Sunday, January 12, 2020

76 year old virgin

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Crawfish Blues
76 Year Old Virgin
            So, 2020 is a new year for me, a new beginning, out with the old, in with the new; firstly, I’m going to forgo dead meat and eat only plant based (don’t say vegan!) food and secondly, I’ve quit my lucrative side job to hunt down a full time cooking position in a vegan (plant based) restaurant. Both are going to be more than challenging.
            First of all, as far as employment, my age works against me. Warning to all ‘mature’ applicants: be aware that you can have boatloads of experience with a resume up the wazoo and still be passed over for someone younger and probably better looking than you; you can bring passion and professionalism to the table and still they’ll hire the server’s sibling. Dress for success, interview well, have qualifications, and a young squirrel can/will pass you at the finish line. It happens, it’s factual ageism. Listen, I enjoy seeing what’s considered our ‘new day’ countenances, attitudes and energies as much as the next person, I really do; what I object to, is bright eyed and bushy tailed being a deciding factor in employment opportunities. I’m fully aware that I can’t sing, I ain’t pretty and my legs are thin; but I can work with a song in my heart, a smile on my face and I can glide around a kitchen like Fred Astaire.
            Going vegan, on the other hand, is almost a no brainer. My mate is a 98% vegan and I do all the cooking at home. Although I’m leaving a life where I profess that “I’d eat the paint off a chair”, feeding ourselves will be a cool runnin’. Also, I’ve been training for my next gig by cooking, sometimes for hours, more complicated plant based victuals at home: vegan cheeses, croissants, tempeh, seitan,  (did you know spell-check doesn’t know those words?), breakfast sausage, egg replacer, aquafaba (that one either), crème brulee (YES!).
            Being vegan comes with conditions and stipulations. Do you wear leather? What about honey? Chocolate?  I fall into the category of being a ‘non-militant vegan’ as opposed to a ‘zealot vegan’. What’s the diff? Non-militant Vegans will eat ‘meat and dairy substitutes’ and Zealot Vegans are more serious, eating (what do I know?) only birdseed and dandelions? However; I am a health conscious eating machine, meaning I try to eat right, but what about beer and potato chips? How about that Impossible Burger at the King? Can I just pick the pepperoni off the pizza? What about road kill?
            I find myself driving slower about town. I pass by my favorite fried chicken place; my EX-fried chicken place, I feel like I’m stalking a former lover. Same goes for that gumbo joint where I could be sure of anemic crab bodies and a chicken neck or two. Crescent City Steak House brings a tear to my eye. The oysters that I’ll never eat again, andouille sausage, boudin, muffulettas and tell me, what am I gonna do come crawfish season where C&J Seafood toss them in garlic, butter and ginger spicy hot?  I’ll miss mouth watering Po Boys at the Orange House and Parkway, but, you know, I’ve got to do this.
            First of all eating a plant based diet is good for the planet and your body; and, you’re not killing, slaughtering or taking the life of a fellow being, no factory farming is in question, no blood lust brutality and, really, there’s no good reason not to let life live. You’ll find that folks that hanker for smoked sausage and prime rib will take Fido to the vet for a splinter and would never consider fattening that sucker up for soup or stew. The same goes for Missy Kitten and a variety of birds from pigeons to parrots. In my former life I would say “where’s that line? If you’re gonna eat one animal why not eat ‘em all? What’s the difference between pork and a palomino except the size of the pan and how much garlic to use?”
            I know, I know it’s February and I should be concerned with Carnival, Valentine’s, and various festivals from foot races to fancy clothes; musical events from Broadway to Backstreet rhythms. I should be enjoying my life and time at this point at my age and not be trying to challenge myself to master new frontiers. You know what I did in my final days before veganism? I went to John and Mary’s and got a boiled turkey neck and a spicy pig’s foot to have for lunch, I drank a YooHoo chocolate beverage and ate cheesecake with gobs and gobs of cream that I whipped up myself. I had a tres leches at Norma’s. It was like that last encounter with a lover when you know the next morning you’re going to move on. Like leaving home and starting over in a new town as a virgin. Like a leap of faith.
