Monday, October 26, 2009

Suthun Eating - The Meat and Three

They are found the world over, but most assuredly not as prevalent nor as well done as in the Southern US. I am of course speaking of the "Meat and Three". Sounds like a good name for a punk band, but it's actually a style of restaurant. Part diner, part grandma's house, the meat and three is a style of ordering where your entree (ham, pork, meatloaf, roadkill, what-have-you) is accompanied by three side dishes, usually chosen by the diner from an array of possibles like okra, collard greens and beans, but can also include such staples as mashed potatoes and gravy or even macaroni and cheese. It's a cacophony of epicurean delight! (That means lots of good food to choose from...)

You won't see any of these dishes on Iron Chef, that's for sure. This is down home country cooking. No bechemel Cream sauce, no wedges of brie cheese no hearts of palm on a bed of radicchio with a tamarind vinaigrette. No, we're talking meatloaf, pork roast, and that family favorite: Fried Chicken to name but a few. Standards. The stuff you grew up with.

A true meat and three is a diner's delight. Not only can you get your favorite entree, but you can customize the meal with the sides of your own choosing! That's better than marriage! The main thing about the Meat and Three is that you won't find them in a chain or franchise. The good ones are owned by Mom and Pop (or Grandma and Grandpop) who've been serving the same great food for longer than most of us have been able to chew.

Next time you're in the south, ask a local or better yet, ask a truck driver where the best 'Meat and Three' is located and enjoy the flavor of the south.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nashville = You can't get there from here!

I live in Nashville which most people know as "Music City" thanks to the prevalence of music, music venues and country music entertainers who live here (some of them are actually good..or so I hear). Nashville is also known as "The Athens of the South" and even sports the largest reproduction of the Parthenon anywhere in the world. You say "Athens of the South" and you envision a city of beauty, of charm and of intelligence and for the most part, that is so. What is decidedly NOT so, is the typical Suthun backward thinking that prevails in the city planning among other places.

Let's take a look at a couple of these... In this first photo, you will see a small park not far from the State Capital building. It is directly across the street from the massive new library (which is just out of sight on the left) and only 2 blocks from the state capital building. The entire park is about the size of two standard household plots and covers the end of the whole block as you can see in this pic. At the time this photo was taken (by yours truly), the city was in the middle of cutting down all the trees in the park AND removing all the well designed sitting areas!! Apparently, the wonderful original design of the park, with it's long cement seating and large shade trees had become a gathering place, not for local business people and tourists, but for the large and seemingly unwieldy homeless population. By taking away the shade and seating, the park would hopefully become less attractive to them. Amazingly, it became less attractive to the business people and tourists, too. Go figure.

Next, Exhibit #2 shows the recently demolished "Bus Sheds". The Bus sheds were nicely designed covered areas for those waiting for the city buses at the Downtown Hub. Solid steel with wagon wheel like arches, curved roofs and plenty of Plexiglas achieved an open airy feel and at the same time kept people dry. One block long The 8 "sheds" lined both sides of the 4 lane downtown street as this was the central 'hub' for the city bus lines. Recently, the new "Music City Central" bus station was opened and the 'hub' moved in, leaving the sheds to be demolished. Now, along with the sheds, the city planners have also opted to take this wonderful 4 lane street with it's wide sidewalks, and - that's right, cut it down to only TWO Lanes, and even WIDER sidewalks. Sidewalks wide enough for a marching band to practice. This street runs right in front of the big performing arts center (TPAC). On an average night of performances, cars will be parked out front and be picking up people, along with taxis and limousines. Who's idea was it to make this more difficult?

This is one of those things which defines and yet obliquely insults the Suthunah. We have so much and at the same time so little. New Highways are wide and spacious for driving interstate speeds, only to have a bottle neck where right of ways or design flaws cause more cars than needed to have to get through a 2 lane tunnel. I might expect this in a large city where 'too many planners spoil the plans', but Nashville, a city of just over half a million people, covers more square mileage than Dallas, a city of 1.2 million. With all that room, you'd expect there to be a better idea of what to do with it.

