Archive for October, 2010

Sushi Friday VI

October 30, 2010

Mikado Japanese Restaurant, Middletown

3 Melilli Plaza

Middletown, CT


What I like:

Mikado Japanese Restaurant has become one of my two fallback spots, the other being Japanica. When I can’t decide where to go, I drop down the steps into a beautiful setting with a lighted floor.

Plenty of parking, which is free if one stays less than two hours. The closest lot is under construction at the moment, but there’s another across the street.

The feng-shui inspired ambiance provides relaxation, with the accompaniment of unobtrusive, traditional music.

The service never fails to be impeccable.

The owner always serves as a gracious host.

The sushi chef and assistants enjoy themselves and create among the most beautiful plates I’ve encountered.

The miso soup is always hot and properly balanced.

The sashimi never includes “white tuna,” which is actually escolar, a fish that is banned in Japan.

The new takeout menu has eliminated most of the outrageous typos with a couple of minor exceptions. Some of the dishes are “served” with miso soup, while others are “service” with miso. I guess it’s the same. And I’m not sure if sukiyaki sauce and sukuyaku sauce are the same.

What I don’t like:

The place is not wheelchair accessible, a serious drawback.

The television in the sushi bar is eternally tuned to CNN. A while back I learned that the Olympic Committee had selected Rio de Janeiro for the next summer games. I had the pleasure of telling the staff that Rio was located in Brazil.

When I visited in early January the place smelled a bit of fish – a serious no-no.

The prices are high ($12 for 12 pieces of sashimi, plus soup), but considering the quality not that much of a drawback.

Overall score: B+

The Lede II

October 29, 2010

The ability to create a good lede may be only part mechanics. Some of it is talent, and it’s something that my editors felt I lacked. One can rewrite the things, but I’ve found the best ones appear and stand as they are, no revisions.

My favorites from this blog in reverse chronological order:

From 2010:

“Dear Facebook, You intrude into my life enough already, so I do NOT want to add Places to my options.” August 20.

“Connecticut added yet another corrupt official notch to its political belt today.” June 19

“There’s hope for us all without having to decorate the house with post-it notes.” May 11.

“Isis went to the vet today. She left an impression, literally and figuratively on the staff — and on me.” April 13

“Before there was a tree in the pool. Now there’s a plane in the field.” March 30

“It was the worst of days, and then it became one of the best of days.” Feb. 9

“Now I have to call him “Commander, Commander.” January 28

“I honor Dr. King by dedicating myself to my work.” January 19

From 2009:

“I stole John Kennedy’s book title.” November 6

“We interrupt cleaning week (with gratitude) …” July 9

“A great, gaping hole opened in the universe when Professor Ellen D’Oench died on May 22.” (June 10, 2009)

“Sam Zell finally confessed that he screwed up.” (April 17,)

“I type this with a large gash in my left palm and a smaller one on my wrist.” April 2 Note: I didn’t realize that physical pain could be such an inspiration.

“Thrilling news arrived Monday.” January 15. This in connection with the appearance of the “lady” detective Precious Ramotswe on television.


“Today’s news confirms that Bill Buckley had no soul.” (“Woelfle vs. Buckley” )

“I’ve been a Congregationalist, an Episcopalian, and a Spiritualist.”

The Lede I

October 28, 2010

Great headlines get all the P.R. “Headless Body in Topless Bar” is a classic, and from the hated New York Post: “I’m the pop, says the weasel.” (This in relation to John Edwards’ belated admission of paternity.) A local favorite appeared on the Courant web site in July 2009: “Escaped Snakes Cause Multi-Car Crash.” It seemed a 20-year-old guy was carrying his baby pet snakes in his pants pocket and they got away, causing him to crash his SUV in an accident that involved at least three other vehicles. And Slate’s Jack Shafer did in the generic news story with a list of generic headlines.

But good ledes (that’s newsspeak for opening sentence) make or break the story. They don’t come along often enough.

