Wednesday, November 17, 2010


 "Big Brother," the BOOB press release reads, "was the most infamous magazine in skateboard history and one of its loudest voices was Dave Carnie. BOOB (published by KING PUBLISHING with support from VANS) is a collection of Dave Carnie’s best work in his 14 years with Big Brother—a magazine that not only transformed skateboarding and brought us Jackass, but influenced everything in the publishing world from Vice to Martha Stewart’s Living. BOOB will go down in literary history as the greatest skateboard book, not about skateboarding, ever written."

Now for some quotes from famous people:

“Dave tells it like it is, or however he sees it through his perverted prism. Never compromising, sometimes offensive, always funny.”
—Tony Hawk

“On his best day Dave Carnie isn’t too pleasant. He is often drunk, fairly abusive, and a goddamn awful fighter. He can write like a son of a bitch and is one too. I’m a big fan.”
—Johnny Knoxville

“I met Carnie at Big Brother when the offices were at World in El Segundo and he was the biggest dick. It wasn’t till four years later when he was drunk at Jeff’s apartment that he was suddenly nice to me. I’m not sure how I won him over, but it took years of trying.”
—Spike Jonze

“Idiots often flaunt their idiocy unintentionally, geniuses often flaunt their genius over-intentionally, but it is the truly gifted ones who can deliver their genius through idiocy.”
—Mark Whitely, Slap Magazine

“When I think of Carnie, one word comes to mind: shitbag. Actually, that’s two words, but it looks way better written as one.”
—Jeff Tremaine

To order your copy, touch a BOOB anywhere on this page. While you're waiting for your book to arrive, enjoy a food related sample from the notorious "Kids Issue" that came out in January 1999:  
How To Hurt Kids
Face it, kids suck. Who likes kids anyway? They're filthy little runts. We should be waging war against them, not for them. What's all this “they're our future” horseshit, anyway? What about the present? What about me? Has everyone forgotten that adults, back in the day, also had the misfortune of falling out of some lame cunt's cunt? It wasn't that hard. It was so easy that I don't even remember doing it. Yet every child who performs this pitiful stunt of bungee jumping out of a vagina is awarded Rock Star status.

“Isn't it cuuuute?” No, it looks like a fucking worm with arms. I hate kids. They've ruined everything: albums come with stupid warnings, car windows only go down halfway, drugs and liquor are heavily regulated, you need a ladder at the bookstore to get to the pornography, and TV and movies are boring. If it weren't for kids and their fragile little brains, you'd probably be looking at a nice pair of tits right now, but no, we can't show tits because of kids. Fuck kids! Let's kill ’em.

In an effort to rid the world of kids so that the rest of us can grow and prosper, I have created some deadly desserts that will, at the very least, injure the little fuckers. Kids love sweets. They fall for them every time. Just as men think with their dicks around women, so do children, in the company of candy, think with their tongues. 
The ol’ razor blade in the apple—a classic!
Ingredients: Apple, razor blade, duct tape, glue, and a kid.
This one is a favorite around Halloween, but works during any season. Any ole apple will do, but if you can find one that fell in a pile of e. coli-infested shit you can inflict more damage. Cut the apple in half and then glue a razor blade to one of the halves. Align the halves as if nothing happened and then tape them together. Do this to a bunch of apples until you have an entire sack. Then, go to your local grammar school and hand them to the kids as they get on the bus.

The exploding candy bar
Ingredients: Candy, plastic canister of lighter fluid, a bottle rocket, sealing wax, a cigarette, a match, some tape, and a kid.
First, build the bomb. The diagram is self-explanatory, but remember, the more lighter fluid in the canister, the more the kid dies. Next, buy some candy and tape it all around the bomb. Make sure you choose popular candy. Then, when you find a kid that you want to blow up, light the cigarette (which acts as a time delay fuse for the bottle rocket on top) and give him/her the “candy.” Run away. Helpful hint: if you have time to stake out a location, build a foxhole nearby. 
The cobra in the yogurt
Ingredients: One Yoplait Yogurt, one cobra, and one kid.
Kids love yogurt. Replace the yogurt in the container with a ferocious, hungry cobra. Go to your local park and offer any one of the young, rosy-cheeked whelps your “cobragurt.” When they go to open it, they'll think that they're about to enjoy a healthy snack, but—surprise! Cobra attack to the face! Works every time.

Poisoned candy—a classic!
Ingredients: Candy bar, Vanish toilet bowl cleaner, a turkey baster, and a kid.
An issue that I have yet to address in this article is the “don't–take–candy–from–strangers” dilemma. Don't worry about it. Kids are stupid sugar magnets. Their mother (the cunt) could be standing right beside them telling them, “Remember, don't take candy from a stranger,” and they'll still eagerly snatch whatever sweets you have to offer. I can imagine, however, some snot–nosed goody–goody actually refusing your gift. My first inclination would be to strike the little beast, but that wouldn't do either of us any good. So, I would explain that I was a friend and he can accept candy from a friend—works every time. But make sure you poison the candy. I fill a turkey baster with Vanish Toilet Bowl cleaner and ram it into the candy. Vanish does to kids just what the name implies.

Bear trap in the ice cream cake
Ingredients: An ice cream cake, a bear trap, a birthday, and a kid.
Order an ice cream cake at the cake store and request that they replace the ice cream with a bear trap. Most won't do that, so take the cake home and hollow out the bottom. Since you aren't going to be putting the hole back in, you can eat it. Yum! Spread the trap's jaws wide and secure the spring mechanism. It's a good idea to put the candles on the cake before you place it over the trap. Now, find a kid's birthday party, but be careful, because adults in attendance will like ice cream cake too. You don't want to mangle the hands of an accomplished adult, so warn the adults that there is a bear trap in the cake by spelling it out loud—don't worry, kids can't spell. Just say, “T-H-E-R-E-I-S-A-B-E-A-R-T-R-A-P-I-N-T-H-E-C-A-K-E,” then, anyone that is an adult will stay the fuck away from that cake. After birthday boy blows out the candles, say, “Okay, everyone dive in!” (Honorable mention: Mouse trap in the cupcake.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

