Nov 29, 2007
Watts Grocery Roofline
Watts Grocery and its neighbors the Broad Street Cafe* and the High Strung music store occupy what used to be a Revco drug store. Back in '85 when I went to school across the street at NCSSM, the Revco installed a Talking Diet Coke Machine on the sidewalk right where the Watts Grocery e ntrance is now. My girlfriend and I would often head over to grab a Diet Coke (they were new then) and to listen to the 12-bar jingle that I'll have in my head until the day I die.**
As for the restaurant, I haven't yet tried it. I think that's because I'm still smarting from the discovery that it was a restaurant instead of an actual neighborhood grocery store (like the small and great places I walk to whenever I'm visiting San Francisco). And yes, I hate it when businesses have confusing/misleading names. But many of my friends like the restaurant, and I wish it well. See here for reports from Bull City Rising, Durham Foodie, Eclectic Glob of Tangential Verbosity, and CookingEatingDurham. Pix here from Pique and Reverie.
*Want to freak yourself out? Visit www.broadstreetcafe.com when you you're intending to visit www.broadstreetcafe.org. By coincidence they're both in NC. I'd love to see what happened if a genie came along and switched them some Saturday night in summertime.
**Oddly, I can't find any web references to the Talking Diet Coke Machine. Maybe I have the name wrong? Maybe we just got test-marketed? In any case, I credit that high school girlfriend for introducing me to many good things including: Diet Coke, a theory of movie reviewing, marinated mussels, dark chocolate with bread, an appreciation for feisty women, and this fine knitter.
Nov 28, 2007
Restaurant Starlu Closing Dec 22
Good news. Sam Poley is planning something new for soon. It won't surprise me if the new thing is just as good, food wise, and perhaps even more fun (and smaller) and fully sustainable as a business.
See below for the nice letter from Sam that went out today (pix in margin from me). Of note, his appeal for folks to hire his staff.
Oh, and one of my fave Starlu posts, with pix.
To our friends and guests,
- helped raise over $43,000 for charity through our Bottles of Change program,
- bought holiday gifts for children living under the auspices of Children's Home Society,
- raised awareness of dozens of great organizations doing wonderful work in Durham and beyond,
- received numerous accolades generated by our diners attesting to their appreciation of what we do,
- and had the pleasure of getting to know so many wonderful people.
Starlu is located at:
3211 Shannon Road
Suite 106 Durham, NC 27707
This happens every two years. I go to the eye doc for a new one of these and then realize, 30 minutes later, that I can't do any work the rest of the afternoon because I can't see. (We go to the eye doctors and they blind us. Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?)
Other things repeat: the semi-annual puzzle of "what do the 'S' and 'D' stand for in my prescription?" followed quickly by, "Oh duh" and "Of COURSE." And the every-four-years challenge of picking out a new set of frames after my existing ones have just worn out. This challenge is two-part. First, the aesthetic part ("I want something exactly like what I have now, but better."). Second, my vision is so suck (see scrip, above) that when I take off my existing glasses to try on the display frames with their fake lenses, I have no idea what I look like. I might as well be passing judgment on the the relative attractiveness of two moss-covered rocks -- at the bottom of a lake.
Solution? Buy contact lenses (that I'll use maybe one day a year). And after I've picked out one or two decent pairs of glasses, pester any attractive, nearby women for an opinion.
OK, so that's not the only solution, and the contacts are also useful (the lenses, not the women) as a backup for if I ever lose or break my glasses. But anyway. I feel silly every time I have to do this routine. I'm glad it only happens every four years.
Incidentally: I first met my current eye doctor two years ago, and man did I think she was a grumpy and prickly person. I've spent the last two years thinking that every time I passed by her office, and I didn't really look forward to coming again this year. But I told myself, "Don't let her bring you down, man. Go in there and be a cheery person." And guess what? This year she's as sweet and charming as can be. I'm guessing that she was in the middle of a really bad day the first time we met. And I'm hoping that in the future I'll remember not to judge so definitively off of one impression.
Nov 24, 2007
"What's Your Network Value?"
What's the cash value of your network? The folks at XING.com (a business social networking resource like LinkedIn) have come up with a methodology that requires but 5 minutes of your time. Click here: mynetworkvalue.com Oh and mine? $1,222,000. High for my age and field. Hooray for me! If you are reading this, please send me one dollar :-) Shout out to Barry at enrevanche.com for the link.
