Last week, a week ago today, actually, Danusia and I went to a dinner party in Westbeth. It was the home of a friend of hers from NYU, a Romanian woman and her American husband. There would be another couple as well as the host’s two children.
When she told me about it, I asked the question I always ask when invited to a dinner: are they vegetarian? Or worse, are they vegan?
I have to ask, because even though I am less of a carnivore than I once was, I am still a carnivore, and if there would be no meat for dinner, I would certainly have to have it for lunch, baring having to show up at the dinner with a sack from Paul’s on second Avenue. Paul’s makes the best hamburger on the Lower East Side. My writing teacher and mentor Charles Salzburg is in love with Shake Shack’s burgers, but I’ll always be partial to Paul’s. Maybe it’s a geographical thing, since he lives on the Upper East Side.
Getting back to the dinner, Danusia said, yes, they are vegetarians, so you better have your meat now. I had two Karl Ehmer hot dogs for lunch, on tortillas instead of bread.
She was right, I had a great time, even though there wasn’t enough hummus to go around and when dinner came part of the entrée was a roasted eggplant-in-a sauce concoction that though not quite Baba Ganoush was close enough to my prediction. There was roasted tofu in a sauce for protein, and a side of veg all served over white rice.
The best part of the dinner was the company, it turned out that we had all lived on the Lower East side at some point, and we all traded Lower East Side stories. It was like a mini-Moth competition.
The other guest couple were a French filmmaker and his wife, still LES residents, and when he mentioned Edgar Oliver, another Lower East sider, I said; “we know that guy.”
I told him about the first time I’d seen Edgar, and had fallen under his hypnotic spell. It was at a Herbert Huncke tribute meeting, and I started to describe what Edgar had read, and Francois, (of course Francios!) said: “New Orleans, 1938.”
“That’s right! How did you know?”
and told us about that. He told a great story about showing two visiting French girls “the real New York,” which involved them helping Huncke try to revive someone from an opiate overdose in his room at the Chelsea Hotel. That prompted more Chelsea hotel stories, Danusia told how she dated Dee Dee Ramone and stayed with him in his room at the Chelsea, I never knew anybody famous there, but I did know enough musicians and lonely rich people to have spent some time there myself, so I got to chime in, and we all had our LES stories. In all it was a great evening, we made new friends and swapped great stories- I got to tell my Nixon story again since it happened on the Lower East Side, and despite the spare meal I had a lot of fun.