I paid ninety-nine cents to download the album version of Atlantic Lungs, and holy crap was I disappointed. Rarely do I ever like a demo version of a song better than the studio version, but in this case, yes oh yes oh sweet lordy lord yes is the demo version better.
Sure, the album version may sound a bit prettier to those who didn't hear the demo, but they are missing out. In the demo the vocals had a range, there was emotion behind them
You're goddamn right
I've got a little more to prove tonight
the emotion is fucking gone.
Sure, the guitars sound a little better, but that is it.
The vocals were killed and the overall feel of the song just died.
I had really, really like this song when i first heard it. I know a ton of people hate these guys, but I was willing to ignore that.
I bought this song because I had read the review on here bashing the CD and I was skeptical
but now I agree, had I bought the album, I think it would've killed some hours I would want back, badly.
My recommendation would be to not get Movement by Thieves and Villains. It is polished, but lacks anything worthwhile. Even just listening to the thirty second clips on I-tunes, you can tell that.
Its sad, I thought there may have been something there. I was wrong and that makes me a Sad Panda, of sorts.
This is my third post today, but hell i'm bored and well, this rant will be slightly meaningless but good for a laugh, i hope.
i was reading the post about tila tequila and someone (i forget who, sorry comment me and i'll put your name in hurr) made a comment about wanting to be a ninja turtle. Who didn't want to be a ninja turtle as a child? I wanted to be Leonardo, me being the leader-type and all. Anywho...
So as backing to saying this was okay, I cited the toys that morphed from small turtles to the ninja turtles and also the transformers (the originals). These said it was okay to change. This got me thinking.
What the fuck.
As children, the media--television and toys--were telling us that being ourselves was NOT okay. Media was beating home the idea that being something ELSE was good, that people liked it more. Transformers? If we changed, we could save the world. If we changed, people would talk to us (granted, it is hard to talk to a semi's grill, but for the purposes of this inane argument, ignore that). The turtle's toys? Same deal. Okay I know, with the turtles the argument can be made that they grew up. But no. They were teenagers/turtles that were genetically changed--the movie and the cartoon go two seperate ways with this--either way-- mutation=better.
Change and you will be liked.
Change and you can save the world.
I am so glad I did not pick up on this as a child.
As I said, this was an inane rant. There is a kernel of truth in it, that the media wants us to change. If people read this, can they please voice off? I'm sorta interested in others opinion on this one...
I wrote this poem a while back and have been revising, editing, whatever, for a while now. What do y'all think:
I walked away with your face,
Well, not just your face,
Your whole head.
Oozing from the neck where
I cut you,
Soaking the bag I hold you in, the tough
Fabric scratching your face
As I make my way through alleys
Sparsely illuminated by the lights of store back doors,
The ground looks like a leopard’s skin
Forcing me to take careful steps so I don’t run into
Forest green dumpsters overflowing with rotting
Foods, broken wooden crates and boxes,
A hooker giving a cop a hand job,
A dead dog, flies swarming its eyes,
Dirty panhandlers begging for some change,
I know the cops will find you,
The rest of you,
And by then I’ll be
God will watch over me.
They’ll see your body, your limbs splayed
From when you fell after the knife sliced through all the way
And next to you
The pool of blood
Congealed crimson black brown, and everything,
Covered in squirming maggots.
Now back in my apartment, my one-room
Shit hole, I put
Your head on the shelf in the fridge, the door propped up by a stick of broken
So we can talk.
“I told you,” I say,
“An eye for an eye—it’s not my fault
You didn’t believe me
The first time.
When you dropped my daughter’s body off in
My back yard, bloody bruised and blue green purple in some spots.
I bought off your bodyguards.”
How is it that you think you could do this just because my daughter
Wasn’t a good enough whore?
People cared about her, can you say the same?
You took my one and only, my precious daughter.
I’m laughing almost, crying almost because talking to God
Has done nothing, gotten me nowhere.
Look, just look at me now. You’ve got me
Worked down to nothing.
First line taken from Yusef Komunyakaa’s “Providence”
So, I wrote this for my one writing class, and I thought I'd throw it up here, too. See what anyone thinks...
