Full Squids in a Food Truck: Kiko’s Place

I used to say that I ranked 4th in my home’s list of decision makers. First was my wife, then the kids, next came Oprah, and finally, me. Oprah is off the air and she has since been replaced by Yelp.  Yelp has been much better to me than Oprah ever was. IMG_1751

A Friend told us about Kiko’s Pace but Yelp made us eat there. Again, Yelp has been very good to me. If you are ever in San Diego, look them up.
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Kiko’s is a food truck; quite the rage these days. I’m less concerned with what the rage is than I am with what the food is, and while I am not above things deemed barbarian, pedestrian, or maybe even grungy, when paying for food I have a true appreciation for ambiance. Roach coaches normally rank low on the ambiance scale so in my opinion greasy trucks have an added responsibility to deliver on the ingestibles. I am also not the first person in any line for sea food so Kiko’s started out with two strikes.

Despite the loaded count they hit a homer.
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Let me just make a note of what is in the hand of the man above, and also what is in the hand of the man in the picture above the picture above; a whole stinking squid. I say stinking as a figurative adjective not a literal one. It wasn’t smelly but it wasn’t from a package, or a freezer, but rather an Igloo cooler full of crushed ice. This then went onto a tortilla, along with every other creature not normally found in an aquarium, got covered with melted cheese, and finally it went into my mouth.

That was the best part.IMG_1762C ouple notes: they don’t do anything wrong. I, the expert, recommend everything on the menu. Also, don’t skip on the soup. There is almost always a line and a wait, because that guy has to kill the squid, but they give a large cup of soup to sop while you wait. It was almost good enough to skip the food.

Don’t do that.

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My Summer in Review: seasons

The seasonal passing of time is hard to measure in perpetual summer. The leaves do not change, snow does not fall, and your wardrobe changes consist of a jacket in the evening. Everything is a perpetual now.IMG_4790

Before you know it time has passed and you’re wheels haven’t turned. You remain where you were. Or so you think. Or so it feels.

But time always passes. The kids get bigger, the knees start to ache, and the sun sets.IMG_4198

Quickly a new school year is starting and the grind you never took a break from is beginning its cycle all over again and you stare at that date as it bears down upon you relentlessly, mercilessly, unyielding. Time does not tire despite its continual aging.IMG_3487I have done my best to follow time’s path but have been unsuccessful in both body and mind. The body I get, the mind makes no sense. A friend and I have talked about the need to always have something to look forward to, a goal, a destination, maybe even a carrot of some sort. Destination gives purpose and fuels drive. It makes a difficult now- easier to endure.IMG_4191I have jogged out to this tree on several occasions. I suffer from inertia and have realized that outside forces like gravity and laziness are hard to counteract. I set my sights on this tree, this destination, to get me to go just a little further, to prevent me from deciding I have gone far enough and aborting my much needed exercise just a little too early. It works.

But jogging to that tree really isn’t much fun. It is really quite the opposite.IMG_0941

I am not that guy who enjoys exercise. Of course I feel better if I do it, but the process is worse than drudgery, it is hard work. So are most valuable things.

Valuable things. Like views of lonely trees, mountain paths, and time.

Jogging to that tree I most often kill the value of the journey. No. Not true.

I don’t kill it but rather I trade one value for another. I sacrifice the view from solitude and joyful journey with accomplishment and the potential of one day seeing my own belt buckle.IMG_4493So in talking with my friend about looking forward, I wonder about the missing of now. Sometimes now is pretty cool and now never comes around again.IMG_4364Now must be harnessed and loved. Now must be carpe’d and capitalized upon. There must be a tenuous balance between the enjoyment of the present wrapped around the driving toward tomorrowIMG_4312Whatever balance I achieve, zen-like or teetering, what I do know is that the new school year starts way too early around here and I need to carpe before I run out of diems.IMG_3228

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That Flag

The confederate battle flag is being removed from the South Carolina capitol grounds. I have never thought, nor do I think now, that everyone who flies that banner hates black people. That being said I want nothing to do with that flag any more than I do a bright red Nazi banner. I have been somewhat disappointed though not surprised, that so many are complaining about this recent confederate flag backlash. “Things have gone too far,” some say. “It’s just a flag. People need to be less easily offended,” I have heard. “It is ridiculous that they want to outlaw this flag.” All of this has made me do some thinking and reflecting.rebel flag at capitol

