our cravings have been for pizza and pasta during the month of December. a strong contender for "pizza the way they made it back in the day" - perfect crust, an excellent cheese to sauce ratio. the two standouts on our last visit were the sicilian and margherita slices (yes, slices!). Pizza of this quality and calibre are usually served by the pie.
Come for the pastas too- the eggplant parmagiana over linguini pasta was perfection!
We washed it down with a big bottle of Coney Island Lager from the Schmaltz brewing company , delish!
While most people are home watching Monday Night Football, we ventured out after the gym for a light meal at Lil' Frankie's in the East Village. Instead of ordering their signature brick oven pizzas, we opted for a lighter meal consisting of the oven-baked eggplant, the sauteed broccoli with thin-sliced garlic and their grilled salmon over arugula (oh and two glasses of Nero D'Avola).
Grilled Salmon w/arugula Sauteed Broccoli with thin-sliced garlic
We came across these two commercials for Suntory Whisky Japan -- featuring bob-heads of the band Duran Duran circa 1983-1985 (when the press were calling them the Fab Five). Duran Duran's "Lost In Translation" moment!
Suntory Whisky Q: The Reflex
Suntory Whisky Q: Is There Something I Should Know
By Bo Nielsen and Adriana Brasileiro Nov. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Gisele Bundchen wants to remain the world's richest model and is insisting that she be paid in almost any currency but the U.S. dollar.
Like billionaire investors Warren Buffett and Bill Gross, the Brazilian supermodel, who Forbes magazine says earns more than anyone in her industry, is at the top of a growing list of rich people who have concluded that the currency can only depreciate because Americans led by President George W. Bush are living beyond their means.
Even after the dollar lost 34 percent since 2001, the biggest investors and most accurate forecasters say it will weaken further as home sales fall and the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates. The dollar plummeted to its lowest ever last week against the euro, Canadian dollar, Chinese yuan and the cheapest in 26 years against the British pound.
``We've told all of our clients that if you only had one idea, one investment, it would be to buy an investment in a non- dollar currency,'' said Gross, the chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach, California, and manager of the world's biggest bond fund. ``That should be on top of the list,'' said Gross, whose firm is a unit of Munich- based insurer Allianz SE.
Bundchen's Demands The dollar fell 0.8 percent last week and touched $1.4528 per euro, the weakest since the euro's debut in 1999. It traded at $1.4484 at 9:37 a.m. in New York. The dollar lost 2.8 percent last week to 93.47 Canadian cents and 1.8 percent to $2.09 per British pound. The Fed's U.S. Trade Weighted Major Currency Index measuring the dollar's performance versus seven currencies, such as Japan's, slid to a record low of 72.22.
BNP Paribas chief currency strategist Hans-Guenter Redeker, the most accurate foreign-exchange forecaster last quarter in a Bloomberg survey, said the dollar may drop to $1.50 per euro by year-end. The median estimate of 42 strategists surveyed by Bloomberg is for the currency to end the year at $1.43. Among those surveyed last week, the forecast ranges from $1.42 to $1.50.
When Bundchen, 27, signed a contract in August to represent Pantene hair products for Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co., she demanded payment in euros, according to Veja, Brazil's biggest weekly magazine. She'll also get euros for the deal she reached last October with Dolce & Gabbana SpA in Milan to promote the Italian designer's new fragrance, The One, Veja reported. Bundchen earned $33 million in the year through June, Forbes reported in July.
`More Attractive' ``Contracts starting now are more attractive in euros because we don't know what will happen to the dollar,'' Patricia Bundchen, the model's twin sister and manager in Brazil, said in a telephone interview in September from Sao Paulo. She declined to discuss details of the arrangements last week, as did Anne Nelson, Bundchen's agent in New York at IMG Models. Procter & Gamble's Sao Paulo-based external relations director for Brazil, Andre Quadra, said he couldn't give details of the Pantene contract because of a confidentiality agreement.
Analysts in a Bloomberg survey expect the dollar to strengthen in coming months as stronger-than-forecast reports suggest U.S. consumers will keep the economy out of recession. Payrolls grew by 166,000 in October, double the median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey.
