Can ya tell we went to the State Fair?
I guess we should have expected that a summer that was ushered in by endless buckets of rain, and which had even more endless buckets of rain in the middle, would come to a sudden, wet end with a cold, dreary August and an early monsoon season. We had a couple of broiling weeks, and a couple of weeks of absolute perfection, but it seems like it’s all over and we’ve moved into late September about a month early. Highs in the 60s and constant, constant rain. Colors are already changing.
It turned into a less than stellar summer for biking and boating, and I just learned to let go of my obsession. While I don’t object to the discomfort of biking in the rain, I do object to the danger and so I just haven’t gotten in the miles I would normally be aching for. I haven’t been the good boy of the last few years who goes to bed early and gets up earlier in order to get in an early run or ride, and bike commuting didn’t work with our schedules, and for a change I’m pretty okay with it. I wish there’d been more miles, but it just didn’t work out that way.
The boats have been out more than in some years, though, and while it’ll still be a while before we can really get into serious out-of-range canoe camping, the girls both got their kayak handling chops, to the point where both of them were good enough to take other kids out on their own (on the world’s quietest, safest lake).
Went up to a friend’s camp over the weekend, but it was cold and pouring rain. It meant the kids were under our feet, but it was still great to catch up over warming cups of coffee, looking out on the lake under dark, glowering skies. Nice, you know?
Thanks to an anonymous commenter, a question I thought I would never get answered, but for which I get hits every week — the ingredients of a Morey Amsterdam sandwich (and no cracks about Rose Marie). According to the 1954 Copp’s Guide to NYC, Reuben’s at 5th and East 58th featured the very simple combination of corned beef, swiss cheese and bologna in honor of the standup comic/sitdown cellist.
But Morey wasn’t the currently most obscure celebrity on the menu, not by a longshot.
Courtesy of this obscure listserv, I present you with the Celebrity Sandwiches of Reuben’s, 1954. See how many celebs you recognize.
REUBEN’S–6 East 58th St., near 5th AvenueREUBEN’S SPECIAL–Turkey, Roast Virginia Ham, Swiss Cheese, Cole Slaw, Russian DressingREUBEN’S STEAK SANDWICHREUBEN’S HAMBURGER SANDWICH ON ROLLREUBEN’S SUPERIOR–Turkey, Roast Virginia Ham, Hard Boiled Egg, Tomato, Onion, Russian Dressing, Rye BreadREUBEN’S PARADISE–Turkey, Tongue, Tomato, India Relish, Rye BreadHILDEGARDE–Tongue, Swiss Cheese, Tomato, Russian Dressing, Rye BreadARNOLD REUBEN 3rd–Turkey, Tomato, Bacon, Melted Cheese on Toasted WhiteCLUB A LA REUBEN–First Layer: Dark Meat of Turkey, Lettuce, Bacon and Toast; Second Layer: White Meat of Turkey, Lettuce, Tomato and BaconPHIL BAKER–Turkey, Hard Boiled Egg, Onions and Russian DressingALAN CORELLI–Tongue, Turkey, Tomato and Sliced Dill Pickle (the only non-sandwich reference I could find to Alan Corelli was here)AL JOLSON TARTAR SANDWICH–Raw Meat, Raw Egg, Chopped OnionHARRY HERSHFIELD–“Can You Top This?” Tongue, Turkey, Tomato, Russian DressingJACK BENNY-MARY LIVINGSTON–Tongue, Turkey, Swiss Cheese, Cole Slaw, Russian Dressing, Rye BreadWALTER WINCHELL–Sturgeon, Swiss Cheese and Sliced Dill PickleFRANK SINATRA–Cream Cheese Bar-le-Duc, Tongue, Sweet Pickle, Whole Wheat BreadMARY MARTIN–Virginia Ham, Swiss CHeese, Sliced Dill Pickle, Rye BreadGINGER ROGERS SPECIAL–Imported Beluga Caviar and Cream Cheese on Rye or White ToastORSON WELLS [sic]–Turkey, India Relish, Lettuce, Russian DressingJUDY GARLAND–Nova Scotia Salmon and Swiss CheeseDANTON WALKER–Nova Scotia Salmon and Cream CheeseVIC DAMONE–Turkey, Cole Slaw, Whole Wheat Toast (No Butter)CAROL BRUCE–Tongue, Mustard, Melted Swiss CHeese on Toasted RyeMILTON BERLE–Cream Cheese, Bar-le-Duc, Turkey, WholeWheat BreadTYRONE POWER–Turkey, Cranberry Sauce, Broiled French Toast, Maple SyrupMOREY AMSTERDAM–Corned Beef, Swiss Cheese, BolognaRUDY VALLEE–Turkey, Bacon, Onion, Tomato, Russian DressingGEORGIA GIBBS–Corned Beef, Melted Swiss Cheese on Toasted Rye BreadJOEY ADAMS–Tongue, Turkey and MayonnaiseLOUIS SOBOL–Cream Cheese and Bar-le-Duc, Chopped PecansDEAN MARTIN–JERRY LEWIS–Turkey, Holland Ham, Rye BreadED SULLIVAN–Chopped Chicken Liver, Turkey, Cole Slaw, Rye ToastVIC LEVINE MPLS. SPECIAL–Chopped Chicken Liver and Corned Beef on Rye BreadDR. LEO MICHEL–VIrginia Ham, Tomato, Broiled French Toast [linkwise, I got nothing]LUBA MALINA–Nova Scotia Salmon, Cream Cheese, French Fried OnionsTHE 52 ASSOCIATION–Tongue, Holland Ham, Tomato, Cole SlawETHEL MERMAN–Turkey, Tomato, Hard Boiled Egg, Russian DressingNICK KENNY–Turkey, Ham, Tongue, Cole SlawMIMI BENZELL–Turkey, Tongue, Cole SlawJANE POWELL–Grilled Cheese, Bacon, TomatoesSOPHIE TUCKER–Turkey, Swiss Cheese and SalamiBARBARA STANWYCK SPECIAL–Corned Beef, Melted Swiss Cheese and Bacon on Toasted Rye or White Bread
I’m going to get a law passed requiring that the weather always be just like this — strings of warm, bright, sunny days, accompanied by cool nights with just enough breeze to feel through the sheets. The kitchen tiles are just cool enough in the morning to be refreshing, and that little bit of chill will be gone with the first cup of coffee. Is that so much to ask?
