Friday, February 29, 2008

A Quick Restaurant Review - Allegro

It's been a moment, a long ass moment since Sporty and I hung out, long long long get the picture. But we got together and spun it on over to a relatively new spot in Midtown, a little Italian eatery called Allegro. It's up in the cut behind the already hidden One Midtown Kitchen and I had to ask the valet from there where this place was. It was new to us, and Sporty likes new, and she used to like Italian (I don't know anymore, we're out of sync) so we went there.

It's a nice spot, dark with a peppy jazz playing and the obligatory all black dressed servers. The decor is upscale modern as so many places are, with a small bar in front, the kitchen offset behind it and tables disappearing around the corner in this little L-shaped space. We got one of those half booths in the back settled in. I'd read that they had a great view of Piedmont park...but it's on the opposite side of the street from OMK and that abuts the park so the view from here is really of some trees around the corner of a building, so that was blah.

Sporty has a new concept. She now apologizes, which is new for her.

The waiter, whose name I didn't get and I feel bad for it, was a burst of energy. After the complementary aperitif, he gave us the grand rundown which belied the staid nature of the place. Usually you only get that much energy from a server at one of Atlanta's eclectic eateries, but here he was. We got the Ravolini (beef in fresh made ravioli) for an appetizer, she got the spaghetti with peppers and ground sausage and I got the beef short ribs. Despite her adventurous nature, I couldn't talk her into the rabbit meatballs instead of the pork.

It's been a while, as I said, and we caught up, and for the entire meal (except to eat) I don't think we paused for more than few seconds. It felt good. Sporty looked magical. And no, I haven't a drink yet.

Then the first mis-step. Her spaghetti came without the pork. My short ribs were fork tender, but service is service. The speed with which they replaced it made me think that somewhere else in the restaurant (which was sparse when we got there but filled up nicely) would be waiting for their dinner just a touch longer. The manager came out and apologized personally (that's how you know it's a quality place) and comped us a cheesecake dessert, which Sporty loves.

Only she didn't like this one, she likes it straight NY style or with cherry. This one was infused with a coffee of some sort, so I ended up eating the bulk of it. We talked dreams, plans, politics and we didn't even allude to our new arrangement until the very end when I asked about the weekend, so that would have been my mistake.

In all Allegro was a good shot. The food was fresh, the waiters attentive and quick, and the price was actually not bad. It seems like once it fills up it would be a little noisy, but if you wanted quiet you'd eat at home. I may go back someday, if only see if I can find that damned view.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Obama train rolls on

A while back, the Oprah train...oops, the Obama train threw more coal on the fire with it's tenth primary win, (did the global primary count as eleven?) meaning that roughly 20% of the Democrats in America think he's the guy, not that venerable Clinton combine that just 12 months ago was going through pastel swatches for a preordained American political redocoration.

Because apparently Oprah is magic.

The Clinton team has been on it's heels, rewriting reality faster than Fox news on a Friday. These states don't matter because of this, these other states don't matter because of that. But if enough of these don't matter states cobble together, will they eventually mean something? (And for that matter, since the last two elections came down two or three ballot boxes, how in the hell can a whole state not "matter"? Primary schimary, whoever wins will need every last vote the machines won't steal.) Then come the crazy photos and the snarky remarks. The experience factor...which befuddles me, as the world has changed so much in the past 5 years that 20 years of experience aludes to the idea you're mired in the past. Much doesn't get past me.

The next big head to head is Texas and Ohio, where even old Bill admits that if Hils loses there she can hang it up. And according to the polls, she needs to start looking for a nail, because even with wins she's still gonna be short without the Superdelegates. And quite frankly I think she needs to see about nice appointment somewhere quiet (Ambassador to Tahiti sounds nice) and shut up about the whole thing. She's left a bad taste in the mouths (no pun intended) of the new electorate who've looked past her substance and seen her character, and they prefer the Obama solution, it's Obamatastic!

Then what?

The big spin has been can a black male, albeit one so articulate and well spoken, appeal to enough of the country to win the Presidency over John McCain, the all but annoited Republican candidate, war hero and ... well, white man?

Well it's not just McCain. Even though the current administration's policies have led us into recession, slashed the value of the dollar, created a massive a budget shortfall, started two wars, and taken the torch to civil liberty the conservatives in this country swear that liberals are the worst thing that could happen to America. These same conservatives that were given carte blanche for pretty much seven years and got us into this mess. If Obama wins the nomination, he'll need to put on his life jacket, because the "swift boat" will be coming. And if he wins...why do I believe that somehow a black man will get blamed for all this mess?

It says a lot that the cover of Ebony magazine reads.."In our Lifetime." It kinda says what we really think of equality.

His machine has been running pretty good lately. Let's hope that Big Mama Chicago has a little more juice left to spend.

Barkeep...some of that Perrier.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Long Weekend - Long thoughts

It's been a long slow weekend.

It's Valentine's Weekend which I've grown to hate.
Some money that's supposed to be here ain't here.
Job is starting to grind on me (four years on , five days off - you do the math)
I haven't had a drink in weeks.
Oh, and somebody walked up on a friend of mine and put nine bullets in him.

It's things like that that put stuff in prospective. I moved into a sketchy neighborhood figuring the worst thing that would happen is I get robbed a few times before things get right. What's a few possessions in the grand scheme of things? He was doing the same, came home a few nights ago after stopping to get a beer and that was it. He's a middle aged lawyer, not some hustler. I could have been anyone of us.

I went and saw him in ICU Friday night for as long as they let me, and it was somber moment to say the least. He was talking, and coherent, it wasn't movie dramatic mind you, but still. But for a teenage boys' decision that could have been I.

I think about a lot of things. As I've gotten older, those little aches and pains I shrug off gain new import, and looking at all I still hope to accomplish, stay have to say to the people I care about, you realize you may not have that forever you thought you had.

Long thoughts. You know.

Barkeep. Ice water. That's all.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sad Valentine

I want to hold her hand when we walk together.

I want to laugh with her over private jokes.

I want to curl up on the couch on a lazy weekend, and just enjoy each other's air.

I want to be her confidant.

I want to have intellectual conversations that make me pause with thought.

I want to hesitate when I first see her when she's dressed up.

I want to be inspired by her to better myself.

I want to be comfortable and nervous around her at the same time.

I want to wrestle in the playful way couples tease.

I want to fuck. Not make love, but fuck with a reckless abandonment that leaves our souls dirty.

I want to make love for hours, slow and sweet to sounds of jazz and love songs.

I want to bring her medicine when she's sick.

I want to watch her sleep.

I want to have her rub my head, run her nails down my back.

I want to be kissed by her.

I want to support her dreams, share in her triumph.

I want to comfort her in times of sorrow.

I want to finish each other’s thoughts.

I want to cook for her, her favorite dish.

I want to rub her feet.

I want to just be...with her.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why be nice?

Yesteday I sent Shade (from my NYE hospital visit - whom I still talk to regularly) her combination birthday-Christmas-New Years-Welcome back-Ground Hog's-Valentine-President's Day present and I remembered why I like to give people stuff. We'd just talked on the phone the Thursday before and she asked me why I would get her anything. My response was a typical guy response, something trite and shallow, and we kind of ended it there, but I thought about it and now ask myself why would I go through the trouble? She's not my girl, or on track to be my girl. We've not seen each other in years, but the internet and cell phones have kept us in contact. She has her life and I have mine. So why?

I'm not sure.

Maybe it's because I have so much affection to give, and now, no one to give it to that I'm searching out people to direct my energies towards. Unfortunately for me, I have an odd tendency to only want to the best - silly me - and thus a lot of the women I associate with and are interested in are beautiful, sexy, ambitious and completely unavailable. They always like me, hell everybody likes me I'm that kinda guy, but these women are usually spoken for (some measure the time they've been single since they were fourteen in minutes), or not looking (because some guy before got happy and fucked it up) or I slip and fall and end up in the friend zone (which is technically the same as being gay for all intents and purposes).

I like happy people. What can I say? Over the years I gifted Sporty so much, I felt bad adding up the numbers.

I like to cook for friends. I like to make drinks for women. I remember birthdays, holidays, favorite flowers, sizes, interests, and crap like that without thinking. I'm bizarrely thoughtful. I help out and pitch in and all that. I enjoy the practice of making the people around me better, and then afterwards giving them gifts. I believe I have a problem.

