Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bisstory of the Hisscuit

It was hsssing and shaking its little arms at me....

Back one morning in 2002 when I was still drinking against the advice of my probation officer, I awoke to this one-horned demon biscuit with soulless dark eyes and a butter pat for a tongue.  In his mouth was a link sausage playing dead like a grey seal. It was his only defense. As I recoiled in disbelief my eyes focused and I inhaled the smell of cookies (doesn't the devil smell like cookies?). The only thing I knew to do when confronted with abject fear or the possibility that someone may be injured in an epic fail is, of course, to reach for an iPhone and snap off a picture to post on social media hoping for more "likes" if, of course, I survived the encounter with this flaky equivalent of a Great Martha White.

Soon enough I regained full consciousness and realized that this little fellow was actually a small token of love from Tuffy a/k/a "She Who Must Be Obeyed."  False alarm. Move along. Monkey's dead, shows over I thought.  I laughed off my temporary panic and then enjoyed devouring the little devil biscuit and washing it down with a Screwdriver. If God had not meant for us to like bread and meat, He would not have made pigs so tasty.  Actually, he tasted very good as far as I could tell in my condition but in a few days I forgot about all about the incident and the biscuit. Such is the fog of drink.

That was until early 2004. By then I had completed my probation and kicked vodka to the curb.  I had a regular job and Tuffy was no longer on my ass all the time.  Funny how that works: Drink less=wife likes you more.  I guess that might not be great if your wife is a Biggest Loser "two-bagger" but in my case its alright. Good actually.

Well, given that I had time to actually relax and read the newspaper in the morning I recall one morning reading that a group had been chosen to bring a AA baseball franchise back to the Gump (we had not had a team since the 1980s) and we were going to have a new stadium right downtown in the old Southern Railway building which had once housed Yankee prisoners of war.  I read they were soliciting team names and that the person with the winning idea would win a years supply of bratwurst.  I was engaged. I was all in.

I was awash with ideas.  The Riverrats, Grays, Senators, Gumps, Sliders, Gump Busters, Marchers, Dexters, Pork Chops, etc.  But nothing had that ring to it.  I was a fan of the old Rebels and the newer "Wings" but those names were dated or taken.  My sobriety had robbed me of my creativity and I wanted that bratwurst.

I knew I would have to leave the wagon to come up with inspiration since we have not yet legalized weed in Alabama.

So, truth be told, I visited the master mixologist known throughout the Gump only as "Reggie" or "Reg." (In his world last names are for chumps).  Knowing I was not in drinking shape I asked Reg to pour me a "light one."  "I don't weigh 'em," said Reggie.  "Just pour me a half a drink then," I suggested.  He smiled and said without a pause, "I flunked fractions."  After the vodka displaced all the water he handed me what could accurately be described as a pentadruple and I began the process of freeing brain cells to help me come up with a name---the name. Word to the wise:  One Reggie, Two Reggie's, Three Reggies: Floor.

I have been cursed to have a total recall of bad evenings in the past.  You know, those horrible times when your body is completely drunk and useless but your brain is recording all your buffoonery for posterity. However, on this occasion I was blessed with welcome amnesia. But somehow, when I gathered my wits my phone had on the screen--for some unknown and unknowable reason--the picture of the 2002 biscuit that had almost scared me out of my wits.  My drinking buddy--whose name will be changed to protect the ignorant--was still railing on about how a minor league team was doomed to failure in Montgomery and that he would bet me $100 they would leave under the cover of midnight in three years.  He had apparently found the angry biscuit photo and was laughing, why they will probably come up with some lame name like "Cornbread" or "Biscuits" or some other stupid name.

Well, it sunk in for a minute and I made the bet.  Then, when I was able, I sent in my idea for a team name to the new ownership, an idea born of a love for baseball and vodka, not really hoping it would be selected but knowing only that it was original as hell.