            Why am I doing this? That’s a good question that I’ve asked myself that more than a few times. I realize that from a culinary standpoint I will be as lonely as a polecat in somebody’s front yard; that dining out will be near impossible unless I frequent ‘alternative’ cafes; that I will have to ask a lot of questions about my menu selections and by having to defend my choices. I’ll be that pain in the ass customer. But I feel good about this.
            And from an employment viewpoint, maybe I just want to prove to myself and the world that I am still a viable human being that has what it takes to contribute to a functioning enterprise with a mission statement that is goal and profit oriented. And besides that, I can cook. Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Who needs you?

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
The silenced minority
Who needs me?
Look at the poor Sad Sack on the corner standing in traffic with a cardboard sign that says “Old And In The Way. Help Feed Me, I Fed You”. See that guy? He used to be a famous chef, now nobody wants him; I guess they think he’s too old to cut the mustard. Give him a buck.
In 2016, 23% of adults in this country were older than 60; that percentage is estimated to grow by 28% by next year (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published in 2018) From 2006-2016 the percentage went up 36%. That means today there are over 68,700,000 geezers lurking about; almost one in four American citizens and the numbers are going up. I am in that number and sooner or later (Lord willing and if the creek don’t rise) you will be too. Note: why this age group is growing is that we’re taking better care of ourselves, being healthy equals a longer life span; but, we’re taking up valuable oxygen, real estate and bathroom facilities. And giving back bupkis. There are almost 50,000,000 officially ‘retired’ Americans out there (
One in three Americans are under 19 years old which figures out, if you’ve followed my math, that 45% of Americans are doing 100% of the work not done by migrants and the rest of us are dead weight.  We could round up all the kids and geezers send them to a third world country, build a wall… (wait, didn’t somebody already think of that?) Until that time you’re stuck with us, so why not put us to work? I’m not advocating child labor (although it wouldn’t hurt some of these miscreants), but I am for seeing some gray hair in the work force.
One of the things most retirees have in common is that we feel we’re relegated out to pasture, unemployed, underutilized, retired, and wasted. Most of us miss having a job, we’d like to work, get that paycheck and spend disposable income contributing to our sense of self worth, dignity and the economy; however --- and here’s a big however---there is age discrimination when it comes to hiring processes and even though we have more experience and wisdom (hopefully) we’re passed over without pause for someone young, dumb and full of flowing body fluids. Do employers think we’re gonna stroke out on their watch?
Perhaps subconsciously they realize that us older folks know from experience how much of a screwing inexperienced younger employees are apt to get when it comes to making a fair wage, working a reasonable schedule and the value that comes when the person that you answer to relates to you from logic and not from their libido; ergo: when it comes to laboring in wacko circumstances we’re more likely to leave than suck it up or stick it out. We’ve been there and done that, know that there’s no future in it, and as opposed to our younger counterparts, we don’t come cheap or easy.
Well, sure you might say that unemployment is the lowest it’s been in decades and there just might not be room for older folks to take jobs that the young need to get a jump start on the future as they see it; yet, the majority of jobs out there being filled are for low wage poor or no benefit temporary or part time positions and a person having two or three jobs does not mean three jobs, it means one person working three times as hard. The amount of people that have stopped looking for jobs and are off the rolls of the unemployed also brings down the unemployment statistics. I’ve researched and it appears to me that wages have not increased in the last couple of decades to match the rising cost of living and neither has workers equality or benefits. Yes, unemployment is down; but, the same numbers of people are working. Get it? 45%? We have created a culture of massive amounts of underpaid overworked bees and a few rich bitch queens.
 In America, Food service and drinking place jobs were up over two and a half times in 2019. Louisiana has the third highest unemployment rate in the country at 4.9% (USA Today), yet there is a shortage of skilled labor jobs being filled; we’re busy taking that second job slinging hash and beer.
 5,600,000 people are either working part time jobs or are just marginally attached to employment, average weekly hours is 34.4 hours (U.S. Department of Labor 11/19).
And so I want to re-enter the job market as a retired skilled worker, I’ll leave the unskilled job market alone, god knows there are enough people desperate to take those jobs; in Louisiana we have only 82% High school graduation rate and 20% illiteracy rate ( I suspect there are many skilled workers that have retired or sent to pasture who are needed in our work force, heaven knows, we’re not skilling our children, we’re graduating dishwashers.
The answer to my dilemma is simple: raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour, insure income equality and freeze housing prices. Louisiana is third from the bottom in this country in poverty, fourth in income inequality and seventh in medium household income; blacks average half the income whites earn (
By doing those things more people will quit their second jobs, moms will stay home with the kids, the economy will realistically boom. Greedy bosses will have to live with a fair profit and I’ll get back to being employed; believe me, finding a lucrative corner to work is not as easy as you might think.

Thursday, November 21, 2019


Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
            Twenty-five years doesn’t seem like a lot of time for a bottle of fine wine or single malt scotch, but in real life a heck of a lot can change while many things can stay relatively parallel. In 1994 Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone are alive; Richard Milhous Nixon dies, Kurt Cobain commits suicide, O. J. Simpson does or doesn’t kill his wife and Justin Bieber is born. The planet had about two billion less bipeds in 1994; and, I was a much younger man.
            In 1994 Joseph Heller wrote in John Yossarian’s voice: “A prick in the White House? It would not be the first time. Another oil tanker had broken up. There was radiation. Garbage. Pesticides, toxic waste and free enterprise. There were enemies of abortion who wished to inflict the death penalty on everyone that was not pro-life. There was mediocrity in government and self interest too. There was trouble in Israel. --- men earned millions producing nothing more substantial than change in ownership. The cold war was over and still there was no peace on earth--- People did things without knowing why and then tried to find out. Nothing made sense and neither did anything else.”
            In 1994 we watched Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Dumb & Dumber, and Natural Born Killers. Also in real time news the United States is sending military forces to the Persian Gulf; There are no new bombings this year although last year the World Trade center was bombed and Timothy McVeigh is probably planning next year’s bombing in Oklahoma. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dies all on her own of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and congress enacts a ban on assault weapons.
In 1994 there is no intsagram, FaceBook, Youtube or Google; those are things of the future. The first smart phone appears and costs $1,100.00; texting was available the previous year with hardly anyone using it, DVD players were 3 years away and would start at around $600.00
25 years before that: Minimum wage was $1.60 adjusted for inflation to $10.90 Minimum wage in 1994 was $4.25 which when adjusted would have been worth $7.20; today $7.25 is adjusted to $7.25 which means in ‘olden times’ you were paid less but could buy more. How ‘bout them Granny Smiths?
“A Whole new World” from Aladdin wins best song while we watch both sides of the Irish lay down their guns; Nelson Mandela is elected President of South Africa and Israel signs accords with the Palestinians and a peace treaty with Jordan. ‘Friends’ and ‘ER’ debut on TV and Go For Gin wins the Kentucky Derby.
Schindler’s List gets it as best picture, as the world turns its attention to 800,000 in Rwanda being slaughtered by Hutu extremists in 100 days. Newt Gingrich becomes the house speaker as Bill Clinton almost goes down because of someone doing him a favor (an impeachable offense, it turns out). We also have armed conflict in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq, Mali, Mexico, Somali, Bosnia, Croatia and Yemen. But, who cares? Michael Jackson is marrying Lisa Marie Presley; Anna Nicole Smith (26) is marrying ultra rich J. Howard Marshall (89), Bill Gates, Jerry Garcia and Celine Dion tie the knot (to other people not to each other); and, R. Kelly (25) weds Aaliah (15). In other news, (sadly) Billy Joel is getting a divorce from Christie Brinkley.
Twenty-five years ago the prospect of global warming has reared its ugly head; but we were too busy, distracted or just plain stupid to take it seriously. We had a chance to cut back on over packaging, under recycling and systemic wasting of our natural resources; we could have concentrated on quality education instead of pushing economically disadvantaged kids through our school systems into poverty wage, unskilled employment. We could have curbed mega companies from dictating policy to our elected politicians by dangling campaign contributions like a carrot on a stick at the expense of our environment and our welfare. We could have debated more and fought less. Shoulda woulda coulda… ain’t it a f**kin’ shame?
