Saturday, December 5, 2009

FTP (fuck that place)

I left work tonight so fucking frustrated that I just have to try to write it out of my system if I am going to get any peace. Join me if you care to. When I was a young man and I embarked upon a career as a dishwasher I had the opportunity to work in the dish room of a little seafood shack that sat not too far from the train tracks on a road that was called Spring Garden. In that dish room there was a small window. That window did not look outside. It was a conduit to the kitchen which was on the other side of the wall and without warning sizzling hot spent pans would come hurling through to clatter into the dish sink. There was furious activity on the other side of that wall and I was curious to see what was going on but of course if I didn't move fast enough one of the cooks might hit me in the face with a saute pan.

I started by cleaning potatoes and wrapping them in foil. I cleaned shrimp ass. I scrubbed mussels and pulled out their beards. I followed a recipe to make a vat of cole slaw. Finally one night I was trained on the fryer/steamer station. By the end of the night I was coated in grease and hushpuppy batter. I discovered, as did some of the women I consorted with, that standing in front of a steamer for six hours steaming oysters and clams did terrible things to a man. I stunk like a Briny crack whore.

Night after night as I worked on the line in the kitchen I became more and more in touch with what this whole job is really about. Time. The flow of it. And the zen idea of the masterless master of mastication. There is really nothing to cooking that is difficult. With a repertoire of about two dozen basic concepts you can work wonders. But when you put yourself in the situation of having to replicate those few basic concepts in a constantly changing order with an ever changing inventory of ingredients repetitively hopefully perfectly under the looming taskmaster of the unforgiving clock, you have trespassed into the realm of the line cook. A hideous beast, some might say.

Hopefully in the chaos of your night, you are still directing the current of the rapids. Hopefully you are the master without a master. Hopefully you are the clock. You are the pendulum inside of the clock. Everything in the kitchen up to the moment that the waitress puts in the first ticket of service is Prep. Mad prep. In every corner, on every surface, with every hand on deck. The more preparation you can get done before the service starts the better off you are going to be. If you do not have your mise en place you are going to sink like a fucking rock to the bottom of the blackest sea.

One of my worst experiences as a line cook ever happened at Delucchi (I could say that sentence more than once). The morning of New Year's Day 2001. I had gotten myself involved with this ridiculous place a few weeks earlier by jumping ship from the Pasta P. Both of the chefs at Delucchi had turned out to be complete lunatics. Complete wrecks. They both had horrific drinking problems and they were crooks. Let me say that I am not without flaw. On that new years eve I went out and got shitfaced with one of the chefs. I probably drank a bottle of tequila myself. This may sound ass backwards but one of the things that was fueling my drinking that night was my nervousness at having been assigned to cook breakfast the next day. I had made it clear to both of the chefs that I was not versed in egg cooking but they had waved it off like it was no problem. I was two hours late to work the next morning. I had been scheduled to come in at seven and work with one of the chefs to prepare for breakfast. I was smashed. I was seeing double. I had shit in my pants. My mouth was full of vomit. There was no preparation done. Not even a single egg cracked. He was in no better condition than me. He had arrived on time but he hadn't done jack shit. As soon as he saw me, he shook his fist at me and split. He just left. The waitstaff opened the doors and people began to flow in.

And then the terror began.

One of the most depressing things about business being slow at Delucchi is that you lose your sense of timing on a busy line. Of course one of the most shitty things about Delucchi is that when it is in fact busy the kitchen gets slaughtered with tickets because the line is not big enough to accommodate the volume of orders. You try to tell this to some people and they look right through you. They give you the zombie eye. Because they don't really care do they? They just want to get the shit out of their hands as fast as possible and fuck the kitchen.

But anyway back to being slow. It has been painfully slow. It has been "shitting money" slow. Actually today turned out to be a good day. I got in early and poked around in the walk in for a while and then I made a batch of minestrone that came out really nice. I ate some eggs with kale and chicken breast and then I went out to the line and cut the saute cook early and took over his position. And then for four hours I cooked. I finished up the breakfast service and hummed right along with lunch. Tickets flowed in and tickets flowed out. It is a very spiritual inner place. Being at one with the line. I may scream an obscenity now and then but it is all zen. I also set up my mise for the dinner menu because at that point I was feeling a good buzz from working nonstop for four hours in front of the machine at my station and I planned to cook into the night.

Dinner began. I was at the helm. We were making some nice food. It was steady. We started getting some business. I liked that. I had everything timed out perfectly. I was just rolling along putting out tickets, building my pans, slamming them in the oven, firing my stove. There was a slight rush. Of course two tickets of parties of six came up at the same time along with three deuces and a four top. I started timing it all out in my mind as I began to build my sauces and instruct the expediter what I needed. All six eyes on the stove were firing. I looked back at the line of tickets one more time and felt like I had it all together. I put myself into auto glide and started bringing it all together. I was the clock. It was a beautiful thing.

Then for some reason the expediter moved over to the four burner and fired up some pans. At first I thought he was taking the initiative to get a few of my sauces going for me. Ok, whatever, I'm thinking, but dude don't throw me off my timing. And then I realize that he has fired everything. I'm like, what the fuck are you doing you idiot!!!?? It was so smooth. I was the clock. I had the tickets planned out down to the second. I don't know what the fuck the guy was thinking but it fucked everything up. The food came up pell mell, half ass, completely off time. I was so fucking pissed. What the fuck. I am supposed to be the leader of this brigade of buffoons. Lord, deliver me!!!

I need a white guy.

Thanks, I feel a little better now.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Richie rides again

"where can a man get a goddamn hamburger in this town?!"
"well I reckon they'd rustle you up one down at Mr. Mcdonald's."
"where's that?"
"go on down the road a bit from here and when you start smelling horse shit so bad you can't hardly stand it that's where the stables will be and Mr. Mcdonald's is right next door."
"thank you gentlemen."
"sure partner."

Five minutes pass in silence.

"did you see that fellar, Henry?"
"darned if he weren't the smallest little fancy fellar I ever seen in these parts."
"had him a six shooter, he did."
"said he was looking for a hamburger."
"curious little fellar."

Richie frockmor steps from behind a stack of bales of hay. The two old coots look surprised. the fat one swallows his plug of tobacco. The one behind the counter pushes his hat back on his head and whistles.

"you like to scare the bejesus out of me!"
"what did you call me sir?"
"do what? where did you come from?"
" you take me for a fool sir. i concealed myself behind these bales of hay and listened to your heartless banter. now answer me, what name did you call?"
"you're right easy to miss i reckon."
"oh, so you think so, shopkeeper?"
"i thought you was looking for a hamburger mister."
"what did you call me? i demand it!"
"what did I call you?"
"what did you call me, you dick sucking old toad!"
"my lord."
"i'll eat your heart for a hamburger!"
"my lord, my lord, I meant no harm little fellar!"

The little stranger wrestles his six shooter from its holster and empties four bullets into the old coot. He slumps against the counter and then collapses behind it. The fat one gets up and tries to run out. Richie Frockmor takes aim at his back and puts two slugs through where he calculates the old man's ticker to be. He must be right, the fat one falls forward on his face like a stone. On his way out Richie wipes his boot off on the side of the dead man's face. He mounts his horse with some difficulty and points the beast down the road towards what he already recognizes as the stench of horse excrement.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Crow Wood part one

The first thing Cletus and Hester Jackson ever knew about the Crow Wood was that there was rumored a feller that lived in there somewhere who brewed a fine pure shine. They were juvenile deliquents when the verification of this rumor became their charge and pursue it like noble knights of some kingly table they did. Neither of them had a car because they came from dirt poor families who lived in shacks out on Tobacco Road but they both owned mopeds upon which they poured much affection and attention. They were not aware of the painful truth that being seen zipping about town and country on a souped up moped, a moped obviously tended to with pride, did nothing for their image which they imagined to be that of a couple of tough guys. They were most often referred to as clowns. By everyone.

It was Fat Randy Buttcheeks who had gotten the boys started on the fable of Crow Wood. You see the two young men had been experimenting with altering their perceptions of things. They had started by sniffing glue and drinking Windex. Now, all kids do this so let's not be too hard on the boys. When they came to the conclusion that they wanted to try some alcohol they naturally went to Fat Randy's Pantry on Route Seven and asked Fat Randy Buttcheeks to sell them a bottle of Apple Jack. He refused the request on the grounds that the boys were not of age to purchase such an item. Cletus looked at Hester Jackson. Hester Jackson stared back at Cletus. They asked Fat Randy Buttcheeks how they were going to try out getting drunk if he wasn't going to sell them some Apple Jack. He looked carefully around him to make sure it was just him and the boys in the store at that moment and satisfied that he was safe he intoned: "Moonshine."

For five dollars Fat Randy Buttcheeks had given them a map. And what he explained to them that map proposed to guide them to was the domain of a country feller who was legendary for his crafted homemade spirit and went by the unusual name of Injun Deacon. Cletus observed: "People in these parts do have such strange things they want to be called." It was a brief philosophical moment that nobody noticed. Buttcheeks said: "Now boys," and he looked from one to the other, "the only warning that I must accompany with this valuable piece of information is that the region of which I speak is in the Crow Wood." Cletus and Hester Jackson shrugged. His solemn caveat had fallen on ignorant ears. Buttcheeks sputtered: "Hell, you mean you two dumbasses don't even know about Crow Wood?" Again the boys seemed perplexed and finally Hester Jackson spoke up: "We ain't neither of us ever heard of this Crow Wood place Mister Buttcheeks." The fat old grocery clerk chuckled.

