Friday, July 29, 2005

Fake food in L.A.

Rodney Dangerfield: Bring this back to the chef and tell him this is low grade dog food. It's still got marks from where the jockey was hitting it.
Chef: (grabbing knife) Dogfood! I give him dogfood!!

I don't know if I have mentioned it before but I lived in the foreign land of surfers and actors for a while. The other day I started reminscing of my fond eating experiences and was reminded about the trials and tribulations that involved trying to find a good place to eat in L.A. It's similar to Chuch Norris trying to find a movie script without a fight scene.
A very close friend of mine decided to make a restaurant guide, for friends only, that was called the Birdseed. I took to staking my claim at his different suggestions like a pirate searching for gold. Since everyone knows that I am from New Orleans I have the distinct pleasure of trying every restaurant that has creole or cajun food listed among the items on the menu. I had to quantify whether the food was authentic or not. That's a big deal in L.A. where everything revolves around fake passing for real.

The first place I tried was called Aunt Kizzy's Back Porch. First off soul food is not cajun food or creole food. I like soul food almost as much as I like my New Orleans food, but it's not the same. When we pulled up to the restaurant, I suddenly had the distinct feeling as if we were being watched. As we entered the restaurant, the noise stopped, everyone stopped eating, even the waiters stopped their filling of the drinks to see in all the glory of the world what just walked in the door. 3 of the whitest college boys this side of Wyatts has ever seen.
"Wait'll Otis see's us. He loves us. Hey, my man Otis!" - -Animal House

We waited an hour in this restaurant that is predominantly accustomed to having one ethinicity eating at this establishment. Put it to you this way, when we sat down they had pictures on the wall of Harry Belfonte, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., Bill Cosby, and even Muhammed Ali all smiling at me. it felt as if every moment was being counted until we left and the place could return back to normalcy. I can't say that I was uncomfortable because growing up in the deep south I have been to places to eat where I was the only person of my race sitting at a table. But, as I looked into the fearful eyes of my fellow honky friends, they both showed signs that anytime was a good time to leave. I enjoyed the moment and took my time eating. The best thing we had to eat that night was the cornbread. I think I ate about a loaf of cornbread because my entree was horrendous. The food wasn't anything to brag about, my friend got sick from the pecan pie. Nothing racial, just not used to sweet foods. I on the other hand, relished the fact that their is no substitute for the food back home regardless of the name of the restaurant.

The second place I tried was a place called the Rajun' Cajun down in Hermosa Beach. It's not bad, they do have some dishes that are average but not authentic. The experience is nothing compared to Aunt Kizzie's, still decided give up trying to find anything close to creole or cajun food. There isn't. That's why if you want creole food come down to New Orleans; don't try to find it at some shiek Hollywood Wolfgang Puck restaurant. As for food advice in L.A., stick to what the locals cook best, Mexican. I love the Mexican food in L.A. If you ever get a chance hit up El Chollo restaurant, they make the best Margaritas in town. But then again, I'm not one to judge what's authentic.

Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles

What's in a name?

Growing up in a city with restaurants as diverse as they are ecclectic is great. Still, one can always get fooled by the name of a restaurant. Down here in Nawlins', the locals have come up with ingenius ways of naming their local eateries. Just today I met Mrs. Veritas for lunch down in the c.b.d. That's were she works, and I was just finishing my last day of summer school. Time to celebrate.

Upon deciding that we were going to eat lunch downtown their was a new level of complexity as we had to choose from a myriad of places to eat. This is were it gets interesting. Usually I am not one to finick over where we eat because in this great city that has little to offer economically there is so much to choose from as concerned with food. Sometimes Mrs. Veritas gets turned off by the name of the restaurants, but the truth is the name is only half of what you experience. Places down here have made a living off of naming their places with wild and crazy names. How many would want to eat at a placed called Mother Cluckers. Or go listen to music at the Funky Butt. This is only a sample of some of the great named restaurants. Mixed in between the fabled five star cuisines like Emeralds, Brennans, Arnauds, and Commanders there lies the places known for their local flavor and funny names. Today we ate at Nacho Mama's. It was great little Mexican catina, to likes of Baja Fresh but with a cajun flair. If you like your food mild, don't even walk through the door.