It was a little after seven on a Sunday morning. My head was throbbing from the night before and I sat in a Biscuitville parking lot, watching the traffic roll by slowly, as if all the drivers were in the same haze I was, afraid to go too fast and scare the person in front of them. I forced a biscuit and sweet tea down while we waited for the rest of the class to arrive. Our Zen class was taking a field trip to the Zen center and in order to get there at the right time, we had to meet at an ungodly hour. I was looking forward to the trip. I liked Zen, I agreed with the ideas, hell I liked being able to just sit and do nothing but sit for long periods of time, but the early hour wasn’t agreeing with me. Other students pulled into the parking lot, also bleary-eyed and half-awake. By seven-thirty we were assembled and pulled onto the highway convoy-style.
The ride, once past the chain restaurants and their empty parking lots, car dealerships and industrial buildings, was pleasant. The country road we took wound through nowhere, passing only the occasional farmstead, most of which had fences that were in varying states of disrepair—from one or two planks out of place to fence lines that resembled long woodpiles. Copses of trees began to dot the farmland and soon, as I ticked off more curves in the road on my fingers, the forest appeared.
The Zen center was in the middle of the forest. The gravel path that served as the center’s driveway stopped only a few yards up the hill that the center sat on. From there, we followed a walkway defined only by stamped-down leaves—a road of golds, ochres and sepias punctuated by the occasional rock. The crunch of the leaves seemed more like hundreds of knuckle cracks, amplified by the forest, as we marched single-file up the hill and under a entryway that was more fit for Medieval Japan than North Carolina, at any time, and on to the center. The center itself was like summer camp. Two buildings, cabin-like in their construction, had a deck that surround and connected them. Not sure where to go, we milled about like a gaggle of geese waiting for breadcrumbs until the man who ran the center, Sandy, walked out to greet us and invite us in to the room where we would be engaging in meditation, the zendo.
We took off our shoes and followed him in. One or two others, regulars by the looks of the black robes they wore—which my teacher also wore—also floated in, helping to arrange the pillows, zafus, and distributing the pamphlets that contained the ritual chants we would engage in. We began a short time later with an introduction by Sandy and some standing-sitting-raising-our-hands praises to something. It wasn’t as if the leader was speaking in a foreign language that I could guess—Spanish, French, something I had heard before—no, it was something Asian in origin, something utterly foreign and, if it had been written in the pamphlet the way native speakers saw it, I’m sure it would’ve looked like a blind man trying to make a woodcarving. Luckily, the chants were printed in English, in syllable form. Short rumbles of sound that, taken together and chanted by twenty, took on an ethereal quality. They weren’t bursts, no; they rolled together too smoothly to burst. Not words as English speakers know them, but sounds that went together in one long string without breaks between words, one long word with infinite possibilities of meaning to me.
A drum beat started, slow at first, allowing each to reverberate for a split second before increasing in tempo until there didn’t seem to be distinction between beats, one just continued the sound from the last. The chanting increased. I snuck a look at the lighted candles in the center of the room, waiting for a change in color, a flare up, anything supernatural, but nothing came. I missed the chanting when it stopped. The room was too silent. We had gone back to sitting meditation and I was left with only my mind again. No matter how many times we had practiced sitting, practiced focusing on nothing, zoning out, counting my breaths, picturing my breathing it didn’t work. I could not force the thoughts from my head. They still ran a mile a minute and were studded with the recurrent question why can’t I stop thinking.
It was Zen-like, in a way, I thought. It felt cosmic that I would think that sentence, that I couldn’t even banish that simple thought from my head. I wished I could, but I had also learned that on the road to Enlightenment, the Tao, not being perfect was preferred to being perfect. Perfect meant something was wrong. Instead, I tried, as the books and teacher had instructed, to just let the thoughts flow, to come and go as they pleased. Once I got to thinking about that, though, they lingered. Time moved slowly as we sat. I watched the incense stick slowly burn down and thought back to the first time we had practiced on the first day of class. Ten minutes felt like thirty seconds. It was the beginner’s mind they talked about in Zen, and I had lost it.
