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Monday, August 31, 2015


Ted Scheinman of Pacific Standard magazine et al
BODY OF WORK--Regular readers of Pillar to Post will often see literature posted from the public domain.  Plenty of fine (albeit dead) writers appear on this blog as part of our Sunday Review coverage.  Of course, kudos to the Project Guttenberg  and others for bringing many of these classics to the ‘net.  Our weekly Media Monday slot (like today) is where you’ll find discussion of contemporary writers/journalists and media org.s that have a pulse.

As a new reader to the works of Pacific Standard magazine and website, I found myself drawn to the essays of Ted Scheinman.  He reminds me of Larry Grobel, a pal, who wrote for me in my inflight magazine editors days.  Larry (as he called himself then) was a firebrand who would tackle any assignment with enthusiasm and met deadlines.  He was an editor’s dream.

Lawrence Grobel (nee Larry), who went on from inflight mags to become very successful and prolific after landing work with Playboy, has aced interview journalism.  So I mean it as a compliment when I compare young Ted Scheinman’s enterprise with a young Larry Grobel.

Ted Scheinman has done an excellent job of cataloging his writing.  He has all the big (paying) publications on his resume.  The address below is where you can check a medley of Ted’s latest non-fiction.  He’s one of America’s top essayists and most likely will change his name to Edward any day soon (grin).

You choose.

Bio from Ted’s webpage:
Ted Scheinman is a writer based in North Carolina, where in the soonish years he will complete a Ph.D. in 18th-century British literature.

His essays and reporting have appeared in Aeon Magazine, Cineaste, LA Weekly, Lapham’s Quarterly, the New York Times, the Oxford American Quarterly, Pacific Standard, the Paris Review, Playboy, Slate, the Toast, the Village Voice, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and Elsewhere™.

He serves as a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books and has joined Pacific Standard magazine as a full-time senior editor in June, 2015.

Ted’s first volume of nonfiction will appear in 2015 via FSG/Faber. It’s called Jane Austen Goes to Summer Camp: Dispatches from the Pride & Prejudice Bicentennial — a slim but friendly book. (File under: humor; nonfiction; waistcoats.)

In the academy, his research centers on classical reception in the 18th century and the development of proto-realist fiction out of high Augustan satire. (This stuff kills at cocktail parties.) Extracurricular interests include pirates, film history, hip-hop, Curtis Mayfield, and Dorothy Parker.

Previously, he served as an arts editor at the Washington City Paper.

Sunday, August 30, 2015



Editor's Note: For the 250th anniversary of the Stamp Act Crisis, the upheaval that marked the beginning of the American Revolution, Pulitzer Prize winning historian Gordon S. Wood compiled a new two-volume edition of the political debate that led of independence.  This 
detailed collection--published by the non-profit Library of America--gathers the full texts of 39 of the most fascinating and important of the nearly 1,000 pamphlets published on both sides of the Atlantic, including works by Edmund Burke, John Dickinson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Hutchinson, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Johnson, James Otis, Thomas Paine and Joseph Warren.
     LOA released to the media a recent interview with the editor of the two-volume masterwork.  Pillar to Post reposts here the interview in its entirety.

Background to the upheaval.
In the summer of 1765, anti-tax riots roiled Great Britain’s North American colonies from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Charleston, South Carolina, the first stirrings of what became the American Revolution. This collection captures the extraordinary political debate which led 12 years later the Declaration of Independence and the end of the first British empire.

Gordon S. Wood, who edited the collection, is Alva O. Way Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University and his books include the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Radicalism of the American Revolution and the Bancroft Prize–winning The Creation of the American Republic 1776–1787. In 2011 Wood was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.

An interview with Gordon S. Wood:
Q.  The new Library of America set collects 39 of the more than 1,000 pamphlets that appeared between 1764 and 1776. What were your main criteria for the selections you finally settled on?
A. The key criterion was the importance of the pamphlet in advancing the debate. The goal in assembling this collection was to provide readers with a clear sense of how the polemical contest over the relationship between the British government and the colonies emerged and escalated until the final rupture in 1776. To do this, it was essential to include pamphlets published in England as well as in America, because they often spoke directly to one another.

