Friday, June 01, 2007


The Midwest Yoga Conference takes place this weekend, at the Indian Lakes resort in suburban Bloomingdale, IL. Presenters range from Beryl Bender Berch to Lilias Folan to Rama Berch (although most are men -- including someone named "L").

I was meant to go and take a workshop this afternoon with Paulie Zink (who is Paul Grilley's teacher). I've been obsessed for him for awhile; for 30 years he's taught Taoist Yoga in relative obscurity in rural Montana. He's also a martial arts champion and has a big moustache and is one of the kindest people I've ever spoken to on the telephone (as is his wife, Maria).

Anyway, when I was partway there, exhaustion and gastro-intestinal problems set in and I turned around and went home. Lucky for me, there's very little that toilet time + sleep + ginger ale + Turner Classic Movies won't cure. I'm feeling better now and hopefully will make it there tomorrow. A full report will follow - including details of Chris Kilham's workshop, "Yoga, Sex, and Ecstasy."

In the meantime....

The top photo shows the nearby Buddhist Temple, which is decked out for the Bodhisattva's 2631st birthday. That's old. I drove by the temple yesterday after interviewing Sivananda teacher Radha/Gloria at the Heartland Cafe. She's been teaching in Chicago since 1977, and I'm pretty sure she's the one who taught me how to do headstand without a wall when I took classes there a decade ago (when NU was closed). I'm working on a piece about Chicago's Sivananda Vendanta Yoga Center. August marks its 35th anniversary at its current location, although it opened in the 1960s and was housed downtown in the Fine Arts Building. Apparently Swami Vishnu-Devananda visited often (and Gloria/Radha was one of his direct students). It's also the 50th anniversary of his arrival in the US. And I thought Mr. Iyengar had a good head of hair.....


Below are dollar pineapples at Stanley's. One day they were there (I bought four) and one day they were gone.

Apparently the season is over.

No one told me.

But mango season is in full swing. I even saw the $35 crates of super-special Indian mangoes on Devon Avenue the other day. There are hundreds of types of mangoes in India, and (according to Devdutt), babies use the pits as rattles. But due a trade ban (because of fruit flies) we haven't been able to get them since the 1980s. But it's been lifted, and they're here. Now.

If you want to go in on a crate of Alphonsos, lemme know....


  1. I got into a very heated argument with a gaggle of indians about the superiority of indian mangoes. It seems, according to people of India, that indian mangoes are the "only mangoes worth eating". I am looking forward to tasting these jewels as mangoes are one of my favorite fruits. However, I do not adhere to the ethnocentric values placed on any people or their fruit and will judge for myself.

  2. dreyfuss' produce consultant3:46 PM

    You both realize they're MANGOES, right? Mangoes. I would understand getting into a very heated argument about kiwi, but never mangoes.

  3. Speaking of food, New F-ing Yorkers are never very happy>>>

    Whole Foods Plan for Toxic Site Roils New Yorkers (Update1)

    June 1 (Bloomberg) -- Whole Foods Market Inc., the organic grocer that includes a commitment to ``environmental stewardship'' in its mission statement, isn't green enough for some New Yorkers.

    More than a year after announcing plans to clean up a contaminated Brooklyn site to build a supermarket, the Austin, Texas-based company is sparring with residents who say the project will add to pollution and attract unwanted development.

    ``They've wrapped themselves in the cloak of being green and organic, but they're certainly not acting that way,'' said Eric McClure, campaign coordinator of Park Slope Neighbors, a community group. ``Their talk is not matching their walk.''

    The controversy highlights the tensions of development in Brooklyn, where construction and new residents are changing the character of neighborhoods. It also reflects the protectiveness of residents of a borough that is the birthplace of Woody Allen and Jerry Seinfeld and home to Senator Charles Schumer, ``The Sopranos'' actor Steve Buscemi and writer Jonathan Safran Foer, the author of ``Everything Is Illuminated.''

    ``One of the things that happens to neighborhoods like this is that it's a community, it's close-knit, and people who have lived there are very comfortable with the way things are,'' said Jonathan Miller, president of New York-based real estate appraiser Miller Samuel Inc.

