Top Secret Durham Neighborhood Listserv Map

This post is about my top secret project that I’ve been working on for a few weekends.  It was partly inspired by an eight year-old girl who went missing about a block from my house on January 7th.  It was also inspired by my friend Gwen McCarter’s blog post about boldness that she published two days prior:

If there’s one sure thing about boldness, it’s that no one will know you’re a bold thinker if you aren’t a bold actor, too.  To illustrate the point, we need only think about noise.  Chatter.  A veritable din.  We live in a society where more people are free to voice their opinions than ever, and everyone with Internet access also has a soapbox within reach.  In many ways, this democratization via technology is empowering.  And as Malcolm Gladwell wrote last October, it’s not our imagination that social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and various blogging platforms are “making it easier for the powerless to collaborate.”

But Gladwell also warns against mistaking online activity for real-world action.  The digital setting is often confusing because boldness online can feel both satisfying and effortlessly productive.  If we want use the example of activism, social movements that grow online can amass a follower base of millions.  All the same, the palpable impact of those virtual efforts can be an entirely different story.  Gladwell happens to cite the Save Darfur Coalition’s Facebook page as one place where participation is high but commitment and investment are relatively low (he puts group membership at nearly 1.3 million and the average donation at 9 cents).  But the same could be said of a number of other initiatives — social media-based or otherwise —  that don’t or can’t place enough emphasis on backing their bold online campaigns up with tangible follow-through.

So, for most everyone, it wouldn’t hurt to spend a little more time in action.  At the same time, a single bold act cannot be your end game; it needs to be well conceived as part of a larger strategy, supported by other, more sustained initiatives.

As for the missing girl, I got the following message from an adjacent neighborhood listserv I happened to be a member of:

Hi, Neighbors.  A woman who lives down the street just came to our door asking if we saw a little girl get off the bus stop near our house (corner of Shawnee and Lynch).  Unfortunately, we didn’t see anything, but I told her I would send out an e-mail to the listserve to see if anyone else had information or had seen her (or anything suspicious that may be related) throughout the neighborhood this afternoon/evening.  They are looking for a little girl who is 8 years old.  She is African American and was last seen wearing black pants, a black shirt with purple underneath and has 2 ponytails.  She said if anyone saw anything they should call the police.

Now despite being about 50 yards away from the neighborhood’s northern border, the author of this email didn’t know to send her message to Duke Park, (although to her credit, she did make sure the police were involved).  Ideally, when something happens one road over, both listservs should be communicative with each other due to significant membership overlap.  Obviously, not everyone is a member of more than one listserv, despite proximity.  In many instances, this is OK since other members are gregarious and cross-post between adjacent hoods and Partners Against Crime (PAC) lists when appropriate.

The little girl was found at a neighbor’s house about 50 minutes after the original post.  Like magic, two distinct ad hoc search parties sprang into action and someone found the girl at a neighbor’s house.

This was a huge success story, but had the child gone missing along any other neighborhood border, I wouldn’t have known who to contact.  So, that day, out of frustration, I started working on a map which is meant to facilitate communication between adjacent listservs in emergency and crime-related scenarios.

Currently it features 35 neighborhoods with active listservs and 14 neighborhoods that don’t have listservs (but should).  Each border was meticulously hand-drawn, yet they’re probably wholly inaccurate.

So click the image above to be taken to the map.  If you’re not a member of your neighborhood’s listserv, you should join it.  Today.  The relevant links are embedded within each neighborhood’s shape.  If your neighborhood doesn’t yet have a listserv, why not follow Gwen’s advice?  Be bold.  Take action.  Create one.

And shoot me an email when you do, so I can update my our map.

*Update – The map now includes 57 outlines of active neighborhood listservs. The color of these outlines also correlate with which police district they are associated with.

January 26, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Reading. 7 comments.