Then their are the classic named restaurants such as: Juan's Flying Burrito, Mother's, Bozo's, Dooky Chase, Fat Harry's, Igor's Buddha Belly Burger Bar and Washateria, Juan's Flying Bagel, Lucky's Retired Surfer Bar and Grill, Mother's Mustache, and on, and on it goes. It's crazy to think that you wouldn't want to try one of these places because they are pretty good when it comes to food.

I just love the food down here, and what makes it better is when you tell someone that you ate at Nacho Mama's, and the food is outa this world. I can't get over how many restaurants my fable city contains; over 1,000. The local food guides can't even list them all, not too mention their are so many family owned restaurants that are better than the five star joints in the quarter. Needless to say, I am on a mission to be try new restaurants whenever I get the chance. So many options, and so little time. I am constantly telling friends when they come to town, to try as many places as possible, you're not going to be disappointed when it comes to food down here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Party, Party, Party.

"Nobody drink the beer. The beer has gone bad." - Fred
"There's nothing wrong with the beer, man." - Mike Dexter
"Nevermind." - Fred (Can't Hardly Wait)

Last weekend I ended up going to a dinner party at my wife's boss' house. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Another one of those parties where everyone is not comfortable, so talk revolves around work. Still, I was going to make the best of the time spent because it's free food. What's not to like about that.

The party got off to a rousing start when I learned that one of my wife's fellow co-workers, Jude, who had been married for over 20 something years left his wife for another guy. Nothing wrong with that, other than it makes for some interesting conversation. His partner was also there, and they both went into full detail about their relationship and how Jude's wife has no issues with his new lifestyle. Great. So, now it gets interesting. Since Jude is new and still shy about the whole coming out experience, and his partner is openly flambouyant this led to fun times at the dinner table. Many of us were very supportive of his new lifestyle, but we were also eager to make him feel comfortable about discussing it in public.
Our host for the night were good partiers and filled everyone with plenty of drinks. I have never been a fan of after dinner drinks, but after we finished eating they pulled out over 10 different bottles of licuer. It was fun watching those individuals that are so tightly wound finally let their guard down to slip down a couple of shots.
"Just woof it down."
"Woof it down?"
"Yeah you know chug it... The whole thing." - Sixteen Candles restaurant scene
Well, needless to say our main event that night revolved around Jude downing over 10 different brands of licuer. To which no avail, he openly confessed some interesting information about his new relationship.
"My kid told me the other day that Mother's day is going to be a bitch."
"We just bought a new shower head off QVC and it's so powerful that I don't want to leave the shower." His partner replied, "Neither do I."
The best one of the night, "When I told my wife I was gay, she said that she wanted to met my partner. So I told her that she could met him on Sunday at church, that way if she killed me they wouldn't have to go far to bury my ass."

The whole night was filled with these raunchy off-color jokes. Which reminded me of my days back in L.A. when I worked at a television station as a producer. There was a guy who worked in the graphics department who was openly gay. He used to hit on me all the time. It was not a flattering thing because he hit on everyone. Still, a constant barage of flirtations came my way until I told him to stop one day. He then proclaimed that I was homophobic. Me a homophob!!! It was like I couldn't win. My boss came up to me one day and asked that I try and be more sensitive about his sexual preferences. So, the next time this guy comes into work he starts up with me again. It was then that I unleashed a healthy dose of wisecracks right back at him. I kept thinking he is going to report my ass to my boss and it's all over. Instead he laughed. This changed the whole complexion of our relationship. We started to talk more and it was never demeaning to each other. On my last day, he cried and gave me a hug goodbye. I told him to stop being a sissy boy. We laughed for a moment, little did I know that would be the last time I ever would see him again. He was a funny friend. Not a funny gay friend. But a funny friend.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Come here you fury little vermon

Groundskeeper: Carl, I want you to go out and kill all da' golphers."
Carl: But if I kill all da' golfers they gonna lock me up and throw away the key.
Groundskeeper: Not the golfers but the golphers, the fury little vermonts.
Carl: It's not my fault no one can understand you, crazy foreigner.

There's a rabbit on the loose in my neighborhood, and it's driving my neighbors into a frenzy. It's quite hysterical becuase this is the most action this neighborhood has seen in a long time since the invasion of the mosquito. Still, it seems like everytime I see one of next door neighbors they always ask me, "Have you seen the bunny today?"

It feels like we are at the zoo and the damn white tiger won't come out of his cave, and when he does everyone "ohhhs and uhhhhs" over the damn thing as it pisses and sleeps on a rock in the sun.

