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Hot Off the Press: A Boatload of Nonsense!
Eric Adams Watch! New Yorkers on Cameo!! Personal Experiments!!!
Welcome to Issue #88 of CAFÉ ANNE!
There were many responses to my request, in last week’s issue, for help tracking down an obwarzanek—a pretzel-like Polish baked good said to be a precurser to the bagel. Reader Jeff in Kabul wondered if the obwarzanek is related to the odradek, a mythical creature described by Kafka in this very peculiar essay. Reader CL Steiner directed me to the Living Obwarzanek Museum in Krakow, but, as he noted, Poland is a bit out of the way.
Former New Yorker Irene in Texas, meanwhile, recalled a character named Ray the Bagelman who used to sell pretzel-shaped bagels—clearly obwarzanek adjacent—out of a shopping cart on the campus of City College. While it was fun to read about how the school awarded Ray an “honorary degree in pretzel purveyance," he is long gone.
Then there is Rob in Brooklyn, who had an actual lead! Edith’s Sandwich Counter, a breakfast-and-lunch spot with locations in Williamsburg and Tribeca, he noted, sells bagels that are intended as an homage to the obwarzanek.
“According to Wikipedia,’ Rob added, “The obwarzanek has protected geographical indication (PGI) status, so an homage may be the closest you can get outside of Krakow.”
Last week, hoping to sample the goods, I stopped by Edith’s Tribeca location, which is actually located inside another restaurant and bar called Tiny’s. While it was the middle of the day, the place was dark and totally deserted. I peeked into the kitchen and the back room. Empty!
A glowing pink neon sign advertised “bar upstairs,” so I snuck up to the second floor. That, too, was completely deserted. No customers, no staff. I could have walked off with a dozen bottles of hooch, only I’m not a hooch drinker.
When I went back downstairs, a man came in with a load of boxes. “Hello!” I called, but he disappeared into the basement. When he came back up, I stopped him with a question: “Is there a sandwich shop here?”
It turns out he was just making a delivery. “Yes, there is a sandwich shop here,” he said. “But where are the people? Usually, there is a man at the counter, and a menu on the door!”
So that’s as far as I got with that.
In other news, I am excited to note that the second anniversary of CAFÉ ANNE is coming up in two weeks. To celebrate, I’m launching a big research survey on the topic, “What makes a real New Yorker?” If you’d like to participate, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll reply with a questionnaire. Sorry—this is only for readers living in NYC.
In other-other news, I’m afraid there was an error in last week’s letter. I wrote that reader Forrest, who suspects my “friend” Aharon of being a bot, lives in Provincetown. The truth: Forrest lives in Providence, RI. Which rendered Aharon’s Rhode Island-based rebuttal to Forrest’s accusation entirely nonsensical. Aharon, of course, immediately threatened to sue. I hope this correction satisfies.
Finally, huge back-to-school-so-we-can-play-hooky-in-Central-Park shoutouts to new paid subscribers Angus M., Sallie NYC, MerryLynn L., Olive and Mordy L. That’s enough $$$ to buy a month’s worth of 40s to guzzle under the Glade Arch!
I’m very excited about this week’s issue, of course. No big feature story, but we do have a real Boatload of Nonsense including the latest edition of Eric Adams Watch, a look at New Yorkers on Cameo and the launch of a new series, Department of Personal Experimentation. Please enjoy.
ERIC ADAMS WATCH
On Eye Candy, Lab Meat and Texting!
I continue to enjoy the exploits of Eric Adams, whom my friend Aharon refers to as “New York City’s first AI-generated Mayor.” As a profile in Politico put it, “In a city of weird people and weird mayors, Adams is maybe the most idiosyncratic figure to ever hold the office.”
Here, round-up #19 of the mayor’s doings:
August 18: When critics malign the city’s move to make pandemic-era outdoor dining sheds permanent, the Mayor suggests a possible side benefit: "You’re looking to date. You may drive by. You may see eye candy sitting down somewhere. You may want to park and come and slip them your number. Come have fun, man. Outdoor dining is the way to go!"
August 22: In a trip to Israel, the sort-of vegan Mayor meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the two enjoy sampling lab-grown meat kebabs, steak and burgers developed by an Isreali tech startup. A press release from the Prime Minister’s office later notes, “Israel is among the leading countries in alternative proteins and second, only to the US, in private investment in this field; therefore, the two countries have much in common.”
August 23: A photo from the Mayor’s visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem goes viral, and understandably so. The snapshot shows his hand pressed to the wall, his wrist sporting a beaded bracelet that spells out “HUSTLE.”
September 1: The Mayor makes an announcement on social media: “Hello New York! I am so excited to announce that we are launching a new program, ‘Text With Eric!’ That’s right. I want to give you my number so we can text. It’s 917-909-2288.”
September 10: Intrepid NYC reporter Katie Honan calls the “Text With Eric” line to see what happens. She gets a prerecorded response: “You’ve reached Eric! I am gettin’ stuff done right now and I am best reached by TEXT so please say hello there!” I try texting him myself (“Hello Mayor!”), but receive no response.
DEPARTMENT OF PERSONAL EXPERIMENTATION
One Thing At a Time, Lady!
I’ve conducted many experiments on myself over the years in hopes of finding a better way to do everything. Some practices—like wearing the same thing every day—proved so useful and helpful I adopted them permanently. Others, not so much! Thirty days eating nothing but meat left me run down and sick.
I thought it might be fun to share these experiments with you, so I’m starting with a practice I’m trying for September: no multitasking!
This is a total ban on doing more than one thing at a time. No more texting while doing the dishes, or checking my email during a Zoom call.
