Tag Archives: newyorktimes

How is twitter holding up in 2021?


How is Twitter holding up in 2021? It depends on how you look at it. As a service, it is trying to innovate with new features, but as this piece argues, it is kinda stuck: Twitter Is Stuck With Itself, Too – The New York Times.

As a company, though, it is doing well. For example, it continues to be profitable: Twitter Continues Its Profit Streak, While Still Shedding Users – The New York Times. The shedding users is a concern.

And compared to other services like YouTube, it is doing ok, as this piece shows: YouTube Is Underwhelming – The New York Times. In fact:

Twitter, which is not so hot at money, pulls in roughly double the ad sales on average from each of its users compared with YouTube.

Perhaps it should be acknowledged that the early social media companies like Twitter and YouTube are mature now and their growth and innovation peaks are behind them. Maybe they will continue to be like Facebook: mimicking every new company in the hopes of draining off some of that enthusiasm.

At least Twitter as a company seems to be doing well. For 2021, that may be all they need to be.
(Photo by Edgar MORAN on Unsplash)

On restaurants loved and lost: Brothers

Brothers Restaurant Toronto

It’s Valentine’s Day, a good day to write a love letter to one of my favorite restaurants of all time, Brothers.

Brothers is a restaurant that should not have worked. Crowded between the entrance of the Bay Street subway and a downtown mall, there was barely room for anyone. One table in the window, a midsized bar, and a few tables in the back. Amongst all that a kitchen the size of a big closet nestled in a corner. It should not have worked, but in the short time it was around, it worked wonderfully.

You realized it was special when you first walked in, and I walked in often. I worked nearby, and whenever I needed a treat, I would wander over and sit at the bar and have lunch. I went so often that Chris who ran the front of place would warmly greet me after a time. (Later, as the place became extremely popular, Chris would sadly greet me after a time to tell me there was no room. It got so bad — for me, not them —  that I ended up scheduling lunch at 2ish just in the hopes of  getting a spot.)

While the service, atmosphere, and location were all great, what had me come back again and again was the food. The food was superb. I would take the hearty bread they offered and wipe down the plate to get every bit of it. The cooking was precise, simple and stellar. I loved to get something like sausage served with beans or vegetables and accompanied by a well chosen sauce. I’d take my time to slowly eat it, trying to appreciate and understand why it was so good. It was as much a cerebral as it was a sensory experience.

I would ask Chris about their tomato sauce or their green sauce, and he would tell me how they experimented with the amount of dairy or herb or whatever ingredient was in it to make the dish just right. And just right it was.

Most of the time I would get their sausage dish. The meat would change in the sausage, but it was always expertly balanced with seasoning. At first they may have been traditionally shaped, but later they were puck shaped. I loved that, and I loved them.

Sausage was not the only thing they excelled at. Pastas were always handmade, cooked to just the right texture, then served with a sauce better than any pasta sauce I ever had. Carpaccio was thin slices of whatever was appropriate for the season and accompanied with a light, lively dressing. The beef carpaccio was one of my favorite. They once said they could teach anyone to make it, but I doubt that. Fish, salad, dessert: whatever they made, they made well, listed it on their minimal menus, and I was happy and lucky to have it.

Brothers wasn’t around long, and in the time it was around, it lived three lives. The first was before the New York Times wrote about it, the second was after that article, and the third was the pandemic. Before the Times article, it was not too hard to get a seat there. They didn’t even take reservations. After the Times article, it was very hard to get in. There were weeks when I could not get a spot at the bar.  It got so busy they went with a reservation system. It slowed down a bit, but it was always popular.

Until the pandemic occurred. That was their last life. They tried to pivot to take out, and I did a curbside pickup of a wonderful meal from them. In the end they decided they didn’t want to be that kind of place and closed it down.

Lots of places have gone due to the pandemic. Some of them would have gone regardless. Not Brothers. If there was no pandemic, I am sure it would still be running, still sliding plates of that chewy soft bread and warm mixed olives and perfectly cooked food for me and you to delight in. I am going to miss many places because of the pandemic, but I think I will miss Brothers most of all.

(From more on it, see the New York Times article, or this blogTO piece. Images from the blogTO piece.

