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Category Archives: And That’s My Opinion

At Last.

Commentator Phil Liggett often reminded viewers throughout the past three weeks that there’s no shame in finishing last in Le Tour de France. Of course, surviving 21 stages to finish in Paris is always a feat for any rider. This year’s last-place finisher in particular has shown himself to be the most respected recipient of the “lanterne rouge” in recent cycling history.

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Only five Americans competed in this year’s Tour de France out of 176 riders to start. The U.S. needed to make its mark on Le Tour once again, and, well… it happened. While the amazing Peter Sagan took three stages and survived a third-week crash to finish with his sixth green jersey, Philippe Gilbert climbed back up the wall over which he flew to complete the day with a broken kneecap, and the consistent-yet-cracking Chris Froome squeaked his way onto the final podium alongside his maillot jaune-winning teammate Geraint Thomas, the most impressive display of sportsmanship in my opinion, and that of many, came from this year’s holder of that lanterne rouge. My hat– or rather, my helmet– is off to Lawson Craddock, not only the first American in Tour de France history to earn this final designation, but also an inspiring fighter in the face of overwhelming physical, mental and emotional challenge.

At last, three typically grueling yet glorious weeks have seen their end.  At last, it’s a very special viewpoint. And at last, good can come. C’est Le Tour, encore!

 
 

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There’s No Substitution.

While many appetizing descriptors come to mind, suffice to say this incredible mound of meat is worth every dollar, no matter how many more dollars it seems to command these days. There’s no substitution for steak tartare at the Polo Lounge. A true indulgence it continues to be!

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Posted by on March 16, 2018 in And That's My Opinion, Food, Restaurants

 

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The Dish That Never Fails

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What the Musso & Frank Grill has done for almost 100 years, it continues to do flawlessly.  There’s just no going wrong here with liver and onions!  This impeccable dish never fails; it’s a delicious classic well worth the trip on any given day,

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2018 in And That's My Opinion, Food, Restaurants

 

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One to Encourage.

A few weeks back, while strolling Manhattan’s Upper East Side in the late afternoon, I happened to come upon The Beach Cafe on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 70th Street, ironically named considering there’s no beach in sight. The place looked interesting and inviting, so I went inside and took a seat at the bar. Within minutes as I sipped my negroni, I caught sight of a posted notice overhead that struck me with delight, one with which I agree wholeheartedly. It prompted a conversation with the pleasant lady sitting a few stools down, and we quickly agreed this policy is one to encourage everywhere. In other words, men, take off your hats when sitting at a bar, and especially at a table! Thank you for the connection, Yvonne!

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Posted by on November 15, 2017 in And That's My Opinion, Restaurants, Travel

 

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Still Not the Same…

tdf17countryHaving already said it once last week, now I say it again: It won’t be the same. And needless to say, it hasn’t been. In fact, it seems to get more and more different with each passing day. I’m speaking of course of this year’s Tour de France, just one week in and now paused on the first rest day. The following article echoes my sentiments, as I sit at home:

“As we come to the end of the first rest day of the 2017 Tour de France, the race has been saturated with so much drama and controversy that it’s hard to believe only nine days of racing have taken place. The Tour has lost the World Champion to disqualification, the most successful Tour sprinter to injury and the main contender to Chris Froome for the yellow jersey to one of the most horrific crashes in memory, all in only a matter of days. The attitude from the riders is always ‘C’est le Tour’, and the show must go on. Perhaps those of us in the race have a different vision of events to those at home, but for many here the controversy, the crashes and the abandons have eclipsed everything else this year – sadly even the competition itself.”

Much of the initial wind has left the sails– if I may apply a sailing analogy to cycling. I’ll continue watching, as most of us professional cycling fans will. And, I won’t be surprised when Paris brings us yet another very predictable, unchallenged, and dare I say rather unexciting win for Chris Froome. But wait, that’s one thing that WOULD be the same about this Tour. For all else that’s already not the same, especially after 12 riders lost in stage 9 alone, let’s see what else changes over the next two weeks.

 

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A Commendable Effort, I say.

After three tedious debates, in addition to their countless daily soundbites, our two currently most watched Americans finally showed their supposedly humorous sides– or at least we should say: they tried (one of them succeeding more than the other, as some of us will agree). Now in hindsight, this notable evening sounds all the better when summarized in two and a half minutes!

