Rounding Second: The Year in Skinny (So Far)

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With the year halfway over, I thought I’d write a quick recap of the year’s first six months and a look ahead at what’s to come. I’m doing this now because I just took a vacation and did no blog work during it for the first time in years. I can’t properly articulate how weird that was. I spent a lot of time with sweaty T-shirts glued to my back, flailing at bugs, drinking beer that would get me laughed out of the Facebook Beer People group, and kayaking.

Lots of kayaking. I am a kayaker now. I have kayaked three times, and I am a kayaker now. Rivers: you’ve been warned. Anyhow.

As is custom, January featured restaurants up north after I visited them over Christmas vacation. Having sufficiently fawned over my lifelong favorites, I can now turn my focus to the new generation of restos blossoming in the Twin Ports. Some exciting stuff is happening up there.

The Riverside Bookshops series, which ran through the month of April, got much better reader response than I’d expected. April cruised past my previous record for readership in one month, which is great, but more important were 1) how little it required (just one day of driving, some research, and a few emails); and 2) having so many people tell me their plans to make that drive themselves.

As efficiently as I gathered the Riverside Bookshops material, though, gathering material for my Northfield series has been exactly the opposite. I’ve taken 10 trips, and I’m not done yet. It’s fine since Northfield isn’t too far, but a more planful approach will be needed when I embark on my next destination. I won’t have 10-plus tries at that one.

June saw the food community lose a global icon, as well as one of the most inventive food reporting sites locally. 

The loss of Anthony Bourdain was tragic on so many levels. He was a true original – I don’t think we’ll have another like him. But he did such important work, I hope somebody tries. Even if that person only becomes A Poor Man’s Anthony Bourdain, as long as she or he stays true to the purpose, A Poor Man’s Anthony Bourdain would still be pretty damn good. 

We also saw The Heavy Table post their last article June 1, though founder James Norton continues his work at The Growler as food editor and many former writers are still in the area.

The Heavy Table was so much more than a website – there’s no way I could list it all here. I had the privilege of working with them a few times, helping out (if you want to call it that) with a summer beer blind-tasting, tagging along for a leg of the Green Line Checklist, and sitting down with Norton for an episode of my podcast. It was my conversations with him that showed me how little I truly know, even now, and how much harder I have to work. 

Swanee Burger, House of Coates

July will see the conclusion of the Northfield series and, to steal work jargon, a clearing of my story backlog as the fiscal year wraps up. I’ve got some overdue blog work to finish, some of which is waaaay overdue, and groundwork to lay for August and September.

Here are some points of focus for later this year:

  • I counted 16 restaurant stories on my front page and 12 of them feature cheeseburgers – a bit much, eh? I have one cheeseburger-centric restaurant I need to write about still. My goal is to have that be the last cheeseburger-focused post I write until the December celebration.
  • Some sites do a great job highlighting local entrepreneurs who make food outside of the restaurant scene, but not many. I should be better, too. A lot of people are busting their asses out there, and make themselves available for interviews despite working insane hours. I know where I’m going to start with this, and you’ll see the first posts in the fall.
  • As you know, I don’t publish list articles unless they are requested by readers. I’m working on one now, but this one will take a bit longer.
  • After attending the Great American Beer Festival each of the last two years, I’m taking this year off. At the end of last year’s festival, I just wasn’t having fun anymore. A break is in order. Maybe the excitement will come back after a year away.
  • I am a kayaker now.

Finally: will there be a podcast again? I’ve heard this question 100 times and the answer is … yeah. Yeah, I think so. I know who I want to interview, I kept the equipment, I never cancelled the platform accounts, and going monthly will solve the time shortage. I’m just a central theme and a compelling title away. Yeah.

As always, thanks to everyone who stopped by so far this year. Your text messages, words on the street, emails, comments, hearts, thumbs and shares all mean a ton. I have a lot of fun with this rollicking, but to see it have a positive impact – no matter how small – pushes me to rollick ever harder.

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