Thursday, June 24, 2021

Suckin' On a Chili Dog

I found some Brioche hot dog buns and froze them for a day like today.  I made chili dogs and salad, served with watermelon and bbq potato chips.  What a delightful summer dinner!  Seems like forever since I made a plate like this and the light slightly sweet bun elevated the dog.   
I hate to give any prudence to my America is over fear, but I can't shake this internal feeling that portions of freedom  have ended in our country, for some of us.  That whole dream of retiring on a lake house with just enough funds to live a small life, eat well and be comfortable before they make glue out of us, seems further and further from my grasp.  I hope to get there.  I try not to consider the future much but the look of the present, leaves me with stark visions.  It doesn't help that I have the most vivid apocalyptic dreams.

I heard the 80's were off the chain in New York, but we're seeing the most brutal, horrific crimes happening in broad daylight on the daily.  The pace of chaos at every turn is intensifying as the country faces new issues, those of which I will not list because it's depressing and long ass. 

Bitch, what does this have to do with festive summer food, you say?!   I don't know, looking at the plate, it feels nostalgic, from a time different then the one we're living in.  This meal also brings to mind where we are right now in history and all these images of the 4th of July and America are slightly skewed.  Last year the holiday was gangs of kids vandalizing the streets of Brooklyn, throwing fireworks from cars, lighting trash cans ablaze.  It was banning of celebrations due to fire hazards because of the droughts in the west.  It was the virus keeping us from gathering, all over.

And again, some lethal combination of politics, media and the inability to socialize, caused a measurable shift in people, that's hard to define.  Some seem ready to throw down on the streets, operating on very short fuses.  I witnessed a quick exchange passing two men on the sidewalk, while on my bike yesterday where one pushed the other and berated him verbally because the older man bumped into the younger guy, by accident.  The old man remained passive and got out of there but it elevated so quickly and neither was drunk or crazy.  The elderly man could have fallen from the shove and been hurt and I pray I would have the guts to stop and help him if he did.

I'm also seeing more subtle examples, like I inadvertently wore a red white and blue colored outfit, of soccer pants and trucker hat in my neighborhood and it took a minute to realize why everyone looked like they wanted to spit on me.  God forbid I become the poster child for patriotism but I find it ugly troubling that this unintentional fashion faux pas prompted such looks of disgust and judgement just for wearing colors that represent our country.  We shouldn't allow ourselves to believe those colors represent negatives, like racism, close mindedness or bigotry.  At the very least they should not spark such repulsion from our educated youth.  You would have thought I was wearing a Creed T-shirt.  

But If Memories Were All I Sang, I'd Rather Drive a Truck

For Juneteenth, I brought my lunch to work.  I'm trying a new stir fry 'no meat' beef.  I added tomatoes and spinach.  The texture is amazing and as long as you don't look at it with your glasses on in the light, it works.  My workplace offered a special menu as a celebration of fried chicken, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, chocolate cake and......watermelon slices.  (queue dramatic orchestral music).  

I read yesterday in the New York Post that there was much dismay in one particular store, with coworkers very upset, threatening to quit and a bunch of walkouts.  I asked our head cook if he heard any similar issues at our location.  He was surprised to hear it and said to me, But you have to understand, This is the food that our people like to eat, so I'm not sure what the problem would be. He looked at me, puzzled and I could tell his feelings were slightly hurt because he cares about the food he serves.  I said, I thinks it's the watermelon because of it's particular connection to the slaves. Some staff found it offensive.  He's black, about my age and when I'm not complimenting his food, we joke at our lockers about how weird the world is getting.  People our age tend to be taken off guard at how huge problems get so quickly. We shake our heads and end a lot of quick talks with, it's crazy out there, be safe, be well.      

The rest of the day I grilled coworkers for their thoughts.  It became, as always such an enlightened Brooklyn take on the subject, meaning, the opposite.  My Chinese coworker right away remarked that for Pan Asian heritage, they simply put a slide on the screen with useless trivia and threw all the Asians together in one week with No food, no celebration!  She went on to say, How hard it is to make some rice or some fuckin shits!?  Her voice is elevating now saying, I don't need to fucking know how many people live in Korea yo, just give me some fucking food!  Yo! but I'll take the time and a half, thank you very much!  Make it a paid holiday like Juneteenth.   

This throws me off a bit, so now I digress remembering, for Latin Heritage month, we barely had anything either.  No screen slide even, just the weirdest taco made with asian spiced meat, broccoli and fake cheese sauce. That's it, no salsa or beans.  And I remember that taco bar was shameful and laughed thinking, I was glad my parents weren't alive to see it.  But even worse, the majority of Latinos working there are Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican, so bad tacos were further off the mark.  It feels silly to complain or have deep thoughts on what my store decides to serve in the staff cafeteria for these holidays.  And of course they fuck it up, we fuck everything up in that store from soup to nuts.

On the other hand, the Mexicans and Central Americans, as well as the Chinese sort of kept this city going foodwise during the pandemic, running the restaurants, produce markets, grocery stores and delivery services.  NO ONE was out there at some points except for these kind folks and at risk to their own families.  But it's ridiculous to expect the store cafeteria to take on the cities job of honoring these silent heroes.  This isn't a backhanded slight to my people, I realize, and come back to the conversation.

My coworker has more to say,  For St Patrick's Day they pulled off that amazing corned beef and cabbage spread that was slow cooked all night, yo.  Rice takes 20 minutes! she said.  The Russian girl starts talking and we all go internal because we can think of no example of Russian food period.  Then, in a simultaneous eruption of fervor, we all made note of the no holds barred, extraordinary celebration of Gay Pride going on as we speak.  We not only have banners, we raised a flag outside with a ceremony, we have table graphics and giant rainbows hanging from our ceiling.  There is a big screen with a tutorial explaining ALL the sexual orientations and a game at the end to make sure they really drilled in all the ways you're to behave and talk around these individuals as if they are suddenly another species entirely, further separating them as far as I see it.  They made actual flags, hundreds, each color represented. Plus, there is a photo booth complete with hats, boas, funny glasses to take photos.  We replace our store bags with rainbow bags.  This will be up for the entire month of June!  As a side note, I found it interesting that even though we have a huge population of LGBTQ+ in the store, no one participated in the photo booth and when I have witnessed folks taking a flag, they pick it up like they're taking holy communion at church all quietly walking back to their seats for some odd reason.  And when is the too colorful, boa wearing flamboyant gay guy portrayal going to be offensive? Any minute.  

So, everyone so far, had more of a 'where is my celebration' angle rather than reacting to the menu faupaux, which is the refreshing thing about Brooklyn, bad or good.  With only a few people, the conversation will quickly grow very lively, loud and boisterous and never stay on point.  I asked the Afro Rican and he was ready with his somber take, It was Horrible!  What an incredible fail for the company.  He was visibly ruffled, which was expected for this person who is a gossip monger, a bully and is very rude to ethnicities that he does not prefer.   I've witnessed this hundreds of times through the years, so it's a little hard for me to be there for his level of righteousness on this subject. He tells us, this has gotten very serious, the president of the company had to made a statement about it and went on to inform us that several people would not eat that day at our store and were very upset.  I asked, Was it....the watermelon, specifically?  Wondering if possibly it was the entire menu.  He went on to tell me the story I had just read verbatim on Google about how owners fed watermelon to their slaves.   

This ends the conversation and we all disperse.   On an issue so sensitive, it does me no good to doubt his sincerity or to notice how some individuals seem to relish in finding new ways to feed their victimized story these days. 

Moe's Bar, a famous local black owned establishment where a white artist paints the black artist themed mural.  

I have to laugh at the irony of it, not for any reason other than because this poor company has gone ALL IN on each and every issue of social integrity.  At this point, we're floating in graphics, posters, banners, takeaways, videos, overhead announcements, walls of information on global warming, racial equality, gender relations, community outreach, diversity, recycling, exercise importance, diet awareness, we have a green roof, an oyster farm on site, a foodbank, they made a waterway park, we're working to be a 100% sustainable, and we have tons of programs to promote mental health.  

