From Book Reviews in the Sunday New York Times: Jewish Mothers, Tea, and DC Basketball

From the New York Times review, by Peter Keepnews, of It’s Garry Shandling’s Book, by Garry Shandling:

One of the most interesting artifacts here is a typewritten page from the script Shandling wrote for the first stand-up set he ever did, at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles. Not surprisingly, some of the jokes fall flat. But there are already flashes of the surreally self-deprecating humor that would become his trademark:

“I was born in Chicago, Illinois. Then when I was 2 years old my parents moved to Arizona. I wish they would have told me.”

By the time Shandling had become a big enough star to host the Emmy Awards in 2000, his comedic imagination was in full flight: “In the first episode, Tony Soprano’s mother is literally planning to have him killed. That’s why I admire Italian women. Jewish moms drag it out a whole lifetime.”

From the Times review, by Simon Winchester, of Infused: Adventures in Tea, by Henrietta Lovell:

I read the book in one contented go on a flight from Sydney to Hong Kong, where I had a few hours’ wait before moving on to New York. Nowadays, it’s surprisingly tricky to find a good loose-tea store in Hong Kong’s vast Starbucksian airport. But it was a long layover and eventually I winkled out the shoe box of Fook Ming Tong, tucked away on an upper floor, and handed over a not insubstantial wad of folding money for a package of Lovell’s most highly recommended ambrosia: white silver tip tea from FujianProvince in southeastern China. Once home, I found myself a graduated-temperature electric kettle, as also suggested, heated fresh water to 75 degrees Celsius and infused three grams of the unprocessed leaves for 90 seconds flat. I then poured the pale and steaming liquid into two fine china cups and took them upstairs.

One careful sip, then two, then a bold draining — whereupon my wife and I declared this tea to be quite sublime, perfect, entirely unlike anything we’d ever tasted before. An impeccably caffeine-loaded, faintly perfumed start to the day. And far, far better and more efficacious in inducing wakefulness and good cheer than ever was gin, pink or otherwise, most especially when taken before breakfast.

From the Times review, by Juliet Macur, of The Capital of Basketball: A History of DC Area High School Hoops, by the late Annapolis Capital sportswriter John McNamara:

The star player Elgin Baylor hailed from Washington. He grew up in a neighborhood not far from the Capitol at a time when black youngsters could compete on the playground only at night, “when nobody was watching,” McNamara writes. There in the dark, Baylor says in the book, “the only thing you could do was try to shoot baskets.”

McNamara also writes that, day or night, basketball in Washington was an equalizer. Even before Brown v. Board of Education desegregated public schools, and before President Dwight Eisenhower mandated that all Washington schools integrate in 1954, the playgrounds of D.C. welcomed players of all colors. At one court, according to McNamara, they all drank from the same water fountain, “regardless of color.” Basketball in D.C., as McNamara writes, was a hub for the sport and also was ahead of its time.

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