What I’m Reading Now


Another in the series. My good friend and former colleague Steve Courtney has added to my knowledge and appreciation a city, a man, and a culture with Images of America: Mark Twain’s Hartford. It is one in the Images series  featuring narratives and photographs, usually of a place. Doing their star turns are California and New Hampshire, Gloucester, Mass., and Essex, Connecticut  – for the ivory trade. Exceptions include the racehorse Dancer’s Image and the Catholic University. And now Mark Twain’s Hartford. 

Episodes in the life of Samuel Clemens, a/k/a Mark Twain, mostly from his years in Hartford, receive elegant production values and eloquent narration. The family,  servants, and neighbors make their appearance, but Twain remains at center stage, as he did in life.

Among my favorites are photos and renderings, along with the written descriptions, of the house on Farmington Avenue. It is very likely my ancestors were allowed to enter, including a girl of ten. She is shepherded along by her father’s friend and the Clemens’s butler George Griffin, and shyly requests (and receives) the autographs of the entire family.

The best: M.T. sporting a bonnet as he performs in a theatrical is worth the price of the book.

Steve’s prose (as always) enlivens the work. He draws fascinating parallels between the doings in the city and M.T.’s work.  Mark Twain’s Hartford adds a wealth of information about the man and the place.

Sushi Friday


Mikado has always been a go-to place. That will change as result of today’s visit.

What I like: The floor is still lighted, though now scratched after five-plus years. The owner recognizes me and knows I like to sit at the sushi bar. The miso soup contains generous amounts of tofu, scallion, and wakame. The large slices of fish remain fresh – in this case two pieces each of escolar, tuna (lacking that telltale bite), and snapper, along with three buttery pieces of salmon. When I order the sashimi bento box, they supply veggie gyoza without a problem. Takeout has always been excellent.

What I don’t like: The parking now costs $1 per hour or involves a 10-minute walk. The place is still not wheelchair accessible, a serious drawback. The venue is underground and smells musty, which remains on one’s clothes. The TV was on a loop advertising the virtues of Dish TV, the sound turned up loud enough to drown out the music. The excellent mesclun arrived drowned in a tasteless salad dressing. The veggie gyoza had huge pieces of edemame and lacked  crunch, meaning it was thrown together and nuked at the last minute. The fried rice Chinese style contains peas and carrots straight out of the Jolly Green Giant freezer pack. The place is supposed to close for lunch at 3, but everything shuts down at 2:30 – TV off, door locked. Today the waitress handed me my check before I’d finished eating without asking whether I wanted anything else. Then she insisted that I pay right away. The prices remain high. The portions have grown larger (not a good thing),  probably because Hachi opened around the corner.

Grade: only because of the fish C+