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. Advertisements
Elvis died early, but, he made the most of his short life. He wore glittery jumpsuits, hung out with Nixon, had a private jet with a state of the art eight track player and his own super-estate, aka Graceland. Culinarily speaking, he totally didn’t GAF. I mean the guy’s favorite sandwich was reportedly peanut butter, bacon and banana on white bread, maybe, sometimes deep fried.
If the dudes from “American Pickers,” Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, opened a burger joint, it would probably look a lot like Flip Burger in West Town. The dining room behind the kitchen is a junk collector’s paradise, featuring a vintage Coke machine, a communal table ringed with reclaimed tulip-style diner stools and a vintage parking meter. “I’m like a ‘Sanford and Son’ garbage collector. I like to go through the back roads in Indiana, finding stuff in small shops and old barns,” owner Felipe Caro said.
“No cross-table dancing allowed.” I still don’t know what that means, but it was on a sign stuck to the wall at The Lantern, a diner I used to hang out in Royal Oak, Mich. It’s now closed, but the memories, the late-night nostalgia of courting a woman I loved, but who didn’t quite love me as much, remain. Which is to say, in most of our lives, a special diner will loom large. It will likely be a place with mediocre coffee, cheap two-egg specials, enough chrome to rival a ’50s-era automobile and plenty of wood veneer. More importantly, it will be the gathering place for you and your friends to make mischief and grand plans, sometimes drunkenly, sometimes hungover or sometimes stone-cold sober
There are a half-dozen penguins gathered on a high ledge. It’s not clear how they got there or what their purpose is. They could be suicidal, biding their last minutes while peering gingerly over the edge, contemplating the hot bath of ginger-chicken porridge or the searing splash that awaits in a duo of over-easy eggs perfumed with sesame oil below.
On December 8, 1967 at the Memphis recording studios of Stax Records, Otis Redding didn’t have a lyric written for the last verse of his newest song, so he improvised and whistled a few bars, planning to return to the studio again to finish. Two days later he died in a plane crash outside of Madison, Wisconsin, his body recovered from Lake Monona. Redding’s partner and lyricist, Steve Cropper, went to the studio right after the crash, finished up the recording, preserved the whistling as an outro and launched Redding’s biggest hit, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” on Stax record’s Volt label.
There’s often an inverse proportion between the dinginess of a restaurant and the quality of the food. Moon’s Sandwich Shop, 16 S. Western, with its faded sign, rickety accordion style security bars and patchwork brickwork, confirms this rule.