Liz Roach: Taste Adventure — Southern Foodways Alliance Summer Trip to Richmond, Virginia

Liz RoachBearing heaving platters of sea island peas, roasted mountain trout, barbeque chicken and other vittles, waiters at the Whiskey Jar displayed a sampling of hospitality along with bottles of Foggy Ridge cider and Veritas Vineyards wines.

Slipping a bite of peach trifle into my mouth, I sighed and surveyed the spoils of supper.  If this was a typical Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) dinner, I was prepared to sign up for a lifetime membership.

Many other ambrosial meals and adventures awaited at the SFA’s 2013 Summer Symposium in Richmond, Virginia.  The non-profit organization, whose members consist of chefs, cookbook writers, and other luminaries from the food world, in addition to a good number of eating enthusiasts, fosters a fellowship like no other.

From June 20-22, 2013, members shared in finger-licking good multi-course feasts, cultural forays, and delightful company.  Centered around the theme of “Women at Work,” the event put the spotlight on Richmond and its storied, delicious food culture.

Below are a few snapshots of the weekend that will give you an idea of the goodness that took place.


The opening night dinner took place at the Whiskey Jar in Charlottesville, VA


The glorious peach trifle at Whiskey Jar

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Liz Roach: Taste Adventure — Southern Foodways Alliance Summer Trip to Richmond, Virginia

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The Difference in Haricuts

The difference between Louisville, KY and New York City…

In Haircuts .


A guy named Louie, a rough 60 year old Italian man who has been cutting hair for 32 years, shampoos, cuts and dries your hair. He doesn’t ask you how you want your hair cut but tells you what you need to have done. And then cuts it the way he wants even after you tell him you want your haircut a different way. But you like it better.

You think of the show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and wish you could have been on it as a guest but that no one ever found out about it because it never aired–but you could have gotten some good clothing, style and haircut tips. You see another guy getting his haircut checking you out and take it as a compliment. Louie is finished with everything in 14 minutes and 45 seconds and charges $27.50. And you feel it is a bargain. And tip him $5 even though he doesn’t speak to you the entire time.

He successfully upsells you gel that you later throw away because you never use gel but didn’t want to admit that to Louie. There is no follow up appointment because Louie knows that next month you are going to be back in Kentucky and he’ll never see you again. And he also knows you’ll probably throw away the gel. But you won’t forget him or his name.


A young lady named Kera, a cute 23 year old woman from Louisville who finished cosmetology school last fall, shampoos, cuts and dries your hair. She asks you how you want it cut and you tell her and she tries to follow your instructions and does.

jyb_musingsBut you don’t like it as much as you’d hoped. You continuously scan the salon and keep hoping that the clientele who are 85% female doesn’t assume you are gay because you are getting your hair cut there instead of a barber shop—and try to look very heterosexual and uninterested in your haircut.

Kera is finished with everything in 27 minutes and it costs $17. And even though you had an interesting conversation with her about her family and where she went to high school (it is Louisville, remember, and where you went to high school is always the first question to a stranger) wish you’d asked for the other woman who’s name you can’t remember but you think starts with an “L” who cut your hair a few months ago —and you only tip Kera $3 but tell yourself it was because it was just easy to give her a $20 and be done with it and not ask for more $1 bills.

She fails to upsell you gel but then remembers you never use gel and apologizes for asking again. She successfully schedules your next appointment and reminds herself to try to upsell conditioner next time instead of gel.

Which you may buy, if it’s the woman who’s name starts with an “L.” Or maybe it’s an “M.”

Jason Atkinson: Video Demo

My Birthday Wish

One of the true treats of the Facebook revolution — in addition to reconnecting with old friends — is the birthday tradition of being flooded by well-wishes from my motley collection of virtual friends.

There isn’t really anything that special about turning 46 — just part of my long, slow march from 40 to 50; but as the old saying goes, aging another year is by far better than the alternative.

So in the spirit of the new age of narcissism facilitated by social media, I want to use this opportunity of the virtual birthday attention for a bit of shameless self-promotion.  And I can excuse myself for the indulgence because I want to remind my friends of a very important cause — and urge them to join me.

Yep, in lieu of birthday presents, my wish is for you to click here and join the growing, vital No Labels citizen army.


nolabelsorg-87_600A little over three years ago, I first joined a few handfuls of leading Democrats, Republicans and Independents to launch No Labels, a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting bi-partisan problem-solving instead of the hyper-partisan paralysis that is American politics.

