Friday, May 28, 2010

Witz Pickz: Pizza

I'm deviating from the normal posts today to bring you my definitive essay on my favorite food in the world: pizza. I wrote this a few months back and decided that it's about time I posted it on Witz Pickz.

Curb Your Epicurianism: An Essay

Life is about timing. Life is about people and opportunity, and luck, and grasping whatever love you can in this world and never letting go-- Life is about pizza.

My name is Witz and I'm a pizza addict. I can't get enough of the stuff. I love it, I crave it, and everything about it makes me happy-- the taste, the texture, the smell. Pizza has abused me-- stomach aches from loving it too much, scalding sauce splattering on my hands, toppings chaotically fleeing onto my clothes, singed tongues, and the dreaded hot cheese sticking to and burning the roof of my mouth-- but I've taken the abuse and come back for more.

I remember my first encounters with pizza-- I was four, and I hated pizza because I didn't like the sauce. My mom, who apparently hated the idea of me growing up healthy and in shape, brought home a white pie, and that was it for me, I was hooked. White pie was a gateway drug and it wasn't long before I took a liking to the real deal. I started in on the hard pies: Pizza Hut and even Domino's, the meth of the pizza world. I've done deep dish. I've done stuffed crust. I've done just plain stuffed-- the gluttonous menage a trois. Brick-oven, baked, from frozen, fresh, french bread, street cart, late night slice, on a bagel, cold, next day, you name it. I spent an entire summer on the budget effective seventy-five cent frozen pizza regimen we named the "Totino's Diet," in honor of our brand of choice, and I would strongly recommend this diet to anyone in search of more chins. I've been to some dark places. If you've ever gotten a five dollar hooker at a cheap motel and felt lonely and ashamed afterward, then you know what it's like to eat at Little Caesar's.

So you can understand why I was excited to go to New York's highly touted Grimaldi's on Sunday night. Not only that, but I was with my friend, and I'd promised her the best pizza in the city, while nonchalantly itching my arms and trying to contain both my shaking and withdrawal sweats. After taking the F train from Manhattan to Brooklyn, we started our walk to the supposed Promised Land. Fortunately, New York is a walking city, which is what people say a city is when everyone in it eats and drinks too much. The walk took longer than anticipated, partially because Brooklyn is a scenic borough and I thought she'd appreciate some haphazard wandering, and partially because I got us buck-ass lost. As our appetites and anticipation grew, we turned the corner and there was Grimaldi's...along with thirty other people waiting outside.

You see, for all Grimaldi's has in reputation, it lacks in seating. We peered in the slightly steamed windows at the happy people eating their happy pizza and then turned around to look at the annoyed, anxious people, eating their annoyed, anxious fingernails. But I'm a pizza addict, and we had come a long way, so I knew what had to be done-- I tried to bribe someone.

Walking to the front of the line, I asked if anyone was ordering takeout and if we could place our order with theirs and pay for their food. The first people in line shook their heads without comprehension, and when they spoke, I realized they were french and didn't speak much anglais. The next people in line? They were Asian and they also didn't speak English. The next group was hipsters, so I didn't speak their language, either. Already twelve people deep, I damned my lack of language learning in school and tried to think of what I had learned that might help me. Did these people speak recess? Could I communicate via alto saxophone? How could I creatively write myself to a quicker meal?? I cursed my education and started to think about which words from "Voulez Vous Coucher Avec Moi" might work. The whole, "avec moi ce soir" part seemed reasonable, but the first bit seemed either a bit desperate or not quite explanatory enough.

"Remember how I promised you the best pizza in Brooklyn?" I asked my friend.
"Well, instead of that, how would you feel about anything in the general vicinity?"

At that moment, a cyclist went by and shouted, "Front Street Pizza is better!" at the line. This marketing, the equivalent of "O'Doyle rules!" was both perplexing and entirely effective. Except, where was this Front Street Pizza? Was it close? How fit had that biker been and did he seem fatigued or relatively fresh from his trip? We waited for more cyclists with information, but none came. I suddenly realized that this is what most of my life has been-- standing, waiting for the next cyclist to ride by and tell me where the pizza is. It was time to take action.

