On occasion I will take the liberty to write about a topic not exactly LIC-centric, and in this case it only has a tenuous link to Queens overall. Yet this topic entails a quantitative analysis that would give a leg up to any second year investment banking associate looking to make Managing Director before age 30, and also a subject that is near and dear to many in NYC: bagels.
Over the past two years a couple from Bushwick has sampled bagels at over 200 locations across the five boroughs, and compiled their results in a NYC bagel survey entitled ‘Everything is Everything.’ And while the survey and the topic are interesting, the real story is about 1) the couple that compiled it: Mike Varley and Jessi Highet 2) their creative collaboration Highley-Varlet, and 3) the manner in which they finance their endeavours.
The bagel survey was actually an offshoot of another Highley-Varlet project that entailed walking a different full-marathon1 of NYC five days a week for 52 weeks, and then documenting/categorizing/analyzing and finally curating all that they absorbed during their travels. These marathons were born from similar long-distance “vacation walks” the couple had done in the prior five years including San Diego to LA and the southern border of Vermont to the Canadian border. Eventually they set their sights on their hometown and in a true example of synergy, they figured “while we’re expending calories… bagels.”
Not really. In actuality only Mike partook in the bagel consumption, as Jessi cannot eat gluten2. While the bagel survey is comprehensive and ground-breaking, as is the idea of walking 260 different marathons around NYC in a year, what I initially found most interesting about the two projects is the luxury of being able to conduct them.
To be honest, when I discovered that the couple lived in Bushwick, the duel escapades initially came with some eye-rolling. In viewing their online history they seemed to be the outsiders archetype of a Bushwick couple3: Mike is sporting a mustache circa winter 2021-2, Jessi runs a sustainable textile dying studio.
Yet when we spoke on the phone, any dismissive attitudes I may have harbored towards their unconventional career path quickly turned to envy. Of course I’m an easy convert who’s counting down the days until retirement even though that count is still in the high 4-figures. But Mike and Jessi were very passionate and articulate about their projects, and very determined to complete them in a manner that can only be described as ‘highly professional.’
One gets a full sense of that when reading the very engaging bagel survey, which Mike is still augmenting post-marathon by sacrificing his well-being in a ‘Super-Size Me’ push to back-fill any overlooked entries sent in by fans. Equally amusing are his 10 Bagel Axioms, which in NYC might rank up there with the Ten Commandments. And though I could be persnickety about the criteria, I must admit he basically got it right in assessing LIC’s own Bricktown Bagel. It received a rating of 3.92 out of 5, which by his scale puts it just below the top rung. Plus his comments about Bricktown are spot on, but you be the judge. As for who is #1 in NYC, you will have to view the site yourselves to find out, but the answer is the one tenuous link to qualify as subject matter for LICtalk: it is located in Queens.
One final thing I will mention is the method by which Highley Varlet funds their projects. In a very two-thousand-twenties artistic manner, it is financed through NFT’s. Each of the 200+ reviews is uniquely ‘purchasable’ for the cost of .1 Ethereum, which at today’s quote is $286. For those unfamiliar with this concept, Mike describes the attraction of ‘owning’ this electronic review via an NFT in the same vein as owning any collectible. I view it more as a modern day Medici. So far 110 have been sold, but no one has claimed Bricktown…
Everything Is Everything – the bagel review website
Highly Varlet – walk the NYC Marathons, all 260 of them
A New York Bagel From An Unexpected Borough: Connecticut – at $38 a dozen, let’em eat cake