Monday, January 29, 2007

"Vegetarian Mumbo Jumbo"*

There is this vegan restaurant in Fort Worth, called the Spiral Diner. I love it. They magically take some vegetable product and make it taste like bacon. The building has this cool retro-diner vibe, the music is either of the world variety or ambient indie, and the waitstaff is for the most part friendly and unobtrusive. It's comprised of what you'd expect--hippyish peace punks with sleeve tattoos, grins and socialist ideas. They share their tips and the restaurant has a sign reminding diners that while the staff are there to help, they are not to be treated as servants. As a former waiter, I can totally appreciate this.

As for their politics, I don't really care one way or the other. Thanks to the trigger-happy oligarchists in the White House, my beliefs have increasingly skewed left, so I don't mind the muted presence of various fliers and get-involved literature lying around, nor am I terribly bothered if one of the staff mentions whatever liberal cause he or she is interested in. So, when the one who waited on me and my girlfriend on Saturday asked if I wanted to get involved with building a free skatepark in Fort Worth, I happily took his email address.

This conversation was a refreshing in light of the server I got on Thursday night. My buddy Cliff and I went there for dinner; we ordered magically meat-like sandwiches, and hummus for an appetizer. What we did not order was thinly-veiled condescension; apparently, you get that for free.

The dude came over and dropped off our hummus.

"Thanks!" I said.

"No problem, man," he said "Listen: do you guys support democracy?"

Now, it's been my experience that when someone like this server broaches the subject of government, the conversation usually doesn't end well. I looked at him fixedly, so as to not roll my eyes.

"Yeah, I'm a fan. Very grateful for it."

"Where do you guys work?"

Ah. A twist. I don't work in oil, I don't cut down old-growth forests, and as I am not president of Nike, I thought I was safe.

"I work at an internet marketing company," I said.

"I work for my family," said Cliff.

"Are your jobs democracies?"

Well what the fuck. Are any? I mean besides the ones had at vegan restaurants? If businesses (and I'm strictly talking about their employees, not shareholders) were democratic, what would get done? I'll bet that tiny indie record labels can get away with equal represenation, but everyone knows that tiny, indie labels don't make any money unless they happen to have something to sell off like Nirvana.

But he was earnestly looking at me, waiting to see how I would deal with his rhetorical trap. And frankly, I failed spectacularly. As you read the next exchange, keep in mind I have a B.A. in poli-sci; allegedly, I know what the word democracy means.

"Yeah, it is."

"So you guys get to vote on all the decisions?"

"No... I mean, we can wear whatever we want, well, we can't wear shorts, I guess. And we have a non-traditional management structure... But no one voted on them, so yeah, it's not really a democracy at all."

Apparently, the idiot half of my brain had wandered out of the Nintendo room and down the hall to my mouth. The logical half must have been on the toilet. I confirmed this later because when I encountered him again, he smelled like Glade air freshner.

"Oh..." he says, eyes hardening in smug satisfaction.

The best I could do was return his forced smile. "Why do you ask?"

"Oh no reason. I'm just trying to start a revolution."

He walked away, basking in his own glowing sanctimony, or at least what I imagined was glowing sanctimony. I could be wrong. He was probably glowing from that bacon magic.

--The Robo-Pirate

*Big points if you know this reference.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Would you guys just stick to conspicuous consumption and hos, please?

I'm in week two of my attempt to shrink my beer gut. I've been eating much better (a lot of shrimp, beans and trips to this vegan restaurant), and since the 6th, I've had little more than a couple beers and a few shots of rum. This is in tandem with speedwalking for an hour every day (except for yesterday, due to MLK Day closing a lot of stuff down) at the gym.

As such, I've started watching TV again.

Now this is not to say that I am one of those effete, artistic people who proudly proclaim how they don't watch television. As proof, below is a short list of my favorite TV shows of all time:

The Cosby Show
The Simpsons
King of the Hill
Firefly (though sadly, I never watched it on TV)
In Search Of... (that show with Leonard Nimoy talking about mysteries such as Stonehenge and Shatner's hairpiece--heyo!)

See? There are eleven shows there! So I like TV. I just that I don't have cable and my reception is bad. But since the gym is on TCU's cable network, I end up watching about an hour of TV a day.