The bunny is actually owned by the lazy ass' who live cata-counter to my house. Down here in the south everything is cata-corner, other places it's kitty-corner. Which is another messed up word for diagonal. Just sounds funnier. Anyways after refuted attempts by myself and others to get them to take care of the rabbit, it has gone unfettered and now is considered a wild rabbit.
Now my neighbor Dave, who lives two houses down, has a brown lab who goes nuts chasing the damn thing around. This creates quite a funny spectacle on a hot humid afternoon. Still, the best laid plains are kept secret. I have gone into underground discussion with Dave to do a catch and release. Although he doesn't want to release the rabbit, unless it's into a boiling pot of water for stew. (They eat anything around here, nutria story another time) Dave is a hunter on the weekends and has a squirrel trap that would work great for catching this little bastard. And this little sucker is a tough catch. I watched two grown men chase this thing around in circles for a half-hour before both of them ran each other over in hot pursuit. Needless to say this Three Stooges act couldn't last quite long enough. So, the plan is still to sneak out a dawn early one morning in hopes of catching the fury bunny, then taking him to be released out into the wild or as Dave would have it, to the butcher shop down the street. This would calm the fears of all my elderly neighbors, which their are about 90 percent living in my area. When we go for a walk in the afternoon, I feel like I'm in a scene from the movie Cocoon. Anyways, the rabbit's last few days of roaming the streets of Old Metairie are dwindling. Next up is the race of his lifetime against the desert tortoise.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Partying like I was a Hilton (Old Man Hilton)

Bill: Ted, while I agree that, in time, our band will be most triumphant. The truth is, Wyld Stallyns will never be a super band until we have Eddie Van Halen on guitar.
Ted: Yes, Bill. But, I do not believe we will get Eddie Van Halen until we have a triumphant video.
Bill: Ted, it's pointless to have a triumphant video before we even have decent instruments. Ted: Well, how can we have decent instruments when we don't really even know how to play?
Bill: That is why we NEED Eddie Van Halen!
Ted: And THAT is why we need a triumphant video.

The old adage of "if it's too loud, you're too old" is starting to grow on me.
Last night, we (wife and brothers) went to go see Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers at the House of Blues. It was all set up by my brother-in-law who actually does the lighting and audio for the band when they tour. So we had comp tickets, a late night concert, a bar, a week night, and school/work the next day. Ingredients that spell distruction. So we went without hestitation. It's free tickets.
Roger Clyne is somewhat of a country rock band that has been around for years. Roger Clyne was actually in the Refreshments (which is why most of us were there), and he also wrote the musical introduction for King of the Hill.

No need to digress, we had a great time. Soulfly opened up for the Peacemakers and they were grooving until the lead singer broke a string on his guitar. Talk about meltdown. It was Carl Lewis singing the National Anthem all over again.
The Peacemakers came and out and rocked the crowd for a good hour and half. We all enjoyed it and the music was pretty good. The only source of contention I had was when I looked around at the other late night 30 year olds who were trying to tap their fountain of youth in order to be in their 20's again, I suddenly felt...old. Please don't laugh because I do go out late, sometimes. What really gets me is the middle of the week stuff when I know the next day I can't sleep in. What I need to do is stop by Walgreens before I go out and get some Chaser.
When we got home from the concert I was still awake and couldn't just fall asleep. I was up a another hour. Finally when I laid my head on the pillow, the alarm quickly rang and I was off to school. It never fails. Needless to say, I bet every one else at that concert was struggling to get up for work the next day, except for those who don't care about work.
"It's not that I don't try, it's just that I don't care." -Ron Livingston in Office Space
Lesson learned, I think. That is until the next free concert comes by my door. I may not go to sleep at all, just stay up the whole night. That'll teach me a lesson.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Half-Blooded Dunce

