Hmm Weekly for January 19, 2021

Tuesday, Someone Else Was President

Hmm Weekly for January 19, 2021
Illustration by Alex Fine


BEFORE LARRY KING got so successful on TV that he became a cliché, he was my radio friend, midnight to 5 a.m. on the Mutual Broadcasting System. I am a night owl by nature, so when I was in high school and college, I did most of my best homework in the wee small hours. Listening to music was too distracting for me, so King’s heavily-formatted radio show was a nice background vibe: AM-radio static, news at the top of the hour, and then Brooklyn Larry with a sometimes-famous guest, but just as frequently somebody peddling a book and sometimes they even turned out to be interesting. Larry never read the book, he just had basic—sort of softball—questions that allowed the interviewee to be as expansive as they cared to, and if they weren’t, Larry had lots more questions, and then they’d take some phone calls.

My attention would drift in and out as I either concentrated on my school reading and writing or just got drowsy. I remember coming out of a haze at one point—maybe the No-Doz was kicking in—to hear an authoritative guest on the show telling Larry that because of the Camp David Accords, Anwar Sadat was marked for death by extremists. Ten minutes later in the freeform “Open Phone America” segment, Larry could be talking about how much he liked egg creams, or telling entertaining but suspect tales about the good old days, and then he’d take completely random calls from dedicated listeners and late-night kooks all across the country, listening on over 500 affiliates.

One of them Larry called “Numbers,” or maybe “Numbers Man,” and the call would be connected to a segment of the Old Testament. I can’t forget that guy, he’d bark out some scientific puzzler, like “How can the anatomy of the human eye contain a functional transparent section?” and then he’d spit out a connection to the Bible. Larry loved him on air, he was a good caller, he’d get on, say his piece, and punch out by himself. Other people would call to yell at Larry, or be sycophantic, and they’d get cut off quick. Larry kept it moving.

It seemed like a lot of lonely people called in, but we were all together somehow, suspended in the fuzzy radio ether. Parts of the show would be repeated, and that’s when the weight of my lack of sleep or the deadline I was trying to beat would hit me. If I was going the distance and pulling a genuine all-nighter and heard the entire show, it was a sobering moment. “Oh shit, it’s 3:30, I gotta get it together.”

I always felt a little sad when the calls concluded and Larry would end the show by saying he was going to his pal Duke’s restaurant, and they’d fade in this Louis Armstrong song and the radio went back to being normal and less fun.


Peeling broccoli?! I'm sure you'll get a number of similar responses this week, but I couldn't resist—it's almost as if you were consciously baiting me. Peeling broccoli?! I've never heard of such a thing. You're making work for yourself and then complaining about it. This sounds like a pharaoh saying 'I really love grapes but it's so annoying having to peel them!'. Not that I suppose the pharaohs peeled their own grapes. I understand the frustration of veg prep you talk about, but seriously, you could make it so much easier on yourself. Don't bother peeling your broccoli. Leave the slightly dried out bits on the pea shoots—once you've stir fried them briefly you won't be able to notice it anyway. Leave the skin on carrots, potatoes, parsnips... leave the seeds in peppers and chilies. It's like the “no dig” gardening philosophy applied to cooking. Do less and reap the benefits. You'll be less frustrated and you'll be eating more of the good stuff. Final caveat—I live in Scotland and I don't know what the veg you get over there is like, we do hear some horror stories about American farming practices—but I feel fairly confident you're buying the nicer end of the spectrum, which must at least match our normal stuff.

Anyway, all that aside, keep up the good work, I enjoy your newsletter!


Why not pierce the broccoli skin—not too deep but deep enough to match your depth of peeling—before peeling so you have an end line? Take the paring knife and go around each stalk right below where the florets begin to branch out as if the stalk was the top of a wine bottle and you were going around and through the metal covering (sheath?). Less exactitude per stalk but you know where the toughness ends generally, right?

Okay, I haven’t tried this (I have no broccoli in the crisper) but you should and let me know if it works.


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IN HOPE OF an early spring, we present a recipe for a sandwich from Dandelions As Food, by Lucile Brewer and Helen Canon, found in the Cornell Reading Courses Course For The Farm Home, Vol. V No. 105, May 1916, published and distributed in furtherance of the purposes provided for in the Act of Congress of May 8, 1914, by the New York State College of Agriculture at Cornell University, Beverly T. Galloway, Dean of the College, Martha Van Rensselaer and Flora Rose, Supervisors, Course For The Farm Home.

How like a prodigal doth Nature seem,
When thou, for all thy gold, so common art!
—James Russel Lowe.

In a lawn dandelions are out of place, just as spinach or rhubarb would be. Their affinity for lawns has caused them to fall into ill repute; they have truly been a “lion’s tooth” in the flesh of the gardener.

In proportion to the cost, fruits and vegetables have been found to furnish much more iron than do meats and fish, and the iron of fruits and vegetables is more completely available for nutrition than is the iron of meats, Therefore, since tonics are expensive and dandelions may be had for the cutting, it would seem to be poor economy, indeed, to hold to the tradition in many households of giving the children a spring tonic to keep their blood in good condition.

Dandelions, like other green vegetables, have a mild laxative tendency due largely to their roughage, which is the term applied to the substance that is not affected by the digestive juices. These bulky foods are desirable in any good diet as aids in preventing putrefaction in the lower part of the intestinal tract. It has been shown that anaemia is closely connected with excessive intestinal putrefaction; consequently, foods that tend to prevent putrefaction in this locality play an important part in keeping the blood in good condition.

Aside from the nutritive value already mentioned, dandelion greens are a good addition to the diet for the sake of variety and because of their flavor, which is pleasing to many persons.

The subject of balanced meals is receiving considerable attention at present. Too often, however, the impression is received that a balanced meal is one that includes protein, fat, and carbohydrate in right proportion. This is true as far as it goes, but experiments, as well as experience, show that there are other requirements for a balanced ration. For example, the body needs certain foodstuffs that both furnish it with building material and help to regulate its processes; in other words, the body must be supplied with ash constituents, or mineral matter.

Mince fresh dandelion leaves and stem very fine, and add onion juice, celery salt, salt, and pepper for seasoning. Add sufficient salad dressing to make the mixture of the right consistency, and spread it between slices of buttered bread.

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