Friday, March 31, 2006

street by street, blog by blog

have you read the comments section lately? a friend of mine in new york told me that it reads like professional wrestling.

he's a journalist, and so has their predilection for colorful euphemisms.

anyway, here's the new rules:

1) no anonymous comments will be allowed. the internet provides enough room for anonymity without people hiding behind the user name "anonymous" and posting all kinds of craziness.

2) play nice. i'm all for what tavis smiley refers to on his show as "spirited discussion," but if you can't be at least halfway respectful, you don't get to play.

3) in the words of kent mcclard of heartattack/ebullition fame, "if you don't like it, start your own zine" (i'm pretty sure he meant to say 'blog').

friday night = triple rock social club

lately i've been a part of a sunday morning bike ride that has been meeting up at the triple rock for breakfast. this is somewhat unfortunate for me for a variety of reasons, namely the people with whom i ride are a somewhat motley bunch of late risers and arrivers, which means we sit there for a long time without actually sitting on our bicycles and riding them, and also the triple rock kind of makes a lousy vegan breakfast. granted, their pancakes are pretty fantastic, especially the kahlua cakes, but aside from that you'd be better to stay home.

friday night, on the other hand, is a different story altogether. for in the evening you can order such things as the po' boy, or the minneapolis po' boy (the difference, it turns out, is bbq sauce. apparently that's enough to warrant two menu listings...), or maybe you'd like to eat a vegan hot dog on the west bank but want to do so in clean environment while drinking a pint (with all due respect to pat star's wienery). or maybe you're feeling adventurous, and want to try the cook's revenge.

the cook's revenge is a beautiful thing, especially on a friday night, when i'm told the kitchen manager is turning out the plates of goodness. for those who don't know, the menu description of cook's revenge says "luck of the draw, roll of the dice", which basically means you get whatever they feel like serving you. when the triple rock first opened, this was more of a risk, and often you would end up with some standard menu item (do they even make colcannon anymore?). since then the dish has risen to an artform. last week i was there and ordered the cook's revenge and was served this incredible mock duck in adobo concoction that was served on top of vegan mac and cheese and topped with star-shaped toast and orange slices. unbeatable.

now here's the trick. don't forget that you're vegan when ordering the cook's revenge, or you'll be stuck trying to figure out who you know that might appreciate meaty chili dogs and mac and cheese. this happened to me once, and i felt incredibly stupid. this feeling was then exacerbated by the waitress' rudeness when i explained, committed to pay for it since it was my mistake, and ordered a vegan one. this was made worse when an anonymous commenter came to my house and kicked me in the genitals before slapping me in the face with a frozen fish.

while dining at the triple rock, you might try a pint of surly. which it turns out has nothing to do with surly bikes, or the surly vegan. it's true, we're all from minneapolis, which is either a very surly city or a not very creative one, or both, i suppose, but i stand behind both other companies all the same. surly beer even links to the surly bikes page on their blog. maybe if i can figure out the links page on my blog i'll link to each. the irony is that i just won a surly 1x1 bike on ebay and am anxiously awaiting its arrival.

anyway, the surly on tap at the triple rock is the bender, i think, which is dark and rich. there is more information on the website, along with an aggressive merchandise line that includes both work shirts and ultimate discs, but, as of yet, no bicycles.

poll: should i change the name of this blog? perhaps the curmudgeony vegan guy? the guy who is a vegan and a jerk and has a blog? the crabby grouchy crab-ass vegan? your suggestions?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

faux everything

Today in my environmental science class my professor passed around a catalog from some company that sells faux furs. Fairly gross. Somehow this was connected to a discussion about biodiversity, extinction, and ecosystems, but it is a Saturday morning class and I was having a particularly difficult time focusing this morning, so it's really anybody's guess.

Had I been more on point I might have noticed that she didn't mention what the furs are made of, and maybe I would have asked myself. I've heard reports that some companies in China have used furs from cats, dogs, and rabbits (or, if it helps to drive the point home, kitties, puppies, and bunnies) and sold them to Western wholesalers as faux fur. Maybe that's not true, in which case I still have to wonder how these things are produced and the impact they have on the environment.

More than anything, though, I found them disgusting, and finally understood the argument from vegans and vegetarians who don't enjoy fake meat. Granted, I came home and ate some Health is Wealth buffalo wings, dipped in fake mayonnaise and barbecue sauce, but still, for that split second, I felt I understood.