The biggest challenge so far? Staying off the phone while walking the dog or in transit to my next appointment. I have to walk in silence without any distractions—like a goddamn primitive!
I have to say, I’m enjoying my walks and phone chats a lot more! The single-pointed focus makes both activities more relaxing and satisfying. The downside, of course, is that I have less time for walking and less time for talking. It’s a little frustrating!
I’m assuming, of course, that more talking, and more exercise, is better. But is it? Somewhere between solitary confinement and a blurry life of fragmentation and distraction, there’s an ideal balance. I’m hoping this temporary commitment to one thing at a time will help me find it.
I’ll keep you posted….
Have you tried a similar experiment or have one to suggest? Please share in the comments or drop me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greetings From New York’s Most Opportunistic Celebrities!
I was recently the last person on earth to learn of Cameo, an online service that lets any celebrity record and send short, personalized videos to fans, charging rates ranging from $1 to $2000.
My first impulse, of course, was to check out who in NYC is available for hire. Cameo doesn't offer filtering by location, so I had to search using phrases such as "New York" and “NYC” to sift through the site's 31,400 celebrity profiles. And I still got a lot of garbage results.
But I did find hundreds of New Yorkers. I quickly determined, for example, that Cameo's selection includes all two million stars who have appeared on the long-running "Real Housewives of New York City" reality TV show.
Also: every professional athlete who has ever played for any NYC team. Also: an impressive array of porn stars, "YouTube creators," TikTokers, models and influencers. Also: many real estate agents, financial advisors, life coaches and self-described "viral stars."
But a few stood out including—get this!—former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. And, of course, CAFÉ ANNE friend The Naked Cowboy.
Below, a curated selection for your perusal. Why not commission a video for a friend? Or an enemy?!
Street Ball Legend “Half Man Half Amazing”
Videos produced for Cameo: 2
Average star rating: 5
Pitch: "‘S’up y'all. Certified OG Brooklyn Gladiator Half Man Half Amazing…Let's have some fun with it—birthday shoutouts, whatever you need from the OG, I'm here for it. Let's do it! Bonk-bonk! Respect the blacktop!"
Sample greeting: "Yo what's up, John, what's goin’ on. Certified OG the Brooklyn Gladiator, Half Man Half Amazing...Hear you're just coming off some surgery so congratulations on that. I hope the rehab is going well. I heard you used to be a baller back in the day, so that's what's up, man—fellow ballers. Small world baby, let's keep the circle tight, alright? So now, got to get back to business, got to get you back on the court, getchoo game back, alright? That's the OG challenge to JOHN!”
Rudy W. Giuliani, Former Mayor of New York City
Videos produced for Cameo: 66
Average star rating: 4.68
Pitch: "Hi it's Rudy Giuliani and I'm really excited about Cameo. It gives me a chance to do something nice and something fun. I can do a happy birthday greeting, a happy anniversary greeting or wish someone good luck on a wedding, the birth of a child. We can talk about politics, we can talk about sports or maybe motivation or, uh, a pep talk! Sometimes people need that. So if you feel you'd like me to do that, you just go ahead and call on me and through the magic of Cameo, I'll be there and do it happily. Thank you! I really, really appreciate it! Heh-heh!”
Sample greeting: "Will! Congratulations on passing the bar exam and I think you're going to start a new job at a law firm in Cleveland on the 23rd of August, which is coming right up!...I understand you're really excited, but pensive, or worried. But if you don't like it, you'll try something else. I mean the law is a really, really gigantic field..."
Elizabeth Stewart, The Green Lady
Videos produced for Cameo: 12
Average star rating: 4.92
Description: Elizabeth Sweetheart, 82, is known in Brooklyn as the Green Lady of Carroll Gardens for her evergreen approach to life. Proceeds donated to Bidawee.
Backdrop: Her Brooklyn home decorated, of course, in hues matching her hair and outfits.
Sample greeting: "Hi Stella, this is the Green Lady of Brooklyn and I want to congratulate you on your graduation from [NYU film school] Tisch. I love Tisch! It's so amazing…And I hope that every dream in your heart comes true and you do really awesome things. And maybe I'll see you. I'd love having you as a young person in Carroll Gardens!”
The Naked Cowboy, Street Musician
Videos produced for Cameo: 317
Average star rating: 4.94
Description: “Hey y’all! My name is Robert Burck, I was born naked 51 years ago and have been rocking Times Square for a quarter century. I look forward to serving you!”
Typical backdrop: Times Square
Sample greeting: “Dwight! Merry Christmas from Mike! (Singing) Have yourself a merry Christmas, a sexy holiday, celebrate it in your undies, the Naked Cowboy Way! He said you’re an awesome guy, very funny, you’ll give the shirt off of your back. Big whoop! I gave my shirt and my pants off!”
Luke Manley, Viral Star
Videos produced for Cameo: 5
Average star rating: 5.0
Pitch: "What's up guys. I can't believe Cameo asked me to be on here, but I'm here, baby. I don't know my ass from my elbow but I do know how to give a birthday shoutout and anything else you guys want, so hit up Lunch Box baby, let's go!"
Sample Greeting: "Kyle, what are you doing to me? What are you doin' to me, man? You suck at darts? How hard are darts? You throw a f—ing arrow at a board, you suck at it? Jesus Christ, you're killin’ me. Your buddy Trevor hit me up, he said you suck at darts and to be honest, you know what? I don't think you suck at darts. I think you're absolutely f—in' horrific at darts and you gotta step your game up, dude! Stop being a baby back bitch! What are you doin' man! Come on it's f—in' throwin' little things at a board. Pick it up, alright? So I'm puttin' it all on Trevor. You piece of s—. Nah, just kiddin’, I love you. But be better! Be better, dude! F—in' darts. Jesus Christ."
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