The walking meditation was next. This I could do—follow the person in front of you, step for step. We practiced this in class too, a small circle of people walking in a circle that, to anyone looking in, would’ve seemed like we were trying to either get dizzy or find a contact. We stood and followed the second-in-command out the door and around the deck. He had slipped shoes on and we did the same then continued walking. More cracking and crunching sounds under more feet, like bones now, not just knuckles. The sounds seemed to fade, though, as I focused on the sandals of the woman in front of me. A root or fallen branch would come into view, and I would step around or over it, but for the most part I was centered. I was happy that I was centered, also. I felt calm. I could take anything that came. I let this float around in my head until I realized that we had kept walking deeper into the woods.
I couldn’t help but think, what if a bear attacked one of us? Here we were, in the middle of the forest, walking in a straight line, silently following each other, supposedly deep in meditation. Prime targets for a forest-dwelling carnivore. Didn’t animals live in the forests of North Carolina? If not a bear, then a bobcat or a wolf or a coyote or maybe a sasquatch, something undiscovered maybe? There had to be something.
I heard a heavier footfall thud behind me. Someone had stumbled and I wondered if the person behind him or her stumbled also. We were supposed to follow step for step. Did this include missteps? Was that part of the Zen philosophy also, learning from others’ mistakes? I couldn’t recall. The leaves and twigs thinned out until I realized we were back on packed earth, the grounds of the Zen center again. Up the stairs of the deck we went and back into the room. Situated on our pillows again, the drumbeat was resumed and so was the chanting. Again, the haunting sound of an alien language filled the air. I wondered what it would sound like to a passerby, especially in the forest. Would the trees echo it? Would it bounce from hollow to hollow, get caught under the leaves and twist through the legs of the wildlife? I thought of Native Americans and war chants, of the people who probably did things similar to our practice centuries ago in the same place, minus the mortared walls and finished floor. Was I chanting similar incantations, asking for the same things—prosperous crops, peace, or elite performance in war?
The chanting continued, longer this time. Part of me didn’t want it to end. It was mindless in a way, all I had to do was follow along with words I didn’t know, things I didn’t understand. It was freeing, I didn’t have to think about what I was doing, and I didn’t have time to contemplate anything else, the pace was up there with semi-automatic machine gun and superman for the majority of the chant.
Sandy spoke to us next, giving us life lessons related to Zen, and throwing in a life story or two for flavor. We sat silent and still, all students eager for knowledge and an easy way towards enlightenment. Not that we would find one ever. Twice weekly sits in class and one trip to a Zen center would generate zero enlightenment. I was okay with that. Sitting gave me the time to focus on nothing and everything at once, take into account everything that was going on and sort it out. When his talk ended, we were dismissed, but invited to stay for a snack—peanuts and tea. Having matters back in the real world, where there were problems and everything other than nothingness, other than mental relaxation and freedom to just sit, we took the yellow-leaf road back to the car. It was only noon, but I felt I had done an entire day’s worth of work. I had looked inside myself and found too much, had chanted and found the nothing I wanted, had walked and heard only the background noise that was omnipresent. I wasn’t tired, surprisingly, but awake and if it possible, alive-feeling. I was ready for something. Not anything, just one thing. If only it would be that easy, to only have to deal with one thing for the rest of the day.
After initial conversation about the time at the Zen center—what we thought of the walking and chanting and discussion of whether or not we could find the chants to download, the drive back turned quiet. I was lost in my own thoughts, the ones I had tried to push away earlier—homework, social obligations, the fact I did not get sick like I thought I might—and guessed the driver was also. Conversation did pick up again, after passing a dead dog on the road.
We were going back, we decided. We didn’t know when, but we would. Why not? It was relaxing. Or was this just like any other special experience where we were coming off of a high from being there? Part of me believed that. I would subconsciously fill my schedule so I wouldn’t come out here again, wouldn’t have to think like that again. Class was almost over; I wouldn’t have to sit again, ever if I chose. The other part of me, though, did want to go back. Did want to face the task of letting thoughts just float on by uninterrupted—just butterflies in my head. Or, at the very least, to chant again.
In three years, this has been the best night of my college career. Well, one of them. It snowed. I know, I know, snow is snow. I come from Jersey, snow is nothing unless its more than 6 inches, but this is north carolina and 2 inches is a big fucking deal.