Armed with their map the two boys left the store and went out to their mopeds in the parking lot. Fat Randy Buttcheeks watched them go, thinking to himself that that could well be the last time he would ever see those two morons. He had decided to spare them the details about the sinister nature of Crow Wood, about the stories of talking walking crow men who terrorized the isolated country folk. It was true that not many around those parts knew the stories, they were only whisperings occasionally exchanged between farmers. If there is such a thing, he'd thought to himself as he watched Cletus and Hester Jackson get on their motor scooters and peel out down the road, those two baffoons will be knee deep in it by sun fall.

Cletus had studied the map and taken the lead. They had been making good time for about half an hour. It was odd, he figured, that although he and Hester Jackson had zipped up and down the county roads of Turnip Town and Belvedere County lord knows how many times he found that he had made a turn and then another turn and then another turn and for some time had been speeding down a two lane blacktop that he didn't rightly know. He signalled for them to pull over to the side of the road. From his satchel he pulled out a flask of Windex and took a swig. He handed it off to Hester Jackson and pulled out the map again. He walked a piece down the asphalt and came to a number stenciled in the dust. It matched the map. "Yep." He said to himself and pointed for Hester's sake off into the distance down the road: "Crow Wood should just be a piece down that way according to this." He waved the map absently. Ambling back over to the spot where Hestor Jackson stood next to their machines admiring them lovingly, Cletus too took a long caressing look at the two mopeds and then signaled towards the open road. It beckoned to them. They revved up their mopeds and started off again. Neither one thought to ask the other who might have been out there stenciling random numbers on the side of the road that just happened to correspond with the map ole Buttcheeks had sold them. Cletus gave Hester a thumbs up.

They shot along the road following the broken center line as it dipped and curved through the oddly foreign landscape. At times Cletus would slow down and fall in next to the roaring moped that Hestor Jackson was perched atop and offer him a slug from the flask of Windex. In this brotherly fashion the two nimrods came to the entrance into Crow Wood.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Listening to Big Black's Racer X

Tonight was my last night on FaceBook. I'm not sure whether or not all of my loyal readers know this or not but earlier this evening I was accused of placing anti-semitic slogans on my FaceBook page. I was notified by FaceBook Control that my account was being suspended. I was not given a trial. If there was one, it was one of those..what do you call them...kangaroo courts. Let me tell you straight away: that it is all lies. Lies perpetrated by a zionist conspiracy that predates the illuminati by...well, some time...some good time.

I said something tonight like "fuck the Jews."

It was reported in the left wing media totally out of context.

And shame on them for that.

This hapless entry created a firestorm across the blogosphere and within mere hours I became an enemy of the Judaic People. My house was firebombed. Angry jewish youth fresh from a reading of Where The Wild Things are by Morie Sendak at the San Francisco Hebrew Center congregated on my street... There were shouts. Some insults. Some threats of violence. I wanted to get a bag of pork skins and a forty but these assholes hampered any move along those lines. I ended up having to order in Chinese food. I gave them the wrong address so when the driver called me from downstairs I bribed him into going around the corner and getting me a pack of Dorals, a two liter of Dr. Pepper, and a fifth of Bacardi. He called me again, I could hear in the background shouting maniacs. I said, circle the block. He did. I told him to park around the corner and bum rush the shit in. He did. I ended up dipping an American Spirit Cigarette in Robitussin and smokin that shittchZaaaaa with him as a pay off. Chill. Chill. He was a zombie when he left. Chasin the 'Tuss.

But you know. Honestly. I'm from the United States of America. And I'm a Christian. Just like we're supposed to fucking be last time I checked!!! And it galls me that we give shelter and succor to a nation that crucified our lord. But that is not even the worst of it. Somehow. Fucking God knows how. We have let the Moors set up camp right in our midst. Talk about being a flap of skin between an asshole and a set of nuts.

Thanksgiving is upon us once again. This one is a stretch this year. Thank you oh Lord for letting the Jihadists set up their missle launching pads next to our day care centers.

The funny thing is when we first got here to get rid of the natives we sold them booze, they got fucked up and we gave them the shaft. So when is the last time you were in the tenderloin at a liquor store owned by anything but a Mohammist? Suprise Honkey!!!

Religion is shit. It fouls up everything. I officially take a dump on it.

Not only that. I long for the good old days. When it was just The Whites and the coloreds.

Let's all pray for peace and togetherness this year....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

the lesson

Two things I have done from two-story windows and both times these things were done at parties. The first thing is I peed on someones head from a second story window and the second is I fell out of a second story window. In the first instance I had to leave the party out the back door immediately. In the case of the fall, it was a Halloween costume party, and I was dressed as one of The Beatles. I was Ringo. Luckily I landed in some bushes, but it still knocked the wind out of me. I was ministered to by a bevy of lovely lasses. Actually, not.

What is with this phrase: "You learned your lesson." It is always spoken in a pejorative sense. People say it after you have inflicted some kind of misfortune on yourself. Misfortune is the lesson. The lesson is always that you can't do something. No one says: "Well son, you learned your lesson." if you have memorized all of the multiplication tables. They'd be well within their rights but they never would. A lesson is an instruction by which you gain some knowledge, but when someone whips out the "you learned your lesson" idiom you know that whatever the instruction was, it weren't no fun.

For a few months now I have been subscribing to the OED online and not really getting my money's worth. I didn't know the password for awhile. But today I am back in the hallowed virtual halls of the learned lexicon and I have poured over the entry for "lesson" and I am quite satisfied with myself. Not for having gained any forward knowledge or for having imparted some new information to you dear reader but just for the simple reason that I used my subscription!!! A lesson can also be a rebuke. A lesson can be a piece of scripture read to give moral compass to our actions. Above all a lesson is something to be studied on, to contemplate over, to assess with the compartments of the mind, that storming fatty honeycomb that rides behind our brow.

I never learned much from the scriptures. The "thous shalt nots" were more invitation to debauch than they were restrictive. The Church was an old noble ramshackled structure with many rooms and winding halls and sub basements. The deacons smoked cigarettes out the back door of the kitchen while the black ladies fried chicken and scooped heaping mounds of corn bread batter onto sheet pans. They were all good Baptists. On Sunday nights they came together and joined in hymn and celebration of the master, the celestial host of hosts. Crows rested on the church steeple, big black crows, big enough to carry a baby away in the clutches of their cobalt beaks. It was during Sunday service as I was playing hookey in the parking lot that I saw one of those crows snatch up a child and carry it away. It carried that child up into the clouds and then when it was done with its play, when it had grown bored with the manchild it had pinched, the crow released the baby and it fell from the sky.

I told the Pastor and the people what I had seen, but they didn't believe me. The deacons gathered around me and behind them the congregation stood. The child's broken body lay smashed and unmoving. The pastor pointed to a rock that he had seen me throw down as he approached. It was stained with sticky cherry colored blood. I described to them how I had wrestled with another crow that had lighted on the fallen body of the child and pecked at its eye and how I had grabbed up that rock and smashed the vermin crow with it and saved the child's other eye for verily indeed the terrible bird had succeeded in tearing out that one eye and swallowing it whole like a grape. But they told me there were no crows. No crows on the steeple. No crows anywhere. They told me what I had seen perched up there on the roof was demons, devils, hellions, the legion of God's enemies. I gnashed my teeth at the sun that day.

When they got me to the hospital they x-rayed my innards and sure enough there was an eyeball travelling down through the viaducts and tubes. When they tested the blood from the rock it was determined to be human and not of avian origin. I was a murderer, they said. No crow had stolen the child, the demons had tricked me. It was I who had lured the youngster away from the flock and in reward had bashed his brains out with a rock and gnawed his eyeball out of its socket and lunched on it. I was led to a cell.

The Pastor came to visit me. He sat across from me in my cell. He stared at me. I noticed the intensity of his stare, that his eyes had become sharp black beads. It was very quiet in the cell. As I sat there returning his stare not unfriendly I came to realize that he was a crow disguised as a Pastor. His breast was unusually plump and I caught a glimpse of the black mat of feather rustling beneath his vestments. It was so quiet. The Pastor's face began to crack. What seemed like the beginning of a smile became a jagged tear and the hard black bone of a beak crawled out. When the crow had torn his wings free of its human clothing, flesh and fabric, it sat solemnly facing me. It would tax me one of my eyeballs I was told and without further hesitation the bird pounced on me and latched onto my eyeball. We struggled, the bird and I. But just then a sheriff came into the cell to announce lunchtime and seeing the giant bird atop me pulled his revolver from its holster and fired a volley of shots at the beast. The crow toppled over me and to the floor dead with my severed eyeball gripped in its mouth. Half blind and in terrible pain I collapsed.

I was vindicated that day in the cell of child murder. It was never explained how I had managed to eat an eyeball but it was obvious that it had been the work of the devil. A gang of ruffians burned the church down saying that it was an outpost of Satan. Most of the deacons became avowed atheists. The Black ladies went on to open a successful southern themed restaurant called Miss Dilly's. And me? When I was released from the jail hospital some weeks of recuperation after the surgery that sewed shut my empty eye hole I was met by another angry mob like the one that had burned down the church. They lifted me up over their heads and carried me out to the highway on the limits of the city. I was forced to jump onto the back of the first truck that passed with a warning from the townfolk never to show my rotten face in that area again.