What's amusing is that the professor is herself a vegetarian (although I did see her eating some fruit snacks that I'm almost certain contain gelatin, so I judged her snidely in my head and made a mental note to call her out anonymously on the internet - done and done), so she talked a bit about PETA and the practice of throwing red paint on furs, and how someone wearing a fake fur coat might still be at risk.

I had just gotten done explaining my reasoning for being vegan to someone in our class during a short break. This is always a little dicey, I find, and so I tend to oversimplify and take on a sort of matter-of-fact tone that hopefully dissuades any judgement and defensiveness without making me come off as a self-righteous prick. Today I think I said something about having decided that I didn't want anything to have to suffer for my food.

I got to thinking about the red paint, then. And don't get me wrong, I've been known to yell some things to people in fur coats while biking past, particularly in Chicago during the holidays (almost as much anonymity as the internet provides), but in a sense it seems kind of ridiculous to me to cause the suffering of the wearer of the coat in order to stop the suffering of the animals.

It isn't that I don't understand the impulse, because I most definitely do, and there was a time when I could have easily been persuaded to take part in such activities, but I kind of think there must be another way.

Maybe that isn't very surly, and maybe it's no secret that I identify much more strongly as a vegan than I do as an animal rights activist, but that's where I'm at. Maybe I should start another blog about the activism of multicultural education and school reform, but I'd probably want to swear a lot and shoot my credibility all to shit as an educator, so I guess we're all stuck with this half-assed blog instead.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

moistening the idea drought

The thing about having a blog that only has to do with veganism is that it can sometimes be challenging to come up with a relevant and interesting topic worth writing about. For that reason, allow me to reiterate that I always welcome comments and ideas.

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I'll be in St. Louis in the end of April for a conference on white privilege, and I'll be hungry. I don't know St. Louis at all, but maybe you do, and maybe you want to let me know about some vegan restaurants. Hell, maybe you want to put me up.

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Vegan cream sauce. My roommate works at a fancy catering company and swears that he could whip up some fancy meals here at home if he could just figure out how to make a quality vegan cream sauce. Ideas?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Caffrey's to the rescue.

Loyal readers know that I got jacked back in September by some young ruffians in my neighborhood, and in fact on my block. Not on my block as in "I'm out on the block all day gettin' that paper," but rather a handful of doors down from my house.

As such, my wife and I packed up our belongings, got the fiercest dog we could find (a greyhound, naturally), and rocked some westward expansion. Destination? Uptown Minneapolis, about three or four miles from where we started. Tops.

The thing about Uptown is that it's really easy to spend a lot of money in a hurry. Previously we lived in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood, which while charming in many ways, is also rather sketchy in others (e.g. it is controlled by the Bloods). The nearest bar worth walking to was the Chatterbox, which, in fact, is not really worth walking to, especially since it was probably a good mile and a half away from us.

Now we're within walking distance of two or three Thai places (I could eat Thai food everyday - no problem), a couple of Indian places, a handful of Vietnamese restaurants, and a whole lot of liquor. No joke. And while it is annoying that the nearest liquor store has narrow aisles and cooler shelves that are too close together so that you can't get your beer out, and they only take cash (!), the local "bar scene" is pretty great.

Even if the waffle fries at the C.C. club have some sort of beef ingredient. The regular french fries are vegan, unless you're one of those crazy types who requires a separate fryer. In that case they aren't even vegetarian.

But sometimes after a night of beer and whisky, barfood just doesn't cut it. Luckily, it's just a short stumble down the street to Caffrey's, where there are two different vegan sandwiches to choose from. They're a bit pricey, but you'll never notice as long as you go there while intoxicated.

While previously I only knew about one vegan option there (the cold vegetable sandwich with Veganaise or hummus, depending upon availability of the former), I was recently made aware of the number five. This is the three pepper chicken, which can be made vegan using mock chicken and the aforementioned condiments, and is so goddamn good drunk or sober that it is well worth the eleven or twelve dollars it'll cost you to get the 14". That's right, 14" of sandwich, perfect for sharing or for binge-eating (to follow your binge drinking, naturally).

The best part is that I have never had a violent encounter while travelling to or from Caffrey's, although I suppose there's still plenty of time for that.