“I Liked the Food, the Service was Great….but…….

| January 11, 2011 | Comments (0)

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the crowd wasn’t very diverse. Very  ‘white bread’, if you know what I mean !”

This was the thumbnail review provided me by Nadia of a new bistro that opened in her neighborhood in Manhattan;  Hudson Heights to be precise. Nadia, I might add, is lovely, multilingual,  a very educated  woman working in a high-level professional job. One would say she is very sophisticated.

Nadia  is a South Asian  in her early 50s and gorgeous,  with that enviable physiognomy that allows  her to fit into most societies in the world. She could walk into  almost any  place and  “pass” for Spanish, Asian Indian, Mexican, Turkish ; you name  the ethnic group, she looks the part.

Yours Truly, Moon Dog Oglesby, on the other hand, is very White Bread and fits in almost no where.  Maybe on Tangier  Island, Virginia where my ancestors landed 300 year ago and where everybody looks more or less alike with beaky noses and receeding chins, the product  of generations of in-breeding, but not in many locales here in New York City or most other places. In my South Bronx ‘hood which is overwhelmingly Latino – these days most of the people seem to hail from Puebla, Mexico –  I stand out like a sore thumb. Or a rare white swan. (Yes, a prefer that analogy.)  For most of my 72 years, it has always been that way for me, growing up in Japan and working many decades in Southeast Asia. I am the “farang” (Thai), the “bo” (Burmese) or the “buleh” (Indonesian) who they point to or shout at.

So fitting in has never been my shtick or my kismet. That’s why I found Nadia’s “review” of the restaurant a bit bewildering, if not unsettling.  If I had expectations of  ” diversity”  as a dining criterion when I went  into eateries in Bangkok or Tokyo or Rangoon, I would have turned away and starved ! Would never have found a place with that mix of faces from different places that Nadia seems to require.

 Which leads me to ponder:  doesn’t all this talk  of multiculturalism and diversity have its intolerant side? I know the old Melting Pot of yore is no longer popular and the term is nearly taboo, but I kind of liked the Melting Pot. We were all supposed to be the same; just Americans. (I know, I know – there were ugly things like segregation and Whites Only lunch counters, but they are gone now.)  Isn’t there an element of  “reverse racism” in Nadia’s need for diversity?

I think for her birthday I am going to buy Nadia a little device I will call the Social Mine Sweeper. She could set it to the desired degree of  “diversity” she  is seeking (a little Latino, a dash of Black, perhaps a touch of Asia; the slightest hint of White Bread ?) and  pin it to her Prada scarf so  when she walks into a cafe or restaurant – or even a private dinner party – her little Mine Sweeper, nicely designed and encrusted with semi-precious stones, would emit a discreet beep telling her whether she should tarry a while or just walk past the place.

That way Nadia’s meal will be perfectly balanced. There’s nothing better than a Diverse Sole Meuniere.

Moon Dog’s thoughts of a Tuesday evening as the dinner hour approaches.

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In Case You Haven’t Read It!

| January 10, 2011 | Comments (1)

Hello Again, Bloggees !

I call readers bloggees and those who write bloggers. Lo que sea ! Whatever…

Just wanted to alert you to an oped I wrote for the Washington Post some days ago. I think it is a good piece that gives us all pause re: who we are, where we have been and where we are going !

Here is the site you can click!

Cheers !
Moon Dog

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Love Me, Love My Blog!

| January 10, 2011 | Comments (2)

Good Morning,  Everybody !

I greet you on a crisp, cold Monday. The sun it trying to shine.  It is just past 8 AM and I am waiting……waiting for the ConEd guy to come and read my meter. For those of you not familiar with New York City alphabets, that stands for ConEdison, the utility company that supplies gas and electricity to Gotham’s residents. Let’s see what happens !  The window of time he gave me for the visit was 8 to 12 AM. What if I had to go to work and not just sit at home and blog !!??

For the past several months,  we have been having fun here at Fawlty Towers with little electric heaters that resemble real fireplaces. They are portable, amazingly light, stand about two feet high by eighteen inches wide and have a window through which we watch a fake flame leaping to no where.  And they give out great heat. The point of mentioning this new  household bauble is: I expect our electricity bill to be sky high, really exorbitant. Oh, what the hell, you only live once ! Gotta stay warm and why not have fun doing it !