In a related thing, pal Dave was recently musing about creating a rating system for your relative social rank on the internet. Your online social rank would be a function of things like:
- who you're connected to via social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn
- who your connections are connected to
- how many recommendations or positive comments you get
- how often people visit your profile
How would folks use the ranking system? I dunno -- maybe to decide who gets an invitation to the hippest parties of the week? Or good tables at the hottest restaurants?
(Did you ever see Jay Mohr's great but short-lived show "Action"? In one scene, the recently disgraced film producer is having trouble getting a table at a restaurant that used to love him. After Mohr raises a fuss, the maitre-d chastises him, "Remember -- it's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice!")
Network ranking systems are of course not new (think Google Page Rank) nor are they impossible to game. My friend Adam just burned a boatload of hours getting himself highly ranked at Gooruze -- a site for online marketers. Adam may have successfully worked the system, and he even got a $500 award for his efforts. But who really won? The jury is still out.
Nov 23, 2007
Tennessee Beach, Golden Gate National Recreational Area
Tennessee Beach is 1.7 miles from the Tennessee Valley parking lot, ~20 minutes north of San Francisco.
This beach had been closed (along with many others) after a ~58,000 gallon fuel oil spill in the San Francisco Bay, the previous week.
House/PetSitter Available Nov 30 to ~Jan 10 (Me!)
– available Nov 30 to Jan 10
Need someone to mind your house, plants, cats, and such?
I’m a long-time Durham resident who has taken up house- sitting as a way of life: good for simplicity, curiosity, economy, and the environment. I currently have an open six weeks between Nov 30 and ~Jan 10 and would love to fill these weeks with a sitting gig or gigs in Durham or Orange County.
Multi-week stays are best but I can consider shorter stays as schedule permits. I’m happy to take care of indoor plants, cats of any sort and other modest needs for no fee.
For more intensive tasks (e.g., outdoor plants or lawn care, 3+ pets, indoor-outdoor dogs, etc.), we can negotiate a modest fee. Unfortunately, my schedule does not allow for dogs that require walking. Dogs with dog-doors and yards are fine.
Sound useful? Contact me, Phil Marsosudiro via email or 919/491.4530. References available.
Nov 22, 2007
Thanksgiving Mix Tape
On the mind of my friend J: a Mix CD with a theme of thanks and appreciation. What to include? Can you help with a list of must-have standards and less-common tracks you know that she doesn't yet?
- Kind & Generous -- 10,000 Maniacs
- Mediate -- INXS
- Thank You (falettin me be mice elf again) -- Sly and the Family Stone,
- Dear Mama -- Tupac
- Without You -- Ayo
- Thank You For... -- Hall & Oates
- Thank You For Being a Friend -- Carole King
*recent J-mixes featured in her multimedia trivia nights: "States" (featuring Michelle Shocked's "Anchorage" <-click for nice video and mention of not one but THREE cities and states.**) and "Animals" (featuring Bruce Cockburn's "Wondering Where the Lions Are").
**Speaking of songs with state names...
Nov 21, 2007
Alain on America
"That's the beauty of America. You can be anything you want here. If you're 29 but want to be 12, goddammit, do it. The streets are paved with gold. I like the US but you've got some seriously messed up people here."
-- Alain is French. And expressive.
"It went beyond my low expectations."
-- Alain on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Alain is French. And a movie reviewer.
Image yoinked from the BBC
Nov 20, 2007
Dolores Park on a Sunny Day
Last Thursday in San Francisco was extra sunny and warm for mid-November. Above, a view from the southwest corner of Dolores Park. The solitary skyscraper on the far east of downtown is new.
Nov 19, 2007
Fonts and Firearms
I like typography and I like Clint Eastwood*. So of course I liked it when I ran across Mitja Miklavčič's new "Tisa" font which won a TDC2-2007 award from the Type Directors Club. Click here for Miklavčič's detailed description of Tisa's design and intended use.
*I also like Clint Eastwood spoofs like the one in Robert Townsend's Hollywood Shuffle. "Do fifty bullets in yo' ass make yo' day?"
By the way: can anyone help me find a citation for a Clint Eastwood interview where someone asks him "what is the definition of a 'Clint Eastwood' movie?" His response was something like, "I always thought that a 'Clint Eastwood' movie was just a movie with me in it."
Nov 16, 2007
Komfort Kollar Neck Pillow
Standard neck pillows are great for keeping your head from flopping left or right. But what's to keep them from flopping forward?
Enter the Komfort Kollar. I bought one two years ago and it's been indispensable ever since. Komfort Kollars come in three sizes and you can get them online through Magellans.com.