That, and I like to drink. And sex.

Now, I can be stingy, evil even when offended. Occasionally I have "moods"...and once stopped going out with a woman when she wouldn't let me finish a sentence. I'm not perfect. I'm not even close. But I try.

My friends all call me the same thing, which is kinda of insult in this digital world. They say that I'm a "nice guy".

So what is a guy to do?

Barkeep, a tall orange koolaid. Do you have a Star Wars glass?

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Quick Restaurant Review - The Busy Bee Cafe

Sunday was supposed to be a busy day. Up at eight and at the gym, some grocery shopping then home. Breakfast, start some laundry and clean up, then finish putting the primer on the final wall in the kitchen. After that I was going to buckle down and get together the notes of the book I've been working addition to the film...and the other book(s)...and the short stories...and around dinner time go to the movies with Sporty.

I woke up at 10:30. It didn't pick up from there.

As it was around 11:30 Slim called and invited me to supper (not brunch) at this little soul food spot called the Busy Bee Cafe down on MLK. A quick shower and I was out the door, further throwing my schedule into further disarray. But then it was one of those Sundays.

The Bee is in a closet across from Publix. I'm exaggerating a bit, but it is a spot that some reviewers would call cozy. Small is the proper term. Four more feet on one side and it would be a wholly different place. Decorated in early "Spot" it's small tables and ample booths are overlooked by photos of black celebrity who've stopped in for a bite. I saw Don King, Danny Glover and most of the cast of Good Times from my vantage. If they let me know when Thelma's coming back, her meal is on me.

Looking at the porkchops that were placed down on the table next me, I got the impression this might be good. And when Slim, who is a vegetarian, added the fried fish to her order, I was sure. Mulling it over, I ordered the smothered fried chicken with a side of rice, and green beans with yams on the side. And Slim I settled in for what was a suprisingly short wait.

The crowd there is a mix of the just out of church crowd and the I ain't even thinkin' 'bout church crowd, packed into a space the size of my mother's living room and dining room. It's a close grouping of booths on one wall, tables in the middle and a lunch counter, with well dressed grandmothers getting plates to go, ballers waiting for tables, and a deacon enjoying okra and pulled pork. As I watched the food whipped out of the kitchen so quickly, and the servers snatched it up so swiftly, it was wonder no one was sloshed with gravy. I hoped whoever's grandma they had in the kitchen got a smoke break every now then, because they were seriously cranking it out.

And on a side note...the sweet tea was the bomb.

Our food arrived, in Atlanta restaurant time, so fast I barely had to time for light and witty conversation. I tasted the rice, which honestly they could have let cook just a bit longer, but the gravy tasted like gravy should. They'd served up a whole breast and wing, the yams weren't too sweet and along with my other sides and the warm soft roll, my only wish is that the meal lasted longer & that my plate was a little bigger. The smiling portrait of Whitman Mayo (Sanford and Son's Grady) smiled down looking like he wanted a bite or two. He's a great and all, but bruh, order your own!

In friend news, Slim has now got her house on the market after a ridiculous number of break-ins. There are times I marvel at her tenacity. She got a veggie plate and although she said she only wanted a little piece of fish, she scarfed down the tilapia doused in some hot sauce with a quickness. I had wanted a taste, but I feared to ask.

The Busy Bee is a very homey spot, taking me back to old church dinners in the country and lunches at the spot in college where you had enough left over for seconds. When my waiter asked about dessert, I told him only if they had a cot in the back to go with it. I tipped almost 25%.

If you really want some good soul food, head on down to the Busy Bee. I know I will.

Barkeep...more tea. And see if they still got some pie in the back.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Importance of Being Important

In the grand scheme of things, most of us realize that we're not that important. Unless you're Tom Cruise or Paris Hilton, in which case you are important...but really only in your own mind. And to your publicist. But for the vast unwashed rest of us, we get along with the idea that we're at least important to family and friends. That's usually enough for our self esteem to make it through today, this week, and most of the rest of our lives.

It's a progression. You were important to your parents, then to your friends. Then to your love, then your children and thus the circle is complete.