The following ranks among the best I’ve seen in quite some time. “Not long ago, I was stung by a metaphor.” Since the aim of the lede is to draw the reader in, I was hooked. Turns out Steve Jones was not speaking metaphorically about his metaphor. He was reviewing The Superorganism in the New York Times Book Review, and the metaphor was actually a “gang,” as he called them, of paper-wasps that attacked him as he was delivering a lecture about them. The rest of the review was fascinating, as well, since it posited that insects living in colonies actually function like the Borg collective from Star Trek. Each creature is one small part of a monolithic entity in which groups of creatures perform various functions.

So here’s a review of great opening lines.

The Old Testament (Revised Standard version) has a great lede: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis I:1 Yes, I definitely want to know more: How? What came next? The New Testament, not so much: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Matthew I:1. First of all, it’s not even a sentence. Editors will allow the omission of a verb on the rarest of occasions, but the opening of a book about a guy who started an entire religion could do a whole lot better than a list of names. It does not make me want to read more. Ol’ Matt needs to “punch up” his lede. And one more complaint, based a somewhat limited knowledge of the rest of the Gospel. If Jesus was immaculately conceived by Mary via the Holy Spirit, how is he descended from David and Abraham, since they’re Joseph’s ancestors? But that’s off topic.

The nineteenth century novelists had the lede down: “Call me Ishmael” is a whole lot better than the rest of Moby-Dick, which tends to be long-winded, pompous, and gory.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Oh, yeah? Well, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice got me the first time on that sentence, and I laugh each time I read it. Though Emma remains my favorite of her books, its opening can’t match that of P&P: “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” To a person, my editors would have sent it back for rewriting, saying J.A. had crammed too much info into one sentence. Maybe she could be so verbose later in the novel, but a forty-word lede was much too long. Not only that, but Emma’s life rich, clever, handsome, etc. screams boring. We receive a hint at the end of the sentence that things will come along to distress or vex her, but she should have a better curtain-raiser.

Moving up to the twentieth century, The Old Man and the Sea is a classic: “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.” At twenty-six words, that’s a long sentence for Hemingway. But in terms of draw, he beats The Great Gatsby: “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” Fitzgerald nevertheless fulfills the make-me-want-to-read-more requirement, but Faulkner trumps them both. “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting,” from The Sound and the Fury is Good, but As I Lay Dying is even better. “The cottonhouse is of rough logs, from between which the chinking has fallen.”

Top of the line from Eudora Welty’s short story “Lily Daw and the Three Ladies”: “Mrs. Watts and Mrs. Carson were both in the post office in Victory when the letter came from the Ellisville Institute for the Feeble-Minded of Mississippi.” The rest of the story is a knock-out, too.

Bill, writing as Random Pixels, pulls his favorites from newspapers in Florida and elsewhere. Edna Buchanan, whose book The Corpse Had a Familiar Face: Covering Miami, America’s Hottest Beat, is a must for journalists and should be for everyone, tops his list with “Gary Robinson died hungry.” It opens the story of a man who assaults an employee because Church’s had run out of fried chicken and gets shot for his outburst.

The only one among his favorites that doesn’t involve death of some sort comes from the NYTimes Crazy Lady Maureen Dowd: “President Clinton returned today for a sentimental journey to the university where he didn’t inhale, didn’t get drafted and didn’t get a degree.”

Two no-nos for good ledes are questions and quotes. David Poulson cites his own “What has six legs and can hold up thousands of tons of concrete?” as an example of a good lede – and then says don’t lead with a question. The reason: the writer is just being lazy. The reporter asks the questions in the interview and then answers them in the story. The answer to Poulson’s question, BTW, was something called the Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly, which “held up” construction of a highway.

Likewise editors dislike quotations as openers because they generally don’t provide information that will hook the reader. You will note that not one of the ledes I’ve cited, good or bad, involves a quote. The one exception cited by everyone: “I am not a crook.” “Mission accomplished” will probably join the pantheon.

