This self-funded project stemmed out of years of eating dinner out, all the life-changing conversations that have occurred and passed, and celebrates our wonderful and vast system of countless restaurants.
For the project, I will travel to four locations and take people, mostly strangers, out to dinner at a restaurant of their choice and pick up the tab. I will meet these people either in public, through Craigslist, or via friends. Below are the dates and places that I will visit on my tour.
dates and places:
Chicago :: Monday, April 12 – Friday, April 23
Los Angeles :: Thursday, April 29 – Friday, May 7
New York, New York :: May 13,14,15,16
Saint Simons Island, Georgia :: May 17,18,19,20
connection: fecalface.com -> Shannon Burry (SF) -> Coffee in the Park (SF) -> Clark Caldwell (SF) sent Krista an e-mail about the National Dinner Tour
ordered: we split a caramelized crust deep dish pizza with spinach and olives. Christa ordered Bass beer (X3). I ordered Harp (X3).
We talked about California, San Francisco mutual friends, dad’s who don’t own up to their kids (not paying child support and the like), mental disorders, OCD, Ohio, her parents being hospitalized for various reasons, nursing home stories, previous jobs, breakdancing, restaurant stories, television as a religion, living alone, living with roomates, bad roomates, slobs, college, China, Europe, travelling across the USA by car, modes of transportation, traffic, commuting, work, her recent promotion, music tastes, and getting together in the future for a beer before I leave Chicago.
waiter/photographer: Aaron (a.k.a Dad)
[tags]chicago, dinner, fun, tour[/tags]
occupation: Julia – Pre-school Teacher/ Photographer : JoAnne – Photography and Women’s Studies Professor
birthdate: Julia – 4/29/75 JoAnne – Unknown
connection: San Francisco Art Institute
ordered: Julia – Cheeseburger w/ fries and Ginger Ale (we split her cheesebuger) : JoAnne – Scallops and Water
occupation: Editor/ Producer & Drummer
connection: E-mail forwarded to him at the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye Headquarters
ordered: Matt ordered a Capresa salad and a Chile ancho chicken sandwich and an iced tea. I ordered a Boddington’s, a Capresa salad, a bowl of cream of chicken soup, and washed it down with a cup of coffee.
Matt and I were seated in the patio section of this fine establishment. Chicago was living up to its Windy City reputation that evening, but thankfully we were dining in what might be considered a waiting room in a 14th century castle. Guarded by ten foot brick walls, two feet thick, and under a cozy umbrella, avoiding overhead fire, we started off with a round of drinks, an ice tea for him and a favorite Boddington’s draught for me. Matt was taking copious mental notes on his experiences for an article that he was writing for the Chicago Tribune.
We quickly realized our bond – we both grew up in the Midwest. Matt recently decided to move from his Wicker Park Apartment back home to save some money in order to buy a home. I think it would be a very bad idea to move back in with my mom; money saved – yes, mentally worth it – probably not. Naturally, I asked Matt about his journalism career. He didn’t do much writing in High School as he wasn’t there much – who really was? While in High School, I stole a pack of admission slips and learned all of the teacher’s initials – I ended up missing something like 70 or 80 days of my senior year. I would skip school and sit in a Walgreen’s parking lot smoking a corn cob pipe, reading discarded magazines and listening to the radio. Kids – unless your an excellent hacker, I don’t encourage this behavior, they have much better tabs on you now.
Matt explained that he began his writing career when he landed a job as the entertainment editor for his college paper. He claimed it was only a ploy to get loads of free music. While he was toiling away doing some good hard reporting, I was stuck working as parking lot attendant. What a shot job; Usually, I would open the gate and leave for a couple hours, nobody seemed to complain, who would? Only my boss, who fired me after learning of my escapades. After my unemployment, I tried my hand at selling weed. I was terrible, and quickly quit that to work at a local Italian restaurant owned by a bickering lesbian couple. The only perk, other than the fact that you felt like you were in some sort of reality television series, was the free wine, unbeknownst to the owners. I would usually end up hammered at the end of my shift; once I got nippered up a bit early and spilt snail juice in my accounting professor’s wine. Nodding after listening to my monologue, Matt continued, “After graduating from DePaul with a degree in English, I came home to work for the Tribune.”
