Monday, December 08, 2008

Remembrance of Greek Omelettes Past

It's been a long time since I've written a proper post, and it may be a while before I get back into the full research mode required to write a decent one. Nevertheless the urge to write something is coming on strong, so lemme get a little more personal and fulfill this blog's other stated mission of presenting my "moronic musings on various other enthusiasms." First up: I'll channel Gael Greene and discuss the reopened Lakeview Lunch, or as it's now officially known, The Lakeview.

The Lakeview was my husband's and my mainstay diner ever since we moved to Toronto in 2001. The combination of original circa-1947 fixtures, friendly staff, and tasty food kept us as perpetual regulars, even while other folks' attendance had dropped off sharply by the mid-aughts. (Apparently by the end they were making more money renting the place out as a movie location than they were as an operational restaurant!)

We ate breakfast there almost every Sunday morning (gawd only knows how many Greek omelette calories that computes to), unless we were out of town--or unless it was closed down (briefly in 2005, more permanently from August of this year until just this past week). And we could count on it being open for lunch during certain holidays when most other joints weren't (lord only knows how many chocolate shake calories that computes to!). Others may beg to differ (and perhaps I've got whacked-out tastebuds and a high tolerance for ineptitude, who knows), but somehow we never had a bad meal or a lousy experience there.

We were saddened but undaunted when it closed down. In fact, I must've had a weird premonition about its closure, 'cause shortly before it happened I'd thought that I ought to bring my camera one of those Sundays--which I naturally never got around to, the decor being seared into my retinas through long-term exposure anyway. After some trial and error with other breakfast joints we discovered that Sneaky Dee's weekend brunch suited us super-fine. (Surprising, as I've always considered their take on "Tex-Mex" to be bland at best, but after sampling their terrific Thanksgiving dinner this year we knew brunch had to be worth a shot.) We became cautiously optimistic when we heard the Lakeview was being taken over, restored, and re-visioned. While the new owners had plans for more upscale fare and clientele (and swank cocktails), their hearts seemed to be in the right place--at last those patched up seats would get recovered, among other much-needed cosmetic refurbishments. Yet our hearts sank when Rocky found this disgustingly smug opening-night report. Don't get me started on the utter ludicrousness of comparing Dundas-Ossington to either the East or West Village of ANY era, O.K.??? As swell as it is in its own way, you KNOW I oughtta know the difference better than most, even if I didn't intern at GQ or dine at Odeon in my callow youth...

Still, we had to try it, so we went for breakfast this past Sunday. I normally can't be bothered with makeup on a Sunday morning but I actually felt compelled to paint some eyeliner on lest the hostess turn us away for not being "beautiful people" enough!!! Contrary to my fears, all the staff we encountered were friendly and eager to please. And the restoration and freshening of the decor was just to my liking--so bright and airy now, where the old place could admittedly appear rather dark and drab to the uninitiated. (Miss the vintage movie posters, but whaddaya gonna do?)

But I wasn't so thrilled with the breakfast card. There were about 4 or 5 items tops, with nary an omelette or pancake or waffle among them. I suppose they want to cater more to the late-night crowd, but don't they realize that brunch is a BIG DEAL in this town? Perhaps a special brunch menu is "in development." I settled for scrambled eggs and sausage, and Rocky ordered the "eggy in the middle" which was a fried-eggs-within-toast concoction. Both came with home fries, a small mixed mesclun salad, and a nice little fresh fruit cup with berries, granny smith apple chunks, and banana slices. The plates were adequate, but nothing knocked our socks off taste-wise--truly odd considering all the food-gasms I'd had in that same building, nay, AT THAT VERY SAME TABLE over my frequent feta-and-tzatziki-laden Greek omelettes. And while I respect the owners' need to make a buck, charging 50 cents per coffee refill is mighty low, and certainly verboten in the true diner code.

Now that I can get my food-gasm fix over Sneaky's choose-your-own-omelettes (feta and mushroom being my personal fave combo), I doubt we'll be back to the Lakeview for breakfast anytime soon, unless or until they add some more creative dishes to their breakfast offerings. However, the dinner and drinks list looked intriguing enough for a return visit, which I'll be making with one of my best galpals later this week. (They even cutely named a couple of dishes after the dearly departed Stem and Canary.) Old habits die hard, and though I may not fit in among the hipsters they're hoping to attract, the place still calls to me somehow.

Images from my first-ever Lakeview visit--lunch prior to the wedding of our pals Erin and Dave, July 2001. Top: Me (ignore my giant arms and second chin!), Rocky, unknown interloper, Richard, Glynis. Bottom: Flipped Out, Sophie C., Mimi, Sophie-a-Go-Go.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Guess I'm not a lazy sod

I'm merely a slow blogger. From the NY Times, 11/23/2008:

Haste, Scorned: Blogging at a Snail’s Pace


WHEN Barbara Ganley wants to collect her thoughts, she walks in the Vermont countryside, wanders home and blogs about it. In a recent post, she wrote about the icy impressions left in the snow by sleeping deer. In another, she said she wanted to commute by bicycle and do more composting.