I have to admit, while I was hopeful and passionate, I was still skeptical that we would be able to accomplish anything significant in the short term.

I have never been more proud to say: I was wrong.

Last week, I joined with my fellow co-founders, and 81 Congressmen who have signed up to be No Labels’ problem solvers — YES THAT’S 81 DEMOCRATIC, REPUBLICAN, AND INDEPENDENT SENATORS AND MEMBERS OF CONGRESS — at a lively rally involving 1000 supporters (on a cruelly hot Washington summer day) and announcing our new substantive policy plan to “Make Government Work.”

Read about “Make Government Work” here.

If you like what you read, follow this link to contact your Congressman and Senators to urge them to support our agenda and join our problem solvers group (or thank them if they already are part of the team.)

The country’s political system is broken.  But No Labels now offers you a real opportunity to change that.  Please join us.

And if I can get just a few of my friends to join us, or convince a few No Labels members to contact their Congressmen with our new agenda, it will be a very productive 46th birthday.

Lauren Mayer: There’s Always a Silver Lining

This is a particularly hard time to be a political humorist – so many news stories are volatile and disturbing.  Topics like the Zimmerman verdict, abortion restrictions, cruel anti-gay legislation in Russia, and horrible heat waves don’t suggest anything funny, and besides, it feels inappropriate to joke about such sensitive topics.  What’s an independent writer to do? (lacking the writing staff of The Daily Show)

Fortunately, cheating by prominent figures never goes out of style, and we’re getting a refresher course thanks to the New York City elections, in which Elliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner are actually ahead in their respective races for Comptroller and Mayor.  Apparently, the old adage is true, that any press isi good press, because name recognition seems to be more important to voters than the misbehavior which led to each of them resigning not that long ago.  Mark Sanford has also returned to public office, after turning The Appalachian Trail into a permanent teenage boy joke.   And just to make sure the whole subject stays current, now we have the Mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, who is accused of harassing women employees with unwanted attention and suggestions that their work would improve if they weren’t wearing undergarments.   (Filner vigorously refutes the accusations,insisting he didn’t do anything wrong, he just likes to hug people, but he knows he has a problem and will seek help.  One of the odder denial/confession combos I’ve ever heard – but stay tuned, the city has opened a hotline for employees and constituents to make complaints.  This could get really fun!)

So while these sex scandals won’t solve global warming or Congressional deadlock, they can help take our minds off of the more upsetting news stories for a few moments; we can chuckle with glee over the more salacious details (like Spitzer’s opponent turning out to be the madame whose employees he patronized; you’d think she’d prove to be a better financial planner, since she got him to pay $4,000 a pop . . . but I digress . . . )

Michael Steele on Liz Chaney’s Senate Run

From Tal Kopan of Politico:

Michael Steele on Wednesday said Liz Cheney’s decision to challenge fellow Republican Sen. Mike Enzi for his Wyoming Senate seat will be disastrous and split the party.

The former Republican National Committee chairman told MSNBC’s Alex Wagner that he thinks former Sen. Alan Simpson was right to call the situation a “disaster.”

“I think he’s right, I think it’s going to open a lot of fissures in the party. I think this is an insurgent move by Cheney,” Steele said Wednesday on “Now with Alex Wagner.”

Steele criticized Cheney’s comments that Enzi has compromised too much and “gone along to get along.”

“When have people gone along to get along in Washington in the last four or five years?” Steele said. “This is clearly more of a personal opportunity to, thinking there’s an opening here, and, you know, it’s going to be tough.”

Agreeing with fellow panelist E.J. Dionne, Steele said he hopes race is a chance for rank and file Republicans to fight back against a Washington tea party.

“I hope they do. I hope the Enzi team really come prepared with a strong A game, because this could be a seminal moment for a longer conversation,” Steele said.

Click here to read full piece.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Teletubbies

I wonder if anyone will ever do a retrospective—a “Where are they now” — special on the Teletubbies.

Normally I don’t care much for these sorts of programs unless I really find the person fascinating.

I don’t find the Teletubbies fascinating, but couldn’t help think they were a fluke, a children’s TV sort of “one hit wonder.”

Television characters like that –after they drop off the public radar–often fall hard and aren’t heard from again. Until death or some public crises or tragedy.

jyb_musingsI especially worried about Po.

