Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Greetings From Grinney

Seattle, like any decent American city, is a city of neighborhoods. People in this town enjoy being part of a community, and they often take pride in the neighborhood they live in. Due to Seattle's abundance of hills and water, the neighborhoods here usually have well-defined borders, and many have a distinct character that sets them apart from the rest of the city. Capitol Hill, West Seattle, International District, Georgetown...each of these areas has its own identity. But when people ask me which neighborhood I live in, I sometimes hesitate for a moment. I live on North 75th St: is that Greenwood or Phinney Ridge? The two neighborhoods sort of blend together, and it's not clear where the border is. Common sense says that the border between these two 'hoods is where Phinney Ave turns into Greenwood Ave, around 67th St. But according to Wikipedia, the border lies at 80th St. Because of this confusion, it's hard to say which neighborhood I live in. So from now on, I will be referring to my neighborhood as "Grinney". Grinney is my name for the area between 67th and 80th, and I consider it a distinct neighborhood in its own right. Pretty soon everyone in Seattle will be talking about that hip, new neighborhood called "Grinney." Folks, you heard it here first.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Hi kids,
Exactly one year ago today, I decided to start a blog. My goals were simple: to inspire people, to share my innermost thoughts and desires, and to rave about Concord grapes. I had a dream to unite this great nation under the banner of all things grape-related. If everyone discovered the joy of Concord grapes, we could all lay aside our differences and learn to love one another. It was an ambitious goal. I knew the rough road that lay ahead, a road littered with sleepless nights, excessive drinking, and obsessed fans. But sometimes you have to pay a price to follow your dreams.
Let me tell you a story. Earlier this year, as I was traveling through California, I met a man named Joe. Let's call him Joe the Electrician, since he worked as a sales clerk at Radio Shack. Anyway, he told me that he was going to quit his job so that he could open a produce stand and sell grapes. Green grapes. He told me that his neighbors were so infatuated with green grapes that he figured he could make over $250,000 a year selling them. When I mentioned that Concord grapes were superior to the green variety, he was puzzled. Surely, he said, there is no way to make $250,000 selling Concords. And I said, you're absolutely right. You'll make maybe $10,000 a year, tops. But your neighbors will learn to love Concords, their quality of live will improve, and the entire community will call you a hero. With those words of inspiration, Joe opened his first Concord grape stand in June. Months passed, and then last week, I called Joe. I asked him how his business was going. I asked him if the current crop was as plump and juicy as the last. After a lengthy barrage of expletives, he explained that he was going bankrupt and his life was ruined. And so it goes. Friends, this is a story about sacrifice. It's about forgoing the American dream (i.e. making shitloads of money) so that others can enjoy the sweet, sweet flavor of Concord grapes. It's about spreading the juice around, so to speak. Because even though Joe the Electrician's life is in shambles, there is a bright side. People in Joe's neighborhood got to experience the glory of Concord grapes for the first time in their lives. They will always remember the day they stopped by that cranky old bastard's fruit stand, bit into a luscious Concord, and let the purple juice drip down their chins and onto their shirts, staining them permanently. And that, my friends, has made it all worthwhile.
Concords Are Better is one year old today. Happy birthday, Concords Are Better!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Cheese-Biscuit in Paradise

Hi folks,

Cindy and I just got back from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, where we were attending the wedding of our friends Sarah and Michael. They graciously hosted us at a beach house they rented for the wedding and the few days leading up to it. Several other friends were staying there too, so it was fun to hang out with them and pitch in a little with the wedding set-up. As for the wedding itself, it was fantastic. The setting on the water was beautiful, and it was a pleasure to meet all of Sarah and Michael's super-nice friends and family. The happy couple also performed probably the greatest first dance I have ever witnessed. And let's not forget the wonderful toast that Cindy gave to the newlyweds. It was a great time all around.
I need to mention something crazy that happened to me during the reception. After a few drinks I got a case of the hiccups, so one of Michael's friends told me he knew how to get rid of them. He applied some acupressure to my chest, and voila, the hiccups vanished. Amazing, right? No, the amazing thing was that another friend who was standing next to me immediately started to hiccup. It was a freaking hiccup transfer, people. I'm telling you, there was some serious mystical energy floating around that night.
The day after the wedding, we got some egg-and-cheese biscuits from Miss Helen's, which is a tiny bakery located inside of a local gas station convenience store. Normally I'd be skeptical of anything cooked at a gas station, but these biscuits were awesome. Moist and buttery, they reminded me why biscuits are one of the greatest foods on the planet. It was a perfect end to a perfect vacation.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Hey folks,

Cindy and I will be in North Carolina for the next few days, so this is the last post I'm going to write for at least a week. We'll be attending the wedding of Cindy's best friend Sarah and her husband-to-be (and professional blog commentor) Michael. We couldn't be happier for them, and we're looking forward to spending time with them during this special occasion. Now onto today's post...
It's hard to believe that the presidential election is less than a month away. If any of you watched the debate tonight, you saw a smart, confident candidate clearly stating his opinions and his plans for our country, and another candidate who seemed out of touch and uncomfortable (not to mention slightly creepy) talking to the audience. I'll let you fill in the names. Last Friday's vice-presidential debate was even more of a contrast. For someone with so much experience, it's surprising that McCain would choose a running mate who has exhibited such little understanding of key political issues. As far as I can tell, Palin was chosen due to her reputation as a political outsider, as well as for her spunky personality. If this is an example of McCain's judgment skills, let's imagine how he would fill out the rest of his cabinet. How about Carrot Top as Secretary of State? Why not? He probably doesn't know anything about politics, but he sure knows how to pull a giant rubber hamster out of his pants. As for Attorney General, how about my friend Dave? What the hell. Dave is a total maverick; who else but a maverick would order strawberry shortcake for dinner? I could go on, but the message should be clear: You want a president who is serious about improving the lives of Americans, not someone who plans to continue the backwards-thinking policies of our current administration. For this reason, Concords Are Better is endorsing Barack Obama for President in 2008. Go 'Bama!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ladies Man

I knew my friend Trevor was popular with the ladies, but I had no idea he was an international sex symbol. This is what I found while flipping through my subscription copy of Vogue magazine:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Grape Expectations

Hello friends,

You may have read a recent post in Echo and Hum about our new ice cream maker. It's true, we've been a bit obsessed with it. It's amazingly easy to make delicious ice cream with this machine. So far I have made Cash 'n Carry (cashew ice cream with caramel swirl) and Lemon Bar (lemon ice cream with pieces of pastry crust). Both were excellent. Cindy made the also-excellent and very rich Gianduia (chocolate-hazelnut ice cream). Well, it was only a matter of time before I decided to experiment with the mother of all flavors: Concord grape! We're right in the middle of Concord season, so I took the opportunity to make Concord sorbet. And it totally rocked. Here's the step-by-step process:

After boiling the grapes in some water, add sugar and lemon juice. Then strain the mixture and let it cool before putting it in the ice cream maker for 30 minutes:

Freeze the mixture overnight and you get this glorious stuff:

I think the message is clear: you need to get one of these machines right away. And you need to eat more Concords!