food stuffs

I’ve got a bunch of food-related notes here on the plywood and cinderblock desk in front of me, so I thought that I’d just tie them all up together in a big banana leaf, steam them for a while, and see what comes of it.

Posted in Other | 14 Comments

et tu, reverend wright?

OK, I’ll just come right out and say it… What the fuck kind of friend is the Reverend Jeremiah Wright?

Unless I’m reading things completely wrong, the initial controversy over Wright’s inflammatory statements had pretty much died down as of a few days ago, when Wright chose to stand up in front of the National Press Club and start stoking the fire. Now, as a result, the Obama campaign has gone into full on disaster recovery mode. As it very well could cost Obama the Indiana primary, you have to wonder just what motivated Wright. Was it narcissism? Or, perhaps, is he lashing out at Obama for some perceived slight? Either way, he very well could have, through his actions, cost us our first viable black candidate for the Presidency.

And I realize that’s a lot to put on Wright. It’s likely that the Brady effect would have proven true and Obama would have lost in the general election anyway — a casualty of our deep seated racism. But Wright, by not keeping himself out of the spotlight, has given Americans a reason to cast Obama aside now. He’s given us an easy out. We don’t have to stand in the voting booth and ask ourselves if we could follow a black President. All we have to do is tell ourselves that, because of the association with Wright, others wouldn’t. It takes the pressure off of us individually and absolves us of any guilt. And I blame Wright for that.

My guess, and I hope that I’m wrong, is that we’ll start to see more super delegates making their way to Hillary in the wake of these recent events, as people acknowledge that America isn’t ready to confront its problem with race head on.

Sorry I can’t be more articulate on this. I’m finding it difficult to come up with the right words.

Let’s just have a musical intermission:

Posted in Politics | 18 Comments

thinking about the future of society isn’t just for the paranoid

In the new issue of “The Nation,” there’s a piece that basically says being concerned about the ramifications of our dwindling oil supply isn’t just for paranoids and kooks anymore. Here’s a clip:

…Finally, activists in scores of towns and cities around the world are trying to prepare their communities for the transition to a post-oil economy. Rather than wait for national governments and multinational corporations to save them, these ordinary citizens are examining how their communities can produce their own energy, food, buildings and other essentials using local resources rather than materials that arrive from afar via oil-based transport. “Economic relocalization will be one of the inevitable impacts of the end of cheap transportation fuels,” argues peak oil theorist Richard Heinberg. In Britain this movement has taken the form of “transition towns,” which seek, in the words of organizer Rob Hopkins, “to design a conscious pathway down from the oil peak.” Drawing on the experience of his hometown of Totnes, in Devon, Hopkins has just published The Transition Handbook, which explains how other towns can also begin preparing for the post-oil future.

Some of the transition movement’s ideas — printing local currency, forming solar buying clubs, building “cob” houses made of mud — may seem quaint, inconvenient or na

Posted in Observations | 15 Comments

cold, dead hands

This thought just occurred to me as I was mowing the lawn…

I wonder if anyone actually had to remove a firearm from Charlton Heston’s cold dead hands.

And, if not, I wonder what, if anything, they did have to remove from his cold, dead hands, and whether or not jokes were made.

If, by chance, you worked on the ambulance crew that responded to Heston’s death, could you please leave a comment?

I’d also be interested to know if he really lived in a fortress like this.

Posted in Observations | 4 Comments

an open letter to the management of the ugly mug

“How difficult is it to keep decaf stocked?”

That was going to be my entire post.

I went to get a cup of coffee the other day and they didn’t have any. It’s a common occurrence. They rarely have decaf. I probably wouldn’t mention it here, if not for the fact that I overheard some friends talking about the same thing last night. They, however, were considerably more upset about it. It seems that they’d called to ask whether or not they had decaf available before packing up their family and heading out. They were told that, yes, there was decaf, but, guess what?

Yup, they didn’t really have any.

And these friends of mine, who happen to work in customer service, weren’t too happy.

But, the coffee’s good when they have it, so we all forgive them.

The last two times I’ve gone in, they’ve told me that they “just ran out.” Call me crazy, but it seems to me that if it keeps selling out, it must be pretty popular. If that’s the case, it would seem to me that they’d find a way to keep it stocked. Somehow they manage to keep the regular coffee stocked, so it can’t be too difficult.

The more I think about it now, the more I think that maybe it’s on purpose. Maybe, as true coffee aficionados, they look down on decaf. Maybe asking them to pour a cup of decaf is like asking an owner of a fine wine to mix in some sugar and ice.

I was standing in line behind a guy at the brewery who ordered O’Douls (fake beer) once and I couldn’t contain my laughter. I don’t know how to reconcile it. Somehow it seems perfectly reasonable to me to laugh at someone asking for low-alcohol beer in a brewery, but I think coffee shops should carry decaf coffee as a matter of course, as though my anxiety problems are more deserving than someone else’s alcoholism.

But maybe it’s not coffee snobbery that’s keeping them from offering decaf. Maybe it’s business. Maybe they don’t want to encourage the drinking of decaf because it’s bad for the bottom line. Maybe they don’t want the business of decaf drinkers, because, on the whole, we’re not addicts. We don’t need coffee to live. The profit, I’m thinking, has to be in the real stuff, the stuff that people can’t not have. By not having decaf, they make it more likely that we’ll slip and fall off the decaf wagon with a resounding “caaa-ching”! Even if they just seduce one of us a week with their diabolical bait-and-switch, it’s got to be more valuable to them to have that one drinker of real coffee than a sporadic handful of people wanting the fake stuff.

In other Ugly Mug news, you may have heard that they closed down a little while ago to do some remodeling. And, they said, when the reopened, that they’d be smoke-free. Linette and I went in a few days ago with Clementine to get some coffee and check the place out. The changes were good, I suppose. Some of the quirkiness had been scrubbed away, but I didn’t find myself missing it all that much. They’d put down hardwood floors and a new coat of paint. And the awkward, old theater seats had been replaced with Ikea fare. It had a good, clean, open feeling, which I imagine might help them in their quest to bring good, artisan coffee to the people of SE Michigan.

For those of you who haven’t been there, they make damned good coffee. They take it really seriously. The guy who runs it, I’m told, is constantly grading his baristas on their form.

People love their coffee. And, in the past, I think people have always been willing to overlook the “we don’t need your business” attitude of the staff. People are willing to forgive a lot for a good cup of strong coffee. And it really is that good.

The current changes have people talking. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard it suggested that the current clean-up and smoke-out are part of a concerted effort to find a buyer for the business, freeing the owner up so that he can do something else. As to what he’d be doing post Ugly Mug, there are a few theories. My favorite is that he’s looking to get into the Thompson Block, alongside the new venture by Andy Garris that we’ve been discussing here. I think that would be pretty cool. (It hadn’t occurred to me until just now, but maybe the owner of the Ugly Mug is just cleaning stuff up now so that he doesn’t encounter the same kind of stuff that Garris is facing right now, as he tries to enter the Depot Town ecosystem with his Elbow Room baggage.)

I don’t know what’s up at the Ugly Mug, but I do know that they treat coffee with a respect not seen elsewhere in Michigan. True, they don’t often have decaf and customer service can be an issue, but both of those facts are more than offset by the quality of the product. If you’ve never been to the Ugly Mug, it’s worth a trip to Ypsi.

Posted in Rants | 27 Comments