Aside from meeting with strange people like myself, Matt rocks out in a three piece band. Apparently, he’s been playing music for quite awhile. This prompted Matt to launch into “music speak” – a language that every musician, headbanger, and groupie understands. He began mentioning countless bands and speaking music lingo. I agreed and hummed to mask my uncomfortableness in talking about music: I can’t memorize any song lyrics and my music history is about as shallow as a baby pool.
Quickly changing the subject, mentioning an artist residency I did at the San Francisco Sanitary Landfill a couple of years ago. While there, I found a woman’s slide collection – 19,000 of them to be exact, all numbered, labeled, and meticulously stored in beautiful aluminum cases. Matt’s eyes lit up and he told me about this father, mother, daughter group called the “Tractonburg Family Slideshow.” The ten year old girl rocks out on the drums, mom flips through carousels of found slides, and dad strums and makes up lyrics to the slideshow. Apparently, they were recently on Conan O’Brian. I guess I could do something like that if I only had a wife and daughter.
The food came and I explained my newest craze of wanting to suspend a pristine 1969 Camaro SS in a huge block of lucite. It would be an extremely expensive endeavor, but well worth it. It’s not everyday you take a walk, and see a car floating in plastic. Matt suggested I apply for a grant. Supposedly there is a source for grants for these kind of things in Minnesota – where else? A bunch of Minnesotans clustered around a wood burning stove making cabin-fever laced decisions to give crazies thousands of dollars to realize their dreams based on a two page essay and a handful of slides! Saving myself the trouble, “I think I’ll start with a miniature versions using a Hot Wheel” Matt nodded in agreement and ate a couple more fries.
A bit of silence passed and the photographer made his entrance – complete with his girlfriend, who incessantly talked on her cell phone beside us. She may as well been in my ear, like those worms in Star Trek, chirping and screaming – I could hear everything she was talking about it. You know these kind of people, rather then excusing themselves for a phone call, they’d rather stick around and turn up the volume, begin talking about their kidney stones or their neighbor’s diet.
He snapped a few pictures, and off in a jiffy with his lady, who was busy verbalizing her new something-or-other to her mother. I could have sworn the photographer was wearing some sort of cape. Anyhow, embarrassing moments became the topic. Once, while at a Young Life Camp, I got “pantsed” in the cafeteria. It was troubling enough being the only Jew at a Christian Camp, let alone having my pants pulled down to my ankles in front of a live audience. My penis dangled there for all to see. However, It quickly shrived up and my balls must have become aware of what was going on and shrunk as well. Everyone turned their head with my short shriek, and there I was, spectacle and entertainment. Before I could even hush “what the…,” “HOROWITZ, HOROWITZ, HOROWITZ,” quickly became the cafeteria’s chant. It still makes me shiver.
Matt had an equally compelling story. He was ten visiting the local public pool with his mom and sister. And having just seen the movie “Jaws,” Matt felt a compelling desire to scare his mother – JAWS style! So he went underwater and came up underneath her; he grabbed her leg with all of his might. She tossed back and forth, flailing her arms and legs as he hung on for dear life, listening to her muted yelps. Realizing his lack of gills, he sadly had to let go and surface for air. Up he came, with his devilish grin, to quickly find out it wasn’t his mother he was “jawsing,” but a foreign lady who couldn’t speak a lick of English. She yelled a few foreign obscenities and shot several harpooning stares. Matt quickly got out of her way, and noticed his mom and sister were sitting at the pool’s edge laughing it up.
