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Archive for April, 2009

My girlfriend made fun of me when I told her that I like the Spanish guy at the market who sells me his spicy Spanish sausage.  My brother will too.

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My brother and I are going to have a lemonade stand this summer where we’ll have the options of “modern lemonade,” “old style lemonade,” or “cave man lemonade.”  modern lemonade is kool-aid.  old style is fresh squeezed with ice cold water and simple syrup.  cave man style, which when people ask, we decided we would just tell them what it is, and still offer it to them, will be the same price, and cave man style is just us throwing lemons at you.

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“when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  what the fuck kind of proverb is this?  i’m sure this really speaks to the trust fund kids.  this assumes a knife to cut the lemons, a glass to squeeze them into, water, sugar, and ice.  fuck you.

 

author’s note:  i need a vacation.  i’m sensing some pent up aggression in my triple shots.

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Two things made him sad.

I pass my life on the metro.  It makes it difficult to wake up in the morning.

Today, two men were talking behind me as we waited for the train.

Man 1:  I have been sad twice in my life.

Man 2:  When?

Man 1:  The first was when my best friend died.  His name was Étienne.  He put a bullet in his head.

Man 2:  Seriously?

Man 1:  Well, that’s what they told me.  I didn’t see it.  

Man 2:  And the second?

Man 1:  The second was when…

And then train came screeching sparking down the track.  I heard nothing.  The doors opened, people pushed on and off, raced to seats.  I walked on last.

Man 1:  … and I found myself googling ways to commit suicide.  That’s when I knew I couldn’t do it.

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It is not that it made a difference in the café or
bottle of wine or changed footstep after
bootstep crossing streets and bridges.  
It did not alter the torn jeans.  It did not
wear down
any more the rubber heels.

If anything, he saved money
on phone cards and had an extra hour
on idle Saturdays.
 
If anything, it changed his
sleep tonight.  The curtains not quite drawn
closed, enough to let in the street light
to reflect off his worn leather
jacket on the coatrack
and her skirt,
bunched on the floor.

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I followed my brother through the drive thru at the burger joint.  It is not that we had a car, we were not even old enough to drive.  It is that they never allowed my roller blades inside, or as my brother liked to call them, “pussy boots.”  He skateboarded, wore baggy jeans, a chain wallet, and could make armies tremble by the mere mention of his older-brotherness, at least in my eyes.  He always got two double cheeseburgers and I would do the same.  My 11-year-old 80-pound frame struggled to keep up with my brother’s imposing figure complete with budding beard, and digestion was always a process.  I gained weight and we looked more like brothers than ever before.

This was back when I lived for supermarket hotdogs with fake cheese miraculously melded into the middle.  I lived for white bread.  After days of playing basketball with friends, three point contests and buzzer beaters, after we had designed t-shirts with sidewalk chalk for our beloved Sports Club USA and talked about building a score board to rest next to the hoop on the back of my garage, after I finally got hungry, I ran inside, took two pieces of the fantastically fluffy substance, removed the crust, made a tight ball and shoved the dense nutritionally void mass into my mouth and returned to the cement court.  I never wanted dinner then, not only because my ball of bread was expanding in my stomach, but also dinner tasted.  It tasted of food.  It tasted of salt and pepper and spice and protein.  All of these concepts were foreign and undesirable.  I expressed my patriotism and American spirit by eating food so processed that it would survive any unjust war in which we engaged.  Either that or it was just simpler my way.

My brother ate meat almost exclusively.  He was employed by Plunkette Furniture as a stock boy moving furniture and the animal protein fit his carthorse after-school job. As his shoulders grew wider and his forearms more assertive, his hunger for meat grew exponentially.  I tended toward the bun.  He tended toward the burger.  Hence the shock that ensued when he announced casually at the dinner table over taco bell that he was becoming vegetarian.  “No more meat,” he said.  By then, his skateboards and baggy jeans had been replaced by a poet’s pen and a vintage sport coat.  The vegetarianism fit.  My parents, supportive as ever, applauded my brother’s decision and immediately my mom starting conceiving recipes, which was no easy task, as my brother did not particularly like vegetables, or fruits, or grains, or legumes.

We would wrestle as brothers do.  He was always stronger.  He gave me a black eye once at his new apartment.  It was an accident and he was quick to begin doting.  He offered me ice but he had none.  I asked for a steak and we both laughed and he put a frozen pizza on my face.  The swelling went down and that is when I coined the term, “pizzatarian.”

A pizzatarian is a vegetarian who subsides on cheese and boca burgers, chick’n patties and tortilla chips.  When he wants to feel that he has eaten especially healthy, he has a cookies-and-cream protein bar and a chocolate peanut butter smoothie with a boost of some chemical powder with a name like vitaburst.  

