Letters to Harrison: 8

Esquire has a podcast now where they go back and look at old articles that had been popular over the years and you will not be surprised that they covered your food column The Raw and the Cooked. They discuss your article The Days of Wine and Pig Hocks which I found to be funny and highly entertaining. Having never been on a book tour, only slinging paperback copies at local libraries and different venues where the odds of finding anyone who reads is like finding bigfoot, I have a hard time understanding the dreaded tour. I was glad to see you made a go of it, ingesting anything that looked or smelled good, and bringing a little extra weight back home with you. Bud is doing a gallery at the Lansing library and I have to say I’m excited to go. You must be the one person on the planet that doesn’t have more that five pictures of yourself on the internet but your friend Bud has enough to do a show. Have it be my luck to drive over an hour one way only to discover Bud has five photos to share and no prints. I could try to be less pessimistic but what is the point. Living my life as if the world is out to get me leaves me with a lack of surprise and yet it still finds a way to throw me a curve ball and beam me in the head. I heard that you had a knack for going into restaurants and ordering everything on the menu. I have never tried this for several reasons, for one my wallet would not allow it and I was raised not to waste food regardless of how bad it is. Well, until my parents tried it and almost threw up in their own disgust. I have always played the Guinea pig and while it has worked in my favor most of the time, I have to admit that there have been long days sweating in bed and mornings that drifted into afternoons while sitting on the toilet. This was in the days before cells phones so a good book came in handy. Try to grab something you checked out from the local library and share the love. There is a local Mexican restaurant that serves traditional tacos not far from my house and while I will say they have the best food in this category their service for the longest time was lacking. My wife convinced us to try it out again and forget the nightmare that happened a few years ago. There was only one thing I wanted to do when I arrived and that was to order every style of taco they had and try them all, which I did. I tried this before and I must have had the order that the cook decided was a pain in the ass. Still, how hard is it to make seven corn tortilla tacos with only onions, cilantro, and a wedge of lime? I waited one hour and fifteen minutes before my food arrived and the server never came back to check on me. The tacos were delicious, that wasn’t what left a bad taste in my mouth it was the lack of apathy to the customer. I ate the food and therefore paid for it but when it came to recommending the place years later, I pointed people to their reviews online and I wasn’t the only one. At some point the manager that the place was presumably named after, a tall blonde-haired white man with Buddy Holly glasses, either left or was finally fired, and the place named the Big White Cock in Spanish finally turned things around. I should do this more often, go into a place and order random things, but isn’t that what a buffet is for? Is the buffet just another form of cheating when it comes to good food even when you simply want to sit on your ass and stuff your face? I had a really good Sangiovese from Tuscany last night and slept like a rock. One of the five wine racks in the basement is drying up and I think it’s time to fill it up again. Maybe I will pick up some lunch along the way.

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Letters to Harrison: 2

Did you finish that last poem? Lying there on the floor, pen in hand, shall it be labeled unfinished? I read an article by a reporter who had met you at a young age. Your advice to a thirteen-year-old boy was to stay away from the Hollywood coke scene. You forgot to mention the booze and women too, or are those okay in your book? I worked on a television show in Seattle and while I wasn’t offered the magic powder to help with my writing, I was given copious amounts of alcohol by a man who was five years sober in AA. Leave it to alcoholics to live vicariously through others. We all do that don’t we? A writer lives the life he wants to live through his characters. He imagines himself with the damsel, doing things that he could not physically do on a good day. And if you are a horrible writer they live happily ever after, because we both know that isn’t true. I have a second daughter on the way, another life I have to disappoint with the truth if I want her to live a decent life. There is nothing worse than living in a world of false expectations and learning later that princesses and fairies are pure imagination. Puberty takes care of most of that for those that are fortunate. High school takes care of the rest. Men with daughters are destined to feel guilty about their desires. What was it that led you to drink? We have opposite taste you and I. I can not touch vodka without ruining my week and have learned that bourbon is my drink of choice. As for red wine I have always been fond of the Italians but will admit that a recent Cotes Du Rhone was a delicious choice last week. Maybe it was the red wine that kept you with us for so long, making up for those American Spirits, removing one nail from the coffin at a time. I made that pumpkin soup today, playing around with cookbooks as you would have done. Its amazing how one can long for food from their past, meals you will never have again. A Muslim friend longed for his mother’s stuffed grape leaves and when I found some and brought them for his lunch break, he never talked to me again. Sometimes it is the gesture of kindness that gets us into the most trouble. It’s the long recipes that discourage me, dozens of ingredients that turn a twenty-minute cook time into an hour of work and a trip to the grocery store. Truth be told, the best meals need little but good ingredients and a little bit of love. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

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