Subtle and offensive

Sitting at my favorite French bistro in the lower east side contemplating about racism. Although the area is considered LES, the majority of the population is Chinese. Sadly very few Chinese would eat here due to the cultural and culinary differences.
I’ve been eating here regularly for many years and for most of the staff here, I’ve been here longer than the furniture.
Today a young waitress whom I have never met was sitting at the bar eating her breakfast. I sat myself down on my regular bar stool and opened my iPad to enjoy my morning. She looked up and impatiently asked, “Do you want something?”
A strange question to ask a patron. She didn’t bother to bring me a menu. In her eyes, what would I possibly want with a menu?
This young woman who seemed to be in her early twenties would not have escaped the massive diversity education indoctrinated into every child since the eighties. As a minority, I have experienced outright racism and the more subtle variety. I prefer the outright racist. They are on the fringe and relatively few in number. The subtle ones don’t realize their own attitude and would probably regurgitate their anti racism curriculum when asked. They live amongst us like a Manchurian Candidate ready to strike with their character assassination.
I looked up at her and replied, “coffee and food”. I hope that she would catch herself in her own prejudice. Sadly it doesn’t seem to be the case. Just then the manager walked over to greet me, he shook my hand, politely exchanged some familiarities and handed me a menu. “Coffee as usual?”, he asked. Yes, let’s start the day over beginning at this moment.

Who says I can’t get stoned

Texas de Brazil in Ft. Lauderdale

Tomorrow a group of us are going to Plataforma, a churrascaria in Manhattan. I can’t stop thinking about the delicious skewers of meat. Health be damned, you gotta live once in a while.

Last night I couldn’t sleep so I decided to learn “Who Says” by John Mayer. I went to see Mayer’s concert at Madison Square Garden a few weeks ago. And although I’m a big fan, I had not listened to the album much before the show. I had felt that each album since Room for Squares progressively gotten more overproduced. It was no longer John Mayer, the singer/guitar player bearing his soul but the commercial entity that employed a big production. He’s has gone Hollywood.

Toward the end of the show, he played “Who Says”. The opening verse is: “Who says I can’t get stoned, turn off the lights and the telephone. Me in my house alone, who says I can’t get stoned.”

I’m not much of a recreational drug user, it’s certainly been many years since I had done any of the sort. I was intrigued by the lyric and instantly hooked.

The song is not about drug use. It’s about freedom. Freedom to make your own rules, to make your own mistakes. It has been a very long night in New York City, and certainly a long time since 20 too. But I do remember you.

John Mayer – “Who Says” Lyrics

Who says I can’t get stoned?
Turn off the lights and the telephone
Me and my house alone
Who says I can’t get stoned?

Who says I can’t be free?
From all of the things that I used to be
Re-write my history
Who says I can’t be free?

It’s been a long night in New York City
It’s been a long night in Baton Rouge
I don’t remember you looking any better
But then again I don’t remember you

Who says I can’t get stoned?
Call up a girl that I used to know
Fake love for an hour or so
Who says I can’t get stoned?

Who says I can’t take time?
Meet all the girls on the county line
Then wait on fate to send a sign
Who says I can’t take time?

It’s been a long night in New York City
It’s been a long night in Austin too
I don’t remember you looking any better
But then again I don’t remember you

Who says I can’t get stoned?
Plan a trip to Japan alone
Doesn’t matter if I even go
Who says I can’t get stoned?

It’s been a long night in New York City
It’s been a long time since 20 too
I don’t remember you looking any better
But then again I don’t remember you

Expressing gratitude is not hokey

San Loco, Brooklyn. September 2009

In Tal Ben-Shahar‘s book “Happier” he detailed the importance of expressing gratitude.

One of his suggestions is to keep a “Gratitude Journal”. OK, this is the hokiest thing you’ll ever see me do, but I’m going to try to stick to his technique.

Here is the breakdown of hokey versus non-hokey statements from Tal:

Hokey photo of Tal Ben-Shahar


  • “.. he co-founded The Institute for Positive Psychology in Education” – Hokey
  • “Tal consults and lectures around the world to executives in multi-national corporation, the general public, and at-risk populations.” – Self-serving hokey
  • Tal won the U.S. Intercollegiate and Israeli National squash championships – braggart hokey


  • He obtained his PhD in Organizational Behavior and BA in Philosophy and Psychology from Harvard – Not hokey
  • Citing the Emmons-McCullough paper in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology – too nerdy to be hokey
  • Teaching an online course at UPenn – Hokey because it unaccredited, non-hokey because he’s probably making money to buy another yacht

Here is a somewhat hokey and non-hokey video:

So here is my gratitude journal for today: – Hey, they are awesome.

Jack – Funniest Jew alive. That’s saying a lot, those are funny people.

My dad – The old man might be a little weird, but he’s like a dusty attic: you’ll never guess what you can find up there.

My mom – We’re probably more alike than I’m willing to admit.

Pastrami – Jack, my dad and I had dinner at Katz’s Deli on Ludlow and Houston. Fatty meat rubbed with peppercorn. If you’re a vegetarian, you have no idea what you’re missing.

Here is the paper you nerd: Emmons_McCullough_2003_JPSP