It wasn’t exactly a bucket list item, but after decades of enthusiastic fandom, Ginny and I finally got to see the great Aretha Franklin in concert at Radio City Music Hall. We had mixed views: Aretha was in good voice and good mood; although we expected her to be at least subdued after the shock of the death her godchild Whitney Houston, she was surprisingly playful and even flirtatious, and not at all the imperious diva that I expected. . But her song choices were uneven. I liked her rendition of “Daydreaming” and “Spirit in the Dark”, and “Natural Woman” was good. She absolutely blew me away with amazing version of “I Ain’t Never Loved a Man”, in which she found a low low low register that really brought out a feeling of desperation. That was really the high point of the evening. But I grew bored with her gospelly deconstruction of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, wasn’t to happy that she performed not one but two of Whitney’s treacly hits, and was seriously, seriously miffed that she didn’t perform “Think” or “Respect”, my favorites of her repertoire. But I saw the Queen of Soul, one of the iconic artists of my lifetime, and I’m happy about that.


Thanks once again to Jackie Eberstein, Charlie Schultze and my other friends at the Civil war Forum of Metropolitan New York for inviting me to speak at their monthly dinner last Wednesday. With the sesquicentennial of the duel between the Monitor and the Merrimac coming up on March 9th, and with Lieutenant John Worden, the Monitor’s master, being a Briarcliff homeboy, my topic practically dictated itself, and so for an hour or so, I boomed and clanged my way through the tale. Once again, it was great fun being able to discuss a topic of interest with this highly informed and very interested group. I’m very glad they invited me. (Thanks to Nathan Burkan for the photo.)


Ahmad Bradshaw hatches the winning touchdown in the Giants 21-17 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. The Patriots had decided to allow him to score in order to conserve time for the offense to mount a comeback. As Bradshaw was running in, Eli Manning was yelling “Don’t score! Don’t score!”, hoping to run more time off the clock and to force the Patriots to use their last time out. My question is, How was it that Coach Coughlin did not make his wishes in this matter clear?


This is the undefeated cap which my daughter Cara gave me for Christmas. With the magic conjured by the combination of this cap and my head, the Giants beat the Jets and the Cowboys to close out the regular season, and then beat the Falcons, Packers, 49ers and the Patriots to win Super Bowl XLVI. Tomorrow, I shall offer it to the permanent collection at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.


I must say, I still can’t quite believe that the New York Giants won the Super Bowl yesterday. All season long, they looked like a good team that could go toe-to-toe with anybody. During the regular season, they beat such other good teams as the Eagles, Cowboys and Patriots, and narrowly lost to other good teams like the Packers, Eagles and 49ers. But moral victories and narrow defeats are just strokes in the loss column, and after 14 weeks, the team was 7 and 7 and on the verge of missing the playoffs entirely. But then they turned it around and beat the Jets and Cowboys to get into the playoffs. They were the fourth seed, and from where I sat, it looked like they could beat any team in the playoffs except the Saints, with whom the matched up poorly. Well, as it turned out, the Saints were eliminated, and the Giants, improbably, ran the board. Yesterday they topped the Patriots 21-17, a come-from-behind last-minute victory. Some skeptics have said the Pats more lost the game than the Giants won, and in truth, on at least three occasions, Tom Brady failed to connect with receivers in what would have been long, fortune-changing gains, if not actual touchdowns. Well, maybe. But Eli Manning played wonderfully, and his receivers caught the ball (most especially Mario Manningham, in what is surely his career-defining reception), and the defense was stout when it had to be, and it says here that the New York Giants are the winners of Super Bowl XLVI.


The Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel, for more than a half century on the premier locations for cabaret in Manhattan, has closed. Prior to its musical incarnation, the Oak Room was famous for being the home of the celebrated Algonquin Round Table, where gathered the great witty writers of the 1920s and 1930s. Pictured in the famous Al Hirschfeld cartoon reprinted above, clockwise from lower left: Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Lynn Fontaine and Alfred Lunt, Frank Crowninshield, Alexander Woollcott, Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, Frank Case, Franklin P. Adams, Edna Ferber, George S. Kaufman and Robert Sherwood.