Friday, February 29, 2008


800pxredhookfacory Shannon and I were in NYC for a press visit to things like Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal and other major forces in The publishing world. But…we have to eat; so, with rain pelting down so that you could barely see outside the cab window, we raced down the East Side Drive, crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, sped along some other highway playing bumper car with everybody else, slid off the I 75 or whatever it was and nosed into the dark, spooky dock area of Red Hook.  Blocks of silent, dark godowns ( Asian term for warehouses), silent brick houses in rows about to be reduced to memories, and big, empty parking or storage lots seemed lifeless.
Queen_elizabeth_trondheim_2      We were now at the docks where the QE II and the Queen Mary shelter before taking on human cargoe for glorious trips across the Atlantic to England. I can remember when the West Side of NYC on the Hudson River was a warren of big ocean going liners: The Ile de France, the SS United States, the Italian Lines, the Dutch Line and so forth. Beautiful, graceful monsters that went back and forth to Europe competing with the early days of jet air travel. On Saturday nights for $5.00 (a lot in those days—1960s) vyou could go aboard, bring some friends with you, and pretend you were going to Europe until they piped you off the ship with appropriate warnings and admonitions. Those days are gone, and with them those gallant and marvelous leviathans to be replaced by floating , many storied tubs that ply the waters of the Carribean. Ah, well, so be it.
     On to the restaurant.
20060420goodforkdoorthumbTHE GOOD FORK at Van Brunt St in Brooklyn is housed in an old redbrick worker’s row house facing the docks. You open the door and BAM!! you are in the coziest bistro this side of Paris  with a cuisine that competes with not only Bistros but with some one star restaurants in that city on the Seine. No, I’m not kidding.  The food: braised sweetbreads that hint of the Far East, oysters dipped and flash fried so that they seem raw, plump, stingingly sweet, hangar steak with Kimchee couscous, fried egg on top, and spices that only the nerviest chef would try.  That’s just a sample.  The wine list? A delight. Nicely priced, a mélange carefully selected from France, Italy  with a secret white from the Alta Adige), some Oregon and Washington pinot noirs, and someThegoodfork01 good Spanish riojas.  Deserts are just that.  What a treat. Try the apple tart---holy smoly.  Try them all.
      Ben and Soji Snyder both own and run this gem of a restaurant. Ben is a fine, professional actor with a list of excellent credits, an equally fine furniture maker and the maitre D; and Soji is a trained chef with a love of food and070101_goodfork_560 flavors and presentation.  Her kitchen is a dance of three or four other chefs and flashing sauce pans and the sound of chopping and mincing. Garlic is in the air but does not overcome the other smells of green onions, lemon grass, star anise and red wine sauce.
     Don’t miss this place.  I wish it was in Vermont down the dirt road from us instead of in Brooklyn, but, alas it ain't!!!!!  GO THERE.
391 Van Brunt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231     
phone 718 643 6636
     fax 718 643 6643

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Keep Bumping Into Those Things I Was Supposed to Have Read, and Understood, In College

804360_33720836 “What?” you may ask and “Why?”
Milton’s Paradise Lost, Virgil’s Aneid, Goethe’s Faust, Dante’s Divine Comedy, the Old Testament ( dipping occasionally into the Vulgate), Shikibu’s The Tale of Gengi, and Shakespeare and Chinese novels and on and on into new things and new physics for the layman etc.
Why so busy? Why now and not then?  I guess because the world has never seemed so alive, full of opportunities and promise---and the darker side.
It also begins to make sense. At 4:30 am when I decide that sleep is no longer a possibility, Milton comforts me, Shakespeare’s Henry V and the St. Crispin Day speech invigorate me, and my two favorite cats ( we only have two) purr me into a cat nirvana.
Oh, there are many other books I will dip into ; no need to read every word, every page.  Sometimes looking at the mountains beyond my windows is more than enough; sometimes watching the birds at the ground feeding station at dawn tells me that the world is amazing.  Wouldn’t it be great to fly?
All the mags (The Economist, Foreign Affairs, the Atlantic, the NYT) take second place.  Even music need not interfere.  It’s a voyage beyond compare, a trip waiting for all, a treasure house.
Oh, oh!!  Back to my computer and incoming e-mails.
Marcello  (aka Ray)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Amor Ergo Sum

