Ted just admit it

This coming weekend, on Saturday January 31, the North End Breakfast Club is sponsoring 500 kids to go see the movie Selma at Carmike 13. They took $5 donations from people all over the community simply to make certain that young folks could go see this movie on the big screen, as it was meant to be seen.

It seems like a small thing, but the more we can engage our youth with the idea of non-violence and standing up for justice, the better chance we’re going to have in the next decades to help to rid ourselves of the terrible past were still living in the present.

If you are like me, you probably aren’t as good of an ally as you should be. I can admit that, and I want to change it. So, that’s my goal for 2015. It extends to many facets in society, but in particular, I am thinking about race relations.

There’s got to be a better conversation in this community about reconciliation. At Smile Politely, we need to become more active in seeking out diversity in our writers and articles. I’ve come to the stark conclusion that no matter how many times we hear that we’re living in a post-racial society, it’s just simply untrue. If Ferguson wasn’t a harsh reminder, I am not sure what more we need.

Please pardon me if this upsets you, but it needs to be stated, and I’d like for you to hear me: this is a race issue, and this is the fault of white people.


Not us, perhaps, no — not always — but it’s definitely a product of our culture.

And I am not interested in hearing about how “both sides need to come together” to help each other out. That’s such an easy cop out. It’s bullshit. Of course, everyone knows that. Everyone gets that cooperation takes both sides to come together to work together and do it well. Anyone thinking straight, anyhow. 

But that line of thinking only makes sense if both sides are on equal footing. And that’s just simply not the case in America. Point to any minority at all — the Irish and Jewish don’t count  — and we’ve got issues to sort through. That’s a fact, and none moreso than with the African American community.

You can choose to deny it, or you can accept it, and get moving on becoming a better ally.

I’m not necessarily sure of the right way to instruct people to do that right now, outside of the very simple first step of admitting to myself that I need to step up and join the fight in a more proactive way. Perhaps in the coming weeks and months, I will learn more about that from people who know more than I do. But for the moment, I just want to write it down here, so you can read it, and moreover, so I can challenge myself. I am hopeful you understand where I am coming from.

I want to be a good listener, and I want to learn about how to improve.

I hope you do, too.

You can’t know the joy of lunch until you’ve been to bacaro on Friday

On Thursdays, you should seriously just skip lunch. And I don’t mean not to eat, but you know, don’t spend any money on it, and keep it light. Because on Friday, you will go to bacaro for lunch, where each week, owner and chef Thad Morrow cooks up something new between 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

This week, it’s Shepard’s Pie. We wrote about it in The Weekender. I fucking love Shepard’s Pie, when it’s done correctly. It’s rich, it’s creamy, it’s three inches thick?

And that’s the thing about bacaro: 8.6 times out of 10, it’s spot on. So, it has my faith.

Here are two photos of what I had the past few months for lunch:

Coq Au Vin:

Jamon y Buerre Sandwich:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it costs more than what you could spend or whatever. But, you know, it had better. Because when something is this good, you need to understand that it costs more to produce. So, bring your lunch on Thursday, and eat at bacaro on Friday.

Generally, it’s like $12-$15 for the meal plus a fancy bottled soda. With tip, it’ll be $20. It’s a treat. But it’s well worth it.

UPDATE: Here is what it looks like, and I am eating it now. In tears. 

Oh, that tired cry

It’s not easy being an artist. I get that, all too well. A hundred years ago, I guess I was one too, although there are a lot of great drummer jokes out there that might negate that notion.

Still though, I thought of myself as one simply because I felt like, as the drummer of a band, I was part of a creative process that developed songs, and those songs were our art.

All told, in a decade of being in a band, I was part of five full length albums, six EPs, and a few more songs on compilations here and there.

And let me tell you, there’s nothing more difficult than reading an article wherein the author basically tells you that your work is simply just average, or worse, not all that good.

It stings. It makes you angry. It feels like a punch to the gut.

But that’s part of the deal. Any time one chooses to enter into the creative process, and then allows others to be part of it, you open yourself up to criticism. And it should be welcomed.

We were lucky, as a band. We had an old pro as a publicist. Michael Roux, a towering man who would have been listed as 7’7” and 265 lbs if I were his basketball coach, ran PR for Parasol Records back when I was recording, and he gave us the best advice anyone ever did about dealing with negative reviews:

“Be thankful.”

Seriously, that’s what he said. And here is why: no matter what the opinion might be, someone spent time judging your work. Like it or not, they engaged. And with all the music out there, or food being eaten, or theater being staged, much of it is completely ignored. Just being creative and spitting it out doesn’t entitle you to anyone’s attention. In fact, there’s so much bad art and food and theater and music out there that any time anyone formulates any sort of opinion about it at all should be cause for celebration.

Beyond that, it helps to remind yourself that your art or food or whatever probably isn’t quite as good as you and your parents or spouse thinks that it is. We hold a myopic view of ourselves inherently, and that’s universal. By listening to our critics, we have the chance to examine ourselves better, and then decipher the bullshit from the best of it.

It frightens me each and every time one of our community writers at Smile Politely bravely criticizes something from within the community. It probably doesn’t happen as often as it should because, quite honestly, it’s not easy to slap your byline next to words that ultimately, are going to piss people off in a serious way. 

This week, we had a writer quit on us, stating that we allowed “a petulant child who criticizes with no thought of the impact of their words” to write for us, and as such, this person could they no longer write for us, as a matter of principle.

And that is totally fine by me. We founded Smile Politely to be a space for the community to be able to speak to one another. And it has been exactly that, save for some brazen self-promotion. And despite our many flaws, we continue to stand up for the idea that anyone in this community has the right to be published here, within reason.

And as sorry as I am to see this particular writer go, I am also kind of relieved. There’s no place for that sort of petulant thinking here at Smile Politely.

See, I always saw the word “petulance” as something that defines whiny, child-like behavior.