Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Song for a Crappy Tuesday

The Monday after a slumber party is an awful gauntlet to navigate.

All concerned parties arrive in the linoleumed halls of the 7th grade, wary and all too knowing. The Saturday prior was likely a birthday, or a reward for good grades, any excuse for a phalanx of larval females to gather in a basement and share secrets. Secrets often prefaced with," I've never told anyone this..." or "Since we're talking about..." There is a nauseated frenzy at a slumber party, an unyielding urge to force untold stories out of the guests and a primal desire to unburden the young soul. It is a ritual of compassion and cruelty and the hostess is the queen bee (This is a fact regardless of social position. She could be the cheeriest cheerleader or the floutiest band nerd, in her house she is empress.). Crushes are revealed. Unspeakable family skeletons rattle forth. Insecurities are admitted to and sympathized with. There are often tears - some from despairing sobs, others from hysterical laughter. And the next morning, Sunday, queasy stomach in tow, the girls fly home for an afternoon of "Family Ties" re-runs and dozing.

Then Monday arrives.

The girls eye one another in paranoid conspiracy. Who will blab? Anyone? After a night of exposing ones innermost self, will you still be accepted? Was the bond counterfeit? Does Derek know you like him? Like, like him like him? Will you be called into the guidance counsellors office to discuss family issues, mental illness, learning disabilities? Or will one of the girls, in a preemptive strike against you, tell others her own secret, disguised as yours. You are really effing screwed then.

To your amazement, Monday passes without incident. You sleep well for the first time since last Friday, safe in the belief that your comrades were true to their word. Only on pain of death will you be exposed.

The following morning, you jaunt to your locker and spin the dial, ready to face an easy day. The metal door of the locker swings open to reveal a plush stuffed toy fox, with a condom on its head. Your heart sinks as the clanging bells of teen girl laughter ring down the hall. Your red face glances over and sees First Real Fall Tuesday, icy cold in her gaze, arching her perfectly coiffed eyebrow. With a swish of her ponytail, she turns and heads to Civics.

You should NEVER have confessed that you think the animated fox in Disney's Robin Hood is sexy.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Not just one, not two...TWELVE Ophelias!

Tonight I open a show at Trap Door Theatre. I'm actually in it.

It's been a while since I was in something on stage that didn't involve white face.

Photo by Fuzzy Gerdes

Ever since I was 11 years old and in my first show, I've been playing boys, men, and androgynous women. My first show was Oliver! and, you guessed it, I played Oliver Twist. The idea of gender being a character choice has always appealed to me, as has testing the boundaries of what we consider masculine or feminine.

It's interesting coming off of Soiree DADA and DaBo, a character dominant on nearly every level, into R., woman struggling with gender and power, and helpless to affect some sort of change in her life. It's been a challenge for sure. Luckily, my counterpart Casey is one of the most present and open players I've gotten the chance to work with. We have a blast.

I think Hendrickson is a woman of vision when it comes to this sort of thing. She's a supportive director and the challenge has been eased by her guidance.

The cast and crew is fantastic. Crazy Committed. It is a pleasure to work with these folks.

And getting to work with Dianna as a Stage Manager again is always a treat. Bad. Ass.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We could be gyros, forever and ever...

A while back, in a post I cannot find, I listed a few guilty pleasure foods. To wit:

Pork Rinds
Beef Jerky
Deviled Ham (Not SPAM. I want to be very clear about that.)

(Looking at this list it all seems a little Depression Era, doesn't it? When the shit comes down, I will be living large.)

Very few people would admit to enjoying such adulterated meat products, but I can't help myself. And it's not as if, in consuming them, I am transported by complexity of flavor. They are meat-ish and salty. Cure it, fry it, smash it, dry it. -j-j- will eat it.

Among these foods is the Gyro (pronounced Yee-ro. Not Jie-ro or Gee-ro. I believe either pronunciation is acceptable these days, but I still bristle. It's like calling Goethe, Go-thee, an ugly Chicago-ism I have yet to forgive.). Surely, you've seen it. It's that spit of hulking brown rotating by the grill at most hot dog stands. It makes its weary revolution hour in and hour out, drying on the the stake. God knows what they do with it at the end of the day.

When one orders Gyros, they slice strips off the mass (which might be lamb or something), grill it up and serve it on a pita with onion, tomatoes and tzatziki (yogurt and cucumbers). It is messy, it destroys your insides, repels your friends, and is a culinary abomination.

