Heroes Of The Week!

How HBO's 'Watchmen' Captures the Spirit of the Graphic Novel | The Mary Sue

Welcome to the intersection of Friday and good times, as we get ready to raise the roof with yet another roster full of mostly good, with just a touch of grumble. The former allows us the inspiration that is oftentimes found in the most hard to reach places. The latter provides us the necessary perspective by letting us know that the journey has obstacles, but that they won’t alter our destination. Not one bit.

And now to the lineup . . .

Chick-Fil-A manager speeds up drive-thru vaccine line in South Carolina

First up is yet another front line worker who was called upon to serve, and rose so far above the occasion, the FAA should’ve been called in. A vaccination program being conducted at Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant, S.C. ran into computer issues, resulting in massive delays to their line. So Mayor Will Haynie called in a guy who knows how to work lines like nobody’s business. His name is Jerry Walkowiak and he’s the manager at the local Chick-fil-A. He was able to cut the wait time from one hour to fifteen minutes.

“He actually got there before I did,” Haynie says. “He was standing there. He was moving people along.”

That’s what’s called thinking outside the Styrofoam box.

Hockey game breaks out after 40-car pileup outside Montreal

Dale from A Dalectable Life has solved the riddle with this next story. You know why Canadians are renowned for their world famous ‘nice’ gene? Because you can’t spell nice without the ice. And so what do a bunch of motorists do when they’re stuck in traffic on Highway 40 outside of Montreal? They start a pickup hockey game, of course!

A 75 car pile-up closed the road for several hours, so rather than sit on their hands and listen to Welcome to the Jungle twenty seven times, they took to the ice and dropped puck. With nowhere to go and all day to get there, these peeps made a stretch of frozen road their own personal Montreal Forum (Sorry, but it’s always going to be the Forum to this American).

Let this be a lesson to you, kids. When life hands you lemons, grab your hockey sticks and play.

Juliana Carlos aka Courtside Karen Calls LeBron a P*ssy, Says She's 25 and Not a Gold Digger Even Though Her Husband is 60+ | BlackSportsOnline

We head back to the Association for this classic, and nope, it’s not Kyrie again. This next story involves Juliana Carlos. You might be asking who? And you’re not alone. I’m STILL wondering who in the hell this woman is and I READ the article. She’s a pseudo-curiosity who appears on Real Housewives of Atlanta, and really, can someone please explain to me what purpose these shows have? I mean, other than keeping P.F. Chang’s in business?

So Ms. Carlos and her husband started hurling obscenities at Lebron James when the Lakers were in town this week and that right there is her claim to fame; being included in the same sentence with Lebron James. To her credit, Carlos has since apologized. Like, a real deal apology where she owned her shit. But since I wasted thirty seconds of my life reading this article, I figure you guys can too.

Stacy Milrany and her Little Free Art Gallery.

Thank God for art, and artists. Without which, the world would be a monochromatic wasteland befitting Orwell’s worst nightmares. Stacy Milrany is proof of God’s existence, in loving color. The Seattle artist has taken to gifting her neighborhood of Queen Anne with a miniature art gallery. Her first “show” was in December, with a painting she titled “Cat Hair”.

The idea was inspired by the Little Free Library, which offers book-sharing boxes. Milrany’s gallery is also an interactive sharing space where people from the neighborhood can connect. She says the idea was born out of a need to fill the void left by a pandemic. Neighbors are encouraged to take art if it speaks to them, which they have done. Others have left art, even though it is not a requirement to do so. In a month’s time, more than 100 works of art have gone on display.

One of Milrany's own pieces, titled "MLK," featured in her mini art gallery on MLK Day.

“It makes me feel like I’m helping in some kind of way, especially at a time when loneliness multiplied in the past year because of the pandemic,” Milrany says. “It’s getting people to go out to see what their neighbors are contributing, and people who put their own artwork that gets claimed know somebody has enjoyed their little masterpiece.”

Van Gogh believed that great things are accomplished when small things are brought together. There’s a neighborhood in Seattle that’s proving him right.

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I’m icing the top of this too cool for school cake with Katalin Karikó. And if you don’t recognize the name- I didn’t- it might be time to read up. Because it’s in thanks to the dogged persistence of this biochemist that there is a COVID-19 vaccine.

When Karikó arrived in this country, she had $1,200 to her name. As with so many immigrants, she also had a dream. It was the kind of dream that only gets to stepping once you roll up your sleeves and put in the time to achieve it. Brilliance is nothing without persistence, and when you add compassion to that mix, well, that’s where people like Karikó come from.

