Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Good Run Cut Short

It is generally the policy of The Other Dunwoody to avoid promoting the nicer places in the Southland in order to prevent them being overrun by selfish and shallow outsiders. Today we make an exception due to an incredibly exceptional event.

Cinco Y Diez is closed.

Take a moment to let that sink in...

...that's right, Cinco Y Diez, certainly amongst one of the finest restaurants in the foodie heaven of Athens GA has, in a move that is certain to shock anyone fortunate enough to dine there, has abruptly closed its doors. It is absolutely gobstopping that with the backing of Hugh Acheson, his business partner Melissa Clegg and the culinary prowess of Executive Chef Whitney Otawka (formerly of Farm 255) that Cinco Y Diez not only did not succeed but had such a short run closing after only 10 months.

Based on cuisine, bar, service and overall execution this place was outstanding. For those familiar with Five and Ten, the award winning Acheson restaurant formerly at this location and now a block north, you would never recognize the interior. The building was clearly gutted and the dingy cramped interior replaced with an open, clean layout fitted out in the trendy modern industrial decor. Service second to none. Excellent bar service. Drinks properly made and a wine selection more than up to the task.

And the food...

In it's brief life, three visits (alongside two at big brother restaurant Five and Ten) left TOD diners with the inescapable conclusion the Cinco Y Diez was well positioned to give big brother a run for his money. While neither is/was a restaurant with easy to obtain reservations both are accessible when  date night and amateur hours are avoided. And while you are catching the kitchen at its best each staff has proven time and again they carry thru consistently from beginning to end of each dinner service.

At Cinco, no dish sampled was anything less that outstanding in flavour and presentation. And what that woman can do with a mushroom--the deconstructed tamale was to die for. One diner, a fan of onion rings (real onion rings, not those grease stains served at the Varsity) noticed them on the menu as part of the evening special and asked if the kitchen would serve just the rings. Done and done. When you can elevate the lowly onion ring to the level of Cinco you are in the presence of a top notch chef and kitchen.

And excellent service did not stop with orders off the menu. When one patron ordered a scotch and soda, well brand, the server deduced, rightly in this case, that the patron was thrifty. Upon finding there really was no "well brand" at the bar she returned to inform the patron that the bar does serve Johnnie Walker but that would be seven dollars and would that be all right? Wow. First the service. Then JW and soda for SEVEN dollars? Where in daVille can you get that drink at that price even with rude service? Hell, a baked potato at McKindrick's costs more than that. For a freakin' potato.

And perhaps therein lay the problem. In an interview Acheson bottom lined it: "The end result is a business that couldn't make it. That's it." Earlier in the same interview Acheson remarked that "you have to sell lots of F&B [Food and Beverage] to stay afloat" and as Shopsin famously noted "the profit is in the liquids." Perhaps that scotch should have been priced closer to Ten than to Five.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Landline Luddite

This PSA is for all the folks out there in daVille who still have a landline.* Something Earnestine would be proud of. One ringy dingy... Today's rant is driven by the incessant robocalls from schmuck politicians during the recent election cycle.  And it is the best thing since caller-id: call blockers.**

Call blockers are devices that connect to your home phone wiring and cut these schmucks off at the knees. Works with telemarketers too. They come in a couple of flavours but they generally have these features in common:

  1. you enter phone numbers to be blocked
  2. you may enter wild cards for area codes or exchanges
  3. when a call comes in that matches these lists the call blocker automatically dismisses the unwanted intrusion
There are some variations on the theme. 

First is how they connect to your phone wiring. Some devices attach to any phone jack and act like just another answering machine. Devices operating in this mode will answer the unwanted calls so you don't have to. At least one blocker wastes twenty seconds of their time on unresponsive silence which you can use to answer the line if you inadvertently blocked a "good" number. These devices always let the phones ring at least once which some consider to be a disadvantage. But you do know there is an incoming call and there is a certain pleasure in knowing if it only rings once some telemarketer is talking to the virtual back of  your hand. 

Other devices connect between your incoming phone line and the rest of your phone wiring and are capable of suppressing the first ring (Caller ID information is transferred between the first and second rings). Consequently you will never be disturbed by any caller you have blocked. Often these devices offer more advanced features that allow live callers a way to ring your phone.

