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December 06, 2010

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You guys are doing great....

But I really miss Hilzoy.

Anyone who would like to fill me in on the history of prior ObWi Bay Area gatherings, and if there's any tradition I'm violating or over-stepping, please do let me know.

Otherwise, I've always been big on self-organizing, when possible, and I'm also trying to coordinate with some readers from other blogs, and others I know who are interested.

ObWi will be the central hub for this, but spokes extend. And what will be will be.

Which is to say, I have the vague idea that there have been a couple of gatherings, but I've yet to get any coherent history from anyone, so filling me in would be great.

Have I missed anyone organizing any kind of regularized get-togther around here for ObWiers?

And what have I otherwise missed by way of irregular organized ObWi socializing in the Bay Area?

"But I really miss Hilzoy."

Me, too.

Some thoughts, looking here:

REAL N.Y. PIZZA
One point lost for lying. See separated rant below.

The selection of food at Lanesplitters seems to be extremely limited, pretty much just pizza, calzone, and salad, and the entire beverage menu seems to be: "12 oz. can of soda or 16 oz. bottled water $1.50"

I've never been there, so I can't say; I was thinking a place where people are comfortable hanging out for as many or few hours as they like is optimal, with as many food or drink choices as possible as optimal, but everything is a trade-off, and this is all improvisational, of course, so it might be a fine starting place.

I've previously found successful meeting places for public socializing tend to be places that attract people for their own sake to some degree: microbreweries, places with good coffees or teas, or other food and beverages that attract folks beyond the company, which provide an environment that folks are comfortable hanging out in for as long as they're otherwise free, but everything is a trade-off, and obviously quiet enough to talk, and not much loud music, is in tension with the above.

Lanesplitters haven't bothered to post pictures of any interiors, so I can't speak to what they're like: anyone?

They do say "join us and have a pint with your pizza...," but if they offer more than water and soda, they're keeping it a secret from the internet.

I have a mild prejudice towards places that are independent, and internet clueful, and wifi would be great, but these are all points to ultimately aim towards, rather than needles that must be threaded.

Rant:

Seeing "NYC-style pizza" advertised is common in places that aren't NYC.

Almost as common is "NYC pizza," or some variant.

It's ultra-common, but still incredibly stupid.

You can't get "real" NYC pizza in NYC, which is to say, made in the style from the 1900s through the 1960s, hand-tossed, authentic ingredients, on the premises, in front of you, and so on.

Unless you know the right places, and if it isn't in NYC, it's oxymoronic to claim it's even "NYC Pizza."

You want to claim "New York City style," be my guest, since it's pretty much a meaningless phrase.

Claiming to be only "New York State style," well, I guess the people in Buffalo who think "Buffalo-style pizza" is world famous are going to be disappointed.

[...] Buffalo, NY-style pizza is halfway between Chicago-style deep-dish and New York-style thin crust. The pizza is cooked at a lower temperature with more dough, resulting in a crust that is doughy in the middle (and sometimes slightly undercooked) but crisp on the bottom. The sauce is tomato-based but generally sweeter and more tangy than traditional pizza sauce. Pepperoni is a common ingredient, sliced thinner and smaller than on other types of pizza and generally cooked until it is crispy around the edges. [1] As might be expected, Buffalo chicken wings are a common accompaniment, served in dozens or buckets of 50. Buffalo-style pizza is also commonly found in the Charlotte, NC area, as that city contains many people who have migrated from Buffalo.

Do people actually want to each Rochester or Buffalo, NY pizza, by the way? Or Albany? Schenectady? Is this really an attractive notion once one is far enough way?

I really don't recommend it, no matter that many people in other states seem to think it's worth claiming that their pizza is "NY style."

My recommendation is you go here.

I'll recommend some specific other places in at least NYC, or New Haven, but I'll be out of date in personally vouching for them. The rest of the state, you're on your own.

Of course, if you're in the five boroughs, you can go to any "Original Ray's," or "Ray's Original" or any of the other hundreds of variants in Manhattan that claim to be "the original" and "NYC pizza," and you'll find crap there, too, just as you will at most actual pizza places in New York City, let alone outside the city.