Somehow, an amazing summer treat got thrown in a menu by it's own staff and now after the New York Post article, the higher ups at this same company might as well be wearing black face.  The local NAACP is now looking for more acceptable apologies and answers.  And it was a mistake.  That's why it's so funny.  Another reason it could be more funny is that black staff were most likely in on the decision making, we're hearing both sides internally.  The reason it's not funny is that some people truly were offended and hurt.  Our store basically served the exact same thing and most definitely included many black staff.  I'm just saying, it was a mistake.  And hey guess what, we're all dumbbells, as Don Rickles used to say.  This doesn't have to turn into a deliberate racist action ESPECIALLY from a company with such a track record of I would say almost overdoing it on the correctness.  

An unpopular theory of mine is all of this honoring of specific groups started from a good place and was needed, but now perhaps it only serves to keep us centered on all our differences and ways in which we've been mistreated in the past, to continue identifying ourselves by it, which is not where we want to be.

Also, let's face it, one retailer can never please everyone and as we continue to correct more and more questionable stereotypes, it's only going to get much worse.  Soon every single characterization of a group for a celebration will most definitely offend multiple people. That is very clear to forecast and for that reason, I think businesses should stay out of politics altogether.  Or only delve in issues that directly relate to the business, like being green and sustainable.  

Saturday, June 5, 2021

If You Know You're Loved, Be Secure, Paradise is Love to Be Sure

As we all resurface back into society, the question becomes, how will our big cities bounce back.  They must all undergo a drastic rebound, or change entirely, which is even more exciting.  As I contemplated this with a friend I thought about Spring, the season, how there is a miraculous transformation each year.  But for our cities, it's more like Spring after a major fire burnt everything to the ground, 'cept for a few trees left standing.  New growth must spurt, the usual annuals will not automatically sprout up.  Brooklyn is constantly changing but much of it's charm was in the lived in look of it all, crooked floors and worn out store fronts, the places and fixtures that managed to survive and not change for decades.  Yes, in the past people have moved in and out of those same spaces, but not as quickly. Everything about the borough felt undisturbed from it's natural chaotic rhythms until now.  Seeing so many empty spaces in areas that were vibrant, does leave you understanding how much has changed.  

It's interesting to consider just what makes Brooklyn, Brooklyn.  The people play a major role and they are out there en mass again, but changed.  There is a slew of horrendous crimes happening on the streets in daytime hours with great consistency.  Shootouts in broad daylight, killing of children, very young gun wielding kids maiming innocent bystanders, racist attacks, mothers are....I can't even say what we're reading, it's too heartbreaking.  Subway attacks, pushing riders off platforms, muggings are back. Drivers are hitting people on purpose, a bus driver with passengers drove right into a house in a rage, cars are treating traffic lights like a suggestion.  Trucks are bullying bike lanes in a way that tells me, safety is now a much bigger issue.  These are more in number and more in frequency to where it's the top 5 stories every day on my homepage.  Walking outside, you see it, some people are ready to pop off in a violent, scary way.  So city dwellers  are not only suffering the scars of the past year but also very cautious about what lurks out in the world for us now.  For me, it's too soon to feel celebratory, or even to fully assess the damage because it's still happening.  I'm sure portions of this exist in every town.
But we do celebrate, as best we can, quietly in our apartment with laughter, music, movies and story telling. And of course, food.  A pack of thin flatbread proved an excellent buy.  Broccoli, mushrooms, onion and sausage topped these cheap vessels for a quick hand held lunch. 
For breakfast potatoes, poached eggs and bacon eaten with coffee and conversation.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Oh, the Water

There is so much garbage floating in the stagnant waters behind work this week. It's been this way for about 11 days.  It's as if the water forgot how to keep moving.  It's not good.  Standing at the pier, leads me to think of this year's extreme drought conditions in the west, and warming waters, bacteria growing, garbage, lack of oxygen, disease.  Boy the mind can really catch momentum with all the real fears it has to work with these days.  I felt so bad for the ducks that were forced to feed and swim in these waters.  I can't look them in the eye, feeling shame, knowing this is all man-made awfulness that they must live in.  The good thing is ducks rarely want to look you in the eyes.  Geese, are a different story. 
I was so happy to focus on the wild flowers growing in the community garden.  When left alone, all the beauty that nature brings with just a few rain showers in the spring is magnificent. 

