Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I sat down to write a brief impression of my first visit to Abe's Deli, the Jewish delicatessen which recently opened a few minutes away from my home in Scottsdale.  While the little gerbils inside my computer jogged and chirped and wheezed the Flog to life, I opened an email from my dear friend Ron Solomon, notifying me of the sudden death at midnight, November 29th, of one my favorite delis in New York City.

So, instead of a critique of a new restaurant, this is a eulogy with sauerkraut, dill pickle and spicy brown mustard.

The Stage Deli was born the same year I was and died at age 75 (the same age I would be had Mean Eileen not gifted me my 50th birthday back this year).  If the Mayans are right (according to their calendar we're all burnt bagels in 2012) or if Obama and Boehner can't reach a fiscal plunge-avoiding agreement by the year's end, I suppose the closing of the Stage Deli could be seen as practical - the employees all have time off to copiously ingest chocolate, base jump, open suspicious emails and run with scissors before the world ceases to exist, however it happens. 

As for my thoughts on the end of the world, I'm glad to see the end of what NY Times writer, Glenn Collins, described as "the interminable hostilities" between the Stage Deli and the Carnegie Deli.  Both restaurants opened on 7th Avenue in 1937 along with what Collins describes as, "the pastrami war."   Of course, maybe the interminable hostilities and pastrami war he wrote of had more to do with digestive issues than competition.

In 1979, Carnegie's pastrami was judged the best of the two delis and its image was burnished in Woody Allen's 1984 movie, Broadway Danny Rose (which quoted a Carnegie owner as stating, "the Stage is living off our overflow").

For generations, like Gaza and Israel, the 7th Avenue neighbors hurled matzoh balls at each other until the war finally ended last month.  We'll know soon enough if it was the $25 Rudy Giuliani Hero (and/or the $24 Howard Stern Triple Decker and Tiger Woods Open sandwiches) that did in the Stage Deli. 

I suppose if we all go over the Cliff, bonk our heads on the Debt Ceiling, or hurtle into oblivion via whatever (hopefully merciful) end the Mayans have planned, the Stage Deli people will be denied the opportunity to issue a smug told-you-so.  But maybe having eaten all that chocolate, they won't care as much.


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