She spent decades developing mRNA and RNA technologies that have become the foundation for countless life saving treatments. As a result she’s received more than 12,000 academic citations.  But this senior vice-president of  the German pharmaceutical giant BioNTech didn’t get to regale in a cupcake party procession to get to this day.

In the mid-eighties, she transferred to Penn University to continue her research. It should have been the next big step in her journey but instead it became a period fraught with so many obstacles that she began to doubt herself. The research she had made her life’s work was considered too risky, resulting in one failed grant application after another. She spent ten years trying to break through that wall and her reward? She was demoted. Shortly after the demotion she was diagnosed with cancer.

Things began to take a turn when she found a kindred soul in Drew Weissman and she was finally able to receive a patent for her mRNA technology in 2012. After butting heads some more with the suits at Penn, she took a job with BioNTech, For all her brilliance, persistence and compassion, she might have a Nobel Prize waiting for her at the end of all this but she’s not content to celebrate until the pandemic goes rearview. And so this is the part of the story where yours truly is going to editorialize just a tad bit by pointing out that the vaccine for COVID-19 was brought to market by immigrants. Immigrants whose allegiance is not to any one country, but to the world.

What a concept.

 

 

 

 

 

The Rushmore Series: Dreaming on Mars

Perhaps the biggest lie rock and roll ever told us was that we were going to live forever. We never bothered to read the fine print on all those interplanetary fever dreams we were getting high on back in the eighties, because they were prescribed by modern day Gods whose mortality was a matter of personal irresponsibility. The way we saw it, as long as we didn’t veer too far outside the lines, the music was going to save us in the end.

Alan, the mysteriously private high school senior who lived three floors up from us in Howard Beach was testament to this. A studious kid, he always had a curious grimace that made him look as if he were trying to refute Einstein’s theory of relativity. He never engaged in small talk because he didn’t follow sports or listen to music. At all. Alan stood out, even in a neighborhood like mine. All those whispers went loud after Alan walked up to the roof one day in the middle of winter, balanced himself on the ledge, and jumped.

“I knew something was wrong with that guy . . ” Said my friend Danny. ” . . he didn’t even know who Van Halen was,”

Life could be a tragic fucking picture, so thank God there was Bowie. Because while I wasn’t aware that he wore those funky costumes because he was painfully shy, I knew it spoke to vulnerabilities. I related to the meaning of lyrics I didn’t fully understand yet because all that really mattered was the soul he shared.

Bowie scored all his number one hits within a ten year period from the mid seventies through the mid eighties. But his music career, which spanned six decades, possessed a reach well beyond those framed vinyl prizes. He provided rocket boosters to the punk music era and delivered up transcendent brilliance from his earliest days to his final ones.

By the mid eighties, I was under this influence and Forest Hills was a place I was getting to know a little more intimately thanks to a girl who was out of my league. If you lived in Howard Beach, there was a good chance your father worked in sanitation or construction, that luxury home was underwritten by nefarious means and he had a lawyer on retainer. If you lived in Forest Hills, there was a good chance your father worked in lower Manhattan, that luxury home was underwritten by nefarious means and he was that lawyer.

So when the girl from Forest Hills kicked me to the curb, I drove home in the middle of the night to lick my wounds. Which meant a bottle of something friendly, a pack of smokes and Bowie. My parents had gone to the shore with my little sister, so I fired up my turntable, stuck the needle in Hunky Dory and I pumped up the volume. And then I let the words deliver me to somewhere else.

I awoke at the crack of noon to the rotary phone kicking up a storm.

“It’s about fucking time you answered your phone. Come pick me up, I gotta get outta the house or I’m gonna kill my fatha!”

Shereen stood all of five foot two, with enough hairspray in her platinum blond hair to lay waste to the ozone. Every other word out of her mouth was fuck, and the other words . . not so great either.

“Bring that bottle I gave you . . .”

“I drank it,” I confessed.

“What the fuck? Well you’re getting me more, and I need cigarettes too. And do you mind if I hang out there tonight?”

As far as my love life was concerned, class was out of session and madness was prevailing upon me as she ministered to my angst most abundantly with words that shouted away my darkness. And when I read between her lines, it promised moonlight.

Serious moonlight.

(The femme side of Rushmore is getting unveiled over at A Dalectable Life, so do yourself a favor and go read up on that flava.)

 

The Rushmore Series: The King of Pop

I remember being on the phone with my pal David Miller as we mourned the loss of John Lennon one night in early December of 1980. The legendary singer/songwriter had been assassinated outside the Dakota, and it went against the unnatural order of society to my way of thinking. Musicians were meant to pass too soon thanks to bad trips or hedonistic entanglements with pills, but not this. Assassinations were the kind of thing that happened to world leaders and mob bosses.