I am back on the wagon now and well, the rest is history as they say.  Here was the mascot selected:

A perfect match down to the butter pat tongue

Yes, there were scoffers. "The dumbest minor league team name in history," some said.  But they sold more merchandise than any other minor league team in history and remain the best AA franchise in the country.  While the credit goes to Dickson & Meyers who are terrific owners, I'd like to think that I had a little to do with what has become one of the most popular team names and most appropriate name for a team from the Gump: The Biscuits! By the way, the food at the ballpark is great all you Lunch in the Gumpers.

I, of course, collected on my bet and think of that big dufus who bet me the Biscuits would be gone by now every time I pick up my season tickets for Montgomery Biscuits Baseball.  Play ball!!!! Schwing bratter, bratter, bratter, schwiiing!

[Ed. Note: I am pretty sure this is an April Fool's joke.  The Carp was not recognized by the Biscuits front office as the originator of the name of the team. And, if he had unlimited access to Bratwurst, he would have exploded long ago.  Nice picture though.]

Monday, March 16, 2015

March Madness in March

This March has ushered in a greater than usual amount of Madness in the Gump. Especially in the restaurant trade.  According to our Montgomery Advertiser, restaurants were lining up to peacefully open new locations within the historic heart-shaped environs of the Gump.  Why, in our new downtown Foshee development, we see Island Delight, Cuco's and Mama Goldberg's joining the Irish Bred Pub on Dexter.  Happy St. Patty's day by the way to our Irish brethren who marched in Dublin for freedom from British Rule only to be gunned down by machine guns in a stadium in the first "Bloody Sunday."

Up in No-Clo everyone is buzzing about the new Kudzu Noodle Bar and rumors of franchising for them abound ala Zoe's, Chicken Salad Chick and Maki Fresh.  Love those Asian wings bro.
A dramatization of the famous Noodle March projected on the wall at Kudzu. 

Good stuff in there.

The Red Phone to the bar next door in case you have to wait or to reach Chairman Meow.

Then of course we all are geeked up about filling out our brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament featuring not a single mens team any of us care much about. This one looks like a shoo-in for the Kentucky Blue Grass.  And  now they have dumped their PETA un-friendly and endangered species of Wildcat mascot, we can all watch the ASU women complete as we feed our carnivore cats tuna flavored tofu. But if I were you, I would watch out for those pesky Wisconsin Badgers.  Badgers are not endangered you know.
A state trooper rustles up some Oklahoma SAE's to get them out of the Gump (Will we ever not have "a long way to go"?)

Last but not least we have been host to some pretty important historic March marches which caused some of our finer restaurants (Central) to be bought out by big wigs.  Bet it was an eye-opening experience for the wait staff when guys with badges started giving them those "voluntary" background checks. (Thankfully my ankle bracelet did not go off).  I am sure everyone's papers were in order and anyone whose papers were not did not show up for work.   Could all the ruckus have been because the guests were a present/former president or just some run of the mill Senators/Congressmen? In any event, whomever it was I heard they raved about Chef Leo's fare.  Did they learn about him on LITG by chance?  Not likely but as Randy Newman sings in Harps and Angels: "You never know". Our little blog does get a few hits from D.C.

Kudzu Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon See reviews in YELP.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

No Decent Cubans Up Here?

The photo from Ybor City that started it all.
Current events concerning the recognition of Cuba after 50 years of embargo have encouraged me to break my silence about the harmful effects US policy may have had upon this country. You see, I fancy myself a connoisseur of the Cuban.  As a young man in Panama City I was spoiled by easy access to the 2 for $1 Cubans sold from a small stand on the main drag.  These were wonders to behold. Thin slices of "meat" and cheese surrounded by fresh and thin bread with little or no condiments.  They were lovingly made and sold by a refugee Cuban family and were manna from heaven to a working man with a voracious tapeworm.

This was a decade after the Bay of Pigs fiasco and in at least one northwest Florida city (What? you thought I was talking about Central America?) you could find at least one place that could produce an authentic Cuba sandwich. Alas, when I matriculated to the Gump in the 60s, after an exhaustive search for anything approaching the Cuban sandwich of my past, I gave up and relegated myself to the next best thing: the Combination sandwich from Pasquales, the Sahara and finally Corsinos.

