The Breakfast Table

Mini-Cops and Salad-Bar Gouging


Today once again everything in the paper seems like an artifact from my boyhood: Victor Borge getting the Kennedy Center national-cultural-treasure award (I know it’s churlish to begrudge a 90-year-old man his prize … but Victor Borge?), the putative excitement over IMAX movies (it’s Cinerama circa 1959 all over again), ur-suburboid Procter & Gamble products in the news (Cheer, Crest, Ivory, Tide, Jif), Keith Richards and Eric Clapton and Stevie Nicks and Chrissie Hynde performing en masse on tour. Maybe turning 45 the other day has put me in some kind of permanent nostalgic fugue state.

Apropos of my proposal yesterday to disincentivize New York cops from making unjustified arrests. Maybe I was being naive, since today the Times reports that 63 percent of citizens’ complaints about police are ignored. Still, cops in New York are the only cops on earth who don’t scare me a little by their nature. A few weeks ago a short cop in Brooklyn (this new generation of mini-cop is, for me, a problem) was about to ticket me for double-parking outside the veterinarian, where I was picking up our two cats. He said to me very seriously, raising his hands in a quick protective motion, “Sir, step away from the vehicle–I don’t know you and you don’t know me.” I was holding Abby and Alice in their carrying cases, and he thought I was going to pull a gun on him? I literally had to restrain myself from laughing.

Abe Hirschfeld–Abe, Abe, Abe. (Speaking of Breakfast Clubs, I once had breakfast with him, at his behest. He spit flecks of baked goods every time he spoke.) Are his antics maybe too over-the-top to enjoy? How did I manage to miss the story last month about his paying $2,500 to 11 of the 12 jurors who acquitted him of tax fraud? (That story was mentioned in today’s story about the judge ruling that Hirschfeld can’t pay the jurors in his impending murder-for-hire trial.)

But this is, after all, a city where the commissioner of consumer affairs yesterday held a news conference on location in front of a display of “tofu triangles” to present his findings that New York deli customers are routinely overcharged 30 cents for salads at salad bars because the delis charge for the plastic containers. This is exactly the kind of press conference that makes me feel that New York is podunky at heart. Local TV news makes me feel the same way.

Finally, why do we always and only “brace” for hurricanes?