I just recovered from an all out blitz of sorcerers and wizardy at Hogwarts University this past weekend. I know what most of you are thinking. No, I wasn't the guy dressed up like, Snape, hanging out at a Barnes and Nobles Friday night with a decafe cappucino playing Quidditch with the kids in line. Still, I did receive a copy of the latest J.K. Rowling book on Saturday morning via Same effect, different approach. Stop there is nothing wrong with reading Harry Potter? It may not be for everyone, but it does get kids to read. Which brings me to my point. Despite blowing through the book ever so quickly. It's great to see people wanting to read. Especially kids. Too many kids today are so preoccupied with t.v., video games, and the computer that they miss out on one of the best sources of entertainment. Reading.
Books spark the imagination, create a new level of understanding, and generate possibilities that were one time unfathomable. Everyone has a favorite author or book. That's what makes reading so interesting, because you have various authors and subjects that can interest almost everyone. Anything that sparks a person to pick up a book and read is fine by me. You can't knock the fact that there are 7 and 8 year olds picking up a 600 page book for SUMMER to read. So whether you like reading about muggles and Valdamore, or whether you would rather read a nice trashy novel with Fabio on the cover it's all for the better good of literacy. Sometimes I pick up a trashy book in the grocery line and start reading them. Then I start looking around to see if anyone is watching me, like I shouldn't be reading this material in public. More often than I stop because I sometimes think a student will be in the store and catch me reading the book. Then I have to explain to him why I am reading the book and what's it all about. ("Well Jimmy, this book is about a man who finds his way by making some new friends in a beach resort. It has a lot of mushy stuff in it about feelings. It's really boring. Jimmy responds, "Is that why you're reading it?" )
I want to thank people like J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown for putting the focus back into books for people. Just wish she wasn't finishing up so soon. For all those who like to read out there, keep on turning the page. And for you illiterate bastards out there, never mind you couldn't read this anyway it's beyond your reading level.
On last thing, on a personal note. I have tried writing a book. It's not easy. I can promise you when I'm finished it won't be a best-seller, but it may hold some value in the grocery store circuit. I may even put a picture of myself on the cover, bare chested, hair blowing in the wind, tight jordache jeans wrapped around my waist. The title would fit the visual: "For No One's Eyes". Stay tune.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Tastie Buds and Killer Waves

Thinking about all the Spicoles of the world who are working to undermine the motivation of our brightest students, I began to think about those who want our students to achieve bigger and better things. Just the other day in my summer class, we had a great discussion of the value of the high school diploma and the G.E.E. (graduate exit exam). The whole discussion was based on the fact that the teacher believed that the diploma should not be a mandatory requirement for employment. Social policy dictates that by law every person has to attend school until 16 years old (Louisiana law). Does that mean the law is enforced? Do I always get what I want when I got through the drive through at Wendy's? Exactly my point. Why should we have a compulsory attendance law, if our society doesn't require a high school diploma for a job requirement? This double standard is something that is pervasive throughout our society, especially in lower socio economic status families. It is there were education is needed most, and it's there were education usually is halted before 11th grade. I happen to believe in our country today, which is built upon the capitalistic ideas, there is an underlying theme of hopelessness within the educational system. This same system that we need to have thriving in order to compete and provide a better marketplace for our children. Why is it that no one cares if our high school graduation rate is below 60 percent? Or that No Child Left Behind, means that we don't care if your kid can't make the grades. He is then kicked out of school, because we have to get our numbers up in order to met accountability standards under NCLB. Every child has the ability to learn, does that mean every child is a doctor or lawyer? No, but what it does mean is that we should place more value on the high school diploma in our society as a basis for achievement. Just like passing the driver's test at the DMV. (By the way, I almost failed the driving portion of the test when I told the driving inspector that I should get extra points if I run over a squirrel.)
I think that no matter what their are going to be stories of those who never made it through high school and became successful (John Travolta- Scientologist, go figure). The point is that more often that not you will have more stories of the satisfaction from receiving their diploma and more value on school if you put more emphasis on the diploma.
Lastly, the G.E.E. is a standardized test that many states are pushing their public schools students to take sometime after sophomore year in order to graduate from high school. I think this places another level of accountability on schools. Instead of just passing students because they are 21 and still in 10th grade, they have to get the students to learn how to read and write. Still, their is a double standard for private schools because they don't have to take the test. I think they should. It would create major problems in certain private schools where they will be blasted for being to lax with their curriculum, but it would also increase the credibility of those institutions that promote higher learning within the private sector. The rant is over. These are my opinions and they are always open to criticism, it's just that being a teacher I have a great interest in this and wish others would too.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Is that who I think it is?

Burke: Dude, is that Jon Barry?
Me: Yeah it is.
Bruke: Dude, I’m going to go say hi to him. (walks over) Aren’t you Jon Barry, who got drafted by the Boston Celtics?
Jon Barry: Yup!
Burke: Awesome, I am a huge Celtic fan and loved it when they drafted you.
Barry: Cool.
Burke: Well, I just wanted to say hi.
Barry: All right, cool.
Burke turns around and says very loudly: That guy sucks. I glad we traded his ass to the Lakers.