I also obsess a bit with these locked up garden spaces that become like art exhibits.  This particular one is in Red Hook and grows wild mint that I come to pick before heading in and stash leaves in my pocket to suck on.  I have to reach my hand in between the fence wire to grab it.  The herb keeps me calm when dealing with humans.  
At work even though I had brought my lunch, I took advantage of the free cheese burger!  I was going to wait for the new batch of fries to come out but the guy that works the staff cafeteria is mentally impaired and I could see he was becoming agitated coping with the inability to finish serving my order before starting the next person, so I just settled for the chips.  Lately I feel very aware of being a sloppy, privileged human. 

Finally, a big storm to wash all the stank away

Thursday, June 3, 2021

When Your Life Has Worn You Out, You'll Have the Past Left For You to Think About

Pork Chop smothered in Shiitake mushroom sauce

Did you hear that the FBI found no evidence to support charging Ryan Adams of a crime and had closed it's investigation? You know Ryan, the musician that was cancelled by our woke culture due to bad behavior back in 2019? What became of all those broken young women that fell victim to this evil-doer? Mandy Moore seemed to have a stellar few years and same with Phoebe Bridgers. I watched her on SNL, she was awesome. I guess after marrying and dating him, they both realized he was not the prince charming or musical partner they had hoped for. I've dated assholes. It sucks. I hope the others have survived their experiences with half the success as the other two. I mean that sincerely but also sarcastically.
I figured his personal and business matters had smoothed over and was eager to hear the new offering, Big Colors. Instead, I came across this article, where the writer laments, 'this guy just won't go away' and goes on to say how he was so surprised at the audacity of Adams putting out another recording. Wow. Really?

As I sat eating my delicious tender pork chop, I thought, Good Lord! What would you have him do? He's a freaking musician. I'm verklempt. Seriously, this has become In the article, some punk writer and his colleagues are discussing whether Adam's is worthy of redemption, his remorse not yet great enough. That his public accountability fell short in their eyes. There is no updated testament from the actual gals that allegedly were mistreated. This from, InsideHook, the self proclaimed, go-to news and luxury lifestyle recommendation platform for the 'affluent on the go gent'.

Hold my beer.

So let me get this straight. With no remorse of it's own, woke culture and the New York Times, laid out a story that not only fueled the embers to cancel Mr Adams as a person, but a musician including all his upcoming releases, his tour, his record label and basically took his career back to level one. Boy, he must have been one bad hombre, you say? No, that's just the thing. No crime was committed, no one died, no one was raped or beaten, in fact everyone looks to be breathing and just fine, some even better than before. In fact the FBI dropped the investigation way back in the fall of 2019. It's been two years! But that's not enough for the social justice warriors. Now, this magazine geared to rich guys that need their opinions spoon fed to them, feels it needs to troll Adam's atonement efforts and block any future efforts to work? Until when? The almighty self appointed holders of right and wrong deem it okay? Or perhaps they'd have him burn forever in the fiery pits of hell. Wow guys, you might do real well in one of the Far Right Extreme groups.

My dinner was so delicious tonight and so I stopped to give thought to how tight someone's ass has to be to write an article like this. How sick and tired I am of certain elements of woke culture. They're bullies. They're irrational, self righteous narcs. How incredibly rigid the world must be for this poor writer. I figure he must be a misguided soul that hopefully had good intentions. How when one has walked through some life, you learn to avoid damning others. That it doesn't serve you well, nor does it help anyone or anything. And that it's not about paying attention to what others are doing wrong but trying to do right yourself. It's hard you know, Mr Eric R. Danton, lover of sourdough bread, to stay straight, to always do the right thing. This might not be your particular weak area but rest assured my friend, you have one and when you fall upon it, I hope the words you chose in this article come to mind. You'd be surprised at some of the dumb shit you'll need to forgive yourself for eventually. So in that vein, I'm going to wish this little prick bully motherf&*3er rag well and I also do mean that sincerely, because we are all out here making mistakes constantly. That's what life's about. We should always try to learn from them and when possible and in kinder ways, we can always try to guide our brother to the right path.

This is still not about the man, Ryan Adams and yet it is to a degree now, because he is a victim as much as these women, in my view. He was treated severely unfair in the new court system, death by Twitter. Not by his own victims but by people who have taken it upon themselves to rule who is worthy to be an artist, an actor, director, comedian. That's wrong and even though there are thousands who agree with this disgusting behavior, that will never make it right and it's something I will never get behind.