Was it the best vacation ever? Well, just possibly. I’m tired, sore and very content. The weather was absolutely perfect, sunny and warm in the days, refreshingly cool in the nights. We climbed a mountain, counted deer, splashed around a waterpark, and took pictures of sunsets. I got in a few road rides and knocked my wife’s mountainish bike around the rough roads of the campground. We got a bunch of little girls into paddling. We failed to make smores because I really just don’t like campfires, but discovered that the main lodge of the campground had endless hot chocolate and skee ball. I met the nicest highway flagman on earth, who let me sail my bike through a long, narrow workzone and held back the cars until I was through — and I’d have brought him back a donut from the Eagle Bay donut shop but I decided to avoid that mess and take the south shore road home.
And we came home in a truck that smelled just awful — a sign of a good camping trip.
As a bicyclist, I’m used to all manner of death, decay and discards on the shoulders of our roads. I can tell at 100 feet how far away from that possum corpse I should swing in order to avoid the hot blast o’ death smell. I’m pretty good at picking through the unbelievable amount of broken glass that lines every road, everywhere, though it certainly seems like people are working extra hard at making sure there’s glass out there, ’cause car crashes and beer bottles just can’t explain that much broken glass. And I’m used to dodging all kinds of road flares, lost auto parts, plastic crap, fast food detritus, random bits of hardware and even, once, a box of tacks, just like in a cartoon.
But there are also things that have mostly disappeared from the side of the road — like unspooled cassette tapes. Once ubiquitous, now rarely seen due to the demise of the cassette (and not nearly soon enough, as far as I was concerned. Hated that medium). But today I veered out of the way for something I hadn’t had to veer out of the way for in twenty years — a broken LP in the road. Vinyl. Long player. A record. (Is this thing on? Old folks, explain to the young folks!) Now, how odd is that?
Other things out there in profusion, besides possums? Socks, lots of socks. Do-rags and cast-off t-shirts. Single shoes and sneakers. The single shoe always perplexed me until one day I saw an SUV merrily bombing down the highway with a single boot still resting on the back bumper, no doubt waiting to be tossed off like its mate must have already been.
Things I never see? Books. Just never. I’ve seen entire computers lying by the side of the road. I’ve seen cast-off toy dinosaurs and Powerpuff girls (and brought them home). I’ve seen cellphones and their parts. I’ve seen whippette canisters and hypodermic needles. I’ve never seen a book lying by the side of the road.
This must be what it is to be getting old. Suddenly, out of nowhere, songs from the past just rush back into your head, with all their old meaning and more. It can be very disconcerting.
The first one running around my brain this week is Blondie’s “11:59”:Leaning in your corner like a candidate for wax.Sidewalk social scientist don’t get no satisfaction from your cigaretteIt’s ten to ten.Time is running out.Lock up all your memories.Get outa here, you know that we can run.Today can last another million years.Today could be the end of me.It’s 11:59, and I want to stay alive.It’s not that it’s deep or meaningful, but it has a certain beat, it invokes a certain time and feeling for me — it feels like the cool summer nights of youth, and after all this time it still feels that way to me.
The second is an old one that always gets me but that I haven’t heard in ages and ages, and then there it was, Rod Stewart’s “You Wear It Well”:I’m gonna write about the birthday gown that I bought in townWhen you sat down and cried on the stairsYou knew it didn’t cost the earth, but for what it’s worthYou made me feel a millionaireAnd you wear it wellFor some reason, those lines are just extremely evocative to me, and that was back when Rod was Rod, when that raspy voice still had an edge, and was put to good use.
My eldest says “I feel like The Beatles are the soundtrack of my life.” I think that’s an interesting thing for a 13-year-old in the oughts to say, but I certainly know how she feels. I always come back to The Beatles, and lately I’ve been coming back to them through my daughters’ discovery of them. (Made a little mistake and set the satellite radio to alert me every time there was a Beatles song — which meant it was beeping just about every five minutes.) They like trying to remember which was which, who married Yoko and who married Linda, and, sadly, which ones are still alive. This morning we heard the end of “Abbey Road,” and as happens from time to time, it was like I was hearing it for the first time, amazed at the odd little collection of strung-together songs that comprise the B side of that album, how well they work together to showcase their various talents, disparate little bits that all come back together in “The End.” Such a masterpiece.