Inspired by Olive Garden

Authentic Olive Garden Garlic Bread Sticks

Authentic Olive Garden Garlic Bread Sticks

Last night my family and I ate at Olive Garden. Not necessarily a fact one needs to share publicly, even if it is a partiular outing for our family. The chain mentality for Italian food is literally anathema to our DNA given Antonella is not only born and rasied in mother Italy, but a kickass cook to boot. Nonetheless, I was given a giftcard last week for Olive Garden, on a lark we decided to walk on the wild side of taylorized food. On the car ride over I couldn’t get the voice of Ray Liotta playing Henry Hill in Goodfellas telling me it’s “egg noodles and ketchup.”

Despite all this, we had a blast. There remains something reassuring to me about chainstore America, must be my resilient Long Island roots—even though Italian food on the strongest island has its own great tradition. But that’s not what this post is about, it’s the fact that throughout this whole experience I couldn’t stop thinking about one of the trippiest, creative, and most-inspiring ds106 internauts of all time: Andrew Allingham.He was part of the first open, online experience during the heady days of the Spring 2011, and his work was legendary. He created the buttload, boatload, shitload infographic that got redditted with over 70,000 hits in jsut a couple of hours

He was one of the first guests on ds106.tv (technical precursor to DTLT Today), wherein we discussed what is one of my favorite student projects for ds106 (or any other course) off all time: a 10 minute video essay about frame stories in the 1965 Polish psychedllic films class The Saragossa Manuscript. You can see the video essay below, which features Andrew’s brilliant, dry, and oh so sharp whit, as well as his unbelievable narrative acumen.

But all that is to get to the actual reason why iw as thinking about Andrew while going to Olive Garden with my family. For his final project in ds106, he did a post of what he termed “Olive Garden fandom” that is narrated from the perspective of the authentic Olive Garden garlic bread sticks. I couldn’t get this piece out of my head, and it deals with all the issues that a red-blooded Italian and her New Yorker husband  in an stripmall sprawl Olive Garden fights with: authenticity! Here’s a bit from the piece, though you can read it all (and it’s pretty short) here:

The basket of fresh, warm garlic bread sticks, mid-conversation over the construction of racial identity and art in the 21st Century, sat in the middle of a table-for-one around lunchtime at the Olive Garden in Columbus, Ohio.

“I think, Marcello De Laurentiis, that you have said all there is to say. I agree with you wholeheartedly. The young garlic bread sticks must look back to their rustic Italian heritage for inspiration and to the old masters for form.” said Paolo Pappalardo.

“What rustic Italian heritage?” retorted Bradino with a snort.

“Why, from your ancestors, of course.” said Paolo Pappalardo.

“Which ones?” said Bradino.

“The Italian ones!” said Paolo Pappalardo, feeling as though he were speaking to a strip of uncooked dough.

“What about the rest?” said Bradino.

“What rest?” said Marcello De Laurentiis.

“My Mexican, Irish and German ancestors,” Bradino answered honestly. “How can I go back to the ovens of Tuscany when their fingertips have never even graced my buttery crust? I have no personal connection with them at all…”

“I think you’ve missed the point entirely, Bradino.” interrupted Paolo Pappalardo.

This just whets my appetite for a teaching ds106 again. There is so much amazing work generated as apart of that class. I’m also reminded of the ds106  world given that registration for Fall classes opened up this past Monday, and already my section—one of three!— is full with a five person wait list. I’m ever more excited given that I have a relatively new idea for approaching ds106 in the Fall. The entire course will be centered around the TV series The Wire, but more on that shortly. In the meantime, it’s really cool to be inspired by work of one of ds106’s finest, not to mention the ability to refer to his work so seamlessly as this post is a testament. Long live ds106, and long live teaching on the open web!

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