In the 12 years of writing these columns, call me wacky, but I never imagined our government incarcerating migrant children, crying and pleading for their mothers and many houses in kennel-like cages and sleeping on concrete. Thousands are still not reunited with parents and it’s unclear the administration even knows exactly where these innocent children have been scattered around the country. (There’s far better tracking of my shirt at the dry cleaners.)
A 9-month-old baby was shipped 2,000 miles to a shelter in New York! Shockingly, the Red Cross is denied permission to inspect these detention centers. (Is this America or Syria?) All because of Trump’s infamous “zero tolerance” policy, better named “zero humanity.”
To write about anything else would make me feel like Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned. And yet, for my mental health (and maybe yours) some columns need to be “Trump-Free.” So, if you’ll indulge me, I’ll comment on Main Street, specifically two wonderful pizza restaurants that I once reviewed. (How’s that for an awkward segue?)
In September 2013, I wrote about Peter Lepore, then owner of Bravissimo Pizzeria on Main Street. I described his impressive family history, which includes five generations in the bakery and cafe business in New York City. Peter, who’s a neighbor, was so pleased that he insisted on dropping off dinner, which included a pizza, salad and dessert. (Hog heaven for yours truly.)
He also often repeated his generous offer. Not wanting to impose, it took me a month to take him up on it. One night needing a pizza fix, I timidly phoned Bravo but was stunned by what I heard.
Disheartened, Peter informed me his beloved restaurant was closing in a matter of days because “The landlord doubled the rent!” Thankfully, I didn’t blurt out, “As long as I have you, can you drop off some free pizza?” Truth be told, however, I was almost more upset than Peter.
This past April I also wrote about Novel Pizzeria on Main Street. Not long after I received a similar offer but to no avail. Once again, a landlord had severely raised the rent forcing closure. (And cutting off my pizza pipeline.)
Twice my “review” was essentially followed by a “going out of business” notice. Is my writing a curse? I suppose It depends on who you ask. Believe it or not, a similar thing happened with a screenplay I wrote, only with “graver” consequences. (Pun intended.)
This was before “Cocoon,” but my story was similar. It was about a retired scientist (Alec Guinness type) who lived in senior housing and inadvertently discovered a substance that temporarily revitalized him and his geriatric friends. Instead of “Boogie Nights,” think “Geritol Nights.”
The good news was that it was read by a few prominent elderly actors. The bad news was, soon after, they died. I’m serious. First Jack Albertson, then Walter Matthau. I joked I was going to make Martin Landau an offer, “How much is it worth for me NOT to send you my script?”
Back to Main Street, gentrification (and resulting rent increases) may be a bonanza for greedy landlords but it’s not so great for residents. With admittedly numerous exceptions, what seems to thrive on the street are nail salons and bars!
At 2 a.m., as inebriated customers stagger out of the bars, Main Street can look like a scene from “The Lost Weekend,” or maybe footage for a rehab facility commercial. Over the years, I’ve become inured to the bars but not so the nail salons.
I often take a stroll on Main Street passing La Vecchia where it would seem a little self-conscious for patrons to eat right on the other side of the window. But nothing compared to the nail salon. Picture a packed room of women, and the occasional man, perched high up on chairs having their hands and feet slavishly serviced by Asian women. Culturally and class-wise, it just seems wrong. It also makes Main Street look like a mini-mall.
Why not tinted windows? The “service” appears almost intimate and yet it’s in public view. What’s next, bikini waxing? Actually, that’s not far wrong.
On YouTube, I came across a “waxing expert” cautioning nail salon users to “insist your bikini waxer is licensed.” (I’m figuring bikini waxing must be in a private room but if it ever weren’t, I could guaranty an influx of window shopping.)
Of course, I could simply “review” the nail salons and, given my track record, soon they’d be out of business? (Relax, I’m joking … kinda.) Not joking, however, I recently received word from the Novel Pizzeria. They’ll be re-opening nearby and fairly soon but their “undisclosed location” is still top secret. Go figure.
That’s it for this edition, gang. At least I finished without re-mentioning “His Orangeness.” That’s progress. I think.
For more, please Google “The Lost Weekend,” and “John Oliver outs rehab industry.” Jack is at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and firstname.lastname@example.org