Monthly Archives: June 2008

I Don’t Know Where I’m A Gonna Go When the Volcano Blow

3rdarm Versus the Volcano (aka the Internet)

A scary thing happened in the car ride up from Connecticut the other day; I got really into a song about a volcano on the radio. It was a male, Caribbean voice singing about the uncertainty of the future with unwavering positivity. The production was low-key, a washboard as percussion. It was the jam. That part was actually chill island and sunny.

The scary part didn’t come until after I reached my destination and accessed the internet, and found out that I had fallen in love with a Jimmy Buffett song! I hate Parrot-heads, but I have some sympathy for the paths a serious rum thirst can take. My pride was injured to think that I, a sober listener of deep cuts, had fallen in with the Pirates of the Caribbean, but I can’t deny my true feelings any longer.

I love that Volcano song! Except I don’t particularly care for the Jimmy Buffett version. (Perhaps Jimmy Buffett is an acquired taste. Perhaps his music ages like a fine cheese. Perhaps when I’m sixty four I’ll sport Hawaiian shirts and a mustache, and my bloat will be from that cheese and rum. The Caribbean boys are just easing me in. For now the Jimmy Buffett version is not for me, but I had difficulty discovering the song I’d heard on the radio.

After approximately three hours of research, I unearthed the proper cut; its from the album “Blues Tribute to Jimmy Buffett,” performed by the Blues Rockets… As a side project (the mind wanders), and as a totem of my dig for this particular track, I crafted the fake album cover art above. No one with good music taste is supposed to like Jimmy Buffet, but that cover of Volcano by the Blues Rockets is the limit! Don’t even try to front…

Cut the chatter, spin that platter!

Summer is Served

Summer is officially here because my aunt and I went out to eat at The Place, my favorite outdoor restaurant. The idea is BYOB, backyard barbeque. We sat at a wooden table, used tree stumps for stools, and ate delicious seafood and vegetables taken hot off a fifteen foot outdoor grill. My aunt had the salmon and I the bluefish, both cooked with lemon in aluminum foil over the flames (some call these hobo packs.) In addition, we split barbeque clams, grilled corn on the cob, and I brought home a piece of key lime pie for my grandma and I to share.

She paid, and I left the tip; an amount which my sister would surely frown upon for being out of proportion to the service received. No worries, I’ll put the young waitress through college (or high school?) because fresh fish right off the fire really is that good. Today we go pick up the puppy (a black cocker spaniel named Roxie, after Roxie Hart in Chicago) and I’ll be sure to post many pictures for to poach. (They are notorious puppy poachers.) For now its enough to say, summer has arrived people!

The table after we ate at the Place, an outdoor restaurant in Guilford, CT famous for their grilling

No I’m Never Gonna Do It Without The Fez On

3rdarm and the Fez at the Steely Dan concert in Boston June 23

At the Steely Dan concert I kept spying this character in the front row, standing up and dancing, screaming, anytime things got intense with the band. Who is that guy? I wondered, all through Steely Dan’s set. He appeared to be dressed in a fez. Well, I got to meet that guy after the concert, and obviously had my picture taken with him. What I couldn’t see from my illegal spot stage left was that not only was this guy wearing a fez, but also a white tuxedo. Doin’ it right.

Justin and Megan made hotdogs and hamburgers before the concert on their grill… The grill…

Megan and Justin with the grill

The hotdogs and burgers…

Justin with hotdogs

Artistic shots…

Think about the end of a hotdog

The view from the Valley of the Hotdog…

View from hotdog cliff

Beauty shots of me with the harbor behind me…

Leaning on the steel rail

Smoke gets in my eyes ouch!

Only when I got home and transferred the photos to my computer did I realize that food was a prop in almost every one. Food is the thread through these photos.

MMMmmm tasty super soda

This guy seems to be uncomfortable about being in the picture with me.

That guys not happy to be in the pic with me

Megan certainly was amused at the guy’s discomfort of my proximity…

Megan found taking pics of me with that guy in the frame very funny

Megan, Justin, Nicolas, and I were standing near the VIP Only outdoor party area, which was walled off by pine trees. Unexpectedly, a woman interrupted our conversation by sticking her head between the trees, and asked if we would like takeout box with slices of pizza in it. The others were reluctant, and refused the offer, but at the last possible moment I spoke up and accepted the free food from the lady. She said she hated to see it go to waste. I blabbed thank you’s back, and she replied, “Enjoy it,” about three times. The last time she said, “Enjoy it,” it was with a kind of finality.

Free pizza!

In the takeout container, we discovered more than pizza. There was two slices of pizza, yes, over a huge piece of lettuce. In the corner of the box was a wingding, and Steely Dan actually played the song “New Frontier” which has lyrics about wingdings… “Yes we’re gonna have a wingding, A summer smoker underground, It’s just a dugout that my dad built, In case the reds decide to push the button down, We’ve got provisions and lots of beer, The key word is survival on the new frontier.” Under the second slice of pizza we unearthed a fried cheese stick! Then under the lettuce was a single, bitten, tater skin! Surprise surprise!