Dean Martin and Phyllis Diller they’re not, but I commend their efforts nonetheless.  If only we heard this sort of banter from them more often, perhaps the process through which we’re all now living would be a bit more palatable. All the more reason to enjoy such a rare occasion, I say.

 
 

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There’s Always One.

You might think a small condominium complex of just 20 units could run itself harmoniously, as familiar neighbors interact regularly, share pertinent information openly, and enjoy each other’s individual freedom of expression. It can certainly happen, especially in a space more than a half century old. Over the years and through the decades, given a changing mix of unique yet sensible residents, the overall way of life should be rooted in peace and mutual respect.

This ideal remains an appealing thought, no doubt. Sadly however, in the case of at least one such complex, you’ll need to think again. What would seem a given proves not to be, as logic and common sense that were once the order of the day, now quickly dissipate in favor of arbitrary, small-minded policing. At this point you ask: How does this happen, and why?

The answer lies in that occasionally useful yet historically logic-lacking and self-important entity called the Homeowners’ Association, or HOA. Within it, the more specific answer hits you like Christmas lights in July:  There’s always one.

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The “one” rises to psuedo-power through a maddening combination of apathy, absence and downright spinelessness. Some homeowners don’t care, others are not around, and the remaining few simply can’t handle confrontation and therefore will accept it. And now you ask yourself:  Care about what?  What exactly is “it”?

It, to elaborate, is the matter of one new resident who’s lived in the complex for a very short time, making her way onto the HOA board and soon becoming the HOA president, voted in by the aforementioned apathy, absence and spinelessness. In other words, who voted her in? Herself and two other people, perhaps? Clearly the voices of 20 homeowners have not been heard, if this new president ever faced any challenge at all.

Now “the one” has taken her unearned place, conveniently comforted and encouraged by one or two fellow residents who’ve decided to support her “vision.” From here, that self-serving vision is off and running, and nothing will be the same again. What once was, for any number of years and decades, will soon be no longer. The complaints begin, the violation letters get written, and new so-called rules are “proposed.” All the while, the apathy continues. The absence remains. And most frightening of all, the spinelessness prevails. “The one” is well on her path to turning a 50-year-old property into her own creation, merely to suit her own narrow idea of what “everyone” wants, all other residents who’ve lived there 10 times longer be damned. The individual freedom of expression that was clearly established on day one now faces extinction, and jaw-droppingly enough, no one seems to feel threatened, at least not enough to fight back.

HOAs-bullies.pngHOAs maintain necessary order, such as keeping tin foil out of windows and piles of garbage off balconies. The element of enforcement, however, can be taken too far, as “the one” in this case has proven. Whether one unit displays a bird feeder and the other a decorative wind chime should not be a topic of discussion, nor should any newcomer dictate policies to 25+ year residents. The fact that it happens, though far from uncommon in HOAs of all sizes, is simply deplorable. After all, it’s one thing if strict rules of uniformity exist in a development from day one, when potential residents can choose whether or not to live there. It’s quite another for any HOA to try to create such rules decades in, thus altering the longstanding way of life of an existing community.

A mere 20 units should not be subject to such impersonal, bureaucratic strife. In other words, it doesn’t have to be so unpleasant or difficult! Regular and relaxed interaction, open sharing of information, mutual respect, and most of all, freedom of expression, should easily flourish tomorrow just as it all did yesterday. Ironically enough, while an HOA might justify their efforts as promoting harmony, in reality all it’s doing is stripping away any harmony already in place. And for what? For everything to look the same, void of personality and distinction?

The bottom line for any home buyer, or even renter, is this: Beware of the HOA under which you’ll live. Find out everything you need to know ahead of time, and make an informed decision that suits your lifestyle. More importantly, find out whether longtime rules are well in place and generally accepted, or if controversial efforts are underway to create new ones. Most of all, amid the possibility of wrongdoing, know what flies.  After all, what you might think is common sense, won’t necessarily be so, thanks to a misplaced, unhappy individual who does nothing more than ruin the otherwise pleasant community for everyone. In the end, there’s always one.

 
 

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