Kroger Fresh

Nov 6 – The Kroger Co. revealed a new logo today and a “fresh for everyone” brand transformation campaign that the company said celebrates its love for customers and associates, a food-first culture and a long history as America’s favorite grocer. The campaign will include new in-store signage and animated figures that the company is calling “Krojis” (Kroger emojis) that will help deliver the marketing message. American Grocery Association – Daily News Brief.

krog6

We returned to Cincinnati for Thanksgiving. My sister lives there and she was doing the big dinner. Arfie and I flew in Tuesday evening to enjoy some of Ohio’s cold wet November weather. We gave thanks that we’d return to North Miami in three days.

Arlene, my sister, was doing a classic Thanksgiving Day dinner with turkey, mashed spuds, walnut dressing and Iroquois style succotash (which means mixing corn and lima beans with red peppers then frying the whole thing up in butter until it’s a nutty brown). Arlene got roped into being a parent adviser at the local grade school PTA. They were selling pies for their fall fundraiser. Arlene bought six of them. What we didn’t eat, she threatened to send home with us.

Wednesday’s dinner was a strip down affair. Wendy, my other sister, and I were going to take over kitchen chores while Arlene build her energy for the morrow.

Wendy was never known for haute cuisine. She planned to make pasta in tomato sauce which is exactly what it sounds like – boiled spaghetti drenched with Kroger’s finest canned tomato sauce. “The secret to eating it,” advised Leonard, her significant other, “is to take a little spaghetti cover it with a small amount tomato sauce and cover the whole thing with as much Parmesan cheese that you can find. Then eat a lot of rolls.”

It was the holidays and I was feeling both generous and hungry so I said, “how about if I make a couple of pizzas to go along with it. We’ll have an Italian night just like the pilgrims did in 1761.”

Both Leonard and Arlene jumped on this especially after they figured out that ‘make a couple of pizzas’, actually meant ‘buy a couple of pizzas.’ How could that go wrong?

So off Leonard and I went to the neighborhood Kroger’s to see what we could find. If you live in New England, the Deep South or the Southwest, Kroger’s not a store you have probably ever shopped at. Here in the Midwest, it is the only store you can shop in.

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, Kroger kicked off a national rebranding of their stores with something called “Fresh For Everyone”. The ‘Fresh For Everyone’ theme consisted a bunch of cartoon characters cleverly tinted in light and dark colors, with females equaling males and everybody looking pretty damn straight. Kroger called them Krojis (like emojis, get it?). Above the ‘toons smiling faces were words ‘Fresh For Everybody’ in big letters. The theme, says the Kroger’s marketing release, ‘celebrates its love for customers and associates, a food-first culture and a long history as America’s favorite grocer’, three assertions certain to astound anyone who has ever shopped at Kroger.


Well I might be just a yahoo from Florida, but when I saw the word ‘Fresh’ I thought ‘Fresh’ as in our food is fresh. Based on the little smiley faces, I figured ‘Everyone’ meant Kroger was proud to serve anyone no matter their race or gender (providing you were straight and not Asian).

If you’ve ever shopped for vinyl replacement windows, you’ll have noticed that the companies with the poorest customer reviews have the most pictures of the American flag in their advertisements. Perhaps you’ll see DISCOUNTS FOR VETERANS in big letters at the top of the page or goofy slogans like ‘Have you hugged at Vet today?’ or ‘Proud to Sell Only American Made Products’ at the bottom. That’s the first rule of advertising: when you have crap, wrap it up in an American flag and call it magic wampum. Most people ignore the reviews and fall for the flimflam. We want to believe the glitter and what could be shinier than a big American flag?

The same thing applies to Kroger. From my experience at Kroger, ‘fresh’ as in fresh produce, dairy products or meats, has nothing to do with the word’s definition in Webster. Fruits are more bruised then not, lettuce wilted, milk on its last sell date (and uncannily goes sour the day after that), and meat has a decent chance of smelling fetid when you open its package. Stale food has long been a hallmark of a Kroger store but when you own the market like they do in Cincinnati, well you can do that.