[tags]chicago, dinner, tribune, fun, tour[/tags]
Yeah!!!! Lawry’s. This was my favorite seasoning salt growing up. Here I am with Julia Leonard at their headquarter restaurant in Chicago. We didn’t eat there, just rounded up some employees and took this stunning image.
restaurant: We started at “Life’s Too Short” for a fishbowl filled with Margarita and a Diet Coke, We later ate at “Earwax” in Bucktown.
occupation: David – Freelance writer and professor : Nikki – Freelance writer : Martha – Developmental coordinator
birthdate: David Alm – 8/26/75 :
connection: Marisa Olson (SF) called me with David’s phone number -> David Alm
Shotgun e-mail/ Chicago Craigslist posting -> Nikki -> Nikki invited her girlfriend Martha
ordered: “Life’s Too Short” – Dave, Nikki, and I split a fishbowl filled with Margarita and Martha enjoyed a Diet Coke. “Earwax” – David ordered a black bean burger with chips and salsa, Nikki got the turkey reuben and fries, Martha ordered the veggie hash with tofu instead of egg, and I got a grilled cheese sandwich.
We got off to a good start at “Life’s too Short” with a fishbowl of Margarita. It was impossible to pour, so I cut a hole in the side and David did the honors. Martha said to me, “You’re the kind of person my parents warned me about.” I think it was the whole carrying a knife experience she was referring to.
It just so happens that Nikki, a recent Harvard Grad and a soon to be law school student, had a boyfriend in college named “Marc Horowitz.” That’s pretty weird. He was a republican into business magazines and finance. She took him New York to meet the parents, and after dinner Nikki’s folks took em’ to a condom store in Greenwich Village. Many a bag of condom was purchased that evening. They broke up shortly there after.
David talked about his home Town, Rock Island, Michigan, famed in Leadbelly’s music and Kerouac’s writings. Martha talked about growing up in lovely Minneapolis, and apparently David used to live there and write for a business journal. A place called Cyber-X, a Minneapolis-based-meth-lab, was mentioned and duly noted as the “last gasp of the punk spirit.”
We got into a long conversation about the plights of documenting life and art. David talked about curators role in organizing new media and performance, and Nikki’s talked of her struggle about being somewhat removed from her subjects that she writes about – being on the outside looking in rather than on the inside looking out.
Got into a debate about wether Tom Friedman’s work is hack or not. His work includes a miniscule piece of gerbil shit atop a podium in a gallery, a showcase of stolen balls from around the museum, a piece of blank paper that was supposedly stared at for something like 300 hours. David said this work invoked an uplifting spirit, and that was what the viewer could walk away with. Nikki made the point that “the only art left is nuance.”
Nikki talked abit about this last Boston Marathon that she joined at the 16th mile, she proceeded to strip down to her underwear, and completed the race. Like the true rebellious soul she is, rejected the end ribbon and photo opp. I described the very first race I ran – a 12k at the ripe age of 13. I had no running shoes and there wasn’t any money in the cookie jar. My mom insisted I wear my baseball cleats!?!?!? So for 12k, clicking the whole way to the finish line, I raced in my cleats.
Nikki mentioned a project that I inspired her to do. She has been observing the “lesbian nod,” a subtle nod lesbians give each other in public. So she has taken it upon herself to document all of the lesbians she sees and make a “journal entry” of for her lesbian sightings project. I suggested she run up to her subjects and introduce herself, opening herself up to the chance and the countless directions of new experiences.
We moved swiftly to the topic of sex – swapping stories about past lovers and girlfriends. I mentioned that I had a girlfriend recently who thought I was gay – it really upset me. Dave topped it with his account of a Valentine’s day dinner, a home-cooked one at that, that he shared with his now ex-girlfriend. In the middle of the meal, she asked him if he was gay, out of the blue, blindsided. He was upset too.
I somehow managed to change the subject, and talked about the very first company I founded – “Ghostbusters and Cleaning Service” – at age 10. I made a stamp with my logo, business name, and home phone. I then handed them out to all of our neighborhood in Sumter, South Carolina. My mom screened the calls at 3am with much dissatisfaction. I would go over to the call the next day after school with a home-made ghost trap, a broom, mop, dustpan, and a homemade “ghost finder” which consisted of a smoke detector and other random household parts. Most home owners had no idea how to receive me. I tried to upsell them on my cleaning services, hardly any takers, and only a few bucks in tips for the short duration of the enterprise.