I don’t need to tell you what the world is like today; you either are aware or not. We no longer have security, faith or trust in our present or future and hope is in short supply. We know that everything that contributes to our quality of life comes with a price tag, and any small measure of normalcy can be snatched away faster than a speeding bullet.
I find in my inquiries that it’s not a case of paranoia, apathy or even ennui. We just have nothing that we can rely on in our lives and so rely upon nothing. Another shooting, out of control fires, flooding, corrupt governments, hostage, extremists, white nationalists and riots in the streets? Poverty, crime, crumbling infrastructure. Help! Murder! Police! Mesmerizing on television but what can be done? The world has already gone to hell in a hand basket; have some cheesecake, watch the Golden Girls, bring in the dog and put out the cat. Yakety Yak (don’t talk back).
So, as the Sun pulls away from the shore and our boat sinks slowly in the West, we’re greeted with another new year, full of assumed possibilities to get it right somehow; and I’m left with the only words that make any sense and these from a song Prince of Peace written and recorded in 1970 (that’s gonna be fifty years ago) by Leon Russell: “Try and judge me only by my time and changes and not mistaken words for I say many; listen only to my song and watch my eyes, there’s not much time to spill, there’s hardly any”.
Happy New Year.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Bah Humbug

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Bah Humbug
Wiesmann Wisdom
When you’re raised Catholic, one thing you take as gospel is that sooner or later you will leave the church; it’s just too damn much work. Another thing that is realized is that as you get older and have more time on your hands, you’ll be back.
In the interim you’ll remember all of the prayers that were beaten into your head, all the rituals and responses and especially all the ways that you were conditioned to celebrate holidays: the Easter bonnets and baskets; the giving up of things for lent; not eating meat on Fridays; dressing up for All Soul’s Day (Halloween) and saying grace before dinner. None are more demanding, competitive, and frustrating as the rituals I remember concerning Christmas.
First there’s the sending of the cards; remembering all those sent you last year that you owe reciprocation, those that you forgot, and to hell with those that sent you none. Pick out the cards, address, stamp and get them out in time enough to find out who’s else is keeping up this postal media blitz.
Next: that little 25 days until Christmas thingy where you open one window a day and see those wonderful things that you’ll never get; sending ‘Santa’ your wish list; remembering the stanzas to The Twelve Days of Christmas; the unearthing of the nativity scene that you so carefully wrapped up last year as well as the unraveling of the strings of twinkle lights that you swore should have unwound in an orderly fashion but certainly will not. The tree ornaments that each hold a special meaning and all the tinsel, sparkle and glitter that you also saved; and then there’s the contorted (from being folded in a box for a year) yellowed Angel that gets put atop that misfit mutant pine tree—last—as a kind of benediction. The anticipation of the midnight mass that you’re always too young, tired or drunk to attend. There’s the money put aside or granted you to purchase gifts that no one wants but are obligated to ooh and ahh over, the wrapping, labeling and hiding. The paranoia that you’re gonna screw this one up big time and Santa’s gonna leave bupkis for you.  
Then there’s the Christmas dinner menu. Turkey? No, we had that for Thanksgiving. Lamb? No, that’s for Easter. Goose? Who eats goose? Well I guess it’s ham again this year. You mean that unnaturally pink ham that you cut squares in the fat before cooking, place a clove in each square and have pineapple rings and maraschino cherries for the garnish, baked with brown sugar and nothing is finer served with sweet potatoes? That ham? Yeppers.
In my family we stressed from Thanksgiving until New Years Eve when all the adults got drunk and celebrated making it through another holiday season; congratulations, you’ve psychically damaged your kids for life.
My step father stole a tree every year on Christmas Eve, they invited Mr. Mendellcorn from next door over to help trim (for a Jewish guy, he had quite an eye). We enticed him over with a bottle of scotch, and we always woke up to a well dressed tree and an empty bottle of Cutty Sark. We never got what we truly wanted, as was threatened for the weeks leading up to ‘the day’; one year I really did get coal in my stocking.