I love it.

I will only allow myself to order Gyros on rare occasions. And lucky me, I had just such an occasion a few days ago at Barba Yianni Grecian Taverna in Lincoln Square.

After rehearsal, I met Notnits up on Lincoln and Western. German Fest was ravaging the area and the corner was thick with sizzled sausages and sozzled suburbanites.

I'm not very smart about eating, especially when I'm working on a project. Sometimes I forget to do it, and then wonder why I have "out of body" feelings and crank out at the slightest perceived provocation. This was one of those times. There were too many people around, and it was hot. My usual happy greeting was replaced by a peck on the cheek and a gruff, "I need to eat. Now."

Barba Yianni is a restaurant that I have often wondered about, but have never ventured into. I like Greek food, I think, but only in the most casual, American way. Greek salads, Gyros, etc. So, when I saw it was half empty, I pointed the way and cave-manned, "Eat here."

It's a nice place. Very comfortable and easy going. If I recall correctly, they have some paintings of exposed brick and grapes on the walls, a decorative choice common for mid-range Italian and Mediterranean restaurants. I suppose it's meant to carry us away to Crete, however the effect falls a little short. One feels more carried away to the best Italian Eatery in Glen Ellyn.

I ordered a Malbec and took the hungry opportunity to order the Gyros plate. Ordering gyros at a sit down restaurant feels out of place to me. It's a fast food item. But maybe with a glass of wine and some ambiance, it will be fancy.

Fancy it not what I would call it. Plentiful, yes. But fancy, no. The waitress arrived and plopped a plate of steaming brown strips in front of me (complete with all the trimmings) as well as a plate of potatoes and peas covered in red sauce. I spread the tzatziki over the meat and pita and what not and took a bite.

The gyros were about what I expected: Dry, salty, lamby (maybe). Nothing out of the ordinary. To be fair (and this may echo the sentiment in my Falafill review) can one REALLY distinguish between a bad gyro and a good one? I wonder what that tastes like - a truly gourmet gyro.

In this instance, I cannot complain. It was what I wanted. I could only eat about half of it, but it was still decent enough to wrap up and take home. The peas and potatoes were not quite so good. Fairly bland red sauce, and the potatoes were a little on the mushy side.

Overall, I liked Barba Yianni fine. It's a comfortable place and food is serviceable. I got what I came for. I'm not sure that I would go again but if I do, I'll try whatever the house specialty might be, rather than the most basic fast food item.

And probably best not to go when my body is entering phase 2 starvation mode.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Song for a Crappy Tuesday

Tuesday didn't mail the Netflix like he said he would.

Tuesday said said she'd make coffee but she didn't and now you have to go to work without caffeine.

Tuesday pushed in front of you when you were getting on the bus.

Tuesday blamed you for the toner being low in the copier, even though she's the one who sends weekly 27-page-dead-tree memos to everyone the office.

Tuesday ate the half a meatball sub you brought for lunch.

Tuesday corrected your grammar in front of the boss, and your boss agreed with him. They were both wrong.

Tuesday says almost nothing, but clears his throat at 45 second intervals all day.

Tuesday bumped into you and you dropped your train pass. When you picked it up (after, not one, not two, but three false grabs on the sidewalk) you saw the train pulling away and Tuesday was in the window seat that should have been yours.

One day, Tuesday will get his comeuppance. His tiny, aggravating comeuppance.

But not today.

You are getting your tiny, aggravating comeuppance. Whose Tuesday were you?

Monday, September 21, 2009


Friday, September 18, 2009

An Honest Deception

I have no idea what this is for, or what it will turn into. It's just a scene I started working my way through - but obviously it is still in its pupa stage.

One day it will turn into a beautiful butterfly. Or head lice...

A Job interview:

A: So you were fired?

B: Yes.

A: From your last job.

B: That's right.

A: Because you said you had head lice?

B: That's right.

A: Did you just SAY you had head lice or -

B: Yes. I said I had head lice.

A: But did you have them?

B: I said I did.

A: I understand that but...did you actually have them? The, uh, lice?


A: What were the circumstances?

B: Pardon?

A: Well...did you say "I have head lice" as a joke or was it an honest deception?


B: An honest deception?