The Grand Opening of the Sahara--forerunner of Corsinos--where you could get a Combo sandwich in lieu of a Cuban.

But fast forward under forty years of embargo.  Our brave secretary of state and Vietnam war hero John Kerry now says the embargo harmed America more than Cuba just like building the Berlin Wall hurt East Germany more than the West. Well, as ridiculous as that may sound, there is at least one instance where the embargo hurt the US more than Cuba: We have no decent Cubans up here in the Gump.  Good maybe.  But all the great ones are in Florida.

My brother--a foppish dandy named Basil--has retired with his wife to an upscale "seniors" community near Tampa.  He knows that every time I visit I have to go to the original Columbia restaurant in Ybor City for my Cuban fix. Of course, there they include salami along with the traditional ham and sliced pork which is sometimes called the Tampa variation.  But the mix of Swiss cheese and pickles on the thinly sliced Cuban bread makes a visit to the Columbia a must for me.

There have been heroic attempts to develop Cuban sandwiches here in the Gump and we thank all of those who tried. We mentioned the decent Cuban sandwich at The Wagon Wheel in our very first post back in 2009. That year we reviewed the better Cuban at The Wishbone Cafe. In 2011 we mentioned the ill-conceived Cuban "pannini" at the now-defunct Alley Deli. We explored the "Torta Cubana" at the Latino Super Market Taqueria y Restaurant but--as should be plain--that is not a Cuban sandwich but a Central American sexist parody of Cuban women. In 2012 we thought we finally had hit it big with the Cuban sandwich from the Cantina in the Alley. Unfortunately, the owner died soon after it opened and they closed down. Even the old Olive Room had a fairly good Cuban on the lunch menu back when it was a going concern. Recently, we noted the Ricky Ricardo Cuban Sandwich at Chappy's as a good effort.

But something, perhaps as says John Kerry (Vietnam war hero), was lacking because of the embargo? Were we too many generations removed from real Cuban sandwiches to replicate the originals here in the Gump?

I, obviously, do not pretend to know or understand how the exercise of presidential fiat resulting in the normalization of relations with Cuba will play out. But now with all the uproar concerning the unilateral executive action taken regarding Cuba without Congressional approval aside, I am somewhat hopeful that the normalization of relations with Cuba will eventually lead to the availability of Cuban cigars and authentic Cuban sandwiches in the Gump that will rival the Columbia or Las Olas Cafe on South Beach.

To land this plane let me tell you that it was ironic that today, the dawning of a new age in U.S./Cuban relations, my brother decided to torture me with a text and picture of his Cuban sandwich and 1905 salad from the original Columbia restaurant.  To which I thoughtlessly replied, "We just don't have any decent Cubans up here."  After sending that text I chuckled to myself that someone might take that the wrong way....

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Luncheon Dust-Up at Gumpwood CC Proves that Apes Evolved from Club Members

Gumpwood f/k/a MCC: Scene of the Great Poking Incident of 2014
Now that our local Snobatorium located at the terminus of Fairview Avenue is no longer restricted, I have greatly enjoyed many a lunch there at the "Captains Table" in the "Men's Grill" with the manly men at my same station in life.  The  lunch buffet there is truly a thing of culinary beauty reasonably priced. (Aha, the connection to a Lunch in the Gump theme). The conversation is keen, spirited and conservative.  But, as we have previously noted in a prior post, lunch at Gumpwood CC can sometimes involve unabashed buffoonery and perhaps even an occasional kerfuffle. However, the correspondence from the participants in a recent dust-up have documented events so bizarre that acknowledging they occurred at your club would embarrass even the low-born members of what used to be called Bonnie Crest Country Club (soon to be a Wal-Mart) and perhaps even the usual rabble at Sundown East-home of "The Beast."