The Komfort Kollar has received one bad review, but I think that the reviewer might have chosen the wrong size, and she might not have been clever enough with the velcro to make the thing cinch tighter or looser.
That said, the Komfort Kollar isn't perfect. I think that the part that goes behind your neck is too thick (though it would be perfect if you were in one of those horrid airline seats whose back pushes your head forward). I also think that even the correct-sized collar doesn't get under your chin as much as it should. And it costs too much (~$25). But it's still a whole lot better than a standard pillow.
The folks from Obus Forme have introduced what seems to be the market's second inflatable chin-supporting pillow, after Komfort Kollar. It looks like it might be even better (with just a thin strap behind the neck when it's worn to support the chin), not to mention a lot cheaper at $7, so I'm going to order one soon via Amazon.com.
Nov 13, 2007
Triangle Emerging Green Builders -- Bull City Biofuels Tour
Join the Triangle Chapter Emerging Green Builders as we discuss alternative fuels and tour the Bull City Biodiesel facility!
Where: Bull City, 1404 Angier Ave., Durham NC
When: November 14th, 2007 @ 6pm
We hope to see you soon!
Readers might be interested in the Triangle Emerging Green Builders, which: "encourages the integration of students and recent graduates into the Triangle Chapter, encouraging participation and involvement. EGBers develop valuable relationships in the field while established professionals benefit from the energy and enthusiasm of the next generation of green building leaders. EGB initiatives include lectures, community outreach, LEED Study Groups, green program university development, networking, and more!"
The Triangle EGB is sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Nov 12, 2007
"Every Day I Learn Something New -- That I Should Have Known Already"
"Every day I learn something new -- that I should have known already."
-- David "Beardman" Zimmerman, ca. 1990.
Now and then I notice I don't know something you'd think I'd have learned by now.
I don't mean the big stuff, like "how can I quit looking for other people's approval" or "when will I realize that watching TV will not get my work done faster."* Instead, I'm talking about all the simple, mostly factual stuff you'd think someone would learn in the process of earning degrees in engineering and business, or even just the process of hanging around for forty years. Things like:
- Those utility lines hanging across the street... are those power lines or telephone lines?
- How much of our federal budget do we spend on the military? And how big is our federal budget, anyway?
- When my automatic transmission car is idling while I have the brakes on, how come the engine doesn't stall?
- Why are the words reflected in a mirror reversed, but we're not standing on our heads?
- Why were scores so low in NCAA basketball games back in the 50s when Dean Smith was still a player... did they only score one point per basket back then?
What don't you know?
*Yeah, you'd think that someone who's forty might have learned those by now ;-)
Nov 10, 2007
A Birthday Gift Request from Me to You
Hey, I'm 40! Plans for today:
- a clearness committee meeting with some friends from the Durham Friends Meeting
- lunch with family both immediate and "extended"
- some wedding celebration time with Mr. Dependable and his wife the Reporting Crone
- then maybe something else, if anything occurs to me.
Over the last few weeks, some folks have asked what I wanted for my birthday but nothing ever came to mind until just now. If you're reading this, you get first dibs on making my day if you'd like. But first, some background:
A few weeks ago I was talking with K and asked her this, "if you could wave a magic wand and change the world by adding a few more good things or taking away some bad things, what would you do?" I had picked "adding more good" but K said immediately, "I'd take away some bad." Her reasoning: there's so much pain that comes from a few very bad things; taking away a few -- whether genocide or misguided foreign policy, drug addiction or abuse -- would make such a difference.
I guess I'm not surprised I picked "adding more good." It's easier to plant a thousand flowers than it is to stop one rape, and I've never been good at confrontation. I hope to get better at speaking truth to power, and if it starts happening, I'll let you know.
But meanwhile, here's my birthday gift request. If you would for me, sometime this week, either:
1. Go out your way (through greater effort or greater imagination) to do more good than you planned to
2. Go out of your way to do less harm, or to prevent someone else from doing harm that could be stopped.
If you feel like it, let me know what you did (or even just let me know that you did something). I'll be thankful for the gift you're giving to me, to yourself, and to everybody else.
Peace and good to you.
cool birthday invitation by INKIdesign
Nov 07, 2007
New Hope For Durham Calls for Moratorium on Development
Kevin at Bull City Rising has a post today on (among other things) New Hope for Durham's call for a moratorium on development.
