If You Eat At Pappy’s Shack, You Have To Get The Onion Ring Fried Chicken

May 28, 2008

In the days prior to the Memorial Day three-day weekend, I repeatedly answered queries regarding my plans simply – “couch,” “eat something,” “sleep,” “scratch an itch”. I desired little more.

Whether it was my recent post mentioning chicken or the fact that I’d freebase fried chicken if I could, I decided to treat Paloma to one of my patented food-related road trips – a journey that would take us forty-five miles into the hinterlands, through Pasquo, Tidwell, and Brushy Creek to the Beacon Light and their much-celebrated fried chicken (at least according to blurbs found on the internet).

Of course, the price for Paloma’s participation was a quick shopping side-trip to a mall on the way. Now, I haven’t frequented malls since I was skipping school in tenth grade, but I harbor no conceit against them. They are, quite simply, the American version of street markets in other parts of the world (albeit more superficial).

While waiting, I noticed numerous pairs of people, clearly there together, and both of them speaking on cell phones.

Why? If the people on the other end of the call were so important, why weren’t these people there with them rather than each other? Two men stood there, chattering into their phones outside of Pottery Barn Kids. Maybe they were calling their wives.

“Yeah, honey, it’s me. I’m at the mall. Yeah, with Bob. Anyhow, we’re headed to get a big pretzel and we’re outside Pottery Barn Kids and I thought I’d call and see if you wanted me to pick up any pottery for the kids.”

I digress. We eventually arrived at The Beacon Light, a small roadside establishment crowded with numerous folksy items for sale – small, stone bird baths, wood carvings, and homemade fudge. The fried chicken was divine.

The following morning, while at the grocery store, I noticed onion ring batter and thought to myself that fried chicken coated in onion ring might be a feast indeed. I’m not sure if such a thing exists or the responsibility for bringing this culinary delight to life rests with me.

Deep down, I suspect that I long to be a fried chicken mogul like Col. Sanders, Mrs. Winner, or Popeye. Perhaps the hungry masses will know me as Pappy and come far and wide on the simple recommendation of a stranger on the internet.

I, obviously, would.

Fetchin’ Bones – Chicken Truck

Stereo MC’s – Chicken Shake

Beastie Boys – Finger Lickin’ Good

Col. Sanders Would Have Never Been Such A Slave To Vanity…Would He?

May 24, 2008

Has plastic surgery now become the norm, nothing more than regular maintenance for every other person I see? I caught Mary Tyler Moore while channel-surfing recently and she frightened me – truly, deeply, profoundly. She’d probably be a perfectly, attractive woman for her age, growing old with grace and style. Instead, she frightened me and made me think she and Joan Rivers should go bowling together.

And then, there’s Kenny Rogers. A friend once used to joke about having calculated some formula for projecting the age of his next wife. The wives and girlfriends kept getting younger. Hey, older guys have always gotten the cool, younger chicks since junior high, right? Summer of eighth grade, Kate, a girl with whom I (and most of our class) was smitten) was dating some high school junior from our hated, rival high school. Drove a Trans-Am, as I recall (him, not her).

But I digress. I saw a picture of The Gambler online last week and…well…There are guys on the website, Men Who Look Like Kenny Rogers that look more like Kenny than Kenny these days. I think that he should have gotten a Trans-Am. I don’t want Kenny to give me the heebee jeebees when I see a picture of him because, like Kramer and Newman, I thought the man made a mean bird. Do Kenny Rogers’ Roasters still exist?

The point is that aging is a natural thing and I’m not quite sure who all of these people think that they are fooling with their nips and tucks, additives and preservatives. I want to see Mary Tyler Moore and think what a brilliant comedic foil she was for Dick Van Dyke, how lovely she looked in Capri pants, and wonder if Morey Amsterdam ever tapped that. I don’t want to recoil, aghast with fear. I want to see Kenny Rogers and deeply ponder the life lessons he taught us as The Gambler, speculate if it was the wood that made that chicken so good, and not be concerned that, if he smiles too broadly, his eyes might burst from his head as though they were spring-loaded.

Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)

Radiohead – Fake Plastic Trees

Cibo Matto – Know Your Chicken

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – Love Is All Around (Theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show)

Contains The Hit Singles…

May 21, 2008

Like many music fans, my earliest introduction to music was Top 40 radio and I had little idea what might happen should I stray from the path of the mainstream. My trust was placed in radio; if it was worth hearing, wouldn’t I hear it there?

So, I began to gather the songs I liked, making crude mixes recorded onto blank Maxell cassettes by placing a tape recorder against the radio’s speaker. The term fidelity was merely a word in an REO Speedwagon album title and the main objective was to snag a recording of the song without the DJ chattering all the way through the intro.

To put it into evolutionary terms (with apologies to those of you from Kansas), I took the first tentative steps out of the primordial dreck and began to purchase music and, with no turntable, the cassette was the preferred medium. Styx’ Paradise Theater, Journey’s Escape, Foreigner’s 4, and The J. Geils’ Band’s Freeze Frame were among the first titles to make a dent in my allowance (insert your own primordial dreck joke here). All of them purchased from the token music section in my hometown’s five-and-dime store.

My interest in each selection was limited to having pristine versions of the album’s hits – the other tracks, obviously not worthy, were inconveniences to be fast forwarded through. The cellophane shrink-wrap would often have a sticker bearing the superfluous “Contains the hit singles…” I knew the hit singles as the radio and, on occasion, Kasey Kasem had already clued me in to them (how someone would know ahead of time what would be the hits was, like fidelity, a mystery to me).

My drift from the world of Top 40 began in the spring of 1982 as I began to channel-surf when Q102 would play a song I didn’t like. Two increasingly satisfying destinations being 96 Rock and Q102’s bitter rival WEBN – both album rock stations. They allowed me to get my fix of staples like Journey and REO Speedwagon, including tracks which I didn’t know as hits – to my surprise, it seemed that it was acceptable to listen to almost each and every song on Escape.

I finally threw caution to the wind when Asia’s self-titled debut was released. Heat Of The Moment was all over Top 40 radio and Only Time Will Tell (which I preferred) and Sole Survivor were played every bit as much on WEBN (technically, they were also listed as hits on the cassette’s sticker and, thus, were pre-approved for my listening pleasure).

I popped Asia into the cassette tuner/tape deck hybrid which had become my first stereo equipment (and referring to it as such is generous) purchase. Heat Of The Moment blared forth, followed by the other two songs I knew from radio. Nearly forty-five minutes later, the album had closed with Here Comes The Feeling and I realized that there were songs which the radio wouldn’t play for me which I enjoyed as well.

I was liberated. Sure it wasn’t as cool as my liberators being The Beatles or The Clash, but I was now free to choose what music I wanted to like, no longer yoked to the Top 40 charts for guidance.

Incidentally, Asia has recently released a new album with their original line-up for the first time since 1983. The tracks I’ve heard wouldn’t have been out of place a quarter century ago, alongside these selections from their debut.

Asia – Only Time Will Tell

Asia – Time Again

Asia – Wildest Dreams

Asia – Here Comes The Feeling