December 23, 2012

Rights of Passage

Larry L King, essayist, humorist, populist, roustabout, passed away earlier this week. The man who gave the world The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, his 8,000 word opus on the closing of the Chicken Farm, famed brothel that operated for over 100 years out near La Grange.  
"Yes, neighbors, it was as cozy and com­fortable as a family reunion, though many times more profitable. Then, one sad day last summer, the professional meddlers and candy-assed politicians closed 'er down." 
"...When a true son of Texas discovers they've closed down “the chicken farm” he takes his business to the free-lancers. Man's got to do what a man's got to do."
'Tis the season for family, certainly, but when the time comes, as it invariably will, for a little down time, head back to your old room and settle into a 1974 Playboy in a way that you never thought you would... for the articles. 

December 21, 2012

Breakfast Taco Index

In reality, there may be no such thing as a perfectly competitive market, though selling breakfast tacos in San Antonio Texas approximates it rather close. You can’t swing a dead cat at an intersection without hitting at least three places serving these things and for the most part they’re all fantastic and'll run you next to nothing. Not that one doesn’t have his favorites, of course…

Every other Tuesday for the past three years I’ve walked through the doors of the same Mexican food restaurant at 7:05am for Refried Breakfast Club. It's the same meal with the same group of guys: chilaquiles with cheese and grey dishwater coffee. Occurred to me a couple weeks ago that I’ve paid $3.88 since day one. No cost increase in all that time… not the flour tortilla, the eggs, the cheese, jalapeƱo, onion, tomato, and all the other trimmings of breakfast taco deliciousness. At the same time, there's been no reduction in quality, no loss of service, the coffee’s terrible but it’s always been terrible. 

Seems that if this “army of consumer lookouts” wants to minimize the inflation measurement under the guise of deficit cutting, they might want to start by grabbing a feline by the tail. 

December 19, 2012

That Old Bird

A wise old owl lived in an oak, 

The more he saw, the less he spoke, 
The less he spoke, the more he heard, 
Why aren't we all like that old bird? (via)

Last Friday lunch I sat down at a table in the otherwise impenetrable Argyle Club with a group of seven who bested me in age by an average of 50 years. MZ and I there on invitation of Ms Elsie at the celebration of her 90th birthday. Sage grandma wisdom abounded and I’d have bottled and sold it if only it didn't smell so strongly of moisturizer and beauty parlor.

A few months back the honoree had hosted us at the same venue for dinner, just us three. It was early May. She ordered a martini on the rocks and I had the same and over the next few gin-fueled hours we were enthralled by stories from this 89 y.o. monument of sharpness and preservation, running at levels to which we should all aspire. Growing up in the Midwest, studying business University of Chicago during WWII, traveling the world solo, an upcoming trip to Havana… stories that revealed a full life of consistent adventure.

I have no grandparents left so not wanting to lose the opportunity I asked what she found to be the most important characteristic in someone; without hesitation: Integrity. Can't bottle it, can't buy it, but if you lose it it'll cost you more than you can imagine. 

December 8, 2012

Paper Covers

I’ve just reached the bottom of a pile of stationery bought in Japan very nearly five years ago. This is something I romanticize, paper. Or maybe it’s the written word on the paper (Nothing if not Gracious… that’s my motto). Either way, since my handwriting is at best illegible and at worst offensive, good paper serves as the crutch on which I lean to deliver the message.

… and this stuff is beautiful: Bible paper thin and enough of a foreign distraction to blunt any overt inadequacies (in penmanship or otherwise).

Thin, foreign, beautiful. Just how I’d describe the high-black-boot-ed and straight-black-hair-ed women on the Tokyo Metro, which was so tidy and efficient it made the D.C. Metro (standard-bearer of Disneyesque mass transit) look like New York and New York look like the backside of a public toilet in a Beijing bus depot.

14 hours across the Pacific may seem a long way to go for material, but there’s no limit to how far I’ll travel just to be ignored by a group of monochromatic women.