October 14, 2010
I’m not always into the old Tumblr (too much meat, not enough taters), but I’d like to the thank the good folks at Album Tacos for recognizing my contribution to their brilliant site. Not on the level of some the other photoshopped masterpieces, but I’m proud to be included.
April 17, 2010
I know someone who had dinner with Andre. A friend of mine, through some art world connections, found himself across the table from the man, chatting between mouthfuls of pasta or sushi or some such. My apologies if this bombshell has caused you to drop your mug of coffee or to fall down a well, IPhone in hand, mouth agape. It is shocking, but I assure you it’s true.
If you aren’t shocked, it’s only because you’re thinking, “Andre? Andre Agassi?” Heavens no. This wasn’t some binge of crystal meth and Oedipal rants. “Andre the Giant, then?” Sadly, that glandular wonder is dead, and even if he was alive, I suspect a dinner with Andre the Giant would involve massive turkey legs and troughs of gravy as opposed to the stimulating discussions for which the Andre I refer to is famous. “And which Andre, pray tell, is that?”
In the 1980s, if you wanted to make a joke about intellectualism, Louis Malle’s My Dinner with Andre was always a good place to start. It was a film featuring Wallace Shawn, most famous to the masses for his “inconceivable” role in The Princess Bride and now for his joyously goofy part on Gossip Girl. In the film, Wallace (or Wally, as he’s known to pals) eats dinner with theatre stalwart Andre Gregory. They talk about art retreats and existentialism and all things well-heeled and white. And that’s it. Roll credits.
As much as people were baffled that this could be a movie, there were critics such as Roger Ebert, and plenty of turtle-necked philosophy majors, who ate the junk up. I saw it when I was green and impressionable and while I can say it wasn’t an entire bore, I definitely didn’t buy into it. Just like I didn’t buy into Waking Life or I Heart Huckabees or similar exercises in navel-gazing cinematic blather. That said, should I ever be invited to a dinner with Andre Gregory, I would be honored and humbled. Because it is the equivalent of winning the culinary/conversation lottery.
Really, it is. Think about it.
Let’s say Andre eats dinner every day, a safe assumption. Let’s also say he eats at home most often, but regularly goes out with his wife or friends, and occasionally dines at art openings and parties and business functions. From this, we can make a generous guess and assume that, on average, Andre eats dinner with a person he has never met once every five days. Now you can’t count any person who happens to be in the room while he cuts a t-bone. Having a conversation with Andre is essential to having dinner with him. So all things told, for each year of his life, Andre has had about 73 new dining companions. It’s been almost 30 years since the film. In that time, it multiplies to 2,190 folks.
Now let’s round the number to 2,000 for the sake of calculations and Andre’s expanding ego. There are approximately 6 billion people in the world. 6 billion divided by 2,000 equals 3 million. So one out of every 3 million people can at one point in his or her life brag, “Guess what I did last night, dude? I had dinner with friggin’ Andre?” Mugs of coffee are dropped. Wells are fed with the awestruck.
For perspective, consider this:
- You’re 3 times more likely to have won an Olympic Gold Medal in the last 30 years (about one in a million)
- If you’re a woman,you’re 12 times more likely to have gotten sweet with Warren Beatty (one in 250,000)
- And watch the skies! Cause you’re about 15 times more likely to die from an asteroid impact (one in 200,000)
Was my friend lucky? As you can see, he was, and his luck didn’t stop there. After his dinner with Andre, they moved on to a bar to grab some drinks. And what did Andre propose? “I should call my friend to join us,” he said. “You would really like Wally.” Inconceivable.
March 30, 2010
I was 19, maybe 20. It was summertime, or maybe the holidays. I can’t be sure. It doesn’t matter really. The only thing that matters is that I was home from college, living in my parents’ house. I had been out for the evening, catching a movie. I returned around 11PM, with a craving for a glass of milk. This was nothing odd. Up until my early 20s, I probably drank a glass of milk a day.