The Kroger advertising people aren’t stupid. They know their customers think the food stinks. So plaster the stores with a new slogan – Fresh For Everyone. Let people assume ‘Fresh’ refers to the food you sell. Say it enough times, people may believe it in spite of the banged up tomatoes they are rummaging through.

Leonard and I settled on Kroger’s Deli Pizza. They are the kind you bake yourself for that homemade flavor. The only ones in stock were ‘Meat Lovers Pizza’; the toppings purported to be sausage, pepperoni and Canadian bacon. Well yum. We figured we could dress it up with some mushrooms, onions and extra cheese. I bought two.

While Wendy was boiling the tomato sauce, I spiced up the deli pizzas with the veggies and cheese. They looked pretty good going into the oven. Leonard beamed as he uncorked a couple bottles of Merlot.

The pizzas took twenty minutes for the crust to brown and the cheese get bubbly. Wendy kept the spaghetti boiling until the pizza came out. It was a little soggy but as Leonard said, put enough cheese on anything and you have a great meal.

Leonard started his third glass of Merlot as I sliced up the first pizza. It was perfect – crisp crust, crinkled onions, everything slathered in cheese. Leonard put it on a pizza stand and took it into the dining room.

I swirled around the second pizza to find a good cutting angle. As I turned the stone, some brown liquid dripped out from one edge onto the counter top then to the floor. I grabbed a paper towel and sopped it up. It was the color of used motor oil.

As the pizza cooled, the oozing stopped. I gingerly lifted up edges of the pizza looking for the source. It was all coming from the right side but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly where. But it stopped after I slipped more paper towels under the crust. I figured when I sliced it, I’d find the where the brown goop was coming from.

I never did. I cut the pizza into eight pieces. There were dark spots on the crust of two pieces but the heat of the pizza stone must have allowed the liquid to either evaporate or get sucked back into the crust.

When Leonard returned, I showed him the blackish paper towels. “Maybe we should just throw it out,” I said.

He replied, “Are you crazy. Have you seen the spaghetti? There’s nothing here that can be worse than that. Besides, baking it for twenty minutes should’ve killed anything that’d make you sick. Let’s eat.”

The deli pizzas were the hit of the evening. I even had a piece from the second pizza after trying to eat a plate of the spaghetti. Leonard was right, Kroger could probably have put turpentine on the thing and it still would be better than over cooked tomato sauce poured on top of gummy pasta.

Thanksgiving was two weeks ago. I am back in Florida. We don’t have any Kroger’s here so it is easy for me to say I’ll never buy another thing from them again let alone a Deli Meat Lover’s Pizza. But I will always be perplexed. What could they have done to it to make the pizza bleed motor oil? And how does that fit in with ‘Fresh For Everyone’? The little Krojis – would they be pictured gulping down a chewy piece of pizza with brackish brown sauce dripping from their little smiling mouths? That’s the part I will miss – watching ‘America’s favorite grocery’ trying to make gold out of shit again. It’s the American way.

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The Queen’s Speech

On August 28th, Boris Johnson went to Queen Elizabeth and requested she prorogue the parliament until October. The government, he said, needed extra time to prepare its ‘exciting new program’ for the speech she gives to open Parliament each year. A month’s delay would do he said.

So the Queen prorogued parliament.

There was the predicable public outcry. ‘Dictator’, ‘Liar’, ‘Slime Ball’, ‘Dolt’. All this head banging aroused another dolt in Washington who Tweeted, “Very bad. The Brits have pierogis in the Parliament [sic] and now no government [sic]. But because of me, my Wall protects this great country [sic]. There won’t be any tacos shutting down our government [??].”

The Scottish Supreme Court walking with their hats.

One of Johnson’s opponents took the prorogue decision to the Scottish Supreme Court which is apparently where important court cases start in the UK. The charge was lying to the Queen. The Court quickly said, ‘yep, he lied’. Johnson’s guys then went to the Supreme Supreme Court in London and said, ‘no he didn’t.’ That Court read the Scottish’s Court judgement, agreed with it and said, ‘yes he did.’

