The Chicken Baron Of Devil’s Tower

November 13, 2010

As Paloma will attest, I will drive into the hinterlands for fried chicken.

And though I saw them on what seemed like every corner of Kuching while traveling in Borneo, visiting our nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken is a trip into the urban hinterlands – a twenty-minute drive to a dodgy part of town.

About two or three times a year the lure will be too strong and I’ll make the trek.

It’s also seared into my memory to hear The Drunken Frenchman quite drunkenly hoist a glass to toast, “Colonel Sanders – a great American!”

That inexplicable, wholly random declaration – completely unrelated to any conversation at our table of friends that night – has baffled me for nearly twenty years.

Perhaps it was a message from the cosmos that I must unravel to achieve enlightenment.

Perhaps the Frenchman was merely very, very drunk.

So when I happened across a bio about the chicken mogul, I watched.

I don’t think that I would have wanted to have a drink with The Colonel.

He seemed like a bit of a douche.

But, that aside, there’s no debate that the man made a pretty strong bird.

The universe, through The Drunken Frenchman, might have been telling me that the path to enlightenment is to become a fried chicken mogul.

Perhaps I was just craving fried chicken.

I’m going to put aside the need for perfecting a strong bird of my own for the moment. Obviously a culinarily masterful, palatte-pleasing recipe will be integral to achieving moguldom, but I turned my attention to another important element.

Location.

Col. Sanders first restaurant was located strategically on a highway in a rural part of Kentucky. That left forty-nine states and howevermany territories and protecterates from which to choose.

A few nights later, I finally popped in the DVD of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind that I’d purchased several weeks before. As I watched the breathtaking classic film, the universe nudged me again.

The volcanic outcropping known as Devil’s Tower – where the climax of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind takes place – is located in a national state park in the northeastern corner of Wyoming and nearly half a million tourists visit each year.

There would be no shortage of travellers wanting nothing more than to finger lick chicken from their phalanges.

And, if the aliens do show up at Devil’s Tower as they do in the movie…well, I’d have to think that fried chicken favored by our interstellar overlords trumps eleven herbs and spices proffered by a Colonel who wasn’t even a colonel.

Perhaps somewhere on US 90, leading to Devil’s Tower, is my Kentucky and my shot at fried chicken moguldom.

One more sign from the universe and Paloma and I will be packing up the animals and heading for Hulett.

Perhaps I should get started concocting a recipe.

In December, it will be thirty years since The Colonel hung up his mortal apron and headed for some kitchen in the afterlife. Here are four songs from albums that had recently been released and might have been added to his collection…

The Police – De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
from Zenyattà Mondatta

Three albums in and the British trio broke through with Zenyattà Mondatta which took them to the Top Ten on the album chart as well as the singles chart with the deceptively insightful and ridiculously catchy De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.

I know that, at the time, I was unfamiliar with earlier hits that The Police had notched with Roxanne and Message In A Bottle, but I took to De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da the first time I heard the song. It wouldn’t be long before I was a devoted fan and knew their catalog inside and out.

(I’d like to imagine The Colonel singing along as De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da blared from a transistor radio in the kitchen)

Harry Chapin – Sequel
from Sequel

I knew little of singer/songwriter Harry Chapin’s music aside from a few songs (one being, obviously, his enduring hit Cat’s In The Cradle, a song whose bad rap I never quite understood).

However, the late singer is a favorite over at The Revue Review, though, and over the course of a number of posts there, I’ve become far more familiar with Chapin and increasingly fascinated by both the man and his underappreciated music.

I don’t recall hearing Sequel when it became Chapin’s final hit in 1980 – a year before his tragic death – but the song is a poignant and satisfying follow-up to the tale Chapin had recounted almost a decade earlier with his hit Taxi.

Suzi Quatro – Lipstick
from Rock Hard

Leather-clad rocker Suzi Quatro, who had portrayed leather-clad rocker Leather Tuscadero on the television series Happy Days, is another act that has existed mostly under my radar. I knew the name, but I had heard nothing by the singer aside from Stumblin’ In, her smash duet with Smokie’s Chris Norman from 1978.

In Lipstick, I hear an engaging fusion of Blondie, Joan Jett, and Them’s classic Gloria . I also hear a scorned woman whose affections I’d be hesitant to trifle with.

Dire Straits – Skateaway
from Making Movies

Other than Sultans Of Swing, this was the second song I think I ever knew by Dire Straits. I’m not sure where – as we didn’t have MTV in our town at the time – but I saw the video. Probably on Night Flights which we got a year or two before MTV.

Anyhow, Skateaway has always been one of my favorites by them.

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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