Thursday, February 26, 2009

Getting meta at the WBUR food blogger meetup

Oh em gee dudes. I just returned from the food blogger meetup for WBUR's Public Radio Kitchen and am now going to blog about it. And I probably won't be the only one. How meta.

There was an impressive turnout for this event - maybe 20-30 people from all corners of the blogosphere. There were twentysomething women sharing tips on Twitter with middle-aged ladies, professional writers and chefs mixing it up with cooking hobbyists and graphic designers-turned bloggers, and of course, lots of delicious and sustainable foods to share.

I am such a glutton that I could not even wait until the food event to start eating food, so I scarfed a delicious tofu bánh mì from Pho Viet and some Thai iced tea at Super 88 before I arrived. Yeah. It was probably for the best, since I may have eaten all of Sweet Amandine's eponymous desserts had it not been for my pre-emptive snack attack.

I was pleased to meet people like Pam of Cave Cibum (with whom I write at Bostonist but had never met face to face); sad to find that JJ Gonson was unable to make it (she most assuredly would have added some, ahem, spice to the conversation); and happy to run into my old buddy Andrew Phelps, who's currently shaking things up at WBUR alongside Ken George, the new media production manager for the NPR affiliate. I felt grateful to George for arranging such an inclusive, casual event and for providing both mingling time and moderated discussion about The Future of Journalism. There were plenty of interesting comments (one woman recounted being insulted publicly by Helen Thomas, of all people, who told her that bloggers were going to be the death of journalism). Many well-designed, perky business cards were exchanged. And we all agreed that we should do it again sometime.

Above all this event made me feel grateful for the opportunities I've had in my life, since many people told me how much they would like to "break into" food writing and how insecure they felt because they weren't "real journalists" with degrees or newspaper experience. I don't tend to think in these restrictive terms. But it reminded me that my colleagues, especially the ones just beginning to discover their voices, deserve all the encouragement they can get. We're all in this together, after all.

Bostonist: Craigie On Main Is The Hotness

I hadn't planned to review Craigie on Main this week. In fact, I hadn't planned on going to Craigie on Main again this week. But after seeing Raymond Ost of Sandrine's receive the prestigious Mérite Agricole (akin to knighthood) at the French Consul's residence, Alexis and Christine and I were understandably hungry, and the impending snowstorm pretty much blew us into Craigie. Once there, we were greeted by various friendly food industry folks who were having dinner there (which seems to be a regular occurrence at Craigie), and seated quickly with a prime view of the bar. The bar then became the focus of my review, because Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli, Craigie's resident star bartender, was mixing and mashing like a DJ of bitters and rye and impressing the hell out of everyone. Don't like that semi-cheesy metaphor? Well, I've got a few more for you in the Bostonist piece that followed this visit, viewable here.

My favorite part is this one:

...Tucked away near our seats were the collected works of M.F.K. Fisher (an author who is to food lovers what Nick Hornby is to nerdy record collectors and Stephenie Meyer is to abstinence-loving Mormons). Three drinks in, we found ourselves thumbing through the pages and reading aloud to anyone who would listen, "There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk. And that is my answer, when people ask me: why do you write about hunger, and not wars or love..."

You keep a bookshelf at your bar, and put MFK Fisher's collected works in said bookshelf, you're bound to earn my respect. As I said in my post: well played, Craigie, well played.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Go2foodnews is on Twitter!

It's true. I'm on Twitter. But just for work - for now.

Busy day here, and a lot to get done before the Boston Globe Travel Show tonight, so I'll just borrow the note I wrote for our site to explain:
Even though Go2's been in the mobile scene for almost 10 years, the editorial team here has been resisting Twitter for personal use. But when we got the opportunity to start posting our new food news stories, of which we're incredibly proud, we finally began to understand what people mean when they talk about how addictive and collaborative this site can be. If you stop by our Twitter feed at, you'll find links to some of our favorite food stories, relevant updates on the intersection of the food and mobile worlds, and other news you can use. You'll also find some of our excellent writers among our followers; feel free to say hello!

Happy tweeting,
The Go2 Media Staff
So there you have it. So far, one of my favorite parts about this experience has been reading daily updates from David Gregory of Meet the Press and Ruth Reichl of Gourmet, who both seem to write their own tweets and who come off as both intelligent and human. I've also enjoyed connecting with old acquaintances like Lexy Winter, a sometime photographer for the Dig (she shot me and my dog for a dining article I wrote last summer) and now a new media intern for Public Radio Kitchen, which is hosting the food blogger meetup I'll be attending on Feb. 26. Small world.

In a way, I think the experience I've had on Twitter mirrors many networking and professional events I've attended. Rather than representing thousands of individual soapboxes (which is how some assumed it would work in the early days of the service), Twitter is more like a party, where people can discuss similar interests, share useful information, give one another encouragement or feedback, eavesdrop on interesting conversations going on nearby, and come and go as they please. And so far, that party has been pretty enjoyable -- even though the virtual experience does remain sadly devoid of cheese and cheap Champagne.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bostonist: the Globe nails sex ed article

In addition to the Fairey post, I also touched on another political topic that is of much greater importance to me this month: improving sex education, whether it's inside or outside schools. I was moved to post after reading a great Globe article by a former teacher on the ways in which sex education needs to "grow up".

Bostonist: Shepard Fairey Talks Obama, Plagiarism and Capitalism at ICA

There are few people left in Boston who aren't sick of Shepard Fairey's name and his attendant controversies at this point, but I wanted to make sure that my writeup of his pre-arrest lecture at the ICA was linked here for posterity.

Fairey, for those who don't know, recently became famous for his ubiquitous OBAMA HOPE poster. He is a controversial figure these days because this poster and other works of Fairey's have been said to draw too heavily on original works by uncredited artists and copyrighted photographs. Others are turned off by the fact that the former skateboarder and staunch counter-culture figure has made a lot of money by selling his designs to companies like Saks Fifth Avenue. Fairey has also been accused of and even arrested for vandalism by putting his works up on private and government property, and in fact he was hauled away in cuffs the night after this lecture on an outstanding warrant, much to the chagrin of the assembled hipsters at the ICA, who were waiting to see him DJ an art party.

As my article indicates, I found Fairey to be charming and clever -- clever like a fox. He shook off the accusations of plagiarism and vandalism easily, and his handlers at the ICA allowed him to do so. However, the fact that he was later arrested shows there are tangible limits to the abstract conversation he was attempting to craft about power, laws, money, and ownership.

I think the conversation about the relationship between power and art might have continued after his arrest in an interesting way, actually, but the ensuing avalanche of super-simplified opinions for and against Fairey in the local media ("he's a hero!" "he's just a punk kid with no respect for authority!") has made it all very tedious instead. So I'll just leave off here.