Jackie Mason wasn't trying to be funny when he said that. That man doesn't have to try. But the truth be told, he's right.
Portia sent me this horrific story from today's New York Times. The Second Avenue Deli is shutting down.
Did you hear that? That was the sound of my gentile heart breaking.
The Second Ave. Deli has been a staple of the Lower East Side since the year I was born. And no matter where I roamed, I could sleep at night just knowing that there was a heaping mound of hot, lean pastrami skulking between slabs of good seeded rye waiting for me at Second Avenue and East 10th St. Now those dreams are dashed forever. Gone like a bowl of free pickles. The world has grown darker.
You think I'm exaggerating, don't you. Well, I am...but not by much. The Second Ave. Deli was a Kosher Mecca for delicatessen junkies such as myself. Most of the time I was in the City, I'd be working 50 blocks north of 10th Street, and so I would have to haunt the Carnegie Deli,
or the Stage Deli. They were excellent, especially the Carnegie. I mean where else on earth could you get a corned beef, chicken liver, and tongue sandwich (don't forget the bermuda onion) at 10 o'clock at night? In fact, I remember getting scolded by my boss when she looked at my receipts for a week's stay and discovered that I had eaten every single meal at either the Carnegie or the Stage. "You're going to kill yourself eating like that," she said as she handed me an apple. She was right of course. But everybody's gotta go sometime, so give me some kasha and don't hold back on the chicken fat.
The Second Avenue Deli, however, that was more than just a mind-blowing sandwich. It was an adventure. Just going that far down the island was a trip. It was like climbing out of the subway into another country. In every store window there were signs in both Hebrew and Spanish. Hasidic men in black homburgs and payot (side curls) shared the sidewalks with transvestites and artists and junkies. The sounds of Yiddish mixed with Latino rhythms and cab horns in an other-worldly symphony. It was the essence of New York City. It was cool. And everybody knew about it, even people in San Francisco. And the Second Avenue Deli served the best sandwiches on Earth. Period.
And now they've killed the Second Avenue Deli.
And now I am going to cry.
Is there no hope for New York? For America?