Lying to the Queen? In the sixteenth century that would have got you thrown in the Tower at best or, if you were a snot head like Johnson, a one way ride up Tower Hill. But much to the Queen’s dismay, her great, great, great grandfather William surrendered royal judicial powers to the commoners in exchange for a lousy salt tax so he could attack the French again.

Bango! – got ’em in the crosswalk.

Though the Queen is constitutionally bound to let the courts enforce laws and mete out punishment (the Court ordered Johnson to unlock Parliament and give everyone a free coffee during its first session), Prince Phillip is not. The man is 98, deep in dotage, and apparently not bound by any English law whatsoever. If you piss him off, he will give you a hefty smack with his Jubilee Silver Royce Phantom. So what if you break a leg or arm? The NHS will fix you up for free and Phillip drives on. When the prince is on the prowl along the roads in Windsor, the Queen is much amused.

Four times he asked parliament to declare him incompetent. And they refused.

So Johnson was in a pickle (or perhaps pickled beets). He introduced four motions stating he was too incompetent to lead the country and they were all voted down. Parliament then passed a law stating that Johnson had to request a Brexit extension past October 31st if he could not reach a deal with the EU by then. Since Johnson’s strategy all along was to ensure the EU would never agree to a deal, he was miffed and said he’d force the country to leave anyways.

So it went back to the Scottish Supreme Court. The case is typically befuddling to anyone not British – If Johnson ignores the law that says he must extend the EU negotiations, Johnson’s opponents wants the court to order him to do so now, even though he has not done anything yet nor needs to until October 31st. It’s a kind of a ‘just in case he does’ case.

Johnson’s response was equally befuddling: (1) he will withdraw the UK out of the EU on October 31st no matter what, (2) the matter has no business going to the courts until he actually does something on the 31st, when it will be too late to stop, and (3) he will obey whatever the court says.

Suspended – Not Prorogued

Then everyone took a break to have their annual party conferences. Johnson went to Manchester, Corbyn to Brighton and Swinson (Lib Dem) to Bournemouth. The Queen took Phillip to Balmoral for a fall vacation. Since no one was at Parliament, it was ‘suspended’ rather than ‘prorogued’.

Except for the Queen, all the players are sniping at each other, playing games of double dare you to double double dare me, and preparing for a new election that has not been scheduled. Luckily for everyone, the earth still rotates and time ticks by. October 31st will inevitably arrive. Shit will happen. Then more shit. Then it will be over. The UK will still be in the UE or not. There will be more accidents involving a Royce Phantom in the northern suburbs of London.

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Americans Are Idiots #23

9/27/2019 BATAVIA TOWNSHIP, Ohio —

By WLW Digital Staff

Aircare was dispatched to East Fork State Park in Clermont County for a woman injured on a bike path on Friday night. Emergency responders were called to the scene just after 7:30 p.m.

Clermont County dispatch said a tree had fallen on the woman. The incident happened on the bike path around 3,000 feet from the Matt Maupin Pavilion.

Officials have not released the woman’s condition.


September 28, 2019 at 11:42 AM EDT – Updated September 28 at 1:39 PM

ESTES PARK, Colo. (AP/Gray News) — Wildlife officials in Colorado are warning people to keep their distance from elk during their mating season after a bull charged people, knocked a woman down and repeatedly butted her with its antlers.

Video shows the elk running toward people Thursday near the visitor center in Estes Park near Rocky Mountain National Park.

The attack came during the community’s annual Elk Fest.

The woman escaped after public works employee Brian Berg drove a pickup on the sidewalk and got between her and the elk. The elk then rammed the

front of the truck.

                                    * * * * *

    And stay out of the park.   

A woman wanders through the woods of a state park outside of Cincinnati. The day is sunny, hot and no breeze. A tree, for whatever reason, falls and conchs the lady on the head – knocks her cold. A short time later another hiker comes by, sees the unfortunate woman and calls EMS. It is an internet news story. There was no follow-up; presumably the woman lived.
Why would anyone tromp through the woods anyway? A tree got her but there are a dozen ways to die in the wild. Bears. There are bears in southwest Ohio. They generally don’t molest humans unless they’re hunger. In the fall, they are always hungry. Getting hit by a tree is probably better than being eaten by a bear.
Rattlesnakes? Ohio has ’em all over the place. Not like Texas but like Ohio. If you step on one, they will bite you just like the ones in Texas.
There are coyotes too. They travel in packs and usually attack sheep and small children. But if you out on a trail when a pack traipse by, expect them to give you a good looking over. Expect more if you are trapped under a tree.
There are a lot of deer there too. Deer with big antlers that look pretty much like elk. You can see where this is going.
Switch across the country. Colorado, another park, outside of Denver.