I prefer not to date a woman with kids, and someone once asked me why. The answer is importance. After marriage, but before children, I would like to think...or at least have the illusion...that for a while I'm the most important person in my bride's life. It may not be true, but I'd like to think that. Once the small ones arrive, I know I'm going to be replaced, but then I know that. But to date a woman with kids is knowingly accept a lesser position from the get go. Not a satisfying position to be in.

Sometimes, you need to feel important. To someone.

I'm apparently in a mood this weekend. Went to the Malibu Rum beach party on Thursday, I missed one of my patna's birthday's (his wife did something funny with the invites), had lunch with Slim at Busy Bee cafe (I'll discuss later) and when Sporty called about the movie...I guess I got the consolation prize, because she'd already seen the movie we'd talked about. But she did at least try(and I should be happy at that)...and maybe that's what precipitated this little soliloquy.

Yep. In a mood.

Barkeep. Damn...I'm still not drinking. Guava juice and sprite?

Monday, February 4, 2008

And then the Football Gods said no

One of my favorite columnists, Gregg Easterbrook, writes a weekly sports column for ESPN in which he regals in how the Football Gods reward or punish teams for the folly and hubris. My favorite is when he comments on how a team is punished when the cheerleaders fail to show professionalism. The man has a good eye, that's all I can say. I've appropriated his term for this update to describe my opinion of what happened in the oddly named University of Phoenix Stadium where the Rasputin-like Giants faced the unstoppable Patriots in their quest for football immortality.

A few days before the game in DC, a Senator (an Eagles fan) asked the question I've been asking all season. "Hey Goodell, what was on the damn tapes? And if you stonewall me, I might take away your anti-trust exemption." To me, this was the first crack in the wall that the NFL had whitewashed after the boys from Foxboro got caught. And cracks tend to spread, even onto the field.

"The champ is groggy. The champ is down."

I enjoyed the Superbowl at an acquaintence's party in Buckhead, chock full of women looking all sexy and guys being guys, with a fresh cup of Sprite in one hand and a girl on lap for most of the second half. I had another party in mind, but found out the brother was charging $30 a head (dudes) to get in. Now it was supposed to pay for catering, but for $30 I would have expected free drinks as well. And I'm not even drinking right now. So, I didn't attend.

At the party I did run up to, a three story town house, the crowd was mixed, although the girls I was sitting next to complained that there weren't enough men there. Enough tall men, who looked rich. I wish I was joking, but that's how she preferenced it. The women though, were off the chain. (And for the record, the girl in the yellow jersey and black stretch pants was reee-diculously fine. I didn't get her on my lap though.)

Enough of the ambiance..onto the game. The thing that impressed me most was how often the Giants got to Brady. At one point I think he had 17 dropbacks and was either hurried or knocked down on 10 of them, and was 5 for 11. What the NY has that a lot of teams don't is a strength coach from the 1950s and four legit speed rushers, and getting to Brady is the key to stopping the Pats. That and shutting down that way to obvious straight forward pass lane that nobody in 18 games seems to realize is there.

The wings by the way, were slamming. Old girl in the black top that she was bursting out of was even better. Sorry, the game.

Then, with his brother looking like someone's accountant, Eli Manning grew a pair. With two minutes to play I watched as he channeled Favre, Montana, and in a scramble that saw him dance out of the arms a defender and toss the long ball, Tarkenton. (Yes, I'm a Cowboy fan and I could have said Staubauch or Romo, but they're still the Giants, geez). But even as he floated out the go ahead touchdown pass, I looked at the clock and wondered if they'd struck too soon. As the room around me erupted in jubliation that the Pats weren't going to go undefeated (You'd be surprised how many folks hate the Pats now) I realized that they'd left Brady and Moss with 35 seconds and three timeouts. That's like 4 minutes in real time. And by NFL rules, the defensive coach would play prevent. Okay it's not a rule, but it they way they stick the mantra it may as well be.

So held my breath and waited for the English Miracle. Or Brady's March. Or whatever nickname they'd give it when Moss made a circus catch in the endzone with zero seconds left on the clock, because in the NFL you trust your DBs to cover and not your linebackers to blitz with the game on the line. Do the Giants know who there DBs are? Send in the linebackers!

Somebody listened, as whooosh!, they hit Brady so hard you could feel the impact in Atlanta. What's that? A coach who sends in the funk with less than minuted to play? Unthinkable!

