Monday, May 31, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Concerning matter, we have been all wrong.
What we have called matter is energy,
whose vibration has been so lowered as to be
perceptible to the senses.
There is no matter.
(thanks to Love is a Place)
Friday, May 28, 2010
When you hanker for a hunk of cheese and want a night out on the town, what do you look for in a restaurant? Let's assume some basics: tables, chairs, clean utensils, no rats. Beyond that, what makes a place great for you? Take NOPA (pictured above) for example: time and time again, it reiterates its greatness. I'm always enchanted by what they do.
First, let's set a baseline: I simply cannot eat at a restaurant that has a spiral bound menu. Greatness is repelled by spiral binding. Take note, Cheesecake Factory.
Greatness is fresh, seasonal ingredients that are prepared more deliciously than I could ever do so myself (this is not hard, restaurateurs of America). It's a curated menu that both surprises and comforts me--and changes often (except for my favorites). It's service that is immediately friendly, attentive, and unobtrusive. Don't take my companions' plates when others are still eating. It's a little awkward.
A great restaurant is one that you want to revisit time and time again with friends, where dinner becomes an event not because of the formality involved but because of the passion and engagement of all involved. I think I've been lucky to have this experience many times. If you haven't, then you must visit SF. We've got excellent chow houses out the ying-yang.
How about you? What tells you that you're in a great restaurant? Seriously, I want to know. And I can always use some local recommendations.
Cortney could move someplace cheaper than her current home city of San Francisco, but she worries about her job prospects, even with her N.Y.U. diploma.
She recently received a raise and now makes $22 an hour working for a photographer. It’s the highest salary she’s earned since graduating with an interdisciplinary degree in religious and women’s studies. After taxes, she takes home about $2,300 a month. Rent runs $750, and the full monthly payments on her student loans would be about $700 if they weren’t being deferred, which would not leave a lot left over.
And I have to wonder about something. It's not that Cortney has $97K in debt, it's not that she earns $22/hr, and it's not even that she foolishly got a degree in religious and women's studies. My main question is "Where is she renting for only $750/month in San Francisco?!!"
Spill it, Corts. Are you shacked up with 11 immigrants in Chinatown or do you live in the 'Loin? I can't imagine anyplace else with such low rents.
I love risotto, and apparently Shannon either loved the risotto I made for her while she was here, or she so completely loathed it that she determined only a new cooking instrument had any hope of salvaging my culinary forays into risotto-land. It doesn't matter. The pot is mine and so shall be the risotto. Look out Arborio rice. I have a hot pool of olive oil calling out for you.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
You go, girl!
According to the Tails of the City blog in the SFGate, "Every spring and summer, millions of abandoned kittens overwhelm animal shelters across the country. It's estimated that approximately 70 percent of healthy and adoptable shelter kittens and cats are euthanized simply due to lack of space and resources."
70% are euthanized?! That's horrible. And such a waste. Dear San Francisco, dear California, we have too many culinary geniuses in our midst to let a resource like this go to waste. Alice Waters, I demand you begin collecting these throw-away kittens and do something nice for the underprivileged for once in your gourmet-ghetto-pampered life: Cook something for the homeless!
I imagine a little kitty tartar served with some delicious fresh-baked bread. Braising is good too. While the kittens will be tender, I think we can all agree that a 5 year old tabby probably isn't as "melt in your mouth" as it could be. The braising process will solve that problem, though.
And, frankly, the way we treat our homeless and hungry is a disgrace. Safeway tosses out perfectly edible food. Restaurants do the same every day. And now I learn about all this delicious kitty meat. America, have we no shame?!
2. Do they talk to each other?
3. Do they talk about something other than men?
I'm shocked. I had no idea the MPAA let women perform in union movies at all. To whom should I speak about this atrocity?!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Holy Anne Geddes! This photographer has gone too far in the kiddie food porn genre of the contemporary photographic arts. Why?! Why would you sully Doritos by having them touch a living baby with obvious cooties? And, if you're going to have a baby, shouldn't you get a cute one whose eyes match the blue of the bowl you're going to pretend to serve it in? And WHY WHY WHY would anyone buy Nacho Cheese Doritos?!! They are clearly inferior to Cool Ranch.
Naughty ugly chip baby, I hope you choke.