At first, it didn't seem like much. As I walked out of dinner it was raining. A quick trip to the mall to kill time and by the time I got back to my apartment, it was flurrying. I relax with some nice, trashy TV (Moment of Truth, anyone? Steve Wilkos Show?) and I look out and boom. There's two inches of snow on the ground. My roommate and I go out to explore, throw a few snowballs, end up on what we would call the quad, see some people, throw more snowballs and decide to head back. At the start of our apartment complex, there are people. People divided into two sides. Civil War, yehaw. Discussing rules of engagement as we walk up, we see my roommates girlfriend. We choose that side--she plays softball and her arm is a weapon. Roommate fears it, so I sided with them and so battle ensued.
Soon, another battle joined our own. Fifty deep on this field of snow, we battled. Gloveless, snowblind, we fought. Shouts from this end, a snowball to the head from that end. The cry of charge, the cry of attack. Everything swirling as the wind kicked up. More people joined, coming from another part of campus. I knew who Lee felt, how Washington felt when he cross the Delaware. I was a war hero, tagging people left and right. Dodging, slipping, getting pelted, getting up. It didn't matter. More people joined. Screams of oh shit, laughter, more charges, more slipping and falling all over, the ground going from white to brown.
And in a moment, it was over. The snow gone, people dispersed.
... Those were almost all fragments I realize, but my hands are still numb, work with me.
Let's see... being that it never snows down here, we were all reduced to children because of this. Dreams, like the dreams of christmas, but instead of cancelled classes pranced around our heads. Jocks, nerds, all sorts of people were brought together--it didn't matter, it was a snowbal fight. If you got hit, you threw back. Ugly people, hot people, all throwing in unison. A girl one would never talk to was fair game. It is interesting that all these things came together, suspended in snow-nimation for a short hour and tomorrow, when it has melted, will go back to being invisible to each other...
I've been on a pop punk album kick lately, I don't know why, but I am and I got to thinking about some of my favorite/what I think may be some of the best pop punk albums of our generation (however you want to define that, go for it...it is the stuff I listened to starting in 7th/8th grade. So 8-9 years ago, ish).
This is what I came up with. By best I'm thinking, most replayability, overall catchiness, awesomeness, creativity and impact on the "scene." What do y'all think? These are in no order
The Starting Line - Say It Like You Mean It
Good Charlotte - Good Charlotte
Fall Out Boy - Take This To Your Grave
blink182 - Enema of the State
sum41 - All Killer No Filler
A New Found Glory - Nothing Gold Can Stay
This is by no means my complete list, it is what came to mind first and, given enough time, would probably change a bit. In terms of music now, I think the next album could make the same impact, or at least attempt to revive the pop punk of yore..
I read a lot. I go through books like addicts go through crack. Sometimes, if the book is good enough, I get the same feelings, cause I'm weird like that. Anyway, this is sort of for my own purposes as much as everyone else's (So I don't forget) Here are 10 books I feel should be read by everyone.
(In no order of awesomeness)
1. Anthony Bourdain -- A Cook's Tour [it is a kick in the nuts to the food writing world. just read it]
2. Dave Eggers -- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius [this guy is cocky, yet he can write. A memoir about him. The title doesn't lie... I hated this at first then went back and loved it.]
3. Chuck Palahniuk -- Invisible Monsters [He's fucked up. Who doesn't like fucked up these days?]
4. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. -- Slaughterhouse V, Cat's Cradle, Slapstick [I can't pick one. He's the best writer of the 20th century. Suck it, Hemingway.]
5. Augusten Burroughs -- Running With Scissors [If you've seen the movie, forget it. The book far outpaces in fucked-upitude and heartbreaking comedy]
6. TC Boyle -- Tooth and Claw [This is a collection of short stories that all made me want the story to continue. Every one. That's something]
7. Steve Almond -- Candyfreak [A memoir about candy. No, a hilarious memoir about candy. Speaking of, where's that Snickers...]
8. Alex Haley -- Roots [Yes, I'm talking about the classic epic of slavery. Read it, you'll be a better person.]
9. John Grogan -- Marley and Me [I know, I know, it was an Oprah book and on God knows how many other book lists. But I am a dog person. If you are, read it. It captures the essence of dog.]
10. David Morrell -- Creepers [This is a thriller novel. In terms of suspense, one of the best I've read, unlike that shitty King stuff...Boy I'd like to kick him in the shins.]
I am currently reading another David Morrell book, and have books by Chuck Klosterman up after that. I've heard he's good.