See the pretty animals.

This time it’s elk who show up for a town’s Elk Festival. It is a tribute to the Elk Festival organizers that the elk, who typically ignore the Georgian calendar, dropped in for the weekend’s gala, which, naturally was during rutting season.

American Idiot #23.
If humans show up at an elk event, the results are predictable: an elk gores the first person it sees, then gets into a fight with a Ford 150. So much for a peaceful day the foothills of the Rockies.
Lyle Lovett once said to a tipsy George Bush twenty-five years, “Schrub, you bring elk to a stag party, but you’re gonna get a horn up your ass.”
Or tree upside your head. Nothing has changed.
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Chuck Barry’s Red Leather Shoes

“Par-ma?!” – Leonard Ghoulardi

Question 1 – Why a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Question 2 – why Cleveland? Question 3 – Does anyone care?

Well we thought we did. Last April, we trekked up to Chicago for that last chance to freeze our asses off before springtime came. It is a good way to give thanks for Miami’s warm but generally wet winters. Arfie said,”Well if we are all the way up there, let’s hit Cleveland on the way back and go to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. We can get some of that Great Lakes beer and pierogis.” Pierogis. I had forgotten about pierogis. We grew up 50 miles south of Cleveland in a Hunky family that had a grandmother who loved to cook. Pierogis, jelly filled crepes, chicken baked in sour cream and paprika, pigs in the blanket – You don’t get any of that stuff in Miami. Cleveland has them all. So I sez, “sure we can do the HoF as long as we can get some of those pierogis first.”

We rented half of a two family I found on Abnb. It was on the west side of town, a part called Ohio City. I’d never heard of Ohio City before but I did know their biggest landmark – the West Market. The West Market is a hangar like structure built in the 1800s. It’s crammed with scores of butchers, bakers, farmers and specialty food stores. They sell pierogis there. So did a restaurant around the corner of our apartment – they had pierogis and beer. And another place just up the street had them and another and another. You pretty much could get pierogis everywhere but odd Thai or Indian restaurant.

There were a lot of other great things about Ohio City besides pierogis. When they built the West Market, Ohio City was full of immigrants that came from Europe’s underbelly to work in Cleveland’s heavy industries a half mile north on Lake Erie. It was blue collar and bosses all thrown together. Their homes are still there – small one and two family framed houses like we were renting, some grand thee story brick houses with big front yards and wrap around verandas. And, where I guess the big bosses lived, a half a dozen stone behemoths that took up half a block surrounded sturdy iron fences.

In the ’60s and ’70s, Ohio City got its share of urban blight as whites moved out (to Parma!!) and the community’s tax based shriveled to nothing. This reversed in the late 90s. Whites moved back in. So did blacks, and Hispanics and Asians. Everybody rehabbed every house they could buy, Great Lakes Brewery built their micro-brewery on Market Street and suddenly Ohio City was the place to live. Ten years ago, gentrification started. Boutiques opened next to consignment shops; a dozen restaurants selling tiny portions of food that cost a lot opened throughout the neighborhood killing any free parking that remained. The West Market started selling $50 bottles of wine, pierogis doubled in price. Abnb rentals opened on every block.

Two miles from Ohio City is Cleveland’s big downtown landmark – Public Square. Public Square is just that. A big square. There is nothing notable in the Square. No grand statue, elegant monument or even a piece of confusing civic art. Just wide swaths of concrete broken up by a park benches flung around a handful saplings planted randomly in the concrete. Mostly the square is there to drive around. Five of the city’s main drags run into it so to switch from west to north or south or east, you first have to go to the Square then circle around it until you got to the road that took you in the right direction. It’s an Americanize version of an English roundabout without the statue in the middle.