Jason Bissey’s Top 10 Things to Eat in Durham NC

While, as a former chef, I am often asked for restaurant recommendations, I find that I end up offering a selection of actual Things to Eat rather than the establishments themselves.  So, here’s a list of some of my favorite meals in the Bull City.  It was tough to limit, but I’m pretty happy with it besides the absence of one or two items I will reliably get excited about going to Raleigh or Chapel Hill for.  But whatever; OUR HOUSE!

Anyway:

10.  Phở at Saigon Grill

I’m actually pretty new to this place up on Roxboro, and haven’t had much on the menu, but the phở is proper.  You can get it with any combination of round, meatball, tripe, and tendon that suits your fancy.  Nice rich broth, a generous portion, and plenty of cilantro, limes, chilis and shit served on the side.  Awesome in the winter.

9.  Tomo’s omakase at Thai Cafe

Ok, so I was gonna keep this a secret, but the old sushi chef from Kurama on 15-501 has resurfaced.  He is Tomo.  He is the real deal, no matter what you may think of Kurama or Thai Cafe.  Like, he actually has a cadre of Japanese businessmen who will follow him WHEREVER HE GOES to eat his food.  Now, if you like sushi in general, usually sticking with rolls and maybe a couple tuna nigiri, you certainly won’t be disappointed at Thai Cafe.  You’ll probably end up going back to Sushi Love or whatever for their 2-for-1 deal, though.  The deal with Tomo is that he is a Japanese food geek, and for him raw fish and sushi rice are just the tip of the freakin’ iceberg.  So, go brush up on some etiquette (check out the great comments) like a good white person and just tell him you want the good stuff.  If you’re feeling froggy you can say you want “omakase,” but I wouldn’t blame you for feeling a little douchey for doing so.  Just let the man feed you.

8.  OnlyBurger farmer’s market special with veggie burger, egg, and bacon

I like burgers, but honestly I’ve kinda given up on them.  When OB launched, I was pretty excited because I know the owners and they have a good pedigree, chef-wise, and I thought they’d be cranking out some seriously amazing product.  Sadly, for the most part their food is pretty average.  Still, putting two fried green tomatoes, pimiento cheese, an egg, and bacon on a burger is a no-lose kind of situation.  At that point, would you really care if you’re eating beef or beans and soy?  I don’t.  See also the veggie burger with bacon at Bull McCabe’s.

7.  Kevin’s blueberry muffins at Rue Cler

This is Kev.  He is my friend and the charman of the Durham County Democratic Party.  His muffins are just WRONG!  Get there early.

6.  Rue Cler’s poulet rôti

rue.jpg

So I am a little biased, as I opened this restaurant as the chef in 2006, and the poulet rôti was one of my flagship plates.  Still, it’s the best roast chicken I know of in the Triangle for three reasons: it’s an intact half chicken with all the bones, it’s pan roasted with my special kung-fu, and it’s made from scratch to order without any pre-cooking.  It might take a half hour longer to get your food, but it’s worth it.  Perfectly simple.

5.  John’s pastrami sandwich at Bull McCabe’s

John Spicer is the chef at Bulls.  He is grumpy, intolerant, looks like a serial killer, and one of the best cooks in Durham.  He makes his own pastrami and it is delicious.  Eat your pickle or he may hurt you.

4.  Substitute goat cheese for mozzarella on a Pop’s Backdoor Pizza

(that’s Dave.  He owns Elodie Farms where delicious goats and their delicious cheese comes from)

‘Nuff said.  I don’t want to hear anything about other pizza joints; you’re delusional.  Pop’s Backdoor is the best pizza in Durham and for chrissakes they deliver beer and wine.

3.  My hummus.

I’m generally a pretty humble guy.  I was born and raised in a land where corn is plentiful and talking about oneself is a misdemeanor in most jurisdictions.  But man do I make some fucking great hummus.  It’s ridiculous.  Seriously.  Yes, you can have the recipe.