I was a vegetarian once before. When I was eight. Or maybe it was ten. Either way, I was too young to know what the hell I was doing. I was doing it to be different. Mr. Meat-and-Potatoes loved steak. I, knowing I did not want to be like my father from a young age, did not want to like steak. I refused to eat it. I'm sure I made up some inane excuses to go along with my denials of the tender-cooked cow, too.
I didn't eat steak, I was a rebel. I was breaking down walls left and right. Child prodigy who would be the first vegetarian in the family. Until my mom would serve shrimp. Or even chicken. But only sometimes chicken, if it wasn't with the typical salt-pepper-paprika seasoning she would put on it. If I saw it coming out of the over, I had new religious concerns to fear for, I couldn't eat that meat, it'd be breaking a law. Mind you, I was raised a Catholic, both my parents were Catholic, and it was no where near Lent. I wasn't such a fan of pork either, so I did everything in my power to ignore the meat on the table. By the grace of God my parents did not make me sit at the table and finish every meal or resort to locking me in a cage with the foods I did not like. Although it might have been fun to sit in a cage. Maybe.
I didn't just not eat meat though, oh no, I hated other foods too. The super villain of the non-meat foods was stuffing. Stoffer's instant stuffing, an amalgam og dehydrated bread and God knows what else, was on my hit list also. My older sister loved it. And my dad ate it too. Naturally, this someone translated into I will never eat this food. If I was smart (I wasn't), I could've cited the fact that it was fake, that it wasn't homemade like my mom made every thanksgiving, christmas and easter. If I was smart I would've played to my mom's vanity, using the position of loved son to gently bring her to my side to see, hey, it's okay if my dear, darling son doesn't want to eat the food I slaved over. He has moral objections to the meat and doesn't believe in processed foods. Boy, he sure is a smart little kid. No such luck. Instead, from what I can remember, many meals were spent sitting at the kitchen table, my arms crossed in front of me, pouting. I'd push the vegetables or whatever was on my plate around a little bit, audibly and over-dramatically sigh, and go back to pouting. If I were my father, I would've reached across the table and slapped me. Luckily, though, no such thing ever materialized.
I didn't understand vegetarianism then. I had no idea about the production of meat--the trip from cramped pasture to slaughterhouse to market to table-- and I wouldn't have cared had I known. I know now exactly what goes on and it doesn't bother me in the least. As a child I was weird, to say the least, and the thought of blood and gore, like in any young boy who is even only slightly right in his mind, would only evoke the words "awesome" and "cool" from my mouth. Blood and gore are fine as an eight-year-old when it is far off, distant and untouchable. Foreign to my eyes. Sure, I had seen people reduced to a few teeth and a shoelace in action movies, but that was the movies. From a young age my dad, after any movie would look over at me, curled up onto myself, eyes wide, and say, "It's all fake, you know. That is just ketchup and right after it happens the director calls cut and everyone goes to get a cup of coffee." Not until much later did I make the connection between ketchup that I would use to create mass lava flows on my french fries with and the fake movie blood my dad had said was a tomato-based product. Blood. Ketchup. Eat. Vampire!
Why couldn't I have made that connection before? It would've been so awesome to be a vampire, or to at least say I was sort of a vampire for sort of eating blood that may have been ketchup used as blood in a movie one time across the country in Hollywood. Okay, looking at that now it looks inane and I feel dumber for typing it, but, I am confident that my eight-year-old brain would've thought that. I was that dumb.
(I would write more, i would, but I completely lost myself and don't feel like getting sorted out right now. More later)
(I realize I have some information that concerns a time span after this, work with me here. Also, all of these posts will probably be wrong, I urge you to read anyway.)
[Sidebar: In an attempt to prove me wrong, a friend pointed out that not all meat came on bones. For example, KFC's Boneless Buffalo Whatever. I should have something witty to say here, about how I deftly pointed out that the meat originally came off of a bone--I hope--but no. I just told her she was wrong, reasserting that I am not the King of Quick Thinking.)