I went to live in what they came to call Crow Wood and from there many dark and strange things were said to take place so that no good christian ever ventured near.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

wedge o lard

Have you ever noticed, and I'm sure you have, that some people like to drink their morning coffee in a gargantuan mug that requires two hands to lift and can later in the day double as a soup bowl or even a handy portable bidet? Not me, I drink my morning cup of java (usually Dunkin Donuts dark roast) in a dainty white porcelain cup engraved with a wonderful illustration of a hen. That's just how I roll.

And speaking of rolling, it's been a long gruelling recovery since I rolled my ankle outside of Specks a month and a half ago. Even at that moment as I laid on my back kicking my legs out like a upturned bug, looking up at the curious faces of passing pedestrians, I knew that I had done some serious damage. I groaned. Sparks, my drinking companion for the evening, who also happened to be imbibing on my dime that night, had a terror struck look on his face when he saw me go down. It was not so much that he was concerned about my health, methinks, as it was the dawning realization that his beer ticket had just taken a nose dive. I knew that I had very little time before I would be immobilized in pain. Calculating my chances, we dashed into the bar for a shot and a beer and then I limped out to a taxi and did the heroic thing: I went home. Forlorn and penniless, a dejected Sparks wandered back up to his flop house digs where he ate hormel chili cold from the can and watched the knife guy on the home shopping network. In the emergency room the next morning they x-rayed my foot, ascertained that it was not broken but badly sprained, outfitted me with a orthopedic boot, and sent me on my way with crutches...and twenty Vicodin. I had a physicians note that excused me from work for a week. From the hospital I made landfall on the couch about an hour later armed with my pills, my boot, my ice pack, and a cheeseburger, fries, and large fountain soda from the BurgerMeister. I had plans to write a historical novel during my down time on the couch, instead I managed to watch a lot of television, eat a lot of greasy Chinese delivery, drool a good bit, and lay in a drug induced stupor in my own filth surrounded by cast off takeout cartons and empty two liter soda bottles. I was like that dragon in The Hobbit, all laid out and bad ass on my pile of succor. It was a truly blissful time aside from the pain. The vicodin does strange things to the mind. Strange wonderful things.

Surprisingly there was intense pain and a month a half later there is still pain albeit not as alarming. I don't know if I am one of those persons who is more sensitive to pain or not. I believe the medical term is pussy. I'd like to think that I am a pretty tough customer. I can tell you this: I will not back down in the face of a serious life threatening hangover and if it looks like there is too much food on a plate I will still go for it. Pain is not something that you can share with someone. It is a private hell that others care not to hear about it or acknowledge for fear that they will get some themselves from somewhere. But as each day goes by it becomes less painful to stand on my feet in the kitchen for eight or nine hours and my ankle is not as swollen as it was before. I think my foot is a little bit crooked now but it may be my imagination. This is a lesson learned. Not really.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

turkey leg the sequel

As he told it, when John-O worked in the kitchen at Rosa Linda's in Myrtle Beach the restaurant closed for a week so that the entire staff could go to The Dead shows in Virginia. They partied like monsters and after it was all over drove straight back and went immediately to work. That was one of the stories that I heard him tell often. John Hopkins was an ex-navy man. And like an old navy salt, he was a teller of stories. Unfortunately there were only about twelve of them. John Hopkins was something of an enigma. Originally from New York. Adopted. An obscure childhood. Details were vague as to how he had managed to end up at his sister's house in Greensboro. He had a history of drinking that may have contributed to this decamp from Myrtle Beach. He gave off the impression of being somewhat wounded, damaged. The last place you would expect to see him was at a dead show. But the idea of it was the kind of thing that made you curious about the guy.

I was the newbie at Bert's and a lowly dishwasher to boot. On my first day when John-O barked an order at me I assumed he had some authority in the kitchen and so I tasked myself to his demands. It took me about a day to realized that he was the goat of the kitchen. He was hunchbacked, tubby, stained, and not altogether fresh of scent. After that I ignored him when he told me to do something, it seemed like everyone else did. From my post in the dish room I would hear Mary, the chef, screaming at him in the kitchen about something he'd fucked up. Sometimes he would audibly groan as he was being lambasted. I remember one night he got it particularly bad for some slight of duty, later when I carried a load of dishes over to the hot line he was standing at his station red faced and muttering under his breath. He would bitch about Mary out loud often but as soon as she stepped into the kitchen he usually made himself scarce. She routinely swore that she was going to fire him. If a sauce could be broken, he broke it. If a recipe could be misread, he misread it. John-O dropped shit; spilled shit; slipped in his spills; fell on his ass; knocked over stacks of plates; and just basically earned the taunts of his fellow staffers on a daily basis.

I wish that I could claim that I took the noble path and befriended John-O while defending him from the insults and complaints of our comrades in industry. Befriend him I certainly did. But not even a St. Francis could have restrained from taking a shot at this guy now and then. He was a constant source of amusement. Despite all of his foibles and character flaws there was something lovable about John-O. He was a nice guy, he was just a goof ball. He wasn't an idiot, he just had really really bad luck. He was annoying, at times. He could be incredibly inept at his job which is probably why he never made it beyond the fry/steamer station. Yet, he manned that steamer with pride and there were times in the middle of a Friday night rush when we were buried in tickets and everything bordered on collapse and chaos that he would take wing and soar and save the line. Granted it was a rare night but I swear I recall soaring. The Fryer was his nemesis, his darling and yet his cruel master. At the end of a busy night, covered in hush puppy batter and reeking of steamed clams, standing at his station like a gunner rooted at his battery in the aftermath of a blitzkrieg, it was his responsibility to empty the oil from the cookers, scrape out all of the accumulated fried random matter, and filter the oil back into the fryer vats. It sometimes happened, more often than it ever should have, that he would forget to seal the release spigot at the base of the equipment. He would hoist up the heavy drum of filtered oil and begin to pour. Someone would scream his name in alarm. It was like the screaming of the damned. Wild-eyed, he would blunder forward realizing that he had done it again, blindly lamely fumbling for the salvation from himself that he so desperately needed. Gallons of oil would spill through the tank of the fryer and onto the floor before he could manage to seal the valve. It created a fucking mess and an extra hours worth of cleaning. Ok, maybe he was an idiot.

Yes, befriend him I did, but I also eventually took the lead in tormenting him. He made it so easy. And remember my philosophy on life: you'd better start making fun of someone else weaker and keep the people laughing or they may take a second look at you. It was natural to caricature him. Paul Durham, our bartender, and I took this to an art level. Perhaps this reveals our own sicknesses and faults but over drinks and the accoutrement's of drinks we would sit for hours and regale one another in full John-O character, weaving together all of the twelve stories that we heard him tell about his adventures in the navy and beyond. Rosa Linda's in Myrtle Beach was a recurring motif. The fabled road trip to the dead shows was canonical John-O. We developed a John-O voice that we fell into at any given moment. Whatever dialogue you were about to embark upon it had to be predicated by a long guttural groan. This was the groan that we so often heard John-O using in the kitchen. His groan was textural. His groan was layered. It spoke volumes.. When you captured the essence of that groan, you had the key to the John-O character. The groan could signal so many things. Usually pain and humiliation, of course. But there was so much more it could mean. He used it invariably before the retelling of any story and in this context the groan became authoritative and fraternal. Sometimes the groan was ruminative, philosophical. In mimicry we eventually interpreted the groan to mean "I am a complete moron and what I am about to tell you should be completely discounted as the ravings of a lunatic." Because that of course was the subtext to everything that John-O said and did.

I worked with John-O for years. I was promoted into the kitchen eventually and then progressed along the line until I was at the saute station. John-O and I worked side by side. I would have drinks with him at the end of our shift at the bar. He sometimes showed up at the after work parties and got drunk and made a fool of himself. Vomiting and falling were two of the tricks that he relied heavily on. Of course I have since added these to my own repertoire. I spent a lot of time around John-O. I knew a lot about him, but I also knew that there was a lot I didn't know. He was a Navy guy, that sort of wayward soul synonymous with the sea and its ports since the dawn of the maritime. He was Billy Budd with a beer gut and Halitosis. He'd run a ground in Greensboro. Sure sometimes I wanted to kill him, but other times I wanted to give him a hug and tell him to hang in there, he wasn't doing so bad. He was though, doing bad. He drank prodigious amounts of canned beer. He lived about two blocks from the restaurant. He didn't own a car. He had few social contacts and no chance with the ladies. He rode the bus if he had to get anywhere and if you have ever tried to catch or even ride a bus in Greensboro you know how truly bizarre and unsettling this experience can be. In truth he didn't go far from the little cluster of shops and bars where Bert's sat. On his days off as I was on my way into work I would see him strolling down the sidewalk somewhat lopsidedly, unshaven, toting a six pack in a brown bag. He was probably going home to sit in his bachelor's room, drink beer, and fantasize about bashing Mary's head in with a mallet.

One thing I will always remember about John-O was the time that he gave me a six pack of my favorite beer at the time for my birthday. Coors Lite. Not a big deal I suppose but I remember that he bought the six pack and walked all the way over to my house on Cedar Street to give it to me. Not the house on the corner that got condemned but further down the block where I lived later. It was August of course and a hot day. We sat out on my balcony and drank the beer and then he left and walked back to go to work at Bert's. John-O. That was a gesture of friendship that I really appreciated. I would like to be able to say that after that I became his protector but it wouldn't be true. It was a part of the dynamic of our relationship.

One day John-O came into work and asked to speak to Mary in the office. Later she came back in the kitchen looking worried. John-O came into the kitchen too and we all started prepping for dinner as usual. After work we found out that John-O had gone to the doctor for some reason and in the course of the exam it was discovered that he had cancer. The Bad kind. Lymphoma. He would have to immediately start chemotherapy. All of the cooks and kitchen guys were quiet. That was a quiet night, we all sat staring into our drinks. And we all drank hard that night.