“The music died, man . . the music is dead,” His voice trailed off as we were left to imagine a world where this kind of shit was possible. How could music, that thing we held onto for dear lives as we tried figuring out the world around us, survive?

Sure it had happened before. There was that story about a group of Hell’s Angels who had plotted to murder Mick Jagger. And Bob Marley did get shot before taking part in a benefit concert four years earler. But the former had been a business dealing gone wrong and the latter was political in nature. John Lennon’s politics consisted of making love over war and staying naked for days on end, but that’s what rock stars did. No, John Lennon was shot simply because he was John fucking Lennon, which was akin to adding kerosene to ambrosia.

I grew up in Howard Beach, New York, where guns and assassinations went with the territory. I thought the place was the center of the universe for good reason. John Gotti and his associates were the soldiers of our Roman Empire in suburbia. Where else could you run into a guy like that while waiting in line at a bakery? Or find tennis great Vitas Gerulitis working on his game at Charles Park? The boxer Vito Antuefermo was born and raised there. Joey Ramone lived there, as did Woody and Arlo Guthrie and music producer DJ Skribble and New York Giants linebacker George Martin.

David Miller was from Forest Hills, which felt like the other side of the moon to a boy like me. Lennon and the Beatles were one of the few things we agreed on. We argued politics and history, food and drugs and art and girls and of course, music. Perhaps nothing pissed him off more than my contention that Michael Jackson was changing the face of music as we knew it.

His professional opinion was to say “No fucking way, not a chance . .”. And I took this provocative rebuttal in stride, seeing as how this was the same guy who shaved his eyebrows after going to see Pink Floyd the movie. My musical fixes ran the gamut and so I wasn’t looking for agreement. From Deep Purple, Rush, Queen, Black Sabbath and Bowie to the Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and N.W.A., I just wanted to plug into something that moved me.

Michael Jackson was different in that he was a Billboard pop star who deviated from my norm, and it didn’t matter because the sound worked. Holy shit how it worked. He was an odd misfit and he was outrageously talented and all I knew was that the stuff he was doing then . . it was going to stick around long after I was done cruising Cross Bay Boulevard.

Calling Michael Jackson a singer was like saying Jackie Robinson was a second baseman. It was much too simplistic a term for a mercurial talent that redefined history. He was polarizing, secretive and with time he became a modern day horror story we couldn’t look away from, as much as we wanted to. But to cancel out what he did inside arguably the greatest decade in the history of music (my humble opinion) is kind of like saying that Michelangelo never existed. You can’t do it.

From his iconic moonwalk to his transformation of the video music standard to his funky get ups to his mythical reputation for the absurd, Jackson was equal parts entertainer and phenomenon. His appeal was transcendent, his reach undeniable. People who loved him couldn’t stop talking about him and people who couldn’t stand the guy, they couldn’t stop talking about him either.

By the mid eighties, Lennon’s death hadn’t signaled the end of the music, but rather, a brash new beginning whose might is still felt today. And deep inside that complicated time of nuclear fears and a new economy and music that colored outside of every imaginable line there came to us a sound unlike anything we’d heard before, or since.

All dressed up with somewhere to go.

(I don’t expect you to watch a fourteen minute music video, but I think it speaks to how Jackson turned the industry on its head. Who tells music executives, “I’m going to make a short movie when everyone else is putting out three minute videos. And you’ll fit the bill,”. He did.

I do expect you to visit Dale over at A Dalectable Life, whose dishing up her first choice for Rushmore.)

The Rushmore Series

Now that Rushmore is safe from COVID-19 parties disguised as political rallies, Imma time share the national monument for a classic barstool debate. Nope, not the one about who the greatest basketball player of all time is (It’s Michael Jordan). Or the one about who the greatest football player of all time is (It’s Jim Brown). Or even the one about the greatest baseball player (Willie Mays). And before you ask . . yes, Wayne Gretzky . . of course!

What’s coming up next weekend is all about the music. It will be a four part series in which I will feature one musical artist a week to round out my Rushmore. Music is the soundtrack of our lives, and as such, the list is an entirely subjective endeavor. I’ll be choosing up male artists while the lovely Dale (Notorious Q) at A Dalectable Life will round up her top four female artists for Rushmore.

In order to gain the necessary reduction, we had to cut the lyrical fat by adding a few qualifiers. Because while fat most certainly means flavor, it also makes it damn near impossible to pare it down to four. So there’s that.

The Rushmore Rules . . .

1- The artist must have written their own songs
2- We’re only including artists from the last fifty years for this exercise
3- Influence that keeps on keeping on
4- Stage presence

If you’re wondering about the last fifty years rule, it’s either that or going back hundreds of years to the time of the classical composers. With only four spots on the mountain, it was best to keep things relatively current.

Welp, that about covers the what’s what of this Rushmore series. Next weekend will thus begin the big reveal with the first of our four faces of Rushmore. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you will probably even disagree.

How fun is that?

Alaska! Hello! (A Prompt Challenge)

Karen Craven over at Table for One issued a prompt challenge for me and Dale of A Dalectable Life. The whole thing was based on snippets of an overheard conversation, because writers are pacifistic spies at heart and we ain’t afraid to admit it. Karen’s prompt post can be found here. I tucked this snippet turned prompt into the block quote that begins with Thank you Andrew. 

I’m just thankful prompts are graded on a lenient curve, because man did I veer. Imma blame it on Larry King and a tee-totaling weekend.

Vegas odds could not have talked me into this shit. Me, ending up in a musty old bunker in Battle Creek, Michigan at the end of the world. The writer in me must admit the locale is Napoleon fucking Bonaparte perfect, I mean . . as far as irony goes. As far as yours truly is concerned? This bunker is a cosmic middle finger to every Goddamn day I’ve been on this earth, all 19,072 of ’em. That’s a lot of middle fingers, and I would trade every single one of them for a single thumb so’s I could hitchhike to any other planet in the universe right about now.

The first nukes hit the major cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia. Everything in and around those places went Edvard Munch, and the rest of time came calling on all the other places in between with loud, shaking fists. In two days, I made it as far as here. Along the way I bogarted a bottle of Woodford Reserve, a Ziploc bag of Xanax, a ’78 El Camino and then a late model Jeep Liberty whose good graces saved me from Cleveland.

When the Jeep ran out of gas, I schlepped for miles until I came upon a residential hive of American made dreams that seem as useful as nursery rhymes now. I found a rancher with NRA stickers in the windows and guessed right on the fallout shelter. The occupants were long gone, probably due North with dreams of building a kingdom in some middle of nowhere place that had zero appeal back when things were running smoothly and borders were meant to keep people out.

From the looks of it, this shelter was constructed during the rolling thunder of Cold War implications otherwise known as the eighties. Updated several times and in fine shape for just this sort of nightmarish scenario. But really, what are the chances this glorified soup can is gonna save my ass from gamma time? The truth is, Jesus ain’t walking through that door, and this clusterfuck is way above Superman’s pay grade.

On a positive note, the pantry was stocked and the generator worked. The bonus round was the TV and VCR. When a VCR feels like Christmas morning, that gives you a pretty good idea of how things are going.

The ham radio stopped working this morning. But not before I learned the nitty gritty about how the country had come apart at the seams with little chance of being sewn back together again. Death toll estimates run the gamut- anywhere from eight million to half the nation’s population. All I know is that I’ve seen a lot of ghost towns along the way. This morning’s transmission between Buck from East Lansing and Andrew from Cincinnati was akin to being on the deck of the Titanic after they ran out of lifeboats.

“Thank you Andrew. I’m not quite sure what you are hearing, but the real answer is, there is not a definitive answer yet. Alaska is working it and they are trying to salvage it.”

According to Buck- a National Guardsman whose intel seemed solid enough- the refuge in Anchorage had been overrun with people fleeing the left coast. Mass rioting ensued after which the ferries were lost and chaos turned Anchorage into a paradise lost.

I pop a Xanax, take a swig of my well worn bourbon and fire up the VCR. The former occupant owned the largest collection of Larry King videos in the world, I have to think. I pop in a tape that reads “Larry King: Alaska”, because why in the blessed fuck would I deny myself a macabre chuckle at this point?

“Alaska, Hello!”

“Hi Larry, this is Joel Fleischman from Cicely and I’m a big fan of your show . .”

It takes me a hot second to put it together. Joel Fleischman was a fictional doctor on a show called Northern Exposure.

Wait a minute! This guy was a prank caller? 

“What’s your question?” Larry barks with enough gravel in his voice to sell it wholesale to a construction company.

“Well it seems our local disc jockey here is planning to build a trebuchet in the hopes of tossing a cow . . .”

Fucking A right this is a prank call! If that ain’t top of the world with a Julie Newmar cherry velvet kiss on top of the last stand righteous! 

BOOM! 

The generator takes a shit and I light up some candles now. It looks like the world is fresh out of def-cons, which means it’s time to double down on my bottles of happy and get to stepping inside a galaxy far, far away. Here’s hoping whatever comes next has a welcome mat and fresh linens. A starched Martini and a Cohiba would be supreme, but I don’t want to be greedy.

