My Birthday

You want a #19.

I have birthday traditions. You know how institutions of higher learning have all those rules you’ve got to follow for no good reason other than everybody before you did the same damn thing? Well, I’m my own stuff-shirted traditionalist, it all hearkens back to…


Yup, that’s when I went to Langer’s and on to C.C. Brown’s and “Annie Hall” on my birthday.

That’s the tradition, hot pastrami, hot fudge sundae and a movie…or two or three.


What kind of country do we live in where the best pastrami sandwich is not in New York but Los Angeles?

Yes, all the critics agree. It’s the hand-cut meat. The rye bread.

And the cole slaw, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing.

Huh? How can you taste all those flavors, that’s a mishmash akin to an everything bagel!

Only it’s not.

I worked my way up to the #19, Langer’s legendary sandwich.

At first I only got the pastrami, then the swiss cheese, then I remembered the sandwiches in the mountains, i.e. the Catskills, with cole slaw, and I went for the whole shebang and that’s what I have every April 22nd, the #19. And it couldn’t have been better yesterday.

And just because I was overdoing it, I had the crinkly fries too. Or should I say KRINKLY fries? And of course a Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry. Come on, you can’t eat at the deli without it.

And the Russian dressing is oozing out of the sandwich, but the crunch of the bread is so satisfying, it’s a modern mouth orgasm and a return to my youth all at once.

As for the movies…

The best movie ever made is “Godfather II.” Argue with me, I don’t care.

But my favorite is “Annie Hall.” Because that’s how life is. The nebbishes make it on their personality. And every desirable woman is insecure inside, it goes with the territory, i.e. humanity! If you don’t quote “Annie Hall” on a regular basis, you haven’t seen it! Come on, WE NEED THE EGGS!

But it’s not 1977 anymore. It’s hard to find a decent movie in the theatre.

So we went to see “In The House.”

I’m not afraid of subtitles. Although we were so close that looking from them to the images was kinda difficult. And I can’t recommend “In The House,” but I will tell you that French movies are so different from American ones. They’re concerned with issues of existence. The unexamined life is not worth living in France.

And when it was over we promptly bought tickets to see “42.” Because it was there. And it started at the right time. And it was hokey, but meaningful.

Trailblazers have haters.

And haters gain their strength from numbers. Hell, everybody else is doing it, I’m afraid not to!

And nowhere is everyday hating as prominent as on the web. If you can’t take it, you’re not gonna make it. Everybody’s trying to drag you down into the hole they’re in. Resist it. Stay out of the gutter. You can make it if you really want, but you must try, try and try, try and try, to succeed at last.

And from there to Carvel.

Normally we go to Ben & Jerry’s.

But I was already stuffed from all the popcorn I ate. And I was thinking of passing, but traditions are traditions.

First and foremost the server had laryngitis, it was like being in a bad Buster Keaton movie, but if you haven’t experienced the creaminess of Carvel you’re in for a treat. And the hot fudge was divine!

Oh, and did I tell you that upon hearing it was my birthday at Langer’s they gave me a free piece of cheesecake, and the waiter sang to me?


That’s the TLC of an establishment in existence for almost a century.

And then I was worn out.

But I don’t work on my birthday.

So I fired up the television and watched “Deadliest Catch.” It was fascinating to hear the Hillstrand backstory. But what I love is how they’re married to their boat. You’ve got to be married to your work to be successful today. It’s got nothing to do with cell phones and accessibility, it’s got to do with effort. On a planet with billions, only he or she who dedicates and practices triumphs. And it’s sweet reward. But never enough. Isn’t that funny, work wins never last, whereas personal ones do.

And then I watched the Louis C.K. special. The ending was phenomenal, but the forty-odd minutes before that?

That’s what I hate about the hype, no one can say anything negative. I loved Louis on Stern. But I didn’t love his TV show or his special. And that’s what people hate about me, that I just can’t get with the program and give mediocre a pass. But I’m searching for excellence, like a #19 or “Annie Hall” or C.C. Brown’s!

They say they invented the hot fudge sundae there, but I don’t believe it. And it’s gone now. But it used to be on Hollywood Blvd. And it was overpriced. But every sundae came with its own pitcher of hot fudge, par excellence. It was a delicious taste treat that would be featured on Triple-D if it was still around.

That’s what we’re looking for, the out of the way experience that makes us feel individual and alive. Sure, Disneyland is fine, but when you can stare into the distance from the promontory, taking in the sunset alone or with your loved one, that’s when you feel most alive.

And when you eat a #19.

Langers deli (scroll down to see the picture of endless #19s!)

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