These are times of trouble and contention, often exaggerated through online debate or trolling. While this rancor is deplorable I must admit I may have found myself growling and lurking beneath a digital bridge here and there. For example, about a week ago a friend lamented on Facebook that he was kept up at night perplexed at the injustice that while there exists chocolate covered donuts, there are no such things as chocolate covered donut holes.
He posted this as a statement of fact.
While I am no expert on donuts or pastries in general, his statement appeared unresearched and I found it hard to believe that such a culinary gap was the case. Perhaps chocolate covered donut holes were rare, but nonexistent? There is a whole wide world out there. How could anyone make such absolute statements without thorough investigation? Had he really been everywhere?
So I investigated.
A few Google searches and a couple phone calls later I rose up grunting and growling from under the bridge to confront my friend’s foolish statement. “You are wrong! You say they don’t exist but that’s wrong. I know where they are because I am smart and the internet gave me a different answer than yours so I win!” Having made my point so powerfully and with such fancy words, and exclamation points, I was a bit taken aback when despite my obvious victory a delegation was immediately assembled to investigate my claims.
The website said they stay open till 2AM so despite it being 9PM on a Thursday I was told a minivan was on its way to get me. We made it there in 20 minutes.
The Donut Hole in La Puente, CA is a perfect example of novelty design, kitsch, and everything the state of California stood for in the mid-20th Century. It is a giant drive-through donut. There may have been some way to access the place on foot but I couldn’t see it. Instead we drove that van right into the hole to find ourselves surrounded by well-lit glass cases and the sweet, wonderful, glorious, American obesity epidemic. Éclairs, maple bars, cronuts, and this giant glazed thing they called the Texan called out to us with the words “cash only”. We threw handfuls of cash out the window and in return received diabetes.
Along with all that sugar I was also served a half helping of crow. Over the phone, through admittedly broken English, I was promised chocolate covered donut holes. What I got was a pile of glazed donut holes drizzled with chocolate and sprinkles. It was decided that these did not perfectly match the original description and thereby did not represent evidence enough to contradict my friend’s original statement. I am of course a gracious man and accepted that I had not proven my point, but my friend was unwilling to be open to the idea that our failure did not in fact prove his. What an unreasonable ideologue. He was, and dare I say still is, so entrenched in his unfounded and unproven beliefs that he is not open to the idea that alternate philosophy may refute his. No. He would not bend.
He demands proof.
Please send proof to email@example.com
I am afraid of neither cliché nor dumpster. I may be a little bit afraid of going all Johnny Utah and trying to teach myself how to ride a cliché in Red Hot Chili Pepper infested waters, so I settle for sitting on the couch and painting what should otherwise be a sporting good.
I found it in a dumpster. I saw it as a low rent project that would allow me the tools to learn my next sporting hobby. I had dreams of riding waves and floating just out beyond the break.
Two years later I have ridden very little beyond a sofa and sadly, I float a bit too easily in the pool.
Then I got an idea.
It is still rideable. At least in theory.
When my first child was old enough to understand words and look at pictures, I began showing her images of Hawaii and calling them Disneyland. I did this in hopes that when her peers and surrounding adults would inevitably begin celebrating and pushing this fabled “land”, she would be under the impression they loved Honolulu and that she would imagine herself there… not Anaheim.
Because I would rather spend all of my money taking my child to the North Shore than some manufactured place with people dressed up as cartoon characters. I figure both places are about as equally expensive (truth), so I might as well trick my children into making me happy.
As with most preconceived notions of parenting, my plan failed.
Upon realizing that in large part due to current proximity, my children and spouse would full-on demand a Disneyland visit, I full-on planned to send them along without me. Yes I love my family and truly enjoy watching them be happy, but I am not sure my being there to see it is worth $200.
Do you know how much prosciutto I can buy for $200?
I understand that the things I have typed so far, already qualify me for some sort of firing squad. I do not intend to be sacrilegious, seditious, or even traitorous, I just don’t want to spend $800 for my family to see someone dressed up as Snow White.
Everyone tells me it isn’t just that. But it is in fact also that.
Let me attempt to be objective about this. I will admit that:
The production value of everything they do is far above and beyond whatever “par” is.
The rides, especially roller coasters, are fun.
There is at any given time and in any given place, something to do or see.
The crowd management systems and procedures are surprisingly effective, and do in fact minimize the horrors of waiting forever behind hordes of everyone to do something fun for a brief moment.
The food while not being cheap, is not bad.
My wife and children loved the place almost more than they love me. They might strike the word almost. I added it to make myself feel better.
So, having admitted all of that let me list what Disney is not:
Near the beach.
An actual kingdom.
As good as Six Flags.
Solvang is a little town in Southern California that pretends to be in Denmark. It was founded around 1900 by Danish immigrants who liked sunshine more than snow, but apparently still wanted windmills, wooden shoes, and Hans Christian Andersen.This is made “apparent” because if you go there today what you will find is windmills, wooden shoes, and Hans Christian Andersen.
Most people would describe it as cute more than quaint, and in concept it is simply odd- but in execution it is surprising in its level of commitment to a theme. It isn’t like there is just a main street with similar facade, the imitation game goes multiple blocks long and deep.They have bakeries and gift shops, a town square with a scaled reproduction of Copenhagen’s round tower, a mermaid statue, and a museum dedicated to Mr. Christensen and his fairy tales.