Using our sleuthing skills and superior powers of deduction, we decided the pizza place was probably on Front Street. Walking back down the blocks, each step was filled with purpose, hunger, and probably some passive-aggressive silent frustration directed towards yours truly. Then we saw it-- Front Street Pizza, lights on, but with chairs stacked on tables. We hurried to the door where a sign read, "Due to funeral, we will close at 7pm." Appropriate, I thought, given that our second-string pizza, which might not even be possible to get, more than likely signaled the death of the night. Life is about timing, and once again, timing had been bad. If we'd gotten to the pizza sooner or much later, Grimaldi's might have been empty and we would have been inside, laughing, drinking, and eating. If it was after seven, we wouldn't even get our last resort. I checked my phone: "6:58." Timing is everything.

Pulling open the door, we went inside and ordered the last slices of the night. Our cold slices were tossed in the oven, reheated, and handed back to us in to-go boxes, because that's what it was time for and so we did. Back on the street, I tried to salvage the meal by thinking of places where our pizza would have greater context-- the Promenade, a park, the Brooklyn Bridge-- but pizza gets cold, legs get tired, and people remain hungry.

"What about this spot right here?" My friend asked, pointing to an open space of curb between a sedan and an SUV.
"Looks perfect," I replied.

We sat down on the curb and ate our pizza. Conversation stopped, but our moods were improved, and at that moment, Grimaldi's didn't have a damn thing on us. The cheese slid, the sauce sloshed, dough folded and gushed, and the crust crunched-- just like it always had. For those brief minutes, I could have died happy, and then we almost did.

"The SUV's backing up," she said.
"What do you mean?" I replied, mouth full.
"The SUV's backing up, the SUV's BACKING UP!" my friend reiterated in warning, and we hustled to grab our remaining slices and jump up out of the way. Clutching our wares on the sidewalk, reality came crashing back and it suddenly became clear that we were two adults, looking like orphans, eating pizza on a curb in Brooklyn. We laughed. "How about that spot over there?" she pointed and we relocated. Having avoided death for the moment, we sat down at our new table for two and I smiled, content with the knowledge that we were two adults, looking like orphans, eating pizza on a curb in Brooklyn. Maybe that's why I love pizza; it’s more than just dough, and sauce and cheese. A good meal isn't about where you eat or even what you're eating-- it's just about eating it with someone who makes sure that when an SUV backs up, you're not there to get run over.

1) City Pizza (Hartford, CT)
2) Luna Pizza (Simsbury, CT)
3) My Mom's Pizza (Home)
4) Little Star Pizza (San Francisco, CA)
5) Paxti's Pizza (Palo Alto, CA)
6) Zeek's Pizza (Seattle, WA)
7) Grimaldi's (Brooklyn, NY)
8) Little City Pizza (Simsbury, CT)
9) Numero 28 (Manhattan, NY)
10) Trader Joe's ingredients made at home (My kitchen)

...That Sounded Fat, Didn't It?,

Friday, May 21, 2010

Witz Pickz: Homeward Bound: The Fairly Standard Journey

If you've ever eaten a bag of Utz chips, you know that while they are tasty, the bags look like they were designed by John Wayne Gacy and produced in a meth lab outside Spokane, Washington-- BUT THEY'RE ONLY 99 CENTS! As I drove back to my hometown today, I saw an Utz Chips truck. The Utz Chips truck looks like, after a long day of work, it parks itself where the hills have eyes. I pulled up alongside the truck-- faded beige, rusty, with the Utz logo scraped and potentially shot at, the truck's door clanking partially open-- and made ill-advised eye contact with the driver, whom I recognized immediately from EVERY NIGHTMARE I'VE EVER HAD. Corpse eyes, pale skin, jagged teeth, splotchy bald head, and soiled clothing-- presumably from organizing the dead bodies in the back so they wouldn't move around and crush the chips during transport. Fortunately, he turned and looked at me, so I had a moment to glimpse his sordid soul, which will haunt me forever. I'm not saying I'm like, NĂ¼-Jesus or anything, but sometimes I think I experience this shit so you don't have to.