A: That's what I said.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random Thoughts

1. All over the city sidewalks you can see the ghosts of tiny disasters. Nothing too radical or tectonic. Just evidence left behind that someone was recently disappointed. Or confused.

(Every so often, there will be a ghost of an advanced disaster. I once followed a trail of blood from dumpster around a block to the front door of a house. I Nancy Drewed my way to the conclusion that whoever it was had cut themselves on some glass and had to go for stitches. Of course, I never discovered the real story. Maybe there was foul play and I misread the clues.)

Often the ghost involves food:
A torn paper bag, surrounded by 4 oranges. One is half eaten.

An opened styrofoam container, skidded over with cake and icing. The icing is pink and blue. There is a large Reebok shoe print in the middle.

A hamburger with one bite out of it, resting on a short wall at the bus stop.

An empty Frosty cup on the ground. Five feet away is the actual Frosty.

Part of a CD by the curb.

A whole unopened package of sausage links resting in the sun.
I wonder what happened in the aftermath. What typhoon did the wings of that smirched cake set off?

2. Tonight, walking from Ashland to Broadway, I discovered a face up penny in the crosswalk. I almost passed it over. I've mentioned my preoccupation with face up pennies before, and being fairly superstitious, I turned right around in front of the coolster dudes at Schuba's and claimed it.

I figured this penny to be especially lucky since it was A) Beat to hell and B) in a busy cross walk. Luck builds with potential danger in retrieval. (I once saw a penny on the third rail of the EL tracks. Untold ecstasy awaits the brave.)

When I came up from picking it up, however, the bus passed me by.

I'm still holding out hope. Maybe I'll win the lottery tomorrow.

Speaking of which...

3. The Mega Millions Jackpot has advertisements like this up all over town:

Based on what I've heard as the nightmare lottery winners suffer in their post-win years, these ads offer a grim visual that I don't think the designers intended.

Or maybe they did, who knows?

4. Favorite word this week:


[fluhm-uhks] Show IPA

–verb (used with object) Informal.
to bewilder; confound; confuse.

1837, cant word, origin uncertain, probably from some forgotten British dialect. Candidates cluster in Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, southern Cheshire and also in Sheffield. "The formation seems to be onomatopoeic, expressive of the notion of throwing down roughly and untidily." OED

5. Least Favorite word:


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Song for a Crappy Tuesday

Rice Krispies are not a good hand-held cereal.

There are some breakfast cereals that can translate from milk-in-bowl to dry-in-hand with ease. Life Cereal, Frosted Flakes, Frosted Shredded Wheat and Coco Puffs fall into this category, with their limited crumbles, easy to handle size. (There might be some debate on this. Coco Puffs have the roll under the fridge factor, and, as one reaches the bottom of the box of Frosted Flakes, the easy to handle flake size reduces to unmanageable dust.)

Cereals like Fiber One, Fruity Pebbles or Honey Smacks are less adaptable. The individual pieces don't stack well so it's like carrying a fistful of instant avalanche. And good luck getting all of the Pebbles into your mouth.

Rice Krispies fall into this second classification. (In addition to being almost cruelly taste free.)

The Ides of September Tuesday does not seem to care about this. She has brought the box from kitchen and is now sitting next to you on the couch, her toes tucked between the cushions.

Moments before, you could hear her rattling around in the kitchen. The cupboard would open and then shut. The rattle of old ranch dressing bottles would chime out as she pulled open the fridge. You could feel the chilled air escaping as she stood, idle, in front of the glowing shelves. The fridge door would shut. And then open again, thirty seconds later.

"Do we have anything to eat?"

You don't answer. You have been trying to read this same Atlantic Monthly article for 45 minutes now.

The question comes again, with a hair's breadth more emphasis.

"Do we have anything to eat?"

The exhausted refrigerator motor clicks on, begging her to close the door.

You try not to sound irritated. "What you see is what we have."

"Jeez. I was just asking." The fridge closes. And there is silence. Then it opens again.

"Are we out of milk?"

You do not change your position, though your eyes shoot tranquilizer darts at the direction of the kitchen. "I guess so."

She sighs and closes the fridge door again. Then, a rustling of cereal boxes.

TIoST appears in the living room, carrying her box of Rice Krispies. She joins you on the couch.

"You're gonna eat those without milk?"

"Uh-huh." She shoves her hand into the box. "Want some."