When I was growing up the holiday season was filled with excessive drinking, arguments, questions on how we could afford to pull it off again, endless platters of deviled eggs and fist fights between relatives that got along fine the rest of the year.
I never got what I asked for: a pool table; a Sherman Tank; a sharkskin suit or a one way ticket anywhere away from these maniacs that called themselves my family. The food was good, I admit; but was it any wonder that I was a nervous skinny kid who chewed his nails, ran away from home often, was sent to a shrink, escaped to the Navy as soon as I turned seventeen, had voices in my head and an ulcer?
Nowadays it’s simpler: all I want to do is hit the lottery and buy myself a Wiesmann GT MF4 sports car or maybe three (over a hundred grand each). This, of course (red, I want a red one) is after I altruistically open an animal sanctuary, purchase an estate for all my friends to retire to, open the swankiest vegan restaurant/Jazz club this planet could ever hope to see, create a spa for the homeless and give Greta Thunberg enough money to save the planet.
“Christmas is for the kids” I often hear people say; I say “Bah Humbug!” Christmas creates competitiveness, greed, envy and insecurity in children: “will I get what I want? Have I been GOOD enough? Will Santa come down the chimney if I don’t have one and will he eat the cookies that I left? Is a Sherman Tank asking too much?  What will the neighbor’s kids get?” And all the while the greed suppliers-- big toy, cards, stamps, booze, decorations and even agribusiness companies reap huge profits using cheap materials and labor. Marketing profits alone could give clean water to Flint.
It’s not that I dislike all holidays; I put up my share of Christmas decorations, in fact, every year my house looks like a landing strip for UFOs, but basically I hide on Halloween, I come out for Thanksgiving and then hibernate until Valentines days. I admit it, Scrooge has nothing on me except, I’m not afraid of ghosts; however, just so that I don’t poop your party and in the Christmas spirit, don’t you think it best to give me my winning lottery tickets and send me on my way in one of my three Wiesmann? The red one preferably.

Thursday, September 19, 2019


Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Imagine That
            There are few differences between then and now; the differences between the haves and the had nots of yesterday and today; the repurposing of the real and of real estate; the entirety of the mad dash clash of past, present, future and the ones who’ve moved ahead and the ones that have fallen behind. “They are the same people only further from home, on a freeway fifty lanes wide on a concrete continent spaced with bland billboards illustrating imbecile illusions of happiness” (Ferlinghetti).
            I’ve changed over the years of my lives, escaping from projects and parents, side stepping prospects, prisons and poisons, pursuing professions and being always on the cusp of the finer positive points of prosperity; relying on personal progress for a peace/piece of my mind that is being continually blown by me the hungry hunter constantly being overtaken by them, the successful gatherers. Fast women, slow horses, unreliable sources.
            Folks my age, our experiences lost in the space of time and the lessons and larks that lead us from relative comfort to an eventual downsizing retirement home abandonment with one foot in assisted living and the other avoiding the slippery slope of a six foot hole; all the while hoping that the next one to go is not another one that we love or worse, we ourselves. You didn’t know me when I was a younger man and I won’t know you as an old person; the only thing an old man really wants to get is older; to get older, all you have to do is live long enough. Blah blah blah.
            Million dollar condos and high priced essentials; disposable blade shaving with a brush and a bar of soap while my taxes line the pockets of manic mansplainers telling me how good they have made life for me and mine; property values continue to become fatter and my pockets leaner; my spirit contentiously swimming against the undertow of historic mendacity concerning the salvation of my eternal soul, as if the promise of heaven will fill the bellies of hungry children while the rich donate to rebuild cathedrals dedicated to a penniless carpenter’s son who died for their sins. The picture of the ragged man sitting on his milk crate at the intersection; his sign reading: “Anything Helps, God Bless”; a benediction for a brass farthing. “Never treat a brother like a passing stranger; always try to keep the love light burning” Leon Russell
            The rent for one month of an apartment two blocks from where I grew up would have paid our living expenses for about three years and that would have been for a family of six. Where does the time go and where does that kind of money come from?
