Archive for January 1st, 2018

I had not yet seen the review of the Cuckoo’s Nest restaurant when I saw it referred to on Facebook. But once I read it, it left a bad taste in my mouth. Below is my buddy Mark Mishler’s response to the review, and the only things I changed were the reference date and adding the reviewer’s name.

As this mostly terrible year comes to a close, a mostly irrelevant article in the December 28 issue of the mostly insignificant Albany Times Union caught my attention as an tiny example of what could charitably be called complete insensitivity to the history of slavery and racism in the US (and, therefore, a neat little coda to a year filled with a resurgence of violent neo-Nazi and racist activity and apologies for it from those in power.)

The article is a review of a new restaurant in Albany, te Cuckoo’s Nest, which apparently has a “Southern” theme, whatever that means. The headline is “Rebel Yell”. Describing this new restaurant (in what used to be a wine bar), the Times Union reviewer, Susie Davidson Powell, writes that the changes to the previous decor serve to “recalibrate the familiar wine bar with antebellum warmth.”

Does the Times Union not understand that there is nothing quaint about the violent and terroristic “rebel” culture that supported slavery and Jim Crow? Or, that there were many, many people – primarily the African-American people who lived there the time – who did not find the antebellum period in the Southern slavocracy states to be filled with cozy “warmth”? How could this nostalgic elegy for the period of slavery pass the eye of the editors at the Times Union?

I should add that I have no idea whether the views of the reviewer reflect the views of the restaurant’s owners. Maybe the reviewer did not do them a positive service by couching the review in these terms. I look forward – though not really optimistically – to a new year in which the horrors of racism and slavery in this country are fully acknowledged and addressed.

I’ve not been to the restaurant, located where the Gingerman used to be on Western Avenue. (I’d been to the Gingerman several times over the years.) Let me reiterate that this is a reflection of the review, not the restaurant.


This is that thing that Jaquandor does on December 31, but I do on January 1.

Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Ya know, it wasn’t a New Years’ resolution, per se, but my wife and I swore this year (and for about ten years previous) that we would make a will, and we finally did this summer. You should probably do that too.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

My friends Susan and Anna had babies

Did you attend any weddings?

Don’t think so.

Did anyone close to you die?

Shockingly, no

What countries did you visit?

None, but my passport is in order, just in case.

What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?

To live in a just country.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

The aforementioned will.

What was your biggest failure?

Failing to create more Roger time, which can generate stress.

What was the best thing you bought?

A smartphone, my first. And I got that ONLY because I lost my flip phone that I had had for a decade or more.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

A lot of people, actually:
Robert Mueller
Those who went on the Women’s March on January 21
The #MeToo women and men
The folks loosely called the Resistance
The comedians, including John Oliver, Seth Meyers, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, the folks at Saturday Night Live, and, surprisingly, Jimmy Kimmel, who I did not particularly like heretofore
Those who helped the people dealing with the weather disasters of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma in Florida and especially Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico
Those who helped the people dealing with the human-made disasters of explosions, mass shootings, and weaponized cars

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch, who appears to be as terrible as promised
The US Congress, passing legislature, passing legislation contrary to the needs and the will of its constituents
The US Cabinet who have the mission to negate all the success their agencies have achieved
The White House liars-in-chief, such as Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders
The litany of sexual predators, starting with Harvey Weinstein
And most of all, the terrible guy who promotes awful legislation, negates the progress of previous administrations, tells big fat lies, AND who is a sexual predator

Where did most of your money go?

The house, though we had no big projects.

What did you get really excited about?

The idea of retiring someday; also seeing Sheila E with Lynn Mabry in NYC in August

Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

Only a little sadder, but really pissed off

Thinner or fatter?

About the same

Richer or poorer?

Richer, marginally

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Sleeping, writing, thinking

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Thinking about Agent Orange

How did you spend Christmas?

Christmas Eve means singing at church, so that. Eventually we go to the in-laws

Did you fall in love in 2017?

Sure

How many one-night stands?

Jaquandor: “Now, that’s not the kind of question a gentleman answers! (Another stock answer!)”

What was your favorite TV program?

Finding Your Roots, CBS Sunday Morning, CBS This Morning Saturday, JEOPARDY!

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Hate is such an ugly word. But I certainly loathe the behavior of a whole lot of people; see above

What was the best book you read?

Inventing America: Rockwell + Warhol from the Norman Rockwell Museum

What was your greatest musical discovery?

There’s a group called Spoon I saw on CBS This Morning Saturday who I really liked

What did you want and get?

The new Hess truck

What did you want and not get?

Clarification of what I’m supposed to do about Medicare if I’m not retiring yet

What were your favorite films of this year?

I Am Not Your Negro; Hidden Figures; Kedi; The Big Sick; Fences

What did you do on your birthday?

I took off the day from work and…oh, who knows?

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?

I still don’t get those pajama-like items being worn in public

What kept you sane?

Yet again I argue the premise of the question. That said, my dads’ group in church. seeing my best college friend more than once.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Surprisingly, Ariana Grande (who I disliked from her Disney shows), who showed up in Birmingham, England only a couple weeks after her show was disrupted by a bomb

What political issue stirred you the most?

Here’s the thing: lots of people said THEY are doing THIS to DISTRACT you from them doing THAT. I don’t believe it. They’re doing it all: killing health care, lowering taxes on the rich, destroying the environment, taunting other world leaders (unless they’re thugs, such as the guy in the Philippines), etc, etc. That said, immigration, and our restrictive policies is doing large and possibly irreversible damage to our economy, is probably my core issue. It’s hurting education, tourism, farming…

Who was the best new person you met?

Some new church members.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017:

The trouble with normal is it always gets worse.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

From Funky National Anthem: Message 2 America by Sheila E.

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”

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