"No thanks."

"Okay." And with that, she produces a little mound of puffed rice and whips it to her mouth. Ricey pebbles shoot all over the place and into the cushions of the couch. From throat she utters the sound of uh-oh, which sounds like "mm-mm".

She then crawls close to your ear and her lips part. "Yisten. Oo cam still heayoo da Smap, Kwackle amd Bop in mah mouf."

You close your magazine. There is no way you can read with the deafening and unmistakable roar of Rice Krispies in your ear.

I was never a swooner for Patrick Swayze. The year Dirty Dancing came out, all my girlier friends were falling all over themselves. (Dirty Dancing also caused a stir in my youth because it was filmed on location at Lake Lure, situated about an hour away from my hometown. A few of my older friends were extras.) I had just discovered the Lost Boys and was more inclined towards Jason Patrick or Keifer Sutherland. (I was not a Corey girl.)

Swayze seemed nice enough...if a little long in the tooth to be cavorting around a bunch of college kids. But I never dreamed of the day when he would Meringue me off into the sunset.

Even so, I can appreciate his icon status, and I'm a little sad to see him go.

I'm afraid my experience with the song "Unchained Melody" has been hampered by its relationship to the movie Ghost.

When Ghost came out in 1990, and was nominated for Best Picture, I think was joined by many around the world in my total confusion. Whuh-HUH? I suppose it makes sense. Almost every Best Picture nominee is a variation on our favorite topics, Death and Sex. But Ghost? Really?

The scene when Demi Moore and Swayze are overcome with desire next to the potting wheel has been the subject of some well earned parody (they're just so into it.). The fact that "Unchained Melody" underscores the wet-clay seduction has been a factor in my avoidance over the years.

But I gave it a listen last night and the Blue Eyed Soul of the Righteous Brothers can transcend previous notions. It's quite a beautiful song.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Swayze.

Monday, September 14, 2009

If I put the crumbs of the day back together, will I have a whole cookie?

1. This morning a woman opened the door of a cab street-side, and another car plowed into it, losing its side mirror. She stepped from the car, confusion all over her face, but tinged with a sense of If I just close the door, and get into the train station, maybe I won't have to be responsible.

I didn't see the aftermath, except a cop storming up to the cab driver wagging his finger. I think the woman actually got away.

2. There were two guys in neon green body stockings doing some performance art at the bus stop downtown. The spandex covered the whole of them, including the face.

I was at first struck - and somewhat indignant - that I couldn't tell if their gyrations were art or advertising. But then I noticed the folks at the bus stop looking on in a sort of bored weltschmerz.

If a couple of green encased men dance at a bus stop in the city, and no one cares, does it even matter if it's art or ad? Nope.

3. The only time gyros are a good idea, are in the first three bites.

4. No matter how ubiquitous a technology might be, humans are still baffled by it. This goes for ATMs, CTA cards, cell phones, computers, email, doors, hand dryers, cars, and stoplights.

A human's ineptitude at handling technology grows in relation to the public nature of the technology:

ATM use by one's self = quick and agile
ATM use with line forming behind one = Utter confusion and anguish

5. This morning I had a cinnamon roll from Ann Sather. The guy who waited on me remembered that I was friendly to him on my last visit. He added extra icing and heated it up for me, even though I didn't ask.

He might do this for everybody that comes through the door, but I like to think my being nice and the extra icing are related.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sweet Talk.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Untitled (until later, possibly.)

I'm not sure I like what is happening,
whatever it is,
but I'm pretty sure the thing will pass,

If I knew what it was,
I would like it better.

Or maybe I wouldn't.

I probably won't know until it passes,
which it might not.

But if it does,
then I will know what it is and whether or not I like it.

If I don't like it, I won't be sorry -
but if I do like it, I will be.

I hope I don't like it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Song for a Crappy Tuesday

It’s 1:00am.

Your eyes bat open and your brain tries to wade through the waters of sleep onto sandy shore. Your body is covered in sweat (hadn’t it been cool when you went to bed? You even put the extra comforter on and burrowed down into the sheets. Now in early September’s cruel mood swings you are caught between autumn chill and sweltering Indian summer. There is no winning.) and your mouth is like an exhaust pipe that belches hot breathes of old beer and hot dogs.

You’re probably still drunk.

Sleep shows no signs of returning, so you roll over, thump out of bed and drag yourself into the bathroom.