            The great recession of 2018 is coming back to bite us in the behind as the bubble is bursting while our credit cards get maxed out trying to rob Peter to pay Paul and finding out that Peter has been financially kicked to the curb; even the low spark of high heeled boys cannot escape the percentage we’re paying while we’re living beyond all our means; the man in the suit has just bought himself a golf course with the profits he’s made on our dreams. The sound in the distance is not a dog barking but the laughter of Anubis taking our coins for our ride with Charon.
            We’re witnessing islands of plastic debris as mega companies use solar power to make fracking less expensive. They rape and we must pull up our pants and stumble on being the last generation to walk freely on this planet; the impotence of our good intentions paving the road to hell.
            I have a neighbor who walks to the bus stop once a week to go to Walmart; he rests on the stoop next door to us and happily explains how he’s looking forward to celebrating his ninety-fifth birthday. May we all be so fortunate; from our mouths to God’s ears; walking to the bus ride to Walmart amid the chaos confusion and detritus of a collapsing planet; walking to the bus for the ride to Walmart.
Where does it end, or rather, when did this begin? It began when we let toys spoil us; when we took the proud boasting of our elders struggles as a weakness we could overcome by inventing something to make life easier to be indolent, so that we could make extra time to glut ourselves with more material things; buy it, don’t bake it; don’t make it… take it.  Elect a clown and enjoy the circus. What fools we mortals be..
            Histrionically speaking we are screwed as a people and as a planet while millions watch television like sailors at a strip club hoping that the hero on the white horse is really really real. You’re gonna be part of the 60% of eligible voters that make it to the polls to elect the biggest bull manure deliverer? Or are you?
            People running for office will promise you whatever they think will get them elected and once in office find out that they have pitiful little power to follow through on their words. The government does not run this country and the people do not hold sway with their elected officials.  It’s big money that runs things and we just suck it up.
            Important decisions should be made by the people who will have to live with them, otherwise we have to admit that we’re all pawns and live with that.

Dirty Words

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Another S.O.B Story
Dirty Words
            This article  is about the dirty words we use every day, we’ll start with Political Correctness--those dirty words---they bring up images of badly dressed, weird, tree hugging, pinko-liberal, vegetarian Hippie wannabe freaks that take great pleasure in telling the rest of the world what we’re doing wrong and shunning all who err. They think that the world would be so much better if everyone rejected their avarice tendencies and replaced them with logic, empathy, and focused attention contemplating our f**king behavior. End of story, case closed.
            The PC Armies want you to recognize where and how your food is raised as well as what we should and shouldn’t put in our bodies; they’re for recycling, precycling, bicycling, no animal testing of your girlfriend’s favorite make up products and comfortable shoes. They don’t like us littering, spitting on the sidewalk, feeding our pets food containing pork spleen, using plastic at all or driving anything but electric cars the size of Stuart Little. They just don’t get the need for assault weapons, trailer hitches, drive-thru daiquiri shops and sending the planet to hell in a hand basket. Go figure.
            Socialism, another dirty word, unless you’re talking about Social Security, then we’re okay. Social Democrats are the worst. They do things like preach tuition-less higher education, an elevated minimum wage, free health and legal services; heck, they’ll even change the brake lights on your car (free) while cooking you up a vegan burger to be served with fresh fruit and bottled health drinks. They tell me that ‘the one percent’ has more wealth than everyone else while paying zero taxes. Gee, I don’t know who these one percent guys are. Are they those politically connected fat cats that I read about with charges of corruption, immorality, mendacity and sexual predation being leveled against them?
