Jurassic Park (Senior's Restaurant Appreciation now added)

What a Hanukah present!” exclaimed a friend’s email.

Carl Kruger was copping a plea to a felony. His political career was over. His life was pretty much over. Someone who’d been an enemy for over a quarter century had literally been reduced to bawling his eyes out in the same manner that Kruger preferred to inflict upon his enemies.

Memories flooded over me of Hanukahs past.

Today David Paterson called Kruger “a slippery character.”

Well, he oughta know, since Paterson’s making a deal not to expel Kruger from the Democratic Conference (in revenge for Kruger’s endorsement of Republican Marty Golden against incumbent Democrat Vinnie Gentile) and not to attempt to disenroll him from the Party, was part of how Paterson got to be Senate Democratic Leader.

As I’ve recounted before, the Kruger-facilitated defeat of Gentile, was pretty much the end of the line for my boss Marty Connor’s tenure as the incumbent Senate Dems’ Leader, and therefore the end of the job I loved.

The Kruger deal with Paterson helped to seal it.

Shortly thereafter, I was working the holiday party circuit, looking for job leads, when I ran into Carl (hand in hand with Dottie Turano, the mother of Kruger’s co-defendant Dr. Michael) at Jakie Gold‘s Hanukah smoked fish soirée.

I looked straight out at Kruger, and screamed at the top of my lungs:


The whole room was staring. Jake Gold didn’t know whether to step in to stop the fight, or to begin to take notes, so he could better repeat the story later.

Kruger’s voice went soft. “You’re gonna need help keeping your job, and I’m gonna make sure you don’t.”

“Fuck you,” I responded in a softer tone, “Paterson doesn’t trust you anymore than Connor does, so you’re so far out of the loop that you’re the only one in the Senate who doesn’t know that I’m one of the 13 names on the first day hit list. There‘s nothing you can do to me, asshole.


Jake, a dear friend then as now, looked at me askance, “Vith all due respect, I think the crowd is a little old for the Ru Paul reference.”

It was the first time Kruger had ever threatened my livelihood; it would not be the last. The second incident was an email from a friend concerning my blog; the substance of the email was that Kruger knew who I was, and was threatening to get me fired.

Following that message, I took an unannounced hiatus sometime close to Hanukah, 2007, and did not publish again until February 2008. I didn’t really start blogging in earnest until May of that year, after Room 8 was chosen as the DNC’s NYS designated blog.

Anyway, by this Hanukah, the tables had obviously turned.

Still I was not enjoying this as much as I should have been.

Why was that?

It wasn’t really the charges against Kruger, although the thought of someone doing being convicted of a felony for devising “a scheme and artifice to... deprive New York State and its citizens of their intangible right to Kruger’s honest services” is about the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.


This is somewhat analogous to convicting someone for conspiracy to steal all the unicorns from the Prospect Park Zoo.

Even if  a commodity called "the honest service of Carl Kruger" existed, what could it possibly be worth? (I suppose this is where the unicorn analogy fails miserably). 

But that wasn’t why I was lacking in the requisite joy called for by the situation.

When I did my first Brooklyn campaign in 1980, there was a non-glatt kosher deli on practically every avenue in Southern Brooklyn from Bay Parkway eastward.

Plus there were the non-kosher Jewish style places like Martin’s, Senior’s, the Pavilion and Pop and Son (and that was just on Nostrand Avenue in Sheepshead Bay).  

A local pol called the inhabitants “Bacon and Eggs Jews,” meaning the type of Jews who went to Synagogue on Saturday and then went out to the dinner afterwards for bacon and eggs.

We are a dying breed.

There are three "non-glatt" kosher delis in all of Brooklyn, a number that barely beats Newark New Jersey’s.

Martin’s, the site of an epic squawk I had with Kruger the summer of 84, is gone, and with it, the best cabbage soup I ever tasted, as well as fond memories of many a happy lunch spent at the counter while sweet old "Uncle Sammy" Garson regaled me with tales from his time as a mob bookie and oil stock swindler.  .

Also gone is Pop and Sons, where the septuagenarian owners schlepped around a cart full of Jewish delicacies which came gratis with every entre, all lovingly labored over by an old black chef in the kitchen.

Also, Senior's, unsurprisingly a Junior's knock-off, with the same rolls, but not the Caribbean cult following.

The first time I ate at Senior's was at a campaign kick-off for Kruger's predecessor, Donnie Halperin (alev ha-sholem) in 1982. The last time was in 1994, at a campaign kick-off for Joel Garson, the malapropping Fredo of the Garson Crime Family, in his pathetic effort to get the Democratic nomination for the seat when the senior Cuomo made Halperin his Housing Commissioner.

I can still hear Joel, screaming about the how we needed to restore the "deaf penalty" and put an end to "flea bargaining," and solemnly reminding the County Committee members to properly fill out their "protskys." 

Mercifully, (and I mean this with no irony), Joel was beaten by Kruger, dropping out of the race at the last minute, and providing Carl with his protsksys. Shortly, thereafter, Joel got a job on Carl's payroll.     

All those places are long gone, and so is every place like them.

And so, mostly, are we. 

The world beautifully invoked by Dan Feldman's Sausage Factory Blog is mostly a memory now.  
Thinking about all this, I finally realized why the news did not elate me

Kruger was a T-Rex, I was a Stegosaurus.

We are natural enemies

But when extinction comes, whether best friends or mortal enemies, we are all just dinosaurs.

I suppose a few words are in order about the politics.

Councilman Lew Fidler seems the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nod.

As I’ve noted, Fidler has a strong track record with the Orthodox Jewish community (and the Russian community as well).

Of course, so did David Weprin, who lost this area two to one.

As the Weprin race proves, whether or not the Orthodox community still does the hora with those who brung them is at best an open question.

Of course, unlike Weprin, Fidler takes nothing for granted---he’s been working it hard.

And if there’s a place where the dinosaurs still roam, it is in this district, parts of which might still be called Jurassic Park.

If I’m not mistaken, all three of those non-glatt kosher delis lie within its borders.    

And Lew Fidler, who used to own a purple suit which made him look like Barney, may be everyone's favorite dinosaur.    

Meanwhile, the GOP has several potentially strong candidates—but none of them live within the current lines, and they are thus all ineligible.  

The eligible names are pretty pathetic. Realtor John Reinhardt seems to spend most of his spare time writing checks to Democrats.

The frontrunner seems to be lawyer David Storobin, a protégé of GOP County Leader Craig Eaton.

Storobin is seemingly so obsessed with what he sees as the sub-human nature of Arabs and Muslims that his blog posts about them have been linked on white supremacist hate sites.

Admittedly, in this district, that may prove to be an advantage.

Despite Storobin’s raging, frothing at the mouth, far right wing hate-based fanaticism (raging against a proposed local Mosque even Marty Golden refuses to oppose), elsewhere, he is almost a Russian Al Sharpton, glorifying the primacy of identity politics, saying that a candidate’s being Russian is far more important than trivial concerns like abortion and taxation (and presumably even Mosques).

So, while anyone who’d bet the mortgage money on this race is taking an undue risk, the smart money is probably on Fidler.

For now.

But reapportionment looms, and barring unlikely reform or a court imposed solution (somewhat more likely), the GOP will control the new Senate lines.

It would be ironic for a term limited Councilman to give up a seat whose shelf life expires at the end of 2013, only to find himself out of a job at the end of 2012.

But, as Mario Cuomo used to say, between now and then, a Pope could be born,

And meanwhile, we’re going to have whole lot of fun.