You can enjoy the Winestein. And if this is still too classy for you, may I suggest a Zima or Bud Light? The Marina girl on the side is totally optional.
Oh, delicious potato crisps, why must you torture me with your gustatory experimentation? Blueberry and hazelnut Pringles?! Grilled shrimp anything?!!! These tastes were not meant to mix with your pomme de terre flavor. Take it back now or else. Remember: Cheddar and sour cream Ruffles won't betray me the way you have.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Brewmasters, winemakers, and distillers may include animal ingredients in their products directly, or they might use them in the processing and filtration.A whole chicken was in my Zinfandel?! I hope it was extra crispy recipe.
When making the product, dairy, honey, and other things (including, in one case, a whole chicken dropped in the tank) are ingredients in the final recipe.
When filtering the drinks prior to bottling, companies can use things like isinglass (from fish bladder,) gelatin, egg whites, and sea shells, among other things. These products grab onto the impurities and make it easier to catch them in the filters, though there are many animal-free alternatives in use.
These ingredients don't usually show up on the label, so the only way to find out is to ask.
Seriously, who cares? So there's a little egg white in your Merlot or a little fish bladder in your Chardonnay.
a) You're drinking wine, you alky. Don't be so holier-than-thou.
b) The alcohol probably kills any animal remains, so drink with a clear conscience, and
c) If you're drinking the good stuff, then the animal probably had a good time prior to its oenophilic murder.
Drink up and save your ethical dilemmas for things that really matter--like shoes or bad highlights or buying the Whole Foods brand but pawning it off as a boutique brand. (unforgiveable!!)
Saturday, May 22, 2010
"If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door." --Harvey Milk
Friday, May 21, 2010
A reader writes:
A few years ago, I went on a little weekend trip with my Dad, his wife and my husband. My dad's wife had arranged for us to get lavish accommodation at a beautiful luxury resort, because she is a conference organiser. The only caveat was that for the duration of the weekend I had to pretend that I was a client of hers. In practice that meant that I had to pretend not to be related to my Dad. (I'm not proud of this, by the way...)
For the first couple of hours, it was fun. We got a tour of the facilities and I got to play the part of temperamental client. But amazingly soon it started to get really, really hard. I had to call my Dad by his first name, which I kept forgetting to do. So I wound up hardly speaking to him at all, and whenever I did I would blush. When I was asked any questions about my life, I would pause for ages before answering--thinking "if I say this, will it give me away?" Not being able to be open about such a basic family relationship made it impossible for me to ever relax, and the tension kept building hour by hour so that despite the 3 star meals, spa treatments and wall to wall luxury, I hated every minute of it and couldn't wait to leave.
I can't imagine doing that every day. Yeesh.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Laura Fattal, Nora Shourd and Cindy Hickey all traveled to Iran (yes, that Iran) to visit their imprisoned children and lobby for their release (I'm sure you've heard or read about their kids already). Let's get this straight. These three women have flown to a country whose culture, as far as we see it, subjugates women. They have willingly stepped foot into a nation that views us as enemies. And they will likely make a plea to a leader who is not exactly stable or reasonable. But, they're still there, and I will bet anything that they are fierce. Give them the Peace Prize next time.
From MediaBistro.com: Earlier this week, eBookNewser posted a short piece about the photograph above from the City Lights Books catalog. Last night, publisher Elaine Katzenberger sent us a long and thoughtful response to our post:
I'm the publisher and director of City Lights Books, and boy do I wish that someone from MediaBistro would've perhaps called or written for comment before posting such an inflammatory statement. "City Lights Says Smash Your Kindle"?? Oh, come on! We can do better! How about Smash Corporate Control of the Media? Now that's something we might be promoting.
I also wish they would've posted the entire image of the cover of our new catalog, instead of cropping off the bottom, where the caption for that photo of smashed electronics vs. old paperbacks asks in quite large type, 'PAPER OR PLASTIC?' (Maybe I'm showing my age, but I'm assuming we all remember when it finally became clear that plastic bags were ecologically unsound, and that question was asked to consumers over and over, with almost every purchase we made, right? Heck, there are city ordinances prohibiting chain stores from using plastic bags in San Francisco now...) Quite obviously, the caption would have helped cue folks to interpret the image a bit differently, and I'm perplexed at the notion that the good people at MediaBistro are somehow intentionally misleading their readers in this way. What gives?