But the worst is the dictionary lede: Webster’s defines journalism as “writing and newsgathering practiced in much of the Western world until the early part of the twenty-first century, when it died.” The dreariness is obvious.

And just for balance, here are the worst ledes from about a year ago. Actually they sound more like headlines than ledes, but by any name, they are perfectly wretched.

In another entry I’ll provide a list of some my own favorites.


October 26, 2010

Spent the day searching for something I wrote weeks ago that has disappeared into the black hole of the office – or the reading table – or …

Then the computer decided to spend the best part of the morning booting  up. It may have something to do with the fact that I’ve been removing it from the desk when I go to bed at night. I updated Firefox and just for fun tried to update Windows. Once again it didn’t take, I suspect because I’m running XP, which is now obsolete. The update attempts simply disappear into the ozone layer. Trying once more before I heave it out the window. OK, so apparently the updates went through but no one bothered to notify me. Sigh.

Burglary update: the local detective called this afternoon, asked when I found the phone. I couldn’t tell him exactly as I’d gone out walking without any electronica without a clock and then spent some time chatting with the neighbors before I came inside. He reported that he was “bringing the owner in.” I was grateful the person would be reunited with the phone.

Tonight I tried to listen to All Things Considered on the radio but the weather, 70 degrees and humid, seems to be interfering with reception, so I brought the laptop into the kitchen as I cooked. Tried it with the battery, which fell out and then died within 20 minutes. Finally got in here under electric power.

I see a Mac in my future.

Mystery Plant

October 25, 2010


We had  a strange weekend, which included a burglary at our neighbors’ house.  I found a cell phone on our lawn the next day but it didn’t belong to them.

Name That Plant

Then Larry found this report. It’s not exactly the clearest story, but there’s enough info to make us keep the doors and windows locked at all times. I took the phone to the police station this afternoon and hope it finds its way back to the rightful owner.

So for something lighter, here’s a plant in our backyard that we’re trying to identify. I’ve been calling it the Australian Killer Weed because it grew so fast I was afraid it would climb through a window and strangle us in our bed. Even my friend Smiley who is the repository of all things herbaceous couldn’t id it. I’m going to send a copy of the photo to the state Ag station but in the meantime I thought I’d solicit suggestions.

Any suggestions?



Moving Experience VII and Last

October 22, 2010

Last full day in Amsterdam. I arose about 10 and had coffee, read, wrote in my notebook. Kathryn arose about noon, then Ash and Ira and Hans put in appearances. I talked to Larry on Hans and Ira’s phone. After a sufficiency of coffee and more excellent bread and cheese, Ash and Kathryn and I walked to Beethovenstraat so Kathryn could find some thin wool socks. We wandered around a bit and finally located a Hema, one of the few stores open on Sunday. Kathryn said it was a bit like a mini-Target. But a very, very mini. The selection of wares seemed limited by our standards. Ash looked at men’s sweaters. I don’t think there were more than a dozen to choose from. Kathryn had a bit more luck with socks and did eventually find what she was looking for.

We returned to Casa Salsa and took a cab for “The Mandala of Cooption,” a performance art piece assembled by Sanford Biggers.

And what a marvelous piece of theater it was. During the first hour he spoke about his connection to Buddhism and showed video of previous installations. Two stuck out: the first was the use of the tree as a symbol of growth and life – and of horror and death. Pictures of lynchings, accompanied by Billie Holiday’s rendition of “Strange Fruit” elicited gasps from an audience that had almost certainly never seen anything of the sort before. The tree also became the backdrop for a piano in various guises.

The other knockout was a lotus (eighth image down) composed of petals he drew from the model of a slave ship packed with bodies. A metal version of that one now adorns a school.

And I loved the temple bowls made from melted “bling.” He showed a photograph of “The Making of In Fond Memory of Hip-Hop Bell.”