2.  Toast’s egg panino / Toast’s salad

When people ask me my favorite restaurant in the Triangle, I usually tell them it’s Toast.  Sure, it’s just a sandwich shop.  SANDWICHES FREAKIN’ RULE, OK?  And Billy and Kelly have hit the sandwich nail on its proverbial head.  Also they are possibly the cutest and nicest people ever.  OK, so the egg panino.  It’s loosely scrambled local eggs folded with taleggio cheese and chives.  It is perfect and crunchy and gooey.  Get it with Toast’s inexplicably ethereal salad and you’re in lunch heaven.  God, I’m hungry.

1.  Oysters and steak tartare at Vin Rouge

Ah, Vin Rouge.  Most of the best meals of my life have been sitting at their bar.  They have served racks of wild boar for my birthday and spit roasted whole lambs for my wedding reception.  I have likely eaten over a pound of foie gras from their kitchen.  Being good friends with Matt, the chef/owner, certainly helps with the quality of my food, but my favorite two things on the menu are freely available to all.  They are also raw.  I’m still not sure who makes a better tartare, Matt or I, but things tend to be more enjoyable when you’re not the one who prepared them.  As for the oysters, there is little to say.  Get some Champagne or a mineral-y Loire valley wine and go to town.  Heaven.  Raw heaven.

Bon appétit, y’all.

December 28, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. 1 comment.

Keith Roberts’ Top 10 Local* Bands

*Local in this context means Central North Carolina, dear reader.
Keith knows local music partly because he is local music.  He’s the talented bass player of Of Whiskey and Blood out of Raleigh.  Keith’s too humble to include his own band on this list, but make no mistake.  They put on an excellent show.

I’ll let Keith (pictured on the right) take it from here:

Ranked by a combination of stage presence, local availability, sound quality, lyrical creativity and my own wacky musical intuition.  I am by no means an expert on local music, or music in general. But I am a fan, and these are a few bands I like to keep track of, listen to, and enjoy.

Top Ten Local Bands

10.) Transistor Zen
Creative lyrics spun through a distorted, almost electronic sound. A relatively new band worth checking out.

9.) Louder Moonlight
Worth the cover charge (if there happens to be one) if only to hear the guitar parts.

8.) I Was Totally Destroying It
Feel good 80’s style rock with a local twist.

7.) Inflowential
Creative hip hop that foregoes a back beat in favor of the more classic human beat box.

6.) Red Collar
In my mind the quintessential local rock band.  High energy shows with excellent crowd involvement

5.) Lost In The Trees
Though more of a touring band these days, which drops them a few spots due to less local availability, this band still merits a mention for being from here, and providing slow, thoughtful melodies.

4.) Kennebec
An excellent mix of tempos and excellent guitar parts. Americana style music equally suited for thinking or dancing, your choice.

3.) Rat Jackson
More of a parody than a musical style, the creativity of humor of this group, along with their recent documentary: Beer Y’all, should provide you with at least a little entertainment.

2.) Carolina Chocolate Drops
A true southern band if I ever heard one.  Fun, bluegrassy songs with a hint of spiritual sass thrown in for a cultural auditory experience.

1.) Mandolin Orange
Slow expert bluegrass instrumentals combine with thoughtful lyrics to provide the perfect charging state for my introvert batteries.  By far my favorite local band. Truly beautiful music, professionally done.

December 23, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. Leave a comment.

Charlie Deal’s Top 10 Great Beers of the Year

[image via Off the Broiler]

I know Charlie best as a whippersnapper snapper.  In other words, he regularly outperforms younger athletes such as myself.  His real job though, is as Chef and Owner of both Jujube in Chapel Hill and Dos Perros in Durham.  I’ll let him take it from here.

I wouldn’t go so far as call this the 10 best beers I had.  Rather, some combo of “the best” and ones that were far tastier than I expected.

