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Grandmother Courage

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In a relatively uneventful autumn week, there were subtle yet disquieting signs of New York’s continuing suburbanization. A poker club in Chelsea was raided by police; tattoo parlors feared a crackdown after a Brooklyn man died while getting a devil tattoo; a couple of young lovers discreetly attempting to have sex on a Park Slope sidewalk were charged with public lewdness; and yet another 7-Eleven was poised to open, this time in Yorkville. It was also a week of surprising routs. A group of sumo wrestlers lunching at the Carnegie Deli proved to be no match for the “Woody Allen” sandwich—two pounds of pastrami and corned beef on rye—and military men at the Times Square recruitment booth cravenly retreated before more than a dozen elderly grandmothers protesting the Iraq war. (The police who arrested them, the grannies declared, were “absolute dolls.”) Gramercy Tavern was again named New York’s most popular eatery by the new Zagat guide, which also noted the increasing informality of city restaurants. Nick Nolte, apparently exploiting the trend, was seen dining at Nobu 57 in sweatpants and slippers, whereas George Clooney was made to don a necktie when he arrived to share a meal with Don Hewitt at ‘21.’ Madonna, in town to show she could still be a “disco queen” even after breaking her collarbone in a horseback-riding accident two months ago, was also at pains to stifle a growing religious controversy over her unreleased song “Isaac.” Contrary to rumors, she insisted, the song has nothing to do with the sixteenth-century Jewish mystic Isaac ben Solomon Luria. As if this were not puzzling enough, there was also the ongoing conundrum of Harriet “Church Lady” Miers. After meeting with the Supreme Court nominee, a nonplussed Chuck Schumer said she told him, “Nobody knows my views on Roe v. Wade.” And subway riders—especially those smoked out of the system on Friday—were a little mystified by the MTA’s holiday-discount plan: Although many expressed gratitude, some, fearful that fare hikes were in store for 2006, likened the gesture to giving a condemned man a nice meal prior to his hanging.


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