All call blockers allow you to enter numbers to ignore either by capturing the Caller ID or by keypad entry or both. This is commonly known as  a blacklist and the simplest call blockers implement only a blacklist. Others manage a second list of numbers that always ring thru--a whitelist. This  lets you to block entire area codes but allow the one or two numbers of folks you want to hear from get thru. One fairly advanced unit has an "automatic" mode that in effect is a greylist. Any number not in ether the black or white list goes to a voice prompt requesting the caller to enter '0' to ring thru effectively blocking robo calls. Almost all politician calls are robo calls. 

Most will block calls where Caller ID delivery has been disabled as well as other "unknown caller" CIDs. Some devices also block outgoing calls and market this as a parental control feature. Parental control is a myth. Believe in unicorns if you must but never delude yourself into believing you have any control over what your child does, who she talks to or how she communicates. Don't pay more for this feature.

So before the 2016 presidential election goes into full swing you may want to Google "telephone call blocker" and find which option works best for you. 


* Includes Cable and VoIP services.
** We all know the national Do Not Call Registry is worthless.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interstate Parade

You know what these are, don't you? Surely you've been in one. Perhaps you've headed one up. In case you seclude yourself in your live-work-play community an "Interstate Parade" is when some asshole blocks the left lane, plodding forward into open pavement all the while forcing an unwilling entourage to drudge thru his shit.

These parades have a couple of causes.

Sometimes it is a DFC listening to the arse end of the latest iPhone and as is so often the case when the driver's synapses stop firing she matches the speed of the vehicle on the right oblivious to the implications of the miles of open pavement ahead and the dozens of cars immediately behind. That's because driving (and courtesy) have taken a backseat to her wasting what few brain cells she has on some nonsensical drivel, probably dissin' on last night's fuquebuddy.

Sometimes it is an angry vigilante who feels it is their government given right to discourage speeding. By others of course. Unfortunately for this particular breed of idiot what the guv giveth the guv taketh away and it is now against the law to park your ass in the left lane and impede traffic. That's what they call stacking up a dozen cars in your rearview mirror--impeding traffic. Now that being a left lane bandit is illegal anyone who does it is just as big an asshole as any speeder and quite a bit more dangerous.

So if you're going over the river and thru the woods this holiday season you are likely to find yourself in the midst of an Interstate Parade. Just don't head one up.

Monday, November 17, 2014

What Are YOU Looking At?

Fascinating Scenery
If a Lube Job Isn't Enough
Definite Improvement By Smell Alone
Turn Your Back On Illegal Immigration

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ebony And Ivory

DeKalb just keeps on keepin' on.

We've recently closed out the first round of James vs Ellis without even a TKO. Urkel was given an OJ pass because some on the jury thought he was just too damn good lookin' and his kids are cute. When someone is found not guilty due to mental defect it is supposed to be mental defect on the part of the defendant, not the jury.

Of course there were pundits punditting that this was racial as the jury was all black (jury of your peers remember) though mostly women without additional peerage. There was also some discomfort in some circles over two extremely successful and ivy league educated black men going for each other's throats. Others, mostly in north DeKalb, dismissed it (privately) as just another example of inherent tribalism that cannot be driven out by western culture or education. These folks binge-watch Zulu, shake their heads and mutter "See, I told you."

Just as those folks were writing this off as another black-on-black crime, albeit white collar, the whole Elaine Boyer fuel-air bomb ignited, leveling the landscape. She copped a plea with the Feds (to keep her pension), tucked tail and went into hiding leaving a p-card-less chief of staff to handle "constituent services" which until that time had consisted mostly of fine dining--on a county p-card. Of course the suspicion of malfeasance went beyond Mizz Elaine and there is also an ethics complaint filed against the currently-on-the-payroll (should Snow White take on Mizz Boyer's role she has promised to send all the current dwarves to work in some other gold mine) chief of staff. Given the expenses disclosed by the AJC that all kinda makes sense, unless you're a salesman accustomed to a company Amex that you can use to take any ole bidness contact to the Pink Pony.

Anyway it is at this point things get really crazy.

