Breakfast in America

What goes on in America stays in America… eh? It seems not. A couple of weeks touring the diners of Chicago and New Orleans will certainly give any returning traveller a few extra pounds they didn’t originally take with them; and I’m not talking sterling currency here.

Breakfast in America is not just an album by the old UK rock band Supertramp. It’s an institution not to be taken lightly (as if ‘lightly’ could ever apply to food in the US); it demands time and effort… and an expectation that you might be beaten by the challenge on more than one occasion.

Yolk is a great starting point on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. An unpresupposing exterior camouflages gastronomic morning mayhem. That’s why people are often queueing to get a table; but quintessential US counter culture (of the eating at the counter variety, not the return to flower power variety) gets me in immediately. The more than pleasant greeting of a young woman in a tee-shirt claiming to be ‘Handling your huevos since 2006’ provides a warm inner feeling long before the order arrives. It also leaves me lamenting… “who is going to handle my huevos when Duck One achieves his infantile wall building wish?” The ‘Works Omlet’ with a side of joyous noise eases me nicely into the lazy challenges of the day ahead. Marvellous!

Eggsperience, off the Michigan Avenue Magnificent Mile, keeps the theme of the hen going strong. Omelet or pancakes is the first decision of the day. Oh for such difficult decisions every day! A fleeting thought about a healthy orange juice and blueberry start to the day quickly succumbs to the need for sides of a pancake stack and bacon…

Eggsperience blueberry pancakes

But, a gaze over a shoulder also suggests another visit could be needed for that omelet option! Perhaps a vegetarian compromise could be made. Though perhaps all good vegetarians should be introduced to the necessity of a side of bacon!

Eggsperience vegetarian omlet

The famous Lou Mitchell’s, west of South Loop is an institution that should not be missed on any visit to Chicago. tired of blueberries? Why not add bananas to your pancake stack to bring some variety to the practice of indulgence? I think a side of raisin toast is also called for…

And, before leaving Chicago, get messy with a late morning Cubana sandwich at Xoco, a mere waddle from the aforementioned Eggsperience. A cucumber and lime drink might help balance the spicy fried pork and avocados wrap.

Not to be usurped in the breakfast challenge, New Orleans has its own crowds gathering to sample the delights of Ruby Slipper on Magazine Street. Again, the solo traveller gets to jump the queue with a stool at the counter. Time to try out the Louisianan Omlet of shrimp and grits, with a side of sourdough toast. A foundation fit to build any day upon.

Then there is the splendour of the Palace Cafe on Canal Street. A fine location to keep exploring the unique pleasures of a southern breakfast. This time the shrimp and grits are accompanied by a creole muniere ( don’t ask me, I’m just here to eat the stuff) for added spice to kickstart yet another day of challenging levels of relaxation!

Palace Cafe Canal Street [1]

Palace Cafe shrimp grits and creole muniere

Cafe Pontalba on Jackson Square is a place to trade the creole for a touch of the cajun in your culinary morning. A cajun omelet with side of cajun potatoes could just about provide sufficient ballast for a steamboat trip along the Mississippi…

Talking of Jackson Square; for those of us with an interest in cathedral architecture and the Louisiana State Museum, a corned beef hash at Stanley’s comes highly recommended while you gaze at the architectural heritage from the comfort of your diner counter stool.  If you like your eggs ‘sunny side’ let the yolks drain into the corned beef. Just don’t shout out ‘Stella’ in a Marlon Brando impersonation, lest you startle the staff and clientele alike.

Alas, it’s getting near the time to head for the airport. The hotel provides a last port of call, and quite possibly the last eggs I will want to see for, well at least a few days!

Hotel St Marie 2 eggs breakfast

Until we speak again, it is time to return to a good old UK diet. Next time you’re in America check out the title of an old Supertramp album for guidance, but drop any notion of three square meals a day being a good idea (unless square is the shape you are aspiring to achieve).

Zak Show dot Com

 

Kindness of strangers

Within all the horror of terrorist attacks, most recently Manchester and London in the UK, the abiding strongest message is the reporting of how strangers stop to help each other. But my recent travelling experiences to the USA have shown me that this is not only a response to terrorism.

Travelling solo to New Orleans and Chicago has left me with a great sense of how strangers are more than happy to meet, share thoughts and experiences, and are usually welcoming of people from different backgrounds.

So, to Victoria, Tom and Gayle in New Orleans, Laila in Biloxi, Steve in California, Bob in Massachusetts, Charlotte in Chicago, and Gayle and her sisters from Wisconsin… a special thanks for making a strangers travels a truly jazz funk of an experience…

Jazz Funk guys at RF's

And any blues were of the most welcoming kind (why, here is Buddy Guy in person!)…

Buddy Guy in person [2]

So until we speak again, to Jazz, Blues and all other musical cats everywhere, let the music do the communicating, as it spreads the love better than anything else! And celebrate the kindness of strangers.

