This one hit me harder than the others. I’ve been wrestling with it for a while, and I figure I’ll just go for it.
I won’t pretend like I knew Tony. But I’m gonna call him Tony anyway as if I did, because I’m an adult and I make my own decisions. The only time I came close, was when he visited the restaurant my roommate and translator both served at at the time. I was invited to come out that night, but didn’t. I was probably too hungover. I mean, I likely would have blown any possible conversation anyway, as I had little idea who he actually was back then. As far as I knew, he was the former junkie who wrote that book about kitchen culture that my roommate rolled joints on. Provided I found out he loved The Ramones, I probably would have tried to wax intellectual about how playing all downstrokes on the guitar a’la Johnny Ramone really hurts your forearm muscles in the amount of time it takes to get 3/4 of the way through Blitzkrieg Bop. Actually, that probably would have been the best, now that I think about it.
Frankly, I’ve never really given a shit about cooking. Eating food, I like. Even then, it’s a stark contrast between what is obviously an art, and my love of hot garbage. But cooking food is a totally different story for me. The only reason I ever took any interest in cooking when I first moved out was so that I wouldn’t go broke eating out all the time, and so that I wouldn’t die eating boxes of Hamburger Helper every day. Oh, and also so that I wouldn’t starve, I guess. Rice, beans, and M&M’s lasagna’s can get you pretty far in life. An old girlfriend tried to force me to pay attention to the tastes and overall sciences of the whole thing. That relationship was basically my culinary school, among other things. Ask me how to properly chop a vegetable without cutting your finger off. I’m a fucking expert at it. Is too much cheese possible? Yeah, aside from the digestion problems it can cause, that shit is salty. But, I still hated it. Any cooking I did was purely to appease others, and save money.
I mean arguably, I still don’t give a shit about cooking. The obsession and the pretentiousness of the whole foodie thing irritates me. Even that fucking word fills me with a combination of hatred, and that weird feeling of embarrassment where you shudder and have to look away and start talking about something else. Then there’s all the rampant substance abuse, and sexist shit in kitchens that I’m not even gonna touch here. It wasn’t until I started steaming episodes of No Reservations on IceFilms, and read a torrented PDF of Kitchen Confidential a few years after that, that I had found whatever spark I happen to have for the art of cooking. Matty Matheson’s YouTube videos also helped en petit peu. Also, I’ve since bought a copy of Kitchen Confidential, so shut the fuck up.
Tony and I had the same views on craft beer bars (they’re awful), ketchup (fuck off with the house made ketchups already, assholes), chicken caesar salads (the chicken DOES take away from it, quite frankly), and pubic hair. Our shared view on pubic hair is the one that I hold especially dear. I’ll disagree with him slightly on the fast food burger, but I will fight to the death for his right to that opinion. Shake Shack is better than In-N-Out, but even the best of friends shouldn’t agree on everything. The Ramones may be the best band ever, but seafood IS pretty disappointing Tony. There, I said it. Fight me.
Collectively, I think that’s why this one hurt so much. He was a punk like me, like the rest of us. He swatted at things and failed up until his 40’s. Then, experienced success by just being himself. He told it like it was. Mocking traditions and the overall pretentiousness. He batted out of his league and somehow made it all work, on his terms. Just like me…or so I’d like to believe. He was living the dream. Travelling off the beaten path. Going places white people tell you you’re not supposed to go to. Drinking, talking shit, and stuffing anything and everything down your throat. Livin’. The. Dream. For myself, that dream is currently held at bay by finances, a serious nut allergy, and a possible shellfish allergy that quite frankly I’m not that interested in confirming or denying at this point. But I’m working on it.
But hey, we’ll always have sauces right?
There’s a darkness in all of us, and I’d like to think we’re just doing the best we can to outrun it. Sometimes, it gets the best of the best of us.
RIP in peace T.