Power to the Teachers: Schools Shut Down in Honduras

To the Twitterati so incensed when Iran fell off the radar in favor of news of Michael Jackson’s death: what about Honduras?

After Sunday’s gentle coup (in which Honduran President Zelaya found himself dumped in a Costa Rican airport, still in his pajamas), schools all across Honduras have shut down as teachers went on strike: in support of Zelaya.  The coup, the first Central America has seen in 16 years, came as Zelaya intended to poll his fellow countrymen about the possibility of a constitutional amendment that would enable him to run for another term.  His opposition deemed it illegal (as did the Supreme Court) and while he planned to forge ahead, the military deposed him (in the nicest way possible it seems, give the history of such events).  No one was killed or injured in the coup, although many Zelaya supporters have been arrested.

But now, teachers are taking to the streets in support of their president, and there is no sight of the end of the strike.  Teachers are not the only incensed party: President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela have also called emergency meetings with Zelaya and other Central American leaders in order to reinstate the deposed president.  President Obama has also voiced his support on this, condemning the coup.  It is a setback to democracy in Central America that this has occurred now, especially over a matter that can be decided both in the legislature and the court.  The military needs to step back once again and let democracy run its course.

For more on Honduras, the BBC has a brief but thorough history, with links to their current coverage of what is happening in the country. The Times also has complete coverage.  But where is the discussion outside of the media?  Why do we continue to ignore what is taking place south of our borders?  Is democracy in Honduras not nearly as important as democracy in Iran?

image courtesy of the Associated Press via the New York Times

image courtesy of the Associated Press via the New York Times

(Also, a final note.  Can I highlight here that if for some reason, major newspapers were forced to close international bureaus and shut down their papers, and we came to rely on social media, twitter, and you tube, then it seems that no one in  the US would even know this was happening.  The NYT coverage of this event–researched and properly reported–is the very reason why this type of media (in whatever form) will continue to exist far into the future.)


Twelfth Night, or What You Will, in the Park

Yesterday morning I crawled (literally) out of my incredibly comfortable bed at 4:30 AM, so that I could get on one of the only subways that seems to run that early in the morning, and find myself at Central Park by 5:45 AM.  We then grabbed a spot at the end of the line, threw down an old blanket, and went promptly back to sleep.

By the time we woke up, freezing of course, the line behind us had elongated to the point where we couldn’t see the end (the beginning neither, but we knew we were close).  Then began the rest of the 7 hour stretch for free tickets to this years Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater just off the Great Lawn in Central Park.

It was worth the wait.

Charles Isherwood in the New York Times called this year’s show “the most consistently pleasurable the city has seen in at least a decade…. Certainly one of the most accomplished Shakespeare in the Park productions the Public Theater has fielded in some time.”

I’m no theatre critic, but rest assured: Isherwood is not exaggerating in the least.  Laugh-out-loud funny, deliciously melodramatic, and beautifully set, Twelfth Night is the best Shakespeare I’ve seen since moving to the city over five years ago.

For me the highlight of the show was the music.  Written and performed by indie-folk band Hem and sung by the cast (which included Anne Hathaway, Raul Esparza, and David Pittu), the music set the mood in the outdoor theater (which was dressed to look like a slice of the park itself) and by the end had the audience on their feet in a standing ovation.  Thankfully, they’ll be releasing the soundtrack within a few weeks: you can preorder the album here.

The show is running through July 12th.  If you’re going to go, get there early.  Words of warning: nobody that arrived after 7 o’clock got tickets that morning.  So pack up a picnic, bring along that book you’ve been wanting to read, and settle in for a long wait.  You won’t regret that missed sleep.


Chugging along on the Buttermilk Channel

I finally ventured down to south, south Carroll Gardens last night to cross the night restaurant off of my list: the new Buttermilk Channel.  I’d heard rave things, and so I dragged my poor starving friend along for two miles (should have taken the subway).  After hearing that it was a 45 minute wait for a table, I thought H

ayoung was literally going to kill me, most likely with the nearest utensil.  But, due to the earlier evening rainstorms, few people were eating outside, and we snagged a table there instead.

We ordered a cheese plate (which I’m pretty sure was sourced from Stinky Bklyn, the amazing local cheese shop), and it showed up at the same time as the honey-drizzled popovers, which we promptly asked for more of.  The roasted grapes threw me off at first (confession: I don’t eat olives and that’s exactly what they looked like) but they were sweet and soft and we ate them all.  I also had a glass of wine from Brooklyn Oenology–Brooklyn’s very own winery–and I will definitely be ordering more.  Probably not the Merlot, but that’s just a matter of personal preference.  And as a francophile, I was fairly impressed with our local Long Island grapes.

