Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cheesesteak

Cheesesteaks. I love ‘em. Maybe my favorite food. Either cheesesteaks or the still beating hearts of my enemies, (which I consume raw to absorb their courage, natch.) not quite sure which yet. Though cheesesteaks are easier to come by.
With all the references to cheesesteaks in previous Eighty-Four Glyde entries, (go ahead and check if you don’t believe me) I know exactly what you thought when you read the title to this column:
“It’s about damn time.”
And you’re right, for far too long have I neglected to write about a topic so near and dear to my heart. (Next week I’m going to continue the streak by writing about another topic dear to my heart: necrophilia.)
Webster’s dictionary defines cheesesteak as: “a type of food with a whole bunch of different shit cooked together and thrown on a bun.” And in this definition, they are correct. The typical cheesesteak has four basic ingredients, (yes, two of them are cheese and steak, how did you ever guess?) the final two being onions and bread.
I actually like my cheesesteaks with green peppers and mushrooms as well. My cheese of choice is provolone, (yeah Philly, I know all about the “whiz” but I’ll address that garbage later.) But you can get anything you want in a cheesesteak. Such is the beauty of said item of food; it can be tailored to any whim. Some people like banana peppers, (freaks) or other cheeses or even chicken instead of beef (if you can imagine such a thing!)
Whenever one thinks of cheesesteaks, one’s mind naturally thinks of Philadelphia (which is Latin, Phila meaning “town,” and Delphia meaning “of ridiculously narrow streets.”) The birthplace of the cheesesteak.
Now, while the town of the cheesesteaks is rarely, if at all, argued by people (except for real cheesesteak enthusiasts, I suppose) the establishment that makes the best cheesesteaks is a never-ending argument on the level of “Who Shot First, Han or Greedo?”
In the grand tradition of the Hatfields vs McCoys, Marvel vs DC, Peter vs Sylar, Transformers vs GoBots, Coke vs Pepsi and Great Taste vs Less Filling comes Pat’s vs Geno’s.
Located in south Philly, (at the intersection of 9th and Passyunk) Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks are locked in eternal battle, across the street from each other, for Philly steak supremacy. Pat’s King of Steaks is widely accepted as the actual birthplace of the cheesesteak, sometime in the early 30s, though Geno’s Steaks, which appeared in the 50s, takes credit for actually adding cheese to the equation, (prior to that they were simply called steak sandwiches.)
Recently, I had the opportunity to patronize both establishments, to see just whose cuisine reigns supreme. First up: Pat’s.
As the originator of the cheesesteak, I felt that I had to visit Pat’s regardless of whether I was able to follow up at Geno’s or not. It’s not often that one gets to eat at a place where a type of sandwich was invented. But I didn’t go in there without knowing what I was doing. People who are familiar with Pat’s, know that, much like the Soup Nazi, there is a certain way that the food must be ordered. Failure to properly order the food will result in a lot of evil looks, rueful head shakes and being ordered to go to the back of the line.
The key to ordering at Pat’s is easy. In fact, they even have instructions there to let you know what to do. You start off by saying what kind of steak you want, there are a few different varieties and you can tell what the toppings are because they are included in the name. For example, as previously stated, I like mushrooms, onions and green peppers on my cheesesteak. So, I ordered the mush and pepper steak. Don’t bother telling ‘em what size you want, it’s a cheesesteak, it comes in one size: hungry.
Next, you say what kind of cheese you want. Philly residents go with cheese whiz, saying that it’s what makes a cheesesteak a cheesesteak. I disagree, since the cheesesteak was invented in the 30s and whiz wasn’t invented until the 60s. Besides my fav provolone, (considered, in some circles, to be the ultimate cheesesteak cheese) there’s also American, mozzarella and Swiss, though it’s considered bad form to order Swiss in Philly. So, at this point, my order is a mush and pepper steak, provolone, (you don’t actually say and, you imply a comma, they know what you’re talking about.) Lastly, you need to decide if your steak is gonna have grilled onions or not. Since I already said that onions are one of the base ingredients of a cheesesteak, I recommend getting them. If you want onions, you tell them “wit.” If your punk ass doesn’t want onions, you say “witout.” Pronounce it that way or you will have revealed your neophyte status.
So, for everybody keeping track, when I got to the window, I said, with frugality of words: “Mush and pepper steak, provolone, wit.” About two seconds later I got my food.
Pat’s is the original, so some leeway must be given. They did give me my steak with all alacrity, but the cheese wasn’t close to melted and the meat and toppings were tepid at best, but mostly cold. I felt bad. I thought that it could have been a pretty kick ass steak if it were hot, but its luke-warmness worked against it. On to Geno’s!
Since it’s literally across the street, I was worried that the people at Geno’s would see me walking up from Pat’s and spit in my food. I’m glad they didn’t.
Confident that I had mastered the ordering technique, I walked up to the window at Geno’s (both establishments have ordering windows and open air seating.) and repeated exactly what I said at Pat’s. I received the response that Geno’s doesn’t do green peppers, so I had to get a steak with onion, mushrooms and cheese.
Let me just take a second here to say something. Green peppers are not a rare ingredient, not even close. Hell, they’re all over the damn place. So, for a restaurant to say that they don’t do green peppers means that somebody made the conscious decision to not involve that specific vegetable. Strikes me as odd and potentially neurotic.
The second thing that caught my attention was a sign posted in the window. “This is America, when ordering ‘SPEAK ENGLISH,’” it said.
As I’ve said before, I’m not a patriot. As a soldier I don’t fall for that whole “I may not believe in what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” bullshit. And I often get annoyed when I go to the drive through and the person on the mic speaks two words of English and always messes up my order (“Pancake syrup on my Whopper? Are you serious?”) But even I know that sign is wrong. Besides the fact that there is no official language in this insane country, it is also bigoted and strikes me of those “whites only” signs back in the first half of last century. I don’t dig on that vibe.
I sat at a table and ate my steak. Geno’s has a unique approach, they don’t chop up the meat like people are used to, they leave it in big slices. I don’t know what that’s all about, but it seems to work. The Geno’s steak was better than the one from Pat’s. Sadly, with the lack of green peppers and the awkward approach to language barriers, in my mind Geno’s rates the lower of the two.
What do people in Philly think? Well, I asked a few and the word on the street is that Delassandro’s is the place to chow down on some yummy cheesesteaks. Go figure.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It’s all right (and that’s the problem)

