The Mad Tea Bagger

Here’s a funny short film by cleverscripts, a comedy troupe based in Louisiana and consisting in part of Katie, Firecracker’s roommate. I should call her “Beast” going with the rule of only using nicknames in this blog, and will do so retroactively from here on in. Beast has a small but funny role in this. See their other videos for her Rena Rae film, too.

If you like teabagging, check out John Waters’ movie Pecker, which has a lot of it. Also it bas drag kings, and proves that pubic hair causes crime. A great film.

Greasy Spoons – Crif Dog, NYC. Bacon wrapped hot dogs!

I seriously thought about renaming this blog “Movies, Beer and Hot Dogs” (especially since is available) but changed my mind. After all, sometimes I write about hamburgers, or music. But this time it’s about hot dogs. If they’re good enough for Christopher Walken, they’re good enough for me:

Walken In L.A.

This week, The Onion picks up another popular syndicated column: Christopher Walken’s “Walken in L.A.” For the last two years, Mr. Walken has provided his readers with consistently insightful commentary into the entertainment industry. His column already appears regularly in Variety and Rolling Stone, as well as in dozens of smaller newspapers and magazines. We’re proud to welcome this celebrated actor and columnist to our pages.

Do you enjoy eating hot dogs? I hope you won’t be put off by my frankness when I tell you that I absolutely love them. In fact, I enjoy no food item more than a freshly-boiled hot dog. Now, I’ve done a lot of movies, and it’s true that I’ve worked with quite a few celebrities who did not share this opinion. I’m sorry to say that these people have always angered me.

There are two types of people in this world: those who eat hot dogs whenever it is possible to do so, and those who opt to do other things with their free time. Who do the latter think they are kidding? What pastime could be more rewarding than the consumption of hot dogs? I haven’t yet found one, and I don’t expect to in my lifetime. Unlike other foods, hot dogs can be eaten at any time, in any place, and it is not necessary to cook them. Now, I ask you: Why not eat hot dogs? They are delicious.

I carry a bag of hot dogs with me wherever I go. I eat them from the bag whenever I get the urge, regardless of the circumstances. When I make a movie, my hot dogs are my co-stars. If, in the middle of a scene, I decide I want to consume a hot dog, I do so. I waste the director’s time and thousands of dollars in film stock, but in the end, it is all worth it, because I enjoy eating hot dogs more than I enjoy acting. This bothers some people. I was supposed to portray Batman, but when Tim Burton learned of my hot dog cravings, he asked Michael Keaton to wear the cape. To this day, I am peeved about this.

When we filmed The Dead Zone, I ate over 800 hot dogs a day. It was necessary. My character needed to come across as intense as possible, and I found the inspiration for that intensity in my intense love for hot dogs. The director, David Cronenberg, said that he would never work with me again. I kept eating hot dogs when the cameras were rolling, and that seemed to bother him. I say fuck him. He doesn’t even like hot dogs.

I would like to end by emphasizing once again that I really like to eat hot dogs. If any of you people disagree, I loathe you. I despise you. Not only that, but I also despise all your loved ones. I want to see them torn to pieces by wild dogs. If I ever meet you in person, I’ll smash your brains in with a fucking bat. Then we’ll see who doesn’t like hot dogs.

Next week: My thoughts on Woody Allen, hot dog hater and shitty director.

-Shamelessly reprinted from The Onion

Crif Dogs – wrapped in bacon, and yes slathered in strange toppings.

When you walk down St. Mark’s Place, many eateries cry out for attention. They seem to have taken over most of the used record shops, though some still remain. There are the requisite Indian and Japanese places, there’s a place that sells only Hummus, there’s a replica of the old 50’s Automat called BAMN, all done in pink… and next door is Crif Dog, calling to you with a giant wiener poking out with “Eat Me” written on it in mustard script.