            The Cosmopolitan Elite are worser. Described as a powerful upper class that lives in our country but their primary economic loyalty is to the global community; in other words, a portion of our already successful punks that would rather trade, manufacture, purchase and support other countries’ goods, services and labor over the good old U.S.A.’s; so that they may make, save and profit from that totally un-American activity. They consider themselves ’citizens of the world’ and chase profits regardless of where they might come from. Running shoes from Thailand, fresh garlic from China, pasta from Turkey, potato chips from Canada, and dish towels from Egypt. Car parts, hair extensions, cheap cell phones, umbrellas and neon colored condoms. We hold them accountable not only for job loss in this country but for dummying down our consumer taste, mentality and independence by supplying cheaper, over packaged and useless convenience products.
            And worser yet are Passionate Conservatives, Indifferent Economists, Militant Environmentalists, Free-wheeling Capitalists, Old School Southern Egalitarians, Political Comedians, Media Masturbators, Stifling Educators, Liberal-Nationalists and Boundary Building Rounders. They want you to follow them; they want you to join them; they want your vote.
            Sexuality. There’s another dirty word and you’ll get your helping of cosmic debris if you try an FYI in mixed company. You’ll come away with a Hetro-LGBTQ+ PTSD-OMG why didn’t I keep my mouth shut trauma migraine. He, she, they, gender neutral or gender bender; androgynous, amoral, asexual; you’re allowed to watch it happen, but you cannot touch or talk about it. Face it, soft porn and sex that sells surrounds us (a hundred different combinations of lurid distractions) and unless we turn a blind eye to its insinuences and innuendos we become the pervs at the peep show. Enough to make a bishop blush and that’s saying something that we’re not allowed to say anything about; stop looking at my ass, breasts, face, neck, tattoos and for god’s sake keep your filthy thoughts to yourself! Do not linger on the lingerie ads and don’t judge a creature of couture by their crotch; you don’t deserve a seat at that table.
            The ‘E’ word (Environment, Ecology, Energy): Man, talk about a buzz buster. There is not one recognizable sane person that can take that subject to its complete and utter conclusion without risking crucifixion and if you explore that dirty word in mixed company, you’ll see how close or far another person’s personal boundary is set. For example: if I say that the world’s problems (ALL of them), could be eliminated if we put the planet’s health first. Conflict, hunger, greed, pestilence, fires, floods, heartbreak and psoriasis…(ALL Gone!), would you think that I was the Messiah? If I told you that all you would have to do, to save the world, is to pause before taking ANY daily action and ask yourself: “is this good (or not) for the planet and its health”, woulds’t thou abidith unto me? Hell no, you’d have me committed!
We’re a selfish, spoiled, lazy, take the easiest-way-out lot; if gas is cheap enough, all those “E” concerns head for the dustbin.    
Race and religion and specific body parts expressed in colloquialisms: this is where the rubber meets the road. As an evolved, mature biped you have to keep an eye on your somewhat unnatural tendency to take things subjectively, i.e. with prejudice or bias. In other words, if someone through their ignorance or bliss offends you, your reaction shouldn’t be: “Why, that low life, inbred, imbecile, sugar-tit sucking, skeeter-peter, red-headed step-child, gone ass, kangaroo humping, Satan worshiping, carpet weaving, rag head, frog eating, jungle hamster; may his bastard children grow into cross dressing hermaphrodites with awful fashion sense”!
This is where you should bite your tongue and say to yourself “Whoa, that’s a little harsh”, I mean, ‘with awful fashion sense’? He’s just another Uber driver, right? Give him a break, he didn’t complain about that stupid tee shirt you’re wearing, did he? Check yourself before you wreck yourself; gargle with cleanser and never, ever use those awful, awful dirty words, ya wanker.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Green Gables Country Club

Po Boy views
Phil LaMancusa
Sauced Kitchens
When A Pistol Appears
“Welcome to Green Gables Country Club; your home away from home for the summer season. We’ve seen to every detail regarding your comfort and convenience; the swimming pool is out to your left; tennis courts to the right; our golf pro will handle all your tee times and there’s card rooms and private dining suites just up the grand staircase. The cigar bar is toward the rear past the conference rooms. Breakfast buffet, lunch and dinner will be served in the main dining room; our menu will apprise you that should you wish anything that’s not listed; our culinary staff will happily prepare anything that you wish. Please refrain from entering the kitchen, the Chef is a maniac and might kill you just for kicks and grins--- his words not mine.”