And somewhere in Miami, the champange bottles popped. The Football Gods had made it right.

Barkeep....shots all around! Make my shot that Voss water though.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Maybe I should move

Lately, I've noticed an odd trend. I've always know about this, but only in the past year or so have I really seen it less an isolated occurance and become more common.

The long distance relationship.

There are currently three women I know seeing men in other states. Men whom they communicate with regularly via the web or cell phone, but whom they only see occasionally. Not married women and this is a job thing, not continuing situations where one had to move, but this is the arrangement from the beginning. I find this disturbing.

- it creates a faux relationship. Both parties need not give up any significant part of their lives, only the periodic weekend or week during which all is bliss. A real relationship is like a road trip, you're exposed to the other party warts and all and have to decide if you're willing to put up with this for the duration, which in a relationship is ..well, forever. This kind of relationship usually fails as soon as both parties are in the same location for as long as it takes to be themselves.

- it indicates that we as a society are detaching ourselves. A long distance situation can be scheduled, or at least managed but the life outside our door usually cannot. This is a large part of the reason these situations breakdown in close quarters. They cease to be manageable.

- And what's so wrong with him that he can't find a girl locally?

I use the phrase he, because I know all the women and haven't met the men. One could just as quickly ask the question "what's wrong with her?", but there are things that women do that we are okay, that men doing the same look highly suspect - such as traveling alone, going to the bathroom in groups, and evaluating each other's bodies.

A brief discussion with some co-workers indicated to me I wasn't alone in my thinking, except that they framed the conversation along the lines of "woman trying to get played."He's a bit less of an optimist than I am. I could and can see a relationship that existed, then due to circumstances (work, family situations) distance was created...but to start a relationship with someone distant, from the beginning? Huh?

Maybe I'm just behind the times, or getting old, but going out with somebody I can actually see, talk to and feel on a regular basis is fairly important to me. I guess those who have gone this route have the advantage of webcams and unlimited cell minutes after 7pm to help them along, but there are somethings you can't substitute. Neuroscientists say the brain needs and expects body language, facial expression and tone of voice during conversation, or communication skills suffer long term. And G-mail, long phone calls, and texting ain't gonna fill that void.

Have we become so wrapped in our own lives, so selfish, that the idea of actually letting go and living has us searching out alternatives?

Or maybe I'm just mad cause Sporty is one these folks. What am I? Chopped liver? juice with a straw.

Back at it, Still Throwing Blows: Workout update

After my few months in the Park last summer, I'll guess at least four months maybe longer (I didn't keep track I just did it) I've waddled my big ass back into the gym.

Okay, it's not that big an ass, and I'm not waddling, but you've got to motivate yourself somehow.

I joined LA Fitness, because I told Sporty I would, and have been getting up at 6am to go and do an hour. The thing about it is, just like at the park, my 6-ish a.m. arrival makes me a latecomer. By the time I arrive the place is jumping. The treadmills are full, the bikes are in major use and the cycling class (which is overfull) is just reving into high gear. People are sweating, some folks already look ragged and I'm wandering in to do light work. I feel....light weight. In the bad way.

Now I remember why I don't like gyms. They make you competetive. Or rather, they make me competitive.

I get on the bike same time as you, I'm not getting off 'til you get off. I get on the treadmill same time as you, I'm in it until you pull up stakes.

Even if you're in obviously better shape than I am. Which is bad. I'm contemplating going to two-a-days to catch up. That would be working out at 6am and working out again after work. I know this because I had to take day after my first day, because I was too stubborn to admit that the smaller guy with the bodybuilder build could lift more than me, so I didn't change the weights on the pec machine. I cannot describe to you the sore.

I know I have obessive tendiencies. I'm trying to work through them.

Well, here we go again. Tom, my former walking partner and fast master, has chosen another spot to get his winter workout on, so I'm on my own.

Currently the workout is Bike for 20 minutes, Ellptical or whatever that machine is for 10 -15, then burnouts on the pec machine and lat machine. Add in my stretching on the front and you get almost an hour.

Just getting started.

Barkeep...let me a get a apple mango smoothie with a shot of beeswax. I'm getting in shape.