In addition, it makes me wonder if other cities across the south, in similar situations are likewise plagued with such problems, and it likewise makes me a bit afraid to travel much across my new native land...The South.

I suppose it's also one of those little idiosyncrasies that endear us to this southern life, that cause us to look past the little irritations and see the great city. Let me squint up a bit here...Oh yeah, now I see it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Suthunaz and Toilets - they 'GO' together...

After last weeks discussion of the position of the toilet seat, I thought I'd take a more lighthearted look at how Suthunaz look at that most private of functions. Here's a good ol' boy relaxing on the throne.
There are a few aspects of this picture which make it unique suthun. First, of course, is the fact that this is not an "Indoor Privy", but rather than being down the path a bit, it's right there next to the door to the house. Note also there is a door handle next to the door, but no door to speak of. How handy! Next, is the obvious placement of the 'refill' beer both to his left and to his right. I won't include the fact that this is a trailer - uh, oh, mobile home.., I figure that's a given.

But most importantly, is the central subject. Where to begin? No shirt, but he was wearing pants. He was wearing pants, but he's wearing flip flops. At least he's wearing underwear! (thank god!) He's talking on a wireless telephone so we could even say that he's "multi-tasking". (How high tech!)

But most importantly is the fact that if you look close, you can see that there is no plumbing attached. No, I don' think that there is a hole under that toilet, I'm pretty sure that this guy had this toilet sitting on his porch, and a friend said "Hey, Bubba, you know what y'ought'n do?" To which our subject replied, "Whut?" "You oughta get yer picher made on that there toilet HAW HAW HAW!"

You never finish a statement like that with a HAW HAW HAW, else it becomes a dare. Our subject poses on the porcelain and history is caught in a single click of the camera. It may also explain the fact that there are two beers, but of different brands. One for Bubba, and the other for the erstwhile photographer.

Here are a few more uniquely suthun toilet shots.
Ah, what form, what style and grace!

Same game, different player?
The tongue makes this an additional interest.. as in "Just what IS he licking off his chin?"

I won't go there....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Toilet Seat Conspiracy

The position of the Toilet seat has been the subject of more jokes, discussion and I wager, even a few divorces than I could probably want to name. A recent movie I watched even used it as a clue to the location of the killer. The toilet seat. Up or Down? (In the movie, the UP Toilet seat proved that a man had been in the room recently.) In fact, this blog garnered a wonderful argument with my wife when I first posted this diatribe, but a rewrite may help. So, let's see...

Who's in charge of this whole problem? Not the women, that's for sure (are you reading the sarcasm in that?) In essence, yes, the women as a whole ARE to blame, for creating - or at least propagating - the Conspiracy itself. The Toilet Seat Conspiracy Theory is that MEN are in charge of the position of the toilet seat and leaving the seat in the UP Position is tantamount to a declaration of War. I've known couples to nearly come to blows over the position of the toilet seat. Women INSIST that men should put the seat down after they are done. Their reasoning is that more times the seat is needed down, so why not return it? THIS IS THE CONSPIRACY! Now before we go on, we must clarify, the SEAT is that part where you SIT when you need to sit. We're not talking about the Lid. The discussion of Lid: Up or Down may be saved for another article. And to be sure, in our house we have a cat who, if left to her own devices, will "play" in the toilet bowl, leaving quite a mess. So, by that need, our lids are always closed. Both parties must look and raise the lid before use. And all must return the lid to it's closed position. This RULE in our house works well as it is universal.

Now, Closing the lid may seem to some to be just a 'courtesy' to the next user but again, this is not where my attention is directed. I am directing this expose' at those women who insist that the seat be where they can use it without looking whenever the need arises.

