On the spring 2017 collection of Jeni’s Ice Cream.

Jeni’s Ice Cream, my current favorite purveyor of frozen dairy confections, has outdone themselves with their “spring 2017 collection.” Beyond the palette-extending selection of flavors, Jeni Britton Bauer has done a brilliant number to extend and elevate the very idea of how ice cream can be packaged and sold.

As a collection.

It follows logically. High-end food, like most fashion, is seasonal: some ingredients are better at different times of year, and that affects menus and availability. Jeni’s takes this a step further by applying the same conceptual layer at which even mid-level fashion brands excel: quoting from across art forms to derive a loftier lineage for their aesthetic ideas.

Further, for a series of flavors that might be considered quirky or unconventional at first glance, the conceptual statement of purpose (which name-checks Virginia Woolf and Tilda Swinton) elevates these flavors to being necessarily adventurous in a contemporary social context. While none of these flavors are Filipino, I know well what it means to live on the fringes of others’ comfort levels with food. And it’s why I value endeavors that play with the tension of comfort (in the guise of a favorite dessert) and discomfort (a range of esoteric flavors) at the highest levels of quality.

This year, with our spring 2017 collection, we’re asking questions about openness and community. What does it take to befriend a stranger? We’re calling this collection We’re Not From Here. You Belong Here. These flavors may sound unfamiliar on the outside, but are meant to be extraordinarily (or ordinarily) familiar on the inside to an American palate.

I love love love ice cream. (There is even a category of this oft-neglected blog called (with broad intent) “ice cream for everyone.”) Throughout my adult life, I maintained a reputation for keeping at least a half-dozen flavors of ice cream on hand at all times. I have never denied ice cream when it was offered to me because I was afraid that it would not be offered to me again.

And with this statement – this collection – Jeni’s has inspired in me for the first time a desire for a specific experience of ice cream. And they have given me an aesthetic framework through which to enjoy and critique them.

I can’t wait to try them all (especially genmaicha & marshmallows – two things I can’t resist are green tea ice cream and Rice Krispies treats).

And I can’t wait to see what fall brings.

Hope & hate. 

Among the two books I am reading in parallel are Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark and Jarrett Kobek’s I Hate The Internet, which, as I bounce between their narratives, I realize render so much of what it means to be (as I am) a liberal technologist living in America in 2017.

Solnit’s writing is symphonic in its range of sources. Kobek’s style leans on an acerbic but incisive wit – his consistent description of the amount of “eumelanin in the basal cell layer” of a character’s epidermis has shades of Vonnegut’s “So it goes.”

And Solnit is a hard read now. I want to feel as hopeful as she did in the context of the first term of the second Bush administration, when she looked to the evolution of Uruguayan politics for inspiration to get through a dark time.

There’s so much on my mind these days it’s hard to know where to begin. I’ve done some good things recently, which I’ll write about in greater detail shortly. But work continues, life continues, and good prose lifts my spirits. Somewhere between hope and hate, I suppose.