Who seemed to “appear” happy and functional throughout the series but was masking some deep pain and seemed on a collision course with reality, despite the happy-go-lucky persona.

Po seems to have a lot of parallels with the Partridge Family’s child star Danny Bonaduce ….but as a terrycloth children’s TV character.

Artur Davis: Obama’s Inadequacies on Race

Barack Obama’s initial banalities on the George Zimmerman trial—sympathy for the loss Trayvon Martin’s parents suffered, respect for the jury process—felt tepid and his observation today that Trayvon Martin could have been Obama 15 years ago felt cliched. Revealingly, to some of Obama’s fans, the pedestrian response was strategic given that Obama’s ventures into race during his presidency, from the flap over a black Harvard professor being arrested outside his home to his observation last year that an Obama son might have resembled Trayvon, have backfired. In the suggestion of the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson, given that track record, better the power of his family’s example when they walk across the White House lawn than any risky but more textured contribution to this week’s exposed wounds on race.

Of course, cheerleading about the role model value of a black man in high places has never been a thing that black commentators have embraced for its own sake, at least not when it involves the face of a Republican or even a black Democrat who was insufficiently progressive. And to lower expectations for Obama to the point that saying little is deemed more beneficial than saying much concedes one of the central premises for why a lightly experienced politician five years from a state senate seat was elevated so quickly to the presidency. It is also another instance of a second term where Obama ranges from spectator to occasional sideline critic on the domestic priorities of his own government: on immigration reform and expanded gun background checks, on the renewal of No Child Left Behind, on second tier fights over food stamps and student loans, the formula has been standard partisan ripostes after the fact and an avoidance of any mobilizing strategy that lasts beyond a morning news cycle.

davis_artur-11So, in the vacuum Obama leaves, either an Attorney General with a  hapless profile who is obscure to most white Americans, or a set of voices who have been punch lines for about a decade, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, have been ill-cast as the spokesmen for one view of the Florida verdict—that Martin is not atypical but a specter of myriad ways young black men are devalued—and the very staleness of their advocacy has been easy fodder for critics on the right who are too sanguine about the reality that astonishingly few blacks have confidence in the race neutrality of the legal system.

It is not hard to imagine what Obama might have done this week. He certainly could have lamented the most overlooked aspect of the trial, that Zimmerman and Martin very likely profiled each other, that each saw a threat and affront magnified by the other’s color, and that the ugliness of that kind of mutual recrimination too regularly spills over into every facet of black and white interaction. At the same time, there has been a need this week for the African American community to self-examine the sizable inconsistency between the elevation of a child killed by a white man into a cause célèbre and the national anonymity of, say,  Hadiya Pendleton, the black majorette killed by a stray gang bullet a week after performing in Obama’s inaugural parade: couldn’t Obama have made that point more powerfully than, say, a conservative commentator like Rich Lowry, or Zimmerman’s brother on CNN, if the president’s vision of his leadership had only led him to try?

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Artur Davis: Obama’s Inadequacies on Race

Nancy Slotnick: You Never Don’t Know

I don't know“You never don’t know” is what my mother-in-law says when she means “You never know.” It must be said in a Polish accent with the conviction that only a Holocaust survivor could pull off while using a double negative. So by the theory of transitivity, “You never don’t know” equals “You always know.” I’m going with that theory. You always know.

If you can tap into your instincts, and distinguish them from anxiety, you always know. “Is he the One?” You know. “Should I have that opening line?” You know. “Should I write that email to reach out?”

You know, but you don’t always listen to your gut. You talk yourself out of it.

Do you expect greatness to come your way or mediocrity? Or disaster? Murphy’s Law is more about Murphy than about a law of nature. I think Murphy attracted bad luck because he’s always expecting bad luck and it feeds on itself. Of course if you want to attract good luck you have to do the work. There’s plenty of good luck out there and it will come your way sooner or later. You just have to be prepared to seize your luck.

Here’s how: Let’s say you’re on a train traveling for the holidays, like I am right now. Let’s say you’re single and you secretly wish that the man of your dreams would sit next to you. You do hold out the hope for good luck. But you also dread the fat lady who talks your ear off or the crying baby that blocks the audio of Gossip Girl Season 2. Even though you’ve already seen it. You are tempted to just put your backpack up on the seat next to you, put on your headphones and go into “Do Not Disturb” mode. If you’re lucky, then the train is not sold out and you will get two seats to yourself. But is that what you really want?
Nancy SlotnickIf you know that you want more, you may have to put your “Cablight” on, as I call it, and try to show that the seat is available for the right guy. There is a strategy you can employ. Put the backpack up as you scope the crowd passing by. Choose your target. He may not be your Brad Pitt, but pick the best one of the lot of train travelers with your mind’s eye and start your training to attract what you want in life.