GERMANY, CHAPTER 6: The Sandwich Thieves

A typical German breakfast buffet.
Nothing got Tania more excited in Germany than stealing sandwiches from the hotel breakfast buffets every morning. Breakfast in Germany, incidentally, is more akin to an American lunch. It consists mostly of breads, meats, and cheeses. No matter how many cups of coffee or hard-boiled eggs I’d add to my breakfast plate, it always looked like lunch. I attribute this to the presence of all the pickled fare that is made available at the German breakfast. Pickles have no place at the breakfast table. That’s not just my opinion, that’s a fact. Lord knows I tried to get with the AM pickle program, but it simply doesn’t work. I found the European custom of drinking beer with ice cubes a little queer, but I’m okay with it, even if I refuse to participate in the practice. Pickled herrings with orange juice for breakfast, on the other hand, is a downright disgusting pairing. It's not natural. You’d have more success trying to mate a horse with a bullfrog. There’s got to be a “thou shalt not” in the Bible about eating pickled herrings with orange juice at breakfast, right? Because that is a marriage that will destroy the family as we know it.

"Meat, meat, meat! She can't afford a cannon. Meat, meat, meat! She can't afford no gun at all." 
(That's some Anthony Bourdain/Henry Rollins shit right there, referencing old punk rock. Easy grandpa, easy. You're "Cool Meter" can't handle your obscure references and seething disdain for mainstream culture.)
We’d each grab enough meat, bread, and cheese at the buffet to make two sandwiches. At the table we’d assemble one sandwich and eat it while smiling at the other guests as if nothing at all were afoot. “Haha, no capers here.” (You actually could spoon some capers over your pickled herrings if you liked—oh! maybe even drop some capers in your orange juice to make a German bubble tea?) And then, very quietly, we’d put together our second sandwich. Next thing you know, POOF! It was gone!

A Sandwich Thief creation.
“I noticed you has had an entire sandwich on your plate not two seconds ago,” I always worried some suspicious fraulein would catch us. “There is no vay you could haff eaten zis sandwich zat fast. So I vonder, vhere did it go, hmm? Fatty?”

We fucking stole it, bitch!

I’d make sure the coast was clear, and Tania would get a gang of napkins, wrap up the sandwiches, and throw them in her purse. “HAHA! THE SANDWICH THIEVES HAVE STRUCK AGAIN!” We’d say that every time.

It should be noted that while ordinary napkins worked great for sandwich smuggling, I found that using vagina bags—wait, what? Oh, apparently they're not called "vagina bags," they're used for disposing of sanitary napkins. Whatever. The vagina bags were in dispensers on the wall in every toilet and they worked great for transporting stolen sandwiches.
While cruising down the Rhine, Tania looks for DEA (Dejeuner Enforcement Administration) agents before she tears into the contraband.

 Stealing sandwiches in the morning is one of Tania’s finest ideas. Because the sandwiches would reemerge later in the day when we were on a boat or a train and hunger had just begun to descend upon us again. The stolen sandwich made for a perfect light—and FREE!—lunch that would tide us over until we got to a proper schnitzel palace.

“Nothing,” Tania likes to say, “tastes as good as a stolen sandwich.”
Here’s a travel tip from the sandwich thieves
This is not in a guidebook by Rick Steves
Steal a morning snack, stuff it up your sleeves
When hunger strikes, a stolen sandwich always relieves

This photo has nothing to do with stealing sandwiches, but it is about stealing. I'm not sure if Tania was suffering from a mild case of kleptomania, or if she just enjoyed making her "crime face," but emboldened by the success of her sandwich heists she started trying to steal all kinds of stuff. Here she's trying to steal an entire German castle one stone at a time. The only thing that prevented her from making off with the largest castle still standing on the Rhine and reconstructing it in our backyard was a thunderclap that echoed across the skies at the exact same moment she removed the stone between her fingers from the wall. "Put it back," I said nervously watching the clouds, "you've awoken the gods again." ("Again": as you may remember, when we got married, They (the gods) lit the hills around Big Sur on fire with lightning bolts.) "Fuck them!" she responded. She was obviously crazy and addicted to stealing. I conducted an impromptu intervention and was somehow able to convince her to not only put that particular stone back, but leave the rest of the castle behind. "Please accept this gift we are offering you…" We were not struck by lightning.

Monday, November 8, 2010

GERMANY, CHAPTER 5: The Ballhaus and The Roller Disco

"Do you have anything gayer?" I asked the fraulein.

Before we left, I mentioned to Scott Bourne that we were going to Berlin.

“Let me know if you want a contact,” Scott wrote, “good friend lives there and would roll you around and take you out for a beer.

Do you get this? “You should meet my friend!” I don’t think I’ve ever taken anybody up on it. “New friends” is not on the list. A wheel of parmigiano reggiano is. But I always politely take the friend’s info, promise to look them up, and then promptly throw it out. For some reason I contacted Scott’s friend in Berlin. “Maybe he has cheese,” I must have thought.

The emails between Julian Dykmans and myself were normal enough, so when he suggested we meet at a strange place called “The Ballhaus” for beers and some of the “best schnitzel in town,” I said, sure.

“Hey! All right!” he wrote back. “Nine pm at the Clärchens Ballhaus. Reserved under the name Dykmans. This is funny, like a blind date… To recognize us, here is a pic...”
At the bottom of the email was a grainy picture of an attractive couple sharing a good laugh. They didn’t look like psychos, but then psychos never look like psychos. Which makes it hard for normal people to be normal because the most psychotic psycho always looks super normal. He said something else at the bottom that I didn’t pay much attention to at the time, “You feeling the be-bop evening? Better put on your dancing shoes!”

Julian may have been normal, but the Clarchens Ballhaus was anything but. “What a strange place,” I said as we entered the gates into a large, open courtyard where people were seated at tables, drinking, and eating. Some had spilled onto the street and were smoking cigarettes by the light of the bare bulbs hung from the trees. The courtyard garden had a wild character to it. Whoever cared for it, cared for it only occasionally, if at all. The five-story building didn’t necessarily stand out from its neighbors, it looked like an ordinary apartment building, but there was something strange about it. It felt as if it had suffered under the Nazis, then the communists, but now was the home of a vegetarian, nudist commune.