Criminals on death row don't have it this bad. At least after they get their last meal they don't have to worry about food anymore. Sizzle sizzle and off they go into sweet, sweet oblivion. Or hell. Or wherever they think they are off too. Sure, they die, but I mean, they shouldn't have gone on a twenty-day murder and rape spree that spanned the Greater (insert large city name) area.Ya win some, ya lose some and right now I'm on the losing end. I will not go down without a fight though. I will have my hands curled around something that was once alive until 11:59PM ET. Only then will I let go, probably crying hysterically, and try to move on. Like a baby's favorite toy, I can see it being pulled from my fingers by someone who I can only identify by his or her boots (think Nanny from Muppet Babies).
I decided to make my last supper last as long as possible. I would start in the morning, eat small meals throughout the day and culminate at 11:59. It would would be a smorgasbord of bovine, ovine, swinish, avian and piscine delight. And who knows, if I had a hot dog or Chinese food, there could be meats I had never though to eat before in there, too.(Raccoon anyone? A little bit of Moo Goo Gai Kitty, anyone?) I'm glad I won't know either, the only other words I can think of to describe animals would be feline and canine, after that, I'm lost. Raccoonine just doesn't sound right.
I started out at a New Jersey staple, the diner, for a nice big, cholesterol-shocked breakfast. I managed to have not just (pork?) sausage, but a couple of bacon strips and a few slices of taylor ham along with my eggs. Knowing I wouldn't be eating these things for a while made them more flavorful then ever before. It is like that last scoop of iced cream you get from your favorite place before it closes for the winter. As it melts in your mouth you finally take the time, after having mindlessly swallowed the treat all summer, to swish the cream around, feel the sugar as it coats your molars, realize the chunks of still partially-frozen fudge there as they knock against the roof of your mouth. You do this, eyes closed, perhaps, until you hear the plastic spoon scraping the bottom of the paper cup. The muted shh, shh, shh of your last bit of good iced cream for eight months. That was what it was like, but with ground up meat forced into intestinal casing. I was thinking in cliches while I ate, of Babe, of Wilbur from Charlotte'ss Web, of SpiderPig, even, while I ate.
Living in North Carolina, the home of some of the best Barbeque out there, giving up pig would be tough. Not being able to eat the tender, moist flesh roasted for hours in its own juices and specialy made sauce, then delicately pulled from its bone home, irked me. I hadn't been a real fan of barbeque at first--I grew up in New Jersey, a "barbeque" for us was Dad grilling hot dogs or maybe steaks during the summer, letting the smoke fill our porch and sting my eyes as I sat there, waiting for the occasional flare-up from below the food as a globule of fat would fall onto the charcoal and flames.
I learned, though. I learned fast that wasn't barbeque. Barbeque was taking a pig, forcefully pushing a hard metal pole through it end to end, and roasting that sucker till the flesh was the same color of a tomato and you could pick at it and get maximum return for little effort. Chopped or pulled, it doesn't matter now, just scoop some onto a plate and let me go at it. That thought, was one I had pondered long before finally deciding on doing this for the month. Living in NC and not eating the 'Cue would be like living on a houseboat and not eating fish. So abundant, yet so out of reach. I was beginning to see how horses in cartoons felt when people held carrots on strings in front of the horses' eyes. Those cruel, cruel bastards.
The bacon and taylor ham were equally more succulent than ever before. The eggs and potatoes and toast that came with it I could have cared less about. This wasn't about them, right now. This was mano-a(e?)-meato. My mother, looking at the pile of pink flesh in front of me just shook her head.
"You're your father's son, that's for sure," she said. It stopped me for a moment. Despite the carnal mouth orgy I was planning on participating fully in today, I didn't, and couldn't do it every day. I had meat, yeah, but not piles of it at every meal. I treated it like other food. I had it in moderation. I know my dad is a meat and potatoes guy. Always was and will be until the day he dies, but I hoped that, in my absence, he would not do this regularly. All these meats together created a flatline waiting to happen. How could anyone eat this much unhealthy meat often. People did, I'm sure--just took platefuls of greasy, limp bacon at all you can eat buffets everyday, everywhere--but I just had to hope it wasn't my father. If it was, I thought, I'd have to start finding ways to sabotage the company we got our meat from. I'd prefer the breadwinner of my family alive for as long as possible--he was paying for part of my college, after all.
Having packed away enough for two heart attacks in one meal, I took a break. I was far from done, but I didn't want to get sick. Throwing up would just be a waste of time at this point. It was crunch time, overtime, sudden death.