The fried cheese stick was well hidden

Everyone was excited about the discovery of the cheese stick.

Megan looks like Indiana Jones after discovering buried jungle jewels

I danced with the dirty, cold stick of fried cheese like it was a glo-stick at a rave. But it was not a rave; it was a filthy cheese stick and Steely Dan.

Raving with the filthy cheese glo-stick to Steely Dan

The cheese stick takes a bow… Encore!

The cheese stick had an audience

We left the stick of cheese on top of the trash bin, with its bib of lettuce to remind it of its natural habitat.

Bib of lettuce and cheese of stick

A clear-eyed man named Barry (who looked suspiciously like Kevin Garnett) asked for and recieved two king-size Pall Mall cigarettes. He said he knows someone named Arthur who looks just like me but I can confirm its not me.

Barry aka Kevin Garnett a fan of Pall Malls

Some people like to dance at Steely Dan concerts… and some people just go ape-shit.

Some people like to dance at Steely Dan concerts...

Steely Dance!

Steely dancing!

The Steely Dan was more fun than last year for sure. Why don’t they sell guys like this as souvenirs?

Megan the Fez and me

“Self-Love, my Liege, is not so Vile a Sin, as Self-Neglecting.” William Shakespeare

I have to love myself cause nobodys gonna do it for me

Another rough brunch; two weeks in a row. I felt beaten down by the end. The fistful of tips was blood money… But there was light at the end of the tunnel today! This Sunday was the Portuguese parade down Cambridge St., an annual delight that lifted my spirits. I told my tables to hang out and relax, lit up a cigarette and waded outside into the throngs of friends, customers, and passersby to watch the parading Portuguese dancers, princesses, marching bands, and floats.

That parade lanced my boil of negativity, and I decided to build on that by giving myself some love and care today. Hey, nobody’s gonna do it for me! Sometimes number one comes first, and today number one needed some pampering, some TLC. What I decided to do was take myself out on a date… dinner and a movie. I drove out to Highland Kitchen and immediately said hello to chefs Mark Romano and Mariposa in the kitchen before bellying up to the bar for sustenance.

I ate four delicious courses, all told. The first was an amuse-bouche, complimentary of Mark; hand-made potato gnocchi with grilled vegetable ratatouille. Next I devoured a six-pack of clams casino, a classic summer treat. As for my entree, I chose the braised pork shoulder (again!), served with crispy bacon (pork on pork!), collared greens and cheesy grits. For dessert I had the banana bread pudding (again!!), which I somehow cannot resist. For me, banana bread pudding is like a high-powered tractor beam or exotic catnip… I’m hooked, meow!

Eating that much filled up some of the hollow cavity I felt in my stomach, and washed away the bad taste captaining brunch had left in my mouth. After dinner I went home and looked up show-times while resting a minute. I decided to go see Sex in the City down the street at the Harvard movie theater. What a long freaking movie! But it was good solid entertainment… when I entered the dark theater I was a sweaty mess… upon my exit I was digesting comfortably, though still full and content.

Sometimes I gots to love myself.

The Taste

Drew, the new sous, EZ the new GM, Ace, the new Future, and I went and catered the Taste of Cambridge yesterday. At the Indian Grocery Store I scored an American flag bandanna. I rocked it on Cambridge Street and then put it away for later, specifically, the Fourth of July Party.

Rockin’ in the free world…

The American flag bandanna really brings out my muscles

Drew and me, still rockin’…

Drew and I rockin in the free world

The manly equipment…

The catering equipment

Preppin’ at the prep table…

The fellas prepping for the Taste

Drew and Ace know what time it is…

Drew and Ace cutting the cheese

Drew and the blue cheese. It was my job to pre-crumble the blue cheese. I was slowly breaking it up with my lady fingers, when Drew showed me how to do it like a man. He took the whole chunk and karate-crumbled it in five seconds. Lesson learned!

Drew shows me how to manhandle the blue cheese

Our booth was between Upper Crust (best pizza in Cambridge! thanks Barry) and Chez Henri. Oh, and the Harpoon booth was right next to us as well. Men like beer (I’m not manly like that)…

The Harpoon booth was handing out mini pints

EZ tasting SOMETHING from a pint container. All great chefs have to taste their ingredients…

The chefs just making sure everything is fresh

The lawn. It was the perfect kind of June weather for the Taste…

This is the lawn at Technology Square

Luke and I are happy to be there… together!

Luke and 3rdarm chillin like villains

At the East Coast Grill booth we handed out steak salad. It was medium rare grilled top round (I told everyone it was sirloin, upselling!), sliced thin, over watercress salad (dressed in orange vin) with house raisins and crumbled blue cheese. Finally, each plate was finished with some pomegranate glaze. Delicious! EZ and Drew handled the cooking, while Ace and I plated, distributed and talked to the attendees.

Eric and Ace plating the food

After our job was done, Ace had the idea to go dance in front of the reggae band. We started a dance party!

Ace skanking to live reggae at the Taste

Party on Wayne!