I just wish the upstairs neighbors would’ve let Joel Fleischman from Cicely get to the piano punchline. But hey . . I got to spend my last night on earth in the home of a Robert Zemeckis character whose pursuits included prank calling the great Larry king and collecting every last artifact from the eighties.

I pop another Xanax and take a Vegas helping of bourbon and I hope like hell the bastard who called this place home made it somewhere better as I plug his Walkman into a Three Dog Night drip. But instead of chill, my bones are restless to the curiosities above.

“Fuck this shit!” I say as I grab my necessaries before breaking the seal on my tomb and climbing up into the early winter. It’s late July and a thick snowfall coats the ground as spearmint colored snowflakes float across a sunless sky. I walk down to a lake and loose a boat from its moorings while talking the outboard into going my way. When I make it to the middle, I kill the engine and sit back to ponder life’s great mysteries. Like, how did the fates allow Boston to win the last World Series ever played? And would Shakespeare have dated a Kardashian? And why was I so infatuated with my Fitbit? All I know for certain is I hope to hell I left the stove on this time.

I pop a couple more Xanax and finish the bourbon and then I settle into what’s left of not much at all. Just me and my thoughts and a rumbling sound from some place not so far away and getting closer. There’s nothing left to pray for and yanno, I’m glad. Because I got a peach song cooking, just for the occasion.

Timing really is everything.

Top Five Heroes Of The Week

Reading up on the news is like receiving a personalized greeting card from Nietzsche in that there’s a one hundred percent chance you are gonna be exposed to some truly depressing shit.

Unlike with old Friedrich, most of the news ain’t worth the time spent teasing the abyss of our very souls. Like, I’m trying to be sympathetic to the ‘worst year’ of Ariana Grande’s life . . but she’s like twelve . . so there’ll be better years ahead, okay? And when Trump Jr. says the socialists are gonna have us eating dogs, I feel as if the boy needs to go back to Finishing school. Then there’s the recent survey which reports that seventy seven percent of millennials would give up booze and forty four percent would give up sex for an entire year. In favor of Amazon. Which means that if Ian Dury had been a millennial, he would’ve penned one of the all time most forgettable songs of a generation.

So when the news gives you lemons, tell the news to go fuck itself. Which is what I did this morning when I culled five good feels stories from the dumpster fire of breaking bad news that predominates our frequencies. I am calling it my Top Five Heroes Of The Week. The order I have followed here is for the purpose of dramatic crescendo only, because all of these stories rocked my casba equally so.

That’s the problem with good news, it ain’t need headlines.

5- A Tyler Perry “Lay” Up: Lord knows I have panned this dude countless times for that whole unfunny Madea series of movies. But this thing he did recently, where he paid off more than four hundred and thirty thousand dollars in Christmas layaways? Is the reason for the season. Righteous!

4- The “Advent”ures of The Notorious Q: Her real name is Dale, and her blog, A Dalectable Life, is like a supper table where everyone is invited and the stories are always entertaining. She’s doing a series of Advent posts this month in which she ‘calls out’ a different blogger every day. Yule love it!

3- A Champion Off The Court Too: I figured the only person Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors had to listen to these days is his accountant. Turns out the two time MVP and three time NBA champion also listened to 9 year old Riley Morrison when she wrote to tell him that girls sizes in sneakers do matter. This is a sneaky great story from a really cool cat.

2- Home Is Where His Heart Is: What if you don’t have a big Under Armour deal like Curry? What if you have nothing at all, and you find $17,000 dollars? Kevin Booth answered that question when he found a bag full of cash that was just begging for the homeless thirty two year old to take it. Instead, he handed it over to a volunteer at the food bank he visited. I can’t pun this one, I got nothing.

1- A Lesson In Civility: I wouldn’t have blamed the Bush family for playing keep away with President Trump this week. The passing of their family patriarch, George H.W. Bush, was a time for family and friends; of which Trump is neither. Yes, he’s a sitting President, but he’s also a purveyor of pissed off rants, many of which have been directed at the Bush family.

No matter. Because sometimes, doing the right thing matters more than doing what is understandable and justified. The Bush family provided a much needed lesson in civility to a boss who doesn’t behave like a leader. And while it’s certain the lesson won’t stick with him, it sure does with me. Because sometimes, the best revenge is not wanting revenge at all.

Go in peace, look for the heroes.

Sorryless Sunday Morning

I am proclaiming this Sunday to be the intermezzo of my Woodstock series of posts. So in lieu of flower power, Imma post the first in a brand new series that will show up on the regular once I’m finished spilling on my three days of peace and music in the Catskills with the lovely Q.

