It’s easy to think of news as a steady flow of troubling updates about the world, near and far. And local news is often heralded as a crucially important source of information about city council meetings and school lunch menus. So, I have to say, I was more than a bit surprised when the local edition of Patch.com came through my email the other day with this important piece of information: "Gluten-Free UWS Bagel Shop Named 6th Best Overall In NYC.”
This, for me, was a groundbreaking revelation. It was certainly Breaking Bagel News.
Gus Saltonstall, of the Patch Staff, wrote: “UPPER WEST SIDE, NY — After eating 200-plus bagels, one New Yorker has found the city's best bagelrys — and for what might be a surprise to some — an exclusively gluten-free spot on the Upper West Side is near the top of the list."
"Everything is Everything" is an interactive map and ranking made by Mike Varley, a New Yorker who ate about three everything bagels with scallion cream cheese per week for 13 months in search of the city's best bagel shop. (Hat tip to Anna Rahmanan, who was first to break the news on Timeout.com.)
Now, the chances are if you’re reading this in Philadelphia, Des Moines, or even New Jersey, this isn’t news to you. But, if you are me or my neighbors, the news of a gluten-free bagel shop two blocks from my home is important, relevant, and potentially delicious.
So, with the Patch report in hand, I set out to investigate. Please keep in mind I’ve walked by Modern Bread and Bagel, at 472 Columbus Ave., maybe 300 times. I’ve never stopped in. But the Patch report, and its UWS focus gleaned from the Time Out report, was enough to catch my eye.
And I’m pleased to report that Varley’s detailed bagel review is spot-on.
Everything is Everything calls Modern Bread and Bagel “The best gluten-free bagel in the city," with "impeccable cream cheese, tightly whipped and light.” And after completing my assignment, I completely agree.
So, as we worry about the future of local news -- and we most certainly should -- it’s good to know that information, global, national, state, and local, is in the midst of dramatic change. Certainly state and local news needs to find a sustainable economic model, and there are important experiments succeeding at Report for America and The Lenfest Institute, among others.
Local news is important, and I would suggest crucial for the success and survival of democracy. Bagel news certainly doesn’t rise to that level, but it is at its core central to our neighborhoods. And, when done right, it's delicious.
Varley, who created the “Everything is Everything” map, isn’t using his project just as an excuse to explore bakeries. He’s also using new blockchain technology to explore how the map can create new revenue models. "Each bagel review is sold as an NFT," he explains. "It's a 202-piece collection and we've already sold 80 of them.”
So NFTs of bagels are a real thing. "My intention is to turn the pictures into pixel art, store them as NFTs to give them a sense of permanence, sell them and donate the money to local shelters," he told TimeOut.
You can see the bagel NFTs on OpenSea here. There doesn’t appear to be an NFT for Modern Bread and Bagel, so you’ll have to check back to see when the gluten-free shop makes it to the digital NFT world. Until then, continue to patronize your local bagel bakery of choice.