You see, that's the real reason that women insist on having the seat down (though very few will admit it) - WOMEN DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO LOOK FIRST! That's right. They feel somehow it is their right to merely back into position and have the seat in position for them. Did their mother's teach them this? Handed down Mother to Daughter for generations? "Don't look, sweety, just back up to it and sit. The seat will be has been ordained thus!"

Yes, it's true. And women know it's true! I knew one woman who many times sat down without looking and got her backside rather wet from not having the seat in place. Whose fault is that? Mine for not returning the seat to the DOWN position or Hers for not looking before she sat down on the [raised] seat? You know where I contend the fault lay.... And there are a lot of women out there who won't admit that they also don't look first, when in fact, they insist that men SHOULD look first. And it's not just the "Do you sprinkle when you tinkle, then please be neat and raise the seat" kind of thing. If a man were to need the seat up for cleaning, repairing or maybe because he spent his lunch hour at Taco Bubba's putting away several of Bubba's Burrito Bombs (with the Devils' HellFire Sauce and extra onions!) he would of course, look first and raise the seat as needed. It's the seemingly unnecessary rule of returning the seat to its down position for no other reason than it be ready for 'her highness' to back up to that I rail against. The rule is only for men, so that women don't have to look before they sit!

There have even been those women (my wife) who state that the seat's natural 'position' is in the horizontal, or down position, and thus it should always remain thus.  AH, but this argument does not include the LID!  Remember the lid? That nice cover which keeps my own cats from leaving messy little paw prints all over the bowl and parts of the newly decorated bathroom?  If our argument above is to be believed, then the LID must ALSO be kept in the horizontal/down position.  But if a man were to do this, he'd also get in trouble as again, women don't want to look first!

Rules, like laws, should be as close to 100% universal as possible. In the question of the toilet seat, the rule is closer to only 50% and therefore unfair. It could be argued that the rule about women not going topless in public is also not fair, but this is not a rule or law which I am able to change. Toilet Seats are well within my purview.

So, what we agree needs to exist is a rule about toilet seats which is closer to universal (or at least as close as possible.) Given that the seat may be left up or down at any given time and that either a man or a woman may need to use the toilet at any given time, the only RESPECTABLE answer is that BOTH men and women adhere to a simple yet 100% UNIVERSAL rule:

Let's test our new rule with a couple of test subjects, one of each gender set.

MEN: A man enters to use the toilet. The seat can be in either (a) up or (b) down position. Using the new rule, the man LOOKS at the seat. He examines his need and adjusts the seat according to need: up or down. Does the rule work in this instance? Yes. Ding Ding! (ok, I love sound effects and background music, let's try not to dwell on it.) Yes, the rule works, we are now at about 50%.

WOMEN: A woman enters to use the toilet. (No, the man is not there, he left, get that image out of your head.) The seat can be in either (a) up or (b) down position. Using the new rule, the women LOOKS at the current position of the seat and adjusts to meet her need. (And let's face it, ladies, there ARE times when you DO want the seat up, like when you've spent the evening at Taco Bubba's scarfing down those fat 5 for a dollar Burritos followed by a wild night of drunken debauchery at the 'Skank Whole' Nightclub throwing dollar bills at the male strippers and imbibing an inordinate amount of dollar shots and cheap Margaritas. (Oh yes, there will be seat adjustments!) Does the rule work here? Yes. Even when Bubba's 5/$1 wonders are fighting the Monday Margaritas from the Skank Whole for an exit, (from either end) the rule still works. Ding ding! We are now at 100% Universal.

So it would seem to me that we can end a lot of arguing, a lot of divorces and a lot of wet fannies in the world if we all agree that a universal non-gender specific rule is in order for the Toilet Seat Dilemma. LOOK FIRST, ADJUST AS NEEDED. So, let's get the word out, Men - and ladies! The new rule: Look first, adjust as needed.

We won't, just yet, come up with a rule for staying away from Taco Bubba's or the Skank Whole and save that for another day.