Once there your thumb flicks on the light and your eyes stay shut, the blackness they see is exchanged for maroon. Hopefully your eyes will adjust.

You pad to the sink and open your eyes, only to catch a glimpse in the mirror of what you fear most. It is you. You, my friend, are the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Why is Labor Day on a Monday? Why can’t it be on a Friday? Why is it that every time a weekday holiday arrives we can’t seem to exercise any self control? Suddenly all is chaos and tomorrow never comes…until it does. And on Labor Day, Tomorrow is Tuesday.

Which is today.

Which is you.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Night Windows

I wrote this piece about a year and a half ago. It's based on the painting "Night Windows" by Edward Hopper.

This is a scene I have mulled over several times, trying to get it to work. I haven't really made any revisions to it, but I think there's something in it somewhere.

(As a point of clarification, when people are looking out the window it is the image from the painting that they see. As isf they are the ones looking into the window.)

Here is the image:


(A run down room in a transient hotel. There is a single bed, rumpled having been slept in, SL. Next to it is a small nights stand and table lamp. Immediately up stage is a door. Across the room is a doorway leading to a bathroom. Upstage are two large picture windows, out of which another building is visible. It is very near and it’s windows gape open. All lights in these outside rooms are dark, however there is a dim glow just below the sight line and some shadowy movement, indicating that there may be some life in a room below.

There is also some light coming from just above, out of another window.

Underneath the window, on the floor, there is an ashtray, overflowing with dead cigarettes and some candy wrappers.

The hotel room is dark - the shapes of the furniture in the room are outlined by the dim glow of the city lights outside.

Outside the door there is the sound of a distant elevator “ding” as it reached the floor. Instantly following it are footsteps marching down the hall. They stop in front of the door. A key in the lock, the door opens.

Standing in silhouette is GWEN. She is breathing heavily as she stares into the room. She reaches for the light switch. As she does this, a door slams down the hallway followed by heavy footsteps running towards her. It is MARTIN. He stops, out of breath, behind her. GWEN turns on the lights. She is dressed as if for a party)

Is this it?

MARTIN (Still breathing heavily)
Gwen, please…

This is it? (Calling out) Chuck?

(Pause. No Answer.)

Don’t go in there, Gwen, please don’t…

Whaddaya mean, “don’t go in”?

(GWEN takes a dramatic step into the room. She continues, looking around, leaving MARTIN by the door.)

Huh. Doesn’t look like much.

It isn’t. It isn’t much at all. In fact, it’s not anything.

(GWEN laughs for a second and then cups her hand over her mouth, crying. She turns and rushes into the bathroom slamming the door.)

Oh, god, Gwen please don’t cry…

Will you stop saying my name please?


(GWEN opens the bathroom door)

You shut up! Shut. Up. Stop saying my name- you’ve said it at least, what, eighteen times in the last fifteen minutes and that average has got to end here, do you understand me? Just cut it out!


(GWEN goes back into the bathroom. MARTIN stands for a moment and then looks heads up to the window. He peers out, lingering for a moment at the glow below. The bathroom door opens and he snaps out of it. GWEN re-appears, her eyes are read and puffy.)

I’m going to wait for him. You should leave, probably, or something.

I think I should stay. I could-

How long have you known about this place?


I swear to god, Martin, if you say my name one more time…(A beat) Answer my question.

What difference could that possibly- it can make no possible difference, Gwen, how long I’ve known.

That’s not an answer, Martin. Martin, Martin, Martin. See? I’m catching up.

(MARTIN tries to laugh, but no dice.)

What time’s Chuck going to be here?

(MARTIN gives a reflexive look at his watch. He stares at it for a long moment.)

Will he be alone?

(MARTIN drops his hand and looks around the room)


(Holds his hand up to shush her)

I don’t know the answer to either of those questions. It really isn’t…it’s really not what you think it is.

Yes…You said that. I think you should leave, Martin.

I think I should stay…Gwen.

(A long moment. She sits on the edge of the bed. After, what seems like an eternity:)

Katy Dennis is a gorilla.

Now, she didn’t know….

You know she did, You KNOW she did. She’s an absolute ape, that woman - always doing that (makes half a nasty face) thing with her mouth. Who invited her?

It wasn’t my party-

Jeanette Larrabee, that’s who. I’d bet money.