If her blog,, sounds slow and meandering, it is. But that’s the point. Ms. Ganley, 51, is part of a small, quirky movement called slow blogging.
The practice is inspired by the slow food movement, which says that fast food is destroying local traditions and healthy eating habits. Slow food advocates, like the chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., believe that food should be local, organic and seasonal; slow bloggers believe that news-driven blogs like TechCrunch and Gawker are the equivalent of fast food restaurants — great for occasional consumption, but not enough to guarantee human sustenance over the longer haul.

A Slow Blog Manifesto, written in 2006 by Todd Sieling, a technology consultant from Vancouver, British Columbia, laid out the movement’s tenets. “Slow Blogging is a rejection of immediacy,” he wrote. “It is an affirmation that not all things worth reading are written quickly.” (Nor, because of a lack of traffic, is Mr. Sieling writing this blog at all these days.) Ms. Ganley, who recently left her job as a writing instructor at Middlebury College, compares slow blogging to meditation. It’s “being quiet for a moment before you write,” she said, “and not having what you write be the first thing that comes out of your head.”
On her blog, Ms. Ganley juxtaposes images and text as she reflects on the local landscape. She tends to post once or twice a week, but sometimes she can go a month or so without proffering something new.

Some slow bloggers like to push the envelope of their readers’ attention even further. Academics post lengthy pieces about literature and teaching styles, while techies experiment to see how infrequently they can post before readers desert them.

This approach is a deliberate smack at the popular group blogs like Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, Valleywag and boingboing, which can crank out as many as 50 items a day. On those sites, readers flood in and advertisers sign on. Spin and snark abound. Earnest descriptions of the first frost of the season are nowhere to be found.

In between the slow bloggers and the rapid-fire ones, there is a vast middle, hundreds of thousands of writers who are not trying to attract advertising or buzz but do want to reach like-minded colleagues and friends. These people have been the bedrock of the genre since its start, yet recently there has been a sea change in their output: They are increasingly turning to slow blogging, in practice if not in name.

“I’m definitely noticing a drop-off in posting — I’m talking about among the more visible bloggers, the ones with 100 to 200 readers or more,” said Danah Boyd, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies popular culture and technology. “I think that those people who were writing long, thought-out posts are continuing, but those who were writing, ‘Hey, check this out’ posts are going to other forums. It’s a dynamic shift.”

Technology is partly to blame. Two years ago, if a writer wanted to share a link or a video with friends or tell them about an upcoming event, he or she would post the information on a blog. Now it’s much faster to type 140 characters in a Twitter update (also known as a tweet), share pictures on Flickr, or use the news feed on Facebook. By comparison, a traditional blogging program like WordPress can feel downright glacial.

Ms. Ganley, the blogger in Vermont, has a slogan that encapsulates the trend: “Blog to reflect, Tweet to connect.” Blogging, she said, “is that slow place.”

Another reason some bloggers have slowed down is sheer burnout. Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor at the University of Virginia, shuttered his popular blog, Sivacracy, in September, in part because he was exhausted by the demands. “When you run your own blog, there’s a lot of imaginary pressure to publish constantly, to be witty, to be good, and nobody can live with that,” he said in an interview.

These days, he fires off short, pithy comments on Twitter, but has another blog that he says is “more of a specialized project for in-depth thought.” Here, he shares ideas for an upcoming book, which posits that Google has infiltrated our culture to a worrisome extent.

Andrew Sullivan, perhaps the world’s best-read political blogger, talked about the burnout factor in an article in November’s Atlantic magazine called “Why I Blog.” He said in an interview posted on the magazine’s Web site that during the election, his readers became so addicted to his stream of posts that he sometimes set his blog to post automatically so he could go to lunch. When he took two days off to make sense of “the whole Sarah Palin thing,” his audience flipped, thinking he was dead or silenced.

“You can’t stop,” Mr. Sullivan said in the online interview. “The readers act as if you’ve cut off their oxygen supply, and they just flap around like a goldfish out of water until you plop them back in.”

Slow blogging is something of a philosophical rebuttal to this dynamic. While some bloggers may just be naturally slow — think of the daydreaming schoolmate who used to take forever to get the assignment done — others are more emphatic about the purpose of taking their time.
Russell Davies, a new media consultant in London, has started what may be the ultimate experiment in slow-blogging: Dawdlr. He has turned the instantaneousness of Twitter on its head by asking readers to send him snail-mail postcards answering the question posed to Twitter users, “What are you doing now?” He scans the postcards and puts them up, once every six months, on his site, A recent postcard contained whimsical line drawings of cats and the words, “Trying not to look back.”

Mr. Davies said his goal was to see if slowing down promoted a greater thoughtfulness. It did, he said, but then again, because Dawdlr is updated so infrequently, few people have heard of it.
“It is an investigation into the Internet’s attention span,” Mr. Davies said by telephone.
Even Mr. Sieling, the writer of the Slow Blog Manifesto, gave up his personal blog because he felt no one was reading it. “I called it the Robinson Crusoe feeling of blogging,” he said by e-mail, “and I think it’s common.”

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Quiet, numbskulls, we're broadcastin'!

When I'm not fretting over how lazy I am in updating this blog, I'm preoccupied with putting together my weekly CIUT radio show, Real Cool Time. (Actually, Rocky usually takes care of most of the playlist--I just press the buttons and twiddle the knobs.) Now I've created a whole 'nother distraction from updating streetsyoucrossed--a Real Cool Time Radio blog, replete with podcasts and playlists. Dig it!