On Kosher Pastrami [Flash Fiction]

American pluralism is where being American now means that the people have lithified, where they have become a monolith of the most massive proportions. Pluralism here is a brand of politics seriously devoted to praying before the icons of our media, in imitatio de stelle, and we do look to our media icons for guidance, as some used to look to saints. We do pray in devotion before them, their images pressed as icons through our various media. What then are our TV personalities other than pseudo-live-motion saints, chapels in a box with an aerial tuner.

There is a ritual life in our entertainment world aligned secularly, one we gratefully participate in. True enough, for sure; but then there is often nothing more difficult to see than the truth. The media president has been one thing every four years–and President Obama is as much a media president as any other, if not more so than many others; he is a media darling and therefore receives gracious treatment by broadcasters. But what about the media man and the media woman, the media American; the media person complete with media personhood, a media sense of self, a media informed sense of duty of obligation of freedom of liberty of pedagogy of voting behavior of ethical conduct et cetera . . . Warhol, Warhol, prophet of our future.

TV evangelists have always bugged the American liberal establishment because the former are simply more overt forms of what the latter is politically, secularly. What any of this other stuff–and stuffed derma my mother used to send me to the deli to get; I used to get her a lot of take out from Cousin’s, the franks we used to eat a lot of when I was a boy–yes, what this about Jury Duty has to do with going to get Pastrami on club with pickles and cole slaw I would venture to guess if I were idiot, but I am not an idiot, and so I do know that this herein as it has been presented has nothing at all to do with my craving for kosher pastrami on club with mustard and sides of pickles and cole slaw . . .

I love the cole slaw at the The Avenue T Deli in Brooklyn, most of the Jewish delis having gone the way of most Eastern European Jews in New York, those that are left have become white like wonder bread and forget about finding a good Jewish (read Ashkenazi) Deli, if you can find any kosher delis at all, that is, if you are not going to go to Orthodoxville, in Boro Park or Williamsburg. I remember the pastrami on club at Cousins in East Flatbush when I was a boy going to school at PS 208 on Avenue D, and we would be let out for lunch, and sometimes when I would not go home, which I could because for some time during my elementary school days, grammar school as we called it, I lived on East 48th Street between Farragut Road and Foster Avenue (only one and half avenue lengths away), and then right across the street from the school on the corner of East 48th and Avenue D, the school being on Avenue D between East 48th Street and East 49th . . . ; and so, when I would not go home for lunch like I said I could, I would go to a nearby place to eat, and Cousins was on Avenue D between Utica Avenue (East 50th Street) and East 51st Street, if I am remembering correctly, how many years ago this being I could count but won’t, not now, not here, not with the intention of telling about how good the pastrami at Cousin’s was, and it was good, delicious, more than delicious–what is more than delicious, succulent, mouth watering? what is there to say to tell you how this pastrami was is now in the mind . . . the waiters were as grumpy as could be, and the grumpiest always taking my order no matter what table I sat at, and I think in a way being a protective-watcher over me because my parents came their with me and were excellent tippers, I mean the best, guineas always being better tippers than micks my Irish/French American mother would say (my dad a good tipper, excellent like I’ve said, but my mother insanely better because she was always in the cause of service people doing for us what we did not want to do for ourselves and that that should cost something and that they should be rewarded, saying things to me like you wouldn’t want to do this job, or something else like this job is hard, or you wouldn’t want to be a migrant farmer picking fruit in California, which I wondered about, thinking for a time that if waiters did not wait tables in New York, the alternative was to pick fruit in California) and I say things like this to a college kid and he just says I am an idiot.

But pastrami I liked when I was a kid better than corned beef, and I do like corned beef, but I guess I prefer pastrami, but it has to be good kosher pastrami, and I went to the Carnegie Deli recently, and not only was I unimpressed by their pastrami, I wondered where I was when in this Kosher Deli because all the wait staff were Chinese. I do remember incredible matzo ball soup from a take out place near the King’s Highway Q and B train station. It is no longer there, but about 25 years ago, it was one really fantastic stop for Matzo ball soup and other delicacies . . . delicatessen is Yiddish and German for delicate eating; Yiddish and German being inter-dialectical, both having come middle high-German, which is German from the Highlands and not the lowlands or the Netherlands and around. Yiddish does not come from modern German; they both have a common source and one is not closer to that source than the other.

I still have a hankering for kosher pastrami, but of course, good kosher pastrami. I will not go to the Carnegie Deli that must be owned by Chinese or something–why is every waiter in the place Chinese? They are, all of them Chinese. I won’t go to a Ukrainian Restaurant when I want tacos. I have no problem with Chinese waiters or all of a places waiters being Chinese when I am getting dim sum in Brooklyn, but . . . no. I am still in search of good kosher pastrami. I want to have a Kosher Pastrami on club at the Avenue T Deli in Bergen Beach, at the edge of Canarsie . . . I’ll call friends so we can drive there and have what i am now craving–a lot more than I am looking forward to fulfilling what some assholes call their civic duty–schmucks propagating some half-baked, semi-literate, under-educated notion of what my duty to society is–fuck them and fuck you. The faster I get out of here, the better I will feel about what my civic duty could be, should be, will be–how much the State is full of shit stinks through every effort here.


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