We stumbled into the dark, narrow, wood paneled foyer and were instantly transported back in time, into a world that I see in Kafka’s stories. Old men dressed in tuxedos with bushy white curlicue mustaches looked as if they had lived in the ancient cloakroom their entire lives. They took our coats and our money. It was very crowded. There was barely room for their bushy eyebrows. Even if I understood German I don’t think I would have been able to hear what they were saying, and they were upset at me for not understanding, so I just handed over some money and in return I received some tickets. I farted in the small, crowded foyer. Another old man in a tuxedo found the name “Dykmans” amongst the scribbles on a crumpled sheet of paper he kept close to his chest. He instructed us to follow him through a narrow pair of curtains. 

German rockabilly for the senior crowd at the Ballhaus.

Inside it was dark and loud, the ceilings were high and the floor was packed with people of all ages dancing and drinking and shouting. Disco balls and tinsel curtains sent sparkles all over the ballroom. Another old ghost in a tuxedo led us to a table in a corner. I wanted to protest because we couldn’t see the action on the floor very well from there, but I later learned that all the good tables have been reserved for centuries by the elderly Germans who come every weekend to let their hair—what little they have left of it—down. My father would have protested, and spit on the floor, but we sat down and took in our surroundings.

I had to use the restroom, but was scared to cross the packed dance floor. I tried to get a piggyback ride at the edge of the dance floor to ensure safe passage to the bathrooms, but I didn’t know how to say “piggyback ride” in German. “Me? (I pointed to myself) I’ll get on your back? (I pointed to the old lady’s back and pantomimed mounting her) Ja? Piggy back ride? Ja?” I’m not sure if the fraulein was telling me to beat it, or if she was trying to tell me there was a saddle in a nearby cupboard, when I heard someone yelling my name in my ear, “DAVE!” It was Julian’s wife, Lou. She gave me a kiss on each cheek and I abandoned the migration. I showed her where Tania and I were sitting. Julian soon joined us. It was like a blind date. I had no idea who these people were.

Julian, I learned, is an old European pro skater. He’s been in the scene for a long time and everyone in Europe knows who he is. He now runs a company called Antiz. On top of being a dashing skateboarder, he’s an interesting fellow off the board. I’d liken him to something of a Euro Ed Templeton, both in age and hobbies. Although, to my knowledge, Julian does not paint nude boys. 
Lou, Julian, pizza, schnitzel.
We ordered beers, schnitzels, and pizzas. We discussed the state of skateboarding, in particular the professional skateboarder’s responsibility to himself and to skateboarding. We agreed that some skaters take more than their fair share of stickers. The food was delicious, but the Ballhaus was so loud I think it was affecting my taste buds. Apparently the tongue is connected to the ears? I had to resist a strange urge to squirt lemon on Tania’s pizza. We soon realized conversation was impossible with all the dancing and the be-bop and so we were forced to abandon ourselves to enjoying the noise. Julian and Lou danced, while we watched. 

Julian and Lou dancing in the center of the Elderly Sea. Below is the Easy Rider.

I have developed an interest in old people dancing, and I can say that some of the most wonderful elderly dancers in the world are to be found in Germany. We had one of Germany’s finest on the dance floor right in front of us. I’ll call him “Easy Rider” because his dancing style consisted of gripping an imaginary pair of “ape hangers” and steering his invisible motorcycle in tight circles around the floor. ER was not afraid to show his affection for younger women. ER touched/groped women in a casual manner not permitted to younger men. I made a mental note of his style for future use.

“A friend of ours is having a party at a roller disco,” Julian announced. “Would you and Tania like to join us?” We were still jetlagged and wanted nothing more than to go to bed, but the idea of visiting a German roller disco sounded like the worst possible thing we could do, so we said yes. Julian said something about a 200 meter track—I’m not sure what a meter is, but 200 of them sounded big. I pictured banked corners and the like. Perhaps even a loop. But in reality, the roller disco was a small room, about the size of a high school gym, with a stage and a bar flanking a wood floor that was filled with people on roller skates going in circles while listening to disco music. Roller skates were surely a form of torture or public humiliation during the Dark Ages, no? Yet we had to pay to strap a pair of those things on our feet. The disco, on the other hand, was free. I would have preferred Bach’s cello concertos.

“Do you have anything gayer than this?” I asked the fraulein behind the counter when she handed me my skates. They were bright, sparkly blue, but I thought I could do better. She didn’t seem to understand my English. “Maybe something white or pink? Weiss?” I know “white” in German because of all the wine. “Nien weiss? Okay. Well these will be fine. Danke.” In hindsight, I don’t think one could find a gayer pair of skates.
Tania drinks her beer at the bar where you're supposed. She got cool Converse roller skates.
“You’re really good!” Lou said to me after I took my first spin around the rink in my big gay skates. Tania agreed. I was impressing the ladies with my roller skating skills, just like in elementary school when I was well known for being the only boy able to skate backwards. I ordered a beer at the bar, put my arm around Tania, and began to explain the secrets of my roller skating skills. I compared myself to the American negroes that were in the videos projected on the walls. My what talent. I was inspired to take another spin when a great commotion occurred on the floor in front of us. It was Lou. She had snuck off while I was talking and caused a crash.

There was a great pile of Germans writhing on the floor. It’s hard to tell the difference between German men and women, but I think it was mostly men. It was quite a pileup*. All caused by a spilt beer. Lou spilled the beer. She was trying to bring it to Julian when she was grabbed by a falling German who pulled her, and her beer, to the floor. There’s a reason why beverages are not allowed on the roller disco floor: roller skates and beer don’t mix. Lou was given a tongue lashing by a German man she won’t soon forget. 

A German Roller Disco employee mops up Lou's mess. The angry German man who cussed her out is in the purple shirt in the center.

“ICH HAT BUMSEN MIT EIN HUHN!” the man yelled at Lou. I’m not sure what he was saying, but he was very angry. He sounded like Hitler. I’m glad I didn’t know what he was saying because if I had I would have given him a swift kick in the schnitzel. Lou, however, was very calm and apologetic, “Ja, ja, ja,” and calmly weathered his storm. She did, after all, deserve a short lecture on the dangers of roller skating under the influence, but the German fellow went a little too far.

“He said I was stupid,” Lou told us after he left, “and that I should be the one cleaning up the mess. He also called me a stupid American.” Lou is Swiss. So that makes him a stupid German. But it made me stupid mad.

“Why I oughtta!” I said through clinched teeth. I scanned the floor for the scoundrel, but he was nowhere to be found. “How dare he!” How can you call someone stupid while wearing roller skates? I’m glad I couldn’t find him because I can’t even fight when I’m not wearing roller skates.

But my beer was on a railing above the roller rink floor. German beer is delicious, but there are so many other ways to enjoy it. I gave my cup a little nudge. Oops. Such a stupid American. “Entschuldige!”

* I have co-written a play with my friend Caleb Plowman called, The Four Ball Pileup. It’s a rather long script, the action taking place over the course of five acts, but the gist of the story is that two nude men in a locker room collide as they turn the same corner and their penises and scrotums become ensnared. The scene in the roller disco, with all those men and women piled upon each other, has inspired me to begin writing the sequel, The Eleven Ball Pileup.

Roller skating to disco gets Julian amped.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

GERMANY, CHAPTER 4: Huck a Schnitzel at a Whore

Tania at Cafe Einstein.
“Is that one?” I asked.

“I think so,” Tania said.

“Wow, a real German whore,” I marveled. We never went and saw Checkpoint Charlie, but the German whores more than made up for that. “What the fuck is she wearing?” 

She was a mess. She had cuts on her face, even a black eye (bitch doesn’t listen apparently), and her skin was yellow and green, black and blue. Her costume was very 80s-ish. There might have even been some leg warmers involved. Tania named her “Thriller” because not only did she bear a striking resemblance to one of the dancing zombies in the Michael Jackson video, but she looked so—erm—thrilling.

We had gotten a tip that Einstein’s café had some of the best, no-nonsense, old school German food in Berlin, including one of the best schnitzels around. What we weren’t told was that the restaurant was on Kurfürstenstrasse, which I now know means “Street of the Filthy Whores.” (Fürsten is German for “filthy,” and Kur translates literally to “farting dog,” but is also slang for “prostitute” in German. Kur, of course, is the origin of our term for a mongrel, cur.)
Roving gangs of Kurfürstenstrasse whores.
“Now, what exactly were you doing down here yesterday?” I asked Tania suspiciously when we emerged from the train station and ran smack dab into whore central. She already knew where the restaurant was, but had failed to explain that we had to navigate through a gauntlet of gash to get to it. She claimed she had come down to Kurfürstenstrasse earlier to scope out the restaurant and do some shopping while I was out skating. But I couldn’t help wondering if she hadn’t come down to Kurfürstenstrasse to try and drum up a little business of her own? She admitted that she had entertained a randy black man as a potential customer for a good portion of the afternoon, but she refused to accept him as a customer despite his proclamations of love. She rested her innocence on the fact that the Kurfürstenstrasse was fiercely guarded territory. “Even if I wanted to,” she said, “these bitches would have cut me.” I couldn’t argue with that. One of the filthy whores looked like she could have eaten Tania. And then Tania went on the offense and told me to just be glad our roles weren’t reversed because I would have a lot harder time explaining what I was doing by myself looking for a restaurant on the Street of the Filthy Whores. I should have smacked her. 
Kurfürstenstrasse street art.
We kept our distance from the roving gangs of disease ridden harlots and slid along the sidewalk past the sketchy Russians (presumably the pimps) smoking cigarettes and drinking diesel fuel. After only a couple blocks, the street returned to “normal” and the elegantly sturdy, three-story building that houses the Einstein Café stood quietly in the middle of the block.

There is a lot of history to the Einstein that we didn’t know at the time. Hemingway, for instance, mentions it in A Moveable Feast. A German friend also told us, “It had been, among other things, a thriving underground Jewish casino which the Nazis frequented.” (I wondered if “thriving underground Jewish casino” was some sort of German slang for “concentration camp?”) It then turned into a Gestapo headquarters during the war. Probably most interestingly is that it stands next to what was once Joseph Goebbels’ offices. The eeriness of that relation wasn’t lost on the filmmakers of Inglorious Bastards as the Einstein Café is “Café Maurice” in the movie and the setting for the “iconic strudel scene.” (We’ve been meaning to watch this movie for some time, but now I’m really curious what a “strudel scene” is, and what’s so “iconic” about this particular one.) (And, while I question the truth of this story, I did read that Goebbels had, in a secret bunker/party room beneath the building, a sculpture of amputated arms (gifts from friend Josef Mengele) arranged in the shape of a swastika. Apparently it spun like a pinwheel.)

The simple reason the Einstein Cafe was chosen as a movie location is because the interior is absolutely stunning. It evokes the elegance of a hall in Versaille, yet exudes the calm of a comfortable café. The walls are painted a soft, lime sherbet and lined with long, tarnished mirrors framed by gilded moldings that reach to the golden, glowing ceiling high above the dining room. It’s quite a space. I’m not a designer, and I don’t have “a style,” but I could easily live with an interior like Café Einstein’s.
Tania with wiener schnitzel.
We were seated at a table against the wall. One of our dining strategies at restaurants is to always order different dishes. That way Tania and I maximize our dining potential and get to sample as much of the menu as possible. But we broke our little rule and treated Café Einstein’s menu in much the same way we’d treat Pat’s Steaks in Philly—I’m sure their menu has a wide array of delicious offerings, but there’s really only one thing to get: wiener schnitzel.

Our waiter glided away with our order, and we settled into a nice bottle of Reisling. Only moments later we could hear the unmistakable sound of someone pounding out our veal cutlets on a counter in the kitchen. “Wow,” I said, “they make it fresh to order.” Which was not how they did it at the small grill we sat at in the giant German department store KaDeWe (which is a story in itself). At that kitchen, they had a drawer filled with pre-breaded schnitzels that they would throw on the flat grill in a pond of butter. I’m kind of partial to “drawer schnitzel” (I might have one installed below the Jagermeister machine), but I think making it to order is the preferred method.
Tania got the chicken stuffed with cheese at KaDeWe.
At KaDeWe they also have giant, ceramic, Chinese babies that breathe fire. 

While I prefer the interior at Cafe Einstein's, I'm kind of into this crazy scary monkey style room that was on display in KaDeWe.
I’ve never had a “death row meal” in mind. But I think a wiener schnitzel with a side of potatoes and a nice bottle of white wine is now a candidate for the last thing I will ever eat on earth. It is such a perfect little meal to me. There is something about a breaded piece of meat that is so satisfying and comforting. (WARNING: I’m about to play the cliché food writer mother card. Am I the only one that’s annoyed by this? Skateboard tour articles suffer from a similar malady: airport stories. Yes, we’re aware that in order to get to wherever you’re going you had to go through an airport and take a plane, but I don’t need to read about your stupid airport experience. You missed your flight? You forgot your ticket? They lost your luggage? Oh my god, how FUCKING INTERESTING! The food writer mother story isn’t nearly as bad, but when invoked the author always seems unable to recognize that they are not unique in this area. Everyone’s tastes are influenced by whoever fed them as a child. They taught you how to talk too, but rarely does a writer furnish his work with praise for the far more impressive miracle that comes out of the mouth.)

My mom did the breaded meat thing a lot. Mostly fish or chicken. I loved it. When it was my birthday and my mother was taking dinner requests, I’d put in for the breaded chicken breast. Sometimes she’d slap a slice of ham on top and melt some cheese over it. Tania’s chicken parmigiana is another one of my favorites. So it’s no wonder I’m absolutely smitten with schnitzel. And the one they serve at Café Einstein is one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s crispy, yet juicy and soft, salty, meaty, a little tang from the lemon—it is, in my opinion, one of the finest ways to deliver meat to your mouth. I decided in Germany that I could eat it every day, and I pretty much did. I will eat schnitzel until I die. If I had been in a concentration camp, I would have requested it as my last meal. As they were pushing me into the gas chamber with their rifle butts in the small of my back, I’d turn right around and say, “Ein minuten! Now you listen here buster: I want my last meal. Ein wiener schnitzel bitte!” I mean it wouldn’t hurt to ask. What’s the worst that could happen?
The Einstein wiener schnitzel barely fits on the plate. Tania thought it was a boomerang, but looking at it now, it kind of looks like an arm.
The schnitzel we ate at Einstein’s, though, that thing had the potential of saving us from death. It was huge, and shaped like a boomerang. Tania thought it was like a weapon. “If any of those whores attack us on the way back to the train station,” she said to me, “So help me God, I’ll huck this fuckin’ schnitzel at ‘em.” Tania ain't scared. She'll huck a schnitzel at a German whore.
Tania's grabbing a little statue cock in the park outside of KaDeWe. Just a little.
Schnitzel Recipe

A wiener schnitzel is a “schnitzel in the Viennese style,” and is always made with veal. But a schnitzel can also be made with chicken or pork. At home, we typically use pork. Either a thin, boneless pork chop, or you can cut slices off a loin. Whatever you use, pound it out thin.

Set up three dishes with flour, egg wash, and bread crumbs, and dredge the pounded cutlet in each. Then simply sautee the breaded cutlet in oil and butter for a couple minutes on each side until golden brown. Serve with a slice of lemon.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

GERMANY, CHAPTER 3: Jagermeister Doppelgangers

A dirty German hippie Chris Pontius doppelganger tries to make his acoustic guitar weep for Ronnie James Dio.

I’ve drank Guinness at the Guinness brewery in Dublin. It was delicious. And sipping a pint on the seventh floor’s “Gravity Bar,” with panoramic views of the city and Phoenix Park, certainly didn’t dampen the experience. Because Guinness does indeed taste better at the brewery. To be honest, it tasted better all over Ireland and England. It’s not a huge difference, but it is pleasantly notable. Since returning home, I’ve often entertained the idea of playing the smug snob and turning my nose up before an American pint. “An American pint of Guinness? Ugh. Disgusting. It doesn’t travel well, you know? I, for one, won’t drink it anywhere but Ireland! Maybe in England. Maybe.” I’m surprised I haven’t met that asshole at a bar yet.

So it was in kind of in the same vein that I constructed this blurry notion that in Germany the Jagermeister was “better.” Specifically in the sense that it wouldn’t cause the same suffering I endure the day after drinking it here. Because I was closer to the origin, I reasoned, it was therefore purer. All of the impurities and pollutants that cause the blackout drunk and then bludgeon the senses the following day are developed during transit. “It doesn’t travel well.” Jager germs? I don’t know. This, anyway, was my thinking when we ordered our first shots of Jagermeister in Berlin. That is if I was thinking at all. Which I probably wasn’t because it wasn’t long before the brain’s activity fluttered, ebbed, and finally subsided there in that dark bar on Wiener Street.

There were two bars near our apartment that we frequented while we were in Berlin. They were only about a block away from each other and, as I’ll say as many times as I can, they were both on Wiener Street. The first one was called Bar 11. We liked it because it was very dark (“none more black”), wasn’t crowded, and the bartender was a Mic-E Reyes doppelganger. He’s the one that gave us our first shot of Jagermeister… and our second, and third, and fourth, etc..

The other guy is "Cyclops German Salman," but he doesn't look as much like Salman Agah as "German Shaka Mic-E" looks like Mic-E Reyes.

We were in the country of the word's origin, so it's really no surprise that we saw a lot of doppelgangers while in Germany. Here's another, "German Rocky Dennis"—I mean, "German Shaun White."

At first I really did believe Jager was better in Germany. I love the taste of that cold, minty, syrup as it slides down the back of your throat. And all the herbs give it a vaguely medicinal quality, which, on the one hand, is sort of unpleasant, but at the same time I like to fool myself into thinking that it’s healthy. Like Guinness, “It makes you healthy and strong.” The shit was going down so easy at Bar 11 that I began to entertain the idea of getting one of those Jager machines for our house. “For the bedroom!” Tania said. (I married her for a reason.) Except those Jagermeister machines sound like a fucking lawnmower.

Setting: Living Room. Dave and Tania are on the couch watching TV.

DAVE (getting up): Good night.

TANIA: Good night? It’s only 4:30 in the afternoon.

DAVE: Yep. Pretty tired. Big day tomorrow.

Dave opens bedroom door, exits stage right.

TANIA (to herself): Weirdo.

Tania goes back to reading and watching TV. She is interrupted by a loud noise coming from the bedroom. WHIRRRRRRRRR! Tania jumps up and runs to the door.

TANIA: Hey! What’s going on in there? Are you drinking Jagermeister again?

DAVE (muffled): … uhhhh… no…

Silence for a moment. Then the loud noise again: WHIRRRRRRRRR!


This is Charles Rivard. He's Canadian and he rides for Adidas. He also happens to look just like Charlie in the original Willie Wonka movie. After a long day of skating, the Canadians preferred the weed to the beer, so they didn't come out drinking with us very often. When they did, they tried to make up for the time missed.

This is George, the Adidas TM, and I getting our asses kicked at the other bar on Wiener Street. The full story will be up on the King Shit website soon.

One night while we were at Bar 11, Dio died. Dio didn’t die in Bar 11. He died earlier that day. Presumably somewhere else. We know because a dirty street minstrel came in to the bar and announced that his favorite musician of all time was dead and that he was going to totally harsh our mellow by playing Dio songs at us. Fucker. He totally looked like Chris Pontius, too. With a ponytail. And shorts. He might even have been topless? And when Chris has a guitar in his hands, he’s pretty fucking funny. So I’m not surprised, given the amount of Jagermeister I had drank, that I was deceived into thinking—even with the announcement—that this filthy German hippie with the acoustic guitar was going to entertain us with jolly songs about lesbians and such.

“Shave you wooly whores/ If I want to see Chewbacca I’ll watch Star Wars.” —from “Shave” by Chris Pontius

Nope, the Berlin balladeer was completely devastated by the death of Ronnie James Dio and he wondered if he could bum us out too and ruin our night with his horrible renditions of crappy Dio songs?

“NEIN!” I yelled at him. I actually know that word. “NEIN! NEIN! NEIN!”

Whatever shitty Dio song he tried to play, I didn’t recognize it. And then I suddenly realized, “I don’t know any Dio songs!” Which made me kind of happy. Like the Insane Clown Posse, there are some things I’m proud to be ignorant of.

“Water, fire, air, earth/ Fucking Dio, how does he work?” —“Miracles” ICP

(Star Wars, incidentally, is another pile of shit I’m proud to not know anything about.) Unfortunately there is one Dio song I do know.

“Holy Diver!” I blurted out after the first note came over the car radio one day.

“How do you know that?” Tania asked astounded. I’m not sure if she was pissed because it was the first time I had ever named a song before her (Tania can name any song in one note or fewer), or if I had just revealed some awful truth about myself.

“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s ‘Holy Diver?’” Who doesn’t know “Holy Diver?”

Tania, apparently. She claims she’s never heard it before. To me it’s one of the many unfortunate elements on the periodic table of classic rock. Like it or not, I’ve heard that song a million times. But apparently I’ve never really listened to it very closely because otherwise I might have wondered, as Tania did, “What the fuck is a holy diver?”

Very good question. I have no idea. And from what I can tell, nobody else does either. Have you ever read the lyrics?

Ride the tiger
You can see his stripes but you know he's clean
Oh don't you see what I mean?
Gotta get away. Holy Diver.

I didn’t think it was possible to hate that little metal midget any more than I already do, but it is. Do I see what you mean? No. No I do not. None of it makes any sense. There’s a lot of nonsense about a tiger, but then suddenly the Holy Diver goes to a costume party, “Holy Diver/ You're the star of the masquerade/ No need to look so afraid.” I’m interested in any interpretation of this song you may have, but in the meantime I’m just going to hate it. Because it’s okay to write dumb lyrics (Kiss), and it’s okay to write lyrics that don’t make any sense (Melvins), but there’s no excuse for dumb lyrics that don’t make sense. Dio fucking sucks.

Whatever the Teutonic troubadour was trying to play for us was not “Holy Diver.” But even if I knew Dio’s entire catalog note for note, I don’t think I would have recognized what this fellow was trying to play because the dude was a ham fisted drunk. I can’t imagine any Dio song being that difficult to play, but our wandering minstrel tried to start this particular song four times, and four times he had to stop and apologize for the behavior of his clumsy paws. At first it was annoying, because, you know, dude was being all serious and trying to pay tribute to his imaginary dead friend, shithead Ronnie James Dio, but by about the fourth attempt it was just hilarious. It was a fitting memorial to one of the worst “musicians” of all time: some drunk German gutter punk butchering a heavy metal ballad to a crowd of people who weren’t even listening.

“Nein,” I said when he came to our corner of the bar with his empty hat. “Nein danke.” I should have spit in it. Even if he had managed to play something we liked, we needed our Euros to pay for all the Jager shots that Mic-E just kept pouring for us. The Jagermeister was delicious, but it certainly wasn't any "better" than the Jagermeister we have here. The two worst hangovers we suffered in Germany came after nights of Jagermeister shots.


I wonder if you could get a silencer for one of those Jager machines? Or an IV drip would probably work.

I was joking about getting one for the bedroom, but when you consider that they're only $300, it's not really that unrealistic. And, after using their website's "Tap Machine Profit Calculator," I learned it will "pay for itself" in just under three months. And it'll fit right where Tania's pillow goes!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

GERMANY, CHAPTER 2: Max and Moritz

One day, when I was out skating with the Adidas team at the museum spot in Berlin, I pushed off on my own little adventure. I was looking for beer, but ended up at a giant Sony mall complex. As I was skating around, I ran into a group of Americans.

“GUYS!” one of them yelled. He was a pudgy little redhead in his 30s. He looked like that cute little redhead with the beard on last season’s Top Chef, Kevin Gillespie. (Cmon, he was cute, that dude looked like a Hobbit that would live in your pocket and make you pulled pork sandwiches.)

“GUYS! GUYS! GUYS!” he kept yelling. This ginger boy wasn’t cute at all and he sounded like a fucking five year old. It was embarrassing to begin with, but it just got worse.


“Oh Jesus,” I thought.

Sure enough, we were all in Berlin standing in front of a Dunkin Donuts. His friends all rushed to his side and congratulated him. Presumably because they would have died of starvation without an injection of American food?

“Yep,” ginger boy said, “America to the rescue.”

I enjoy traveling and going other places because, well, they’re other places. Other places have different things to look at, to do, to hear, to smell, and to eat—do I even need to explain this? It’s absolutely baffling to me how some people travel. Why go to another place if you’re going to try and make it be like your home place? If you can’t be without the things and the foods that are at your home place, don’t leave your home place. This is the attitude, I imagine, held in Arizona towards Mexicans—surely created by the very same people who look for Dunkin Donuts while on a European vacation? “This is America! Leave your Mexico at home!” The difference, however, is that, first of all, Mexicans are Americans (as they’re part of the Americas), and, most importantly, they bring tacos with them. You’re welcome anywhere if you have tacos (except Arizona… they should change their state motto to, “Arizona: The Taco Hating State”). If you don’t have tacos, you shouldn’t bring anything with you to a foreign country. And that’s why Tania and I brought nothing to Germany except an appetite for all things German. We were on a mission for authentic German cuisine. And the first place we went to slake our thirst was a restaurant recommended by our drunk friend Renee called Max and Moritz.

Max and Moritz is an old school Berlin restaurant named after the two mischievous boys in the German cartoon of the same name. Max and Moritz are very naughty boys. They kill an old lady’s chickens, sabotage a bridge so an old man falls in the river, put gun powder in an old man’s pipe, and fill their uncle’s bed with may bugs, among other dirty deeds. They eventually find themselves ground to bits in a mill and fed to the geese. And no one in the village cares because they were such little assholes. “In the village not a word/ Not a sign of grief was heard.”

Max and Moritz nonsense behind the bar. The bartender looks awestruck because the ghost of Josef Mengele appeared in the ceiling.

We made reservations at Max and Moritz. Making reservations in a foreign language is fun. “Das reservations, por favor—I mean—shit, Tania? How do you say please?” Fortunately they speak English. Most people in Berlin do. Still, I enjoy trying to learn the native language. It’s kind of like my gift to the people of the country I’m visiting. Because to hear my tongue stumbling around a new language is like watching a newborn colt trying to stand. A newborn colt, cold, shaking, and glistening in afterbirth snot. It’s quite funny, apparently. Here is an excerpt from the King Shit article regarding my first attempt at speaking German in Germany:

I was standing on the deck of the quarter pipe when a dirty little gypsy boy approached me on a bicycle far too large for his tiny frame.

“MEINE MUTTER HAT BUMSEN MIT EIN PFERDE,” he said to me. Or something. I have no idea what he said. Sounded like Hitler. It was just a bunch of German words, but I’m pretty sure it was some variation on the theme of “give me free shit.” “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” Which in German might look like this, “Geben! Geben! Geben!” I was prepared for this.

“Oh boy,” I thought, “my first chance to try out my limited German!” I had been listening to language tapes in LA traffic before the trip. I had learned very little, but one of the few things I made a point of committing to memory was, “I don’t understand German.”

“Ich verstehe kein Deutsch!” I proudly said to the little scamp.

“WHAT?” the little gypsy snapped at me. In English no less. His expression was twisted in complete disgust. I had either said something very offensive, or I’d completely butchered what I had intended to say.

“Uhhh, kein Deutsch?” I said again. I was embarrassed before this stupid child.

The soot covered little wretch just shook his head at me and hopped on his older sister’s twisted mountain bike and pedaled off to another part of the park where the rest of his gang was trying to make handlebars out of a broomstick.

To get to Max and Moritz, we walked down Oriander Strasse through the ethnic neighborhoods that begin in Asia with Thai and Indian restaurants, and ends at a decidedly Turkish quarter of the city. We slid past the rows of hookah joints, with shifty eyed Turks smoking cigarettes in the doorways, and eventually found ourselves on Max and Moritz’s block. As we approached the restaurant with the small round sign protruding off the building, the sidewalk in front bathed in the orange glow of the windows, I rubbed my hands with glee. “Ah,” I said, “this is exactly what I wanted.”

Tania with her fassbeire, candle, and green penis tiles. Someone said they look like jelly fish, but all I see are penises.

Max and Moritz has been serving traditional German fare since 1902. (“No one was even alive then!” —Eddie Izzard.) The interior has a very warm, well worn feel to it, like an old baseball glove, with just a touch of the casual disorder that is so common to the European sensibility. We were seated at the bar and ordered a couple beers while we waited for a table. The beer wench brought us a couple drafts of a cloudy, golden beer. I was wary because I’m not a fan of hefeweizens. But she explained that this was their house beer, Kreuzberger Molle. As far as I could understand, it’s made for them by a nearby Berlin brewery. “It’s natural and unfiltered,” she said. It was fucking good is what it was. It’s so good that when, on our second visit, they served me something different, I almost had a tantrum. It was my fault for just ordering a beer, “Ein bier bitte!” I didn’t even know they had other beers. I would have sent the imposter back, but I don’t think there are even any German words for “wrong beer.” So I just slammed it, and made sure to specifically ask for the house beer on the next order.

"Very special sausages." Are they retarded? Extra retarded?

We were eventually seated at a small table with a candle in the corner against a wall of their ubiquitous green tiles with the penis head on them. I ordered sausages (“Very special Sausages from Westfalia with a sweet/sour green-bean and diced bacon sauce, with Parsley potatoes and mustard”), and Tania ordered the schnitzel (“Wiener Schnitzel: escalope of veal dressed in a fine crumb served with lyonaise potatoes and salad”). This was our first authentic German meal, and it was one of the best of the whole trip. So simple, yet so amazing. It was so good that this duo of sausage and schnitzel became our go-to meal all across Germany. I wish we had kept a running tally of how many sausages and schnitzels we had on the trip, but I’m pretty sure I had at least one, if not both, in my mouth every day of our trip. Ja, I had a lot of sausages in my mouth in Germany.

