Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Picnic Season

Oh, rain! Huge spattering drops came down last night, just minutes after the climax of the post-NY Philharmonic concert in the park, where I was sharing fresh mozzarella and hearts-of-palm salad and balsamic-grilled chicken with my old pal Adam. (Note to self: NEVER, ever, try to shop for a picnic at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's in prime post-work hours. I got plenty of tasty food, but the lines and crowds were murderous. It was, however, way too disgustingly hot to even think of cutting up anything in my sauna of a kitchen.) The crowds shrieked with glee and threw picnic blankets and newspapers over their heads, getting happily soaked after 2 days of close-to-100-degree heat. We stood under a marquee in Times Square and watched the rain teem down, neon reflecting in the puddles. And then, oh bliss, Adam actually drove me all the way home across the Brooklyn Bridge in his air-conditioned car, with Depression-era Argentinian tango playing, which he even translated. From what he could make out of the gangster slang, the main theme was "The world is broken/we're all in the shit."

Everyone, it seems, is going out to Brooklyn Bridge Park tomorrow at dusk to see Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, based on the Patricia Highsmith nail-biter of the same name, an attempt at constructing a pair of "perfect" crimes in which two strangers agree to dispatch each other's enemies. Highsmith excels at constructing an atmosphere of inescapable, almost claustrophobic anxiety, shown to particular perfection in The Talented Mr Ripley and others in that series. She was (mostly) gay, and conflicted about that, and it shows up transmuted into her fiction: lots of ambiguous relations between men, never made explicit and ending, more often than not, in a spasm of murderous intent, coupled with a streak of unexpectedly sharp misogyny. It's Jane's birthday eve, so cupcakes will be necessary--perhaps a repeat of last summer's Cook's Illustrated sour-cream-chocolate ones, plus perhaps a batch of a different flavor--lemon? Coconut? B. should be coming along too, which means, of course, lots of wine. I might even pull out the bottle of Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare (or Flying Saucer Rose) that I hauled home from SF's Bi-Rite Market last summer. Smoked salmon, tasty crackers, mozzarella salad with basil from the's picnic season!

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