3rdarm skanks awkward and slow to the reggae

After work I had a dream about the restaurant business. Mr. Schlesinger started a new restaurant in an old train station called the “Reasonable Cowboy.” It featured primal cuts of meat, slow-cooked, and was a huge hit. This dream continued for hours, until I woke up to use the bathroom. Once asleep again, the dream resumed! “Reasonable Cowboy” was a dominant dream. The Taste of Cambridge had resonance.

Anything’s Possssiiibbbblllleeee!!!!

The Celtics won the NBA Finals, and so I paid the Lord and Bo their hundred dollars each. The city of Cambridge came alive in way not seen since the Red Sox finally beat the Yankees in 2004. Cats leaning out of rolling cars, honking their horns. The Captain aka the Truth fulfilled the Promise.

Tomorrow I am going to the Taste of Cambridge. At the Taste will be El Jefe aka the Big EZ, Ace aka the Future, and me also known as John Candy’s ghost incarnate, the Floor Captain of the Lord’s Brunch. We will be representing the East Coast Grill, or what we call Taking Care of Business Every Day of the Week and Twice On Sunday.

The Future is my protégé of sorts. Kind of like how in Chicago they called me “La Mano Derecha,” because I was the English mouthpiece and right hand man of the night boss, Olegario Martinez, except that instead of English what Ace translates for me is oysters. In these pictures the Future is painting the Basement, and at the same time opening a doorway to the future.

Painting the seafoam walls of the basement deep blue

The Future stayed overnight to paint the Basement

The Future opens the doorway to the future

The Future is now and Kevin Garnett is right anythings possible

The Poof About Cats and Dogs

After brunch on Sunday I drove down to the state line to meet up with my aunt and grandma at the puppy farm where our new cocker spaniel is currently being weened off her mama. She (her name is Roxie) will be ready to come home next week. We all went up to meet her, kind of like a baby shower. She’s so poofy! I’m really excited…

This little black cocker spaniel is the poofiest

Sharing the couch with the pupper, feeling the Father’s Day vibes. That look on my face is called my “proud papa pout.”

On the couch with the small pup

My friend Cat needed a cat-sitter, so Jim and I volunteered. Instead of just feeding the cat, we also supplied psychological support for hours at a time (air conditioning, watching TV.) I mean to say Buster psychologically supported us. Here I handle Big Buster!

Buster the big cat loves to be held

Quick! Staring contest, you and me, go! You win again, you always do.

Jimmy and Buster staring contest

Sunset Over the Commander

Today is Father’s Day, the first Sunday in decades that Tim Russert will not be at his desk hosting Meet the Press. To remember the beloved newsman, I have this picture that I took from Garden Street, walking home in the evening. It is the Sheraton Commander at sunset. I will miss Lil’ Russ…

Summer sunset over the Sheraton Commander

New America

the view from my basement after the heatwave in june

I have been thinking about the future of life a lot this week, with a new optimism. This year may go down as the great turning point where we as human beings began to turn the corner from a Type 0 Civilization to a Type 1 Civilization. These are terms tossed around by Michio Kaku, the famous string field theorist. A Type 0’s technology feeds off a dying planet (coal, oil) while a Type 1 encompasses the whole planet and draws energy from a living star.

In America, in particular, I feel like this year may prove crucial to the future. Gas prices and energy costs are skyrocketing, and the media won’t let us forget what our pocketbooks won’t let us ignore. (I think everybody has a pocketbook of sorts, including men.) At the same time, the price tag for information is shrinking rapidly. Within a year or two, one hundred dollars will buy enough memory to hold the sum content of what most Americans store in memory. Music and video will be not be cost free. The time it takes to watch targeted advertisements is consumer currency. Time is money.

There was an interesting sidebar in the New York Times magazine discussing the fate of same-sex marriage in California. On the ballot in that state this election year will be a referendum. The NYT magazine questioned why straights would choose to ratify same-sex marriage when its hard to see any incentive for them to do so. This is kind of backwards thinking: in the new American economy, where citizens chafe tax rate hikes, oil is the single priciest commodity, and price-free media offsets the high energy costs… any way to increase government revenue through new solutions will be embraced.

States that choose to allow gay marriage will benefit from the new tax money this generates. In a tightly budgeted near-future, that may be crucial enough to blind bigots. Bolder solutions still, like the decriminalization and eventual taxation of marijuana, may already be inevitable. Back to California again, that state taxes “medical marijuana” sales at 8 percent, and the state revenue this generates is approximately one billion new dollars for Californians. The residents have an incentive to demand this continues; other states will be quick to follow.

Another benefit of regulating marijuana is that non-regulated, sometimes violent street dealers have disappeared in the state. Its not the kind of solution that I think a Republican would embrace in the near-future, because that party seems to use denial to stretch out Americans’ suffering so that it is most profitable for the biggest corporations. But the near-future does not look like it will belong in the hands of a Republican anyway. We in America, for the historic first time, have elected a black man as the nominee for the more liberal of our two major political parties.

He has a better than average chance of winning.