The protagonists--long time members of Gumpwood and the legal profession (I suppose I now use that term pejoratively)--were former members of the same law firm. One of them, as you will recall from a previous post, has the grace and tact of a Honey Badger. The other has an ego that can fill any room. It has been said they deserved each other as partners. In any event, apparently on Oct. 1, 2014, these two bull moose had to be separated by a Marine staffer after some harsh and profane words were exchanged.  (One wag lamented that instead of separating them the Marine should have furnished each man a trenching tool.) However, due to the Marine's quick and brave action a true altercation was avoided and one would have hoped that when the dust settled these two attorneys would shake hands and make up.

Of course, for one to hope for a civilized resolution of hostilities between these two "gentlemen" it would require complete amnesia of their past history. For in truth, the end of physical hostilities was only the beginning of a bizarre display of literary buffoonery the likes of which Gumpwood has never before seen.

First came the account from the alleged victim of the Honey Badger.  It was written upon his formal law firm letterhead to the president of Gumpwood. It was by and large a blow by blow account of the events written without a hint of embarrassment. After naming all the witnesses to the dust-up, the author recounted that as he returned to the table with a plate of food the Honey Badger yelled: "You Mother F*er don't you ever send me a letter like you sent me or I am going to whip your ass!." Incorrectly thinking it was a joke the victim ignored the Honey Badger. But that only enraged the Honey Badger who pointed his boney finger yelling "You Mother F*er" while charging to the end of the table. The Badger then invited the author to "go outside so I can whip your ass right now."

At this point, perhaps, I should remind you that these two stalwarts of the legal profession are not 17 or 7 but each about 70 years old.

Here I will simply quote the victim:

"Everyone in the room watched (Honey Badger's) tirade. It is well know that (the Honey Badger) carries a pistol in his car and I am now highly nervous at how I am going to be able to use the facilities where I have been going for 40 years. I am over 70, diabetic and have had a triple bypass.  I do not intend to have my life end at Gumpwood Country Club being assaulted by (the Honey Badger), a known bully and blow hard."

The victim ended his correspondence with a plea to the good judgment of the club president as to how to address the "assault" of the Honey Badger ("I actually think his finger poked me in the chest.")  Although criminal charges were considered, the victim developed some modicum of judgment and decided not to press charges because it would only drag his witness friends further into the middle of  "this absurdity."

One would like to also assume the victim's letter was not intended for public consumption.  Not so with the response of the Honey Badger who, after apparently mulling over whether to respond for a few days, on Oct. 7 set the tone of his letter to the club president in the second sentence when he replied with accusations of unethical and deceitful conduct. This letter, and the letter to which it responds, began circulating the internet shortly after Oct. 7.

It got even more personal. The victim's appeal to sympathy due to his age and medical problems carried no weight with the Honey Badger: "I am so sorry [the victim] is a diabetic and I suggest he quit stuffing his fat little toady face and get in shape.  [The victim] being 70 means nothing to me. I am 71 and have chosen not to deteriorate into an amoeba-shaped squid."

The above statements appeared on the letterhead of the same law firm in which the victim had previously been a partner.

Having thoroughly insulted his victim, the Honey Badger went on to essentially agree with every fact set forth by the victim EXCEPT the "poking" claim. While admitting he had about all he could take from "this limaceous cretin," the Honey Badger emphatically denied touching the cretin because: "I learned a long time ago to never put one's hand in garbage."

"See here you limaceous cretin!"
The one bright light in all of this came in the form of an anonymous "editorial" in the "Montgomery Egadvertiser." The editorial first reminded the reader of the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial" of 1925 which escalated the long standing debate between creationists and evolutionists.  The editorial noted:

"In an ironic twist, a related matter was partially and inadvertently settled during the first week of October in the Men's Grill at the Gumpwood Country Club in Montgomery, Alabama. Two septuagenarian members, while not addressing the question of whether man evolved from monkeys, did prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt that, in at least two instances, monkeys did certainly evolve from human beings. This episode also provides empirical evidence that not having the oxygen level set high enough on your CPAP machine will assuredly result in irreversible brain damage. Furthermore, it debunked the belief that there is no way that the food in the Men's Grill could ever be made any more unappetizing. Spectators report that the events of that day were reminiscent of scenes at the old Copa Club on a Saturday Night at closing time during the 70's. "

The gratuitous dig at the food in the Men's Grill was, in my opinion, a cheap shot but the other observations are spot on.