    Newcomers are often the most protective, said Phillip Lopate, a Brooklyn native whose books include ``Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan.''

    `The Despoiler'

    ``It's like the last guy who walks in the wilderness and becomes an environmentalist and says, `The guy behind me is the despoiler,''' he said.

    Whole Foods wants to build a 68,000-square-foot (6,300- square-meter) supermarket at Third Avenue and Third Street on the edge of Park Slope, where the median price of a single- family home is $436,000, almost four times the U.S. median.

    Building plans call for about 37,000 square feet of retail space to be underground. The street-level space is to include a community room for civic groups. The market is being tailored to the borough's tastes and history, with a pasta station and an egg-cream soda fountain, said Christina Minardi, northeast regional president of Whole Foods.

    Because the store is designed to conform to zoning regulations, approval by the local community board isn't required. The company's cleanup plans were approved by New York state, and it needs only a city building permit to proceed.

    Welcome to Brooklyn

    That hasn't kept residents such as McClure from complaining, even while speaking favorably about having a Whole Foods store in Brooklyn.

    ``The community is looking forward to welcoming Whole Foods Market to our neighborhood,'' he and Marni N. Horwitz of Green Roof Brooklyn wrote to Chief Executive Officer John Mackey in a January letter.

    The letter, posted on the Park Slope Neighbors Web site, goes on to ask that Whole Foods eliminate a third of its 430 planned parking spots and add a ``green roof'' with plants and grasses to alleviate pollution. More than 1,200 residents have signed a petition supporting these requests, McClure said.

    The store is to be built on a 2.1-acre (0.85-hectare) tract in the Gowanus Canal corridor that at various times has been used for a junkyard, an oil-processing facility and a coal yard. A visitor walking the streets encounters a gritty collection of industry, including a marble company, a concrete plant, a metal recycling plant and auto-repair shops.

    Whole Foods has already started cleaning up the soil, which is contaminated with benzene, a carcinogen, as well as toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

    Friends of Gowanus

    Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus, a community group, said the cleanup is doing more harm than good. Digging is pushing contaminants into the underground water supply in an area that's a wetland, said Marlene Donnelly, a member of the steering committee of the group, which detailed its assertions in an eight-page letter to the environmental conservation department.

    ``We're spending millions of dollars to clean up the site the right way,'' Minardi said. ``The majority of people want us there. It's only a small group of people hung up on several issues.''

    As for calls to cut back parking and add a green roof, Whole Foods said no.

    Advocates such as McClure, 44, said they are pressuring Whole Foods because its presence may spur further development. Two years ago, McClure's group was successful in getting Commerce Bancorp Inc. to alter plans for a suburban-style branch on the Fifth Avenue commercial strip in Park Slope.

    Luxury Buildings

    The area close to the planned store is already changing. More than half a dozen luxury buildings are being constructed, including the Novo, where a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment with 1,595 square feet costs almost $1.1 million.

    ``Once you put a big store there, it will provide justification for further zoning changes,'' he said. ``Whatever happens there, you are going to be introducing a fair number of residential units, virtually all of them market rate and luxury.''

    Whole Foods isn't discouraged, Minardi said.

    ``We like Brooklyn because it's cool and hip, and the store will be in an area just starting to change,'' she said.

    The criticism has ``been a little brutal,'' she said. ``But we're happy to be there.''

  4. Caca, I think I told ya a year ago or so that Bally Fitness was gonna go bk, and they did last week.
    I hope your checks don't bounce!

  5. Careful with those mangoes. They're irradiated to kill those nasty weevils, as is most other imported tropical fruit.

    Costco also says it's considering Indian mangos. There's just one thing the company's looking into, and that's gamma radiation, which is now required for imported fruit. Indian mangos have to be irradiated to make sure a particular pest, known as the mango seed weevil, doesn't enter the U.S. surreptitiously. But Savani, backed up by a number of scientific studies and a clean bill of health from the USDA, claims it's a fairly harmless process - something like microwaving or pasteurization. He says it even extends the shelf life of the fruit.

    The FDA has approved the process, and allegedly the irradiated food doesn't even have to be labeled as such. Call it safe and harmless "cold pasteurization" if you want, but to me it seems unwise indeed.