Cafe 227

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Return of Borf, the Ghostbusters Endorse Obama, and Other Observations

I think it's safe to call the Cafe 227 blog "defunct." I mean, I don't even live in DC anymore, let alone the actual Cafe 227 (which exists at an undisclosed location off of U Street). I am, however, in between jobs, which means I have a little bit of time on my hands. As such, I thought I'd take this time to document a few random observations of mine here in New York (where I now live).

1. Borf Lives

See, I always thought Borf was entirely a DC phenomenon. I remember nearly driving my car off the Roosevelt bridge one evening when I saw his enormous head on an overhead sign. Anyway, I thought I saw the last of Borf when I moved from the 202. But last night, as I was walking home from the office, I saw this on a fire hydrant near the intersection of 5th Avenue and Central Park South...

2. Gray's Papaya Steals Ghostbusters' Tag Line to Endorse Obama

The biggest things I miss about DC so far (other than my remaining friends) are (1) go go music, (2) Gilbert Arenas, and (3) Ben's Chili Bowl. The lack of an analogue to Ben's famous chili half smoke here in NY has been absolutely disappointing. There is, however, a half decent hot dog joint about 10 blocks from my apartment called Gray's Papaya. They're kind of a New York institution. And they seem to be strangely politically active as far as hot dog joints go. For most of this primary season, they've been trying to convince Michael Bloomberg to run. But now that he's officially out, Gray's has a new horse in the race -- Barack Obama.

The thing is, check out Gray's adaptation of Obama's campaign slogan:

"We are ready to believe again." Doesn't that conjure up memories of another NY institution?

3. Weird Weather Hits NY

So I've been using NetVibes obsessively lately to keep checklists, aggregate blog posts, etc. I recently installed a weather module that alerts me to the current and forecast conditions outside based on universally-understood graphics. For instance, if it's going sunny, NetVibes shows me a picture of a big yellow sun. And so on. Yesterday, I saw a new picture alerting me to some strange weather conditions this coming Sunday:

I think Sunday's picture is supposed to signal either (1) wind or (2) tasty cinnabons flying through the air.

4. iPod "Classic"

I stopped by the fancy Apple store inside the GM building this morning to buy an athletic armband case for my iPod, which will come in handy in some purely theoretical, non-existent universe in which I exercise. I showed the saleskid my 12-month old, 60 gig video iPod so he could find the best product for me.

"Oh, the iPod Classic," he said. "We don't really carry armbands for those anymore."

"Classic?", I replied, flabbergasted. "I just bought this thing 12 months ago. Paid top dollar. Now it's classic?"

"Yeah, you should buy the Nano. It's like your classic iPod, but really small."

I did not end up buying the Nano. But, I did find a nice, reasonably priced athletic armband case for my "classic" iPod on

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Help Fight Depression and Stop Suicide

Okay, so it's been awhile since I (or anyone for that matter) posted on Cafe 227. Probably because Cafe 227 itself does not have a blogger occupant, but that's debatable.

In any event, I am using this vehicle to shamelessly appeal to the 5 of you left who have RSS feeds of the blog.

After graduation from law school and while studying for the Bar, a very close friend killed himself. It was a huge shock and, for those who have never had someone close to them commit suicide, let me tell you it is unbelievably difficult as, beyond the grieving over losing someone, there is an inescapable, gnawing sense of guilt that you "could've done something" or you missed the signs or a million other things that keep you up and make you wonder how someone you cared about could be suffering so much in front of you and you were too clueless to notice.

My friend Dave was the life of every party and one of the smartest people I've ever met (along with Johnny Shades and Conor). His death was a huge loss to the world and the result of a disease that is more deadly than cancer (as far as number of persons killed), but more treatable.

In any event, Dave's friends and family have started a foundation, The Dave Nee Foundation, and the second annual fundraiser is a Casino Night at Capitale in Manhattan on 11/7. If anyone reading this is in New York and wants to go, information is on the website. If you can't go or are broke, all I ask you to do is simply be alert to signs of depression both in yourself and in those you care about. Depression is treatable in almost all cases, but it takes a ton of persistence and courage.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Settlin' Scores

So... my brother-in-law and I like to argue about pretty much everything. When we used to live near each other, we would take different sides on just about any issue and argue the merits until someone either conceded the debate or everyone got so annoyed that they told us to shut up. The most frustrating thing was that we could never get anyone to just flat out say, "He's right," and declare a winner.

Once I moved away, my brother-in-law had more time on his hands since I wasn't around to argue with... so he invented a website (or, more precisely, hired people to design a website) that I think is an answer to my prayers. It's called eSquabb!e, here's the cute logo:

and you can link to it here.
So far I've won some arguments and lost some, but I at least was declared a winner or a loser.
Check it out if you get a chance.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Half-Smoke: Not a Hot Dog

Here's my beef (pun intended; it's late) with Melissa Frederick's coverage of Ben's Chili Bowl's expansion in the Examiner.

"Ben's Chili Bowl...[is] a pioneer of D.C.'s signature food, the half smoke, a type of hot dog."

The half-smoke is no more a "type of hot dog" than a steak is a type of hamburger. It's clearly a sausage. (In fact, I would go so far as to classify "hot dog" as a type of sausage - "sausage" is the more general term, referring to all types of meats that are minced and stuffed into an outer shell or casing.)

No doubt that this reporter from the Examiner just moved to DC from, say, Indianapolis, and has no idea what a half-smoke is. So she just copied what she found on Wikipedia. And we all know that Wikipedia isn't exactly a paragon of accuracy. (My friend and occasional Cafe 227 co-contributor Conor, a distinguished attorney, was once listed on the Notorious BIG's Wikipedia page as having collaborated with Biggie on a rap song...)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Thoughts and Prayers"

The recent death of Indiana football coach Terry Hoeppner is an absolute tragedy. Unfortunately, it has provoked the familiar litany of press-release mourning:

The Indiana AD Rick Greenspan said, "This is a truly sad day for our community and all of our thoughts and prayers are with the Hoeppner family and to those whose lives he has touched."

So many times we hear this increasingly trite phrase:

-- Upon the death of a Marine ("I extend my deepest thoughts and prayers to his family at this time." -Senator Olympia Snowe)

-- After a burst boiler at a rubber plant ("First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with (Evans))

-- In the wake of the drowning of an 11 year old boy ("Accidents can truly happen," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.")

I'm not trying to minimize the impact of these events or their tragic implications, quite the contrary. I am baffled that people, in a time when families are clinging to every word they hear and trying to pick up the pieces after a tragedy, succumb to laziness and use a virtually meaningless phrase.

I remember in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, every politician discussed how his/her "thoughts and prayers are with the families." This took 2 seconds.

Why couldn't someone, when asked, try to say something meaningful, like, "I truly cannot imagine what these people are going through. It is unspeakable pain. I wish there was something I could say or do to improve the situation, but I just can't. I'm going to try to make sure the families have the resources they need, both emotionally and financially, and work to try to prevent something like this from happening."

Or even,

"I just don't know what to say."

But "thoughts and prayers"? All it shows is that you have neither thought nor prayed about the grief you're trying to assuage.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Two American Heroes

I took this picture when I was at Pittsburgh International Airport a few weeks ago:

The one on the left is Franco Harris. The one on the right I didn't recognize, but the placard beneath him said that he was responsible for the Whiskey Rebellion. Jerk.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

More Evidence that Starbucks is Evil

I'm sorry, you can't just call a Rice Krispie treat a "Crispy Marshmallow Bar" and sell it for $2. There's something very un-American about that.