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.

Here's one I prepared earlier...
Published, Aug 7th, 2012

One Of A Kind

My mother bought a “strange” full-length fur coat at a tag sale in Hacketstown in March. It has proven to be very controversial.

Of course, she loves creating a bit of a stir. Twenty-five years ago she fell off a balcony at a U2 concert, dressed as Lieut Uhura from Star Trek. (Bono gamely tried to catch her. For his trouble he ended up with three broken ribs and a Phaser wedged so far up the wazoo he had to write a song about it: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.)

People are pointing in the street. The local newspaper has received countless letters of complaint. The coat has driven some to fury, and others to tears, but mother is not in the least upset; in fact, she seems to relish the scorn and the enmity.

My sister, Carolina Moon, confronted her on the matter. She asked her, straight up: “Why are you wearing that thing?”
“You don’t like it?”
“Nobody in town likes it.”
My mother nuzzled the coat and laid on her best Zsa Zsa Gabor accent. “Well, I think it’s rather fabulous, dahrlink. What do you not like? Is it the shape?”
“It’s not the shape.”
“The buttons?”
“The buttons are fine.”
Mother flounced in front of the mirror and narrowed her eyes, so that she might see a younger reflection. “Does it make me look fat?”
“No. That was the children and the chocolate.”
Mother seemed genuinely baffled. “I’m confused. So it must be the colour?”
“The colour is part of the problem.”
“Which one bothers you the most? Is it the black or the white?”
At this point, Carolina Moon could take no more; she exploded in rage. “Mother,” she screamed, “Don’t you understand? The coat, it’s panda! PANDA!! P-A-N-D-A!!!
“Yes,” replied mother, stroking a sleeve, “and probably virgin too. You know what they’re like. It’s definitely not a reproduction.”

Carolina Moon collapsed in a tearful heap on the floor. Mother, whether out of honest hunger or sheer badness (the truth may never be known), went to the local Chinese restaurant, dressed in her best, and, in full view of the horrified locals, ordered a triple portion of bamboo shoots.

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.