Our anonymous author concluded:

"Well no one can envy the Gumpwood Board of Directors who will have to mediate this dispute. It's kind of like trying to choose the cleanest sheet in the Ebola Clinic in Liberia."

Did I mention Gumpwood is having a membership drive?

Unused name tags at Montgomery County Bar Association Holiday Party

Sunday, September 14, 2014

LSU Gumbeaux vs. The Florida Citrus: LITG's Solution to Offensive Team Names

It all started with this "Tree" mascot for Stanford.

There are two prevailing themes currently circulating the sports pages: (1) Domestic violence and (2) Politically incorrect team names.  What have we learned about the Ray Rice situation?  Take the stairs?  Of course not!  What we have learned is that emotion leads us to a rush to judgment and suspends our belief in important concepts such as due process. We at LITG cannot help you make sense of that problem.  Seems we repeat the mistake almost every two years.  Hello Ferguson Missouri.

However, as to the second topic, we at LITG believe we are uniquely situated to offer thoughtful suggestions for how SEC teams ought to be re-named.  After all, we all live in the city with the most politically correct, popular and food-based sports team name in the country: Why that would be our very own Montgomery Biscuits.  Sure, some thought it was a dumb name that really came out of left field. But it has proven to be a marketing home run.  The name flows off the tongue like soft butter off a hot flaky biscuit.

So here goes.  To avoid future controversy such as that recently endured by the embarrassing name change at Ole Miss, we at LITG offer the following suggestions for how our SEC football teams can avoid the poor publicity that caused the Stanford Indians to change their name to the Cardinal (with a dopey "Tree" mascot) and which currently dogs the Washington football team and the Cleveland baseball club.

First, let's note that only three SEC teams have marginally acceptable names which only need mascotectomys:  Alabama, Tennessee and Texas A&M.  As for Bama, you cannot get less objectionable than to reference a color and the natural movement of the ocean.  While to Auburn fans it reminds them of more like a bowel movement, Crimson Tide can stay.  However, their emaciated post-gastric bypass elephant mascot has got to go.  After all, elephants are endangered and should not be exploited by a state that has not had anything resembling elephants walk its turf since prehistoric times if then. Our LITG suggested replacement mascot: “The Swirl.”  You know, like the swirl on the top of an ice cream cone from Dairy Q only this one would be Crimson.

Another SEC team that can keep its current team name is the Tennessee Volunteers.  I know you older readers think that the intended reference of “Volunteers” to fight the rebellious civil war is inappropriate.  However, so few readers actually recognize that civil war connection that UT can pass off their name as a reference to community organizers.  Again, their mascots--a guy dressed in a coonskin cap with a flintlock or that droopy eared dog--have got to go.  We at LITG suggest they be replaced with a character named Jack Daniel who wanders around the field acting drunk and hollaring obscenities--like most UT fans.

The third and final acceptable team name is owned by the Aggies of Texas A & M.  What a great ecologically friendly name?  Now the militaristic cadet corps and the firing of cannon has got to stop. And, instead of poor "Lassie" the collie who almost got run over by a receiver pushed out of bounds, their mascot should be changed to something like an solar powered tractor or a maroon hoe. The latter could be named: “Hoey.”

Now those are behind us, it is time for real work. Simply put, we have to remove all references to animals with violent tendencies.  How sick is it to have a mascot that represents illegal cock fighting. The current South Carolina mascot –“Cocky”—has metal spurs on his feet which can only be used to harm other poultry.  The gamecock also looks like it is on steroids which is another big no-no. Of course, there is also the existing sexual innuendo issue.  What father doesn’t wince to see a blonde co-ed yell “Go Cocks” into the camera while ESPN pans the crowd. Accordingly, we offer South Carolina the chance to change their name to “The Low Country Boils.”  Their mascot? Either a corncob, a red potato or a large red butt pimple named "Cobber."