New Hope for Durham's spokesperson Claire Jentsch (who has published a previous letter on Durham zoning at the Archer Pelican) asked me to publish their letter on the moratorium, which I'm including here. As always, opinions expressed are of the writer, not the Archer Pelican:
Moratorium on Development
On Monday, November 19, at 7 p.m. the Durham City Council has the opportunity to approve or deny a Rezoning Request (Z06-64) to build 308 multi-use residential units off Garrett Road. Our group, firstname.lastname@example.org, is concerned about current and future traffic, pollution, road, and water and school problems due to careless development. Development is obviously degrading our welfare and environment.
Yes, Plan Designs stay within legal guidelines. But a Development does not exist entirely unto itself: It is a piece of the overall Plan for a Collective Good. It needs to be an asset, not a detriment, to the Community. The addition of students to our overcrowded schools, the increase in the number of cars, the widening of roads, the spread of impervious surfaces, the continued pollution of Jordan Lake and the raising of taxes should be given serious attention before a Proposal for yet more construction is considered acceptable.
We are hoping that citizens will attend this Meeting in order to show our elected officials that Development is not a Natural Disaster – it is a Man-made Disaster that can be controlled. Please come on November 19 to City Hall so a Moratorium on Development can begin.
Claire F. Jentsch
Durham, NC 27705
Nov 06, 2007
Election Night Dinner: scrambled eggs with shrimp.* Mmm... If only I'd thrown in some heavy cream and topped with parm, I'd really be cooking. In my (cardiovascular system's) defense, I also had some steamed broccoli.
*Yes, this dinner does remind me of the subplot in Seinfeld's "shrinkage" episode (where George de-Kosherizes Jerry's girlfriend with scrambled eggs and lobster). And while we're speaking of creamy things with shellfish, Piazza Italia at Brightleaf Square has an excellent seafood stuffed pasta in cream sauce with apples and maybe a little bit of ginger. Holy cow. [Update: Lenore blogged this mezzaluna di pesce at her place.] It's on their regular menu these days. Unfortunately, their website has an out-of-date menu: else I'd give you the restaurant's full description.
Nov 05, 2007
Something's In the Kitchen of Mine-a -- A List of 20
Well something's going around these days, and it's not just a cold. Mr. Dependable's picked upon a thing from Maura (with Celeste* in her comments) and Joe (with Jenny in his comments) -- whatcha got in your kitchen? Mind you, this time it's consumables, not hardware like Kelly had a couple of weeks ago.
For those who don't know, I don't have a regular home -- I wander around housesitting. What this means, kitchenwise, is that I try not to buy lots of things I might only use on occasion. This doesn't mean I succeed -- I've got stuff in my traveling bins that I've hauled through five or more households over the last year. But I try.
Now all that silliness aside, here's my list of twenty essentials of desire or habit:
- Olive oil
- Popcorn salt
- Cheap light beer
- Vegetable oil
- Dried chili peppers
- Penne or rotini
- Juice (often the Goya or Jumex nectars)
- Soy milk
- Unsweetened cereal
- Instant coffee or tea (for the caffeine)
- Fish sauce (brands without sugar, only!!! Several non-sugared brands are available at the amazing Food World at the corner of Lakewood Ave. and Fayetteville Rd. Regarding the Tiparos fish sauce pictured here, I seem to recall that Tiparos has both sugared and unsugared varieties. But I'm not sure. Check the label.)
- Vegetable broth
- Broccoli or prepped salad greens
I tend not to have much more than this, but rely on restaurants and family/friend meals for more interesting foods. Of course I'm always happy to zip by the store for something special (goat cheese, rosemary, parm) or something fresh (fish, green onions, ginger) if they're needed. I just hope that I can finish off all the ingredients before I head for the next housesitting gig. Speaking of which -- I have an opening from mid-December through early January. Anyone need?
Thanks to Mr. Dependable for the tag.
*OK, Celeste. We've got you now :-)
Nov 03, 2007
Joe Queenan, Part II
Some years ago when I was still often late for weddings, my friend Catherine gave me a copy of Joe Queenan's If You're Talking to Me, Your Career Must be in Trouble. In case you didn't know, Queenan snarks about the entertainment world:
One of the oddities about pop stars who try their hands at films is that the very worst rock stars often make the very best movie stars. Cher has always been a pathetic excuse for a rocker, an Ethel Merman in fishnet tights, who has attempted to compensate for her borderline vocal skills with sheer brass and bluster. The result? Twenty years of songs that sound like Journey outtakes.