Being the little brother I am, though, I eventually followed suit.  My days of being happily drunk on simple carbohydrates were over as thoughts of B-12 deficiencies crept into my consciousness.  Vegetarianism caused us both to think more about food.  We started cooking.   I calculated food miles and read about pesticides and endocrine disruptors.  I scared myself into eating only local and organic.  My brother, now working at an Italian risotorante, would watch as the chefs would prepare eggplant parmesan and caprese salads.  A bowl full of spinach was not yet his idea of deliciousness, but steps were taken away from processed soy. 

Yet for some reason I still wore the pussy boots, even in the kitchen.  He would make falafel from scratch.  I would make saffron risotto.  He perfected pad-thai.  I brought out an artichoke dip in a home-baked sourdough bread bowl.  Recipe books were a thing of the past as our own artful concoctions came out of the oven.  Vegetarian Thanksgiving became a competition; his golden mashed potatoes against my rosemary pumpkin soup. 

We ate out differently as well.  I chose raw restaurants where none of the food is cooked above 107 degrees and you can order a side of enzymes.  My brother, after learning some Spanish from the chefs at the ristorante, knew where to find the perfect burrito.  When he moved out, his favorite burrito corner spot was a deciding factor.  He moved into the Puerto Rican neighborhood.

 I moved to Paris.

 I learned about how to describe the bouquet of a glass of wine and how it may or may not be long-in-the-mouth and do so in French.  My brother knew what mix of oils made the perfect homemade French fry.  He spoke Chicago street Spanish.  I spoke 19th century poet French.

To this day whenever I make a dish with a reduction or an infused foam, my brother still asks me in front of my family, in front of whoever my girlfriend is at the time, if it is a good time for me to come out to mom and dad.  I do not know when knowledge of truffle oil and what years provided a good grape harvest became immediately demasculating but if it is, I will wear the pussy boots because chicks dig ‘em. 

I do know that I could cook my brother out of the kitchen and that he would say the same about me.  I know that I would have more than just a pizza to offer him for his eye after a bar fight but I have no idea who is more likely to get into one.  I see the conversation leading up to his brawl being over a woman or some insult directed toward a friend.  I see mine as an off hand comment by some Frenchmen about the faults in the American educational system.  His would be over beer and mine would be over a bottle of Absinthe.

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I wrote this piece over a year ago.  But lately, I have a feeling that all that as changed.  I feel like through completely opposite paths we are arriving at the same place.  We’d get along in the kitchen now, even collaborate on a dish.  

And my sister, whose food path I know even less about, but I am sure is far more interesting, involving rainforest cafés and more restaurants than I could count, to a steady diet of pints of Guinness and nothing more, but my sister, my dear dear sister, I am sure, could now cook us both into oblivion with her top chef of a boyfriend.  (Who you also have to love for his ability to enjoy a fresh herbed truffled white wine reduction as much as fried oxtails and chitterlings.

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When Hemingway was 29 years old, his young life in Paris ended. On a warmer than usual March night, after too much wine and absinthe, Hemmie made his way into the shared bathroom down the hall from his bedroom on the rue Mouffetard, and, not bothering to turn on the light, after relieving himself, confused the flush chord for the chord of a skylight which quickly came crashing down on his head.

His record of past injuries and maladies at the hospital that night would have read as such: multiple cuts to the right eye, gorged tonsils, internal hemorrhaging, third degree burns from a water heater, kidney trouble, hand injury from punching through a glass case, broken arm in a car crash, groan muscles torn during a bull run, laceration from a charging horse, torn ligament in his right foot, anthrax, malaria, hemorrhoids, broken toe from kicking a door, jaundice, and a self-inflicted gunshot wound that happened while fishing.

These are just a few of the scraps and bruises Hemingway picked up before his thirtieth birthday. And this trend continued, until, well, the story ended.

What’s your list? What do your scars say about the way you lived, how fiercely you’ve done so?

I’ve always liked camping. I’ve gone my entire life, and each time, I’ve needed a cooler full of food, pots and pans, a five gallon jug of water, changes of clothes, sandals and boots, A GIANT TENT, sleeping bags, mosquito repellent, you get the idea. When I go camping, I go prepared. But right now, and this is new in my life, I think I’m ready to be much, much more uncomfortable. Next camping trip, nothing but a bottle of absinthe and an endless sky of stars.

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J'♡ Paris.  Indiana is a chain of Tex-Mex restaurants in Paris.

J'♡ Paris. Indiana is a chain of Tex-Mex restaurants in Paris.

On the three minute ride to the train station today, I used all 28 speeds on my bike.  The 17th was wholly useless.

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I like the sentence ______ is the death of art and plugging in everything I see.  The sidewalk is the death of art.  The newspaper is the death of art.  Pizza Hut is the death of art.

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I don’t like to wear pants when I watch movies.  I have a feeling that much of the world population is with me on this.  This is the most plausible explanation I have found for why they keep movie theaters so cold all year round.

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