Tuesday, April 29, 2014


This just in from NBC:

Police arrest potato-carrying man in attempted robberies
Posted: Apr 28, 2014 7:32 AM PDT
Updated: Apr 28, 2014 4:02 PM PDT
By NBC 10 News

Providence police said Monday that a man accused of using a potato to look like a weapon in two attempted robberies has been arrested.  Officials said 34-year-old Gary Deming was already being held at the ACI on other charges.

Providence police said Deming admitted during an interview to the two attempted robberies. He said he attached the potato to the end of a butane lighter.
Deming was charged with assault to commit robbery.
Workers at a Shell gas station on Branch Avenue said a potato-wielding man tried to hold them up April 21. They scared him away with a bat.
Police said the same man tried to rob a dry cleaning store on Charles Street about 30 minutes later. The owners gave him a counterfeit $20 bill.


The news item came with this graphic so that viewers would know what a potato looked like:

I must say, when I first heard about this I imagined that the dude had actually carved a replica of gun out of a potato and maybe blacked it with boot polish, you know the way they do in prison movies with bars of soap.  I guess they’re just not that cinematic up in Providence, Rhode Island.

Here's a different kind of potato gun, but frankly if you walked into a dry cleaner's with one of these you might give the game away early.

Probably better going old school:

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I’ve been reading The Photobook: a History, Volume 3, by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger.  All three volumes in the series feature certain books containing photographs of food, though most of them are a very long way from being the conventional notion of “food photograph.”  This is a relief.

The new volume, for example, contains The Catalogue of Meat Products, Conserves and Lard (1973), with photographs by Jiøí Putta, made for some Czech government department, and it’s an absolute wonder.  There’s also America’s Favorites by Kay Lee, deadpan color photographs from the 1980s of junk-ish food: Oreos, Puffed Cheese Doodles, and of course Wonder Bread.

But most intriguing is a series of 96 books edited Joachim Schmid titled Other People’s Photographs. Each book contains 32 thematically related images harvested from online photo sharing sites.  Quite a few of them feature food and one of them is titled Currywurst and it looks like this:

Now it just so happens that here in LA there’s a newish restaurant named Berlin Currywurst.  I thought the universe was sending me a message that I had to go.

I’ve eaten currywurst in Germany just once, in Munich, bought from a van in the street, and to be honest I’d expected to like it more than I did.  It was a sausage on a paper plate, sitting in tomato sauce, with some curry powder sprinkled over it.  This seems to be the classic form, and subtle it’s not, but then who wants their street food to be subtle.

Well, I think the people at Berlin Currywurst in Los Angeles do want their currywurst to be subtle, or at least a bit fancy.  It’s one of those restaurants, there seem to be more and more of them, where you can’t just go in and say “I want one of those.”  Here you go to a counter and you have to specify the kind of sausage, the kind of bread, the kind of sauce and the strength of the seasoning sprinkled on top.   There was none of this choice in Munich as I recall.

So you order and go out to the beer garden, which is very pleasant indeed, and they bring it to you and it was all perfectly decent, (I had the bockwurst, Kreuzberg sauce, and the Berlin Calling level of hotness, if you care) and we’d ordered some rosemary and garlic fries (fritten, to be linguistically correct) and I had a glass of Hacker Gold, and it all made for a very agreeable weekday lunch.  It looked like this:

My German pal Marco who was there and enjoyed it perfectly well said this was a rather high end currywurst.  In Germany it would have been more “working class” with more sauce and no choice of sausage.  And of course nobody in their right mind in Germany would pay 8 or 9 dollars for currywurst.

Meanwhile, quite independently, another friend, now in Berlin, Susanna Forrest, directed me (though I don’t suppose I’ll be going there in the foreseeable future) to the Deutsches Currywurst Museum Berlin, which allows visitors to discover the history of currywurst.  The interior looks this:


A triumph of style over content perhaps but it looks like fun, and I suppose (in some sense) you get to eat the exhibits, or a version of them anyway.  Here’s what they sell:

I wish the place in LA had had fowl currywurst.  I’d have snapped it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


I went to see Jim Jarmusch’s vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive.  Sometimes I worry that I’m not cool enough to watch a Jim Jarmusch movie.  And actually I sometimes think that maybe Jim Jarmusch worries that he’s not cool enough either, otherwise why does he work so hard at it?  Every detail, very accessory has to be so uber-hip you wonder if he’s just disguising some terminal inner squareness, but that’s another story.

Certainly the vampires in the movie are way too cool to do any eating.  They don’t do much drinking either except for blood, which they certainly enjoy a LOT.

Both Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston also get to suck on blood popsicles, which I think is a nice touch.

 Throughout the film I was reminded (and maybe Jarmusch intended it) of another  hip vampire movie; Tony Scott’s The Hunger – (Bowie, Sarandon, Deneuve) and again they’re not hungering after a nice big sandwich. 

But certainly Deneuve let’s some wine pass her lips, in the company of Sarandon; and within the movie it does seem to be wine rather than blood.  Of course things soon get out of hand. 

Sarandon spills wine on herself, dabbing at it does no good, the shirt has to come off – and well, you can guess the rest.

I must say that Tilda Swinton looks as though she never had a square meal in her life, although here she is with a tray of cupcakes. 

Does Jim Jarmusch ever eat?  Seems unlikely, though Neil Young might possibly be handing him some kind of foodstuff here:

Ultimately though, as his pal Tom says: