Saturday, July 23, 2011

Blasé to the end

I had a moment while grocery shopping this morning that has haunted me the entire day. Searching for hummus, I happed upon the seafood section instead and was suddenly eye to eye with a lobster on death row. A mere few feet away sat gelatinous slabs of fish flesh, quivering underneath the air conditioner. My lobster pal appeared to be eyeing the fish as well. After briefly entertaining a plan for his escape route, I started wondering if he knew his fate would be similar, that the water that surrounding him would be the last? (last non-boiling water, that is.)

How is it that we're constantly surrounded by death, packaged nicely in delis or prepared "artfully" in restaurants, yet we can't come to grips with our own mortality and constantly make light of death?

It seems that New Yorkers are more acclimated with the concept of a sudden death. Since there are so many people per capita, you're bound to hear about local deaths more often, or even glimpse it. But acclimatation breeds apathy. I've heard many people complain about train delays due to "assholes" who jumped in. Of course, no one likes waiting, and it's true that people make idiotic decisions, but I find this troubling. The attitude "how does it affect me?" that we're all guilty of seems to permeate from every city block, but it's precisely the opposite. "How can I affect it?" It being whatever it is that was wrong in the first place, if we ever want to see true change.

Even today, upon hearing of Amy Winehouse's death, most reactions were of the "told you so" realm - "bitch should've gone to Rehab!" Beyond that being a terrible (and terribly easy) joke to make, it shows a lack of caring for the most powerful thing in the world: life. Not to mention a loss of beauty and a troubled, old soul, but that's beyond the point.

I remember when I was a child, and saw someone get hurt. My initial reaction was laughter because I didn't know what else to do. Do we ever really learn? Is this attitude just an adult version of this same uncomfortable feeling? A way of covering up (almost) everyone's fear of death, and more importantly, fear of the unknown? (even the people of Bon Temps seem to respect the dead better than we do). Are we so mortified by our own mortality that we adopt attitudes of nonchalance, unless faced with a death of someone close? There are more questions regarding death than can ever be answered, but to me it's clear the answer is not indifference.

Lesson #43: don't allow the city, or anyone/place, to strip you of your compassion. There's a lot of bad shit in the world, but infinitely more good.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Search for the Perfect Cone

On this very American holiday weekend, I'd like to discuss something close to my heart: frozen desserts. I recently searched for the perfect ice cream cone and my quest had a misstep that was so amateur, I'm almost embarrassed. But in the spirit of openness and freedom, here's my simple tip.

There variety of reasons people follow certain dietary guidelines. It's easy to assume when others take the same actions as you (as in, not eating animals or their parts), they're following the same set of beliefs. Not a good assumption.

However, the beautiful thing about it is that it allows you to explore other viewpoints that happen to converge nicely with yours. Specifically in New York, while searching for vegan ice cream, you can get a taste of:

Israel (kashrut)
Jamaica (ital movement)
Americana (too many movements to name)

They're all just a bus or subway trip away. Just don't get your hopes up until you....

Lesson #42: CALL AHEAD before making a trek to the outer boroughs! And if you're smart, don't assume what you find on the web to be true. I hope to one day live in a land where sites are updated and truthful, even interactive, but until then, pick up your phone and call.

In all, I think it took about 2 hours of traveling and re-routing the course simply because I didn't call ahead. I ended up with delicious Kosher non dairy ice cream and was surrounded by lovely Hasidic children eating their cones as well. It was a great experience, but after venturing far and wide to other (closed) spots, I felt vindicated but mostly pleasantly full.

Though I must say: Lula's Apothecary is a sweet, yet sinister mistress that I feel absolutely compelled to mention in a post about ice cream. This is the only place worth not calling ahead - the mere chance they're open is enough for me.