Which brings me to several topics for today’s blog. This first item will probably be of interest mainly to writers and book-lovers, but perhaps there is broader meaning in what I am thinking for others as well.

The question I pose to myself as I contemplate writing another book is: is there any  juice left ? I have written two books, slim volumes of the memoir variety. (They are listed and described on my blog.) As I contemplate my third book, I find myself seized by “stage fright” or should I say, “writers’ fright” otherwise known as writer’s block.

This stressful feeling occurs everytime I write ANYTHING, an article, even a letter to a friend and takes the form of: do I have it in me to write this thing, this letter, this book, this article or are all my creative juices gone, used up? Do we have a limited, fixed amount of creativity in our noodles and just how much is that endowment, quantity-wise?

Look at some famous writers like Harper Lee, JD Salinger and Truman Capote. Their influence was great , but their output in terms of quantity, modest indeed. But then there are the Stephen Kings and the Ruth Rendells who continue to write book after book….Quien sabe ? So let’s see if I can squeeze out another scribble.

Moving to another book-related experience, the other day I went into our local Barnes and Noble bookshop in Manhattan at East 86th Street near Lexington Avenue. As the descending escalator brought me into the main hall, I gasped and couldn’t believe my eyes. Where, only days ago, there had been tables and shelves loaded with books, new arrivals, fiction, non-fiction, you name it, now what greeted my eye was NOTHING but emptiness and large, blindingly  white tables. Affixed to these miserable pieces of furniture were signs bearing one word : NOOK.

NOOK is Barnes & Noble’s new electronic book. I know they are wonderful and the wave of the future, but the shock that registered in this bibliophile’s brain on seeing this white void and no “REAL” books, is still with me. We are told, and it is probably true, that print edition books will never die out completely, that they will probably become a quaint, boutique item, always there for the nostalgia-minded. We are also assured that as readers we can do all the good and bad things to these  slim new invaders as we did to the old hard copies –  dog-ear them, write in the margins…..still it will never be the same. Does Sandra Bullock replace Rita Hayworth? No way !

I’ll sign off now and leave you to contemplate the charms of Rita.  Have a good day, as they say in Walmart !

Moon Dog Waiting for ConEd.

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Alice, please pass the Cialis !

| January 9, 2011 | Comments (0)

Actually…. I dont’ know anybody named  Alice and I don’t use Cialis.

I’m  a very stodgy, boring,  serious person, but when you reach your 70’s as I have, you find yourself writing and saying strange , funny, unusual things.

So just ignore my plea for medication for this or any other type of dysfunction. When I feel down, or “blue” as my Mother used to call it, I go shopping with a friend and his name is not Alice.

My friend Gene tells me septageneriansim – being in one’s 70s –  is the “magic” decade when we are finally  liberated –  still possess our marbles, can pay the rent and go on cruises and on a good day can “rise to the occasion” !

What better way to achieve this nirvana that to levitate on a blog. And so I have started one.

I will write about everything and nothing. And I invite you all to agree with me or rip me to shreds. 

It will be delicious ! And by the way ! Please read my two books. They are short, easy to read (good for the loo or the airplane) will make you laugh and cry. Maybe at the same time!

Bonne annee…Feliz Ano Nuevo…Happy New Year !

Sam “Moon Dog” Oglesby

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Encounters: A Memoir

| January 8, 2011 | Comments (3)

“Encounters: A Memoir – Relationship Journeys from Around the World” has something for every type of reader. Flavored with humor and poignant notes, this memoir paints a fascinating picture of westerners living in Asia and the cross-cultural challenges they face in their social and emotional lives.

Beginning in the segregated American South in the 1940s where the author spend his early childhood, this personal series of stories moves through Asia, Europe and the corridors of the United Nations where Oglesby faced challenges as a gay employee working in a tradition-bound environment.

His writing has touches of Capote and Graham Greene. The book is hard to put down. The perfect companion for a long airplane ride.

“Encounters: A Memoir – Relationship Journeys from Around the World” takes the reader from a village in the segregated South to exotic places in Europe and Asia.

There are stops in war-torn Vietnam, a visit to an abandoned palace in Bangladesh where goats waltz on a deserted ballroom floor, a life-threatening confrontation with police in Paris, and many other adventures.

In these absorbing tales, the author shares his cross-cultural experiences and describes the challenges he faced in trying to become a citizen of the world.

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