I used to do a “Sunday Morning Coffee Love” post on my old blog. I don’t want to steal that title, so I came up with Sorryless Sunday Morning because it had a Lionel Richie groove to it. I may change up that title in future posts, but the vibe will remain the same.

Sorryless Sunday Morning posts will feature blog shout outs, quick hits on whatever is dancing in ‘me noggin and a music video that brings the requisite chill to my Sunday morning. I hope you enjoy.

  • My son’s first week of teaching is in the books and it frazzled him. He’s in that new teacher zone where he’s gonna have to learn his rhythm. As with anything else an individual does that is worth doing, he’ll figure it out. A shout out to Frank at A Frank Angle for dishing up some pieces he wrote on teaching for me to give to my son. Frank is a scholar and a gentleman, and I’m blessed to call him my blog neighbor.
  • Speaking of blessed, the lovely Q wrote a beautiful piece at A Dalectable Life about love and friendship- and how it endures. Later on, we had a rather involved discussion about writing and published works, to which I’ve been stewing on ever since. I feel sometimes that I am hopeless in my take on the matter, so her nudging means more than she will ever know.
  • As for published authors, John Howell at Fiction Favorites is back in the lineup after his surgery a couple weeks ago. He’s the Mike Trout of the blogosphere in that he comes to play (write) every single day, and he brings it. Whether he’s writing his weekly mystery series, a prompt challenge or his haiku . . he engages you with his wit and his clever wordplay. Blog life is always sweet when he’s in the room.
  • As far as good tunes go, tune into Tara’s sizzle over at Daisy Smiley Face if you’re looking to vibe on some musical goodness. Tara operates on the same wavelength as yours truly as far as her musical tastes go, but every once in a while she’ll introduce a singer or group I’ve not heard of. And it’s always a slam dunk.
  • And to round out my top five blog shout outs for this week, Imma mention a chica who tells terrific tales about tails. Monika at Tails Around the Ranch also speaks gardening and Colorado and hockey, fluently. And she just started up a new online business called Sam’s K9 Kreations, so make sure to check it out!

As for my quick hit thoughts? I gots a few . . . .

  • I’m cutting ties with Walking Dead after this coming season. Like the old Carole King song goes, the feeling has died (for me) and I just can’t hide, and I won’t fake it.
  • Urban Meyer has been exposed for the phony he is, but winning will prove to be the deodorant of his odorous tenure. So here’s hoping he gets a clue before someone else becomes a victim.
  • One of my favorite Clint Eastwood lines, in an endless sea of ’em . . .
  • Jacob DeGrom of the Mets probably ain’t winning the Cy Young, but I happen to think he’s the best pitcher going this season. And if I’m a Mets fan, I’m pissed that ownership is wasting his immense talent.
  • In response to the peeps who call him overpaid, Raiders coach Jon Gruden threw shade at Tom Cruise; basically saying that no one complains about how much Cruise makes in a movie. Well . .having just seen the latest installment of Mission Impossible, I can tell you that Cruise is the only thing that drew me to the franchise. And if I’m laying down money, Imma go with Cruise over Gruden . . every day, and yes, twice on Sunday.
  • Going to see Crazy Rich Asians with the girl. Yes, the rumors are true. I am all about the rom-com.
  • Going to see The Nun when it comes out in a couple weeks. And no, the rumors are not true. I will not be wearing diapers. I also won’t drink any beverages beforehand . . .
  • I don’t think peeps understand that impeachment does not mean the removal of the President.
  • Braciole, like my lechon, is a dish best served in variations. The stand alone opening night dish is pure gumba-licious. The next day sammy is slamming. And every day thereafter . . it’s the dish that keeps on giving.

Well, that’s a wrap for this Sunday. Be sure to tune in next week for my next installment in the Woodstock series. Have a wonderful Sunday, and an even better week.

Peace, love and music

Running the “Philly Special” in our Search for the perfect Cuban sandwich

 

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With apologies to W.C. Fields, it had to be Philadelphia.

Over the last several months, our search for the perfect Cubano saw me and Linds B make our way through a solidly righteous collection of foodie towns from Harrisburg and Reading to Lancaster and Elizabethtown. But when we decided it was high time to get back to it and finish this search, it had to be the biggest town in the commonwealth . . where football and food reign supreme.

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If you’re not from the state, you just don’t understand how unfair it is that Philly has been subject to typecasting more often than Will Smith (Shout out to West Philadelphia on that one . .). The real deal truth is that cheesesteaks are nothing more than a starting point. Because this town can hold its own with any city under the flag it made famous when it comes to offering up a wide array of culinary choices.