I like Mummers. I am more than amused by mummery. My little family and I visited the Mummer Museum in South Philadelphia some years back and we were all amused as I tried on various bits of feather and sequin outfits as is part of the mummer experience. Seeing me all bedazzled was amusing to all, including myself. Whilst adorned in glittery wonder I stood and read a plaque describing how the roots of the mummer strut was the cake walk and how the wearing of black face, meant to mock uppity black folk,  was a proud part of mummery till forced by the government to cease the practice in the 60’s. This story, this historical truth, sucked the fun out of my feathered cape. I looked over at my wife and daughter, both with deep brown skin, and felt ashamed at my outfit. I took off my rhinestone crown and my wife, still smiling, said, “Let’s go see the glockenspiels.”rebel house 001

I don’t think mummers are racist. Wearing that outfit did not make me a racist. Yet in that moment, wearing those symbols of mummery and learning the racist roots, I had no desire for my black wife to see me and those symbols intertwined.  The confederate battle flag is coming down from the South Carolina State capitol building. This doesn’t exactly make me happy, but that is mostly because I am sad it was ever there in the first place. So much more so than gaudy mummer clothes, that flag is a symbol of racism.greenwood 007

When I first moved to Greenville South Carolina they did not officially recognize Martin Luther King Day. There was at that time a raucous debate going on among local politicians and the public on whether or not this should be changed. I was not involved nor was I vocal. I had other things on my mind and I knew where I stood on things, I didn’t need a holiday to teach me things, I went on about my business. Part of that business was getting a new driver’s license. I found the local DMV and during regular business hours paid them a visit to get myself legal. They were closed. Across the door was stretched a festive banner that read, “Closed in celebration of Confederate Memorial Day”.greenwood 012

A message was sent to me right then and there that in this state, my new home, that the memory of white rebel soldiers was more important than black people in general. Perhaps I was jumping to conclusions and misreading the situation. Perhaps. But the message was sent. Those in power at that time wanted to pay honor to rebel soldiers in an official and governmentally endorsed manner, but were in open opposition to doing the same for a civil rights leader who believed in non-violence. What else was I supposed to think? With that in mind I would drive around town and local communities and the confederate battle flag was everywhere. On cars, on flag poles in front of people’s homes, and even affixed permanently on trees lining the highway. It flew from the top of the state capitol. That flag, the same one waved by segregationists as they screamed and spit on black kids who were trying to go school, the same one that leads Klan parades, was being officially waved by the government of the state I now lived in. Those segregationists chose that flag when they gathered in opposition to black people. I’m married to a black person. Every day I would drive around and see that flag, then go home and see my wife and children. How was I supposed to feel welcome anywhere?

It shouldn’t matter that my wife is black. A person doesn’t need to have ever met a black person to care. Why would I want to wave a banner that tells black people I am against them? Why would I want my government to wave a flag that tells black people they are not welcome? But many people do want that flag there. Those who do in fact hate black people repeatedly choose that flag to wave. Because of that, I want nothing to do with it.

No. I’m not happy about any of this.

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Museum of Man: they refused to put me behind the glass

They call it the Museum of Man. I haven’t yet decided if that is a grandiose title or overly simplistic. Either would be fitting. The building’s exterior is indeed grandiose, and the interior is surprisingly… not.IMG_4623

I appreciate the learning experience a museum potentially provides young visitors, but as I walked around looking at words written on walls next to plaster casts of this and that, or diagrams of things not actually housed in the museum, I wondered what a museum provides in this regard that can’t just as easily, or easier, be found via Google. I walk quickly past these sorts of things.

I’m looking for artifacts.IMG_4688

The sign on the wall talked of how green is a symbolic color meaning something other than illness or frogginess. I am dubious. I can imagine an ancient artisan spinning some tale of how this color glorifies the deceased, when really he just ran low on brown paint or the deceased owed him money.IMG_4687

I have decided that men in all places, times, and sorts, like to play dress-up but are afraid to admit it. Consequentially we call our costumes “armor” or “ceremonial” and so on. What a tragedy that man will wage war with each other as a means to justify costumes devoid of childish or feminine insinuation. I mean you put a Groucho mustache on your armor. Do not get me wrong, I love it, I just don’t think you should have to stab people with spears and swords in order to wear your “scary” outfit.

Speaking of scary…IMG_4616These stacks of money represent wealth held by the varying “races” of humans. Now race may have no biological reality but that difference in stack size matters. Now while I realize that I, a white guy, contribute very little to that giant stack of white man cash, I also realize that at least 2/3’s of that black stack belongs to Oprah. We average folk of all shades hold very little relative wealth, but I do hold the knowledge that skin color still matters in America.

