Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Local blogger Wild Soda is back, and in a considerably better mood than when she last posted. You know what's really cool? When one of her best friends got into town, the first palce she took him after a nap was Tulip (I know, I know, I really have to work on that web site). And she called it "excellent" and her friend was surprised by the quality of the food. That's what I'd call a Very Nice Thing to Hear (or read, as the case may be).

Now, about Tulip. I generally don't blog that much about this cafe of which I'm a part-owner. Maybe it seems like I do -- I can't tell -- but I generally leave out the good stuff. For instance, I don't think I wrote about the chef who walked out without notice on a Friday at 6 p.m. and never came back, made vague and nasty threats when we refused to pay her final salary, and then recently started working at the restaurant next door... There's some pretty amazingly writable stuff that goes down in the restaurant business, as you can imagine, but I don't generally write about it for the same reason you wouldn't want the whole world reading about the fight you had with your girlfriend last week.

That said, it might be worth announcing that in 2004 -- or for the next two months or so, at least -- I'm going to be spending a lot more time at Tulip. No, you won't see me waiting tables, which is a good thing for the customers because I'm a klutz. But I'll be managing the back of the house, putting some systems in place that will hopefully lead to the long-term financial soundness of the business. Call it a corporate restructuring. My feelings about this are mixed, because I've always thought of myself as a hack, not a restaurateur or entrepreneur or a guy who runs a bar.


Anyway, Wild Soda doesn't like Christmas. This of course reminds me of that line from that song by Belle and Sebastian, which goes like this:

I don't love anything
Not even Christmas
Especially not that.

This Christmas seasons has been especially hectic and stressful for me. I still haven't mailed all my Christmas presents to my family back home. Come to think of it, I still haven't bought all of them. It was only about ten days ago that we finally got around to putting up the Christmas tree. Yes, I made time for that. We've made it a point of buying a proper Christmas tree since I moved into a flat that can accomodate a big fir tree.

We invited two friends over to help decorate the Christmas tree -- actually we invited a whole bunch of people, but only two showed up -- and when we were done, we sat around starting at the Christmas tree smoking a joint. We mused on the strange provenance of the Christmas tree tradition, and how odd it might sound if you had to explain it to somebody for the first time. It's understandable that you'd want to bring a bit of outdoorsiness into the household... But a whole tree? No, not just a part of the tree, you have to bring the whole tree inside. Not a plant or a bush, mind you -- it has to be a whole tree.

Say, did you have look at a Christmas tree? No, I mean really look at a Christmas tree...

I have a Jewish friend who's gotten really into Christmas the last few years. Not the religious side of it, of course -- there's a religious side of it? -- but the traditional festive trappings. Every year she picks up something new. Like this year, she came over and said (not a direct quote), "I've finally been let in on the special trick to hanging Christmas ornaments" and proceeded to explain this special trick, which was too banal to repeat. She was a bit disappointed when I told her there's not really a special trick to hanging ornaments that the goyim have been keeping from the Hebes all these years. You just hang the things on the branches and that's all.


So tonight is New Year's Eve. Things have been exploding outside for the last couple of hours. It seems everybody I know has waited until the last minute to make New Year's plans, and the only parties I know about are at Celnice and Tulip (four course meal, welcome drink and champagne included, Kc 650).

I didn't make time to write after the fact about the Amnesty International Christmas Party (see photos here) that I organized two weeks ago, but suffice to say it was hugely successful from the planning point of view. Everything went off without a hitch and everybody who volunteered their time and talent to help deserve a big thank you. As for revenue, neither Tulip nor Amnesty walked away millionaires, and slightly fewer people showed up than I'd expected (60-70 as opposed to 100+) but whatever. After expenses were paid, Amnesty came away 9000+ crowns richer.

From the blog point of view, perhaps the funniest part was the man who insisted on meeting Steve Hercher because he was a big reader of his blog. You, too, may know Steve from his blog but not personally; as usual, the voice of the blog (bitchy, sarcastic, good-humored...) has little in common with the man in person (kind, quiet, serious, good-humored in a bring-him-home-to-mom sort of way). If you missed the party, Steve gives a short and sweet description of it here. (The emcee in the pork-pie hat is David O'Kelly; he's a local actor, and somebody should offer him a job to make him famous.)

Happy New Year.


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