Calvin Trillin – Part 1 and Part 2

Part 1

Calvin Trillin, longtime contributor to the New Yorker magazine, has a new book out: Jackson 1964 & Other Dispatches from Fifty Years of Reporting on Race in America. It’s a collection of his pieces from the sixties and seventies, covering the civil rights movement. The timing of its release couldn’t be better. He reported not only the conflicts in the South, but all over the U.S.

“I couldn’t pretend that we were covering a struggle in which all sides — the side that thought, for instance, that all American citizens had the right to vote and the side that thought people acting on such a belief should have their houses burned down — had an equally compelling case to make.”

Part 2

Years of travel for the New Yorker’s “U.S. Journal” sent Trillin on another quest: something decent to eat in an unfamiliar town. Growing up in Kansas City, “The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” His first food essays were gathered in American Fried, published in 1974.

Mr. Trillin has also poked fun at wine aficionados, questioning whether a person can really tell the difference between red and white.

“I should probably tell you a little something about my background in the field. I have never denied that when I’m trying to select a bottle of wine in a liquor store I’m strongly influenced by the picture on the label. (I like a nice mountain, preferably in the middle distance.)”

Gift Guide for Every Occasion

Trying to find the perfect gift for that very special person? You won’t go wrong shopping at Archie McPhee in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. A Holy Toast maker – imprinting the Virgin Mary in your bread –could be just the thing for your devout friend. Or how about Nikola Tesla socks for that electric-car driver? Or a Mr. Bacon Air Freshener? If you’re looking for something more conservative, Archie McPhee carries the traditional Rubber Chicken.

Archie McPhee has been selling life’s necessities since 1983. If you can’t make it to Seattle, they also offer on-line shopping.

For a report on the hazards of this specialty business, click here.

Shopping at Archie McPhee can work up an appetite. I recommend going around the block for Puttanesca at Bizzarro Italian Café.

Urban Annoyance

IMG_1874The car on the left is several feet behind the marked front line of the parking space. The vehicle on the right is well in front of the painted rear line. Any markings that may have been painted in between have been obliterated. Thus, the two cars are filling up enough space where three autos could have parked.

In the not-so long ago, parking meters indicated where the vehicles should be parked. The modern system of payment at a machine, one machine to a block that spits out a receipt to display in the car window has removed that little bit of regulation. It’s no doubt more efficient to not have to empty coins out of each individual meter. And if you leave your parking spot twenty minutes before your ticket expires and someone immediately takes your spot and pays again, well, that doubles the revenue for those twenty minutes. So it couldn’t hurt to at least paint lines on the street marking the spaces.

The End of the Strawberry As Some of Us Know It?

In my early teens I spent the early weeks of a few summers in the strawberry fields around Portland. I say early weeks because the berry’s season in Oregon is very short. In recent years the strawberry crop in Oregon has been shrinking, a victim of the flavor-intense ripe berry’s very short life and inability to travel far. Watsonville, California, meanwhile has been dramatically increasing its berry output. The California season is nearly year-round and the berries have a long shelf life. Oh yeah, not much flavor, either.

Gravenstein apples have suffered a similar fate in Sonoma County for similar reasons, with the additional pressure of vineyards taking over every patch of ground