It is one of the ironies of the American Revolution that the colonies had closer ties to the mother country in this period than they had ever had before, and this is nowhere more evident than in the pamphlet debate. These texts were part of a lively transatlantic discourse in which pamphlets published in Boston or Philadelphia soon appeared in London and were quickly reprinted, and vice versa. Distinguishing these writers as “British” and “American” can be tricky, too. Englishman Thomas Paine had been resident in the colonies for only fourteen months when he wrote Common Sense, the most influential expression of the “American” position, while Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson, who in two pamphlets gathered here presents the “British” position as forcefully as any writer, had deep ancestral roots in the Bay Colony. Finally, I took into account the historical significance of the authors. For some writers, like Thomas Jefferson, the pamphlet debate marked their emergence on the scene; for others like Samuel Johnson and Edmund Burke, it afforded an opportunity to display their unique rhetorical gifts.

Q. For a general reader, one of the discoveries here is a nuanced debate about “virtual” versus “actual” representation that sows the seeds for what became the American Revolution. What made that debate so important for later events in our history—and did it have consequences for Great Britain’s political development as well?
A. The pamphlet debate revealed the extent to which American ideas about representation had diverged from British. Because of the manifest impracticality of the colonies sending representatives to Parliament, defenders of parliamentary authority over the colonies were forced to clarify as never before the idea of virtual representation, which held that Parliament represents the interests of the empire regardless of how or from where its members were selected. This became the primary philosophical difference that animated the controversy. Americans going back to the colonial period have always thought of the electoral process as the principal criterion of representation, and we have generally believed that representation has to be in proportion to population. That is why we have usually placed great importance on expanding suffrage and on bringing electoral districts into some kind of rational relationship to population. To underscore the link between the representative and the represented, we have also required that elected officials be residents of their specific districts. Conversely, even today, such a residency requirement does not exist for British MPs.

Q. Much of the debate turns on the history of the founding of the American colonies and of the long period during which the mother country’s imperial policy, as Edmund Burke famously characterized it in a pamphlet included in this collection, seemed to amount to “salutary neglect.” What did American writers who were arguing against parliamentary authority hope to gain by this resort to history? How did their opponents counter their claims?
A. History was always important to Englishmen in establishing rights. The common law is very much a history-based legal structure, so it was natural for the colonists to appeal to history, Magna Charta, the English Bill of Rights, and other important legal precedents to support their claims. Several American writers, particularly Edward Bancroft, the future British spy, turned to the seventeenth century, and the reign of the Stuarts, to make fascinating arguments about the nature of the relationship between the king and the parliament, and the underlying rationale for colonization in the first place. Their opponents likewise appealed to history, but their source material was much more recent, really only including the decades of the eighteenth century when parliamentary sovereignty developed. Because of the importance of historical references in the debate, the Library of America collection includes a 32-page chronology charting the history of the English and later British empire from its founding to 1776, when its greatest jewel was lost.

Q. Contemporary readers may be surprised to find, among the British writers represented here, that Samuel Johnson is one of the most vociferous critics of the American position while Edmund Burke is one of the most conciliatory. What do we know about the motivations behind their respective positions?
A. Johnson, the older of the two, was always Toryish in his outlook and he never liked America. When he toured the Hebrides with Boswell he was stunned by the vacant villages in Scotland. He thought that Britain was becoming depopulated by the massive emigration of Brits to America in the middle decades of the eighteenth century. One gets the sense that when the British government came to him to enlist his pen in their defense in the pamphlet debate, he didn’t need much coaxing. Burke on the other hand was a fervent Whig, and as such opposed to Crown power. Since the empire had traditionally been viewed as under the king’s control, he and his party of Rockingham Whigs were suspicious of what George III was up to in the 1760s. At the same time the Rockingham Whigs were devoted to parliamentary sovereignty and thus could never be outright advocates of the American position. This left Burke in the position of urging the British government to, in effect, let sleeping dogs lie. He foresaw that by exposing certain fundamental differences in political theory between the British and the Americans, the government’s policies could only end in disaster.

Q. Johnson’s pamphlet contains the unforgettable line “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” Did anyone writing for the American side have a rejoinder to that—and does slavery figure anywhere else in the pamphlet debate?
A. Slavery was always a latent issue for many in the debate, but by today’s standards what is amazing is how little it was raised, especially since the colonists talked constantly of being “enslaved” by the British policies. Many took African slavery for granted as the lowest form of dependency in a hierarchy of dependencies, and used the imagery without any sense of the inherent hypocrisy. But others like James Otis did see the inconsistency and spoke out against slavery, as when he memorably wrote: “The colonists are by the law of nature freeborn, as indeed all men are, white or black. . . . Does it follow that ’tis right to enslave a man because he is black?”

