Philippe's and Hollywood and Highland    2008-09-17 15:18:39 ET
What did you see, my blue eyed son?

What did you see, my darling young one?

I saw displays that were tasteless and awful.

I saw the bones of a two-headed baby.

I saw a statue that stood without purpose.

I saw my shadow be captured and stolen.

I saw a meter that measured dead science.

I saw wax Jesus and Hannibal Lechter.

I saw the footprints of Sting and Moms Mabley.

I saw the girth of a world-renowned fat man.

I saw a cow with more legs than were needed.

I was accosted by Shrek and Darth Vader.

I ate a sandwich au jus with hot mustard.

It's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,

It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.


 No!    2008-09-13 23:54:50 ET

Apparently David Foster Wallace just committed suicide.

I never read "Infinite Jest," but I LOVED his essays in "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again." He had a brilliant sense of humor and a command of the English language that few, if any, other writers can compete with.

Truly a great loss.
1 comment

 Thank you, McSweeney's    2008-09-02 16:26:57 ET
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White Chocolate Truffle

What black arts could have stripped this chocolate of its natural hue? The horror of the unearthly, corpselike pallor of this truffle's complexion is only offset by its fiendish deliciousness.

Nut Cluster Crunch

This eerie candy will test the sanity of all but those who possess the strongest of constitutions. Strange congeries of almonds, walnuts, and pistachios dance hypnotically within, promising to reveal their eldritch secrets to anyone foolish enough to take a bite of these ancient nut clusters!

Coconut Creme Swirl

They say that the Coconut Creme Swirl sleeps. But if the dread Coconut Creme Swirl slumbers, surely it must also dream. It is certain that while it dozes the Coconut Creme Swirl is absorbed by terrifying visions of exacting its creamy tropical vengeance upon mankind! Consume the Coconut Creme Swirl before it awakens to consume you!

Dark Chocolate Fudge

Dark! All-encompassing, eternal darkness! Human eyes cannot penetrate the stygian blackness of this unholy confection!

Peanut Butter Cup

In 1856, a fisherman from a tiny hamlet on the New England coast made a terrible pact with serpentine beasts from beneath the sea, that he might create the most delicious sweet seen upon the Earth since the days of the great Elder Race. Thus was forged the satanic pact between peanut butter and chocolate that resulted in the mutant offspring you see before you!

Chocolate Cherry Cordial

You must not think me mad when I tell you what I found below the thin shell of chocolate used to disguise this bonbon's true face. Yes! Hidden beneath its rich exterior is a hideously moist cherry cordial! What deranged architect could have engineered this non-Euclidean aberration? I dare not speculate.

Caramel Chew

There is a dimension ruled by a blind caramel God-King who sits on a vast, cyclopean milk-chocolate throne while his mindless, gooey followers dance to the piping of crazed flutes. It is said that there are gateways in our world that lead to this caramel hell-planet. The delectable Caramel Chew may be one such portal.

Toffee Nugget

Few men dare ask the question "What is toffee, exactly?" All those who have investigated this substance are now either dead or insane.


 "Hard Rain pt. 3," or "I Feel Safest of All"    2008-08-27 23:27:44 ET

So the heating system at my house is being refurbished, meaning that I was up early as workmen violated my sanctum sanctorum. Today was a day off from work, but I had school in the evening. So what to do when I have all day to do nothing, but can't stay home? How about breakfast?

So an hour later I'm at the Original Pantry. If you live in L.A., you probably don't need to be introduced to the Pantry. If you're like me and don't get out enough, here it goes. Apparently, this place opened 1920 (a year after Musso and Frank's). Then nothing remarkable happened for sixty years, until it was bought by one Dick Riordan. Riordan went on to become mayor of Los Angeles, and it was a big embarassment to him when his coffee shop was busted by the Department of Health in the mid-90's. However, it's always safest to fly right after a plane crash, and life goes on. With the Staples Center being a block away, and with the Pantry famously advertising that they never close (I wonder if Norm's knows they stole the Pantry's slogan), it still has a healthy stream of customers. Also, rumor has it the waitstaff are all ex-convicts.

I don't know what this place looks like during the wee hours, but it was busy when I got there. There's no printed menus; they're posted on the walls between olde-timey pics of downtown and cases of Pantry shirts and barbecue sauce. I ordered breakfast from a guy noticeably missing scars and prison tattoos. This doesn't in and of itself prove anything, but he didn't seem like a felon. Although I brought a book to while away the time waiting for food to arrive, this service was astonishingly fast. I seriously had not finished my first paragraph before they handed me my omelet. It's like they just had the thing in the back waiting for me, but it was too hot to eat right off. I can't imagine what's going on in the kitchen.

As stated, I ordered an omelet, a bacon and cheese one. It was huge! I realize I can stuff down more than a lot of people I know, but this one was more than I could handle. I can only imagine the sort of gaping barathrum required to consume this along with hash brown and a literal pile of toast. It was good, though. Cheesy and eggy and full of crunchy bacon. Ho yeah. The potatoes were pretty good too. The toast was just this side of burnt, but it was sourdough, and with a little butter all was forgiven. I don't believe they were actually inserted into a toaster though. From the looks of it, I think they just tossed slices of bread on the stove. Not complaing, just saying.

So now what?