Lsun_2   We went to a 60th birthday party of a dear friend last week. Twenty of us were there, and we were all commissioned to either write a poem celebrating our friendship and love of our friend or tell some story revealing his personality.  It was a wonderful evening and underlined for me the importance of friends as an extended family. We have that connection where age differences from toddlers to septenagerians (viva septenagarianism!!!) are nonexistent and compassion and acceptance are the order of the day every day.  No, it is not a utopia, but we embrace the collective WE.
     Poems were wonderful, stories were great even if you did not know the birthday boy.  Dinner superb. Laughter---life’s cure-all--- sustained and almost ribald.
     Let me leave you with one thing. A quote from Bill Coffin, former chaplain of Yale University.
    “Descartes said Cogito ergo sum --- I think therefore I am.
                         But I prefer
        Amor ergo sum    ---  I love therefore I am.”
                                                          W. S. Coffin
That about says it all.
Ciao, Ray

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The North Country

Clock461e THE RAIN CAME IN LAST NIGHT as stealthy as a cat on the prowl: first the slow motion approach, then the crouch, then the burst of energy.  I heard it on the tin roof of our house towards 2 am, a favorite hour for me to be awake.  It has that low level drum-roll comfort that includes heart beat and inward seeking mood set that begins to signal that winter is on the wane.
Don’t worry, there is plenty to come. But, the overall snow-pack has reached its basic limit; from now on it will not build. It will grow smaller despite big dollops of fresh snow on top of it.  The earth below with its grasses and seeds and voles and deep down frogs are getting the message. 
For us up here in the North country, it will be a good 8 more weeks, but we can live with that.  Spring skiing can be great, and the sunsets will be back as the days lengthen.
Yippee!!!!!  I love the seasons, each and every one, but now will come the special ones.
Bis bald! 

Friday, February 15, 2008

What Is Past Is Prologue

~William Shakespeare,  The Tempest, Act 11, scene 1
So, what’s new is not.  We’ve been through all of this before. Only the flavor changes.  The trouble is that the changes now have bigger and bigger implications---like the whole earth and all its inhabitants.
"YES, WE CAN!!!"
~Barrack Obama
Shakespeare2What a powerful expression of both the human spirit and the optimism that has seen us grow as a species.
It’s about will. It’s about recognizing that contrary to what Shakespeare said, we DON’T have to repeat the past. 
Change is like asparagus inexorably pushing up through fertile ground reaching the sun and air and rain.
Change is inexorable. Let’s get it right.
Ray   ( once again sorry for being preachy)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chapter 2

Thanks for reading the prologue and chapter 1, how about Chapter 2?

Download 11th_dragon_ch2.PDF

Friday, February 8, 2008

More Eleventh Dragon

Book_coverThanks for reading the prologue. While you're at it, how about Chapter 1.
Download 11th_dragon_chap_1.PDF

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Eleventh Dragon

Book_cover A number of years ago, I became fascinated by China after coming across a book of T'ang poetry.  Poetry never interested me very much, but this did--modern, powerful, evocative, spare, burningly beautiful. It was from the 8th century of the modern era.  So, I dove into history, politics, art, economics of this incredible very old culture, I'm still diving. One result was to write a full-length ( 450 pages) novel about modern China, its strengths and weaknesses.  Historically China has come together, fallen apart, come together.  And what now? Is it time to come apart again?  And what are the forces both internal and external that might cause China to once again divide?
I've decided to put up some sections of THE ELEVENTH DRAGON © R. A. Montgomery 2008 to see what you think. Here is the first part, the prologue:  
Download the_Eleventh_Dragon_Prologue.pdf

Friday, February 1, 2008