Category Archives: Commentary

What Were The Best New York City Restaurants In 1929?

Brooklyn Daily Eagle Columnist Rian James Shares His Picks For The Best Restaurants in New York City in 1929

Rian James (1899-1953) may not be a well known name today, but back in the 1920s and 30s, he was a widely read journalist and  “man about town.”

In 1933 James took a stab at writing for the movies. He wrote the screenplay for 42nd Street, one of the most successful and popular films of the 1930s. James would go on to write over three dozen screenplays.

As a columnist for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from 1928-1935, James rambled all around New York City. Along the way James hobnobbed with everyone: the well-to-do, the hoi-polloi, actors,  and bohemians, in the process, hitting all the night spots. The stories James gathered made for a widely read column about the city he loved.

Four times a year the Eagle published a small guide Going Places With Rian James casting his top picks in New York City food and entertainment.

For the Summer 1929 Going Places, a good portion of  James’ 32 page booklet is devoted to dining. Unlike the modern Zagat restaurant guides or Yelp, consensus was not considered. The only thing that mattered was James’ opinion. James knew all the “in” places, the haunts of celebs, the exclusive, the ribald and the popular.

Proving he’s no snob, the best New York restaurant according to James is not at a high class hotel or Madison Avenue establishment. It’s Feltman’s, originator of the hotdog, in Coney Island that wins the prize.  James writes, “The best all-round food in all New York, excluding no place.”

This is a New York booklet written for New Yorkers.

James offers a unique slice of the New York dining scene just prior to the October 1929 stock market crash and the onset of the Great Depression. The good times were to end soon after.

While there were a ton of contemporary guidebooks published about New York City, very few delved into the restaurant scene. James’ punchy one line descriptions tell you a lot more than many a detailed review.

The writing has some jazz age jargon such as “Beeway” for Broadway and “black and tan” for an establishment that has race mingling between Blacks and Caucasians. Sometimes there’s an “inside”, long forgotten, or even a risque reference such as this one:

BARNEY’S – 85 W. 3rd St.
The best bet for whoopee in the Village.

In other words, where you have the best chance of hooking up.

James later wrote several full length books about New York City: a full guidebook All About New York An Intimate Guide; John Day (1931) and another not surprisingly titled, Dining in New York; John Day (1934).

While you peruse this list, you may recognize some names long gone from New York’s glorious culinary past. Other eateries you never heard of just sound like they would have been a blast to visit.

What is stunning in the transient world of dining, is that there are a small number of restaurants that are still in business nearly 90 years later.

We have left Rian James’ spelling, grammar and punctuation as it is written in the booklet.

So with that, here is Rian James’ New York City’s restaurant recommendations for the summer of 1929, divided into his appropriate section headings in bold.

Restaurants of All Nations

Name      Address       Nation

L’AIGLON – 55th, E. of Fifth Ave. French
Complete French Cuisine.LUCHOWS – 110 E. 14th St. German
Complete German Cuisine. Try the German Rye Bread. Continue reading

Rock Your Baby To Sleep – Literally! Iron Maiden Songs Done As Lullabies

Iron Maiden Songs Performed As Lullabies

How do you take heavy metal music and turn them into lullabies?

Until the other day I wouldn’t have known.

Still, I’m quite aware, popular music can be given any type of rendition.

Once about 20 years ago at the venerable Strand bookstore, I heard classical music being played over their sound system. I wasn’t paying close attention to the song. But I started listening closer. It sounded familiar, yet I couldn’t distinguish exactly what was being played. After about two minutes it hit me – it was Metallica and the song Harvester of Sorrow! That was the first time I heard Apocalyptica, a classical group comprised of cellists and they had recorded entire albums covering Metallica.

So it was only a matter of time before someone came up with the bright idea of making lullabies out of heavy metal songs. Hence, I recently discovered Iron Maiden tunes done as lullabies. The question you might ask is, why?

Does it matter?

If you like Iron Maiden, this should put a smile on your face, The first song I heard was The Trooper.

I couldn’t help clicking the youtube links Continue reading

You Never Know What You’ll Find At Papermania Plus In Hartford

Papermania Plus – Something For Everyone

A little bit of everything at Papermania Plus In Hartford CT. This dealer featured movie memorabilia; books, pinbacks and Fate magazines at one table.

On a beautiful summer day, customers came from many states to search among a variety of goods, not all necessarily made of paper.

Collectors congregated at Hartford, Connecticut’s XL Center for Papermania Plus 74, which took place on Saturday, August 25, 2018.

Shoppers looking for interesting finds at Papermania Plus 74

There were all sorts of antiques, ephemera, collectables and memorabilia for sale including books, comics, original art, movie stills and posters, postcards, photographs, magazines, manuscripts and a few other things that you might be surprised to find at Papermania.

Promoter Gary Gipstein assembled more than four score quality dealers to offer their wares. Prices ranged from a dollar to four figures for some rare items.

But you don’t have to be a collector of anything specific to enjoy the show. There is so much to look at and appreciate, that it is unlikely you could come here and not go home with something desirable at a very fair price.

So what did we notice? Continue reading

What Is Happiness? 10 Ideas About What Makes Us Happy From 10 Famous People

Happiness IS…. (It Depends Who’s Giving You The Answer)

Charles Schulz, who often contemplated the meaning of happiness through his Peanuts comic strip, once did an entire book on the subject, “Happiness is a Warm Puppy.”

For some, maybe happiness can be summed up so simply.