Q. It’s interesting that two of the most prominent “patriot” writers in the first volume of this collection, Daniel Dulany and John Dickinson, later had qualms about independence— Dulany becoming a Loyalist and Dickinson leading the opposition to the Declaration in Congress in 1776. What accounts for this apparent change of heart?
A. In the 1760s many colonists were opposed to the new British policies, but certainly did not anticipate breaking up the empire. All of them had a respect for English traditions of law and rights. In the end most of them revolted not against the English constitution but on behalf of it, in what they often characterized as a conservative attempt to retain their traditional rights. Dulany was a member of the council in Maryland and had a vested interest in the empire. Dickinson sincerely believed that America’s breaking free of England would lead to America’s bleeding from every vein. England after all was the bastion of liberty in a hostile world.

Q. How would you describe the role that Thomas Paine’s Common Sense plays in the debate? Does his famous pamphlet seem more or less revolutionary when viewed in this context?
A. Paine’s pamphlet really was different, and its extraordinary character only becomes clearer when seen in the context of this collection. Most of the other writers in the pamphlet debate were elites, with positions of authority in society. Paine was different. He was our first public intellectual, and unlike the other pamphleteers, he lived solely by his pen. As such, he aimed at a much broader audience than did the others, one encompassing the middling class of artisans, tradesmen, and tavern-goers. Unlike the elite writers who bolstered their arguments with legal citations and references to the whole of Western culture going back to the ancients, Paine did not expect his readers to know more than the Bible and the English Book of Common Prayer. Everyone knew that Paine was violating the conventional rules of rhetoric and were awed by his pamphlet. More substantively, Paine’s aggressive anti-royalism marked a major turn in the debate. Recognizing the need to shock his readers out of their reflexive loyalty to the Crown, Paine employed a pungent style unlike any other, referring to George III as “the Royal Brute.”

Q. New histories of the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers appear with ever greater frequency. Why do you feel it is important for readers to return to the original writings of the era?
A. The Revolution is the most important event in our history. It not only legally created the United States but it infused into our culture our noblest ideals and highest aspirations, our beliefs in liberty, equality, and the happiness of ordinary people. Since there is no American ethnicity, these ideals and values are the only thing holding us together as a nation. As valuable as secondary works about the period are, or can be, it’s essential that we continually go back to the original writings of the Founders for nourishment and renewal of what it means to be an American.

Q. These are the third and fourth volumes you’ve edited for The Library of America, joining your two-volume edition John Adams: Revolutionary Writings 1755–1783, published in 2011. And a third and final volume of Adams’s writings is forthcoming in the spring. What is it about The Library of America that keeps you coming back?
A. The Library of America is a non-profit cultural institution that is dedicated to preserving America’s literary heritage. It makes the great works of American writings available to the general reader in modestly priced editions; at the same time, Library of America editions provide enough editorial apparatus to be useful to students and scholars. One certainly doesn’t engage in these editorial projects for the money, but rather for the opportunity to make some great writings available to future generations. For the editors, they have to be projects of love, as this one was for me.

Private, independent , non-profit publisher of America's best and most significant writing in authoritative editions.
--Newsweek called LOA "the most important book-publishing project in our nation's history."
--"The series may be the biggest book bargain around. The books are masterpieces of design and manufacturing. They're beautiful without being fancy." —Dallas Times Herald.
The Library of America is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization under its corporate name, Literary Classics of the U.S., Inc.

Or  800-964-5778.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


A trio of successful San Diego area coffee roasters opted for leading restaurant designer, Paul Basile to design and fabricate the roasting firm's first retail outlet in downtown San Diego.
Westbean images: Mike Newton Photography
Coffee houses—at least in San Diego—fall into two design genres.  There are the funky places like La Jolla’s Pannikin; South Park’s Rebecca’s and Claire De Lune in North Park, where you can bask in the ‘60s along with the aroma of good coffee.  The other style is the sophisticated Euro-influenced design of coffee houses like Influx and Holsom in North Park.

Both styles are thriving in San Diego.

But does design make for a fabulous cup of coffee?  Is it the magician or the wand? Coffee house design generally reflects the vision of the owner(s).  Design is also influenced by the location. 