The lewd signage

If you venture down into the basement you’ll be greeted with a disco ball and a big menu, a few classic arcade games including a sit-down Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga, a bar with stools and a few small tables. There’s also a glowing pink door to the left that is a trendy secret nightclub of some sort, so don’t go in there to pee. The wait wasn’t too long, and the drunks were orderly; there’s a note tacked to the menu that says “There’s an Asshole Button for a reason! Be nice to your servers!” I guess some of the New Yorkers are jealous about Chicago’s infamous Wiener’s Circle where the curses fly to and fro. I’ve been there too, and while I can enjoy a Chicago dog with the pickle and other toppings, on the poppy seed bun, the crisp fried dogs at Crif’s are much more to my taste.

Notice the Stoner packs. Know your customer!

I demanded that we go to Crif Dog after Katie mentioned that they make hot dogs wrapped in bacon. Now I’d heard of such a thing, but never experienced it. She also mentioned toppings like sour cream and avocado, or pineapple. Say what you want about California pizza, but I’ve always liked Hawaiian pizza with pineapple and Canadian bacon (though pineapple-pepperoni works better, in my opinion, or pineapple-ham and hot yellow banana peppers). So this was a must-visit. We went to Mara’s Homemade for dinner that night, and sampled Abita’s excellent seasonal brew, Strawberry Harvest Lager, over a bucket of crawfish boil. Then wandered to the Continental, for $10 for any 5 shots, and after a few hours there it was time for drunk food. That’s where Crif Dog comes in handy.

Drunk food requires grease to kick your liver into gear and a spongy carb material to soak up alcohol and keep it in your stomach, to give the liver a fighting chance. A hot dog, ensconced in bacon and fried crisp in oil, enrobed in a gummy bun and slathered in all and sundry toppings, is the top gun in the drunk food arsenal. Some prefer a pizza burger. Up north they have their poutine, or gravy cheese fries as we’d call them here in the States; Disco Fries in Jersey diners. Over the pond it’s a chip butty or a bacon chip butty, a sandwich made of bacon, fries, and butter. Now those concoctions will certainly do the job, but in New York City there is no food more ubiquitous than the hot dog. On Bourbon Street you have your Lucky Dog vendors, but in the city the blue and gold Sabrett’s umbrella is the beacon that will lead you to salvation. But if you’re near St. Mark’s and Avenue A, Crif Dog is the only way to go.

Sadly I think they no longer serve beer. Or at least PBR. Die, hipster!

Despite the fancy names on the menu, they make a fine down-home dog with few pretentions. I was impressed by the Spicy Redneck, a bacon dog with chili sauce, jalapenos, and cole slaw. It wasn’t very spicy, but it tasted very good. I much preferred the Tsunami, which is a bacon dog with teriyaki sauce, pineapple, and a few green onions. Both of these overwhelmed the hotdog and bacon flavors, so in later visits I might try a plain ol’ bacon dog, and I’m told their burgers are worth a try too. Firecracker had a Philly Tube Steak- cheese and onions, and the Chihuahua, with sour cream and avocado. They also make a Good Morning, with bacon, cheese and egg, but I didn’t want to push my luck.

They’re a great find and make some fine hot dogs, but the Redneck was very light on the chili and spices. For $4.50 you can spare a little more chili, right? Well, at least the “Knuckle Sandwiches are still free.” It’s not a bargain, but it’s a unique hot dog experience and $20 for a filling meal for two isn’t that bad in NYC; you might dirty water dogs at Gray’s Papaya a lot cheaper, but you’ll be going back for more if you only get their 2-dogs and a Papaya drink special.

America Repents a Life of Puritanism – Mardi Gras 2008

If you’ve never been to Mardi Gras before, you might wonder what all the fuss is over the beads. They’re just plastic baubles made by naive Chinese farm girls, after all. The streets become littered with them, the tourist trap stores and even the Walmarts are clogged with them. Why jump up and down like an enraged howler monkey so Hulk Hogan or some other celebrity might throw them to you?