The Gas Man

Some people thrive on hot air and gas, but few promote it in bright lights. Everything below the name is multi-storey car parking!

Until we speak again, while you are in Chicago (or anywhere else) try to stay above the twit guano.

Dumbfuckistan resurrection

Let it go folks… once President Obama was out of the door there was no longer an option for dignity and oratory. One Clinton may have dignity, and another may have oratory, but none of them have both. As for the new incumbent… well, viewing from afar is like watching a good friend skidding down the road heading straight into a slow motion car crash.

The 8 year experience of slick Obama speak has lulled us into a false sense of expectation. The new zeitgeist of the nightmarish dark hours tweet fest is beginning to look something altogether different…

Abandoned decaying plane.jpg

Little did we know that the poor little bum-crack combover was being spied on, by the order of the outgoing President and through the skilled practitioners of the UK spy industry…

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There is no value in challenging these facts, because they are carefully disguised in an evidence-free shroud where conspiracy theory has become incontrovertible. To mangle a quote from Groucho Marx “I have facts, but if you don’t like them, well, I have other facts!”

George W Bush might well have been the prime architect of Dumbfuckistan, but for those of you who have lamented its passing, fret no more. Evidence is beginning to pour in from the focal point of the free-world to suggest that Dumbfuckistan has been resurrected and is thriving again in its assault on rational thought.

For a start, just the other day I was browsing my weekly digest of national and international news, when I nearly choked on my personal sense of my place on the planet. It seems the new administration of the country that wants to tell the world how to be has just scrapped requirements on major telecoms providers to take reasonable measures in order to protect our data from the hands of unscrupulous vultures. Then there is the perennial Republican favourite… “want guns, have guns, get your hands off my guns buddy.” Good news for the equal rights for the mentally disturbed lobby, as those declared mentally incapable of managing their own affairs are at least free to buy guns!

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It seems this freedom from rational thinking is rapidly filtering down from the White House and Capitol Hill, to State legislatures. Why, only the other day the good folk of Arkansas realised a way of grabbing a bargain before deadline day… it seems their stocks of killer drugs are fast approaching their sell-by-date. A State that has not executed anybody in 12 years has found a solution to the dilemma of wasting perfectly good stocks of lethal injection juice… let’s have some mass executions while stocks still last!

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If the so-called Islamic State were ever in need of some fresh thinking, there is an abundant source of ideas simply oozing from the resurrected state of Dumbfuckistan.

As for Bella, she was always well prepared with a copy of the relevant constitutional amendments for any challenge to her right to take down any animate or inanimate object of her choosing.

Got my papers

Until we speak again, sleep tight, and try not to let those early morning tweets bight!

Where am I?

Sofa perch

Having just informed you, my readers, about my home grown credentials, I realise it’s early days in my new home. But, between you and me, I think the odd job I see walking around this place is trying to confuse me. Take the photographs on the wall, this doesn’t look like the Cardiff I know and love…

Twin Towers pics

 

What’s more, there seems to be some kind of artistic thing going on around the place with further worship of things New York!

My drawings [1]

My drawings [4]

Cardiff, Cardiff… so good they named it twice; well that’s my mantra, and I’m sticking to it. Though I might just share some of my worldly reflections in later posts. For now, I need to recalibrate my bearings, so lets go out for a stroll around this cauldron of Welsh culture. Anyone for a taxi? Hang on, what’s this, a pink Cadillac! Whatever happened to the good old Morris Oxford?

Pink Cadillac [2]

All of this confusion just serves to remind me I need to sharpen my claws. Ah, that arm rest will do, and perhaps a moment of madness with the conveniently placed pink fluffy dice…

Pink Cadillac [4]

The stress of all this geographical dislocation has generated quite an appetite; perhaps something indigenous and rustic is what’s called for. Oh no, not the American takeover vibe again…

Eddies Diner

Even the sweet stuff has been appropriated by the land of the buck…

More Americana

Roller coaster blue sky

 

Where has my Cardiff gone? Until we speak again my world has been turned completely upside down… anyone got an atlas?

Tales from Dumbfuckistan [4]

The self proclaimed centre of the universe never ceases to leave me and my kind looking dumb-struck or squeezing into any available bunker:

So occasionally, and at serious risk to my psychological health, I feel the need to take it upon myself to report an update for you on the state of affairs common sense seems to be adopting on the other side of the pond. News from the good old US of A frequently helps make me feel so pleased to be residing in downtown Cardiff; even if ‘the Ukips‘ are trying to threaten my immigrant ass by misrepresenting my permanently on the move hard grafting lifestyle…

Chillout cat

… as just another food-grabbing scrounger of a vet service tourism obsessed kind of cat.