Check out their old web site. It’s simple but smart, just the way it used to be.

Finally this Google link will show you a wealth of photos for the place.)

 

On friendship, it’s importance and limits

 I have been thinking a lot about friendships over the pandemic. I have wondered how many friendships will dissolve due to the distance imposed on us by this disease. I have wondered how many will strengthen afterwards when we have a chance to reunite. This crazy time has distorted our lives in so many ways, and our friendships will be one of those things that gets distorted.

If I have you thinking about friendship now, here’s more food for thought:

  1. The People Who Prioritize a Friendship Over Romance – The Atlantic
  2. Why You Need a Network of Low-Stakes, Casual Friendships – The New York Times
  3. The Limits of Friendship | The New Yorker

The pandemic will be over. When that happens, make sure you value the people who were your friends during this difficult time. Best friends are best. But go out and make more friends, too.

(Photo by Kimson Doan on Unsplash)

On restaurants loved and lost

The pandemic has been hard on people and hard on businesses. One type of business it has been especially hard on is the restaurant business. So many has closed that it is hard to recall them all. Partially to remedy this, the Times did a piece on them: Remembering the Restaurants America Lost in 2020 – The New York Times

If you read it, you will likely see some you loved. One I always wanted to go to but never got to and now never will was Lucky Strike. Here’s how Julia Moskin recalled it:

Lucky Strike was for us. That’s how it felt in the early 1990s, when I lived in downtown Manhattan and my restaurant priorities were cheap red wine, good lighting and a potent steak au poivre. Lucky Strike was Keith McNally’s first restaurant of his own, and a looser, more fun sibling of the polished, magnetic Odeon in TriBeCa, which he had opened with partners in 1980.

At the time, Lucky Strike’s location was most accurately described not as “in SoHo,” but “near the mouth of the Holland Tunnel,” and its strip of Grand Street was desolate at night. The warmth and noise that it spilled onto the street made it a beacon for locals. We liked that the food was never quite good enough to draw a crowd. We liked that the rough floors and wine tumblers repelled the people who came looking for lychee martinis and tuna tartare. Mr. McNally went on to open bigger, glossier joints that are still with us — like Balthazar, Minetta Tavern and Pastis — and has closed almost as many, but Lucky Strike was the only one that was a neighborhood restaurant, and the only one I’ll mourn.

I was going to NYC a fair bit in the 80s and 90s, and I remember the buzz around Lucky Strike. I thought: that’s my kinda place. That’s the kind of place I want to hit when I get to Manhattan. But while I went to New York a fair bit, the times there were always short, and I never made it.

There are many great restaurants  I have gone to in my lifetime. Some like Lucky Strike were killed off in the pandemic, some closed long before that. Some of them are still on some form of life support, hoping to make it through to the bright side of this dreadful era. I want to write about those places before I forget them, for my own sake if nothing else. Although perhaps you will have the same thoughts reading them that I had when reading about Lucky Strike. If so, that will be good too.

Restaurant reside in the best parts of my better memories. It’s a good time to recall them, write about them here, and group them with the tag #restoslovedandlost

(Images from the New York Times article)

On the joy of updating Wikipedia and how you can experience it too

Wikipedia home page

It is a small joy to update Wikipedia. I reflected upon that when I read this story of a librarian who has started down that path.

I have made a number of updates myself! Not many, but here’s my list:

  • on a French pastry I used to love getting, but found no entry on: Bichon au Citron
  • I’ve fixed a minor typo on this list regarding SNL
  • I was reading a book on the late Bronze Age collapse and when I went to the wikipedia page, I noticed it needed some references. I referred to the book I was reading.
  • Finally, I was reading about Anoxygenic photosynthesis and I added some references.

Basically I fixed up some pages that had errors or lacked citations. This is the easiest way to start. Creating a whole new entry, as I did with the pastry,  is harder.

You don’t even have to create a login, though I did.If you aren’t feeling too confident at first, try playing around in the sandbox. It’s easy, and you can’t break anything.

We all benefit from improvements to Wikipedia. Why not do some yourself? You will find it satisfying and joyful.

(Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash)