Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New York City: Wieners

I had been wanting to try the fabled Papaya King for a long time. So we had it for breakfast on our way to the Natural History Museum. Papaya King was good. Very good. It's still just a hot dog, though. But it's a perfect vehicle to glide into our NYC food eat extraganza (I prefer the word without the VA). Plus, since we're talking about wieners, we have another act from the play about our wiener, Beckett. This installment of David, Plaze is entitled, "Refresh My Pancakes." I have mustard all over my hands.


SCENE: Morning. David, Tania, and Beckett are in bed.

BECKETT: What a wonderful sleep. I would like it very much if my pillow were made of pancakes. Then when I wake up in the morning I could say, “Oh! Breakfast!”

DAVID: Is that a MitchHedberg joke? Regardless, that is a very good idea, Beckett. But then you’d have to employ someone to change the pancakes every morning.

TANIA: Change the pancakes, or replace the pancakes?

DAVID: Hm. Good question. I suppose it would be “replace” since “changing the pancakes” implies that there are pancakes leftover, and Beckett would never leave any pancakes behind. Or would the person refresh the pancakes?

TANIA: refreshmypancakes.com.

DAVID: Oh. That’s good. We should buy that URL. But that still doesn’t solve this problem about whether the pancakes are replaced, or refreshed, or changed. And, more importantly, who’s replacing, refreshing, or changing these pillow pancakes?

TANIA: We could hire someone. His sole job would be to replace the pancakes after Beckett has eaten them.

DAVID: That’s a good idea. But where does this pancake replacer get the pancakes from? Surely he doesn’t make them as well?

TANIA: No, no. He’s like a butler, or a waiter, very specific skill set. He needs to be focused on the task at hand. We’d have to hire a chef to make the pancakes. 

Something about the colors they use at Papaya King makes me really hungry. I love the way it looks. It reminds me of Orange Julius. I actually enjoyed going shopping at the mall with my mom when I was a kid because I knew I would get a hot dog and an Orange Julius. Unfortunately, a quick search shows that Orange Julius is a fledgling chain at this point and has been absorbed by Dairy Queen? Or maybe it was absorbed by that dude's head fat?

DAVID: So then we’d have two people in our employ, one to make the pancakes and one to change, replace, or refresh the pancakes?

TANIA: Yes. What does refreshing pancakes entail, though?

DAVID: I don’t know. He’d probably mostly be replacing the pancakes. I can’t imagine Beckett awaking and not eating all the pancakes he’s sleeping on. But in the unlikely event that Beckett eats some of his pancakes, and leaves some uneaten, then the pancake waiter fellow would change his pancakes. Do you agree that this must be true?

TANIA: Yes, David, indeed it does sound like it must happen in the manner you have just described.

DAVID: Now, on the extremely rare occasion that Beckett awakes and doesn’t eat his pancakes at all, and, heaven forbid, begins his day by leaving a perfectly good plate of pancakes on the bed, the pancake waiter fellow has a number of options available to him: he can throw the unfinished pancakes out, for instance. Or give them to another dog, perhaps in a neighboring town. Or he can eat them himself. Three options. Or he can return them to the kitchen, or wherever the pancake pillows are assembled, and refresh the pancakes. They might be a little old, but they’re not bad. That’s four options and I prefer the fourth best. We should write that into his contract.

TANIA: They just need a little refreshing you’re saying? But, again: exactly how does one refresh pancakes? 

Everywhere we go with Beckett people stop and have to tell us about their wiener dog experiences. "My grandmother had two of them when I was growing up. Oscar and Ding Dong. Oscar was a mean little dog." It's become so prevalent that I've begun cataloging these brief stories. "Fat guy in Monterey. His childhood dachshund was named Morty. Lived 18 years." I find it strange. "But you do it, too," Tania reminded me. "No I don't," I protested. But it's true. I do. And here's proof: after Papaya King and while walking to the Natural History museum we spied this lady walking her wieners. And the "Captive Wildlife Photographer" in me sprung into action. (The Captive Wildlife Photographer is a master at capturing photographs of wild animals in captivity.)

Closer. When the Captive Wildlife Photographer is shooting, he's constantly asking himself, "Would they print this in National Geographic?" The answer here is clearly, no.
Bingo! Nailed it! That's what I'm talking about! Another prize winning photograph of wildlife in captivity.

DAVID: I don’t know. Seems like a secret of the trade. We’ll leave that to him, but his contract will stipulate that “untouched pancakes shall be refreshed.” Maybe he just kind of fluffs them up a little. Pulls out the dents. Adjusts the discolorations.

TANIA: Sounds like he takes them to an auto body shop.

DAVID: Perhaps he does. It wouldn’t surprise me. The pancake waiter is a clever little fellow. And the introduction of an auto body shop would explain the high cost of some of his monthly expense reports.

TANIA: He has expense reports?

DAVID: Yes. And some of them are quite high.

TANIA: Aren’t they itemized?

DAVID: Yes. And he submits receipts as well. He’s very thorough. But I never look at them.

TANIA: You should pay more attention to his monthly expense reports.

DAVID: I know. But I have this image in my head of this extravagant fellow, me, that hires a chef to make pancake pillows, and a waiter to replace, refresh, and change the pancake pillows, and their boss, this extravagant fellow, again me, I picture him sitting behind a big desk so busy that he barely has time to sign all the documents placed before him, let alone review them.

TANIA: Since you’re not looking at the monthly expense reports, I’m going to hire Thomas Keller to be the pancake chef in our employ.

DAVID: I don’t know how I could say no to that, or even know that you hired him. I might balk at the number for monthly household expenses, but I wouldn’t have time to investigate, so busy am I signing documents and hanging up on people. Maybe if I ran into him in the kitchen? “Oh! Thomas!” Not sure what reason I would have to go into the kitchen, though.

BECKETT: Can someone just plaze scratch my bobo.

TANIA: Your bobo?

BECKETT: Yes, my baba.

DAVID: Is it a bobo or a baba? 

BECKETT: David. Plaze. 

DAVID: Well, which is it? 

BECKETT: … boba.

TANIA: What is he talking about?

DAVID: His ding ding.

TANIA: It’s a bobo now? 

DAVID: I have no idea. 

BECKETT: Yeah, you know, ding ding, bobo, baba—just skwatch it!

DAVID (scratching Beckett’s ding ding): What would happen in the event that the waiter was sick?

TANIA: Or the chef was sick?

DAVID: Or the waiter and the chef were both sick? 


We had to cross through the park to get to the museum. It was a little breezy for sky writing. I think it said, "[HEART] SNOT," before the wind blew it away. 
You know those tourists who walk around with a video camera continually recording? When do they watch that footage and what do they do with it? Do they put it in their food blog like I did with this lovely photo of Tania strolling through the park? No, they do not, because they eat whales.
And here's a picture of me strolling through the park with a tummy full of wieners.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Big Sur Bakery

"See the LSD in CLOSED and the whole world will OPEN." 
—Eric Nevada, healer, shaman, psychedelic researcher
The hostess led the gallerist and her husband to a table in the back room of the Big Sur Bakery. It was a very small table in the very back of the restaurant. The gallerist took an immediate dislike to her accommodations and began casting about for alternatives.

“Can we have this table?” the gallerist asked, pointing to a large table set for four.

Susan Feniger (right) all agog.
The gallerist looked sort of like one half of the Two Tamales, those white women that cook Mexican food at The Border Grill. She looked like the shorter one with the glasses. The one that always has her mouth wide open roaring with laughter. I think the Border Grill lady with the glasses looks like a Muppet. When Muppets make appearances on cooking shows they’re absolutely amazed and all agog all the time. The gallerist, however, was not all agog. She was all a-mad. And, in that sense, she bore a semblance to Howard Stern. Very stern. If Howard Stern had grey hair. She’s a gallerist because Tania thought she looked like a gallerist from New York. “All gallerists look like that,” Tania said. She looked rich. And pissed off, as many rich people tend to look. Entitlement. 

Elmo, all agog.
“I’m sorry,” the hostess said, “we have a reservation for four arriving.”

The gallerist and her husband grudgingly sat down at the small table they were originally intended for. The gallerist made stank face and continued to grumble after the hostess gracefully departed.

“It’s so dark in here,” the gallerist complained. She scanned the restaurant for another alternative. Huff, huff, huff. The entire restaurant was evenly illuminated, but the gallerist had determined that her corner failed to benefit from the dim luminosity that bathed the other tables. She stood up, despite her husband’s protests.

“You stay here,” she commanded. “Stay.” Like a dog. 

Tania, not all a-mad at the Big Sur Bakery.
Lamb. I eat lamb. And thus I ate this lamb with my face.
The gallerist went to the front of the restaurant and had a short discussion with the hostess. When she returned she told her husband that she hadn’t caused a fuss. “I just said that we’re not sitting in this room on Friday night,” she said. The gallerist had apparently made reservations with friends for another dinner on Friday night. And apparently they’re not going to be messing around with tiny tables in dark corners come Friday night, nuh-uh, no way. The gallerist insisted to her husband that she didn’t complain to the hostess. She merely told the hostess that this dark table in the back corner just won’t do for Friday night, but they’ll tolerate the small dark table tonight, just this one time. It’s okay, we don’t want to cause a fuss. We’re not like that. We’re civilized. But we do hate this table you’ve seated us in so very much. 

This photo was taken purely for memory purposes because this shit was good. With white wine, my words are "flinty," and/or "mineraly." I've recently learned that my words for red wine are "fruity" and "jammy." I have a hard time with the latter because "jammies," as in "pajamas," is on my list of "Words I Hate."
And it worked. The hostess returned with the manager and the two of them, smiling, offered the sophisticated gallerist from New York City and her glum little husband the table that was intended for four. They sat down at their new, larger, brighter table. The gallerist thanked everyone involved and claimed to be much happier. Though she remained pissed off.

Upon our return from Big Sur we received the new Food & Wine magazine which features an article with Susan Feniger in it. No matter where she is in the photo, her mouth is wide open and she appears to be roaring with laughter. Even in profile when she has no idea someone is taking a picture of her. Does she sleep like that too? She must be very healthy, if what they say in those laughing yoga classes is true.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Bloomsday, Part Two

In "Part One" we attended the Bloomsday celebration at the Hammer Museum and our French restaurant pens, Joel Rubochon (Joe) and Le Bernardin (Bernie), got trashed on Guinness. Lightweights. You know Guinness has less alcohol than most beers, right? I'm baffled by people who don't know this. It's darker, yes, but that does not make it stronger. It's an easy drinking breakfast beer. But these dumbfucks were pounding it. And of course they got wasted and then they had a tussle.

As aforementioned, when we arrived, guests were taking turns reading from the "Wandering Rocks" chapter of Ulysses. Printouts of the chapter were available. We scored one. At the time I didn’t consider it a “score,” but after being asked by every crazy old person in the courtyard where I got it, I realized I had a rare document in my possession. And it ended up being the backdrop for Joe and Bernie’s fight. I couldn’t even follow along because these dudes were going at it amid the “Wandering Rocks.”

We're not sure how it started, but earlier in the day we heard Bernie challenging Joe's assertion that he is related to one of the pens Joyce used to write Ulysses. Bernie called "bullshit" on that, and we think that may have risen to the surface with the help of all the alcohol in their systems. We were all just sitting there quietly enjoying the reading when these two started cussing at each other in French. I'm not sure what they're saying, and even when you translate French curses they never make any sense. Like, what is that? "Nine ashtray ducks" or something? We didn't need a translator to know they were pissed, though.
Of course it was Joe who fired the first shot. He got out his bow and arrow and let one fly. Like, a bow and arrow, really?
Bernie wasn't as drunk as I thought he was because he was somehow able to erect a shield at the last second and deflect Joe's  poison arrow. It wasn't poisoned when he let it fly. In transit he added some poison to the tip.
Bernie retaliated by dropping down a couple lines and reached out and grabbed Joe's "ankles" and tripped him up.
That really pissed Joe off. Joe has a really bad temper. And if you ignite it, as Bernie did, well, Joe will open a big can of Whoop Ass for you.
Inside Joe's can of Whoop Ass was a giant boot which he delivered to Bernie's head. He said it as he kicked Bernie, he said, "BOOT TO THE HEAD!"
Bernie returned fire. He produced one of his favorite chef knives and took a swipe at Joe.
"So you want to play with knives, eh?" Joe said. "Well try this on for size!" It was when Joe erected the guillotine that we stepped in and broke it up. What is it with the French and guillotines? Anyway, we separated them, took away their Guinness, and gave them each a slice of Wolfgang Puck corned beef and cabbage pizza. Which is, of course, a classic Irish dish, found all over the Irish countryside.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bloomsday, Part One

During the reading of the "Aeolus" chapter inside the Hammer, the actors sat down while they played a rare recording of James Joyce reading the speech that appears in the middle.
When the Sweet Set started playing their Irish music, the Green Beret got pissed and put in earplugs. I swear I overheard him yelling at his wife that it was too loud and that they had to leave, but no sooner had he said it, he started dancing a jig right there in the Guinness line. Tania and I later surmised that, like most old people, he just looks pissed off all the time. Or, more likely, perhaps he had been stricken by one of those faerie spells that makes one dance uncontrollably and without seize until the afflicted dies of exhaustion. “But besides all his fine Irish music,” it says in the Irish fairy tale “The Young Piper,” “he had one queer tune of his own, the oddest that ever was heard; for the moment he began to play it everything in the house seemed disposed to dance.” If I had that faerie disease, I too would be pissed off when anyone started strummin’ a violin. But then I’d also take care to avoid any event that was even slightly Irish. Like, I don’t know, a James Joyce Bloomsday celebration? Idiot.

Our anniversary was Saturday, June 16, which is also Bloomsday. It’s the day Tania and I first started “hanging out,” and, coincidentally, Joyce chose the day June 16, 1904 for Ulysses because it was the day he and Nora first “stepped out.” I’m not sure what “stepping out” entails (Joe Jackson song withstanding). Given the Irish attitudes toward sex, I would imagine it means they stood near each other in public? But then considering what we know about Joyce, perhaps it’s code for “shitting on my face?” To celebrate our anniversary this year, we visited the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and attended their fourth annual Bloomsday celebration. There was another celebration on the other side of town that entailed reading the entire 700+ page book in one sitting. “The ambitious can join others at Machine Project for a Ulysses silent read-a-thon. Literary buffs will attempt to speed read the several hundred page novel, one chapter each hour.” I really wanted to drop by and see the assholes that attended that one. Silent! There was surely going to be a lot of pay-attention-to-me chuckling, and, while it’s not a competition, you know someone is going to slam the book closed and proudly proclaim, “DONE!” No, we chose the Hammer where there was no work involved and the promise of Guinness, crappy fake Irish music, and a performance of the Aeolus chapter. For free.

We brought the Joel Rubochon and the Le Bernardin pens along. (Tania has taken to calling them Joe and Bernie.) As it turns out, Joe—who is of course French—claims he is related to one of the pens Joyce used to write Ulysses while living in Paris. I can’t substantiate this, but Joe has insisted it’s true and thus he considers one of the greatest works of modern literature “family.” I think he’s full of shit, but I like Joe, so we brought him and his friend Bernie to the Hammer with us. Which, we later learned, was a bad idea. (The rest of this post will be handled with captions.)

When we arrived, people were reading from the "Wandering Rocks" chapter of Ulysses from the podium in the courtyard. Note the woman in black reading in the background. She approached us later and asked if we wanted to read. Tania was bummed I declined. "You could have done it in black metal voice," she said. Which really wouldn't have been that out of place because nearly everyone that read either adopted their serious "I'M READING FUCKING POETRY" voice, or their "I'm reading a children's story to a child" voice. Men chose the former, women the latter. In the foreground, you'll note the crazy old man with the hat on. (Remember the hat.) I'm not sure what he wanted from the man in the blue shirt (an organizer), but it was crazy and it exasperated the man in blue. As you can see, he appears to be saying, "Sir—Sir? I understand, but, no, you cannot read your story—I'm sure it's wonderful, but this is not an open mic."
An overview of the scene in the courtyard: old people being read to. "What'd you do on Saturday night?" "Oh, we sat quietly in a museum courtyard with a bunch of senior citizens and listened to people read books."
Here's the Green Beret. You'll note that he's dressed in green and his beret is covered with giant green sequins. I was half expecting someone to be dressed up as James Joyce, but there were no costumes at all. The Green Beret and his wife were the only two who wore anything remotely Irish and festive. He's dancing in this picture, by the way. Like I said, he just kind of looked mad all the time.  
The Sweet Set playing their crappy fake Irish music. They might have really been Irish, I don't know.
And of course while this was all going on we were drinking Guinness. Or I was. And Joe and Bernie were sharing a pint as well. Tania hates the stuff. Earlier in the week I had asked her to pick some up at the store so I could pre-party. "How much of that swill does one really need to have at home?" she said. "If you are really hankering for it, I can pour a flat rootbeer into some cold coffee for you." 
Joe and Bernie started getting trashed on Guinness. I noticed it when they started getting all lovey dovey. "I love you, maaaan." Or, actually, I guess they would say, "Je t'aaaaaime." I was like, "Really?" Apparently they don't drink much.
Speaking of "Really?" this is Tania rolling her eyes at me because I'm taking pictures of French pens in Irish beer.
Paddington Bear was there. Tania noted that Paddington Bear was wearing very expensive Coco Chanel shoes.

The "Aeuolus" chapter takes place in the offices of the Evening Telegraph, a Dublin newspaper. This is a print they had on an easel of the front page of the Evening Telegraph from June 16, 1904. Joyce references ads and whatnot from it often throughout the book.
More like an abode of piss and two jets of hot shit shooting down your pant legs.
When they each started chugging their own pints, that's when things started to get ugly.
Not as ugly as this, though. This is the bathroom off the courtyard. That is an adult diaper on the floor in a large puddle of urine. The image in my head is of an old man with his pants around his ankles and they're flooded to the brim with piss. He fishes the diaper out and then bails his pants with his cupped hands. When I described the scene to Tania she said, "I'm surprised there was only one diaper on the floor. Look at this crowd."
We could see our friend Pearl Hsiung's art on the floor above the Sweet Set playing. 
Me, Joe, and Bernie were pretty drunk when the performance started and, frankly, I was trying to find a way to get out. "No more seats? Oh well, let's go to the bar." It was PACKED. Just then someone offered us two seats in the second row. "Yeah, some old man was saving them for his friends or something, but he hasn't been back." It was the crazy man with the hat above and he had saved dozens of seats all around the auditorium for his imaginary friends. He was bummed that all his seats had been given away. Presumably because his imaginary friends had to sit on the floor? And, yes, that's his luggage in front of the stage with his hat on it. Everything in its right place. Because the chapter they read takes place in a newspaper office, Joyce broke up the narrative with newspaper headlines which get more and more ridiculous as the story unfolds. "K.M.A.," for instance, stands for, "Kiss My Ass." That was the only time the four children in front of us laughed. I actually enjoyed the performance and I will likely go back next year.
Since it was our anniversary, we decided to treat ourselves to a dinner at Bouchon. I know Tania really likes the tiles at Bouchon, but I didn't think I was drunk enough to be taking stupid pictures of tiles.
Bernie was wasted. He was talking all kinds of shit about Thomas Keller, "Fuuuuck Penn and Tellerrrrrr," and then he passed out in my steak.
Tania often uses the "special occasion" button on the reservation system she uses. Which is funny wen she doesn't tell me. "Happy anniversary!" Huh? Oh. I mean, yeah, thank you. Except this time it really was our anniversary. So that free desert is totally deserved. And that's Dullahan the horse. Dullahan was one of the horses in the Triple Crown. Tania thought it sounded like a derogatory term for a stupid person. "That guy's a real Dullahan!" So she's taken to drawing this retarded cross-eyed horse all over the place. She must have used a pen other than Joe or Bernie because those dudes were fucked up. As you'll see in part two of this story.