Mostly, I watch the news or Simpsons/King of the Hill reruns. If there is a compelling car-rebuild, I flip between Pimp My Ride. On Sunday, I was lucky enough to find Sinbad and That One Time When He Looked for Fabulous Treasure While Fighting Awesome Ray-Harryhausen-Monsters on Turner Classic Movies. This was especially great, because TCM doesn't run commericials during their features (I think--I haven't had cable for a couple years now). Typically, I stay away from music videos,though; this has a little bit to do with the artists but a lot more to do with the fact that it's mostly hip hop videos and hip hop videos are almost universally similar and dumb.

As a case in point, I watched the video for "Cupid's Chokehold," the new single from Gym Class Heroes. Now I like Gym Class Heroes. It's mostly clever hip-hop made for Fall Out Boy fans, which I am not, but whatever. They're cool. And the song is fine. It's basically a grass-is-greener-as-relating-to-girlfriends public service announcement, but the video bothered me because it features perhaps the most irritating trope in the entire history of rap and hip hop videos. I'm talking about the totally lame old white guy trying to prove otherwise.

In this case, the Totally Lame Old White Guy is represented in the visual narrative by the MC Travis McCoy's flashy new girlfriend's (not the original, dependable one he reunites with fifty seconds later) rich, white, turtleneck-and-blazer-wearing father. The poor guy, who looks a little bit like Marvin, Vince's accountant on Entourage, is sitting there having to pretend to like with this pierced-faced, parka wearing, hip hop guy dating his daughter. All he really wants to do is enjoy his martini. And then Travis's boys come in, and they're of course loud and disruptive, and the poor Totally Lame Old White Guy grimaces, and the music switches to some freestyling and beat boxing. But then, when the music switches back, Totally Lame Old White Guy is irrhythmically nodding to the mad beats.

Old Rich White guys aren't that funny, and they're even less funny while trying to be anything other than old, rich and white. In fact, they're really more like the enemy of everyone, from golf caddies to goonies to pants-peeingly hilarious rappers. They are a joke that's been tired at least as long as the old lady mewling out "Rapper's Delight" in The Wedding Singer.

I'm just saying is all.

--The Robo-Pirate

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Faith in God renewed by the drunken generosity of SAE's, AKA "Everything's coming up Milhouse!"

I never thought I'd say this, but I was glad to see the frat kids back in the bar last night.

See, on Tuesdays, I check I.D.s, bar-back and mop at my friend's bar. If the joint gets busy enough, I get to jump behind the bar as a third and get the other two bartenders caught up. Then I get tipped out from the other two bartenders, usually doubling my normal take. Of course, it's been about a month since I've had to bartend; school's been out, and the bar has been pretty dead. Luckily, all the kids have to drag their khaki-covered butts to class on the 17th, and they were easing back into form last night.

I like bartending. I've been doing it part time (always as a supplement to whatever 9-5 I've been doing) over the past five years. It's way more fun when you only have to do it for an hour a week. This is because all the things that college kids do to rankle a full-time bartender (not knowing about tipping, getting legendarily plowed, snapping their fingers for drinks, walking tabs, etc.) are not nearly as aggravating when not encountered on a nightly basis. After all, the money I make at the bar is pretty much spending cash anyway.

Except, of course, for this week, when I had three checks floating around in the banking netherworld and the electric bill set to be debted out of my account on Thursday. I was sort of praying to either get a FW Weekly check in the mail or make some extra cash last night, as one of my three New Year's resolutions is to go the entire year without any overdrafts, and I had set myself up to break it two weeks in. Some time after Christmas, I posted an angry, resigned gripe about God, Bush and the war, because my faith at the time was pretty much at a low point. Every so often, however, God does come through in the clutch. Or at least it looks like He does. Granted, college students usually come back to school a week early, and it's easy to call an answer to prayer a coincidence rather than divine benevolence. Ultimately, though, I think life is a little sunnier without a haze of cynicism coloring one's perception. So thanks, God, for sending the college kids (like manna from heaven, if manna were clad in Northface vests and Ducks Unlimited hats) to get drunk and give us their parent's money.

Oh and also, I booked a Sabbath tribute band for my birthday. It's in June, but you know, whatever. You've got to take care of the important stuff in advance.

--The Robo-Pirate