One case in point:

Recently a trio of coffee roasters, who since 2009 operated out of a non-descript warehouse in the Mission Gorge area of Northeast San Diego, wanted to add a retail outlet to showcase WestBean’s growing reputation as up and coming coffee roasters.

Co-owners owners (left to right in photo): James Rauh, Andrew Karr and Paul Reizen sought a stylish look to the site they chose in downtown San Diego.

For that they picked Paul Basile, one of the hottest restaurant designers in the country to design and fabricate a 700 s.f. coffee house at 240 Broadway in the Westgate Hotel complex.  Already, he is a restaurant design legend in San Diego barely into his 40s. 

Much of Basile’s signature café/restaurant design mantra went into the new The WestBean location.  There he blended his metal working forte with elegant wood into a sleek minimalist décor.  Basile’s skill is in capturing stylish adventure in the most simple terms.

Now open, Basile’s The WestBean coffee emporium reminds me of modern Madrid and/or mid to lower Eastside Manhattan.  Stylish, yet one feels at home. 

Facing south, the site is only 700 s.f.

More on Basile.
Paul Basile
Basile’s firm hospitality division has created Craft & Commerce, Underbelly I & II, Acme Kitchen, Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant, Ironside Fish & Oyster and Polite Provisions.  Next Basile project will appear at 30th & University but so far owners are keeping the (shhh, hot dog & burger) concept under wraps.

The WestBean:

Basile Studio:

Basile Studio's signature usage of metal and wood in its award winning hospitality designs.

Friday, August 28, 2015


Solterra Winery & Kitchen, Leucadia, CA along vintage U.S. highway 101
ROAD TRIP--Mr. Brewster (whose real name is Holden DeMayo) points out Pillar to Post’s first rule of fun is try to avoid zipping over to a dining or drinking establishment in the week after it has been reviewed by beer and foodie reviewers.  Point is the media attention brings out the Looky Lous’ and the added madding crowds often overwhelm cuisine and service quality.  Better run places manage to take on the extra business after big reviews just fine, but certainly not the ones I visit.

Sign says it all in Oceanside, CA
GOOD RIBBING--This week, for example, NBC put on its Goods website that the best BBQ in San Diego County was to be found in Oceanside at “That Boy Good BBQ,” (207 North Coast Highway, Oceanside CA, 760-433-4227.  Problem is with rib joints it’s like a saloon story you had to be there to get it.  To me ribs should be judged for the better if they’re lean.   Gratefully, most of my pile of That Boy Good pork ribs was low fat, which will bring me back next time I want to tan my hide in Oceanside.  I’m not making this stuff up.  The last line was from O’Side’s tourist bureau back in the day.  Tip: Good food here, but go next weekend as the newbies will take over the joint after NBC and Yelp called this place the rock star of local ribs. 


PIZZA GOOD, CRAFT BEER AWESOME--Good as That Boy when it comes to ribs, my ticket for the best beach cities beer to wash down a solid plate of BBQ is nearby in Carlsbad at Pizza Port, a tasty grub and grob emporium that first opened in 1997.  Pizza Port (571 Carlsbad Village Dr., 760-720-7007) was well established making craft beer long before hipster nation anointed brew pubs with coolness.  Menu is crafted to go with the internationally known brewing skills.  Tip: Go now for the Wipeout IPA.  Love the patio.

Pizza Port in Carlsbad proves San Diego County's south coast cities are the place to be for outstanding craft beer with paired menus
LOCATION, LOCATION, LEUCADIA--Next stop on our sojourn up old highway 101 stops at Solterra Winery and Kitchen, a casual but highly stylish winery and restaurant.  Only a few years old, but that’s a lifetime in the hospitality biz.  The place (934 North Coast Highway 101, Leucadia CA. 760-230-2970) has design class.  Menu is first rate and features small plates. Don’t expect mother lode of food (I mean that as a compliment).  As for the wine, I’ll leave the wine tasting to your taste as I’ve been off the wine wagon since my son started West Coaster craft beer magazine in San Diego.  Wine maker and owner Chris Van Alyea hails from Sonoma, where grapes rule and the wine gurus locally rave over his selections.  Tip. Go now before it becomes even more uber popular.  During the week is best for more casual comfort and they have wine flight happy hour prices.--By Holden DeMayo.