The dollar will rise to $1.43 per euro this year and $1.35 by the end of 2008, according to the median estimate in the survey.
`Moving to Asia' ``So far the data has shown the U.S. economy may not be slowing to the extent the majority of the market had expected,'' said Omer Esiner, an analyst at currency-trading company Ruesch International Inc. in Washington who expects the U.S. currency to strengthen to as much as $1.38 per euro. ``That could temper policy easing down the road and lend support for the dollar.''
Buffett, whom Forbes in April ranked as the world's third- richest person behind Bill Gates and Carlos Slim, told reporters in South Korea last month that he is bearish on the U.S. currency.
``We still are negative on the dollar relative to most major currencies, so we bought stocks in companies that earn their money in other currencies,'' Buffett said Oct. 25. Buffett, 77, is chairman of Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Jim Rogers, a former partner of investor George Soros, said last month he's selling his house and all his possessions in the U.S. currency to buy China's yuan.
``The dollar is collapsing,'' Rogers said last week in an interview. ``I'm moving to Asia because moving to Asia now is like moving to New York in 1907 or London in 1807. It's the wave of the future.''
Better Returns The dollar is falling as investors seek better returns outside the U.S. Developing Asian nations including China and India will grow 9.8 percent this year, compared with 1.9 percent for the U.S., the International Monetary Fund said last month. China, India and Russia accounted for half the global expansion over the past year, and the euro region will expand 2.5 percent in 2007, outpacing the U.S. for the first time since 2001, the Washington-based IMF estimates.
``The world has learned to live with a weak dollar,'' said Jay Bryson, a former Fed analyst who is now a global economist in Charlotte, North Carolina, at Wachovia Corp., the fourth-largest U.S. bank. ``It's not worried. It doesn't rely on the U.S. as much as it once did.'' Bryson forecasts the dollar will weaken to $1.50 per euro by the end of June.
Housing Recession The U.S. currency dropped in the past two months as the Fed cut its target rate for overnight loans between banks twice to keep a decline in home sales from starting a recession. The central bank reduced the rate by three-quarters of a percentage point to 4.5 percent, including a quarter-point last week. The National Association of Realtors trade group in Washington said on Oct. 10 existing home sales may fall 11 percent this year. Lower rates have made yields on U.S. debt less attractive. U.S. two-year Treasuries yield 0.30 percentage point less than German government bonds of similar maturity. The last time
Treasuries yielded less than bunds was 2004.
The weaker currency has cushioned the U.S. economy during the worst housing recession in 16 years. Gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.9 percent in the third quarter, the most in more than a year, the Commerce Department said Oct. 31 in Washington. The five-year, 67 percent drop against the Canadian dollar has made it cheaper for fans from Toronto to drive the 110 miles (177 kilometers) to Orchard Park, New York, to watch the Buffalo Bills play football.
Canada Day Canadians account for 11 percent of the team's season tickets this year, up from 6.5 percent in 2005, according to Scott Berchtold, the Bills' vice president of communications. At yesterday's annual Canada Day game, where the Bills beat the Cincinnati Bengals, a record 23 percent of the 70,745 fans were from Canada, he estimated.
``When the Canadian dollar was down around 65 cents, we didn't get anybody,'' Ralph Wilson Jr., the team's owner, said in an interview. ``When the dollar fell, we starting getting some people.'' The Canadian dollar bought 61.76 U.S. cents in 2002.
The dollar's drop also makes American goods cheaper abroad. U.S. exports were a record $138.2 billion in August, government data show. Net exports added 0.93 percentage point to U.S. gross domestic product last quarter, offsetting a 1.05 percentage point drag from housing, government data show.
``As long as the dollar's decline doesn't trigger inflation, it's a good thing, helping the U.S. economy to stay out of recession,'' said Robert Mundell, a professor at Columbia University in New York who won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1999.