The decor was simple but elegantly rustic.  Inside, which I didn’t have much of a view of, has long communal tables and a comfortable feel.  But when our food finally arrived, I have to say that I was slightly disappointed.  I’m willing to admit that I might have ordered wrong, but disappointing all the same.  The duck meatloaf, while enticing sounding, didn’t live up to expectations (and oddly enough, I bit into something inedible in the first bite, though I was not deterred) but the sweet corn pudding it sat upon and the broth it was resting in made up for the bland flavor of the meat.

Next time I go (yes, I’ll probably go back), I think I’ll stick with the burger or the buttermilk fried chicken, the comfort food that the kitchen is known for.  And I’ll definitely be trying the dessert.

Next up: Watty & Meg.  Anyone want to come with?


Do low publishing salaries harm literature?

It’s definitely been a hot topic of discussion recently, at least in the blogosphere and on twitter.  It was hard to miss on the Book Bench and Galley Cat – maybe even harder to miss all of the comments.  But I have to say, this is typical assistant/associate discussion (I assume it dies down a bit once one is a bit too old to complain publicly about such things…).

As someone under 25 in the industry, I have to admit that the salaries have always appalled me, and it does probably keep a decent number of intelligent kids out.  I complain often enough.  But on the other hand, I do not have parental support, an entire third of my monthly pay check goes towards student loans, and I live in a fairly cheap apartment in Brooklyn.  I walk to work to save money on the subway, I shop at Trader Joe’s instead of Whole Foods, and in the past year I think I’ve bought a total of 3 shirts that were not H&M or Old Navy.  Eating in is the name of the game.  Okay, I don’t complain often enough.  I complain all the goddamn time.

But you know what?  If I didn’t want to be in publishing, then I wouldn’t.  The people in this industry are really passionate about what they do, maybe even more so because they’re sacrificing certain comforts they may have grown up with (I certainly have ).  Maybe I would prefer not to have to spend a good chunk of my free time scrambling to complete freelance projects or babysitting rowdy four-year-olds.  But if that’s what it takes to work with the books that I want to work with, then that’s what I’ll do.  I could easily walk away and do something else.  I could be one of my friends that works 80 hour weeks crunching numbers or reading thousands upon thousands of pages of legal briefs.  But I’m not.

Low publishing salaries don’t harm literature.  Sure, they are appalling, and they probably do keep very smart people away.  But the people that love literature and work in the industry aren’t all trust fund babies (not that this makes them unqualified, mind you).  Maybe literature is still going strong because of what people sacrifice.

And high author advances?  Maybe thats what’s actually hurting literature.  Dan Brown anyone?

It certainly wouldn’t hurt to share the wealth.


My want of something chewy…

It has been exactly one week since I had all four of my wisdom teeth extracted.  While I’ve been pretty lucky (and mostly pain free!), I’m just plain hungry.  It’s obvious that one can’t subsist on a liquid only diet, but I thought I would do pretty well with soft foods only.  To no avail.  Right now, I just really want to chew something.  Like a steak.  Or a bag of potato chips.  Hi-brow or lo-brow, no difference to me.  It probably doesn’t even have to taste any good.

So since I can’t eat anything especially delicious, I thought I’d share this recipe that I won’t be able to enjoy, in hopes that you might.  But please don’t rub it in.

spinach artichoke pizza

Spinach Artichoke Pizza


dough (I prefer Trader Joe’s herb if you can get it)
several cloves garlic
homemade aioli (recipe to come)
fresh spinach leaves, chopped
artichoke hearts, chopped (canned are fine, if you can’t get fresh ones)
1 large spanish onion, chopped
mozzarella cheese

The key to this recipe really is the homemade aioli, which I will post the recipe for as soon as I figure out what proportions I’ve been using.  Ever since I’ve learned how to make homemade emulsifications, I can’t stop myself!  I’ll never buy mayonnaise again!

to cook

Wrap the garlic cloves in tinfoil and toss them into the oven, at about 425 degrees.  Let them roast for about 45 minutes.  We’ll add them to the pizza at the end.

While the garlic is roasting, stretch out the pizza dough onto your tray of choice.  I usually use a bit of olive oil on the pan to prevent stickage, but you can also use tinfoil, or cornmeal.  Once the dough is nice and stretched out, spread your homemade aioli on top–not too thick. In this case, a little goes a long way.  Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese.  Then lay down the toppings: the chopped spinach, artichoke hearts, and spanish onions.  Feel free to sprinkle more cheese on top of those.  Then pop the pizza into the oven, for 10-15 minutes depending on your preference for crunchy or soft.

When both the pizza and the garlic are finished, remove from the onion.  Peel the garlic cloves and spread the now soft and deliciously roasted garlic on top of the pizza.