We set off for the Hall of Fame Monday morning. To get from Ohio City (west side of town) to the HoF (north east side), you had to go around the Square. Being a stranger in these parts, we went around it twice unaware that the traffic lane on which you entered the Square determined the street you would exit out of. The city apparently felt signage was a waste of money since everybody driving through the city most probably lived in the area. It was no big deal. Cleveland traffic is not like that of New York City or LA or Chicago. It’s more like Albuquerque’s – there is not much of it, and that which is there moves nicely along. (That evening we went to a ball game during rush hour. It was the same deal as the HoF. To get from the west (Ohio City again) to the south (towards Progressive Field) we had to loop the loop Public Square. The traffic moved around the square as licketly split as the big metro buses can go.)

We ended up parking two blocks from the place and an easy walk towards the lake to the Hall of Fame. There we had the luck of the preterite : two school buses were empting out kids right in front of us. Naturally the kids blocked the doors until everybody took a picture of themselves taking a picture of themselves with someone else. Then someone else. After that rigmarole was done, they moved into the building, grabassing along the way. The few adults that seemed to be minding them were more minding their smart phones screens. One of the more unfortunate of them was trying to handout wrist bands while checking names off on a printout on her clipboard. It was a slow process but no one cared. Everyone had the day to kill so why rush it? We just wished we had been their 10 minutes sooner and avoided the whole thing.

I remarked that we were fucked – the kids would be in front of us throughout the whole exhibit, moving at a snail’s pace through one exhibit to another. Arfie figured we would get ahead of them once we got through the ticket process. His theory was that half of them would need to piss so there would be a 30 minute bathroom break before they hit the museum. Arfie was right. Once they got into the lobby with their wristbands checked, it was back to the selfies and grabassing.

Tickets seemed reasonably priced at $26 bucks a head; $25 if you were under twelve or over 65. Not much of a discount. With your ticket, you got a guide. Six stories of stuff. We were excited.

A wondrous pyramid stretching along picturesque Lake Erie (well it’s somewhere around there).

It turns out, our enthusiasm was premature. Firstly, although the HoF building rises five stories above the lake, the main exhibit is in the lower level of the building (An I.M. Pei signature glass pyramid, this time knitted into the beautiful lake setting with as much effect as his Louvre pyramid accentuates the Louise XIII buildings surrounding it, i.e., zero and zero). The ground level consists of a utilitarian food court and a huge Disney sized souvenir store. The second floor was closed and, according to the brochure, has been for some years. The fourth and fifth floors are a SiriusXM studio and an area where visitors can record the thrill of viewing the history of Rock and Roll. Both were empty.

The third floor is the actual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I am not sure what our expectations were – maybe some memorabilia from its famous members, but again, a letdown. The floor was filled with plaques. The same little plaques they hand out to the inductees every year at HoF ceremonies in NYC. Hundreds of wood blocks with brass name plates. And nothing else. It is hard to ooh and aah over a bunch of wood squares strung from the walls.

The nice café. Still don’t see the lake? Keep looking.

If you were wondering who stills sells CD, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has your answer.

So there were three things you get for the $26 (or just $25 for kids and grandparents) admission ticket: (1) a basement exhibit of the history of Rock & Roll as envisioned by Ahmet Ertegun, the Atlantic Records founder, (2) the privilege to buy a half an avocado sliced onto a piece of toast for ten dollars, (3) entrance to a Disney designed all exits out of the building lead through Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ToysЯUs like visitor’s store.

What’s in the basement? A lot of stuff. Chuck Berry’s red shoes. A suit worn by Gene Autry (Gene Autry? Rock & Roll? Confused? Read the little signs that explain it all and you’ll still be confused.); actually there are hundreds of suits and dresses worn by nearly anyone who ever made a record, all arranged historically on the exhibit’s maze of walls. Somewhere in the center of the place is the Elvis area. It’s a large oval room upon whose walls hang a dozen Elvis jump suits, lots of shoes and a couple of guitars. A giant video monitor sits in the middle of one wall surrounded by benches. It’s the only seating in the gallery and when we were there, every fricken seat was taken by those old people (enjoying their $25 discount fee!) who actually remembered and/or cared about Elvis. After watching 10 minutes of Elvis performance footage from his Las Vegas days you get one of those ‘I guess you had to be there’ feelings. How could so many people go so gaga over a middle aged crooner dressed up like a color blind drag queen? The people sitting on the benches, that’s who. Reliving the dream.