As he gets about 2 seats away from you, move the backpack and look up. Make eye contact. This will be hard. Be vulnerable for a second and make it visible to him in your eyes. Then look away and go back to Gossip Girl so he doesn’t think you’re a stalker and he knows that you aren’t going to be annoyingly forward. Let him come to you. This should work if you do it right, with confidence and humility at the same time. It probably won’t though. Law of averages.

But if it doesn’t, get up and move seats. Why? Because you still have hope that there’s a better guy in another car. Because you’re willing to give up the comfort of a window seat near the Café car for the chance of finding something better. Someone better. Like Deal or No Deal with the universe. You believe that the banker has something good in store for you in that briefcase and you’re willing to take risks.

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Nancy Slotnick: You Never Don’t Know

Jeff Smith on Political Dynasties

From Charles Mahtesian of National Public Radio:

Jeff SmithAnother day, another political dynasty.

This latest one is taking shape in Wyoming, where Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, announced Tuesday that she’s challenging incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi in the 2014 Republican primary.

Her announcement is a fitting prelude to the next four years, when voters will witness America’s political royalty in its full glory.

Cheney is just one of a gaggle of legacy candidates running for the Senate next year. In the South, Sens. Mary Landrieu, daughter of the former New Orleans mayor and sister to the current mayor; and Mark Pryor, the son of former Arkansas Sen. David Pryor, are both seeking re-election. Out west, Alaska Sen. Mark Begich and Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, both sons of congressmen, are also vying for another term. So is Udall’s cousin, Tom, who is New Mexico’s senator and himself the son of a congressman.

In fact, pick any place on the map and you’re likely to find dynasty politics in full bloom. In Texas, George P. Bush, son of the ex-Florida governor and grandson of a president, is running for the statewide office of land commissioner. In Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, a senator’s son, is running for his second term as governor.

And that’s just a sampling.

The scope will become even broader as the 2016 presidential race kicks off. Consider the current top prospects: the son and brother of a former president (Jeb Bush); the wife of a former president (Hillary Clinton); the son of a governor who was once a presidential contender (Andrew Cuomo); and the son of a congressman who ran for president three times (Rand Paul).

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Until Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, every winning ticket since 1980 featured a son of a United States senator or president.

“Americans were born in rebellion, but they crave connection and familiarity. The temptation of dynastic politics may be a contradictory note in our national character, but it’s perfectly explicable in human nature,” says Rick Wilson, a Florida-based GOP political consultant. “People look for signifiers that give them a quick shorthand to a candidate’s views and character, and because candidates are known generally more by who they are than what they advocate, a famous family name becomes a cornerstone of political branding.”

The practice of political inheritance is as old as the nation. In his book America’s Political Dynasties, scholar Stephen Hess counted at least 700 families in which two or more members had served in Congress since 1774 — and that was back in 1966, when the book was first published.

One of the most famous American political houses, the Kennedys,counts six politicians with service in the House or Senate, including current House freshman Joe Kennedy III.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with dynasty politics. If anything, it underscores the deep commitment of some of the nation’s most prominent families to public service.

But it comes at a cost. There’s no denying that political scions often have an advantage over candidates of lesser lineage.

“They begin with near universal name identification. They begin with a huge rolodex. They begin with a huge understanding of how politics works,” says former Missouri state Sen. Jeff Smith, whose long-shot 2004 campaign for Congress against a scion of a prominent political family was the subject of an award-winning documentary film. “Are any of these skills necessary to become a great public servant? No, but if you understand the game, you may end up spending less time banging your head against the wall learning how things work.”

Sometimes, congressional seats end up in the same family’s hands for decades — even when the talent and charisma skips a generation.

“My experience coming from a state with lots of prominent political families is that in many of these cases, the political talent and policy depth so evident in the first generation isn’t always present in the second generation, in part because it’s not as necessary to fuel the rise,” says Smith, who’s now a professor of politics and advocacy at The New School in New York.

Click here for the full story.

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