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   Book of Mormon
Sunday, October 2 2022

location: room 508, Holiday Express Hotel, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, NY

[REDACTED]
I'd awaken in the middle of the night and managed to reach queen bee in today's New York Times, so this mornign while Gretchen looked for words, I could give her little hints that led her to find things like "eyecup" and "eggcup." Eventually we packed up our room and checked out, though I filled my travel mug with some coffee from the lobby on the way out.
Gretchen had made a reservation at Modern Love, the vegan comfort food restaurant started by a woman who, ten years ago, was something of a friend. I'd been there something like twice before, most famously the day I was fired from Mercy For Animals, on our way to catch a flight to Mexico, and then about six months later when we were on our way to Costa Rica. I think we were seated at the same table as the one we'd had the day I was fired. I ordered a coffee and a cheeseburger with avocado and french fries, and Gretchen ordered a side of kale cæsar salad and a side of cauliflower hot wings along with a some sort of french toast made with challah. The burger and sides came out quickly, and I held off one eating my burger while we waited for the Gretchen's french toast. The hot wings were good but Gretchen said that the kale salad hadn't been sufficiently massaged. At some point it was clear Gretchen's french toast wouldn't be coming in a timely fashion, so I ate my burger. But by then it had already gone completely room temperature. When Gretchen's french toast finally arrived, it wasn't at all like what had been on the menu, and Gretchen sent it back. The manager was acting like she was doing us a favor by comping it for us, but Gretchen wasn't impressed, saying that I'd my burger had been cold by the time I ate it. In the end, manager comped our entire bill, but then Gretchen left a $15 tip, something she immediately regretted. "I got swept up in the moment," she deadpanned as we drove to our next destination: a vegan bakery called Clementine where Tiffany, the wife of our friend Ann, works.
On the way, we drove through an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, fellow tribespeople with whom Gretchen has less patience with each passing year. We were stuck in traffic for a little too long in front of a series of crates that had been stacked up outside a butcher shop. In these crates were hundreds of live chickens. I say live, but they looked horrible. They were missing most of their feathers and covered in wet exrement in the cold October rain. Their pathetic cheeping filled the air. That vision would haunt Gretchen not just for the rest of today, for days later. Why, she would wonder, hadn't she done anything? I'd assumed these birds were destined for immediate slaughter, but according to Gretchen, their fate was to be actually worse than that. The ultra-Orthodox practice a barbaric medieval ritual called Kapparot wherein they swing live chickens above their heads as a way to somehow transfer their sins to the hapless tortured bird.

We arrived at Clementine in the middle of a downpour, though we found a great parking spot right in front, in what turned out to be a traffic lane that had become a de facto parking lane. We bought a whole bunch of baked goods at Clementine, some of which were sweet and some of which were savory. Since Gretchen hadn't eaten all that much food at Modern Love, she was buying things with the idea that she would be eating them soon enough.

We still had a big activity left to do while down in the City, and that was to attend a matinee performance of The Book of Mormon, something I'd agreed to when Gretchen had suggested it (since, based on what I'd heard, it seemed like something I might enjoy). Getting there, though, was complicated by a huge Pulaski Day parade happening on 5th Avenue near the southeast corner of Central Park. All westbound-streets had been blocked, and we found ourselves driving slowly northward looking for a way around the congestion. Eventually we got through, but then we were at the park and had to go south to get around it. Eventually Gretchen got us to 7th Avenue, where I happened to spot an open parking space somewhere in the 50s (that is, streets). It was fortunate that the rain had stopped, because from there we ran as fast as we could down to 49th Street and then west to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, where today's performance had already begun. We arrived in the middle of the first song, and we weren't the only ones (as the Pulaski Parade had delayed many others). We were told to wait until the song was over before being escorted to our seats, in the front row of the balcony about a quarter of the way from the end of stage left to the end of stage right. They were good seats, a likely consequence of our increased prosperity.
The core motiff of The Book of Mormon is an extremely profane look at America's most Ned Flanders of religions. Our heroes are two young Mormon missionaries (all of whom are referred to with the title "Elder") sent to Uganda to win some souls for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Naturally, the missionaries find the people they're sent to convert to be beset with many overlapping problems, all of them much worse than any American faces. Nearly everyone has AIDS, the women are always under threat of imminent genital mutilation, and everyone is terrorized by local warlords. Earlier Mormons sent to work in the area had achieved nothing. Into all of this, Elder Cunningham, the schlubbier of the new missionaries, finds himself having to work alone. His rising to the occasion is accompanied by the brilliant tune "Man Up," showcasing Cody Jamison Strand's amazingly flexible voice. Other great tunes include an elaborately-staged tune about Mormon Hell and one where all the male African characters are equipped with long fake penises and simulate sex with the female characters.
On the chance that I wouldn't have the attention span to sit through a whole musical, I'd eaten a large nugget of last summer's cannabis, and it put me in a great mood for all the hilarity I was seeing. I was did a lot more laughing than the teenage boy to my left, and a little more than Gretchen, who was to my right.
At the intermission, both Gretchen and I made use of the restrooms. There were so many stalls in the men's room that a constant stream of men into and out of the restroom was possible (the rate was about one man every two or three seconds). Over on the women's side, Gretchen observed that there were 17 stalls, which was enough to achieve a similar throughput. Since a theatre has to successfully provide timely bathroom facilities for all its customers, these large bathrooms are essential pieces of infrastructure.
As we were driving out of Manhattan on the West Side Highway, we passed the cluster of gawdy Hudson-view-usurping towers that had once been branded with the Trump name. That branding has disappeared since the last time I'd been this way.
I was still stoned when Gretchen exited the Palisades Parkway for another visit to the Orangeburg Road Electrify America charging station (otherwise we would've had to stop in Newburgh and hang out at a Walmart). Instead, we had dinner at an Indian restaurant named Sitar Palace. It's the kind of Indian restaurant that has a beef section on the menu, so it's probably operated by Muslims. They handled our vegan needs successfully, and we had a very good (if not great) meal. They had fun things like dosas and even chana mushroom, which I'd never seen before. Since it's convenient to fast chargers, it's likely we'll be dining there again.
By the end of the meal, my cannabis buzz had diminished enough that I could do the rest of the driving, which was good because I didn't want to have to tell Gretchen I couldn't drive because of the cannabis I'd eaten.

Back in Hurley, we picked up the dogs at Ray & Nancy's and then Gretchen headed straight to Woodstock to catch the last film in this year's Woodstock Film Festival.


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http://asecular.com/blog.php?221002

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