Cars, scissors, can openers, school desks, machine guns, pens and pencils, guitars, computer mice, zippers, analog watches, locks, doorbells, Chihuahuas, grapefruits, mirrors and so on and so on and so on. What do they all (well, most of ‘em) have in common?
They’re all designed for right-handed people.
As a lefty I am sick and tired of the discrimination against southpaws like me. We’re people too, with feelings and toenails and favorite flavors of kool-aid, just like the rest of you!
I cannot express the frustration of being a young child, full of hope, naivety, wonder and optimism, struggling vainly with a pair of right-handed scissors, (i.e. every freakin pair of scissors you’ve ever come across) on a piece of construction paper that I had transformed into a wonderful piece of art (Arts & Crafts represent son!) for my devoted parents. What started as a nice card telling my parents how much I appreciate them, (lovingly full of backward facing Es, badly drawn stick figures, houses with smoke coming out the chimney, cotton ball clouds, birds shaped like the letter M and glitter up the whazoo!) turned into an exercise in futility and humiliation as all my friends laughed at my inability to use a basic tool of childhood. I was a pariah! Exiled in shame simply because of the hand I use to navigate through life.
You righties have no idea how annoying it is to go home at the end of every school day and have to wash and scrub the hell out of your left hand because of all the ink that is on the bottom of it from a day of taking pointless and often indecipherable notes (“Hepatome matrices are often congruent with their reverse sine waves.” What the hell does that even mean?!*)
Speaking of school, what kind of sadist decided that all desks will have a place for your right elbow to rest as you write and completely ignored lefties?

Luke: Hey man, you built these desks so that only right-handed people would be able to use them comfortably. What about lefties?
Jon: Screw ‘em all! My dad used to get drunk and beat me when I was a child, and he always used his left hand. This is my revenge!
Luke: You twat.

Frankly, I find that this “leftist” mentality that society has has gone on long enough. I demand retribution. Where’s my can opener that won’t slice five layers of skin off my hand when I try to use it? Where’s my car with the gear shift on the left?
Oh, I know what you’re saying: “Josh, they’ve already got shit for lefties to buy. There are left-handed scissors, notebooks and whatnot out there for you. Quit complaining!”
Let me tell you something about those dumb notebooks, cause I got my fair share of them when I was younger. First of all, they’re nothing more than regular notebooks turned upside down. That’s retarded. Secondly, if you’re seen around school with one of those things, you’re treated like Eric Stoltz in “Mask”. Lame is the word I would use.
Also, do you know how much research and junk you’ve got to do to find left-handed versions of things? That’s a colossal waste of time, especially if you have to order it from online. I shouldn’t have to go through all that just to get a computer mouse that I can use to access that wonderful internets porn.
Just having left-handed items available isn’t enough to assuage the pain us lefties have felt since the beginning of time, (it’s a well known fact that the first left-handed caveman was beat to death by a group of right-handed Neanderthals to appease the sun god.) The only option is that everything should be created for the use of lefties and all you rightholes need to adapt to our shit! How’s that sound?!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We lefties are the last unrepresented minority. It’s time we speak up and do something about our status as second class citizens. This goes beyond the typical bigotry the United States is known for. This is worldwide! If we don’t do something now, our children and our children’s children will be forced to grow up in a world that is controlled by people who are out of their right minds!**


*Not a thing. I totally made that up. But if it turns out that it actually does make sense, then I did it on purpose cause I’m a genius!