Wealthy Clients The Commerce Department's price index for personal consumption expenditures excluding food and energy rose 1.8 percent in September from a year earlier, the same as in August. The Fed forecasts the index will increase 1.75 percent to 2 percent next year. Wealthy clients at San Francisco-based Union Bank of California have doubled their deposits in foreign currencies to $60 million the past two months as a hedge against a decline, said Bradley Shairson, head of currency and derivatives at the bank.
U.S. investors bought $198 billion in foreign securities this year through August, 72 percent more than in the same period last year, Treasury Department data show. That's the same strategy as sovereign wealth funds run by the largest exporters and oil producers, including China, Singapore and Qatar, said Stephen Jen, head of currency research at New York-based Morgan Stanley.
The funds may grow to $17.5 trillion by 2017 from $2.5 trillion now and shift more than $500 billion out of the dollar in the next three years in search of better returns, he said.
``We're all thinking about diversifying out of the dollar,'' said Jen, who is based in London. ``It's a very logical thing.''
Good read yes, but before people start highlighting the theme that all gurus are bad, we must remember that a guru/therapist should inspire and nurture us to think and act independently. To allow ideas and solutions to flow freely from within us and allow us to build up our confidence and inner-voice so that eventually we do not have to seek answers from them. Dependence on anything also spells d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r.
Gurus, spiritual teachers, therapists, life coaches: I used to follow them with devotion. I devoured their books, attended their seminars and sat at their feet. For years, I enjoyed the loving embrace of mother Amma, the sharp tongue of Eckhart Tolle, the inspiration of Krishnamurti. I listened to the lectures of Neale Donald Walsch, Deepak Chopra and Andrew Cohen. I travelled year after year to India, without a doubt the country with the densest population of gurus. Every teacher I came across promised some type of enlightenment or freedom: one by sharing knowledge, another through meditation, yoga or mantra-chanting. Some held lengthy sermons; others kept their mouths tightly shut. Some were the embodiment of love; others were blunt and continued to batter followers until their egos were broken. Many of these gurus were extraordinarily wise and greatly enriched my life.
Yet I began increasingly to doubt whether the relationship between gurus, as well as other powerful figures, and their followers is the best way to achieve enlightenment or freedom. After all, in all the ashrams I visited, I rarely encountered an enlightened follower—someone who appeared to be just as wise, radiant and independent as the master himself. To be sure, most followers were devout and full of praise for their gurus, but they strongly doubted themselves. I noticed in myself as well that I sometimes seemed to shrink in the presence of an awe-inspiring guru. Was it a mark of honour and respect or in fact fear of standing on my own two feet?
More than 1,000 years ago, the Chinese Zen master Lin Chi underlined the danger of gurus. He saw that many of his contemporaries in the 9th century transferred responsibility for their spiritual well-being to others. He said this meant they gave away their power and authenticity. This inspired Lin Chi’s oft-quoted statement: “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” In other words, if you think you can find enlightenment outside yourself, you’re on the wrong track. After all, the essence of Buddha’s teachings is that everyone carries the Buddha nature inside, or—put another way—we are all Buddha. Lin Chi’s warning is still relevant today. Despite the far-reaching individualization in the modern Western world, people continue to seek handholds. Nowadays, there are more gurus than ever, despite the change in titles: mental coach, therapist, social worker.
The American social scientist John McKnight, who has been studying the effect of professional helpers on society for more than 40 years, is a modern Lin Chi. “Every time we call in an expert, we lose a piece of ourselves. As a result, the social workers have eroded the very soul of community,” he writes in The Careless Society. “The enemy is not poverty, sickness and disease, but a set of interests that need dependency, masked by service.” Gurus and professional helpers aren’t the only ones who tend to make people dependent and keep them down; parents and educators often do the same. How many parents and teachers see the “Buddha” in children? Instead of encouraging kids to trust their innate wisdom, they cram them full of facts and figures. Most kids are never asked about who they are, but what they want to be. The underlying message is, You’re nothing now, but if you do what we say, you can become someone later. As a result, it’s instilled in us at a young age that we must somehow get to the bottom of the wisdom of others instead of exploring the wisdom within ourselves.