Outside NYC, you can't even but rarely find distinguishing Neapolitan from Sicilian style NYC, for gawd's sakes! Let alone get close to authentic Brooklyn or a few other borough places left with decent pizza, which meant being selective even by the Eighties.

Don't get me started on how there's no such thing as "Nova Scotia lox." Or that what you think is a bagel probably isn't.

By way of comparison, I'm curious if "California roll" is a meaningful term by which anyone would expect to get the same thing in different states and restaurants? That has not been my experience, but YMMV.

What "NY Pizza" means to me is: stay far away from eating at this place. But it might, to be sure, be great food, and might even be close to something I recognize as genuine NYC pizza.

You'd think they'd at least try to make that claim, though, if they they thought anyone would be interested. Advertising to folks who can't even tell the city from the state doesn't suggest interest.

For variant fun, we could look in Berkeley/Oakland for an "authentic British pub," or an "authentic Irish" place; I suspect they'll be equally trivial to find, and equally authentic.

But some are probably lovely; authenticity is a dubious concept, after all, given that time is linear.

No, I don't overthink.

I suspect that, if anyone made their way through my previous comment, they won't realize that my conclusion was: sure, that Lamplighters place will be fine for a start, if there's nowhere obviously better, and I'm happy to give it a try if it seems like the best place to settle on quickly for a start.

And I might wind up loving the place. Impossible to know without further knowledge and experience.

Do you love the place? Know it? Care?

You're likely to get better turnout if you choose a place on BART--Lanesplitters on San Pablo is not BART-accessible. Downtown Oakland is pretty quiet in the evenings: you could try Pacific Brewing Company, which has the standard range of bar foods as well as their own beer, and it's only a block or two from the 12th Street BART station. Or Liege, which has less food-wise but it's a cool newish bar.

That's true, downtown Oakland near BART would be better. Been to PBC once, cool but it was loud & crowded if I recall... but I wouldn't take my opinion as being right.

Someplace in Rockridge could work fine.

Been to PBC once, cool but it was loud & crowded if I recall... but I wouldn't take my opinion as being right.

I've never seen Pacific Coast be either loud or crowded; it would be an excellent location for a meetup, although the quality of the food has gone downhill a bit the past few years. It's still passable.

My other suggestion would be Jupiter in downtown Berkeley; it's right across the street from BART, and if you get there early enough you can grab a bunch of tables upstairs. Food is pizza and salads, nothing amazing but reliably tasty.

And a counter-rant: any New Yorkers who wish to bitch about the "fact" that you can't get good pizza here, or that the bagels aren't up to their standards, or that Saul's Deli isn't a "real" deli, are cheerfully encouraged to either quit their whining or go back to NYC.

Saturday brunch would be nice... somewhere within BART station + walking range.

The food at PCB is nasty. In that neighborhood, I'd go with The Trappist.

Near Rockridge BART, Barclays is a decent choice (2 blocks up College Ave.)

Ashby BART? Starry Plough?

"You're likely to get better turnout if you choose a place on BART"

I agree.

"Downtown Oakland is pretty quiet in the evenings: you could try Pacific Brewing Company, which has the standard range of bar foods as well as their own beer, and it's only a block or two from the 12th Street BART station. Or Liege, which has less food-wise but it's a cool newish bar."

Thanks muchly for those suggestions!

Josh, thanks muchly to you, as well, for your suggestions and feedback!

However:

[...] And a counter-rant: any New Yorkers who wish to bitch about the "fact" that you can't get good pizza here,
I'm not sure who you have in mind, since I didn't write any such thing. Who do you have in mind? Who, specifically, are you quoting with those quotation marks? And why are you telling me?

or that the bagels aren't up to their standards,
You're instructing me on what standards to have?
[...] or that Saul's Deli isn't a "real" deli
Haven't seen it. Haven't seen any delis. Haven't been more than a few blocks from where I am. Have issued no such opinions. Who are you responding to? Why are you telling me?
[...] are cheerfully encouraged to either quit their whining or go back to NYC.
I'm glad for you that you've had a happy enough life that you think everyone has such options.

staxnet, many thanks, also.

I'm not sure who you have in mind, since I didn't write any such thing. Who do you have in mind? Who, specifically, are you quoting with those quotation marks? And why are you telling me?