...Despite this, Cher has developed into a very fine actress who turned in exemplary work in everything from The Witches of Eastwick to Suspect to Silkwood, and who has also performed creditably in several lackluster, generally overpraised films whose titles begin with M: (Mermaids, Mask, and Moonstruck). In fact, it is by no means inconceivable that Cher could one day make more movies than Elvis Presley. But that would still leave the King's record intact, because anyone can make thirty-one good movies that make money, but the King got away with making thirty-one bad movies that made money. Elvis got away with making thirty-one atrocious movies that made money. Thus, Cher's entry in the Guinness Book of World Records would still read:
Most Good Movies by a Really Bad Rock Star.... 400
while Elvis's entry would read:
Most Bad Movies by a Really Great Rock Star.... 31.
Elvis still wins in a walk.
Not to kill the fun by analyzing it, but what I admire about Queenan (and my best friend Dave, and many other people who elicit odd noises from my nose -- noises that are to be understood as laughter and not sinus difficulty) is their ability to amuse via reference to inducted patterns.* I once read that humor comes from seeing the similar in things that are different, and seeing the difference in things that are similar.**
...Tom Waits and Lyle Lovett we are not going to mention here, even though Lovett was amusing in The Player,and Waits has been passable in numerous films, because Waits is basically a cabaret artist and thus belongs in an essay speculating who might appear in as many bad movies as Liza Minnelli, and Lovett is basically a country-and-western singer and thus belongs in an essay speculating who might appear in as many bad movies as Roy Rogers.
...Still, if the staggering cinematic records set by Elvis Presley are ever to be erased, the new name in the record book will probably not be Madonna, but her fellow midwesterner, Prince... Launching his career with the sexist, juvenile, moronic Purple Rain in 1984, Prince has since made the sexist, moronic, juvenile Under the Cherry Moon, and Graffiti Bridge, which is really little more than a sexist, moronic, juvenile sequel to Purple Rain. Too short to rock and roll but too young to die, Prince makes movies so artfully unintelligent that they make Elvis's work look like John Gielgud's.
Moreover, there are a number of haunting parallels between the lives of the King and the Prince. Both men suffered from early musical burnout, producing their best work when they were very young. Both men wear tight pants. Both men have weird facial hair. And both men are identified with second-echelon cities that begin with the letter M. Ooo-ee-oh.
Queenan wrote this essay a few years ago. Since then, Prince seems to have dropped out of the movie business, so I guess the King is safe for now. But Prince deserves a Hollywood quote before we go: after being called a film-making failure after the box office failure of one of his (moronic, juvenile, sexist) movies, he said something like, "I just had a really good time on $X million of someone else's money. Who are you calling a failure?" And there we go again: another media star whose skills I can envy.
*damn, I did kill the fun.
** how's that for some slant-parallelism? Damn, I killed it again.
*** Safe, too, from Queen who never made any movies, either unless you're counting Flash Gordon. Oh damn, killed three times.
Unrelated: Catherine gave me the book while she was working for Queenan's publisher, Hyperion Press. Disney owned Hyperion Press and she said the staff called the place "Mauschwitz." I thought of this later when I read Inside the Mouse, published by some friends who worked the Duke University Press. Me. My friends. The Mouse. Pattern or just rodent coincidence?
Nov 02, 2007
Things I Used to Do a Lot But Hardly Ever Anymore
Things I used to do a lot but hardly ever anymore, if at all:
- Go dancing
- Invite people over for dinner
- Make sarcastic comments during meetings
- Look for organizational behavior and management consulting gigs
- Flirt with waitresses
- Shop at thrift stores
- Browse used book stores
- Go fencing and referee at tournaments
- Wish I were taller
- Hug people I've just met
- Pursue mysterious, quiet women
- Say "yes" whenever anyone asks for something
- Drink better wines
- Show up late at weddings
- Brag about how much I can eat at one sitting
- Eat everybody's leftovers
- Read fiction
- Write in a journal
- Work long hours
- Throw parties
- Pull my hair into a ponytail
- Wear my t-shirts inside out
- Look forward to dressing up
- Go to nice restaurants for dinner several nights a week
- Argue for the sake of argument
- Travel to Brown and Providence
- Expect to be a person of great influence
- Look forward to sweating in summer
- Wear light cotton gloves in fall and part of winter
- Buy things "just in case I'll need them later"
- Incorporate fresh fruit into almost any dish
- Hope everyone will like me.
How about you?
Nov 01, 2007
Corner of Church and Cesar Chavez (formerly Army)
"A gentleman is a man who can play the accordion but doesn't"
-- Anonymous, quoted in Forbes Magazine's Thoughts on the Business of Life
Under the tree in San Francisco's Noe Valley, Dec 2005. Photo by Dave, from his apartment window.