Ahhhh, The Verge has published an excerpt of Tamara Shopsin’s LaserWriter II, “a coming-of-age tale set in the legendary 90s indie NYC Mac repair shop TekServe — a voyage back in time to when the internet was new, when New York City was gritty, and when Apple made off-beat computers for weirdos”.
Joel explains that the LaserWriter II was discontinued almost ten years ago. But Tek always encourages people to fix them. Always. LaserWriter IIs are tanks, one of the most solid printers Apple ever made. The printer has only one design flaw, one thing that consistently breaks, and that flaw takes ten years to surface. Joel pauses for breath. Claire is on the edge of her seat.
He concludes, “The fan blades warp a little over time and suck in dust. This dust eventually gets into the optics and causes pages to ghost.”
Claire prints a test page from the LaserWriter II. The edges of the paper are bright white. They stipple to a black stripe of text in the center, in a kind of reverse ice cream sandwich.
Ghosting is a term used to cover a host of printing problems — double images, an image seen through the backside of the paper. Here Joel uses “ghost” to describe printing so faint it has not actually printed.
Word is filteringthrough the NYC food community that Kenny Shopsin has passed away. Together with his wife and children, Shopsin was the proprietor of Shopsin's General Store, an iconic NYC restaurant, an establishment.
One evening, when the place was nearly full, I saw a party of four come in the door; a couple of them may have been wearing neckties, which wouldn't have been a plus in a restaurant whose waitress used to wear a T-shirt that said "Die Yuppie Scum." Kenny took a quick glance from the kitchen and said, "No, we're closed." After a brief try at appealing the decision, the party left, and the waitress pulled the security gate partway down to discourage other latecomers.
"It's only eight o'clock," I said to Kenny.
"They were nothing but strangers," he said.
"I think those are usually called customers," I said. "They come here, you give them food, they give you money. It's known as the restaurant business."
Kenny shrugged. "Fuck 'em," he said.
Kenny's daughter Tamara published a memoir recently called Arbitrary Stupid Goal…I read it last month and loved it. The book is not only a love letter to her family’s restaurant and the old West Village (which is now almost entirely gone), but also to her father, who is featured on nearly every page.
“Pancakes are a luxury, like smoking marijuana or having sex. That’s why I came up with the names Ho Cakes and Slutty Cakes. These are extra decadent, but in a way, every pancake is a Ho Cake.” Thus speaks Kenny Shopsin, legendary (and legendarily eccentric, ill-tempered, and lovable) chef and owner of the Greenwich Village restaurant (and institution), Shopsin’s, which has been in existence since 1971.
Kenny has finally put together his 900-plus-item menu and his unique philosophy-imagine Elizabeth David crossed with Richard Pryor-to create Eat Me, the most profound and profane cookbook you’ll ever read. His rants-on everything from how the customer is not always right to the art of griddling; from how to run a small, ethical, and humane business to how we all should learn to cook in a Goodnight Moon world where everything you need is already in your own home and head-will leave you stunned or laughing or hungry.
The imaginary horizontal lines that circle the earth make sense. Our equator is 0°, the North and South Poles are 90°. Latitude’s order is airtight with clear and elegant motives. The earth has a top and a bottom. Longitude is another story. There isn’t a left and right to earth. Any line could have been called 0°. But Greenwich got first dibs on the prime meridian and as a result the world set clocks and ships by a British resort town that lies outside London.
It was an arbitrary choice that became the basis for precision. My father knew a family named Wolfawitz who wanted to go on vacation but didn’t know where.
It hit them. Take a two-week road trip driving to as many towns, parks, and counties as they could that contained their last name: Wolfpoint, Wolfville, Wolf Lake, etc.
They read up and found things to do on the way to these other Wolf spots: a hotel in a railroad car, an Alpine slide, a pretzel factory, etc.
The Wolfawitzes ended up seeing more than they planned. Lots of unexpected things popped up along the route.
When they came back from vacation, they felt really good. It was easily the best vacation of their lives, and they wondered why.
My father says it was because the Wolfawitzes stopped trying to accomplish anything. They just put a carrot in front of them and decided the carrot wasn’t that important but chasing it was.
The story of the Wolfawitzes’ vacation was told hundreds of times to hundreds of customers in the small restaurant that my mom and dad ran in Greenwich Village. Each time it was told, my dad would conclude that the vacation changed the Wolfawitzes’ whole life, and this was how they were going to live from now on — chasing a very, very small carrot.
The restaurant was Shopsin’s, no longerin Greenwich Village, and after a start like that, I read the next 80 pages without stopping. Really wish I’d heeded much advice to pick this up sooner.