Well, you had to be there. Even without liquid assistance from the ubiquitous Daiquiri and Hurricane stands, there is something infectious about being lined up with thousands of other celebrants, waiting patiently for gaudily decorated floats to be tractored by, so their gaily costumed denizens, who paid handsomely for the privilege, can throw you cheaply made treasures like necklaces, frisbees, plastic doubloons, cups, vinyl footballs, plush animals (reserved for children) and feather boas (usually reserved for the unreserved ladies, who you’ve all heard about).

Well, to explain it best, here’s some video of us at the Endymion parade.

Kevin Costner was the Grand Marshall, but we missed him. Getting a good spot in the parade can mean camping out many hours beforehand with your cooler full of drinks and your captain’s chair, but you can see it and catch the beads even if you show up late. We parked ourselves at Canal and University Place, conveniently near a liquor store and a corn dog stand. The next day, at the Bacchus Parade, we did see Hulk Hogan throwing beads as only the Hulkster can, underhand and with enough power to knock people over.

The Corn Dog is a purely American invention and much maligned, wrongly I might add. Beginning with Mr. Nathan’s frankfurter from Coney Island, the middle parts of the country threw away the gummy bun and decided to coat it with batter made from the one thing we make so much of that we even run cars on it and drink it in our sodas. Corn. Now, cook it in that manner so beloved by the deep South, deep frying. They don’t call it “deep” frying, just frying. What us Yankees call frying is sauteeing, a French word, even though French Frying is deep frying. You see, it’s all rather complicated, unlike the corn dog, which is a simple pleasure of salty meat of questionable origins, and deep fried crispy corn batter enrobing it seductively, to be slathered with ketchup or mustard or both, if you are so inclined.
Conveniently impaled on a stick, which can serve as a tiny spear if you need to defend yourself or your corn dog from rapacious Yankee invaders, this quintessentially American meal may be served all along your Mardi Gras parades, but it is not the King of hot dogs here. That is reserved for the Lucky Dogs, immortalized in John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, and pictured here:

You get a gummy bun in which is hidden a spongy Hebrew National Frank slathered with chili, onions and yellow mustard. At $4.75 they are double New York prices but are much bigger. I couldn’t manage more than two in one evening, and that was after a few drinks and looking like this:

That’s Sarah next to me, my girlfriend and all-around good sport, who’ll kill me slowly for posting her photo before she could edit out her rosy cheeks. They were made rosy by a drink known as a Hand Grenade, made only at the Tropical Isle bars. Our friend Katie, wearing the tutu, was our pink fairy guide through the throngs of Bourbon Street to the locales that serve this potent concoction. Her behind twittering like a honeybee telegraphing directions to the fine nectar, we buzzed along behind.

Joking aside, the crowd is similar to Times Square during New Year’s except with less order. There is plenty of police presence, especially as Fat Tuesday nears, and things get rowdier. This was the Saturday prior, so things weren’t quite as wild. The day we left, police had shot someone and panicked their own horses, which thankfully didn’t trample anyone. We didn’t witness any other violence and to me the crowd and cops both seemed well-behaved, but it’s a big party and there’s bound to be some trouble.

In this photo you can see the first inklings of the religious rebellion going on during our hedonistic revelry. Before the night was over, we’d see Promise Keepers do a conga line through the crowd of enthusiastic sybarites, and several men lugging huge plastic crosses on their backs to remind us of the holiday’s origin. For the most part the two camps got along peacefully, which is what I like best about Bourbon Street. I’ve yet to run into any trouble and people are allowed to walk the streets with open containers of liquor, as long as they are not glass. It’s a rather civilized notion, expecting you to comport yourself respectfully even though you may be under the spell of the demon bottle.

Speaking of demon bottles, here is the Tropical Isle, purveyor of the delicious and mind-numbing libation known as the Hand Grenade.