Happiness is an elusive quest for so many of us. For centuries great minds have contemplated what constitutes happiness.

From Random House Webster’s Quotationary edited by Leonard Roy Frank (1998) Random House, here are interesting insights from ten noted people about what makes us happy.

“Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product  of other activities.” Aldous Huxley (1945) from Religion and Time

“Human happiness konsists in having what yu want, and wanting what yu hav.” Josh Billings (1874) from Everybody’s Friend or or Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia  and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor

“There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.” George Sand (1862) from a letter to Lina Calamatta

“It is not enough to be happy: It is also necessary that others not be.” Jules Renard (1894) written in his journal Continue reading

How Historic Events Would Be Covered By The Media If They Were Written About With 2018 Attitudes

If The Media Covered These Historic Events Now, It Might Read Something Like This

We view historic events with 21st century attitudes and ideas. It’s called presentism.

Reader warning: satire ahead.

 A Rampage of Sexual Harassment in Times Square (V.J. Day 1945)

As pedestrians watch, an American sailor celebrates by passionately kissing and sexually assaulting a white-uniformed nurse in Times Square to celebrate the long awaited-victory over Japan  photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt / Life Magzine

Crowd in Times Square celebrates V.J. Day photo: Ezra Stoller

As word spread that the Empire of Japan had unconditionally surrendered and that the war was finally over, pandemonium broke loose in New York City’s Times Square yesterday. Continue reading

It’s Been 56 Years Since The Death Of Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe Was Pronounced Dead August 5, 1962

(Though She Actually Died A Day Earlier)

Hollywood August 5 – Marilyn Monroe’s Body Removed: Coroner’s attendants remove the body of film star Marilyn Monroe from a Los Angeles mortuary today, en route to the Los Angeles County Morgue. The glamorous star, 36, was found dead in her bed today probably a suicide. – AP Wirephoto, 1962

Today is the recognized anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death.

Arguably, no movie star has had such an enduring grip upon the public’s imagination so long after their death as Marilyn Monroe. Continue reading

Gary Sanchez Needs A Major Attitude Adjustment – A Trip To The Minor Leagues Might Do The Trick

It’s Time For Gary Sanchez To Be Sent To The Minors

The catcher is supposed to be the anchor of your team.

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has not been an anchor this year, but a weight.

Sanchez made the final out in a 7-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday July 23, 2018. * That out should serve as a clear sign that it is time to send Gary Sanchez to the minors – not for rehab, but for a major attitude adjustment.  *(see note at the end of the article) Continue reading

Rarities – The Pure Vocals Of Led Zeppelin, Queen, Boston, Heart & Others

Hearing Classic Rock’s Greatest Voices  Like You’ve Never Heard Them Before

Rare Audio From 10 Great Rock Bands With The Vocals Isolated

Unlike the garbage pop music that is popular today, the vocalists of the great rock bands of the 60s and 70s did not have an array of modern gadgets to fix their voices. Either you could sing or you couldn’t. In the pre-digital era there was no autotune and multi-track studio trickery was limited to looping and a few other production tricks.

So it should come as no surprise that their were once were musical giants that walked the earth. Bands such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Heart, Queen, Boston and dozens of others where the vocalists could not only cut it live, but could go into a recording studio and leave pure magic on tape and vinyl.

Without having access to the master recording tapes, some enterprising music fans have made a hobby of isolating each individual part of a band’s recording to see how the song breaks down. The most interesting of these efforts are the vocal isolations.

If you ever had any doubt as to how much talent each of these musicians had, then prepare to be blown away  by these performances.

First up, if Heart’s Ann Wilson doesn’t have the best pure voice in rock n’ roll then I don’t know who does. 40 plus years later Ann Wilson hasn’t lost much of her range. The singing on Barracuda is a careful balance between pyrotechnic raw emotion and incredible vocal control.

There are a handful of people who still dismiss Led Zeppelin and the vocal prowess of a young Robert Plant. For those who think that Robert Plant and Zeppelin were nothing special check out the unadulterated vocals with absolutely no effects from Ramble On off of Led Zeppelin II.

Probably the song with THE single greatest acrobatic vocal performance EVER in rock ‘n’ roll. Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan hits unimaginable heights on Child In Time from 1970. Continue reading

There’s Something The Cleveland Indians Haven’t Done in 51 Years

A Cleveland Indians Pitcher Has Not Stolen A Base Since 1967

In 1967 Cleveland Indians pitcher John O’Donoghue accomplished something that was not that uncommon at the time. On July 5, in the bottom of the fifth against the Detroit Tigers, O’Donoghue reached base on a force out. He then stole second base.

His steal was so uneventful it was not mentioned in most newspaper accounts of the game.

That unremarkable steal wound up being quite an achievement. It is the last time a Cleveland Indians pitcher stole a base. That’s right, 51 years ago, 1967. That it is the longest stretch any team in major league baseball has gone without one of their pitchers stealing a base.

There are three teams that came into the league through expansion where no pitcher has ever stolen a base. Two AL teams, the Seattle Mariners (1977) and the Tampa Bay Rays (1998) and one NL team the Miami Marlins (1993). Every other team has had a pitcher steal a base in the subsequent years.

Of course stolen bases have been steadily declining over the years for all of baseball.

But the idea has been propagated that pitchers are one-dimensional entities today. They’re specialists. They’re starters. They’re relievers. They may only be brought in to pitch to one batter. They’re not hitters. And they’re definitely not base runners. Continue reading