This entry is already going to be too long, so I’ll move along to the second part of the program. MC Kima, Babeth’s son teamed with various rap artists, musicians and dancers, including his sister. Chanting was never like this before. The most impressive part of this portion was the group of break dancers who made fantastic use of the mandala that Biggers had constructed on the floor of the performance space. The young men connected the pieces of the mandala with their bodies and when the images were projected on the screen above the stage, the mandala looked as though it was flowing from one place to another.

I retained that sense when we returned to the Tuschinski and I saw projected on the wall in the lobby images of ripples on water and of autumn leaves falling and of butterflies wafting on gentle breezes. These images showed up in a number of places over the weekend, so I assume they symbolize iimpermanence and flow.

The walk to the Tuschinski took us through an unpaved street, piled with sand. (In the lawsuit happy States it would have been blocked to pedestrians as well as motorists.) We stopped at the falafel stand on the corner with its sign reading “Vegetarian” in huge neon letters (more marketing to English-speakers with the muchies?). Babethe paid for everyone’s dinner, which involved getting a falafel and then receiving a large container for as many types of additions as one could imagine. Besides the usual lettuce and tomato, they had pickled eggplant, and pickled beets, and regular pickles, three types of olives, and untold types of hot peppers. Sauces included very hot hot sauce, tahini, garlic sauce, etc. etc.

The food was delicious, but I noticed again that the Dutch have a much more a casual attitude toward hygiene than we do. I didn’t see a single bottle of hand sanitizer till I got on the plane home, and the sneeze shield over the salad bar was so high as to be useless. People had left handles for the tongs in the food. I skipped those but realized every item was probably contaminated.

We sat in the lobby of the Tuschinski to eat. And boy, was it good. And satisfying. I didn’t think I could finish it but I did.

Ash and the woman who had photographed the performance art got into a tech-talk conversation. I walked past at one point and realized they were speaking English, but I couldn’t understand a word. Then Babethe pulled Kathryn and Ash off to conduct the interview that they were supposed to do on Friday. Zenju and I spoke again. She said that before embarking on a macrobiotic diet, one is supposed to go to a practioner who will prescribe what foods to eat and what to avoid. They do it based on the shape of your palm, the relative size of your lips, and so forth. They can even tell what the client’s mother ate while she was pregnant based on one’s appearance. (God, I hope I don’t look like endless cups of black coffee and three packs of unfiltered cigarettes!)

Ash and Kathryn decided to watch Howl, a film that expands on Allen Ginzberg’s poem. As I had a flight to catch in the a.m., I said good-bye to everyone and stumbled around looking for a cab. Finally went into the Ritz Carlton where the very nice Vietnamese (?) woman called for me. She told me to wait inside because they would charge less.

The cab arrived quickly and I returned to Casa Salsa without incident. Hans and Ira had just returned from dancing – said they only stayed for one set. We chatted for a bit and they gave me three DVDs and a CD of their work including Our Latin Groove, featuring Dr. Salsa. Then I took myself off to bed where I stayed awake all night. But successfully caught the return bus to Schipol. Sat next to a delightful woman from New Zealand. She and her husband were golfing around the world and were headed to California, trying to get into Pebble Beach.

Bought Larry his souvenir T-shirt and Deb her souvenir shot glass.

Uneventful return flights, again with an empty middle seat. But at one point all of coach only had one working bathroom. The forward one didn’t have enough pressure so it wouldn’t flush. The attendants resolved that by pouring lots and lots of bottled water into the tank. Problem solved, though the water wasn’t the usual dark blue. The other facility, toward the rear, had no running water in the sink, so they put either wipes or hand sanitizer. On the plus side, they again remembered my veggie meal.

Got off the plane in Phila. and Hallelujah! the phone worked! Called Larry and texted Ash that I was on the ground in the States.

Came home and stayed up till 9 pm. (3 a.m. CEST). Slept 12 hours and woke up with a cold that finally disappeared two days ago.