1. Stone Imperial Russian Stout- This was released at the same time this year as the much more heralded Founders KBS and Rasputin Oak Aged, and it was so much more enjoyable right away.  Those other two may come around but the Stone is rich, balanced, and completely delicious.

[image via Core Brewing]

2. Unibroue Quelque Chose- Really a dessert wine barely masquerading as a beer, but who freaking cares.   The stuff is flat-out glorious.  Mind you, you’ll want at least a few friends around to share the bottle, because I can’t see drinking more than 6 oz or so of it.  Cherry deliciousness.

[image via Bob Woodshed]

3. Bruery Saison Rue- It was the belle of the ball in a tasting of American Wild Ales.  It just had such clarity and finesse.  Ripe rye flavors with a bright finish and amazing texture.

[image via Core Brewing]

4. Stone Cali-Belgique- This one gets the nod over other Belgian-style IPAs simply because it was the first I tried.  It is such a delicious style that is really catching on.  Ripe fruit with high aromatics and an assertive, bitter bite.

[image via Drunken Polack]

5. Dogfish Head Festina Peche- Certainly makes the list under the, “surprisingly tasty” category.  I could not get over how charming, clean, and fresh this beer tasted.  Great acidity and immensely refreshing.

[image via Brewed for Thought]

6. Allagash Interlude- Borrowing a touch of ripe fruit and polish from time spent in oak barrels that previously saw Syrah and Merlot, this otherwise tangy wild ale is a stunning example of how profound beer can be.

[image via Captain’s Beer Blog]

7. Lagunitas Hop Stoopid- First off, Lagunitas beers are such an amazing value.  Price wise, it’s them and everyone else.  What I liked about this beer in particular is that, unlike so many other double IPAs, it’s not crazy malty.  I really find it odd.  Guys jack up the IBUs to dizzying levels, and then cram so much malt into a beer that you can barely tell.  Not this one.

[image via Hampton Roads]

8. The whole Mikkeller Single Hop Series- My favorite was the Nelson Sauvin, and I’m not even sure I like the idea of these things existing, but sitting down and trying all 10 was illustrative to say the least.

[image via Nath’s Beer Gallery]

9. 2008 Southampton Saison- My first aged saison and one that was so amazing I made sure to put some down.  Tons of fig and caramel and a beautiful copper color.

[image via Home Brew Talk]

10. Ommegang Rare Vos- Maybe it was tasting it there.  But I think it’s because it’s what Fat Tire would taste like if Fat Tire was actually good.  There’s that rich toast, but it washes clean and refreshing behind.

[image via Benne Keith]

I know this made you thirsty so I’ll likely bump into you at Sam’s after workThey’re doing a tasting with Stone Brewing Co. (who Charlie picked twice here) this Friday from 4:30-7pm.

December 16, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Crowdsourcing. 2 comments.

Where to drink Fullsteam

Fullsteam Brewery is so hot they’ve got a GQ spread.

Durham’s newest craft brewery makes an excellent product. I had the pleasure of drinking five of their beers at a special Dos Perros event well before they were widely available. By now their brews are available triangle-wide and if you’re really lucky, you’ve got a ticket to their opening party tomorrow.

(UPDATE: by now, this list is woefully outdated, so click your city to be taken to the primary source of information)

Here’s a partial list of where it’s currently available:

DURHAM

  • Tyler’s Taproom
  • James Joyce
  • Dos Perros
  • The Pinhook
  • Rockfish Seafood Grill
  • City Beverage

RALEIGH

  • Busy Bee
  • Poole’s Diner
  • Flying Saucer
  • The Pit
  • Berkeley Cafe
  • Foundation
  • Piola

CARY

  • Lucky 32
  • Bella Mia

APEX

  • Tyler’s Taproom
  • Rocket Science IPA

CHAPEL HILL

  • Piola
  • Spanky’s

HILLSBOROUGH

  • The Wooden Nickel

[Tip via Eat at Joe’s]

[image via Fullsteam FB]

August 13, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Smarts. Leave a comment.