The days passed. John-O had insisted that he still wanted to work as much as possible. We were a small restaurant. We were a family of a type and even though we treated John-O like shit, we cared about him. He kept coming to work though not as often and for not as long. He looked tired. All of the waitresses began to pour love and affection on him. It was funny. He loved it. Whereas at one time they would have been in the window of his station spewing spit and venom on him looking for a particular order now they were giving him hugs and back rubs. Even Brad, the lead line cook from Mississippi, who was constantly disgusted with John-O, would never again let him take up a broom or mop. I never heard him raise his voice to John-O again either. Eveyln, our expediter and baker, a notorious sour puss at times, brought him cookies.

One afternoon Mary came into the kitchen and you could tell that she had been in tears. She told us that John-O wouldn't be coming back to work anymore. I think some people started crying. Brad and Evelyn and I went out back to the cook's alley and smoked. Brad said something like "Damn. John-O." about a hundred times. After that Mary took up a crusade and she coordinated with John-O's sister so that he never wanted for anything. Everyone visited him. He was seldom alone. People took him to and from the hospital. I think during this time he also reconnected with his sister and her family and that they poured so much love into his life that he was happy. I confess it was hard for me to visit John-O. He was not going to win the fight. I only went over to his house a few times. I brought beer. I would like to think that he drank one but I can't remember, most likely I drank them all and just sat there and tried to think what to say. The day came that we got the news that John-O had died. It was sad, but it was over. John-O had fought and suffered with dignity. For all of his schleppings and shenanigans, in the end he had been brave in the face of death. In the end run, he took full advantage of all of the attention and affection being rained down on him as well he deserved to and surrounded by the people he loved and who loved him he gave up this mortal coil.

John-O passed away and things at Bert's were never quite the same again. Other cooks were hired to replace him and they came and went. Most of them were delinquents. The consistency on the line of the four of us: Brad, Evelyn, myself, and John-O was lost forever. Without John-O and his hijinks the kitchen was less fun. A few months later, running from my own demons, I left Greensboro for Topsail Island and after that to Oregon and then here to California. I talk with Paul Durham sporadically twenty years later but even now when I answer the phone if on the other end I hear the mimicry of a familiar groan I know exactly who is calling and I answer in kind with my own responding impression.

RIP John-O

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

turkey leg

Yeah, so people were like do your blog...we love your blog...
and cheers that you are doing your bullshit blog...

I need some meat though.

The business, the restaurant business, it is such a succulent bone.

I remember when I first got into it, where I was, what I was doing, and who got me into it.

I was working at Pace Warehouse, one of those Sam's type places, in Greensboro, at Guilford College road where it bisects market street, out by the church's chicken, stocking shelves at six in the morning. At times they had me driving a cherry picker even though I was not authorized to and I was high. On the weed. I ate my lunches with a rastafarian named Zebedia. We smoked more pot on our lunch break. One afternoon after lunch they tried to make him drive a cherry picker and he ran it into a dock. He just laughed, but they threatened me with either being at the top of the cherry picker or driving I always drove. I devised a hiding place in the stock shelves where it was safe to smoke pot. They tried to make me put a stereo sound system shelf thing-a-ma-jig together but I couldn't do it. the instructions were ridiculous. I just fell asleep in the middle of the aisle but they didn't fire me, they told me to get some rest and report for duty the next morning...I'm telling you when they found me I was laying sprawled in the floor of the warehouse snoring. this is where America went wrong. They should have put their laundry money in socks and beat me to death.

I went home. At the time I was living with Jennifer Donahue and Steven Eigeman on Friendly Ave across the street from that fucking Hester's day care. It was a great house. There was a breeze. We had a back yard. Our backyard connected to all of the other back yards on the block by way of an old two track dirt lane that meandered behind the properties. I liked that back alley. that's what it was, an old alley. Dogs and cats would run around back there.

I was tired of that bullshit warehouse job. They were going to fire me anyway. I had served my purpose, the holidays were over. Zebedia had vanished. I was working with a bunch of redneck assholes. Jennifer was a line cook. When I could no longer afford to pay rent she forced me to get a job where she was working. She told me that there was a dishwashing job open at a new restaurant that she had started cooking at called Bert's Seafood Grille....yeah even at that point when she said it I knew it had an extra "e" on the end. I started working for Mary and Drew Lacklen scrubbing they say. I guess I was eighteen. Jennifer quit about a week after I started. It didn't have anything to do with me.

I was scrubbing pots, running the dish machine, eating scraps off of the plates, washing potatoes, and peeling carrots and I was blissfully happy. One day that asked me if I wanted to come over into the kitchen and work the fryer because the fry guy was on a bender and it didn't look like he was coming back...even though he was only down the block at a local I started doing it. Making French fries, hush puppies, and operating the steamer steaming shellfish. And then I started getting all of my miscreant friends jobs in the dishroom.

If you ever get to work on a restaurant line and you get into it, then you can probably understand how one gets hooked on it. Only a few losers fall for it. I did. I fought against it for a while, but it is the only thing I know....I think I love it.

The first team was Brad Hendrix, Evelyn Ruth, and Johnathan Hopkins. Brad was lead saute, Evelyn was grill and expeditor, and John-O rustled up the fries.

And so I lived my days.....

Mary was the chef. She was the driving force. The recipes were her's. If she was in the kitchen you really had to put your nose to the grindstone. We would come in at one or two in the afternoon and prep like motherfuckers up until the very last minute before five and then as soon as Mary left the kitchen to change the menu on the chalk board in the dining room we would bail out the back door and smoke a cigarette and take pinch hits. In the dining room at the stroke of the hour, Drew would unlock the door and the people would cascade in. Within fifeteen minutes we would be inundated with tickets, completely slammed, yelling, throwing shit on the grill, slamming steamer doors, dropping fry baskets into molten oil, lining up plates, garnishing plates, preparing the sauces, putting everything together so that it all came out at once, this with that, and that with came in, tickets went out, everything just hummed, and you sweated and were drenched and your mind had to race to keep track of everything, and the slighest misstep would send the whole shebang into the crapper, but the rush coursed along and you would look up from having just walked in from your five o'clock smoke and it would be nine o'clock.....

that was the life...

And then John-o got cancer.....

and died.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

For the love of oatmeal

Having a blog is a big responsibility. So is having kids. I don't have any kids. What makes you thing I will take care of a blog? When I had pets I either killed them or let them go. All of this information is in the public domain and yet recently as I was leaving my building on the Belvedere lane I was pelted with dried dog turds from a passing car. Moments later my cell phone rang and a electronically scrambled voice warned me to resume my blog or I would get worse than dog turds thrown at me in the coming days. Spurned readers.

It's easy to get up in the morning if you know that a steaming bowl of steel cut oatmeal is just around the corner. I have become addicted to this stuff. If you suffer from Chronic Shitting and Farting Syndrome (CSFS) like I do, start eating oatmeal everyday like a horse and you will soon reap the benefits of a solid stool mass that will exit from your crap chute like a duckling passing on gossamer wings. There's no mistaking the heart healthy bounty that is a churning pot of oats even if you do whisk in a half stick of butter before serving up that good stuff.

I was awoken by birdsong this morning. It was artificial but none the less I was reminded of this thing called nature which surrounds us. I have had a love affair and a fascination with birds since my youth. I was attacked by a black cloud of angry crows as I frolicked in a fallow field when I was six years old. The birds actually picked me up and carried me several miles before dropping me into a lake. A whiskered wise old catfish aided me to the shore. As he paused to give me a chance to catch my breath and thank him I found a rock in the underbrush and smashed his head in. We ate fried catfish for dinner that night. The next day the sun failed to rise. As it turned out the whiskered wise old catfish had been the manifestation of our lord come to the earth one last time to see if there were any kind and gentle people left. What he found was a psychotic pack of birds attacking a small human child and when he had gone to help the small child he had had his brains knocked out. So the next day from his throne, looking knackered, where he had managed to return after going through the uncomfortable transmogrification of being murdered, dragged across hill and dale, gutted, cooked and eaten as a fish and then having to make his way up through the spiritual zones, he shut the whole shit show down. He turned the sun off and shut down the heavens. He pulled a colossol sized rock from space and threw it at the earth. He nailed it. Needless to say this created pandemonium among the humans. Confused, they fell upon one another and in short time managed to wipe themselves out. Satisfied that the earth was in ruin he turned his attention to another dirt clod floating in the galactic muck.

I don't know who this guy is but I respect his ambition. Please note the neat pile of pickle spears piled atop the burger. Nice touch.

Monday, August 24, 2009

the trouble with soda pop

Soda pop is the most disgusting thing on the face of the planet. And I love it. Water is a pain in the ass to drink. Soda pop is a party that goes down your gullet gleefully at full throttle. Water is, I don't know, so, hmmm, so medieval. Modernity truly began when pop was created. Back in the good old days a bottle of pop was a treat to be enjoyed on a special occasion. A soda was something one had when they came to town on the weekend. I am old enough to have fond memories of my mother taking me to downtown Greensboro where a soda fountain still operated in an old drug store on Elm Street. I would climb up on one of the battered leather cushioned stools at the ancient gilded counter and watch as an elderly pharmacist in his drab pharmacist's smock mixed a spoonful of cola syrup with ice cubes in a tall chilled glass and then poured frothing soda from the elaborate brass fountain spigot over the top. I think it was the quaint antiquity of the process that captivated me even at that early age. I could have been no older than twenty or twenty-one. I would spin on my stool and in a flash suck down my soda, then mother and I would go shopping for bloomers.