We briefly discussed the phenomenon of people reinventing themselves based on outside opinions and lumping experiences together to form a perception of self. Not worth mentioning too much about.
We left the bar, and headed to Bucktown to eat at “Earwax”, a restaurant and video rental store.
We figured out that we all have close San Francisco ties. Martha used to live on Golden Gate Ave, a few blocks from where I currently live. David stayed with an acquaintance on Haight and Steiner, a stones throw from me, and Nikki is visiting in a month or so.
We talked about vegetarianism. Martha has been one since seven. We’ve all tried it, and failed with keeping up.
We got into a discussion about the ever-fast fall of the Dot-Com era. David had a lot of good input based on his past experiences as a business magazine writer. He says it was partly due to all of the Venture Capitalists funding companies that were cutting out the brick-and-mortar from the business model, and using a new one that works on products being directly served to the customer through the internet, no more retail storefronts.
Nikki said that online shopping has its positives that lie in the Marxist principle of more choice for the best product at the lowest cost. David says this may be true, but what about weighing in the joys experienced during the physical act of shopping – trying on a shirt for example, seeing the products three-dimentionally before you purchase.
Internet – Is the internet just a link to a link to a link with no end in sight, only a means to a means, to become so expansive and invasive that it renders itself useless? Somehow, this all led to a brief discussion of Mayor Willie Brown’s downfalls.
We then took the conversation straight to sports – Nikki’s involvement in an all women’s rugby team. She plays flanker and will be going head-to-head with the Minnesota Amazons. Good luck!
We explored the new “reality-based” marketing techniques that are being employed by larger companies. Martha brought up the example of people that are positioned in bars as “outgoing people.” They approach the unsuspected and talk to them a bit, then ask them if they would like a sip of their “new” drink. Then the “marketer” offers to buy the “unsuspected” one of their drinks, offering a slight spiel. I talked of a similar experience I had at blockbuster around the corner from the hotel. An employee came up to me and asked if I needed any help?!?!? I was a bit thrown off, blockbuster employees actual being concerned about their customer ‘s experience? I asked for his movie recommendations – they were horrible, and I declined his help. He then asked me if I would like to take home the Lord of the Rings Trilogy for a low-low price. Bad technique – no thanks.
Why is it that Spielburg continues to have bad, sappy endings to all of his movies? We couldn’t figure it out.
We ended the evening with a brief discussion about how museums are reinventing their marketing plan and layouts, making it easier for consumers to spend more money in museum gift shops and on special exhibits.
After our 4 1/2 hour long dinner, David drove us to our respective locations.
waiter/photographer: “Life’s Too Short” – anonymous : “Earwax” – the incredible mike (photo taken by Martha)
restaurant: G’s Dawg n’ Burger; Celtic Crossing; The Drake Hotel’s Coq d’Or; Delilah’s; Los 3 Panchos
connection: went to high school together in Evansville, IN -> E-mail forwarded to him (haven’t seen or heard from him in five years)
ordered: hamburgers and fries; beer; coffee; beer; tacos
We started of from my hotel and walked down to G’s Dawg n’ Burger, ordered some burgers and fries. We decided to walk next door to the Celtic Crossing to have some beers with our meal. There we met John, the owner, and a recovering alcholic who wanted lots of information from Chad because of his background in medicine. We were harrassed by this guy for the duration of our meal. He showed us some of his paintings that were hung in the bar. We had a light conversation about Cooke Hospital, where Chad was doing his reidency. He suggested I see the movie Buckaroo Banzai and to check out the artists Paul Pfeiffer and Gabriel Kuri.
We than got into a conversaion about this weird wristwatch deice that he had to wear that tracked all of his vital statistics. It was issued to him by a group of scientists at Harvard who wanted to study the behavior and health of medical students going through their residency. He had to write down his sleep paterns and eating habits among other things for some period of time.
Somehow this led into conversation of Chad’s Guatamalan trip he took recently. He told a story about a bus trip he took there and missed his stop because he had taken some valium to comfort himself through the ride. He was kind of stuck at the end of the road.
