•on August 19th, 2011
Happy Friday, friends! Thunder and lightning are currently shaking New York City, making me unable to hear my co-workers. (Oh, and I forgot an umbrella. And my phone. And my ID. I’m a bit of a mess.)
Anyway, in the spirit of loud noises, I give you a collection of photos I took on the Fourth of July of various family members reacting to the ridiculously loud sirens of passing fire trucks.
Too loud for Lola
Too loud for Grandma
Too loud for Matthew
•on April 25th, 2011
My dad, my uncle Hans and I made homemade sushi when I was back in Michigan. My dad had somehow acquired a very fancy, very expensive tuna steak as a retirement gift, and he’d been saving it in the freezer since last summer. Almost a year later, we finally got around to making the sushi, and I was really impressed with how delicious it was.
While a few of us were already sushi lovers, others in the group had never eaten it before. Before we ate, I spent a few minutes teaching my uncle Al how to use chopsticks. I then explained the different sauces and condiments that were spread out on the table. As he watched, I expertly piled my roll with ginger, dipped it in soy sauce, and added a generous helping of wasabi.
I didn’t realize, however, that the wasabi you buy at Walmart in Alpena, Michigan, is the hottest kind I’d ever eaten. Moments after I’d demonstrated what a pro I was at sushi preparation, I began to gag. Then sweat. Finally, with tears streaming from my eyes, I was forced to spit my first sushi roll into a napkin. Al laughed, picked up his own roll — also covered with wasabi — and ate it, without even breaking a sweat. read more
•on April 20th, 2011
Sweet Tooth’s used to be an ice cream and dessert place in Alpena. It’s closed now, and I just can’t imagine why; the rotten tooth on the sign sure makes me want to eat lots and lots of sugar.
•on March 28th, 2011
I recently browsed the picked-over shelves of a Borders that is closing in New York City. The store was frighteningly bare, down to romance novels and business books, with half the overhead lights burned out and tired booksellers forcing smiles as they faced their last few days on the job. It was incredibly depressing, and I left with a pit in my stomach and without a book in my hand.
While I’ll always be loyal to the independent bookstore — and especially to the used bookstore — the idea of any bookseller going bankrupt scares me a bit. I mean, Borders went under. What could this possibly mean for the mom-and-pop operations on Lexington Avenue?
Last year, the Waldenbooks closed in my hometown of Alpena, Mich., leaving the city with a gaping void. Sure, Waldenbooks was tiny and only carried the most mainstream books (plenty of Stephanie Meyers and Mitch Albom), but it was still a bookstore. Fortunately for Alpena, Blue Phoenix Books opened to fill the void, carrying a better selection of both used and new books and offering a much nicer environment. While it’s still uncertain whether this will survive in the city’s downtown, which seems to have an ever-revolving list of vendors, it’s great that for the time being, the city’s readers have a place to go.
I’m not an economist, and I don’t always understand the way the markets work. But I can’t help but worry about the fact that if the big stores can’t survive, it probably doesn’t bode well for the independent operations — those funky booksellers with their reading groups, wonderfully curated book selections and quirky section titles (see above).
And I suppose I’ll just try to do my part by frequenting those shops, realizing that while I might be paying more for the books than I would online, I’m also paying for the things I love about physical bookstores. Amazon.com is great, but it doesn’t smell like old paper, and you can’t browse the aisles when you’re in a bad mood, and they certainly don’t name their sections things like “The Civil War, So to Speak.”
Those are the things I’ll miss, and those are the things I’ll fight to preserve.