You like Katy Dennis.

I’ve always had my suspicions about her…I never said anything, but I’ve always had that sinking feeling. You know, any time I ignore that feeling, I get into trouble.


That she's lying in wait. Did you hear her? (Imitating the unseen Katy)Dar-ling, Andrew said he saw Chuck on 54th buying cigarettes. What do you mean that’s impossible? It’s not impossible at all. Andrew! Come here darling, tell Gwen how you saw Chuck…she simply won’t believe me.”


You heard her! And at the top of her lungs, too. Gorilla.

(A beat)


What’s that?

Why on Earth do you want to stick around? Seriously, Martin, to see the bloodshed?

Gwen…right now, I’m not feeling too keen on explaining myself to you.

(Another beat. GWEN starts giggling, a sort of desperate giggle.)

What’s so funny?

You should have sent he look on that guy’s face.

Yeah, well I was too busy trying to park the-what guy?

The night manager-or whatever he is- downstairs. I said, “I’ll have the key to Chuck Kildaire’s room please.” And he said, “Well, then, Missy” -He called me “missy”, can you believe it? “Well, then missy, just who in heck are you?”

What’d you say?

“His goddamn wife, that’s who.” I thought his head was going to pop.

(She laughs and then her face saddens again. A beat, she notices all the cigarettes and candy wrappers on the floor next to the window. She gets up and walks to the window. MARTIN stiffens. She stares at the mess.)

You know it is near impossible for him to keep anything clean-(In an instant, she notices the activity in the room across the alley below. She looks at all the trash and then back out the window, putting it together) Who’s that?

MARTIN (Completely unconvincing)

(She glares at him)

You know very well “Who.”

Gwen, we should be getting back. I told, Abbie I would giver her a ride home and now it’s-(He looks at his watch) well, the party’s probably over by now and what’s she gonna do?

No one forced you to give me a ride here.

No one should drive your…state of mind.

A-DOR-able. Who. Is. That? (She points out the window on “that”.)

I don’t know.

Is it her?


Well, then WHO IS IT?

I told you, Gwen, I don’t know.

What’s going on here? I deserve some answers. I find out, most unceremoniously, from Katy Dennis, of all people that perhaps I may not always know what my husband is up to. And While I thank you, truly, from the bottom of my fragile heart, for owning up about this place, beyond that you have been a complete and utter BUST in the information department.

(She looks out the window.)

So. Does she always lounge around like that? In some skimpy pink nightgown?

(Pause. MARTIN is at a loss as GWEN stares down into the unseen room. MARTIN approaches her from behind and tentatively puts his hands on her shoulders. GWEN raises her head and turns around to look at him. A beat. She touches his cheek but almost instantly thinking better of it, retracts her hand.)

GWEN (Stepping back and away from him)
I’m starving. I didn’t get a chance to eat a thing before the, uh, explosion.


There was a little diner around the corner…I’ll see if I can’t get something. A sandwich?

(GWEN nods and MARTIN makes his way out. The door closes and his footsteps plod down the hall. A door opens and closes in the distance and he is gone.

GWEN looks around the room, walking aimlessly. She brushes off the bed and sits in the downstage edge, bouncing a little. She looks back over at the window, confusion across her face.

After a few beats, the elevator bell rings down the hall, and footsteps march down the hall.

In a panic, GWEN lunges over to the light switch above the bed and turns it off as quietly as she can. She edges over to the head of it and sits…keeping still.

There is the sound of a key in the lock. The door swings open and light fills the room, although GWEN is still disguised in shadow. CHUCK’s silhouette stands in the doorway.)


(GWEN does not answer, but tries to pull herself up tighter. CHUCK enters and slams the door. He does not turn on the light.

CHUCK’s breathes heavily for a moment, and heads for the window. He mumbles for a beat, leaning on the sill. Pause. In one quick motion, CHUCK pulls a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and matches. He lights one, the flame illuminating his face for a second. He shakes it out and stands, staring down though the window to the apartment below. He sighs, placing the cigarettes on the sill.

GWEN leans forward. Both of their outlines are visible, GWEN watching CHUCK, CHUCK watching the woman below. A long silence.)

I don’t even know her.

(GWEN knows he’s talking to her)

This place isn’t what you think it is. Sometimes I just have to…be away.