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Our first stop was Reading Terminal Market, where we ran into Joe Nicolosi, the head chef at DiNic’s Roast Pork. This city institution got some much deserved national cred when it was featured on an episode of Man vs. Food with Adam Richman, and shortly after that appearance it won the honor of “Best Sandwich in America”. (If you ain’t seen the MVF clip, you can find it here.) And so we had to go a few rounds with this heavyweight champion sammy: the roast pork with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe. After which I cursed the handsome devil who runs the kitchen for creating such a diabolically delicious piece of love that hurt so good and left us feeling as if maybe . . just maybe, our food run had peaked before the main event.

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After a quick Google search, we set our coordinates for Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar. It was a twenty minute walk to Old Town, during which time Linds and me talked about everything but sports. We strolled past Independence Hall, drank in the city sounds and made small talk with a cute little pixie by the name of Iris who dealt up some serious 411 on the ASPCA.

Cuba Libre

Finally . . we found ourselves in the clutches of sweet Libertad, and when we walked inside the place, it felt as if we’d navigated ninety miles worth of ocean trespass and had landed in the heart of old Habana. We were seated next to a staircase whose ascent might have leaned into stars of a long lost time when an island nation was the resort of choice for many Americans. The interior was an argumentative cascade of modern and classical architecture dressed in vibrant island colors.

And then it struck me as to what this little mission of ours had stood for from the get. Our search had been a humbly romantic nod to a time when patience and roots held sway and songs bred revolutions and islands swam on earnest tides. And so we kept to the charter by ordering up a couple of classic mojitos and El Cubano.

The open air setting worked backup to the pulsing beat of Latin classics that bounded off the walls while wicker fans provided a wonderfully percussive remedy for a couple of B-side travelers with the finish line in their sights. And then our server broke it all down with a plateful of artful prowess. Peels of crunchy plantain done up as if by Dali, with our perfect Cuban sammy selection doing the straight up salsa right in our faces.

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The Cuba Libre blueprint is an homage to where the Cubano first laid down roots in Ybor City, Florida: Sour orange marinated pork loin, Genoa salami, ham, provolone and Swiss with a yellow mustard-pickle relish. This rich and glorious past was brought to the present and pressed between a couple pieces of locally baked bread in such a way that the late, great Celia Cruz would’ve most certainly approved.

The Verdict

For the record? I’m pretty sad that our search has come to its conclusion because man . . . it was a time. Soooo, Imma take a moment before I give you the mostly predictable results.

Promised “Moment” . . .

Thank you for reading these installments. Really and truly . . thank you! We’ve made some great memories, had some great food and most of all we have enjoyed the feedback we have received on this via Facebook and WordPress, as well as our families and friends. And not to put one of those peeps on the spot, but Dale over at A Dalectable Life is gonna keep this tasty train going. You can check out her first installment here

I guess the only intrigue that remains is whether or not we gave Cuba Libre’s sammy a perfect score so here it is boys and girls . . .

The pork was succulent with tangy notes of decadence thrown in for good measure. The salami was a welcomed bit of spicy throwback to the original standard. The ham was sweet and savory, and the Swiss was a pelt of luscious melt with provolone rocking it in the new old fashioned way.  Even the yellow mustard-relish worked surprisingly well, helping to bring everything together. And when you press all these savory selections into a small boat of bread baked fresh in Philadelphia proper? It would seem a slam dunk certainty that we went all Bo Derek on this puppy.

Alas, we are notoriously tough graders and so we had to deduct for the provolone and the relish since they are newcomers, and thus . . . not original ingredients. But 9.5 out of 10 is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, it makes the Cuba Libre version our Search winner.

And it really did have to be Philadelphia. Because there’s a dignity that runs in stride with the brawny scrum of this town that gives it its unique flavor. From the moment you crash its gates, you understand the complicated history that goes into making anything that’s worth it.

So here’s to life, liberty and delicious pursuits.

There’s Something About Mary- A Prompt Challenge

Welcome to Sunday, and a brand spanking new prompt challenge entry we like to call “Word UP!”, on account of the fact this ain’t no ordinary prompt challenge.

Back in the day (a couple weeks ago) we used to host prompt challenges that involved a single word. And then the Irish Mafia (Karen Craven of Table For One) made the decision to expand the business. She joined forces with the Queen of the North (Dale Rogerson of A Dalectable Life) and the prompt challenge would never be the same.

Me? I’m just the intrepid reporter who was recruited by these lovely word bosses, and Imma do my damndest to keep up. Same goes for Frank of A Frank Angle, who shattered the last prompt challenge by delivering up all the words in half the count!

This particular prompt came about out of an email exchange I was having with Karen about water and Twinkies.There are eleven words involved; one for each commandment and a bonus power-ball word. They are as follows . . .