I still had a good five or six hours before I had to be in Fullerton. So after fighting traffic and getting lost a few times, I dropped by the Petersen Automotive Museum at Miracle Mile. This is another one of those places I'd always been curious about. There are exhibits in the parking lot, meaning that you can park next to a rocket car.

I poked around the downstairs floor for a while, using up most of the time I had left. There's a big and, I suspect, permanent display about the history of cars in Southern California. There's a gold-plated DeLorean and an Edsel owned by Mel Blanc. I love museums anyway, so I eat this stuff up. The clientele was an interesting mix. Sort of a combination of gearheads, German tourists, and families. I coulda swore I saw Bubb Rubb in a tour group. Conspicuously absent were Bettie Page and Rat Fink, but I'm just going to go ahead and say they were there, and we went out for drinks afterward.

I had about twenty minutes left by the time I made it up to the second floor. This was quickly eaten up, as they have a collection of movie cars on display. Individual preferences vary, but I say the best was Professor Fate's car from The Great Race. There were also displays on campers, alternative fuel, motorcycles, and some other stuff, but I kinda just had to run through and glance at whatever grabbed my eye. It was late, and I really did need to get going. I do wish I could have had my picture taken with Franklin Roosevelt's Secret Service-mobile, but I guess that can wait for next time.

Then it was off to school, where I didn't get my class.



 What did you see, my darling young one?    2008-08-23 00:33:00 ET
Divisive times call for divisive foods.

Another place I've been hearing a lot about: Musso and Frank's. It's real Hollywood history, more so than the Chinese Theater or the Walk of Fame. It's the place where golden age movie stars went to eat and writers went to drink. Remember that scene in "Ed Wood" when our cross-dressing talentless hero talked shop with Orson Welles? That was at Musso and Frank's. Well, I love history, food, and Orson Welles, so I'm intrigued.

Here's the problem, though. If you look this place up online, you'll find a torrent, a cavalcade, a galaxy of bad reviews. "My bread was hard!" "My sandwich was open faced and bad!" "My waiter was old!" That's not to say there aren't good reviews, but most of those just focus on the history and the fact that, like a cockroach, it was there before you were and will outlive you. I'll admit that I found this daunting. So much so that I almost didn't go. It's a long drive and the food is expensive (more on that later), and you drive RIGHT PAST Pink's on the way over. It was truly a Herculean task, but I'm nothing if not commited to ingesting something new and different.

Ironically, the closest thing I got to advice (aside from warning not to go in the first place) was the observation that the place opened in 1919 and had its heydey in the 20's. Therefore, eat like you would in the 20's. Forget the salads, erase modern nutrition from your mind, and God forbid you should be vegan. It's meat and potatoes all the way. Stick with this and you might do okay.

So the place itself is very nice. It's very, very subdued. No music, little in the way of color (outside of brown and red), but indefinably classy. The septuagenarian waitstaff wear red tuxes, and menus are printed up daily. There were very few people when I was there, but aside from that, it looks right. One can easily image Lauren Bacall finally getting her roast rabbit here. I was seated at "Famous Table 14." I asked what the story for my table was, and was told that, while Table 14 was pretty unremarkable, it was next to DiCaprio's table and catterwhompus (or diagonal, if you must) from Pacino and Deniro's table. I used to have a job where I regularly interacted with celebrities, and it didn't faze me much, but it's hard not to get a little caught up in the spirit of the thing. I heard about people who have been seated next to George Lucas or Huell Howser, and that's just AWESOME.

So the freshly printed menu beckons. There's a lot of food here. They actually have a subsection on cheeses. Presumably one can order a plate of jarlsberg if one feels the need. It was tempting, but not this time. I also noticed tongue sandwich and diplomat pudding, and was tempted to stray from my stated meat and potato mission, but I held true. Steak and baked potato it was. Also a Sapphire martini, because Bukowski, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway used to get sloshed here, and I didn't want to miss out on an essential part of the experience.

They brought me bread which, while rather crusty, was not at all bad. They brought me booze, which I don't particularly like, but it wasn't especially unpleasant and fit the mood. They brought me a potato, full of butter and sour cream. A borderline illegal delicacy from the days before heart attacks, and, mmm boy was it good! And then there was the steak. Say what you will about the rest of their menu, but they cook up a damn fine steak. I ordered mine medium rare, and it came out red and nearly mooing. It was borderline cattle sashimi, and anyone who likes rare meat knows how hard it is to come by without a sermon if at all. And it was juicy. You could almost drink the juices pooling in the plate like milk out of an otherwise empty bowl of Cap'n Crunch. Not that I did so, but the option was there. This was a Platonic ideal steak, and I don't expect to find one better.

All told, I thorougly enjoyed the experience, except for the price. It ended up running me fifty dollars, sitting there by myself. Although the bartender was idly singing "Manana Is Good Enough for Me" off and on, so maybe that counts as a floor show.

So I ended the day with a big dent in my wallet and full of excellent steak. Not something I'd do often, but I really can't complain. Also, Mashti Malone's was right on the way home, so I scored some rosewater ice cream, and got to watch the cute Iranian girl behind the counter rock out to "Purple Haze." So I have that going for me. Which is nice.

So yeah, Musso and Frank's. It's expensive, and most of the food probably isn't all that good, but they make a hell of a steak, and maybe you'll get to sit at Douglas Fairbanks' table.

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