Archive for September, 2008

Strong Hearts Cafe, Syracuse NY

Reprinting here the text of an article on the newest VEG*N cafe upstate. I went there a few weeks ago after the Syr Veg Fest – great atmosphere, great ‘milkshakes.’  Although, unfortunately, that’s when I discovered that I am *allergic* to soy, after downing a giant chocolate cherry shake.

Read on ———————-

Men Open Vegan Cafe
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
By Michelle Breidenbach
Staff writer

The menu says, “Nobility lies in actions.”

For a long time, noble actions for Joel Capolongo and Nick Ryan meant protesting outside fur shops and chasing whaling ships around the frigid waters near Antarctica.

Now, action means mixing up a batch of muffins before the 8 a.m. crowd arrives at the Strong Hearts Cafe, the new vegan restaurant they opened at 719 E. Genesee St., Syracuse. The two have poured their bleeding hearts into bowls and blenders.

They met through animal-rights activism while Ryan, 24, was studying psychology and music at Syracuse University and Capolongo, 31, was a manager at the OfficeMax in Fairmount.

Together, they protested outside Georgio’s Furs in downtown Syracuse.

They chose to fight fur because they thought it was something people could grasp more easily than food. No one could make an argument that they were wearing a fur coat for sustenance, they said.

The two adhere to the straight-edge philosophy. They don’t drink, smoke or do drugs. They also don’t eat meat or dairy products. They’ve been vegans for almost half their lives.

Late last year, they were eating tofu cream cheese bagels in a Queens restaurant. It was comfortable, well-lit and friendly.

“We looked around and thought, if this place was in Syracuse, it would kill,” Capolongo said.

That planted the seed.

But after that, they did everything else backward.

First, they found a place to rent. Then, they wrote a business plan. With competition for the lease, they did not have time to figure out how to ask the city or state governments for grants. They came up with money from their own savings and from family and friends.

Then, they planned the menu. It would not include pad Thai or burritos or the other options available to Syracuse vegans, usually one at a time at each ethnic restaurant.

It would be all vegan, not just vegetarian.

That means no animal products; no milk, cheese or eggs. They would use mock meats and soy-based products, such as Teese brand cheese.

Nothing would be fried.

They would cook the comfort food they eat at home. The only restaurant work experience between the two of them is the time Capolongo washed dishes at a diner for about two months at age 15 and Ryan worked in an SU dining hall for about a year, filling drinks and washing tables.

The night before they opened the cafe doors to the public, they practiced cooking on their friends.

At first, it seemed easy, heat stuff up and put it on bread.

But they quickly learned, for example, that breakfast burritos take too long to cook for the masses. That lasted only one day on the menu.

A “chicken” salad whipped up on the fly with mock chicken and vegan mayo worked, however, and has become the most popular sandwich. Some of their milkshake flavors — no milk included — were made for the first time and handed to customers without a test taste from the chef.

They serve breakfast all day — pancakes, waffles and French toast. There is a tofu scramble described on the menu like this: “Think scrambled eggs but less gross and more yummy.”

For lunch, there are fake turkey, phony bacon, marinated tofu and roasted veggie sandwiches. There are soups, salads and side dishes such as chipotle potato salad.

Their MySpace page is filled with people craving a milkshake. In the restaurant’s first 11 days, they sold 689 milkshakes. They come in flavors called the “Che Guevara” (coffee), the “Tiananmen Square Guy” (green tea) and “Team Hoyt” (dreamsickle flavor.) It’s named for the father/son marathon team Dick and Rick Hoyt. Dick Hoyt pushes and pulls his quadriplegic son Rick through marathons, triathlons and over mountains.

“It shows that true love is possible and love that deep is possible,” Ryan said.

They incorporated their personal heroes and other symbols of their lives into all parts of the restaurant.

Strong Hearts implies healthy eating and that’s OK with them.

But the name really comes from the Lakota warrior Crazy Horse, who is said to have said, “Ho-ka hey! It is a good day to fight! It is a good day to die! Strong hearts, brave hearts, to the front! Weak hearts and cowards to the rear.”

It also has to do with another animal rights activist Capolongo and Ryan consider a hero: Rod Coronado. Coronado spent time in federal prison in the early 1990s for his animal rights activism. He has helped sink Icelandic whaling ships and burned down an animal research lab at Michigan State University. He wrote a publication from jail called “Strong Hearts” that is out of print but still circulates among militant grass-roots animal rights activists and environmentalists.

Capolongo spent 30 days in a Georgia jail after he was convicted of disorderly conduct in a protest at the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, on the Emory University campus. He said he has spent many nights in jail in Syracuse for protests and civil disobedience.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s extreme,” he said of the activism that landed him behind bars. “I think it’s my responsibility to take action. Silence is complicity.”

Ryan said he doesn’t have any exciting jail stories. But he grew up feeling isolated in Weedsport farm country, where he objected to the methods farmers used to raise animals for food. At Syracuse University, he said, he found other like-minded people and started organizing speakers and joining protests.

Capolongo and Ryan admire people who try to change the world in big ways.

They also see that as their responsibility.

But they talk in more humble terms about their current work. They describe themselves as “two dudes with a fork and knife.” They like to make food and play no-limit Texas Hold’Em.

And they take pleasure in small moments of change.

They said their concoctions have persuaded three people to go vegan.

“To me, that’s the ultimate reward, when people make that connection that I made a long time ago,” Capolongo said. “As far as activism goes, this is probably one of the most effective things I’ve done.”

– Syracuse Post-Standard


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The Tarot is telling me to hang out and take it easy, do some contemplation; welcome the King of Cups’ energy into my life; a time of recovery, possibly travel, entering my life. Again, I had an uncannily accurate reading for my life last night.

