The Diamond Grille In The Rubber City

Today I had lunch at the Diamond Grille in Akron.  It was like stepping back in time, in more ways than one.

The Diamond Grille is found at 77 West Market Street.  The exterior is unpretentious — and the inside is no different.  It’s a throwback place, from the neon sign to the interior decor, unchanged and unaffected by the outside world, as if it were shielded from the ravages of time by some protective bubble.  Pass through the black double doors and you find yourself in days gone by.  It had special significance for me, because “the Diamond” was one of my father’s favorite places when we lived in Akron — and I’d wager the restaurant and its menu hasn’t changed much since our family moved from Akron 40 years ago.

The Diamond Grille specializes in steak.  In fact, this little restaurant is a temple of steak worship, where the cuts of beef are prime, big and juicy, and served to be savored by people who appreciate a really fine steak and a well-made cocktail.  Being there for lunch on a work day, of course, I really couldn’t reasonably exercise either of those options, so I went for the chopped steak and white bean soup — both of which were excellent and bursting with flavor.  Having lunch there just whetted my appetite for a steak dinner, with all the trimmings.

Come to the Diamond Grille for the Rat Pack atmosphere, if you want, but stay for the steak — you won’t be disappointed.

Out Of Iraq, And Holding Our Breath

Today President Obama met Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to commemorate the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.  By the end of this month, all troops will be gone, leaving Iraq as an ally that will have to fend for itself in one of the world’s most volatile regions, with Iran as its neighbor.

At this point, no one knows what Iraq’s future is — or whether America’s intervention in the affairs of that sovereign nation was beneficial or harmful, stabilizing or destabilizing, a game-changer or a waste of blood and treasure.  We know that America succeeded in overthrowing a murderous dictator and, after years of hard fighting and many American casualties, helped to establish a relatively peaceful democratic government in the vast, totalitarian expanse of the Middle East.  The question is the staying power of Iraq and its current government, and whether it can maintain order for long enough for democratic institutions to truly take root.  It will be years before the answers to those questions become clear.

I heard a report this morning that said that President Obama would spend this week touting the withdrawal of the troops and what he believes has been a foreign policy success.  This is not a time for a “Mission Accomplished” moment, however.  Proud words about America’s withdrawal and its meaning could quickly turn to ashes if the fragile Iraqi democracy collapses into a hell of suicide bombings and blood-soaked sectarian violence.


The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.

When I get back from the morning walk, I go upstairs to see the Leader.  Sometimes I jump into bed.  Other times, I am thirsty.  When I am thirsty, I go into the water room.

I like the water room.  It is a quiet place.  My claws click on the tiles.  I go to the water well, stick my nose under the lid, and slide my head in there.

Inside the water well, it is white and cool.  The water is right inside.  The well is always filled and ready for me to drink my fill.  When I lap the water, it makes a loud echo.  I like that, too.

When I pull my head out, the lid falls back down with a clank.  Sometimes, when that happens, the Leader will yell at me.

Why does she get mad when I use the water well?  I am thirsty!