I neglected to have a real meal for lunch. I was banking on having a nice steak at a fancy steakhouse for dinner. I'd take a full cow or a full pig, but living in the suburbs restricts the amount of livestock I see on a daily basis to, well, none. Instead, I'd order a large prime rib, pinkish-red in the middle, still able to bleed when press lightly with a fork. I could see myself looking at the baked potato in its foil cocoon and slapping it aside. I didn't need a baked potato, that was just room that could be devoted to meat. I wondered if they'd let me top the steak with another steak, like a garnish. Parsley? Hah. Parsley is for people who don't go to the dinner table and mean business. I meant business. To fill time before dinner, I coached my stomach, prepping it for the night ahead. Though the steak would be the main course, I had other food I needed to eat, too.
"You can do this, you've had big steaks before," I said repeatedly. My stomach remained silent. I figured it was just taking it all in, being stoic before the fight.
"You're a starved lion, take the meat for all its worth. Ingest and dissolve with your crazy acids, and then ingest some more." Silence again. This was good, my stomach was a good listener/learner.
"Just remember, steak is round one. The hardest round, yes, but still only round one. There are other animals out there too. Chickens. Fish. We need to conquer them all also."
It was around six and my father and I were on our way to TGI Fridays. It wasn't the elegant steak dinner I was envisioning--low light, dark wood tables, a large hunk of dead cow--but it would have to do.
"You know," he began, turning down the Doobie Brothers just enough to be heard. "I almost wish you wouldn't do this."
"Okay," I said. What was I supposed to say to that? Sure, Dad, I'll stop right now. He exercises control over me to a point. In the food world, a man who cannot keep up with his son in the eating department, one that won't even try, is not worthy of food-oriented respect. I was on a mission, here, and he wouldn't stop me.
"It isn't going to change how or what I eat."
There is was. The there-is-some-plot-against-my-diet-type line I had heard before. When I am home and I cook dinner, I have to be careful. I can't be creative, I can't add flare or even a little spice. Granted, my dad's stomach is weak and can't take heat, but he isn't willing to try things that aren't simple either. He thought I was doing this to try and change him. If I wanted to change him, I would just harass him into doing it. It wouldn't work, because he is stubborn and way on his way to being a crotchety old man, but that is how I would go about it. Clearly, he missed out on the part of my childhood and teenage years where I developed the same stubbornness that he has, the same ability to be a dick, basically (which was fostered not only by my father but the fact I went to an all guy's school, where it was learn to be a dick or drown in dick-related jokes and the shame of not knowing how to bully someone lesser than you around at any given time.)
"I'm not trying to change you, I know you won't," I said.
"Good." And that was that for mindless car chatter.
Even though I was hoping for a grand last meal, in a way Friday's was a comforting end. The food, while okay, isn't the best. It is at the same quality level of every chain restaurant out there. Good for mass appeal, but falling short on anything that can be considered gourmet. By going here instead of another place, I'd have my steak, but it wouldn't be a steak that I would dream about. I wouldn't see myself happily running through a field with it, dancing and partying with it. I'd eat it and that would be it. And, when the New York Strip I ordered came out, I could tell right away that was the kind of meal it was going to be. As my dad dug into his the baby back ribs he ordered, I scraped off the "Argentinean Rub" that came on the steak. Last time I checked, pesto with an additive to make it spicier was not Argentinean. I had no idea what all was in it, but it looked like ground up baby vomit, a brutal mix the color of a fresh asparagus and tar smoothie.
Despite ordering medium-rare, it came out closer to well done, sidewalk gray on the inside and tough between my teeth. This is not how I wanted to go out. I wanted blood to seep, meat to give like muscles getting a Swedish massage. This was chewing old Playdough. Coupled with instant mashed potatoes, the meal was fantastically plain. Being served in a cast iron skillet to "preserve the flavor" did nothing. All it translated to was that the steak was served on a black plate and not a white one.
Having eaten meal number one, I had crossed off two meats from my list--I had consumed beef and pork already, leaving chicken and fish left for the rest of the night. I had four hours left before midnight and Zero hour.
I didn't have time to rest after dinner. I was running out of time. I decided my next stop would be sushi. The place in town I normally went to, a small shop seated amid a thai, chinese, and Asian "specialty" restaurant, as well as a number of other stores, had closed and reopened under another name, so I had wanted to check it out anyway. The place was empty when I walked in and I was greeted immediately by the hostess. Were they desperate for business or just very friendly? I couldn't tell. I ordered my sushi, surprising them, I think, with my use of the Japanese names for the fish instead of the English words printed on the menu.