It was hard not to compare the Cleveland Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. We had been to the CM HoF two times and came away both times thoroughly delighted. We are not big country music fans but after you tour that museum, you come out wanting to tune up WSM on the radio and play it real loud. The CM HoF is many times larger than the Cleveland HoF but it’s not the size it does better – it is how the exhibits are arranged. Yes they have one of Gene Autry’s suits too but you also figure out what Autry sang, who he learned it from and who the singing cowboy influenced in the 1950s. Ernest Tubbs had a small stage in back of his record store and as a young man, Elvis played there along with Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and dozens and dozens of other stars. They tell the history of it all. Then, you can walk a couple blocks down to Broadway and the Ernest Tubbs Records is still there still selling vinyl.

The Ryman Auditorium became known as the church of country music back in the 40s when everybody owned a radio and WSM broadcast a two hour show from it every Saturday night. You can spend an hour in the HoF reading about the Ryman, look at ton of photos of the early shows with Roy Acuff or Mini Pearl or Hank Williams. When you’re done with that, you can just walk two blocks north on 5th Street and guess what? The Ryman Auditorium. And if you visit during the right time in the winter, you can catch a real live Grand Ole Opry show at the Ryman pretty much as they were when WSM broadcast them seventy years ago. And it goes on and on. Nashville was where country musicians wrote their songs, tried them out at one of the Broadway honky-tonks, than recorded them in RCA Studio B on south 17th Street. If they were lucky and talented enough to make the big time, they bought a big house – In Nashville. The place reeks of music.

Birthplace of Rock ‘N’ Roll? Really? Cleveland!

At least Nashville’s got the country creds.

Cleveland isn’t Nashville so it’s not totally fair to compare the two. But when you build a Hall of Fame dedicated to Rock& Roll, you need to have to have a pretty jazzy museum and perhaps located in a town with some music history. Or at least it should be in a place Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees actually come to. Cleveland strikes out on all three. Game Over.

As anyone who has spent time in Cleveland will tell you, there are countless reasons not to visit the city. Ohio City is cute and an anomaly. Most of Cleveland sucks. It is just another rust belt city like Detroit or Pittsburgh or Akron – decaying infrastructure, struggling schools, and a dingy downtown. It’s a city a native can love but for the rest of us? Periogis. Go to Cleveland for the Periogis. And Great Lakes Beer. But skip the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame even if you can get that great senior citizen discount.

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Segways: “they could do things that would make us shit in our pants.”


 
 

Jeff Bezos said that in 2001 when he saw a Segway demonstrated to him and Steve Jobs.  We now know that Bezos understands a whole lot more about retailing than he does about transportation.

Dean Kamen said he was thinking about a green alternative a person could use instead of a car when they just needed a carton of milk from a grocery.  He came up with a Segway.  We should be thankful he did not think of some battery operated Sherman tank though the tank might have been safer for its drivers.

We all know how successful Kamen was at solving the getting the carton of milk problem. I can say I have never seen a Segway parked at my neighborhood Safeway in the last 10 years.  But I have been run off sidewalks and bike paths and park trails countless times by Segway riders mindlessly enjoying the outdoors on their expensive little toys.

Ask yourself what purpose do they serve?  Write it down on a piece of paper.  Still looking at a blank piece of paper?  Well cut your losses and admit it – there is no reason for them to exist.  Another clever idea that should have been let to quietly die.

Kamen was a good salesman.  He sold the the company to Jimi Heselden in early 2010 for millions using smoke and mirror sales numbers.  Jimi was probably deep into buyer’s remorse when his Segway killed him in late 2010 (he was riding trails around his house when he belatedly encountered a design flaw he should have known existed – no brakes – and as he approached the edge of the trail going too fast…. well it was oops and over the side for ole Jimi), since Kamen’s estimates of 50,000 units a year turned out to be actually less than a tenth of that when Heselden owned them.

