Tacit Endorsement #2

Week of 8.18.13

A selection of things I consumed this week that didn’t fill me with rage.

1. The Season Six finale of True Blood didn’t fill me with rage, but it didn’t fill me with much else either. Alcide’s new haircut is nice, I suppose. Oh, and now there are zom-pires. 

Taking a break with the Dandy Horse.

Taking a break with the Dandy Horse.

2. After an hour or so of rambling around the city on The Dandy Horse (my bicycle), a wonderful idea occurred to me: frozen yogurt.

Fortunately (and not at all coincidentally), this flash of insight came just after I observed a sign for Red Mango, the very chain that claims responsibility for starting the fro-yo “mania” currently “sweeping the nation.” No doubt in the throes of this mania myself, I was soon lapping up a cup of Red Mango Original yogurt topped with crushed cookie bits and chunks of strawberries.

The yogurt shop smelled very clean, and I enjoyed eavesdropping on the gossip shared between the on-duty yogurt professional and her various acquaintances as they stopped in for free samples of the featured flavors. Had she not been occupied in this way, I might have asked her how the yogurt’s bacterial cultures stay “live & active” in such a frosty medium. She may or may not have been able to confirm what the Internet tells me, which is that the cultures actually go dormant when frozen, but spring back to their activity when warmed by the ingesting body.

The revivification was mutual; I came back to The Dandy Horse restored for the return trip, just as live & active as ever. 

3. You should know: The Dandy Horse is not the only bicycle in my life. Indeed, I have, at last count about 1,500 others thanks to Chicago’s new bike share system.

Yeah, I Divvy. And I like it so much I feel comfortable using it as a verb. Since the system launched two months ago, I’ve Divvy’d at least a few times a week; the bikes are great for getting from the office to lunch, or for heading out to places from which you intend to be too drunk to bike home. The bikes are hefty like a tank and painted a pretty powder blue (Ok, fine: “Chicago Blue”). They’re good for riding slow and steady and upright, and they attract a lot of attention. Don’t be surprised if riding one makes you feel like some kind of hipster warrior princess as you parade regally through the Loop on your armored three-speed. You may be tempted to elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist wave to every slack-jawed, be-khakied middle manager starring at you like a deer in headlights from smack in the middle of the Dearborn Bike Lane.

Ok, so some people rightly point out that Divvy's rollout may be a little bit racist, and some other people don’t want them in front of their condo. But I’m convinced there's something good here. Indeed, I can’t stop talking about Divvy to pretty much everyone I encounter—I’ve become a full-on Divvangelical. (Oh look, a new station! Have you tried them yet? Oh yeah, that’s how I got here! Yeah, totally, that helmet thing is kind of an issue. Don’t you follow Gabe Klein on Twitter? No, I don’t know why the tourists can’t understand the 30 minutes thing, but I’m sure they’ll learn).

4. A pint of Bellhaven Twisted Thistle IPA

5. Most of my non-fro-yo meals this week were variations on this recipe for Southern Beans and Greens. This dish may not have live & active cultures, but it’s easy and tasty and pretty healthy. And don’t worry—despite the name, the recipe is not from Paula Deen; I stumbled on it by way of this helpful app.

6. Tuesday morning I wandered into a Starbucks location that happened to be celebrating the launch of the chain’s new line of ambiguously French baked goods, “La Boulange.” Apparently these treats are made with real butter (when did fat become a selling point?), but more importantly, they “exist to inspire human connections” (Yeah, that’s a quote).



For the inaugural morning, the store was outfitted with pink balloons, pink plastic tablecloths, pink cardboard drink sleeves, and—I wouldn’t dare make this up—an actual French family sitting around the biggest table in the the store, nibbling pastries. Seized by yet another mania, I was powerless against the encroachments of a La Boulange chocolate croissant. And as I sat there, enjoying the crap out of my croissant and giving the coffee time to kick in, it finally dawned on me that the French people were just tourists and they were just as confused by the whole scene as I was—probably considerably more so, in fact.

7. Trying to hunt down some catchy nouveau-chanson track that was playing at Francophile day at Starbucks (see above), I stumbled upon the music of French jazz cellist Vincent Courtois.

This was not what I was looking for at all, but man, French cello jazz, it turns out, is really cool. I’ve had a thing for cello innovations since that time in college I saw Gideon Freudmann improvise a live electric cello accompaniment during a Halloween screening of some old silent horror film. And, oh my goodness, Trevor Exter.

In related news, I blew a chance to hear Yo-Yo Ma performing with his Goat Rodeo gang this week, because I’m terrible at life. 

8. Journalism isn’t terrorism, yo. Rachel Maddow’s commentary about the detestable detention of Glenn Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, was much appreciated. 

9. A Pint of Flying Dog Brewery’s Doggie Style Pale Ale. 

10. Movie: In a World.  Clever. Charming. Perfect cast. Very funny. The plot lines are more lifelike than you usually find in the movies—lifelike in the sense that they are fragmented and fuzzy, which may or may not be a desirable quality when it comes to film scripts. In this instance, it mostly works. Some moments in the film smartly and playfully explore the persistence of (almost) comically unambiguous gender iniquity in even the most PC worlds; other moments risk reducing to mangled girl-power cliches, made interesting here only because they are so muddled. I’d have to watch it again to unpack the ideological implications more thoroughly, but watching it again wouldn’t be bad at all.

11. Another damn chocolate croissant at Starbucks. Boulange me once, shame on you; Boulange me twice….