(GWEN does not answer. CHUCK finishes his cigarette, holds for a beat, and stamps it out. He walks to the door and opens it, light flooding the room once again. His shadow remains in the door for a beat, and then he shuts the door. His footsteps walk away from the room, down the hall. The elevator bell rings and the doors close. He is gone.

GWEN lets out a long loud breath. Gets up and moves towards the window. She picks up the cigarettes and takes one out. Lighting it. She chuckles, enjoying the moment.)

You think you’re the only one?

(GWEN looks out the window.)


Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Jawful of Falafel

Recently, I discovered a forgotten note to myself. It was written in the notes section of a palm pilot (God. Remember those? It was like revisiting an Apple IIe.) and it read:

Why do I keep eating unsatisfying food?

I have a murky recollection of writing this down - I think it came on the heels of eating a dry cookie that tasted like drugstore suntan lotion. Since recovering this note, I've been mulling over my food satisfaction levels. The compulsion to consume any old hairball out of the convenience store is a strange reflex. I am almost NEVER happy with what I've purchased, it doesn't taste good and I wind up resenting the loss of a good $1.59.

So I'm going to keep track of new things I eat and, as a new feature here at Shame, Inc., each week I will review the Meat Hut or Food-a-teria from whence it came. The restaurant need not be new to the world. Just new to me.

I want to make clear that I have no experience in culinary writing. I am merely recounting my personal experience. I am only what I am: a person who eats.

This week: Falafill located at 3202 N. Broadway.

I've been drooling over Falafill ever since the sign went up a few weeks ago. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sample its wares.

At around 12:30, I marched over to Falafill carrying a four-pack of Scott toilet paper, without a bag (I had just been to the Walgreens to pick up the toilet paper and exited the drugstore sans bag - the result of a series of microscopic errors which added up to "Managers should not work the cash registers".). When I opened the door, I was hit with a sudden self conscious wave about the toilet paper as some flagrant admission that, yes indeed, I DO use the bathroom, thank you very much. And considering the volatile nature of chick peas in general, it would appear that I came to the restaurant prepared.

Falafill is set up just the way Americans like their eateries: Clean, white and sterile enough for a tracheotomy. Or to sell Frozen Yogurt.

As you approach the counter, there is a cooler filled with exotic beverages (including cans of Nescafe which, my friend Tina told me, they apparently drink a lot of in Egypt. Ever since she told me that I have softened my previously snooty stance on instant coffee.)

The menu is fairly simple: Lots of Falafel. Sandwiches, Salads, and a few combo items offering hummus and fries (there are also sweet potato fries, which I did not order - but I may next time.)

They could stand to revise their traffic patterns during a lunch rush. After an extended wait in line, I ordered my falafel sandwich and stood to the side clutching my toilet paper (One or two fellow customers eyed me with some suspicion. Makes sense, my proximity to the bathroom was close.). It's a small place and there is not much of a waiting area.

After an e-fricking-ternity, I finally received my sandwich.

Falafill has an extensive side and condiment bar. I dumped some lemon tahini sauce over the sandwich and left. There was plenty more to sample, but the toilet paper was getting in my way.

The sandwich itself was pretty good. The lemon tahini was a spit gland shocker. The Falafels were soft in the inside without being undercooked and the outside was nice and crisp. Truth be told, though, could I distinguish a bad Falafel from a good one? Can you?

My only real gripe about the sandwich is the use of a truly unspectacular pita.  It was just one of those plain old whole wheat burlap sacks you can buy at the grocery.  A mere vehicle for the falafel...but I wouldn't want to eat it by itself. (Which is how I feel about bread and sandwiches.  If I wouldn't want to eat it on its own, why bother?)

But why the inflated price? I payed $5.16 for a few fried chick pea balls and a pita. It was good, but I can get pretty much the same thing for $3.25 down the street at Aladdin's. Or ANY Mediterranean fast food joint, for that matter.

I don't think there are going to be any riots over this price hike. I seem to recall a quiet hullabaloo when Starbucks charged over a buck for a cup of coffee, but that died down in short order. Why? Because it was fashionable, addictive and non-threatening.

Falafill may not be addictive but it is fashionable, in that sterile, non-threatening way. I think it will survive.


Was it what I wanted? Yes.
Did it taste good? Yes.
Right price? Eh.
Would I go back? Yes.

Wonder what hairball I'll eat next week?
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