I much prefer them to the oversweet Kool-Aid and rum cocktail of the Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane, though I prefer his bar with its huge courtyard full of fountains and fire. This place is more unassuming, with a band playing 80’s covers and a rest-room line so long that one of the girls we were with barged in, with two guardians, while I was at the trough. I do not normally have a shy bladder, but when someone I just met stumbles in, the main vein will not drain. I had to admit shameful defeat and return later when I could blissfully relieve myself with eyes forward and thankfully surrounded by also silent strangers.

Under the watchful eye of the octopus we bellied up to the bar to try their famous drink with its unique glass. It is green as radiator coolant and tastes sweet and melony. Its potency is immediately apparent and after two of these in rapid succession, the world was a much happier place.

Unfortunately the ladies thought the place was too crowded, so we wandered out, and they lost their IDs in the process. Now, when drinking I clutch my wallet like I would protect my jewels if I were in a cage full of hungry Jack Russell terriers. The modern gal can’t bear to have a bulge in her pocket lest she add millimeters to the circumference of her booty, so they tend to carry cash wrapped around their ID, which to a thief is like shrimp wrapped in bacon, two delicacies in one delightful package. Thankfully they were able to go to the police and get the equivalent of a Hall Pass so they could drink the next day, and hopefully get on planes home.

The loss of the IDs cast a pallor on their evening, but we still managed to revel late into the night. Shortly afterward I had my second Lucky Dog, as the gelatinous bun serves as a fine stopper to the esophagus, keeping the roiling geyser of liquor from gushing forth. This time while I waited, the lady in front of me (ok she wasn’t a lady) stopped in mid-transaction to bare her breasts skyward and collect a bounty of beads. This display, coupled with a Hand Grenade and a hot dog, is the perfect Mardi Gras experience for a male. While I didn’t go out of my way to see the infamous bead and boob exchange that the holiday is known for, I was glad that if I were, I would not have been disappointed. Don’t I look sated?

We shuffled into a dance club so the girls could forget their troubles. I managed to lure Sarah into dancing while I flailed and wobbled like the white boy that I am, then I decided to hold up the bar because it was in grave danger of toppling over. In the interest of honesty and so as not to besmirch the upstanding reputations of the ladies I was with, the following photos are not of them, but will give you an idea of the goings-on. For one, if I knew the gal with the grotty armpits I’d have airbrushed it out or extorted money out of them to not make me post it.

There are times when you wish that your camera had fewer megapixels, or the flash could not penetrate the gloom of the bar-room. This was one of those times.

To further defend the honor of our little pink butterfly, as soon as the sauced gent jumped on stage trying to act all Patrick Swayze with her, she leaped to safety.

When we left, we ventured into Dante’s Inferno. Outside, dozens of men with placards and pickets bearing premonitions of hellfire and damnations for our eternal souls had gathered. The licensed debauchery of New Orleans has been a mainstay for over 200 years, and the Puritan roots of our country have been here longer. Just as the hangover is punishment for straying from moderation, they insist that there is further discipline beyond the grave for one’s transgressions. For it is not how we treat each other that matters, but how we enjoy ourselves. It was buckle-shoed funny hat horse shit when England kicked the Puritans out in 1620 and it is now, but if these men need to justify their faith by forgetting to judge not lest ye be judged, I won’t judge them in return. Except for a man train conga line crossing the street, apparently to protect themselves from us earth-walking demons, they were peaceful and entertaining. I’ll take them over a Scientologist any day; like the corn dog, they are part of America, and as long as they let me live as I see fit I will accord them the same such respect. But I will still take photographs of them to chuckle at:

We managed to get back to the hotel without being struck down, and even flew home through that tornado storm that smote Tennessee, so I guess the Good Lord doth not judge us as wicked. Now that Fat Tuesday has passed, I need to decide what to give up for Lent. Of late I have been particularly fond of the Deadly Sin of Sloth (not the guy from The Goonies, either) so I think I will vow to exercise in some fashion every day. I should probably give up beer, but having a fridge full appeals to my Greed and Gluttony as well. I contemplated this as we drove home past a row of Mardi Gras floats headed out of town on the highway, a lovely sight, not unlike passing a circus train must have been in the old days.