Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Graison Gill, Bellegarde Bakery

From Bellegarde's newsletter:

 But, as always, we’re here for the bread. And we’re here for the bread because our passion for it is insurmountable. What we need people to understand—us bakers, cooks, farmers, fishers, chefs—is that our careers are our identities. Baking is not just what I do: it is who I am. And I sit with a lot of gratitude for where I am and where I’ve been. But I am admittedly afraid of where we are going. Because I don’t think society is visualizing the extent of vulnerability that many of us are in: literal and existential. And despite some politicians and cultural figures who have attempted to disrupt our basic relationships, we have to admit how brutally interdependent we are and have become in the past year. We shouldn’t be in the business of building levees, or in the business of keepings things out. You don’t build bread with walls and boundaries. Because if it keeps on raining, the levees are going to break. No matter what, I know that me and the bakers at Bellegarde use our passion for bread not as a defense against the world; but as an offense. It doesn’t merely protect us, it preserves us.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

On the Road

 “In the window I smelled all the food of San Francisco. There were seafood places out there where the buns were hot, and the baskets were good enough to eat too; where the menus themselves were soft with foody esculence as though dipped in hot broths and roasted dry and good enough to eat too. Just show me the bluefish spangle on a seafood menu and I’d eat it; let me smell the drawn butter and lobster claws. There were places where they specialized in thick and red roast beef au jus, or roast chicken basted in wine. There were places where hamburgs sizzled on grills and the coffee was only a nickel. And oh, that pan-fried chow mein flavored air that blew into my room from Chinatown, vying with the spaghetti sauces of North Beach, the soft-shell crab of Fisherman’s Wharf — nay, the ribs of Fillmore turning on spits! Throw in the Market Street chili beans, redhot, and french-fried potatoes of the Embarcadero wino night, and steamed clams from Sausalito across the bay, and that’s my ah-dream of San Francisco…”

- Jack Kerouac

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Mixing Pods Indoors at Christmas? Think Again

 From the most recent newsletter from our very own Department of Public Health (Dec 18th):


COVID-19 and Winter Holidays

Attending a small celebration? Take these steps to make the holidays safer:
Bring your own food, drinks, and utensils.
Wear a mask and store it in your pocket or purse while eating and drinking.
Avoid going in and out of food prep spaces.
Space seating at least 6 feet apart for people who don’t live with you.
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or if unavailable, use 60% alcohol hand sanitizer.

This information is misleading, as these gatherings of mixed pods are not safe enough to protect people and are leading to infections.

"In Texas, Danny Cooke, 62, and his family decided to play it safe on Thanksgiving in Fort Worth. He and his wife hosted an intimate dinner with Mr. Cooke’s daughter, her husband and their two children. They opened all the windows and let the Texas air flow through the house.

But by the weekend, Mr. Cooke’s daughter, Amanda Ayala, a pediatric nurse, started to show symptoms of Covid-19. She tested positive, and several days later so did Mr. Cooke and his wife.
"“We kind of thought we were OK,” Mr. Cooke said. “But obviously, that was the wrong thing to do.”

Mr. Cooke’s wife and daughter have both since recovered. But more than three weeks later, he is still struggling with a fever and a cough. On Thursday, Ms. Ayala went to her father’s home to check his blood pressure and oxygen levels. She blames herself for getting him sick.

“It weighs on me,” she said. “I’m just hoping for it to pass.”

Mr. Cooke had been working in-person during the pandemic at Lockheed Martin. He has come into contact with many people at work. But it was at home, at a holiday gathering of six, where he believes he caught the virus.

“Of course, as my wife keeps telling me: ‘You can’t let this kill you, because your daughter will never forgive herself,’” he said."

Best of 2020

Bread merch: https://www.instagram.com/p/B9cmWzxHJ2d/?igshid=1vjj9so637d4x



Guest Verse: Future on Life is Good

Posse Cut: "What's Poppin", Jack Harlow et al.

Best Outdoor Drink Sitch: Surf Club

Verse: 42 Dugg, "We Paid"

Hot Takes: NC Primer

Fearless journalism during the BLM protests: Leigh Tauss

Indyweek Journalist: Thomasi McDonald

Catering: Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe


Gift of beer from far away: Pen Druid


Ramen: Rose's

Covid-era Takeout: Rose's

Dish: Hand-pulled Belt Noodles, Rose's



Word of 2020: Brittle

Covid-era read: Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

Giveaway: NSB Free Cake Slice Day


Bottle Shop: Ramblers

New Eyesore: The Legoland condo aesthetic off of 147, Van Alen, The Grove, 555 Mangum, Whetstone, Willard Street Apartments, Bullhouse Apartments, Cortland, Bell West End, etc.