Ah, schnitzel. It was "spargel" (asparagus) season while we were there, so every restaurant had white asparagus with every meal. More on that in another post.

I’m glad I don’t live by Max and Moritz’s because I would be in there every other day ordering a fassbeire, schnitzel, and very special sausages. I’d get fat as fuck. But at least I’d finally have an answer to that old question, “Where should we go eat?” Because I can eat that shit all day every day. I think I’m turning Germanese, I think I’m turning Germanese, I really think so.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

GERMANY, CHAPTER 1: Renee and the Big Gay Bar

Renee on the left, Nicholas on the right.

“You are all flatheads,” Renee said laughing. “American flatheads!” Renee was wasted.

Tania and I were enjoying some wine at the bar below our Berlin apartment. It wasn’t our apartment. It was paid for by Adidas and we were sharing it with their Canadian team. But we did have our own room. Which we pretended was our own apartment. Plus it’s fun to say, “We were enjoying some wine at the cafe below our Berlin apartment.” It’s like we’re in U2.

“The Americans. You are all flatheads, you know?” he said still laughing. I had no idea what he was talking about.

The bar was actually in the restaurant below our apartment. We were disappointed that we never got around to eating there because the food looked very good, but we did spend a good deal of time drinking at the small bar. Mostly because Nicholas, the restaurant’s big gay waiter, was so entertaining. Nicholas was a flight attendant (sthuprizzzze!) and spoke very good English. Naturally, he was fascinated with San Francisco. In return for big gay SF information, he told us about Berlin.

“HAHAHAHA!” Renee was just laughing at my face. I was starting to get angry. For one, he was very ugly. He obviously hadn’t bathed in some time, his clothes were dirty and crumpled, his hands were gnarled, his hair was greasy and unkempt, and he was unshaven. In short, he was a typical German man.

Renee did not speak very good English, but I had no problem understanding that he did not like Americans. Mostly due to the imperialistic/military strategies of the Bush administration. “Flatheads,” I think, was a reference to military crewcuts. Renee was completely harmless and totally drunk, but he was getting under my skin. In that “don’t you dare talk about my mother” kind of way. I can talk shit about my country, but don’t you fucking dare.

Nicholas somehow calmed Renee down, and we soon settled into drinking and polite conversation. Renee even began cheering us. “KAAPLA!” he’d say and raise his glass. “KAAPLA!” I’d say back. He was doing it nearly every sip and I couldn’t understand what he was saying. It seemed worth knowing. “Is that German for cheers?” I asked.

“Klingon!” he said.

Klingon? This is when I began to suspect that Renee wasn’t quite right in the head. And he wasn’t. He even had papers to prove it. Not sure what brought that on, but he was very insistent on showing Tania his retard papers.

“They don’t care about that,” Nicholas told him and made him put them away.

Retarded or not, Tania and I wanted to know where to eat. We had been in Germany for almost a day and we wanted some authentic German cuisine. This question delighted Renee. He was very excited to tell us about a number of restaurants, but even with Nicholas’ help, Renee was difficult to understand. He asked for my pen a number of times, “PEN!” and then he’d scrawl some childish words in my book, but we could only pretend to understand what he was talking about. Renee eventually decided that the only way he could sufficiently tell us where we needed to go eat was if we returned to his apartment with him where he could give us a map. Tania and I looked nervously at each other, uhhh? Renee insisted.

“It is okay,” Nicholas assured us. “He is not crazy. I would never send you to the apartment of a crazy man. He is harmless.” I think Nicholas just wanted Renee out of the bar so he could close up and go to bed.

“Alright,” I said. “Let’s go to your apartment and get a map.” What’s the worst that could happen? If he tied us up and raped us, I could just write about it later.

Renee proudly poses before his media center.

Renee’s apartment was on the fourth floor of a cement, communist-bloc style building. He had one tiny room with a small kitchen and bathroom. His bed was a pile of clothes and a sheet on the floor in the corner. The room was dominated by a rather large TV/entertainment center.

“M*A*S*H?” I said looking at the shelves of VHS tapes. There were a lot of M*A*S*H tapes.

“Yes,” he said excitedly. “Every episode.” Renee hates the American military, but apparently enjoys the adventures of our hilarious mobile army surgical hospitals?

"PEN!" Renee feverishly showing Tania places of interest on zee map.

He spread a map of our Berlin neighborhood out on a laundry drying rack. It was a very nice map, kind of cartoonish. He began feverishly searching for places and making marks all over the place, babbling the whole time. He was very insistent we try a place that, I think, specialized in roast chicken. From what I could gather it was less of a restaurant and more of a home. I’m disappointed we never made it to that place because it sounded the weirdest. But some of his other recommendations we did try, most notably Max and Moritz. (Which I’ll write about in the next post. Followed by some of our other German dining adventures.)

This is the cute li'l map Renee gave us. This is a picture of the area in Berlin we stayed in, by the Gorlitzer Bahnhof. Which is right off of Wiener Strasse. HAHAHA WIENER STREET!

It was late and all the bars were closed when we left Renee’s apartment, but we all wanted more drinks. Renee kind of painted himself as a man about town and he assured us he could get us into any bar. I was over Renee, but we hadn’t been raped and I felt like I was still due some sort of an adventure. The first bar we came to was locked up for the night, but people were smoking cigarettes and drinking inside. Renee knocked on the window. The old bartender lady looked up. Renee made the universal sign for, “Hey! It’s me! Renee!” He pointed at his own face and smiled. The bartender didn’t even shake her head “no” at Renee, she just went back to wiping down the bar. “Hey!” Renee said knocking again.

I could tell we weren’t going to get raped or have any more adventures with Renee. The night was over. So we gathered up our maps with our German dining recommendations and retired to our Berlin apartment. That was the last we saw of Renee, but it was the beginning of our German dining adventures.

I made pee pee in Renee's toilet.