Chad was always into Grafitti so we talked about the SF writer Dose Green for a while. Chad metioned that I should check out Dose 1, clouddead, themselves, and anticon.com. I tried writing, but I sucked badly and gave away my markers and paint. Chad on the other hand was pretty damn good, and we reminised about this old McDonald’s tray that he tagged up once.
I mentioned my interest in someday having my own TV show and Chad immediately said I should watch “Fishing with John Lurie” – where this fella who knows nothing of fishing takes personalities on a fishing trip and documents his experiences on the boat. He apparently has had Dennis Hopper and Jim Jarmusch among many. We then talked about the brilliance of Jackass, and how it has forever changed the practical joke, skate & snowboard videos, performance art, and the boundries of television programming.
We picked up, left the Celtic Crossing and headed to the Drake Hotel for a look and a bottemless cup of hot coffee in a swanky dimly lit joint – Coq d’Or. It was raining pretty good, so when we got there, it was very rewarding to find out there was a free buffet! We were too stuffed with the burger and fries, but it was just the fact that there was a free buffet that was comforting.
We caught up a great deal about relationships, old friends, and life’s changes. Chad made a call to an old friend Rob and we made plans to meet up with him after we checked out the Lee Bonteacu exhibit at the contemporary.
About 7:00 we ended up at this place called Delilah’s in a hip area of Chicago. Chad got lured in to ordered a cider and I had a Delerium Tremors. Rob showed up shortly thereafter. We all discussed Chad’s nickname “Sticky.” There were, we swear, months that went by for him without a shower.
I told them I wanted to take a cab accross the country and talked ab it about my other work, and Chad cited the Situationists. He said their theories were rooted in Marxist theory. Mobilizing the working class. He said that the working class that produces a Refrigerator, for example, are removed from both the people who will buy this product and from their task in making the product. The working class forming a large part of our consumerist society perpetuates the cycle of mass consumption and production. Chad continued by saying that as a solution, through “the Society of the Spectacle” Guy Debord, the self-proclaimed leader of the Situationists, outlines that workers should buy nothing, work for nothing, but quit your job and make works of art.
Chad suggested that I read “Crime think for Begginers,” a book on social anarchy. Do what you want to do now and things will happen – don’t prepare for the future. I drew the paralell of the anarchist concept of direct action. We got back to Guy Debord for a moment with his Alison in Wonderland dubovers, and then departed in the direction of magazines. Lumpn, Select Magazine, Cometbus by Aaron Cometbus, a berkeley punk rocker who wrote a book called “double duce.”
Rob, all riled up, said that there must be a way to bring down ticketmaster. He then briefly talked about his experiences working at Enterprise Rent-a-Car. He heard a good deal of contempt for the work, but said that the money was good and it was a job for now. Rob has always been such an optimist. Last time we hung out, we were trimming huge marijuana plants down and breaking them up into eigths. Torch Welding was briefly discussed, don’t remember exactly in what context.
Due to Chad’s extensive knowledge and love for music, the evening ended with a long discussion of Chad’s picks. Oddly though, we got involved in a short conversation about my motives to start the student ethics committee while at the Kelley School of Business. I was saved when Chad’s girlfriend Racheal showed up, and I quickly suggested we try some of Chicago’s finest tacos.
restaurant: Twin Anchors in Old Town
occupation: Mari – tech geek turned baker :: Wayne – employment lawyer
birthdate: Mari – 11.17.78 :: Wayne –
connection: met everyone through the article that ran in the Chicago Tribune’s Redeye.
ordered: Mari: Cheese Burger with Fries :: Me – the same as Mari :: Wayne – pork sandwich w/ onion rings :: beers were ordered by all
restaurant: Gino’s East
occupation: Marc – Advertising Copywriter :: Meaghan – Make-up artist and inventor :: Diane – Student and works at Gino’s East
birthdate: Marc – 12/4/77 :: Meaghan – 10/26/75 :: Diane – 8/1/84
connection: met everyone through the article that ran in the Chicago Tribune’s Redeye.
ordered: one pitcher diet coke, one regular. 1 large pepperoni and mushroom pizza