Gary, since you just moved here you're probably not aware of it, but there's a long and annoying tradition of New Yorkers moving to the Bay Area and bitching about precisely the things I mentioned. See the Yelp reviews of Saul's for a sampling of what I'm talking about. I bring it up not because you made that precise complaint, but because your complaint was somewhat related, and to forestall any such complaints in the future.

I'm glad for you that you've had a happy enough life that you think everyone has such options.

Not everyone has the option to not whine? Really?

Not everyone has the option to not whine? Really?

But what are blogs for?

Let's return to the topic of choosing a time and location. I'm looking forward to meeting everyone.

As for brunch suggestions: Crepevine in Rockridge would probably work (it's a couple of blocks down from BART). Au Coquelet is a little further from BART in Berkeley (although still easily walkable) and has decent food and plenty of space. Unfortunately most of the really good brunch places are either too far from BART or completely unsuitable for a large group.

Hmmm... both Barclay's and Crepevine look good to me.

HOW ABOUT:

WHERE: Crepevine in Rockridge
WHEN: 11am, Saturday 11th December

5600 College Avenue, Oakland, CA

Does that work?

Rockridge BART station is about a block away.

Yes.

Crepvine: For now, excellent. It's just on the other side of the station, where I haven't gotten to yet.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but my only question for the moment would be how much seating is available, and how they would feel about people hanging around for a while.

But we'll find out.

This moment isn't good for me, but how about that either I'll get a post up with the - bum bum bah! -- Final Announcement by 8 p.m. tonight, Tuesday, November 7th, 2010, PST, here, or if I don't, please go ahead and do one of your own, Jacob, if you'd be so kind.

I think the odds are 60-40 that you'll wind up doing it, frankly, but mayhaps I'll perk up by then, and I'd faintly prefer to do my own wording, if I can get enough brain cells together.

But I don't care so much that I think it would be a good idea to wait any later than 8-9ish tonight, or whenever you might feel like getting to it before I do, should you.

Digression:
At some point, I need to write up my Little Letter to BART, about handicapped access and signage at Rockbridge.

That's after one (1) trip (one way), but I managed to speak to four employees simultaneously, including a supervisor, who all chimed in that they completely agreed, and were quite vociferous, so I don't think my concerns are imaginary. Not earthshaking, but Things Should Be Done Better.

Likewise, it would be rilly rilly nice if the bus stop at the corner of College and Alcatraz had a bench, like all the ones between the next bus stop and most of the way down to Rockbridge do.

But if you have to walk to the next bus stop to get to the nearest bench to sit and wait for the bus, there's a large FAIL involved in the whole concept of buses serving people with mobile disabilities, but who aren't in wheelchairs.

Who might, perhaps, just need to sit down.

There's no shame in sitting on the sidewalk, of course. But it is a tad harder to get up from, when you've got gout and arthritis, and are overweight, and blahblah.

Also, while manipulating a cane you're still not used to, and maybe it's raining, so there's your other hand with a brolly, and you need your third hand to catch yourself if you lose balance, and your fourth hand if you want to carry anything.

Like, say, large bags of packing peanuts. Or any groceries, or anything at all that simply requires hand-eye coordination.

My cunning plan is to keep buying faux-bagels at Noah's Bagels enough times that they won't object to my sitting on their chairs. I don't care if I have to compost the things, if I can just sit down when I need to.

Meanwhile, I might walk in mostly perfectly fine. I'm getting a couple of hours a day, some days, that are in shooting distance of that.

Among other things, I just remembered that gout is also triggered by changes of temperature, particularly cold.

Oh, well. It's all trade-offs, and I'll take Oakland, thank you.

"Not everyone has the option to not whine? Really?"

No. Not everyone has the option to move of their own accord.

Not everyone has the option to not be homeless.

Really.

Feel better now?

Gary: signage

Welcome to the Bay Area, where signage goes to die! It is a perpetual complaint of people who just moved here, because it really does suck.

The freeway signs are just as bad as those for transit. "Oh, you wanted to know IN ADVANCE that you're in an exit-only lane that goes to a one-way street with no way back onto the freeway for miles? SORRY!"