But coca-cola would never have become king cola and all of the ensuing lesser aristocracy of the soda world would never have come into being if having a soda had remained relegated to the domain of the special treat. Soda set about conquering the globe. Today what was once an rare indulgence has become a daily ritual for soda addicts the world over. We just can't get enough. Soda pop is the number one consumed product in the United States. Perhaps this would not be such a bad thing if not for all of the sugar packed into pop. Soda pop is fast being identified as the one of the culprits of the exploding obesity epidemic sweepin the nation and reliable information points to the fact that if the average soda drinker were to cut the evil nectar from his or her diet within a year they would be ten pounds lighter. Fuck that, I'll take the ten. Actually no, I'll save my ten for fried chicken and burritos.

Bag it, give me twenty....twenty-five...thirty...

The advent of High Fructose Corn Syrup in the seventies and eighties has not helped matters. For a myriad of reasons soda bottlers flocked to it. I did a little reading up on our corn friend and suffice to say it's a pretty complicated business involving murky vats of chemicals, verdant spawning bacteria, and shadowy agri-empires like Archer Daniels Midland (these are the guys who usually underwrite conservative talk shows and have crowned themselves "supermarket to the world"). Despite a recent ad campaign to answer the negative backlash that shows young, healthy, and most importantly, skinny, couples frolicking about in bucolic settings casually chatting about High Fructose Corn Syrup, it just ain't so. Suffice to say this stuff might as well be milk from the devil's tit. Somewhere in the commandments or Leviticus, God should have forbidden its use. He didn't. He fucked up. What's its appeal? It's cheaper than sugar; it transports easier (tankers are criss-crossing the nation as I write); and it extends the shelf life of everything from twinkies to Heinz Ketchup into the next millenium. The shit even creeps up in Oro-wheat's line of "whole grain" breads (the bastards). It is ubiquitous. In 1980 America used three million small tons of HFCS (not sure what a small ton is, I think I will start using this terminology when referring to my own personal weight), but by 1995 that amount had increased to eight million small tons consumed a year. Today we eat more High Fructose Corn Syrup than good old fashioned sugar. Listen when scientist feed this shit to rats they explode into corpulent jackie gleasonesque rodents who expire prematurely from raging diabetes.

Where did this all begin??!!

Soda pop, known as a soft drink to differentiate itself from hard drinks which contain alcohol (let's give a big cheer to these also) is a relatively new invention, but humankind's collective taste for sweet flavorful beverage is as old as, well, pooping. Beverage scholars and soda historians point to the ancient near east as one possible origin of the soft drink where found documents show that early towel heads mixed dates with piss water to share with their nomadic ass buddies on the Afghan steppes. Interestingly enough there are also parallels in the early Christian world where some Coptic records of gnosticism seem to open the door to the possibility that Jesus could also turn water not only into wine but also into what today we call Mountain Dew.

The history of soda is actually quite fascinating and to the young scholars out there who I am sure read this journal let me say that it is a field of academics that offers uncharted vistas for intellectual exploration and an inviting niche of study that could last a lifetime burrowed away in some crap ass community college basement.

Check it: as early as the seventeenth century Parisian street vendors were hawking a drink flavored with lemonade and honey that they also marketed as perfume when the mid- summer stench of proto-euro trash hair pit and ass became unbearable, but it wasn't until the creation of carbonated water by Jason Priestly (yes, in fact distant ancestor of acclaimed brilliant television star of same name) in 1767 that the seeds of the pop revolution were sewn. Priestly, in his ground breaking treatise "I impregnated water with fixed air", was an overnight sensation not only with the scientific community but with the salon lounging libertine crowd as well for his racy passages of elemental intercourse. In the words of this long rambling philosophical and scientific rumination on life and romance he also described how he first discovered that mixing water with carbon dioxide produced a drink pleasing to the taste. Alas his scientific acumen did not triumph over his more sullied urges for fame, fortune, and cooze. Priestly never again published in the academic journals of his day. His lab was destroyed by a band of vicious children in route to a belated crusade that would see them all raped and dismembered (of course at the time they didn't know that evidenced by the fact that eyewitnesses recount them singing joyous hymns as they smashed Priestly's apparatus). After the ruin, he frequented the theatre, lived in a chamber pot above a cat house, and took opium with hollow eyed chinamen. He died prematurely from asphyxiation when he slipped off of the rim of a vat of beer with a belt around his neck attached to the ceiling and his pants down to his shanks. They say he screamed out a whore's name just before his neck snapped and his eyeballs exploded out of his head and sank into the churning gyre of suds.

But I digress. History is a fascinating subject. The first soda fountains in the United States began to appear in the early 1800's mostly in pharmacies where, much like the pharmacist of my experience in Greensboro, chemists would experiment with mixing herbs and flavors with carbonated waters to titillate the tastes of their customers. They used such varied components as birch bark and dandelions, even an occasional mouse turd made its way into their concoctions with no ill effect. Perhaps soda would have remained a fixture of the chemist or the ice cream shop had it not been for inventive capitalists who devised a way to bottle the gaseous liquid. At the dawn of the twentieth century the first patent was issued for a glass bottle producing factory and the soda industry took off: within a few years production rose from 1400 bottles a day to 58,000. By the 1920's Americans were taking home six packs of soda and availing themselves of vending machines that sold soft drinks. John Dillinger endorsed Coca-Cola. World War Two actually arose over a dispute about soda pop. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq: soda. The great Society was not so much about civil rights as it was about one particular weekend when Lyndon Johnson drove his pickup truck down to colored town and handed out free bottles of coca-cola and menthol cigarettes. Of course, they didn't appreciate it. Who? You know who. The Blacks.

But where does that leave us? With trouble. Plain and simple. Sure, we can dream of a Utopian society where everyone is fat as shit and keeling over by age thirty of heart disease and diabetes; where cruel social conventions are turned on their heads and skinny people are harassed and beaten in the streets and yoga studios and cardio-gyms are firebombed; where happy rotund couples and their lard ass offspring picnic beside lakes of Dr. Pepper sprawling on filthy mattresses littered with chicken bones and crumpled chip bags, eschewing all forms of physical activities including self sufficient breathing; but can we realistically hope for such a day? You know, I can't really answer that question right now. In fact I see from my window that the mexican cleaning girls have arrived at the neighbor's house across the courtyard and it is time for me to remove my clothing so I must be going.....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Swine dining and the flea market tradition: an appreciation of sorts.

I am more partial to swine dining than I am to fine dining. And what I mean by swine dining goes beyond the obvious love of pig to encompass a whole way of eating: out of a trough in a mud poke. In a manner of speaking, philosophically. Fine dining requires getting gussied up in your Sunday best. In contrast, swine dining doesn't even necessarily demand pants. Swine dining is a way of life. I first came to discover my love of swine dining many years ago in the dusty corridors of the old Sedgefield Flea Market where vendors hawked corn dogs and gravy fries, root beers and cherry colas, or "colers" as it was pronounced, amidst stalls of bric-a-brac and farm equipment. To me swine dining equates with easy living. Easy living is something I sorely miss these days.

The Sedgefield Flea Market was out High Point Road on the way to Jamestown. It consisted of a single hangar like ramshackle concrete building which housed permanent vendor's stalls and a snack bar surrounded by weedy gravel parking lots where on the weekends cars and trucks amassed in lanes of concentric circles to showcase their wares. During the week when the market was closed and the gravel lots were empty and the solitary structure sat weathered white, solemn, silent; the property seemed vaguely menacing, if not downright haunted. But when the flea market was in session the grounds became carnival like with eager crowds of redneck folk shuffling to and fro sifting through a profundity of junk and cast off shit: the dust stirring above their magpie babble; a million wobbly transistor radios playing Charlie Daniels Band; the sputters and roars of revving lawn mower engines and power tools; the sundry hawkers celebrating their potions and tinctures; buskers picking at old guitars and bangoes; and permeating everything, the scent of crap food being fried to living hell in the greasy pit of the snack bar.

I loved coming to the flea market with my dad on Sunday mornings. He would hand me some money and we would go off in different directions, he in search of the plates, cups, and saucers that to this day still obsess him and I would go off to plunder from stacks of old comic books and records. In those days I was also constantly on the lookout for skin mags or any printed journal in which I might cadge a glimpse of tit or snatch. As my mother knelt in church across town praying for the damned soul of her only prized son, I was browsing through copies of True Detective or old worn issues of Easy Rider soaking up grainy images of kidnapped co-eds and skanky topless biker chicks. Satan, oh my sweet Satan.

The snack bar which operated in the front portion of the old hangar was the kind of place that my mother would pray to God to destroy. It was a filthy place. Even from my young eyes it was obvious that the proprietors held little regard for silly matters like sanitation standards and other such bourgeois nonsense. The kitchen itself was enclosed in a greasy shell of corrugated tin, dry wall, and rusted chicken wire. There was a couple of fryers and a grill and not much else. Refrigeration was frowned upon. The counter, little more than a shelf crowded with jars of relish, bright yellow mustard, and ketchup, was constructed of scrap plywood. A heavy jowled bad tempered man sat at the small window by the cash register and begrudgingly took orders. The menu was scrawled on pieces of torn cardboard taped to the grease splattered glass above his head I was partial to the corn dogs. The corn dog is a marvelous creation. It supplies us with the prehistoric satisfaction of eating our food from a stick. Why don't people put slices of hot dogs in corn bread? Because you can't eat a wedge of cornbread on a stick. After I got my corn dog and my root beer I would visit the fixins counter and slather yellow mustard generously up and down my dog.