I opened the fridge, and found a gallon container of 2%, with about a cup of milk in it. It was the only milk left in the house and I poured the entirety in a glass. I didn’t take it all down at once, but I held a healthy gulp in my mouth. It was tepid and stale – simply disgusting. As I spit it into the kitchen sink, I had flashbacks to a day when I had swallowed an entire glass of sour milk before realizing what I had done. Nausea doesn’t begin to describe what rampaged through my guts. I was not prepared to relive such horrors, so I promptly dumped the milk down the drain. As I washed the glass and the container, I noticed the expiration date. It had passed two days before. A close call. I set the empty container on the counter as a signal to my parents that we needed to buy more milk, I brushed my teeth, I counted my blessings and I went to bed.
The next morning I woke up and headed straight to the fridge. It was the same as I left it the night before, except for one thing. On the top shelf was a gallon container of 2%, with about a cup of milk in it. I opened it, smelled it, and touched some to my lips. It was tepid and stale – simply disgusting. I looked at the expiration date. It had passed three days before. This was the exact same stuff I had encountered the previous night, the exact same stuff I had held in my mouth, had spit out, had dumped down the sink. That demon milk had been reincarnated.
I wasn’t feverish. I hadn’t sipped a drop of alcohol in days. I had gone to a movie and that’s all. There was no possible way I could have been drugged. I’ve had my share of vivid dreams, but not prophetic ones. This was beyond deju vu. There was only one answer (and no, Matrix fans, Laurence Fishburne had nothing to do with it). I had gone insane. Schizophrenia usually hits around 19 or 20 and this was my first taste of it. It tasted like spoiled dairy.
For the rest of the morning, I sat quietly wondering what would come of my life. This was, quite clearly, a turning point. I chuckle as I write about it now, because I eventually solved the Encyclopedia Brown level mystery. But at the time, it was pure existential terror. Can you guess what happened?
March 26, 2010
They will refer to this post in court. Millions of dollars will be at stake. The very foundations of copyright law will be in question. Sonia Sotamayor will chime in. Sean Hannity will call someone a communist. The blogosphere will be ablaze.
Yes, for today I reveal an idea for a television program so revolutionary that someone will not only be tempted to steal it, they will be required to. The world must see this show.
People love (or watch a lot of, in any case) reality television. But it’s not the Real Housewives that make the prime time network lineups. It’s the competitions, the gussied up game shows. We want singing, dancing, feats of strength and knowledge and endurance. Why can’t one show offer all these things?
Round I – Two contestants. One chooses from a variety of categories: History, Art, Science, the standard Trivial Pursuit fare. The other chooses from a menu of food items: hot dogs, chicken wings, blueberry pies, all the staples of the competitive eating circuit. Both contestants must answer a barrage of questions from the chosen category. When they get a question right, they must eat a piece of the chosen food item within a set time period. When they get a question wrong or fail to finish the food in the allotted time, the other contestant takes over. Back and forth, back and forth they go, answering and eating, answering and eating. Vomiting, of course, means disqualification. At the end of ten minutes, whoever has answered and eaten the most moves on. Then the process is repeated with two other pairs of contestants.
Round II – Three contestants remain, and they’re all stuffed to the gills. Now is our moment for the warbling and wobbling. The host of the show, a suited-up Malcolm Jamal Warner, will introduce the finalists via some touching human interest stories. Then they will each perform a fully choreographed song and dance routine before a live audience and a panel of judges. The judges (Mario Batali, Pepa from Salt n’ Pepa, and Anna Wintour) will weigh in. The public will vote. A winner will be crowned. Again, vomiting means disqualification.
There are a lot of ways I might have gone with this. Belly Busters. Food for Thought. The Biggest Dancer. Eh. No, there’s really only one thing this can be called. The greatest television program of our era must be known as: Go With Your Gut!
So there it is. Make it so, TV executives. And when some Joey Chestnut-bellied, Ken Jennings-minded, Carrie Underwood-singing dynamo shows up on the cover of Time as the Person of Millenium, call my lawyers. Because it all started here.