motss.con XXXII in Palo Alto

The people of the lgbt+ net community soc.motss / soc-motss — well, a small sampling of 28 of them — gathered here from Thursday (the 15th) through Monday (the 19th) to enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company and the touristic delights of the area. I was able to take part in the three general events, all food-oriented: a welcoming event Friday evening, a picnic in Palo Alto’s Rinconada Park; a dim sum brunch on Sunday at the restaurant Tai Pan in downtown Palo Alto; and a stragglers’ breakfast Monday morning at the Peninsula Creamery, also in downtown Palo Alto. Plus two lunches with motss-conners, a Saturday visit to the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto (which I’ll post about separately), and several visits to my house from motss-conners.

(I had to bow out of the foodie dinner on Thursday, at the elegant Greek restaurant Evvia in downtown Palo Alto.)

Enormous thanks to Lisa Cohen (in Chicago), who organized the .con; to Ken Rudolph (in L.A.), who arranged for the foodie dinner; to Rod Williams (in Oakland), who made arrangements with the Stanford Terrace Inn; to Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky (actually in Palo Alto), who made the Rinconada Park reservation; and to Ned Deily (Bethlehem PA) and Lars Ingebrigtsen (Oslo), who watched over me during the .con and ferried me around Palo Alto.

Two photos. First, one of me, taken during the dim sum breakfast, when a fluke of light through a window produced a rainbow on my nose and cheek:

(#1) Rainbow over the Alps! (at Tai Pan Palo Alto, motss.con dim sum brunch 8/18/19, photo by Vadim Temkin): the proud Alpine nose

I’m decidedly unfond of pictures of me, but this one isn’t bad, even without the rainbow.

Second, the dim sum horde in a group photo, taken by a random passer-by on Waverley St. who was cajoled into working the camera:

(#2) From the left: Leith Chu, Andy Fyfe, Robert Coren, Max Vasilatos, Lars Ingebrigtsen, Kathryn Burlingham, Josh Simon, Terry Glenn, Alan Batie, Ken Rudolph, Arnold Zwicky, Bitty (Bethany) Ramirez, Lisa Cohen, Dennis Lewis, John Gintell, Elizabeth Zwicky (hidden by John), Opal Armstrong Zwicky, Ned Deily, Thomas Bradley (hidden by Vadim), Vadim Temkin, Tané Tachyon, Steve Cappellari. Seated: Rod Williams, Gwendolyn Dean, Arthur Prokosch

(This photo is reproduced here on my blog and does not appear on Facebook — FB has only directions on how to find this posting, and doesn’t have its contents, so there are no FB tags associated with this image.)

(Nothing here identifies these people other than by name: no labeling as l, g, b, t, or +; no home town; no relationship information (let’s just say it’s really complex). Some such information is available elsewhere in this posting and in other postings of mine, but here it’s just the names.)

Bonus: the Chinese lazy Susan. On the rotating serving device that is now standard on circular tables at Chinese restaurants in North America (and has apparently spread elsewhere, including to Hong Kong), Vadim Temkin wondered about the etymology of the name lazy Susan, and our resident Chinese-North American, Leith Chu (from PEI in Canada), wondered about the device itself.  A device like this one:


From my 2/17/11 posting “Chinese Lazy Susan”:

OED2 has this subentry under lazy:

Lazy Susan n. (also lazy susan) orig. U.S. a revolving (wooden) stand on a table to hold condiments, etc.

with cites from 1917 on, though the objects themselves (under the name dumb-waiter) had an earlier history, and the Wikipedia entry asserts (without references) that the object

could be credited to the Chinese, who used it for their movable type. Rotating it made it easier to get the characters they needed to complete a sentence or phrase.

The Wikipedia entry goes on with an extremely dubious (but entertaining) etymology. On the more scholarly side, Michael Quinion’s World Wide Words discussion concludes that the source of the name is still a mystery.

From the current Wikipedia entry:

By 1918, Century Magazine was already describing the lazy Susan as out of fashion, but beginning in the 1950s its popularity soared once again after the redesign and reintroduction of the lazy Susan by George Hall, an engineer, soy-sauce manufacturer, and partner in popular San Francisco-area Chinese restaurants (Johnny Kan’s and Ming’s of Palo Alto), and the rotating tray became ubiquitous in Chinese restaurants and was used in homes around the globe. The decline in America’s domestic service sector after World War I and its collapse following World War II, combined with the post-war Baby Boom, led to a great demand for them in US households across the country in the 1950s and 1960s. This popularity has had the effect, however, of making them seem kitsch in subsequent decades.

Back to the Bay Area, and specifically to Ming’s, a piece of what counts for old in Palo Alto. From Palo Alto Online on 12/18/14 by Daryl Savage, “Palo Alto: Ming’s Restaurant to close Dec. 28: Extended-stay hotel and smaller Chinese restaurant are planned”:

The absolute last serving of Ming’s famous Chinese chicken salad will be Dec. 28. That’s the day that Ming’s Restaurant, Palo Alto’s oldest and largest Chinese restaurant, will close its doors to make way for an extended stay hotel and a newer, smaller Chinese restaurant.

Located at 1700 Embarcadero Road, the 10,000-square-foot restaurant is finally and firmly scheduled to be demolished after months of delays.

Ming’s owner Vicky Ching had expected her restaurant to shutter earlier this year, first in March, then in June, but because of a combination of factors, which included financing and the weather, the closing was delayed until now.

Once the current site is leveled, new construction is expected to take about two years.

Ming’s has occupied a corner on Embarcadero Road at East Bayshore Road, just east of U.S. 101, since 1967, but its history in Palo Alto dates back to 1956.

Originally on El Camino Real across from Stanford University, it was a subsidiary of Johnny Kan’s famed Chinatown eatery. Many of the original recipes, such as Ming’s beef, Chinese chicken salad and Peking duck, survive to this day.

… Along with the hotel, a new Ming’s about one-third the size of the current one will also be developed. Although it will be attached to the hotel, it will be run independently.

The restaurant plan seems not to have come to pass. A Ming’s facade continues at 1700 Embarcadero Rd. — note the date on this photo —  but the building is apparently an undeveloped commercial property (certainly there’s no restaurant there):


2 Responses to “motss.con XXXII in Palo Alto”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    The use of dumb-waiter for the lazy Susan surprises me, since the only object I’m familiar with by that name is the small hand-operated elevator used to transfer food dishes between the (below-stars) kitchen and the dining room.

    Also, that is a truly excellent photo of you.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      dumb-waiter was used at first for any mechanical device that took over the work of diningroom servants. Eventually specialized for one particular class of such devices.

      As for the photo, yes, I like it too. A rare picture in which I look like an engaging human being.

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