Armed with sustenance I would embark into the labyrinth of stalls that were owned and operated by the more serious professional collector of crap...what they nowadays call antiques. A lot of these sellers had been in the building for years. The cars and campers outside of itinerant huskers presenting their goods on blankets spread over the coarse ground came and went, but the folks who rented space in the weather beaten building had built up fantastic cluttered idiosyncratic nests in which they had roosted every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for years. The stalls were really little more than chain link pens but most of them were carpeted and outfitted with all of the comforts of home. You might just as easily come upon a family watching television and having lunch as you would a display case of estate jewelry. I remember that lighting in general in the building was poor, but for the single row of bare bulbs that cast a feeble glow down the center aisles each vendor was left to fend for himself. Most of the stalls were illuminated by desk lamps or crooked floor lamps that could also simultaneously be had for a price (which would sometimes without warning plunge the intrepid shopper into darkness) . A few stalls were always cloaked in darkness, their stall gates always padlocked, their merchandise mere hollow shapes lost in the shadows. As I meditatively consumed my corn dog I would stroll along the aisles from one oasis of light and knickknackery to another, passing the shuttered shops in funerary silence. There were entire stalls devoted to soda bottles and bottle caps; old farm equipment and railroad souvenirs; there were stalls that dealt exclusively in coca-cola memorabilia; there were stalls that sold only dolls and depression era toys; only chinaware; only silver and gold; there were stalls that were lined with shelves like libraries and offered every poorly penned science fiction novel or western or harlequin romance ever published; there were stalls crammed with figurines and curios and garish commemorative plates from the Franklin Mint; there was a stall for every imaginable object that man had ever created, coveted, and cast aside. But that was the secret joy of the flea market and a resolute reaffirmation of the fundamental laws of physics: once it had been created, the object was borne into existence to stay. It might be cast off by one, but another would eventually come along and pick it up.

Sadly enough the old Sedgefield flea Market is no longer in operation, but there are other places that still carry on the noble business of circulating humankind's detritus from one hand to another, from one generation to the next. It is odd to think of our belongings outlasting us, but a good portion of them are sure to still be laying around long after you've been laid in your box and most probably someone either familiar or foreign will get their hands on them. And perhaps they will say something like, "If only he hadn't eaten so many corn dogs he might still be around to enjoy all of these trinkets."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

before beechwood

It was the summer that I had gone down to the coast to escape the heat of the city that I met Percival Frampton. I was staying at the Beechwood. An authentic dump, I know, but I was broke. My family had refused to see me through with another extension on my stipend and the translations that I'd been working on so strenuously over the winter had been sent back rejected one and all. One editor from New York City had taken the extraordinary step of calling me at home to tell me that my manuscript was shit. His words: shit. He had loudly claimed his willingness to incur the phone charges for the opportunity to tell me personally that my work was shit and that I was shit. I had not protested. He went on to say that he had been astounded at the fathomless depths of my ignorance and that he had marvelled over my complete idiotic misinterpretation of the text. He said it was as if I had never even studied the language. Then he slammed the phone down in my ear.

It was true though. I hadn't studied anymore than the few hours I'd spent lounging in an armchair with whisky and cigarettes; glancing over a few water damaged training manuals purchased from a church rummage sale; manuals apparently owned at some point by one Missy Alexander, an enigma who'd found it necessary to scrawl her name pell mell throughout the books along with stick figures possessing grotesque genitalia. I had found the study process laboriously distasteful, my thoughts impugned upon by masturbatory fantasies of Missy Alexander, a tramp no doubt. Most of the time I had actually worked on the translations I'd been drunk on Gin cadged from the liquor cabinet or high on Aunt Mamie's morphine pills. I didn't remember what I had written at the end of the day but it was important to the family that I keep up some semblance of relevant endeavor. It was explained to visitors, who by accident caught a glimpse of me discombobulated at my desk in the library where I was permitted to work a few hours a day, that I was a scholar of languages. People nodded respectfully when it was explained I had undertaken a serious and challenging translation project. Thankfully they never asked of what. So I was a scholar. I was compelled to hold fast to this line of defense in exchange for a small stipend from Uncle Cicero, the stormy old testament patriarch of the family estate.

Save for when the family was entertaining company I pretty much had the run of the old manse. It was a badly heated crooked affair and yet a noble oddity where it sat on a hill overlooking the hinterland's fledgling cottage sprawl. At one time there had been a church attached to it, but the rector had cast his congregation into the abyss and followed after them and the house had swallowed up the chapel and its offices to silence the existential belchings heard coming from the grounds. I was kept chambered in the bell tower in what had once been a monk's cell. Haunted, they said. I did not dispel the idea. Uncle Cicero slyly referred to it as my study lab. Sometimes when he said it like that I wondered if he knew I was brewing methamphetamine in the sink up there.

But the truth was I could bang about in the tower; cook meth; quaff swill; rant and rave;howl at the moon; and tinker with my manuscripts into the wee hours and no one down in the house proper was ever the wiser. There were times, I admit, when the nights leaned heavily upon me. The roost at the top of the tower could be a lonely place. The family was scattered all about below in which sundry rooms I knew not; Aunt Mamie with her periodic bouts of mortal combat against the fictitious cancers that plagued her laid up on a divan somewhere meditatively sucking on her morphine pills as if they were breath lozenges, listening to a hi-fi; Uncle Cicero stripped to the waist, hairy of teet, working up a lather over his chinchilla ranch in the sub basement; the nameless cousins who came and went and showed up for breakfast the one day and dinner the next farting and moaning in their sleep. And I, high above them, in so many more ways than one, toiling over my sink. So as the winter began to thaw, I found myself turning more and more to the soiled thoughts of Missy Alexander. Her name, the only thing I had learned from those infernal books. The curse of that name burned in my breast.

She was most likely a waitress, I decided. She probably worked in one of those all night neon illuminated coffee shops that polluted the downtown sections near the highway and had names like Fat Frank's All Stars and The Pie Shack . I imagined that her uniform was polyester, grease stained, and hugged her imaginary marvelous ass like a desperate lover's embrace. She was groped by men of low rank. Her dreams were punctuated with the possibilities of making something of herself. She was sassy; her lips pouty; her hips full; her bosom buxom. She had probably taken up the study of language on a flighty womanly whim and discarded it on impulse of the same. I admit that the probables multiplied in my mind and that perhaps the long winter also played some effect. My fancies ran unfettered. I began to lust after this proletariat heifer and I could not gain control of my wild unbridled ideas. I toyed with the notion of finding Missy Alexander and engaging her in a romantic adventure. I obsessed over it. I imagined myself rescuing her at the last minute from the clutches of some corpulent short order cook and spiriting her away to my cabin in the wilderness where I would make her my squaw. I would chop wood in the mornings and then work over my manuscripts while she cleaned the cabin around me. She would be naked of course. We would bathe together nude in a mountain stream surrounded by the majestic forest, under the innocent watchful eyes of the woodland creatures that I would sometimes kill for food.

But the reality of the matter restrained me. I was hampered by my stipend. Uncle Cicero had not been favorable to the expenditure of a car allowance when i had mentioned it to him that first day we worked out the financial needs of my scholarship. When I needed to get about town, he had instructed, I should walk. He brushed aside at the time my concerns that we were seventeen miles outside of the city. Fresh air, he'd muttered. If it took me five hours to get to town, how could I ever hope to locate my Missy Alexander?

I finally surrendered one night to my impulses and set out for town at about midnight to find Missy Alexander. I admit I had drank a good amount that day; first wine and port in the morning after a successful raid on Uncle's cellar and then later after lunch most of a bottle of whisky secreted away since the holidays. I also consumed a dram of Auntie's Laudanum and sampled some of a fresh batch of meth. They say that I made it about a hundred yards or so off of the property before I collapsed by the side of the road. I was rescued the next morning by the milkman. My clothing and shoes were found some good distance from where I had come to lay. It was noted that socks were never recovered. Uncle Cicero pronounced it a scandal and intoned grey faced before me as I lay recuperating in one of the downstairs bedrooms that as much as it pained him he was duty bound to log the episode for eternity in the annals of the family history of which he was the current guardian and scribe. And then, terrible of visage, he suspended my stipend thereby sending my scholarship into a tailspin, and forcing me to make the decision to leave the house in favor of the coast.

It was not only the heat of the city that I had sought to escape. Uncle Cicero had exiled me. But had I not taken my fall from grace I would never have come to rest at the Beechwood and I would have never made the acquaintance of Percival Frampton. And without Percival Frampton I would have never been able to finally track down Missy Alexander. Because that is exactly what we did.

(end part 1)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

the jupiter project

Okay, I admit it, I was the one who fucked up the Thriller tribute flash mob at Ocean Beach. I didn't practice the dance moves. I was drinking Mickeys and smoking PCP in the woods across the street with this crack whore who looked like Janet Jackson when I should have been with the others going over the routine. And then when everyone got in their places and the signal was given and the music started I twisted my ankle on the first turn and fell against the girl next to me and knocked her off balance and she fell into the person behind her who crashed into her neighbor and so on and so forth. When I fell over my dockers split down the backside and my ass exploded out. I happened to be wearing a thong. They ran me off and did it again an hour later and I believe that second time things came out better.