Gary, if you get to it first, go for it. You could also just edit this post so it has the right info in it.

A favor: can we not have a NY/Bay Area pizza war or any wars derived from said pizza war here. Please. Resist. I know all of you can do it. This thread is about a meetup and the last thing it needs is a totally unrelated argument.

I'm very big on people not holding imaginary anticipatory conversations with the people in their head, or someone other than whom they're addressing, myself.

I prefer to stick to addressing actual words used by actual people I'm actually exchanging those words with, rather than treating people as homogenous stand-ins for categories.

Moreover, there's usually a distinction to be found between what's generally considered to be humorous banter and teasing, and turning something funny and trivial into some kind of lunatic serious argument.

It's easy to confuse what one person thinks is one, with the other, but presumably every reasonable person does actually recognize that the distinction exists.

Meanwhile, that menu makes me hungry, which is probably good, so: food. Post, maybe. Cat stuff meanwhile, and other priorities. Cheers.

I just spoke to someone at the the Crepevine -- I should have gotten her name, but I forgot to -- who did say that 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, is their busiest time of the week.

She said we should be able to get a table for 5-6 with no problem, if we have up to 10, we should be able to get adjoining tables with some waiting.

More than that, luck of the draw, and it gets much quieter after 2 p.m.

For what it's worth.

There are, to be sure, also a variety of other establishments within a few blocks, so if someone is *driving*, and we want to move along to one of the nearby pub/bars, or coffee shops, or my feet are as decent as they were today, we're not forced to all scatter to the winds immediately if it gets crowded at Crepevine.

If anyone wants to speak up and argue for switching to 1 or 2 p.m., now's the time to say so; otherwise, it's all fine by me, and I'm happy to go with 11 a.m., since I'm not expecting hordes of people to show up, and if we get 10 people, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Ah, Noah's Bagels. OK, Google tells me the nearst one to NYC is 20 miles away. Still, pretty close. Providing bagel-shaped food products. One can learn to enjoy an "everything" with cinnamon-walnut cream cheese, if one keeps in mind that it's not in fact a bagel.

The afternoon is OK with me -- whatever you folks decide. See you on Saturday.

As for signage, NYC was once second to none in "if you have to ask, I'm not going to tell you." It's like the maps in the U.S.S.R; if you lived there you knew they were designed to confuse the enemy. Times have changed.

I should say that although I related her words above, my sense was that between the lines, she wasn't going to be telling any customers not to show up, but that we really shouldn't be at all surprised if there's some trouble finding seats and waiting if it's more than 4-5 people.

But whateve.

Ral, having living outside of NYC for so many years, starting in 1977, I'm used to non-bagels, and have been known to eat them.

But, as you may have gathered, although in many ways I am a neophile, in some, I dislike change.

Most of us imprint, and early sense-memory associations are powerful. It's no wonder they can stir strong, irrational, arguments about what the "right" way to do food is, because it's an argument about your childhood and infancy, and no one wants to hear that they did it wrong.

This sounds like great fun, and if I'm not coming down with the cold I'm almost sure I am coming down with, I will be pleased to attend.

I'd like to try doing at least one a month, Mike, and if it works out, see about expanding a bit, slowly, with some overlapping blog community members.

Which is why I take some interest in finding down the road, if possible, a place that can be used regularly for at least a while. But one thing at a time.

The idea, though, is to have regular get-togethers so it's no big thing which given individuals are hit and miss, since everyone tends to be to one degree or another.

Such groups either gell, or not, and nothing is static.

But it helps to be pointed in one direction from the start, and to have some vision.

Announcement here.

It's sweet of Yahoo Mail to give nothing but an error message all morning; if you've been trying to reach me, and I know some people have, I'm sure I'll find out what you've said sooner or later.

"Sorry, Unable to process request at this time -- error 999.
Unfortunately we are unable to process your request at this time. This error is usually temporary. Please try again later."

I've seen it before, but usually not for more than a few minutes, or perhaps twenty minutes to half an hour, on a couple of occasions, over 6+ years.

Not a browser or computer error on my end; multichecked. It's Yahoo Mail that's down.

Phone me.

This is why I really really really hate not having plans finalized 48 hours in advance, or at least 24.

All is good.

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Whatnot


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