I have this innate tendency to sometimes tell people a little too much about myself. I guess that's because part of me is a journeyman. A person filled with stories and experiences that I cherish deeply. My younger brother brought up his close encounters with a celebrity (check out the Poker Report), and this got me to thinking about some very valuable and trusted memories of mine.
Thinking back to my living experiences in Los Angeles, which I lived their for over 6 years got me to retrace some of my close encounters with the famous. Which brings me to the question that I'd always hear, "Did you ever see anyone famous?" Sorry, but I have to admit I’ve got some classic run ins with actors and actress' that would highlight my entire stay in L.A.
Erckel from Family Matters, yeah the guy with the suspenders and glasses who coined the phrase, "Did I do that?" Saw him drunk off his ass one night in a Fat Burger surrounded by what looked like an Erckel posse. A group of guys that appeared to look gangster, but really couldn't pull it off. “I from the hood. Shut up bitch, you’re from Orange County.”
Blossom, the girl who made NBC famous for her teenage dating experiences (those funky hats she wore) and her obnoxious brother Joey, "Whoa!!!" I bought her a shot at Westwood Brewery one night (long night) and proceeded to ask her about her friend on the show, Six, or as I referred to her that night, Sex. There are other numerous tales of me running into Tackleberry (police academy), seeing George Wendt (Norm) roll a keg into his backyard -go figure, sitting behind David Schwimmer as he made out with this unknown girl in Century City movie theater, watching Ed Bagley Jr. mow his lawn with electric mower and 20 solar panels atop his house, and laughing as Alicia Silverstone tried to go to classes at my college without anybody noticing-Yeah Right. There are many more tales of celebrity run-ins that a far less enticing as those, but nothing beats getting on a elevator with Divine Brown and asking her if Hugh Grant was cool. Despite all these sightings, that wasn't what made living in L.A. so great. It was my friends, hanging out at each other's apartments, going out, and cruising to the beach searching for the next Baywatch star. All the mundane things that we did, and how we made every week in the city of angels one of the best times of our lives. Not too mention the Oscar parties, NFL Sunday early mornings, and late night diners (Ships –my favorite across from the Sony lot on Century Blvd.) Love those days, when I thought I would become a star by selling one of my scripts. Right now, I would be happy if I sold anything.

Monday, July 11, 2005

What's that smell? Oh, that's Bourbon Street.

"Sometimes, I just want go out and dance. Forget guys. I just want to let loose and dance all night." - Dane Cook

Some friends came in town this past weekend from Arizona to visit us and gourge themselves into the monopoly of bars and clubs in the French Quarter. This would be a great time to show them what the city has to offer other than 8 dollar Hurricanes, and 6 dollar longnecks. Although, I can attest that whenever someone comes in town to visit the big sleazy they want Bourbon Street in all it's glory.

Friday night is a great time to go out in this city and hit happy hour at the many ecclectic waterin holes this city has to offer. When we met up, they we're already toasty from pre-gaming it at Pat O's. I had the common deceny to see that this was going to be a long night if we didn't fill up on carbs. So I took them over to Port of Call, and we all dug in to some scrumptulishous burgers. Not too mention the 32 oz. Monsoons we drank. I didn't think bladders could hold more than two tallies. Anyways, as we moved onward to bigger and better places I felt it may obligation as a local to take them some place that was local and cool. D.B.A. would be our spot for the next 30 minutes. There was a nice cool breeze blowing in from outside, and a cool hip band playing new orleans diatribe in the corner. Our guests didn't like this spot. It didn't resemble anything that embodies the souless, drunken, smelly, trashy images of Bourbon. So we left. Needless to say we walked up and down Bourbon looking for that right place to go. They found it quickly in Fat Catz. There is nothing wrong with hanging out in the club, but I have made it a point of mine to never dance in public, i.e. Dylan McKay. What I was really looking forward to was hanging out with my friends in a quint watering hole. Instead, I got night of the Roxbury thrown down my ass for 4 hours. Fun for the whole family. Not too mention, the quarter is price gouging drinks. Bottle beer is 5-6 bucks. Mixed drinks are 8-9 bucks. Big ASS beer is 3 bucks. I felt like I was being racially incriminated upon, because I'm white and they think I have money. Oh what a weekend.