About to be Mother’s Day. The night before, Saturday night, we go into Manhattan just as the thunder starts to roll. Fissures of lightning streak the sky.
As is my mother’s prerogative, I let Gil do the driving.
We check out a movie not for the weak of stomach.
Then take dinner at Katz’s, founded in 1888 on Houston Street, its threshold long worn-out.
There is really no reason to go anywhere in New York for dinner except Katz’s.
You wait on line for your carver to finish your sandwich and he pushes a hot little slice of pastrami across the counter at you. It makes perfect sense. A morsel to whet your appetite.
David has worked his station since ’02.
The pickles are luscious. Green tomato, sour dill and new.
But they can’t match the pastrami. As Sinead O’Connor sang, Nothing compares to you.
Anyone can sit at the Where Harry Met Sally table. We did. It makes sense to do it if you can.
Outside I was surprised to see a sign on the side of the building that read WURST FABRIC.
Was Katz once in the textile business? Michael Stern, the road food genius, schooled me. Fabric is an Americanization of the Yiddish term meaning home-made.
Our pre-mom’s day Gastro-crawl continued on 23rd St. right next door to the Chelsea Hotel, scene of so much poetry and debauch over the years.
Now we have the Donut Plant. Gourmet donuts done right. Proctology cushions covered with fabric (home-made in yiddish) covered the wall.
Perfect coffee, Mother’s Day specials.
Rose petals in donuts. Could it be a joke? Yes, but it made a weird kind of sense.
There were in fact petals baked into the dough. I was transported to the Middle Ages. Or the middle of India and its rosewater delicacies. I don’t know if biting into one made me feel more maternal or just trendy. Anyway, I liked it.
Right across the street, the historic home of the Communist Party in America, 235 west 23 street, was hosting a musical extravaganza. A group called Legacy Women performed Afro Dominican palo and Afro Puerto Rican bomba for a rapt, folky audience that shushed us numerous times.
These women rocked. One song they announced was for mothers, and they belted out the chorus, mama-ah. Another sounded like they were singing put your pants on in some native dialect.
Hitting the street again, the rain had all cleared away, leaving things new.
I looked across the street to the Chelsea Hotel, now sadly being modernized, made into condos, its art collection all sold off. I thought of Alejandro Escovedo’s song about the Chelsea, Chelsea Hotel ’78.
It makes no sense, he sings, it makes perfect sense.