Tea Roses Relaxation

October 22, 2010

Taking another break from Amsterdam adventures because I couldn’t wait to write about the delightful evening I spent Wednesday at Tea Roses, my friend Peggi Camosci’s tea room. I raved about the place when it opened (“Tea, Glorious Tea,” May 5). Peggi received a terrific writeup in the Middletown Press.

She outdid herself with Tea & Reiki, her first Wednesday night seminar. Fourteen women gathered to hear a brief talk on Reiki by Jan Hodge-Burke, who is a Reiki master and also Peggi’s mom. Thereafter we each received a ten-minute treatment from Jan or from Peggi’s sister.

Martha Miranda brought an entire band’s worth of Tibetan bowls, chimes, rainstick and gong to entertain, creating an atmosphere of serenity and contemplation.

Even though I do Reiki once a week, I rarely have a chance to receive it. It certainly was a treat. My sixth chakra sprang to life and I could feel tension simply evaporating from my body, including in places that I didn’t realize I was holding it. My breathing deepened and I generally felt as though I was going to float up out of the chair.

Jan offers Reiki at her studio in Old Saybrook and in Cromwell, and I may well avail myself of her services occasionally.

I also had an opportunity to chat with the Rev. Kathy Rottino, whom I haven’t seen in years. She’s just as charismatic and lively as ever, though she joked that she needed the full caffeine tea after the Reiki session so that she’d be awake enough to drive home.

We sipped Peggi’s signature Tea Roses blend and ate scones accompanied by lemon curd, strawberry preserves and double cream. Peggi talked a bit about tea – how to prepare white, green, black, and we agreed that we’d love to attend a tea tasting, which she promises to host in the near future.

I slept long, and deep, and well last night and awoke full of energy.

Moving Experience VI

October 21, 2010

After a brief question-and-answer session, the entire party adjourned for dinner as Zenju had not eaten in quite some time. She is a vegan, recently launched on a macrobiotic diet, so our choices were somewhat limited. We walked down a narrow alley that was jammed with bicycles and came upon a Thai restaurant. I think it was called Take Thai, but I’m not sure.

I saw the host look at his watch (it was probably about 9:30) and then raise his eyebrows when we announced there were seven of us. We actually multiplied until I think there were nine or ten by the time we left.

The waitress announced that there were no soups and no appetizers available. Being full from dinner, I declined to eat. Something must have changed because everyone who ordered soup, received it, also salads. And the biggest pile of rice I’ve ever seen in one place.

I sat across from Zenju at the table and had a chance to chat. She said that her family was from Louisiana. I asked where. She said her father’s was from Opelousas and her mother was from New Iberia. I got a funny sensation in the pit of my stomach and asked what her mother’s maiden name was. She said Broussard. Now, Broussard is like Smith in the rest of the country. Nevertheless I thought it odd that I had traveled thousands of miles to meet a woman who lives even farther away who shares a family name. (My great-grandmother Azelima bore the maiden name of Broussard. And my dad was born in New Iberia.) Zenju said she’d been unable to learn much about the family, so I gave her my card and told her I’d search it out if she sent me the information.

She was unable to finish her soup and grabbed a cab back to the place where she was staying while the rest of us went back to Brasserie Schiller, where Hans and Ira and I had had a coffee before we watched the films. This building, too, had a fascinating history, and more terrific Art Deco flourishes. Ira pointed out, however, that the little gem also had no side windows and hence lacked any ventilation, which drove me back out on the street where about half our group had gathered. There was more cigarette smoke but it wasn’t as bad in the open air as it was confined to the airless interior.

At some point someone decided we should visit the “coffeehouse” next door. In any other country, this would be called a headshop and it would sell only papers, pipes and lighters. In Amsterdam, it of course sells marijuana in about forty different styles including cupcakes and single joints. I couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going on, just noticed that the place also sold beer and allowed cigarette smoking inside.

Hans and Ira had said that a previous government had banned tobacco smoking indoors but the new administration wanted to repeal the ban. Given the unpleasant state of the inside of the “coffeehouse” I hope they don’t succeed. Ash bought a single joint. I took a single hit and began to cough. So much for that experiment.