Lee May, Urkel wannabe, replaces Issac Blyters, who is black but past his use-by date, with John Ernst, who is white, as Chair of the DeKalb Ethics Board. Who even knew we have one? While it may not have been planned, having a white in charge of this board is most fortuitous especially when almost all elected and perfunctory positions with the government are held by blacks. Think of it this way: should a white man be in the position of investigating an ethics complaint against a black official the race card will be played on first lead. Deliberate or blind luck they have been dealt the Ace of Race and in DeKalb politics that suit is always trump.

But this turns out to be white on rice.

In a media interview regarding the job at hand, Ernst made the rather unfortunate comparison between DeKalb's potential ethics violators and termites. Insects of the destructive white kind: "sometimes when there's termites in the building, the homeowner doesn't care how they get out. If they leave, they leave."

Not so fast there Johnny. If you're eradicating termites by burning down the building some of us would like to get our loved ones and prized possessions out before you channel your inner Mrs. O'Leary's Cow. There also seems to be an issue with the fact that while there are blacks suffering from ethics complaints there was no mention of black termites, which are rare if not extinct. Apparently the former Commissioner's chief of staff considered this a directed attack of some sort and retaliated with an ethics complaint against the Chair of the Ethics Board. This is what the IT developers working on the CAD-to-CAD interface describe as a recursive call to the shit() function.

For deeper understanding we again refer to the movies, in this case The Quiet Man, wherein a certain Sean Thornton returns to clean up that wee cabin and make it habitable again. Noble goal but it ran afoul of the incumbent man-about-town, the not-so-good Will Danaher, who did not take kindly to the prodigal son's intrusion. The movie is noted for one of the silver screen's longest fights that ends, as most good fights should, in a bar. And that is precisely the inspiration we need.

At the very next Snow Jam we will get these unnecessary combatants down to the Dunwoody Tavern and get them all tankarded up. Then we take them out back and challenge them to write their names in the snow. The one with the biggest letters wins. All they win is the admiration of the community but we win some peace and quiet.

In closing, should anyone of Asian origin find themselves offended by references to yellow snow TOD apologizes in advance with the hope that no offense is taken where none is intended. We should all be so lucky.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Neo-Faux-Williamsburg

Have you ever heard of the Dunwoody Village Overlay? Do you remember when Brewster's Ice Cream came to the Village? The first time? Then you probably know that folks around these parts are very protective of their Williamsburg image. At one point they got so pissy that there was going to be hell to pay until that ice cream shoppe bricked up and shingled over.

And thus it came to pass.

The overlay requirements were one of the first bits of "run your life" legislation taken up by this Smart City. It includes, in painful detail, what you can and cannot do to the front, back and sides of your buildings. Brick and mortar colours. Paint colours. Window aspect and orientation. Overhand. Doors. Shingles... At one point, possibly to this day, the sidewalk lamp posts, trash cans and benches were specified down to manufacturer, model and colour.

And then we got these.




And not just one, but many. Right smack in daVille. All. Over.



Looks like someone downtown, at Smart City Hall, has a friend in the stainless business. Kinda cuts the legs out from under any bitchin' about how the MARTA bus stop shelters don't fit with our Village theme.

But wait! There's more! daVille is blessed with a brand spanking new obelisk. As you've probably already guessed it is made of sparkling stainless steel.



Puts "neo" and "faux" ahead of Williamsburg.

What makes this an obelisk? Well you will notice there are no doors, no secret passage ways, no gozins or gozouts.


All the way 'round.


Given the non-faux-Williamsburg food trucks and the stainless invasion of daVille that poor slob who bricked up his ice cream parlor must be feeling pretty silly about now.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mary, Mary

Though the cancellation of her most recent series is still fresh in many minds Mary Steenburgen is back making the rounds on casting couches looking for another role in a different if not new series. Some friends and insiders are concerned that as a method actor Mary has not had sufficient time to release from her previous character in an ill-fated series that was almost universally disliked and abruptly cancelled. More than a few casting directors share this concern and worry that she is not ready to take on a new role but would likely bring the previous character onto a new stage. Only the most star-struck fan would suggest that her previous gig warranted a spin-off.