Steve Jobs nailed the concept as soon as Kamen approached him for capital money. “I think it sucks”, said Steve trying to sugar-coat how he really felt. “Its shape is not innovative, it’s not elegant, it doesn’t feel anthropomorphic.”  That was in 2001.  Little has changed since then.


So why?  They are banned in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Hungary, and in most of Canada and Spain.  Segways are perfectly legal in most U.S. cities (it is the old NRA matra: Segways don’t run people off the road; people run people off the road) except San Francisco, Boston NYC, and parts of Chicago.  Few individuals buy them anymore.  They were popular as a police toy when they first came out but now, over 80% of the police departments have moth balled them.  They don’t help fighting crime and they are expensive to maintain (the battery replacement alone is about half the original cost of the Segway). 

The only group who benefits from Segways are those little companies in most cities that offer Segway city tours.  The only group.  And the tours are at the expense of anyone walking on a sidewalk or trail or path that in the tour’s way. 

So should Segways be banned?  Ask yourself  – who would miss them?  Like no one.  Who would be impacted – a few dozen people who own tour companies in big American cities. Who benefits – pretty much every one who likes to take a walk or a jog or a bike ride on a pleasant Summer’s day.

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El Agave Revisited


We are not huge fans of tequila.  If you grew up in the Midwest and South, tequila was this sour tasting concoction with a worm in the bottom of the bottle.  Not that we ever saw a worm in a tequila bottle, but a couple of Hispanic friends (who actually never lived in or, from what I knew then, ever visited Mexico) assured us that real tequila (as opposed to the tequila sold in the local State Store) had a potency that put vodka to shame and indeed was always flavored by worm).

As we grew older, we mostly took our tequila in frozen margaritas first sampled at Fat Tuesday’s on South Beach, the sample here being a 16oz plastic cup of this flavor and that, sold from giant rotating barrels though we couldn’t tell you a whole lot about any differences after we got halfway through the second one. This was followed a couple months later in their bar on Bourbon Street and then, frankly, in at a least a half a dozen other Fat Tuesday’s along the eastern seaboard.  A Fat Tuesday’s margarita was not the tastiest drink in the world but Fat Tuesday’s had 10 different flavors, always served in large plastic cups and knocked you on your ass for less than 10 bucks.

After a while, we drifted away from margaritas.  Our tastes grew more towards straight whiskies – bourbon or rye or a single malt was the ticket.  Slow sipping on something with deep flavors and a bite is our preference these days.

A couple of months ago we were in San Diego and sampled some of the numerous Mexican restaurants the city has.  Our friend Richard, a San Diego transplant from Atlanta, suggested a Tequileria called El Agave in the Old Town area.  We had our doubts – our previous excursions into the touristy Old Town had not resulted in any memorable food;  forgettable was probably a better adjective.  And our Mexican beverage of choice remained Cerveza.  A Tequileria specializes in, well, tequila. 

Richard was insistent.  His promise to buy a couple of rounds of tequila for us all was as about as much arm twisting as we needed.

We learned two things that evening at El Avage.  Number one, it turns out one can get pretty good Mexican food in Old Town.  El Avage had a classical mexican menu – a dozen different moles, wonderful combinations pescados and carne, and the best Sopa Mariscos I have ever encountered.

We are better whisky tasters than food critics.  Which leads us to the second thing learned that night – tequila drunk neat is pretty damn tasty.  The number of tequila’s the Tequileria had must have been in the hundreds – the place would put a Scotsman to shame.  We still can’t vouchsafe for worms in the bottle because after our third round, we could barely see the bottles in the dim light.  Richard assured us there were worms.

The tequilas’ tastes were as complex as bourbons or scotches. Some smokey, some dry; they had a tremendous range of subtle flavors that spanned from peppers to cinnamon to nuts to cherries.  Some had a nasty bite to them, but most were almost creamy smooth.    We were impressed.

We are not ready to join the tequila fan club just yet.  But we added Cinco Cantina and El Vato Tequila to our favorite Miami bar list.  We are going to keep testing these babies out.

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