But then, after all the walking and looking at descriptions of men and manliness, I reflect on not only the most basic and descriptive, but also the most informative and lasting knowledge regarding man- bacon on hot dogs is wonderful.IMG_4604

 

 

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Edible Joy from a Food Truck.

I heard about Kogi from Anthony Bourdain. I met Anthony on Netflix and my first impression was that he tries a little bit too hard to be cool. I am of course a world authority on cool and Anthony’s overt efforts made me skeptical of his food recommendations. I normally prefer my food recommendations from people who have met me, which you cannot do via Netflix, but there was something about this particular recommendation that gave me pause.

Kimchi quesadilla.

From a food truck.IMG_4101

Okay. Rewind that a bit and I will happily listen to your cynical voice over laced with expletives just to find out where I get kimchi quesadillas from a food truck.

Kogi. You get them at Kogi. You get them, you smell them, you eat them, and your mouth explodes. It is a happy explosion. If you were to be rude and chew with your mouth open, the sound of singing angels would escape. Those angels would sing in both Korean and Spanish, neither of which I understand, but taste buds are apparently polyglots.IMG_4096

Mr. Bourdain. You were right. I apologize and you can say whatever you want however you want as long as you point me to places like Kogi.

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Being a Kid

When you are little the world is controlled by giants. Everything is taking directions from someone else whose kneecaps look you in the eye.IMG_8005

When and what to eat. Or not to eat. What to wear. Where to live and to whose family you belong. Everything is decided and dictated by someone else and you have no say in who that is. They decide if you are rich or poor, hungry or overfed, blonde or brown haired. Everything is up to them. They control everything and when you are young, your only hope is to eventually get taller. Getting taller takes time, it takes years, and years are the longest things there are.IMG_3683

When you are little the world is measured out from task to task. School comes right after breakfast which comes after you get dressed right after you wake up. Then you color, then a snack, and then a nap. You play. At the end you clean up and then you wait, and if the worst happens, you wait ten minutes because they forgot about you and you almost died because you knew they weren’t coming. But those horrible minutes are erased by cartoons which lead into dinner. After dinner they like to torture you. Sometimes baths but always bed. Bed, where you lie there in the dark being quiet forever until it all ends. Why do they make us do that? It is boring, it is scary, and most of all it is long.IMG_2059This is a day, and to grow up they want us to wait a year? How many bath-times is that? We all want to grow up faster but they won’t let us. They say it isn’t them, it is just how it is, but however it is, it is still out of our control. Just like everything.IMG_2915

They tell us to enjoy it and be happy. They tell us not to cry. They say they wish they could go back and be where we are, then turn around and give themselves another scoop of ice cream and stay up late watching television. We never got extra ice cream and always had to go to bed. They say they want what we have but they never do it. They stay up all night.

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Black History Month: which, and whose, civil rights are you advocating for exactly?

History can be a funny thing. Once those who lived it are gone, we can tell the story in whichever way we wish, in order to serve our own circumstances. It seems that we ignore living figures regarding them as old fashioned and outdated until they die. Then we revere or demonize them in whichever light we choose. Opinions are never historical because they are always current.

Like I said, history is a funny thing.IMG_1989

One of the greatest achievements of the civil rights movement was not MLK’s speech, or the signing of the civil rights bill (though those things were great), but rather the convincing of black folks, who were just trying to survive, to walk out into the face of danger in the name of rights… and not defend themselves.

You see, there was a time, a long time, when Black Americans didn’t have any rights let alone the one in the second amendment. They may not have had rights but they had some sense, and when you live in a world where vigilantes regularly come and haul you away at night, sense means you keep a gun in the house.

What a miracle that people could be moved to put down those guns, intentionally, and walk to the polls, or walk across a bridge, or to a lunch counter, or to Ol Miss, when you knew full well that those against you had guns… and especially at Ol Miss, they also had badges.

But they had to leave the guns at home so the press could see more obviously what was going on. They had to leave the guns at home so no one could argue about who shot who or how “they” were dangerous. And it worked- kind of.NRA

It worked in that it got laws passed, but passing laws has never been the same as people following laws.

So eventually these Black folks, who had put away the guns, who had already got laws passed, got tired of still getting beat down. The laws passed but they still didn’t get actual rights.

So a lot of them got the guns back out.

And wouldn’t ya know that is when “the law” got real worried about who owned and carried guns. The law came and took the guns away. That is when the people getting their guns taken away crafted the argument that the constitution protected their right to bear arms. They were Americans in a regulated militia fighting against actual tyranny. America took their guns.

But that was history.

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