Well, they say any press is good press, but I hear that folks are not only accusing us of being anti-technology, not forward-looking, a bunch of old Luddites without a clue who are doing an injustice to Ferlinghetti's vision, etc, but there's even an outraged Twitter feed circulating, citing the 'fact' that City Lights smashed up a PILE of Kindles (gasp!) in a monstrous act of gratuitous destruction that will prevent good people from reading just the kind of books we like to publish and sell in our bookstore. Ouch.
Honestly, I wish folks would take a deep breath sometimes. What all of us really ought to be paying attention to is the ways in which a major corporation has managed to somehow position itself and its product as something in need of outraged defense. When did the Kindle become a baby seal?! Amazon's marketing genius is certainly something to be studied.
Okay, let's get to the heart of it. First of all, that isn't a pile of Kindles in the photo (though there is one on top, obviously, and yes, we did add that to the photo to make a point about e-readers as a part of this eco-problem, but we didn't smash it ourselves. Who has the money to smash up one, much less a whole pile of 'em?? Here's a video post of book designers doing just that -- it seems designers have their own reasons to want to smash Kindles...). The photo shows some random digital waste, a bunch of broken and discarded gadgets, similar to a junklot full of smashed up cars. It's a stock photo that could probably have come from just about anywhere in the world -- and most definitely many so-called third world countries, unfortunately, where much of our "recycled" e-waste ends up, and people are exposed to horrific levels of toxicity. See, for example, [this story].
What is meant to be conveyed here (and admittedly in a manner that can be interpreted in other ways as well, for example, it could represent the rather over-heated sometimes apocalyptic discussion that rages in our industry about the direction being plotted for our 'digital future') is that the so-called 'green' nature of reading gadgets is rather a farce, when all one needs to do is to watch as each computer, each laptop, each 'smart' phone and each e-reading device is deemed obsolete and unusable and we are basically forced to upgrade and discard every one of those now useless devices every couple of years in order to continue to access information, entertain ourselves, communicate, and just simply do our work. Whatever else one might say about the conversion from print to digital, the claim for it's 'green-ness' is specious at best.
I think that all of us in publishing and bookselling realize that, like many industries, we have got to wean ourselves from ecologically unsound and unsustainable practices, and while we've made strides in that direction over the past couple of decades, there is still much to be done. This is not a defense of old ways, but a call for clarity when evaluating the new models being presented to us as something better.
So, in response to one of the comments posted in what seemed like real dismay I'd reply that no, we are not like the monks smashing printing presses (um, is that the way that story went?), but rather, we're doing what City Lights has always done, among other things, we're just sayin' Don't Believe the Hype!
Thanks so much,
City Lights Books
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
These things take a pill or something and grow to be 200 feet high and ravage London, right. Then the Power Rangers gather their forces and fight the evil witch and defeat her giant Stay Puft marshmallow Cyclops.
Oh, wait, I'm wrong. These are actually the new mascots for the 2012 Olympics in London. Hmmm, while I admire their fresh dance moves, I'm concerned by their nod to gay culture (the rainbow) and their mysterious levitation powers. No good can come from these floating, gender-fluid, hip-hop puffy things.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I feel sorry for Agnes (let's admit it, her name is probably Agnes). She's bloated, gassy, pimply and weak. Life is not good for her. Plus, the boys can't see beyond her wrinkly, dull-eyed appearance to the heart of gold. Lucky for her, ALL-BRAN can save the day. I hope you will learn from this little cautionary tale and sprinkle some ALL-BRAN into your muffins or apple fritters or mocha lattes.
Remember: No BM means no BF.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Anyway, I took some shots with the trusty Hipstamatic app on my iPhone. Here are the results.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Thursday, May 6, 2010
I Got a Dr. Pepper For My Birthday. . . And It Probably Changed My Life (via Scientific Nature of the Whammy)
My friend Rachael writes Scientific Nature of the Whammy, and it's probably the only "mommy" blog I ever read. I read it because a) she's my friend but mostly b) she is fearlessly open and honest about her life and raising her family. I admire that. She is about to have her second baby and asked some fellow bloggers to write guest posts during May (when the baby is due) that were birthday themed. Here's my little entry, and it's for you Mom.
