Monday, December 20, 2004

Red Wine and White Winter

When I woke up this morning, I thought 'My apartment has no degrees.' It was about zero outside, and the heat seemed to be off. You know it's cold when you've slapped the snooze bar and you can't wait, you have to get up and move around. I often say that *the* best reason to live in New Jersey is that our weather seldom attacks. This morning, when my car doors were frozen shut, I wasn't preaching the gospel according to the Board of Tourism.

I live in a big building in a small city. The company that runs this slum - don't argue with me, this is a warehouse for the working poor - also manages the luxurious apartment building on Buccleuch Park, and the more modern building less than a mile up Easton Avenue. The facilities are very differently maintained. The luxury apartments are clean, spacious and very beautiful, which I've seen for myself. The super of my building pretty much has a hammer and a rusty wrench. The pipes in my building are a wreck. My own hammer sits next to the industrial toilet in the bathroom because half the time depressing the handle doesn't do the trick. No, you whack the bolt on top of the plumbing like it's a midway attraction and hope you hit the jackpot. Sometimes there's no heat because the boiler broke. Sometimes the laundry room is so dirty you wonder how clothes are supposed to get clean. These are facts of urban live, no matter how insignificant the urb, but facts of life for the poor everywhere, if the poor live this well. Yes, in the Big Picture, I realize that I am very fortunate to have a home, a job, a car, medical care. I'm certain my neighbors are not all as fortunate.

My toes are cold. FoodNetwork ran a thing recently where John Cleese went all over the place tasting wine. In the course of the traveling and tasting, it came up that the "room temperature" at which we serve red wine has changed somewhat. Rooms are now around - I think - 72 degrees. The "room temperature" red wine likes is in the low sixties. All our rooms used to be cooler.


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