All of that is fine. Very nice. Whatever.
Th real reason to go there is because this place called the Succulent Cafe has hands down the best charcuterie and cheese platter I have ever experienced.
Go there. Eat it. Wear some clogs, have two blonde braids, read about a princess and a pea, or show up on a Harley, any of those things… just make sure you have what they call the 4+4 for $44. (four cheeses, four meats, and a whole bunch of great little nuts, peppers, spreads, jams, olives, etc.)
The first thing I saw when I walked in the doors of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was a giant portrait of a guy wearing a kilt. The little plaque at the bottom said the subject shared my last name which obviously required me to like it.
But it wasn’t my favorite.
I gravitate toward American artists, like the Eakins they had there, but at LACMA this was also not my favorite. Nor the Rembrandt. Not even the Picasso exhibition which came complete with a guard who tells you to stop taking pictures, even though the painting were picture worthy- still not my favorite.
I think LACMA had squeakier floors, more construction, and just plain more wear and tear than most of the museums I have been too, definitely more than the Broad or the Barnes, but what made up for it, what became my favorite, was the people.
It wasn’t quite like some other places where you go inside and the only people there are retirees wearing clothing from the gift shop and bus loads full of middle-schoolers on field trips. No. This was more like if all those people who run up the Rocky steps in Philadelphia, then proceeded inside the museum. No one in Philly actually goes inside that place, in LA, they do.
I will not forward that the art is better, or that the patrons appreciate it more, just that there were more of the folks you see out on the streets- inside.
People of all sorts are always my favorite.
But aside from them, what LACMA did best, at least in my Philistine opinion, is what California has always done best.
The Eames duo were not LA natives, but no one is. But those chairs go with those paintings, which work in those normally awful (shall we say severe) buildings, and they then find themselves in LACMA.
Yeah… they have other stuff there too:
California, just like Texas, is kind of its own place. We don’t normally relate the two today, I blame the 60’s, but believe it or not both places have cowboys. Both places have also once been Spanish colonies, then Mexico, then their own country, and then a state. Oh yes, and there were plenty of people living in both places long before Spain showed up (though I wonder why anyone would have ever lived in North Texas or Barstow).
Californians are always trying to be innovators and ahead of the curve, in any way they can, so naturally they tried to imitate Texas.
As the capital of the Spanish state of Alta California, Monterey was the focal point of Anglo American capitalists and settlers. Mexicans kicked out Spain in 1821 and then things got a little silly.
Americans kept immigrating illegally to Mexican California and when they couldn’t get the support from the Mexican government, they decided they would just make the place America.
But first they declared independence. They raised a flag with a California Bear and one lone star… like the one in Texas. These Americans living in Mexico declared they were their own country of California… and then later that same year (1846) America went to war with Mexico and the folks with that bear flag said “just kidding independence. We would rather be America.”
So in Monterey, amid the nice little coffee shops and a remodeled Cannery Row, you can find an Independence Hall just like in Philadelphia. Remarkably like Philadelphia. feather quill pens and everything.
Then Texas struck oil and California struck gold, Hippies moved to San Francisco, and depending on who is president, both states talk about secession.
So there is this “thing” called the California Cheese Trail. I imagined it as a sort of cheddar brick road leading to a wizard who can instantly age Gouda. It isn’t. It is much more like the string of California Missions that the Spanish set up, except instead of Catholic churches and priests, it is herds and artisans. I should note that both are beautiful and have use for tasteless wafers.
It was raining when we arrived at Harley Farms outside Pescadero. We had never heard of Pescadero either. The rain was fortunate for us as it served to scare away all the people with sense and other places to be, so we had the place all to ourselves. If you want the place all to yourself you may have to plan ahead. Like a year in advance. The place is all booked from now till forever.
There is a reason why.
The first reason is that these animals make great cheese. It is the kind of cheese that inspires a bunch of poor planning lunks to quickly buy a Styrofoam gas station cooler to try to preserve this beautiful food through a long weekend. The goat cheese/chocolate cheesecake did not go in the cooler. We ate it before we left the parking lot.
The second reason to go is the dining. The party wasn’t for us and they wouldn’t tell us what they were serving that night. In fact, they never tell anyone what they will be serving. The surprise is part of the experience. It is a new menu every night (which is hard to fact check if they never tell you in advance what they are serving) and if the food is only half as good as the fromage, it will be worth it.
But again, the place is booked from now till forever so good luck.
Five months after some colonists tussled with England in the Boston Massacre, Spain set up permanent shop in California. A Catholic priest and the Spanish governor picked a spot right next to a Native American town called Tamo.Tamo isn’t there any more but the cathedral is. It stands tall as California’s oldest brick building. Within a year the priest moved his mission down closer to the bay where there were more native people to convert. There weren’t enough natives up on the hill where the Spanish were building the presidio that were willing to help. Go figure.The tour guides there today are more than helpful. Volunteers devoted to sharing a place full of meaning an beauty. The Cathedral is that for sure.There has been quite a bit of work to restore the original Spanish Capital of Alta California. The place burned down once after an incident with a salute cannon. I tried but failed to find out who was being saluted when the cannon committed arson. The tour guide claimed not to know. I bet that guy from the Da Vinci Code does.The cathedral is still being used, and has always been used, as a church. Long before Kennedy became America’s first Catholic president, even before America had a president, there were Catholics coming here on Sunday.