Jesus, holy water, drive-thru, twinkies, wine, dinosaurs, passion, busybody, clubhouse, cross, absolution

Posting this on Sunday just might make me a heathen, but I don’t think God is going to be scoring me based on a silly old post. Not when he has the likes of Pat Robertson and Joel Osteen to deal with. Those peeps best live it up on God’s dollar while they can, because if there is a judgement day to be had . . well, it ain’t gonna be pretty for ’em. Anyways . . here’s my story.

                                       There’s Something About Mary

Joe wanted absolution. Having his good name stapled to a cross ever since Conception-Gate, he figured it was time. Being the ‘earthly’ father to Jesus Christ came with more pitfalls than disputing the existence of dinosaurs at the Smithsonian.

The kid from Nazareth knew a thing or two about turning water into wine, having transformed his passion for carpentry into an online goliath. His marriage to the Virgin Mary- her rapper name- was holy water to the unwashed masses who loved their busybody news served up in drive-thru fashion, and they made news right out of the clubhouse.

Post-divorce, Joe lost the spotlight while Mary partied with Joan Osborne in the Hollywood Hills and Jesus sat court side at the Garden. Now, Joe was writing a tell-all pilot for Pontius Studios.

Joe always said life was like a box of Twinkies. The stories are tasty and the guilt immaculate.

Buttoned Up Man

If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for a prompt inspired post. Well . . it should have been posted last night but that’s neither here nor there, soooo . . . Tuesday morning it is homies!

The prompt for today’s post is “Buttoned Up”.  That trouble making lovely from Montreal way, Dale of A Dalectable Life and the Irish Mafia wild child from Chi town, Karen Craven, of Table For One were culprits in this here mayhem, so go blame them. But I warn you, stepping foot in their digs is habit forming. 

And now, as Ed Sullivan used to say . . let’s get on with this mofo! 

When you do a job, it’s quite straightforward.

You are presented with a biography, and you are asked to still its advent. There is no emotional presentation to be culled from the transaction of personal information, only the rubric of habits and patterns . . as well as any current fascinations which might prove either problematic or expeditious to the task at hand.

It’s like closing a real estate deal; you are transferring the deed from one realm to the next. It’s not your business to think about the next realm since it’s just a job; you simply refer to the calculations . . mathematical . . cold and straightforward with no mystery or intrigue attached to the equation.

So here I am, studying a person’s life out of a manila folder. Fifty eight years, seven months and thirteen days . . . presented in quadrants, which makes me think of that Godfather song about birth, school, work and death. Every parcel of information is important so I read it thoroughly. And then I peruse it again as I sit in my apartment and crank up some Verdi and open a bottle of Merlot in order to catch a buzz. I like to prosper the information from various states of mental acuity. Dulling the senses is simply a matter of slowing down the thought processes. The byproduct of such a strategy is to introduce another vantage point. I call it recon sourcing.

The wine is doing its unpretentious best to dismiss all serious thought, which is why I chose Verdi for my musical carpet ride. Depressing compositions allow me to remain linear when my brain is ready to salsa dance.

I call them numbers. He will be Number 28. A semi-retired contractor who is busy living the American dream. He owns three homes, a couple of successful businesses, a trophy wife almost half his age and a creamy side dish he keeps hidden in a posh condo in town.

The sonofabitch has no idea it’s all coming to an end.

It’s ten minutes to midnight, and in a little more than nine hours I’ll be waiting for him in the parking lot of the Silver Leaf Construction Company. He’ll make the scene a couple minutes before nine because he is never, ever late . . even when he should be. On Thursday mornings, he usually sleeps at the office- which happens to be located downtown, in that posh condo with the creamy side dish. So he’ll bring his candy crush- a cardinal red metallic Mercedes-Benz SL roadster. It percolates on a twin-turbo V12 whose drip is 621 horses. He opened this bad ass up on the Autobahn before having it shipped to the states. On this side of the pond, it opens up everything else so to his way of thinking it’s worth the price of admission.

So he’ll swing into the parking space two spots to the left of the double doors. There’s no nameplate on the parking space, but it’s understood who parks there, simple as that. And that’s when I’ll remove myself from a nondescript late model and make my way to the double doors, meeting him somewhere in between.

I practice my preach in front of the mirror, bringing my best Clint Eastwood out to play. The words I know by heart, it’s the tone I want to cleave into something sinister sounding. Because we’ll only share the space of a moment together before I end things, so I want to fetch the best possible reaction. It’s the little things.

Isn’t it amazing how three little words can change your life for the best and the worst? I chuckle at the thought as the clock strikes midnight before delivering the words that will end the life he knew.

“You’ve been served . . .”