Derek Gentile: Memories of Dakota are fond ones



A few thoughts while having a salmon BLT at the On A Roll Café:

I was sorry to hear about the closing of the Dakota Steakhouse restaurant. In addition to a great menu and salad buffet, the place was so big that it was rare that one had to wait for a table.

I don't have a funny story about the place because every time I went there, the service was great and the food was very toothsome.

I'm not a businessman, but I read that a lot of restaurants have a shelf life, if you will, of seven years. By that measuring stick, The Dakota was a tremendous success. Obviously, that is little comfort to their employees. But I have fond memories of that place, particularly the Sunday brunch buffet.

I got a couple of emails and a couple of comments around town about my assessment of "42," the story of Jackie Robinson's rookie year as a Brooklyn Dodger. I liked the film, but I had some issues with the way some of the history was portrayed, understanding that movies are rarely intended to be strictly accurate, unless they are documentaries.

I really do recommend the movie. My only point was that, as someone who is required to get these things correct in books and stories, I wince when things are bent a little for drama's sake. As I said, that season was certainly dramatic enough, as far as I was concerned. It didn't need embellishment.

I understand that the individuals allegedly responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings were not born in this country -- nor, apparently, were the three UMass-Dartmouth students who may have assisted by discarding evidence. But once again, this sort of hysterical anti-immigrant rhetoric seems to have surfaced. I don't know anyone who has roots solely in America. And I will bet that no one reading this does, either. When did being from another country become such a horrible stigma?

Well, part of the answer is that while people from France or England or Germany seem to be OK, people from South or Central America and from the Middle East are not. I don't know how much racism has to do with this, but it's probably somewhere under the surface.

I think people who believe that blowing something up solves their problems are obviously pretty disturbed. Timothy McVeigh was about as white as you can find, and when he blew up the building in Oklahoma City, no one called for tougher sanctions on Irish immigrants, or for tougher screenings of Irish-Americans.

I understand that there is a lot of fear out there. The best thing to do, in the eyes of many, is to close off the country to as many of these dark-skinned people as possible, to prevent similar bombings.

Terrorists also understand this. Over the past several years, many terrorist cells outside the U.S. are recruiting more fair-skinned people to act as bombers. I wonder what will happen the first time a guy who looks like Opie Taylor blows up a building.

I don't like ending these columns on a somber note, if I can help it. So I have what I call an adventure in one-leggedness. Not me. I was researching a baseball story and I came across a story about Bill Veeck, the late baseball owner famous for integrating the American League by signing Larry Doby and bringing a touch of show biz to baseball.

Anyway, Veeck had a wooden leg, the result of a war injury. Apparently, he used to cut ashtrays into the legs so he could smoke.

That's all well and good, but I just wonder where did he put the ashtray? The only photos I've ever seen he was wearing long pants. If he cut the ashtray above his knee, he'd have to take his pants off to smoke. I wonder if he cut a hole in the pants, also, so he could access the ashtray. It seems to be, overall, an inefficient idea.

Derek Gentile is an Eagle staffer. He can be reached at


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