The idea that you must become something in order to be successful, enlightened, delivered or happy is a huge misconception. The conviction that a path outside ourselves leads to something better is the reason why virtually no one ever arrives at their destination. After all, if you’re perpetually on your way, you’ll never get there. There’s a sign hanging in my local pub that reads, “Free beer tomorrow.” Of course tomorrow never comes. Gurus, too, promise enlightenment later, thus condemning their followers to eternal dependence. It works both ways: After all, what would a guru be without followers? Naturally, some influential figures haven’t become trapped in this mutual dependence. These are the radical masters who will not tolerate followers or hangers-on because they know spiritual freedom is only attainable for those who dare to stand naked before the truth—i.e., without pre-established loyalty to a doctrine or guru. Jesus would never have become a Christian, nor Buddha a Buddhist. These masters were rebels who primarily followed themselves (or God?). Psychiatrist Carl Jung was another example. He once said: “Thank God I’m not a Jungian.”
Jung was referring to what he saw as the problem of unequal relationships in every form of therapy. Healing, he believed, can only take place if space is given to the whole person—and the therapist can disrupt that whole. The American psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, who conceived a model known as “non-violent communication,” is extremely outspoken about the importance of complete equality. “When the therapist presents himself as a therapist, the therapy is doomed to fail.”
An unequal relationship means there is a glass ceiling the follower can barely penetrate. To grow beyond the master is difficult, particularly when you are taught not to trust your own wisdom. Is that the reason why the Tibetan word for guru, lama, is translated as “unsurpassed”? A follower doesn’t walk his own path, but that of another. Because that path is already worn, he doesn’t have to work as hard to walk it, nor does he learn the same lessons. The conclusions the master reached—as an end result of the original spiritual work—are not the same for the follower. The master has experienced both path and destination; the follower only knows the destination as described by the master he has so diligently studied.
This is why followers are often holier than the pope and more extreme in their viewpoints than the master. And these viewpoints can often be reduced to easily digestible bits. After all, the more insecure people are, the more they cling to “the truth” and the more they try to convince others. Moreover, most followers miss the full concept of the master’s teachings, so subtle and complex insights are reduced to easily understood and absorbed notions. The paradox many people encounter in their search for enlightenment or deliverance is that this state of higher consciousness doesn’t correspond to holding onto “truths” and “facts.” Many truths and facts are only assumptions or ways of dealing with reality. It is no coincidence that the word “fact” is derived from the Latin word “facere”, which means “to make.” A fact is not truth, but a creation.
So we don’t really lose our “Buddha nature” because of what we don’t know, but because of what we are convinced we know because others have told us so—by clinging to borrowed, unshakable “truths.” As soon as we establish something as fact or pass judgment on it (“This is the way it is”), we lose contact with reality, with the greater whole. We reduce the truth—inasmuch as it exists—to a word, a document or a method and close ourselves to learning and growing.
Maybe gurus aren’t so much masters we can imitate but examples we can look to for inspiration. They show us that it is possible to achieve a higher state of consciousness. But it’s up to us to get there.
So it’s time to fire our gurus (facts, truths, religious persuasions, principles, dogmas) so the guru in ourselves can emerge. It’s time to become as great as the gurus we followed—just as authentic, unique and obstinate. This is not an act of aggression or disrespect. On the contrary, it is an act of love and gratitude. The greatest compliment we can pay our gurus, coaches and therapists is to make clear that we no longer need them. The treatment was successful; the guru died.
On this cold evening in September -- I mean November, we ventured out and tried Gasparino's on East 6th Street. Yes, the East 6th Street where all the Indian Restaurants are located. But nestled between the dozens of Indian restaurants lies this gem.
We dined on a mixto salad -- very well prepared with just the right amount of balsamic vinaigrette, Tori commented how they included lots of red onions and tomatoes--normally missing from these types of salads. For the main course, we shared a very tasty eggplant Parmesan--tender slices of roasted eggplant, under melted mozzarella -- the sauce was a touch sweet and tangy. Accompanied with an aldente pasta.
We tasted a very big, dry Nero D'Avola. Overall, a tasty dinner for two for less than $40!