**It’s a left-handed joke. You rightholes wouldn’t understand.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

T-Pain in the Ass*

Have you ever heard of that guy who had his hand trapped under a bolder and had to cut his arm off to live? I don’t remember his name, but I’m sure it was something like John Naileater, or Joe Rockbender, something like that, (though I’m sure his nickname is Lefty now.) Anyway, this guy was walking around some mountains, knocking bald eagles out of the sky with his loogies, wrestling whole sloths of bear, (that’s right chumps, the name for a group of bears is a sloth, or sleuth, consider yourself educated!)
and starting forest fires with nothing more than his steely gaze. When all of a sudden, a jerk of a boulder decided to crush his hand and part of his forearm, (you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t have the details of this story correct, it happened a few years ago and frankly, I have more important things to look up online, i.e. names for groups of animals and the closest strip clubs with midget transgender strippers).
After a few days of only slight discomfort, (pain that would have caused a lesser man to scream and void his bowels) Bob Steelchewer decided that he wanted to get back home in time to watch a little football and have some beers. So, over the course of a few days, with nothing more than a small, dull, 3-inch bladed pocket knife, (you know, the kind where, if you were to run across a ten-year-old boy scout with his knife, you’d have blade envy) he managed to cut through skin, muscle, sinew, ligaments, bone, cloth, fudge and four types of cheese. He had nothing to block out the pain, and he didn’t get to take breaks to go play Halo or whatever. He simply used a knife that would be hard pressed to cut through warm butter and single-mindedly (and handedly!) sawed through his arm until he was free.
Like I said, it took a long ass time. He’d get halfway through a bone and pass out for a few hours due to extreme pain. For him it was the single most painful and excruciating thing he has ever experienced. We, as normal people who have never been in that situation could never wrap our brains around just what that guy had to endure during that time. The majority of us, if ever faced with a choice like that would rather die than feel such agony and torture.
I tell you that to tell you this.
I would rather cut off my arm with a spoon than listen to any more “music” that T-Pain puts out.
“But who’s T-Pain?” you might be asking yourself. Good question. Besides being the herald of death for contemporary music, T-Pain, is some fat sloppy dude who is featured on approximately 110% of the songs that can be heard on most hip-hop and R & B radio stations. (The extra ten percent counts for spillover on gospel, sports and country stations. That fool is everywhere!)
“Alright, so he’s in a lot of songs, that’s not so bad. What’s wrong with the guy, Josh?” Another good question. First off, the boy can’t sing. That wouldn’t be so bad if he was trying to rap, but he also can’t rap, which wouldn’t be a problem if he was just trying to sing. But he tries to do both, at the same time! It’s impossible. It’s like kissing your elbow or trying to find the female G-Spot. Impossible I tell you!
The whole fusion of rap and R & B has gotten too ridiculous. Have you heard Sexual Eruption by Snoop? Who told that fool he could sing? How much bubba cush did he have to smoke to do that shit?! It’s mad frustrating to me. I’m sure that country music people feel the same way about the blending of country and pop music. Sometimes segregation is a good thing. I segregate the foods on my plate, the socks in my drawer and the genres of my music.
What’s worse about T-Pain is that you never hear his real voice. His voice is so overly synthesized and mechanical that he’s given hope to people with voice boxes who think they can be the next American Idol. He makes Stephen Hawking sound like Placido Domingo. I always figured that only people who can sing should sing. Guess I’m a little backwards in my ways. What’s next, quadriplegic gymnasts?
“Fine Josh, I can see that you’ve really got a bug up your ass about this cat, but why should I care? I listen to rock, emo and other music of that nature. He’s not bothering me.” This is true. So far. But like terrorism, communism and those stupid crocs, this shit can and will spread! Today T-Pain and his kind are just on the “urban music” stations. Tomorrow he could be on your “contemporary top 40” station. Next week he could be on your “smooth jazz” stations! In a month he might be on the “easy listening that even the boss can enjoy” station. Next year it could be NPR! Who knows how far this could go? You might be driving in to work, sipping your delicious mochagrandefrappechino with a dash of whipped cream and just a hint of nutmeg, listening to Pachabel’s Cannon in D minor and next thing you know there’s some kind of robot voice on the radio telling women to make their butt cheeks clap!
I shudder at the possibilities. We can put a stop to T-Pain in our lifetime.
And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of every musician who puts “lil” at the front of their names. I’m getting a headache just trying to keep track of ‘em all.
Bands with cutesy, nonsensical names (Deathcab for Cutie, Fallout Boy, Michael BublĂ©) I’m coming for your asses next.**