For the most recent nuggets of wisdom from the centre of the civilised world I strongly advise you get strapped in, but carefully check what kind of furniture you are strapped to.

I appreciate that this planet is under severe self-induced stress from the shear numbers of people, and predicted population rises across the next century. But surely there are other policy options available from the land of opportunity, the brave and the free! First remember, this is the country that is very quick to claim how uncivilised other parts of the world are, and how much better they would be for adopting good old American democratic values. So, what do you actually get for your newfound civilised values?

News from New England… an owner of a gun shop recently received serious death threats when he planned to stock a new style of gun that could only be fired by its owner through fingerprint identification. It would seem that the technology of safety and advancement of scientific possibility only serves to frustrate and oppose the constitutional right of idiots and morons who wish to defend their freedom to re-enact the lawlessness of the wild west whenever they feel aggrieved.

   But worry not, you sons and daughters of delicate sensibilities, you evangelists of freedom of thought and speech, innocent proclaimers of murderous intent dressed up as self-defence… if you step out into your world naked because you forgetfully mislaid your guns for a moment, your country will come to your aid. Missed an opportunity to end a life today, fear not, your State might just do it for you! It seems that the self-deluded centre of present day civilisation has woken up to the torture inflicted on some death row inmates by having to administer sub-standard chemicals in their ritual executions.

 

Lets all take a lead from Tennessee, home of caring and compassion… having recently passed a law of enormous humanitarian proportions which now allows the state to use the electric chair to execute prisoners in cases where the drugs needed for lethal injections are unavailable. After all, it would be so cruel keeping people waiting for the US Mail to get the goods delivered in a timely fashion. It seems that there are at least eight US states now offering its prisoners the ultimate in personal choice… electric chair or injection? Don’t let it be said that bureaucratic decisions are imposed on people.

  It is reported that a renewed debate has opened up about the moralities and practicalities of killing your own people. What can the so-called uncivilised world (i.e. everywhere outside the borders of the US of A) learn from the civility of this new debate? Well, Wyoming and Utah are pioneering the use of firing squads, while Missouri (quite possibly pronounced ‘misery’) and other unnamed, but no less shamed, states have discovered alternative uses for gas. And you thought we had nothing to learn from boring old history!

Juno face

 

 

 

Sleep well in the knowledge that over 140 people
 in the US have been exonerated and freed from death row since the 1970’s; while nearly 1400 have departed death row by other means. Until we speak again I will be Juno keeping a watchful eye on the stupidity of man.

[Several images were used from google images in order to best illustrate points in this story. No bloggers were executed in the process, and many thanks are offered.]

Tales from Dumbfuckistan [3]

“It’s colder than a well digger’s ass” or so Tom Waits once said. So, with recent news of record-breaking low temperatures my warm heart goes out to all Dumbfuckers (a.k.a. the residents of Dumbfuckistan). I was stunned to see all of those red states turning blue, in the climatological sense, that is… heaven forbid that a good shafting from a polar vortex would bring any political sense into play.

Here is a recent photograph taken in Michigan:

Entombed by the weather: This lighthouse in Michigan resembles a giant icicle after crashing waves were frozen around it by a severe winter storm

Anyone for a show, how about Chicago on ice?:

Ice builds up along Lake Michigan at North Avenue Beach as temperatures dipped well below zero on January 6, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)

Views of the Ohio River bring memories of the Robbie Robertson song Somewhere Down the Crazy River (though apologies to frozen readers, as this track is altogether steamier):

Picture of a barge on the Ohio River surrounded by steam coming off the water.

But then my ‘resident ghoul‘ came up with the heart warming news that a new series of the US TV programme Criminal Minds had started. Nothing better for bringing some new year cheer than some gory tales of the work of sadistic serial killers. There must be enough raw material in Dumbfuckistan to keep a Behavioural Analysis Unit in business for eternity…

 

What with the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) franchises, the Law & Order franchises, NCIS, and practically the whole output of the Universal and FX Channels, my ‘in-house amateur sleuth‘ just can’t get enough mayhem and carnage for one lifetime. Just as well we cats are reported to have nine lives. However Dumbfuckers, I am sorry to poke your already frozen brain cell with an icicle, but by my calculations most of your population by 2020 will be divided into vics & perps… which will make sleuthing easier, because, by definition, anyone not yet croaked must be a serial killer! Good luck with the running and screaming vibe… just when you think you have escaped one serial killer there is another just around the corner.

In the meantime Michigan, and Ohio, and Nebraska, and Oklahoma, and y’all, if you think this is what I am looking like at the moment…

 … think again. I am sending you some virtual warmth, but until we speak again I am keeping the real stuff for me, a warm and cozy Juno.

     I’m watching you:

Full face