I Got a Dr. Pepper For My Birthday. . . And It Probably Changed My Life
It was a dark and stormy birthday. Haven't you always wanted to start a piece of writing with "It was a dark and stormy. . . "? Actually, it was stormy, but it wasn't dark. It was white. And cold. Snow was general all over Missouri.
The winter of 1977-78 was one of the worst on record for Missouri. It was the coldest ever (average temperature of 24.3 degrees) and it had the most snow in a season (54.9 inches). I remember the snow falling and falling and the drifts growing and growing. Snow days were a common occurrence. Even if school had been in session, the bus wouldn't have been able to reach us. The blizzard had caught us all by surprise. And, as I eventually discovered, my mom was completely unprepared.
I turned eight that winter (which makes me 29 now in case you need help with the math, ahem). As you can imagine, January birthdays are rarely very easy--although my most recent birthday was in Kona, and I highly recommend Hawai'i in January. Nevertheless, I was used to having a snowy and icy celebration. That year, however, was different. We were stranded.
As a kid, I didn't really notice. It was a vacation for me: no school, plenty of television and food, Xmas gifts to play with, and the anticipation of an upcoming birthday. For my mom, though, the blizzard was a nightmare. She has never really cared for the snow, and this was SNOW! To top it off, the roads had been closed for so long that she had been unable to make it to the city to buy my birthday gift. I'm sure, in her mind, she felt like she had failed.
It's nearly impossible now to remember what I would have wanted for my eighth birthday: something made of NERF or some new Hot Wheels cars or a remote-controlled something or other. A boy can dream, can't he? In fact, as I look back at my last ten 29th birthdays, I can barely remember any specific gifts or where I spent those birthdays or with whom or what kind of cake I had. Birthdays just tend to blend all together.
But, my eighth birthday still stands out. Despite the blizzard and the snowed-in roads, my mom was determined to make it a full-fledged celebration. She talked my brother into letting her give me his electronic blackjack game. Then she found a Dr. Pepper that she had stashed away and wrapped it up for me. Yes, we were really snowed in: we were out of soda! Finally, she had an angel food cake mix and whipped that together.
I'm sure I knew the pickings were slim, but I don't remember it that way. I loved the game. I thought it was new. I thought it was mine. The Dr. Pepper was great, too. Mom confessed to me later that she had found the Dr. Pepper, but that just made it all the more valuable to me. The game, however, began to nag at me. I had seen my brother's game. I eventually recognized its keys and display (and wear and tear) in my game--my brother's game. So, I asked, and my mom answered. She told me the whole story. The game wasn't really mine after all.
It didn't matter. We would share. The birthday wasn't ruined and I could still play blackjack. And that Dr. Pepper sure tasted good. Today, though, it matters. I've forgotten many, many birthdays; but, this birthday that my mother struggled to make normal despite the hardship, this birthday that could have been an absolute disaster had we all taken it too seriously, I remember it clearly. My family treats it as a touchstone for birthdays: All we need is one another.
The best gift I received that year was this knowledge--and the story, of course. We tell and re-tell it every year. It defines us more than any present we can buy. So, while I hope you get to have that birthday in Kona some day, I also wish you a more challenging, more exciting birthday: a birthday to remember and measure all the others against. And, I want to thank my mom for everything: the memories, the love, and that Dr. Pepper. I love you, Mom.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
The murder rate in Oakland is the stuff of legend. Today, the Oakland PD decided to up the ante by taking aim at the local deer population. So, watch out Bambi. The "man" has got his sights set on YOU!
Monday, May 3, 2010
No, silly, it doesn't dispense penguins. It dispenses Penguin quality paperbacks! This amazing new format will soon be sweeping the nation (see 1934). You, too, can afford books now!
Traditional booksellers have survived this infernal machine, the promises of print on demand, and they will survive the internet. Have faith and do what you do best: curate your collection, offer services only human beings can, and share your love of physical books.
As for you would-be book buyers, keep it up. Buy books everywhere. But, remember to frequent the bookstores in your neighborhood and carry on conversations with and glean recommendations from the booksellers who work there, who devote their lives to the books. They are special people and their expertise should not be taken for granted nor valued so lightly. I guarantee you that any bookseller worth his salt will give you a better reading suggestion than the Penguincubator.
The graffitos want people to respect their "culture," but they don't seem interested in anyone else's culture, i.e., one that respects property owners' rights not to see their buildings defaced without their consent.
I've made my position clear in the past. What do you think?