Saturday, August 19, 2017

The other "Boss" from New Jersey

What could possibly entice a couple of hundred people to spend a Sunday morning lining-up, in intense heat and humidity, on a New Jersey sidewalk?

You guessed - The opportunity to pick up a box of chocolate eclairs and watch them melt in the car.

'Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro is a star of reality television. Each week, two million people tune in to watch him decorate wedding cakes and fold the almonds into the biscotti mix. 

The truly dedicated make the pilgrimage to Hoboken to snap pictures of the store and possibly have a 'consultation' with the great man himself. 

Pilgrims may also get the chance to clap eyes on wife, Lisa; right-hand man Mauro Castano; head baker Joey Faugno; bakery sculptor 'Ralphie Boy' Attanasia and intern Marissa Lopez. 

Less likely to be squeezing the icing bag on the premises is brother-in-law Remy Gonzalez, now embarking on a nine year stretch for aggravated sexual assault.

Now excuse me, I have to go get a muffin, and there's a seven hour wait.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The diners are dying

The Malibu - Hoboken

The New York Times ran an article a while back about the vanishing New York diner.  Here are my notes on the subject:

The Malibu Diner somehow manages to combine the stylistic elements of funeral parlour and penny arcade. I asked the waiter if they had Wi-Fi yet and he gave me a blank look before answering: "We don't do Chinese food".

The pastries and muffins on the counter are clingfilmed inside plastic cases that look like the fake flower domes you see on Irish graves. -- The bereavement is sealed in.

And then there's the Westway Diner on 9th Avenue
Twenty years ago, the city was full of places like this, but the waning popularity of the heart attack put a lot of them out of business. Back then, you could tell how popular a place was by the number of ambulances parked outside.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Think inside the box...

When he goes to sell it... He can say it was never taken out of the box.

When the beach is full... feel free to use the car park

Kerry.  I inquire about windsurfing lessons. The young woman behind the counter happily informs me that it will cost €40 for a two-hour lesson.
"You spend the first 15 minutes on the stimulator" she says.
Just supposing it's not a mispronunciation. What if they really have the machine? Imagine something from one of the early Woody Allen movies, all chrome and stainless steel springs and red button-studded leather. I take a look in my wallet. It has to be worth €40 to find out.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The App-ostolic Church

It's Sunday morning. Grab the kids and head for a place of worship.  

How about the Pristine Chapel where the centerpiece is not a cross, but a glorious white apple with a chunk taken out. 

Souls ascending on a crystal staircase... 

 It's like the Rapture.  With merchandise.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

This is Ireland #3

Dublin airport at five in the morning...

One immigration official to check a plane-load of foreign passports. The man in front of me remarks that all the empty security booths remind him of a derelict race-course, except there is no one to say, "and they're off". Because, of course, we aren't off. We just stand around on the pasture of polished terrazzo, snorting and stamping to keep the circulation moving.

In the airport cafe, you can get five breakfast items for €7.50, but a couple from Texas wonder aloud if two slices of toast constitute one item. "Yes", says the foreign national behind the counter, clearly in tune with Irish logic, "two is one".

The sun is coming up on Terminal 2. The taxis are pulling up in their droves. The girl at the breakfast counter has decided to try a new approach with a couple of English tourists looking for scrambled egg on toast. She puts two slices side by side on the plate and cheerily announces "one-and-one is one."

It's good to be home.

This is Ireland #2

A Kilkenny Pub at 5 PM...

On my right, a shaved-bald man, his wife and daughter. The Man orders a pint, his wife a G&T; the little girl asks for a Club Orange. When the order arrives, the bald Dad picks up the register receipt and comments on the shocking price of Club Orange.

"Drink that slowly," he says as he swigs from the pint of Carlsberg.

A child with a straw turns into a sucking sinkhole when confronted with a sugary concoction. When I was a kid, the straws were the size of acupuncture needles and it didn't matter if you had lips like Louis Armstrong, a 7UP could easily last a whole weekend.

Opposite me, a nervous man with folded arms drinks a vodka and water. He covers one ear as if he's about to launch into Irish song. His companion, a large woman with silver hair, drinks an Irish coffee and whispers suggestively into his open ear. His expression never changes.

At the bar, three old men sipping their drinks, two of which are red wine. Red wine? What happened to pints of porter? When did we start allowing the elderly to sample the fruits of foreign vineyards? What are we trying to do?  Scare away the tourists.

before the Americans arrive, break out the Guinness, the tweed coats, and the battered hats. Hide the satellite telly. Somebody, for God's sake, start a fight.

People taking pictures of people taking pictures

Our lives have turned into a great big rectal examination, but the funny thing is this:  It’s the assholes who are wielding the cameras.

Dumb in any language

I don't hate many words, 
but there's one that really manages to get my back up.

I lived in France for three years and never once heard the word 'entrepreneur', but this morning, on RTE radio, it burst forth at least forty times.

A couple of men were blathering on about the exciting, challenging, adventurous, lonely and not always properly rewarded, life of the entrepreneur. They spoke like a couple of battle hardened soldiers. Their wives understood. Their families made sacrifices. Such is the life of an Irishman with a career denoted by a French noun.

An entrepreneur is “A person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk”.

In other words, what we English speakers used to call a fucking businessman.

Avoca Store, Rathcoole

A woman with a twelve-year-old insouciant daughter dawdling behind her; both sipping coffee from paper cups.  -- At what age should you introduce your kids to drugs?  Here's a rough guide:

Nicotine and caffeine at 13.
G&T, no later than 14
Cocaine for the Junior Cert
Heroin for the Leaving.