Jody decided she wanted an actual drink so we adjourned to Schiller’s. Babeth VanLoo, who had performed miracles in organizing the festival, joined us. She lit up a joint, and the owner/manager came over yelling, “What are you trying to do? Get me shut down?” That’s how I learned that the authorities are very strict about limiting weed smoking to the designated places.

It was then getting late so we hopped in a cab and returned to Casa Salsa. On the walk to the taxi stand I saw a neon sign that said New York Pizza. Folks know how to cater to pot smokers with the munchies. Ira said he knew the owners and that the pizza was the suitable New York style with a thin, thin crust.

This taxi ride reinforced the odd nature of Amsterdam streets. They may start out with four lanes, one each for travel, and one each for left turns. Oh, and a bike lane in each direction, plus parking on one or both sides. Then without warning, they’ll narrow to two lanes and suddenly to one with the opposing traffic diverted elsewhere and the bike lane merged with the road. I never did see any place where signs warned of these changes, though maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough. Conclusion: Will not drive in Amsterdam.

After a brief chat, I adjourned to bed and lay awake most of the night. I kept thinking I smelled cigarette smoke. I did. It was in my hair.

Moving Experience V

October 20, 2010

To return to Liz’s adventures in Amsterdam, I set forth on Saturday a.m. to locate a sim card for the phone that Hans was loaning me for the duration of my visit. I walked to the end of Jacob Obrechtstraat and over the canal to Beethovenstraat. Hans had informed me that all the streets in the neighborhood are named for artists or composer/musicians, Obrecht being a composer as well.

The first place I spotted was an electronics store. The man said, no, that I should go across the street to the phone store. The very nice woman said, no, she didn’t have a card for that phone. That there ere several stores in the center of Amsterdam. She also said that the cheapest “unlocked” phone she had that could handle calls to the States was €60! I calmed my disconnected self by taking a stroll along the canal before returning to Casa Salsa.

Ashley called not long afterward to say that some of the filmmakers who were due in on Sunday had arrived a day early and that he and Kathryn were going to move into Casa Salsa.

They arrived with their suitcases, including a huge bag full of the camping gear they had used in Spain. We chatted and ate excellent blackened salmon, prepared by Ira, until they left for the theater to do a sound check before the premiere of their film.

Kathryn and Ash did a magnificent job with Zenju’s Path. (Sorry, but I can’t seem to find a working link that will give even stills of the film.) They captured Zenju Earthlyn Manuel’s beauty and glowing energy in all her various guises: as Zen priest (not nun as people kept saying), as teacher, as drummer, as sister in the biological and in the spiritual sense. The photography – of the hills and the bay and the bustling city — caught the essence of the Oakland/San Francisco area. Maintaining a Zen attitude while negotiating the Bay Bridge represents a major achievement, and Zenju passed with flying colors. The cuts between quiet contemplation and the high-octane drumming gave the film exactly the right balance of energy. Next time I’m in the Bay area, I definitely want to catch a performance of Sistahs of the Drum. I hope Zenju’s Path achieves a worldwide audience, both for the artistry of the film and the importance of the message or compassion and empowerment and peace.

Zenju’s Path shared the bill with Sky Dancer, Jody Kemmerer’s film about a woman who became the spiritual and community leader of her village in eastern Tibet. Again the visuals evoked a sense of spirituality before any words were spoken. Khandroma Kunzang Wangmo truly lived her faith, adopting a great many children and meting out punishment to miscreants. This poor community sacrificed so much to create a beautiful and elaborate temple and school.

While I enjoyed the film, I did find Tibetan Buddhism far more alien than the Soto Zen that Zenju practices. The latter involves sitting in meditation. The Tibetans spin prayer wheels, launch prayer flags (in gale-force winds), and pray from written records. In fact it was a bit jarring to hear the leader say that she wasn’t sure if she’d recited a prayer exactly as it should be.