Here’s where I come in. I’m youngish, a mere thirty, I cook in this kitchen of culinary cut throats, pyrotechnical pirates and mainstream misfits; we feed these privileged, pampered, perfumed and pomaded persons. We don’t hate them, they are our charges, the people that we play like marionettes who strut and fret their hour upon our stage. We’re the inner workings, we’re what goes on; what do they know? They know nothing.
John Borg Jr. is the chef in the kitchen, his genre is controlled chaos; his crew is his accomplices. He is the gang leader; we’re his gang. We’re forced to listen to his favorite music at all times: either the Rolling Stones or Beethoven, on an old record player. We work 12-14 hours a day, eat on the run and drink from a keg of beer (PBR) in the walk-in refrigerator. The universe revolves around us. We rarely are given days off. It’s worth it. We serve at the behest of a gourmet god; Borg and our kitchen is our world, we’re defined by our work, we’d do this for nothing.
Mom (aka Wayne Dunstin) works the cold station; he is responsible for getting us to and from work in whatever condition we happen to be in. Andy, son of a well to do family and an alcoholic misfit is my wing man and I’m the sauté spider monkey. We have (female) dishwashers with loose morals and a pearl diver (pot sink) named Domino Floater who comes to work in his pajamas and a silk baseball cap, his favorite thing to do is tell the waitresses that pass by his station what great breasts they have.
 We work and drink until we’re tired and then we work and drink some more. When we get off work we go out to bars and drink some more; it’s not unusual for Borg to challenge an entire bar’s customers to a brawl, he’s that kind of guy.  My woman and child have left me and I spend a lot of time sleeping in my car with my Chesapeake Bay retriever Saffron. I don’t care; I work in the presence of genius. I am totally wet brained; running on impulse; learning.
Borg smokes pot from a corn cob pipe in the kitchen, sometimes he uses the trashcan as a urinal, he packs his nose in the office (although we don’t learn about that until later), he has a library of 10,000 cookbooks; he knows everything and he force feeds us information that we sponge like dehydrated desert rats. True story.
One week we tunnel bone 200 Rock Cornish hens for a Jewish wedding, we make a Perigord sauce from the bones and Borg throws me a copy of Escoffier and commands me to read the section on clarifying stocks. The Day arrives and the kitchen stands at attention waiting for commands. Borg jumps up on a prep table and puts on an LP of Beethoven’s fifth symphony, directing the kitchen as though it’s an orchestra and that’s how we perform. After the meal we’re (the entire kitchen) marched out into the dining room to a standing ovation. I decide to become a Chef that day. Borg stands with his arms outstretched, head bent, as if on a crucifix and we see him as our messiah. That was forty-five years ago.
To this day after recalling my actions and attitudes, I can’t help but wonder why I thought that this was a normal working environment, but it was and in a lot of places still is. I’m amazed that I went through that tunnel and managed to come out the other side as sane as I am.
Sometimes we would catch an afternoon break, pile into Mom’s station wagon (He called it ‘The American Dream’) buzz to his house with beers and po-boys,  watch Star Trek and see if we could guess who was gonna get laid in that episode.
I fell in love with a little red head girl who worked in a hospital pharmacy and would sometimes bring her work home with her; she and her friends had come to town from Martha’s Vineyard just for a lark, they were friends of Carly and James and them folk.
I had a summer adventure that I still haven’t recovered from; Andy went back to his family; Mom died of cirrhosis; Borg forged ahead of us all and got clean and sober, but never sane. I woke up one September morning and discovered snow on the ground, put in my notice and drove back to New Orleans.
Much as I cherish Anthony Bourdain, I must say, when I picked up Kitchen Confidential, I only got to page fourteen. My thought was: “been there, done that”. Anyone that’s worked in the old kitchens knows that that’s the way things were--- normally; there was not a shred more sanity in the front of the house either. To paraphrase the Hatter: “Alice, we’re all mad here”.
That was then and this is now; we wouldn’t get away with that sort of stuff today, or want to, thank goodness...Would we?