In Detroit, there are a pair of hundred-year-old hot dog stands known as the Lafayette, and American, “Coney Islands”. Though this is basically what they serve, they are not known as the Lafayette and American “chili dog” parlors. The alleged reason for this unconventional New York-area naming of hot dog spots located in Michigan is that the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce banned the term “hot dog” in 1913 because they feared people might assume the sausages were filled with the carcasses of cute puppies.
It’s not the big things. It’s the thousand trivial cuts that erode the soul. However, parsing woes, unless you are Larry David, has never gotten anyone anywhere. The only choice is to push through, to do the work.
Drive down the 1700 block of Chicago Avenue at night and you will see a neon light beckoning, the kind of flashy signage reserved for truck-stop massage parlors, adult bookstores, or strip clubs. This particular neon doesn’t flash “live nude girls” or anything like that. It says “Funkenhausen”, which is apparently a made-up word that basically translates to “radio live” in German. I suspect it was chosen because it sounds like “Funky House”, or an excuse to swear (say it three times fast) to English-speaking Americans. With a name like this, you expect to be blasted with a live set from George Clinton once you open the doors to this modern German restaurant.
If you are reading this, you know by now I am a cheeseball. In fact I suspect you like the cheese or you wouldn’t be reading. If you don’t like the cheese, you will probably hate this video. But, anyways, I decided to start a new thing based on the deep feelings this menu (from Chicago’s new German spot Funkenhausen) stirred within me. Enjoy!
I attended the University of Michigan around the same time as Tom Brady. I’ve watched every single one of Brady’s Super Bowl performances. But I cannot become Tom Brady. Even if I were genetically gifted like TB12, committed to a Torquemada-worthy Pilates routine and drank ten gallons of water daily, minor study and brushes with greatness are not enough to be superlative like Brady and the New England Patriots.
I did not expect things at the restaurant to start out like a Viagra ad. Me: “It’s ok. It happens.” Chef: “Not to me it doesn’t. I don’t think that has ever happened.”
A tiny restaurant named Lazy Daze Café is to blame. Which is to say, after saving all his money working as a server, that’s the first restaurant Boka restaurant group co-counder Kevin Boehm, a University of Illinois dropout, opened in Seaside, Florida. “Lazy Daze Cafe was six tables. It was a two person operation: myself and my girlfriend at the time, Theresa. Small menu, small wine list, centered around fresh fish from the gulf, a few pastas, sandwiches & salads at lunch. I’ve always thought of it us my bachelors & masters education in restaurants, as every responsibility rested on both our shoulders,” said Boehm.
Hotel restaurants are like a mash-up of The Twilight Zone and the Bermuda Triangle. Weird stuff happens. Models eat carbs in sweatpants next to dudes in Beats headphones making music on Macbook Pros, while ingenues like Scarlett Johansson fall in love with washed up old men. Ok, that last part was a movie, but you know what I mean. Hotel restaurants also swallow up chefs’ careers like the Triangle claims ships and airliners.
Aaat Laaast! You’ve heard it a thousand times, probably in the background of a jewelry commercial where some rich lady’s self-worth is confirmed by the receipt of a humongous diamond necklace. There’s the string section swell followed by the dusky croon of relief from Etta James that her lovelorn days are finally over. It is an earworm of the first order.
I’m officially done with tasteless beef. Part of this is I’m getting older, and I recognize that, despite pretending to court cardiac arrest in some of my writing like it was a hot prom date, arteriosclerosis, unlike Donald Trump’s promises to make Mexico pay for a border wall, is a real thing. I’ve already seen some of the best minds of my generation stented and statin-ed.