Then somehow a video of the original episode got downloaded onto Youtube and I soon became famous. People nicknamed me The Thriller Guy. Or Thong Guy. Or people could google Fat Guy's Ass and I would pop up. Being a celebrity changed everything for me. I had to think of my image so I tried to get off the PCP. Easier said in the throes of a binge than done. Janet Jackson found me in the woods again and she was with her pimp. They threatened to go to Entertainment Tonight with the story about my drug problem if I didn't give them all of my money. I gave it to them. It was only twenty-five dollars.

They forced me to come with them and get in their van. The pimp waved a switchblade in my face as we pulled into traffic. The Janet Jackson crack whore drove like a maniac. They threw me out of the van in the parking lot of Slaw Dog with the final threat that they were watching me. I walked into Slaw Dog and ordered two Slaw Dogs and shoved them both in my mouth when the counter girl brought them to me. I then turned and ran out of the store. I was sure that I was going to get shot. The girl didn't scream or anything, on the contrary she yelled out to me "Thong Guy! Rock on!". I tried it in a Taco Town a few blocks away and the same thing happened. I tried it in Pizza Chicken and I almost got my ass kicked. I ended up getting my head stuffed in a toilet clogged up with a bunch of dried turds and then I had to wash dishes for three hours. A big greek guy in a cheap suit made me drink a glass of bilge water with a cockroach floating in it in front of the kitchen staff. They got a big laugh out of that. It sucked.

The manager of Pizza Chicken took mercy on me and offered me a lift home after we closed down the restaurant. When I tried to explain to him that I was "Thriller Guy", he pulled over to the side of the road and forced me out of the car with threats of violence. I walked seventeen blocks. At one point as a car was roaring past I felt a beer bottle smack me in the back of the head. I crumbled to the sidewalk. Someone in the car yelled "Thriller Guy!"

When I finally got home Uncle Regis asked me why I had beer all over my back. I showed him the bloody gash where the glass had shattered against my head and told him the story. He laughed and he laughed and he didn't stop laughing until he put a whiskey jug in his cake hole. I didn't find the life of a celebrity very funny anymore. I went to my room and took down my ham radio and I dialed in Doctor Birdy. When I told him about everything that had happened since the night the of the flash mob and how that now I was famous, he said that he had actually heard all about it. He said that this was all a part of the plan. What plan? He paused and tapped it out in morse code: The Jupiter Project. The Jupiter Project.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

portrait of the artist as a plastic bird

What this country needs right now is a good old fashioned high school drama a la White Shadow but instead we are given Fox's Glee....the simpering limp wristed adventures of one of the most reviled organisations in American society: The High School Glee Club. Our youngsters need strong role models like GI Joe and Sarah Palin not a bunch of falsetto wimps rallying around the piano belting out a rousing version of Chattanooga Choo Choo beneath the approving eye of their mentor, the suspiciously single aging dandy Mr. Felix. Granted, I have not seen Glee nor do I have any intention of watching one second of such claptrap, but judge it I will. If it's a high school drama and it doesn't reinforce the values and mores of our great land with a healthy dose of elitism and hate mongering and team sport then count me out. I want to see a show where the glee club gets the shit beat out of them and rightfully so. Or at the least, the band.

I can tell you this much: it's not the graduates of the glee club that are over there in the 'Stan right now slogging it out against the Taliban, no they're the ones loitering around with their peace signs that they've made at Kinko's and their fucking boysenberry scones and their friggin blue bottle coffee and their sweater vests waiting complacently for their wives and daughters to be gang raped by the Muslim horde. Now and then a religious scholar will attempt to come to the defense of Islam, trying to sell us on the ridiculous notion that it treats women fairly. Yes, that's why they dress them in funeral shrouds. I would like to posit that these assholes are sex crazed horned up falafel mongers who have the high potential of going on a raping spree if they even catch sight of a female knee cap.

Back in the day, I tried to enlist. It was Vietnam. I was only five years old. They wouldn't take me. I can tell you this much: if they had, things might have turned out differently. Why? Because I kick ass and take names. Extreme discipline. That's just how I conduct myself. Sure nowadays you may see me agonizing over a plate of gravy fries at The Lucky Penny with the fries eventually winning but let me tell you there was a day when I would strike off into the forest with little more than a handful of dried lentils and a two liter bottle of Pepsi and I would live off the land and survive by pure animal instinct. I would kill things, I tell you, small things that were trying to run from me. That same instinct I employ today when I venture out on Haight Street at eleven in the evening to secure an ice cream sandwich from Frank's on the corner. It really is a jungle out there.

Hippy Jungle. It is a culture that glorifies gleedom which produces kids who are content to sit on the sidewalk and shoot heroin between their toes. Actually, I think they are mostly Canadians. Glee: unmitigated happiness. There's no goddamn reason for it. Out there beyond our gate the glee piles up like discarded turds. They've shut down the popcorn machines and the cotton candy vendors have moved along. Gone is the day of the lovable counter culture character; the papa bear; the mountain girl; the hippy johnny. Most of those have rolled over and choked on a sandwich. There is no longer dancing in the streets. What is left now is the cretinous mass shambling down the road to Canterbury. A Canterbury constructed of bathtub meth and devil worship. If we had a little less Glee club and a little more Andy Griffith Show we'd be in a lot better shape. You never saw a single bum loitering on the streets of Mayberry. There was Otis, but he was the town drunk not a hobo. The only episode of Andy Griffith that ever addressed the issue of homelessness was during the first season when it came to pass that Andy and Barney burned out a hobo camp between Mayberry and Tuckers Junction and shot two bums front of Opie.

I have been a life long fan of The Andy Griffith Show. It was shown at five-thirty every afternoon on WFMY in Greensboro. As far as I know it still is. When I was five years old Aunt Bea visited my kindergarten class. And thus for all intents and purposes began this long strange journey far from the watering holes where we swam in the shadows of Mount Pilot. This brings me to what I wanted to write about today: a particular bbq sandwich that my grandmother used to take me to get when we were out on her Thursday shopping day. I haven't had one in about thirty-five years and yet I have never forgotten the experience of that bbq sandwich.

There was a grocery store on the corner of Cornwalis and Battleground Avenue called the Big Bear. It was one of the spots on my grandmother's list. On Thursday mornings my mother would drop me off at my grandmother's house before she went to work. My grandmother and my great aunt would be preparing themselves for shopping day. We would watch The Price is Right with Bob Barker and then we would embark. The nuances of shopping day were byzantine. There were many stops at various outlets in order to take advantage of the best prices and the coupons clipped from the Sunday paper. No matter that we had to drive my grandmother's boat of a Chrysler from one end of town to the other.

We stopped at the Winn Dixie; we stopped at the Big Star; there was an odd little corner store in the Glenwood neighborhood with a deep antique tobacco smell, uneven wood floors, dim lighting, and barrels of pickled pigs feet and hot sausages and nickle sour apple gum at the register where we stopped to get eggs; but it was the Big Bear store that housed my filthy lucre: that pork bbq sandwich that I have never forgotten. The sandwiches were pre made, shreds of pork doused with vinegar and tomato paste and swaddled in a white bread bun and then plastic wrapped and tossed into a bin that was heated by an overhead lamp. Somehow the bun managed to be both crisp and moist and when you bit into the center of the pork the sweetness of the tomato and the pork and the tanginess of the vinegar melded into what for a lack of a better word I must call glee. I was never happier than when my tough skins clad ass was parked in the back of that behemoth of a sedan with bbq sandwich in hand, surrounded by a plethora of grocery bags, listening to my grandmother and my great aunt discuss the finer points of One Life to Live as we careened along the byways of Greensboro.

The Big Bear closed. I think it might be a Fresh Market now. The shoe store, the clock repair shop, even Miss Leon's beauty salon, all gone. Battleground Avenue like much of Greensboro has become swamped with Strip Malls, outlet stores, and Taco Bells. Oh, and the darling tot in the backseat munching on his bbq sammy soon transmogrified into a three hundred pound ten year old with early onset type a adult diabetes who huffed carbon paper in the shed out behind grandmother's house and stole change from her piggy bank to buy pictures clipped from nudie magazines from the man who stood down in the woods by the city dump and sold them to the kids along with wine, menthol cigarettes, and a little morsel known as oblivion.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tucker's Junction

Once they got the fire started the two cowboys pulled their saddles and their packs from the horses and set up a makeshift camp that they would abandon as soon as the dawn came. One was much older than the other and it showed in the deep shadowed crevices of his face by the meager light of the fire. They laid out their bedrolls close to the edge of it and the younger one began to make a pot of coffee. There were only a few rock hard biscuits for supper.

They were eating their biscuits and sipping the hot bitter coffee propped up on their weathered packs when the dude rode up out of the darkness. His horse was fine. She was outfitted with an expensive saddle, redolent in fancy straps and hooks and nickled ornament . He sat atop her in a long burgundy leather duster. His boots were of polished leather. His riding trousers were cut from quality material. The pearl handle of a shooter was nestled in an ornate holster at his waist and a tall fancy brand new cowboy hat crowned his rather pompous figure. He gave them a wave.

"Gentlemen." He said. The two cowboys looked at each other and then looked at the dude.

"Reckon." The younger one said.

"I am Richie Frockmor." The dude surveyed the campsite. He nodded approvingly at the fire.

There was a pause. The flames snapped and crackled and blew sparks up into the night air. A wolf howled some good distance off.

"Who said you weren't?"

The old cowboy said it and his partner snickered.


"I said pleasure to meet you." The two cowboys winked at each other.

The dude cleared his throat,"Yes, I'm sure it is."