Mary's motives are unclear. Some feel there is an intra-family rivalry with Ted around his recent success on CSI. Some say she wants to squelch rumours she may be washed up. Though she has attempted to distance herself from from the previous program by suggesting she was a brilliant star in an otherwise lackluster cast others have suggested the cast's performances were not nearly so bad nor hers quite so wonderful.  Her closest confidants are encouraging her to take an extended break to prepare herself to take a new approach to a new role that will surely come along.

It is hard not to wish Mary the best but it is nigh on impossible to believe this rush to the Next Great Thing is the best for anyone.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Props

As much as it pains to set aside gadfly for gladfly it is time for credit where credit is due. And once again it is Councilman Shortal who has seen thru the Smart City's BS and spoken out against it.  This particular BS centered around the tax-hike fueled budget presented to Council wherein the grow-at-all-costs paradigm was applied to police department budgeting.

Councilman Shortal wants to know "what a lieutenant can do that a sergeant isn't doing now" to which the obvious answer is "cost this City more." Shortal's preference is that if more officers we must have then those officers be indians rather than chiefs. Furthermore he would really prefer that the budget be more focused on infrastructure (e.g., roads and sidewalks) over bloating the police force. He is spot on.

Shortal seems to have an insightful understanding of facts that should be, but apparently are not, obvious to all. Dunwoody's borders, it's geographical expanse is fixed and will not change.  Territorial expansion is not going to drive the clear need for more officers of any rank, but especially not the higher ranks. Population may increase but Dunwoody has been quite aggressive in limiting high density development. Population growth and demographic transformations will not drive police expansion either. Significant percentages of Dunwoody crime emanate from the Perimeter Center area most notably the mall--the crime rate per square foot at the Ravinia complex is significantly lower than Perimeter Mall. Even with that, the Mall itself is limited in growth opportunities that might drive crime and consequently police force expansion. Making the Mall a safer place requires presence but not an army of high ranking officers.

So Councilman Shortal is on target in suggesting that we may need more mall cops but we certainly do not need more desk jockeys.

While Shortal is spot on and should take a well-earned bow, he does pull up short. Clearly we need to end the interim positions. We need to hire a police chief that is aligned with the Dunwoody reality. One who understands this city will grow in quality, but the footprint is fixed and the demands relatively stable. That Dunwoody is not a place to grow your budget and head counts by double-digit percentages year over year. We also need to make progress on hiring a capable, experienced City Manager who will oversee operations including the police force. Dunwoody voters and taxpayers deserve no less.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Random Number Generator

Randomness is a very important tool in cryptography. Not so much for speed limits.

But that appears to be what we have with our new variable speed limit signs on top end 285.

If you enter 285 at Ashford Dunwoody heading towards Spaghetti Junction you will pass more than four of these signs, spaced about an eighth of a mile apart, before you get to the Doraville Speed Trap. One recent morning the sign at Chamblee Dunwoody read 55 MPH, the next was a slowdown to 45 MPH and the very next one (near the GM plant) was 65 MPH.

Seems a bit odd though it was clear that drivers were no more paying attention to these signs than they did the previous, low-tech, low-cost ones. From the very beginning those who drive this stretch of interstate knew just how silly these signs are doomed to be. Drivers ignoring any signage undermines the key assumption of the ill-fated plan: that drivers will observe the signage and obey the currently posted speeds.

We've been told that the speed is set according to "where you are going" rather than to the immediate conditions near the sign. This in no way explains the 55-45-65 MPH sequence. We've also been told this is about safety, about wreck avoidance and prevention. Of course any wreck on 285 has the knock-on effect of bringing traffic to a standstill so safety and congestion management are inseparable. Still, this is nonsense.

Perhaps a more likely explanation of this silliness is that the agency controlling  these signs is seeking an IGA with local law enforcement putting in place a revenue sharing plan. Until then speeds will be set to minimize speeding tickets but once the agreement is in place then speeds will be manipulated according to the revenue needs of these agencies. Perhaps they will even set the signs at the shoulder to a different speed than the one right across at the barrier wall (they are not always showing the same speed) so the Local LEOs have discretion on how much they get for which ticket (and ticketed party).

Or perhaps it is just another case of grant-grubbing out of control.