31 May 2009

one week, three blisters

Friday, at the Intelligentsia Venice "Preview Party," my hand slips off a gaewan lid, & I pour 202ºF water onto my hand. An enormous blister forms on my left index finger immediately. (Iron Goddess of Mercy, not so much.)

Cut to the following Thursday when the wheelset arrives for the bike I'm building, & I chuck some innertubes and tires on those rims with a quickness. On my thumbs, soft & pink from lack of wrenching, I got two more blisters.

Bikes & tea, folks. Dangerous stuff.

1: Gaewan mishap.
2, 3: Tire install boo-boos.

28 May 2009

two rules

The Intelligentsia Venice party was Friday. There were some times leading up to it when we looked around at each other & thought "Wow ... There's no fucking way we're going to pull this off."

Then, we pulled it off.

The lesson: Trust Leonard E. Bernstein.

No, just kidding. The real lesson is something I learned in Wieden+Kennedy 12, in which there were exactly two rules:

1. Keep your work tight. I mean, like, really really tight. Keep your eye on the prize, & care a lot about what you do, & have lofty goals, & take great pains to achieve them. Maybe be an iconoclast. Something to think about.

2. But don't be a jerk about it.

· Everybody's human, fighting great battles, trying their best but with their own understanding of what "best" is, which might not be yours.
· You're human, too, and you might fuck up, so you might consider getting over yourself. Everyone else already has.
· Collaborating is cool. Sometimes. We collaborated while studying & practicing drink construction, while hammering out the details of workflow, while figuring out where the heck to put all our stock. WHERE.
· After you collaborate & think hard, together, then go back in there & work harder & suck it up & don't start trouble. Now is the time to be open to some hierarchy & authority in the service of accomplishing common goals.

Anyway, I write now not really to tell people what to do, even though I kind of just did. (I find that stuff helpful, but it's certainly not the only way to go about things.) Mostly, I write to take an opportunity to swear more than is strictly necessary (hey Mom). And I write to compile some information about the shop, to lay out what we've all been aiming towards during this insanely insane process. And why I'm such a fan of where I work and its people. And to relay my excitement about continuing to work hard and be nice to people in the shop, both co-workers and customers alike. So:

Intelligentsia's own write-up about the endeavor, from the Intelligentsia website.
The Intelli.LA blog about all things Intelligentsia in Los Angeles.
A write-up of how the shop will function, from the Los Angeles Times.
An interesting story about one of the espresso machines, from the New York Times.

A little about Direct Trade. (Clicking on "CRITERIA," "TRAVEL," & "FAQ" just below the image yields more information.)
How we get our coffee. (There's "BUYING," "CUPPING," & "ROASTING & PRODUCTION" sections, too.)
And this is pretty cool:

Here are some images of what our training was like, from wonderfully talented photographer & art nerd Phillippé Kim. WK12 people, if you're out there: Phill is our Young Guy with the Fresh Perspective. Unrelated: He speaks English, Korean, & Portuguese. Fluently.

An article on the opening party itself, during which I brewed a lot of tea, from the LA Weekly.

Some people (yo, Dad) have expressed concern about why I would cancel a bike trip to Austin, put the brakes on half-formed plans to move to San Francisco, & withdraw 24 (!) applications to advertising agencies in favor of a whole new industry. I hope this helps explain some of that. Kind of like how I left my boyfriend (sorry Steve), quit architecture, & moved to Portland for WK12: I had been given the opportunity to change the way things are done, for the better. To some things, you just don't say no.


04 May 2009

harvey hetland: one year later

About a year ago, Harvey Hetland, a well-loved mathematics professor, died in a hit-and-run accident in the middle of the goddamned day, up on La Tuna Canyon Road. He was one of the LA Wheelmen, a kickass group of cyclists who could teach me a thing or nineteen about hill climbing.

Some riders put together a ghost bike — a memorial for a rider downed. There are varying degrees of political stridency behind putting up a ghost bike; in our case, we only felt compelled to mark the passing of someone wonderful. My involvement in the project was the design and painting of the sign (I made a stencil & then hand-painted) & getting the flowers together (they're an assortment of plastic flowers from a 99¢ shop, spray-painted white, grey, & purple, then tied to the front wheel).

[NB: Out of deference for the other participants' privacy, I have not included their names here. But their involvement was the procurement of the bike itself, the painting of the frame, wheels, and components pure white, delivering it to the location, and devising an effective way to secure it at the location.]

Here's a photograph of the bike the day it was installed:

My friend Greg Thomas went up & took these beautiful photographs. He sent them around today, on the one-year anniversary of Harvey Hetland's memorial ride with the LA Wheelmen (Harvey's riding group).

It has aged well. And Harvey, you are missed.



I'm not a huge fan of citing cute, pithy sayings say with an eye towards ratcheting up mojo, but this has been running through my head all week:

"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time." — Leonard Effing Bernstein.

Sounds like a greeting card. Dear Lenny: Dude.

For the next couple weeks, us Intelligentsia trainees will be finishing up our certification exams, perfecting our craft on the Synessos, learning how to use the insanely elegant POS system (which includes a leather case that is TOTALLY OLD-TIMEY/NEW-TIMEY and I love it), getting new skinny jeans & black Vans, and anything & everything else needed to get ourselves and the space ready for the opening.

We have a plan. The plan is ticking along nicely. I'm pretty sure everyone would agree that another couple days wouldn't go to waste.

However, and I don't know if you caught this earlier, but Leonard Effing Bernstein said we'd achieve greatness. And I believe him. He was pretty smart.