The old cowboy pulled a cheroot from his pocket and stuck the nub in his mouth. They watched the dude climb down off of his horse. He became momentarily tangled and cursed beneath his breath. When he finally stood before them in front of the fire they saw that he was no more than five feet tall. The younger one elbowed his partner. Like most common rabble they were for some reason amused at the sight of dwarfs.

"You want some coffee, little feller?" The old cowboy said around his cheroot.

"MY NAME IS RICHIE FROCKMOR!" The dude shouted, "I am not your little feller!"His fine horse grumbled and stamped at the ground. A brittle tangle of nettles erupted in commotion at the center of the fire causing all three men to jump.

"Take it easy, half pint." There was a tinge of menace in the older man's words now and he shifted just ever so slightly on his pack gaining advantage to the six shooter that was slung in his holster.

"You blackguard." The dwarf spat, "Tell me which direction it is to Tucker's Junction and I shall leave you two to your butt fucking."

The young cowboy's jaw dropped open, even his seasoned companion sputtered at the dude's foul words. Before they knew what had happened the little fancy man had drawn his revolver and had gotten the jump on them. They meekly followed his orders and tossed their six shooters at his feet.

"Now," The dude said, taking murderous aim with his pistol at the old cowboy, "kindly tell me, you old queen, in which direction one might have the misfortune of finding Tucker's Junction?"

The old cowboy just sat silent and stared down the barrel of the dude's gun. He worked the damp ragged end of the cheroot from one side of his face to the other. He had been called many names in all the years he'd spent on this patch of earth but he'd never been called an old queen. A homicidal rage began to boil in his gut.

"Mister," The younger cowboy spoke softly, "There ain't no such place around here." The dude stamped his feet, "Fucking Liar." He said and turning towards the youngster he shot him twice in the face. The boy fell over. The explosions from the barrel of the revolver shattered the night calm. The old cowboy sat unfazed covered in bits of brain and quite a large amount of his partner's blood.

The two men looked at each other.

"He weren't lying." The old cowboy said. "Far as he know'd it. " The dude's little face had become a dark stormy menacing mask of anger and frustration. He pointed the shooter at the old cowboy's head.

The cowboy said, "There used to be a place called Tuckers Junction when I was a young one coming up. But it burned down forty years ago. Fire started in a whore house, spread through the whole town, ate everything up, people and all."

The dude gasped. His little hand went to the fancy embroidered kerchief at his throat.

"Nobody even remembers that place."

The old cowboy got up and spat the cheroot at the dude. He had pulled a knife from inside his boot and with it he lunged across the fire towards him. Without pausing to think, the little man fired off a volley of shots into his onrushing attacker's body. The cowboy fell on top of the fire with a groan and expired. The dude returned his pistol to its cradle and contemplated the body as the flames of the fire began to burn through the clothes and into the flesh. The empty quiet of the night returned, only the fire seemed to be talking to itself. It cackled. Once the skin and hair had burned off most of the foul aroma gave way to the smells of roasting meat. The dude crouched down next to the fire and pulled what looked like a rib chop from the smoldering dead man and with relish ripped into it with his teeth. He finished the coffee, too. The biscuits he deemed weren't worth the eating.

The wolves came later that night to feed on what remained of the two cowboys long after the fire had burned down and the figure of the little dude had slipped over the horizon. His search for Tucker's Junction would continue on into the next day and the day after that and it would criss cross back and forth across time and the badlands before a dawn came that would reveal to him his destination.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

fluff dog

so a few people have gotten in touch with me and they've told me that once again they are pleased to see that I am blogging. And I am. Actually more than you read because ninety percent of the shit I write I flush down the toilet as self indulgent garbage. But the dilemma is suddenly I am pressured to produce something...something good. And believe me I want to!! But fishing around for excuses to push this thing off one more day, to pray to fucking God that he will give me that nugget of an idea that will unleash me....I stumble upon this whole Michael Jackson thing...and I allow myself to get swept up in the emotion...and crying on my knees, I have to announce to my readers that this is neither the time nor the place to celebrate life as usual, to post some innane blog about whatever.....the king passes...I am high on scotch and some powerful Mendocino skunk and fuck the neighbors...I am going to dance nude to the entire Thriller album in front of the bay windows with all of the lights on......all night long...all night...alllll night......

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My Pallet

It seems like at least once or twice a year I am forced to resort to Craigslist for potential kitchen fodder. My present dilemma is no exception. A few days ago I posted an ad seeking line cooks and I suppose it is a sign of the times that my inbox began to fill up with resumes almost immediately. I have never had much success with Craigslist candidates, but at least the process does provide some small amount of amusement.

If the majority of the resumes I receive are any indication the restaurant industry is in serious need of instruction in the field of grammar and rhetoric, not to mention a refresher course on how to follow basic instructions that most infants would be capable of. I'm not expecting to unearth a John Updike in chef's whites but for godsakes is it too much to ask that someone might bother to use that handy spell check option on their Word toolbar?! Maybe I am crazy but if I see grammar errors or spelling errors I drag that sucker straight into the ole trash barrel. I tend to make some exceptions for our spanish speaking brethern but of course that means I am profiling (Juan Diaz misuses an adverbial phrase I might live with, but if Ward Brown missteps...he gone) and I wouldn't want to be accused of doing anything that might smack of racial biasing.

That being said, if your name is something like Shaniqua Jefferson rest assured you won't be getting a call back. Oh yeah, and I never hire asians. Or American Indians. Or Italians for that matter. Also gays and women are out as well. If you're white and you listen to hip-hop there's no fucking chance for you. Why? Because: asians don't get the al dente concept of pasta, everything comes out tasting like chop suey; American Indians are just a dangerous breed of folk prone to drinking and violence and they tend to do peyote at work and let's face it, a tomahawk is not a chef's knife under any circumstance; Italians always stink of cheap colonge and they are usually cokehead assholes; gays, I'm sorry I am not going to deal with a person wearing rainbow chef pants kevetching about their same sex marriage or lack thereof at eight o'clock in the morning; women, the sexual tension is just too much and they usually end up falling in love with me and then I have to do them in the walk-in; and hip-hop white guys are just plain stupid.

But back to the point at hand. My CL posts are usually short and concise and I always make note that potential candidates should paste their resumes into the body of their response. I make a point of stating that responses with attached files are not opened and go immediately to garbage. I do this because I don't want to open a tainted file but also just to see how many dumbasses will still send an email with an attachment. The answer is lots. And they can enjoy each other's company in my trash barrel sitting pretty there on my desktop with just loads of rubbish spilling forth.

Resumes come in all shapes and sizes. Question. What would possess you to have a picture of yourself on your resume? Unless you are a model, a stripper,or a porn star? I find it incredibly disturbing and narcissistic and I without hesitation click and drag your ass into the aforementioned trash barrel. It's getting crowded in there.

Resumes come in all shapes and sizes. Please don't tell me that you have passion. It makes me think of that soap opera Passions, the one that had the conniving midget and the ghosts. And once I am on to that my day is pretty much ruined with deep existential questioning and staggering ennui. If you are in this business it goes without saying that you probably are passionate about the industry. Bravo! Otherwise you would have come to your senses years ago and got the fuck out while the getting was good. Into anything, collecting garbage the shit out of dead people's asses...anything.....drinking piss for five cents a cup....popping crack whore's cankers with your teeth...wading through a vat of fire ants with your pants off just to fetch a pea...anything, I mean it...

Resumes come in all shapes and sizes. People are downright scary. I once read a statistic somewhere, maybe Harper's Index, that something like ninety percent of the prison population in the United States lists Cook as a former occupation. I am probably not going to hire you if in the body of your resume you periodically reference your knives, your deep profound love of your knives, the degree of sharpness of your knives, or anything above and beyond a simple "good knife skills". I don't want to know if you broke down a deer on the side of the highway in a snowstorm. Guys who show up in the kitchen with a knife kit that looks like a suitcase will be shown the door.

Resumes come in all shapes and sizes. Why the fuck are you wasting my time applying for this job? Line Cook. There is not a lot of room for interpretation there. Without fail I will find clogging my hole several resumes that have not a single line in them that has anything to do with professional cooking experience. Telling me that although you have never in your life worked in a kitchen but that you love to make Italian food for your friends and family only makes me want to go to your address and firebomb your next festive gathering. Firebomb it to hell and then when the survivors come running out mow them down with a machine gun and then wait and go to each and every victim's funeral and kill everyone there as well. So just don't. I see here that you worked at the Choc-O-Nut kiosk at the mall. Wonderful. You sold cookies and scones and now you want me to stick you on my line, give you a saute pan, and let you have at it. This would be like taking that fat guy in the security guard uniform outside of Borders and making him a squad leader of an army patrol in the Helmand Province in the shit in the 'Stan. No friggin way.

Resumes, resumes, resumes. In this most recent batch I came across a young man who states his objective as being to further develop his I don't know if you are planning on driving a fork lift into the kitchen on your first day, the only pallets down here have cases of tomatoes stacked on them. Frankly, I have no palate for egregious misspelling. Get it asshole? Pallet. Palate. I almost want to hire you just so I can protect you from the big bad world because you are in deep my friend. But I am almost positive you are a complete jerk. For instance, a guy came into the kitchen to stage once and he had the big bag of knives and he talked all kinds of smack up and down the line, this guy was James Beard Jr. But when he went to julienne a nine pan of basil, he cut the leaf with his serrated bread knife!!?? What the fuck?! That would be like a heart surgeon opening you up with a claymore. The basil turned black in about a minute. Don't call us, we'll call you. Pallet. Jesus.

And so the search continues.....