Eel and Tuna, two of my favorites. I would've the individual pieces with fish on top, sashimi (I believe) but I was after quantity here, not quality or variety, and rolls with six pieces each were providing me with the quantity I needed. To complete the sushi portion of my last supper, they gave me some miso soup to accompany the fish. The sushi was okay, not the best but certainly not the worst (you need to go further inland for that. Being only a half hour from a port is good, compared to my school--three or so hours to the nearest beach area). The rice, still a little warm, heated the fish a little too much for my taste, but it was not a terrible detriment to the meal. On my way home, I almost passed completely by the McDonald's parking lot before abruptly flicking the turn signal, cutting in front of a fast approaching SUV and queuing up in the drive-thru lane. To complete my last supper, I needed fast food.
I don't care who says fast food is bad for you or that it is disgusting. Those are mostly the same people who point to Supersize Me and point as if that is the gospel on the subject. I calmly remind them he chose to do that. That he ate it three times every day. (In a way, I thought, I was like him, but better looking and less dumb. Slightly less dumb, at least...I wouldn't become obese no matter how hard I tried) If anyone did that willingly, they'd just be, for lack of any word to express the true idiocy of that, a fucking moron. As a treat though, or an occasional meal, no one can go wrong with a hot, cheap fast food meal.
There is absolutely nothing like a cheeseburger from McDonald's. Everything is so fake, so processed, that no amount of trying at home could ever recreate it. The one word that comes to mind is smooth. Almost everything about the standard cheeseburger is smooth. The pickles, sliced so thin they are translucent in the center are as smooth as a calm lake. The only change in texture is when the tongue goes from the main portion to the rind of the pickle, but even then, it goes from smooth to a more waxy smooth giving only slightly less then the inside. The cheese, probably the most process portion of the burger, barely melts on the burger. Again, a perfect surface for ice skating on, no chinks, no errors in production, every slice the same. Tasting of the same yellow American goodness. It envelopes our nation in its little 3 by 3 area--tons of products all put together to get one, generalized being. The ketchup and mustard provide the real flavor on the burger. The ketchup an artificial sweetener of sorts and the mustard giving a tiny little kick. The final part of the concoction, the most important part is the meat. Slightly bumpy and grilled and pressed into a circle the thickness of a matchbook, it comes nowhere close to resembling the animal it once came from. And I love that. I love the institutional floor color of the meat, somewhere between dirty and cloudy sky gray.
When asked a previous time about burgers and after having given my description, someone asked why I loved them.
"I just do." is what I came up with. The burger is so uniform with every other, so unchanging that it offers a spot of comfort.
"What about disease, or dirt, or rat feces?"
"Who cares," I respond. And who does? If you think about it, sure, it could be bad. Just don't think about it. Anthony Bourdain says in his book Kitchen Confidential that our bodies aren't temples. They are amusement parks and we need to have fun with them.
To round out my night, I finished with what I can remember as my first fast food, the almighty Chicken McNugget (Now all white meat!). Those little brown packages of (now) white meat and their crispy tan outsides are the first thing I remember about McDonalds. Sitting with my grandmother, she'd take the box of four out of my Happy Meal bag for me and let me dig in. I'd go for the toy first, of course, but soon after I would be delivered into a little dreamworld for a few minutes as I ate.
Everything, despite mixing sushi with fast food, when down like honey. I waited for repercussions--a quick run to the bathroom to deposit my last meats into the toilet--but no. Thank God it didn't happen. I still had an hour. One more hour of meat. And I couldn't do it. I couldn't eat any more. I was disappointed in myself. I had one more hour for meat and I couldn't force myself to ingest anything, not even a cheap hot dog or something from behind the counter at 7-11. As I stared at the little turning cylinders of meat, whatever kind it was, I frowned. This was it and I wasn't going out with a bang. I was running from the final charge. Was it a sign? Would it make it easier through the month?
Apparently not. I was just full. Five minutes after midnight, after a few deep belches and some pounding on my chest to get tiny burps out, I was hungry again and damnit, I wanted meat.