Tom Ashbrook and fellow guests Dan Barber, the farm-to-table-rific chef at Blue Hill in NYC and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, NY; and Sheryl Julian, the food editor of the Boston Globe and co-author of The Way We Cook. Truth be told, we taped this in advance so we could spend Thanksgiving with our loved ones, but we are indeed “Talking Turkey,” as the broadcast is titled. Please forgive me for mispronouncing the third syllable of “Tassajara” (as in The Tassajara Bread Book) as “jar” instead of “har.” Sheryl graciously corrects me on this.
In keeping with the brown-dirt pastoral feel of the coming Thanksgiving holiday, I will be repairing to the country for my next book signing, which will take place at 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 18, at Oblong Books in Millerton, NY. I happen to spend a lot of time in this area, and one of my favorite places to have tea or a light lunch is right down the street from Oblong, the tea shop and tasting room at Harney & Sons Tea. You can taste dozens of varieties of tea there–they’re very particular about the steeping, using chess-style clocks to measure how long the leaves have been immersed in the hot water–and you can have one of their wonderful, simple sandwiches, all served on locally made baguettes and priced in the single-digit range. I sometimes take Harney & Sons for granted as a local business (I bump into actual Harneys all the time), but in fact, John Harney and his (adult) boys are America’s foremost fine-tea merchants and blenders, and you can find their inventive blends in places like Ritz-Carlton resorts and the Williams-Sonoma catalog.
For my next two public appearances to promote The United States of Arugula, both in New York City, I have enlisted two fun, accomplished individuals to help me out and make things less soul-crushingly “book event”-like. On Monday, November 13, at 6:30 p.m., I will be interrogated by irresistible print and NPR humor essayist David Rakoff (brooding, above left) at the New School for General Studies at 66 West 12th Street, Room 510. It will be an intime event in a small space with writing students present, but it is also open to the general public for a mere $5.
And then, on Tuesday, November 28, at 7:00 p.m., I will be joined onstage at Makor (the groovy West Side adjunct to the 92nd St Y, located in the Steinhardt Building at 35 West 67th Street) by chef extraordinaire and clogs-wearing man-about-town Mario Batali (reclining on cheese, above right). Admission is $15 at the door, $12 if you buy a ticket in advance. Mario and I plan to drink a lot and then belligerently upbraid our interlocutor. Don’t miss it!
(Kamp photo ©2006 by Anne Day)
The start of the NBA season and the recent death of the Boston Celtics coach/GM/visionary Red Auerbach prompted me to remember that I’d written a story five years ago for GQ about the very first black men to play in the NBA. I’d pretty much forgotten about this story; to be honest, I was disappointed that no one seemed to read it when it came out (perhaps because it was quite long and more New Yorker-ish than GQ-ish in tenor), so I banished it to the purgatory of faintly remembered, unfulfilling experiences.
But I recently dusted off the piece and read it–you, too, can read it, here–and realized that I’d had a ball (pardon the expression) researching it. I’d long been fascinated by the fact that, while everyone knew the name of Jackie Robinson, the first black man to break into Major League baseball, no one knew the names of the first black men to break into what is now the most black-identified professional sports league in America. Auerbach played a crucial role in the NBA’s integration, being the first GM to draft a black player (Chuck Cooper, in 1950), the first to field an all-black starting lineup (in the early 1960s), and the first to hire a black head coach, his star center, Bill Russell, who took over the coaching reins from Auerbach while still a player.
Besides Chuck Cooper, the other two black men who joined the league in 1950 were Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton of the Knicks and Earl Lloyd, who broke in that year with the Washington Capitols and later flourished with the Syracuse Nationals. Lloyd was the only one of this original trio still alive when I reported this story, and I visited him at his home in Tennessee. I also tracked down the sprinkling of surviving black players who followed in the original trio’s wake in the ’50s,playing b-ball in obscurity (both personally and league-wise; pro basketball was a second-tier sport until the ’70s, and arguably even the ’80s) until Russell and Wilt Chamberlain literally and figuratively raised the profile of the black man in pro basketball at the decade’s end. These relatively unknown players will never be mentioned in the same breath as Robinson–none were superstars, and none endured the spotlight glare that Robinson endured–but they all had some kind of dignity, toughness, and turn-the-other-cheek fortitude. I hope this article finds more readers on this site.
Against my inherently retiring nature, I’ve been yammering like mad to the press to promote The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation–“learning to love the hustle,” to quote my friend Andrew Loog Oldham. Recently, The Week magazine asked me to submit a list of six favorite food-oriented books, and I obliged them with this list. I also recently gave an interview to Las Vegas’s funky alternative newspaper (yes, even Vegas has one), Las Vegas Weekly, that you can read here. In the course of the interview, my interlocutor, Scott Dickensheets, brings up the subject of a wonderful book that has just been published, Spy: The Funny Years, a combination anthology and history of the delightful New York satirical magazine where I got my career start.
Spy’s founders and editors in chief, Graydon Carter and Kurt Andersen, put together the book with the help of the elegant and broodingly handsome George Kalogerakis, another Spy editor, who was actually the guy who interviewed me when I first presented myself tremulously at Spy’s doorstep during my sophomore-year spring break in March of 1987, begging for a summer internship at the six-month-old magazine. (George’s response: “Um, I don’t know if we’ll have summer interns; we’ve never had a summer.”)
Spy magazine’s DNA is evident in nearly everything I’ve writtten (including The United States of Arugula, as I say in the Las Vegas Weekly interview). If you want to revisit the magazine’s glory days, or if you missed out on them and want to see what all the fuss was about, check out Graydon, Kurt and George’s fun-stuffed book. I’m honored to share a publishing season with it.
November 1, 2006 Link