Soon-to-come eyesore: Geerhouse on Geer Street


International grocery: CapriFlavors

Factory-made snack cookies: Mulino Bianco Baiocchi


Words of the Year: Gentleness. Tenderness.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

30 30 30

Not much has come out of Durham policywise from the BLM movement that began in June. Aside from a heightened consciousness and sensitivity, practically speaking, we are doing the same old same.

One idea that I had (that will likely never see the light of day) is:

30 30 30

30 activists under 30 paired with the 30 biggest businesses in Durham in hopes to make real policy changes regarding how they intersect with structural inequality and racism in Durham. Young people are driving this movement, and we need them at the forefront, interacting directly with the holders of power, the corporations that drive the Durham economy.

Pushing the Buck

The recent Covid spike, combined with anxiety around the election, has everyone worked up to a fever pitch.

Throughout the crisis, I have tried to inform the public and elected leaders how miserable and mediocre a job we are doing at addressing, containing, mitigating, or eliminating Covid-19 in Durham.

By this point, I don't really try anymore. Leaders at Duke and in Durham elected offices are going to do what they feel is best, which is vastly insufficient to address the enormity of the task at hand.

I don't see it as any one person's fault, but instead a collective indictment against erstwhile leaders who are caught in a web of bureaucracy, corporate interest, and State and Federal inaction. They literally don't know how to take responsibility because they feel so put upon by the system, so exhausted by the lack of perceived options. There is no creativity, there is no movement, and there is no anger.

In our employee handbook, one of the ethical tenets we try to abide by is, "Don't Shrug, Take Responsibility." What I have been seeing is a whole lot of shrugging and deflecting, from the president on down. Without determined action, the ability for the upper middle class to insulate itself will become harder and harder. You might think it would be impossible to look away now, and lo, look at the blinders our leaders wear!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

safety nets and emergency response

 In the Fall of 2018, Hurricane Florence struck, followed by Hurricane Michael. These were the most massive and destructive storms I've witnessed firsthand. In the storms' wake, the Bakery was involved in sending relief to poorer parts of the state, through both food and cash donations (see https://www.facebook.com/Ninthstbakery/photos/a.10150149431520183/10160838987310183/?type=3&theater). For me, it was eye-opening how a community could rally and support its poorest, most needy citizens. Where FEMA, the State, and county response should have been able to have the resources to handle crises like these, it was instead a ragtag group of ordinary folks who chipped in. I will always remember the working class guy (I never caught his name) who, when we put out a call for food donations, went to Food Lion and bought what looked like $150 of essentials (pastas and canned goods and such), bringing in bag after bag, just an individual guy. When I applauded his generosity and thanked him, he was modest, and just shrugged it off. Apart from the heroic acts that make headlines, community responses are the sum total of thousands of small actions like these.

What I took away from the experience was both the goodness of everyday people, and also the ineptitude and mismanagement of our government institutions. It does not take much money to feed people every day. It doesn't take much organization to provide support to those who are suffering, or have lost their homes. But without flexible budgets, organizational leadership, and saddled with a minefield of bureaucracy, a pass-the-buck mentality where shrugs are more common than "Yes"es, and where liability is ever present threat, it is no wonder that the government is not trusted. We could be doing this for pennies. Of the CARES act, a minority of the money went directly to everyday people.

Because a community response is not a robust structure, not as robust as a governmental one, there should be governmental help. Communities eventually become exhausted and can no longer self-organize and help. When communities drop off, along with their donated funds, we need government to step up and fill the gap. Right now, we are serving twenty lunches per day for homeless and otherwise food insecure folks. Why do we and Urban Ministries need to fill this gap, when the city needs to be mitigating and eliminating homelessness.

Monday, September 21, 2020

The world of bread

The world of bread is the world of the future because Bread will be here long after millennials no longer have cell phones, after the end of coal, natural gas, bicycles, scooters, personal vehicles, TVs, computers, couches. Bread will sustain throughout time, I have no doubt of it.