I observed one striking difference between the women featured in these films and the priests of Zen. They function in the world and do not live removed from it, so their gifts are more readily available “in the world.” Prayer is good. Prayer and contemplation are good. Prayer and contemplation and action are better.

Tomorrow: Thai food and coffeehouses.


October 19, 2010

Taking a break from Liz’s adventures in Amsterdam to report on a moving tribute that I witnessed Sunday evening.

The Jewish War Veterans, Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose Post 51, staged a Musical Tribute to the veterans of the Vietnam era at Temple Adath Israel in Middletown. The organizers sounded exactly the right notes to honor these neglected heroes.

When we arrived, the front table, designated “Tent #1,” was set with a single chair. Master of Ceremonies Harvey Redak explained the various symbols that portrayed the military men who had sacrificed their lives for our country. The other tables were each set with a centerpiece that had a piece of paper darkened and curled to represent a piece of earth. On it were stones and a tent with insignia from the various branches of the service. Each tent bore a number, 2 through 11. Surrounding the tents were small strips of paper describing units from the Army and Marines that had served in Vietnam. The attention to detail and the amount of research involved served to recreate the scene, but in the safe environment of the community room at the temple.

Everyone praised Shirley Schloss for her ability to envision and create this mis-en-scène. This is the third event for which she has produced such marvelous work.

The event opened with a welcome from Mr. Redak, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of The Star Spangled Banner by Brenda Brennan, a glorious young soprano.

Rabbi Seth Haaz delivered the invocation and then the eighty guests ate and ate. There were five, maybe six kinds of meat. (Sorry, I didn’t take notes except I’m pretty sure corned beef was involved.) I went for two helpings of whitefish salad on the best rye bread that I’ve tasted since I hung around outside the Jewish bakery in Poughkeepsie after an all-nighter.

Just as everyone was about to burst from too much food, the tribute began. It consisted of a PowerPoint presentation of images as the members of Post 51 and others read accounts of what happened during the years of the Vietnam War. Mr. Redak introduced the presentation, noting that the war actually began in 1959 with the death of the first adviser. It ended in 1973. In between more than 58,000 American service members lost their lives.

The presentation began with 1965. Many of the events remain emblazoned on the memories of anyone who was alive at the time: the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, followed by the assassinations of MLK and RFK in 1968; the death of Mary Jo Kopechne in 1969; the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

Some of it was old stuff that came back as new because I’d forgotten. For example, gasoline cost a mere $0.31 per gallon in 1965. And even though I was living on a college campus when the students were killed at Kent State University, I did not know that three of them were Jewish. I did remember the painful truth that they were bystanders rather than protesters because every college student in the country realized that any of us could be killed simply by walking across the campus.

There were lighthearted moments, as well: Twiggy; the arrival of the mini-skirt, which put joy into the hearts of men throughout the land; likewise the arrival of the Corvette; bell-bottom Levi’s, which brought joy to boys and girls everywhere. Movies covered the landscape from the G-rated Sound of Music to the R-rated Godfather for which Marlon Brando won the Oscar for best actor but declined it as a way to protest the war. Deaths ran the gamut from Winston Churchill to Jim Morrison.

Following this walk down memory lane, Mr. Redak asked all the Vietnam veterans to stand. He read an open letter in which he thanked all of the men and women for their service and offered a humble apology for the way they were treated when they returned to this country. We understand, now we did not then, that these valiant people were not responsible for the government’s misguided policies, he said. I cried, and I noticed others wiping their eyes as Mr. Redak concluded. Everyone rose and applauded. The veterans agreed that this was the first occasion that they could recall when an organization had singled out them for thanks and recognition. It truly was a signal moment. The leaders and members of Post 51 deserve praise for their thoughtfulness and hard work.

The evening concluded with the lighting of the candle and recitation of the Kaddish by Rabbi Haaz. “Taps,” performed by Mr. Redak, concluded the Vietnam War Years presentation.

A Klezact, from the temple in Chester, struck up their instruments and set everyone’s feet tapping.