Next we come to the Arkansas team. Wild boar are an environmental problem anywhere they roam and they smell awful. Why have a team name that represents swine? No way. Razorbacks have to go.  The LITG alternative: “The Arkansas First Cousins.” As a replacement we offer a LITG-inspired mascot they can be happy with: A Pork Rind.  If that reference is too edgy, they could opt for a pasty white banjo player with vitamin deficiencies named “Deliverance.”  When Arkansas goes on defense they can play "dueling banjos."

Now as for the two Bulldogs schools, both Georgia and MSU have simply got to stop their abuse of English bulldogs by putting them on bags of ice and encircling their necks with spiked collars. Indeed, one of them almost bit an Auburn player in a futile desire to be free of the leash.  These PETA and safety issues make it clear “Bulldogs” have to go.  As for Georgia the natural name should be “The Silver Peaches” which rhymes with “Silver Breeches.” Their on-field mascot: “The Pit.” This year "Pit" could wear a frowney face.

As for Mississippi State we at LITG suggest they keep their stupid cowbells but rename themselves the "Belles" with their actual mascot being Belle of Beauty and the Beast. Random? Yes. If you have a better idea please post a comment.

Clearly the SEC has way too many Tigers. Not only are they endangered, but they—like the elephant—have never lived in the US South.  Tigers are a completely inappropriate team name and, in the case of Mike at LSU,  tigers are serious accidents waiting to happen. Remember the Siegfriedand Roy disaster? Unless you want to see another “Tigersicle” incident there can be no Tiger names or mascots. Our LITG-themed substitutes?  We believe Auburn should  take a page out of Don Henley's song "Sunset Grill" and change their name to the "Auburn Skies."  That poor eagle has to be retired.  Its replacement, a beautiful “Ginger Girl” named "Audrie."  LSU should  obviously change its name to the “Gumbeauxs” with its mascot being the “Purple Okra.” Finally, Missouri should be called the "Sliders" with a snow pea named “Show Me” as the mascot. I could not come up with a food associated with Missouri. Missourians can't either.
The  Fighting Okra

Wildcats are no better than Tigers as team names go.  Kentucky has the perfect LITG-themed name ready and market-tested: The Kentucky Fried Chickens.  But chickens should not be fried any more than razorback pigs should rotate on a spit at their opponent's tail gate parties. Instead, Kentucky should call themselves the "Blue Grass" which should also become more popular as marijuana is legalized throughout the country.  Their mascot: A Joint named “Colonel High.”

What about the Gators? How could you have a more insensitive name? Overhunted and endangered for wallet and shoe leather, alligators should not be exploited by the University of Florida in the name of armored wankerball.  A better food-based alternative is there for the easy picking: “The Florida Citrus.” With that as their name, Florida could choose from a variety of fruit mascots. Our choice: “The Cutie.”

And then there is Vanderbilt.  Yes, they are still technically in the SEC.  But they currently have a militaristic name--Commodores--because they are named for a raging capitalist benefactor: Cornelius Vanderbilt.  They need to ditch the naval references and adopt something like: “The Golden Showers.”  Their mascot could be a golden urinal named “Pee Wee.”

Last, but not least we come back to Ole Miss, a team that has already struggled to rid themselves of a politically incorrect mascot and name issue and behaved badly. We know that instead of Rebels they chose "Black Bears." Really? Admiral Ackbar of Star Wars was a better idea.  Bears are endangered also and some are brown. The University of Mississippi needs to go back to the drawing board. To compliment their favorite cheer and best team sport: “Hoddy Toddy,” we suggest they use the name: "Hotties" with their mascot being any Ole Miss co-ed in the history department.

So there you have it.  Problem solved.  On any given Saturday in the not too distant future the Auburn Skies will battle the Georgia Silver Peaches or the LSU Gumbeauxs will take on the Arkansas First Cousins in contests that will not raise the hackles of Marlowe Thomas or anyone connected with PETA.  No one will be offended except maybe those expecting to see some hard-nosed SEC wankerball.  As my old coach would say: "Pin your ears back! Bow your neck and get in there and kick those Cuties in the navel!"

Best Mascot Ever... but he's taken.