Some good & great things happening for me … (grood)

  Gave a talk at the Utica-Rome Green Expo on plant-based diets. wo-hoo! I love getting up to talk to people about that kind of stuff.  Oh and had the MOST awesome VEG*N gluten free chocolate mocha chip brownie EVER.

  Finally took a three day weekend and went back to CT to chill with my folks and nieces (they’re 3 & 5). Even though I had a nasty cold it was awesome just to be with them all.

  While I was home, made some reconnections with some very special people in my life from high school (probably the only two people I still talk to from there).  At least one of these experiences I would classify in the category of ‘miraculous’ as by the definition being used in a seminar I am doing right now (Landmark) – forces you the reexamine life/your perception of reality.  Someone I was very close to, just thought I would probably never talk to .. and we are going to talk on the phone tonight. Opens up something completely new.

  Also, I am extremely happy for my friend Amy, who’s creating a life with her high school sweetie after a brief stint on the marriage train with the wrong person (anyone else up for a ‘test run?’)

  Speaking of which, I am closing in on my financial ability to legally ‘undo’ the marriage vows.


Also, I will be posting in the next few days, an update from my Naturopath …

Stay tuned.

The end. for now.

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New photos, insights, dreams

I’m not so good at uploading photos to this blog, but I have ‘new’ photos that I just scanned and uploaded onto my flickr page (apparently I can’t copy the link here – but go to flickr and search for alethafaye). They are photos that Adele took when she was in her photo class(es) at school and she was gracious enough to mail them all to me as I was looking for photos to start building a ‘portfolio.’ I think she is quite good … Soon I will also have standard head shots & body shots to apply for some modeling gigs and whatnot.


From Adele's collection

From Adele



From Gina - Headshot

From Gina - Headshot




Have been using the tarot frequently, as an interpretation tool. The deck I have is the Fenestra deck, a really beautiful deck in the style of the classic Rider-Waite. I was drawn to it after spending almost 45 minutes at the shop in Sedona looking for the ‘right’ one. I didn’t really even look at it, but just decided on it at the last minute. With a good guidebook with exercises (“Learning the Tarot” by Joan Bunning) I have been learning a lot — not just about tarot, but I think about myself, which is, after all, the purpose.

She suggests doing a daily one card reading. Admittedly, I have not been doing it every day, but it is very interesting on the days that I do, and have generally been keeping a journal. Last week I did a 12 card Celtic cross on a particular situation in my life and it proved to be very apt. I found myself crying (not hard to do for me) and in awe of the accuracy, and revelations, of the reading.

Today I drew The Hermit card (IX of the Major Arcana) … signalling a need for introspection, spending some time alone, withdrawing from the senses. This is something I’ve known I needed but have been resisting, or ignoring. It’s very easy for me to be a ‘slave to the senses’ so to speak. Luckily, I have that opportunity to be alone right now in my life, though I may find it a struggle to do so. Often the cards reveal something know by my ‘inner guidance’ but that I may be ignoring. It helps to bring things to light that sometimes I would prefer hidden. The tarot forces you to be honest and look into yourself (sometimes we all need a little kick, right?).

I have cards from the suit of swords come up rather frequently. I think this is interesting because I have also been having dreams about swords. I also dream about particular cards some nights and wake up to learn about them. I have never really been one to believe in ‘signs’ but I have always been a vivid dreamer and recognize my dreams as carriers of messages …

A particular dream I had featuring swords: My friends and I are having a pageant of some kind, inhabiting a rather large house … six people in flowing robes, like togas, are dancing in a line, when simulatneously they are all stabbed with swords. Not fatally … my one friend, who is in a lot of my dreams (people usually represent an aspect of self rather than themselves, hmmm – now I have to think about what this friend represents about me), is stabbed in the arm, his bicep is separated from the rest of his arm and the end of the sword is somehow broken or burned off. He falls and I run to see if he is OK, there’s a lot of blood. He wants me to pull the sword out, but I am scared that will hurt him more. But I pull it out, and then he is alright.

One interpretation is that I see I that while I have the power to inflict pain (I worry about this a lot) on others, and myself, I also have the power to heal, to make things right, to pull the sword out.




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New theme

BTW I’ve changed the theme.  The lime green was a bit too bright and sunny for me. I’m feeling like these colors much more. Plus, I think it’s easier on the eyes.


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Love letter

It’s been a few weeks since the last letter/post here. I want people to know (in case they are worried) that things are fine – I’ve just been going in and out of a general disappointment with situations, people.  The other side of that is that thankfully the friends I have made here do shine through and remind me of all that is worthwhile in Utica.

Lately I have been reading this cheesy compilation of historical love letters. They are charming, and quite fascinating … I guess I am looking for some answers or questions to my own emotions.

In any case, I am posting a ‘love poem’ that I wrote a few months ago, really a found poem, composed from lines of imho one of the best lyrical albums ever – Vespertine, by Bjork.  * Disclaimer: One of the songs on the album in an e. e. cummings poem set to music, and of course I had to borrow some of those lines.*  The music on this album is very powerful, and this poem, for me, is erotic but sad and dark.


I have a recurrent dream

  pedaling through the dark currents

of the pleasure in me,

  looking hard for moments of shine.

Through the warmest cord of care

  your love was sent to me.

I’m not sure what to do with it.

Swirling black lillies totally  ripe …

Feel my breath on your neck

  and your heart will race

But careful, careful

  There lies my passion hidden,

there lies my love.

I will take the sun in my mouth.

Will I complete the mystery of my flesh?

I wake up

   and the day feels broken.

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