The rest of the trip was fairly standard, because if there's one thing I've learned, it's that no matter what time, what direction, or what highway you're driving on around NYC, there WILL be a broken down vehicle or accident causing massive traffic delays. I don't understand who these people are that hop on the highway in their flintstones cars only to roll to a halt in the fast lane, but there are plenty of them. Really? You're 1964 beat to shit dodge van died on the highway while you were cruising in the middle lane? Shocking. Save yourself the tow truck costs and just sell your van to Utz.

While I waited in traffic, I spaced out a little and thought about what I would do while I was home for a couple days. Obviously, I would eat more pizza than legally or socially acceptable. Beyond that, my family usually likes to watch a movie when we're all hanging out at night. My thoughts went to my bag containing not one, not two, but the fiscally intelligent, socially ridiculous, obviously unemployed THREE Netflix movies. Now, here's the thing: can anyone really HAVE anything? I mean, life is so fleeting, and the world such a constantly changing place, do any of us really POSESS anything, most of all Netflix movies, which aren't even our actual property? If the answer is no, then the movies in my backpack are of no consequence. If the answer is yes, well then, yeah, fine, I currently HAVE The Time Traveler's Wife, Precious: The Movie Based on the Book Push by Sapphire (in case you hadn't heard), and I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. I KNOW!

The perfect storm of movies I did not want to arrive. I didn't want to actually get The Time Traveler's Wife, because it's not a movie I want to admit having watched, especially alone (but it has Rachel McAdams AND somebody told me that *SPOILER ALERT* she keeps having miscarriages because THE FETUSES TIME TRAVEL, TOO! You can see why it might be in the queue). I didn't want Precious: Based on the book Push by Sapphire Based on the movie The Klumps by Eddie Murphy because that was only in my queue to show that I theoretically wanted to see emotionally traumatic oscar nominated movies. I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell...well...ok, so that was on there because the lead actor was the super lame christian dude from Friday Night Lights who gets all up on Lyla Gerrety after things go *SPOILER ALERT* to shit with Big Tim Riggins. Also, I hate the blog it is based on because I think it's everything wrong with humanity, both for how he acts and the fact that people read it and think it's hilarious. Oh, and I wanted to see what a movie based on a blog was like, so Witz Pickz: The Movie Based On the Blog Witz Pickz By Witz can be the best blog movie EVER. See? I have lofty dreams.

Traffic passed, and the rest of the trip was fairly standard. Per the usual, my hilaaarious ipod shuffled "99 Problems" on right as I rolled up to the toll booth and handed a 20 dollar bill through the window of my Subaru Outback to a man who clearly wanted to inform me that he had more problems than I did. I meant to tell him that he was probably right, but instead, I was like, "'Cause I'm young and I'm black and my hat's real low? Do I look like a mind-reader sir, I don't know!"

I got gas out of desperation and then did the "OHHH MAAAN! I could have gotten gas 7 cents cheaper here!" later on thing when I would have already run out of gas. Why do people do that? Unless you are fueling an aircraft, you're talking about a 2-3 dollar difference, but it always seems like a big deal (although, to make it seem like a big deal, simply convert those dollars to kit kat pieces. 2-3 dollars = 4-6 kit kat bars at Rite-Aid which breaks down to 16-24 kit kat pieces! I only discuss money in K2P.)

So after three hours, one gas break, one moment of seeing pure evil in a delivery truck, one awkward toll experience, and about fifteen baby corinaries from people who just don't know how to drive later, I was home. Land of Super Stop & Shop, Bob's Stores, Coffee Coolattas, and Showtime ondemand. Woooooorth iiiiiit.

Now You See Why I Didn't Call it Homeward Bound: The Best Post Ever,

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Witz Pickz: Cinqo For Cinqo

Last night I ordered a "Cheese quesodilla" which I immediately realized was redundant and made me feel stupid. That's like saying, "Could I please have a cheese quesodilla...and could I have that on a tortilla please?" or, "You know what I would love? Do you have, like, a couple of tortillas that maybe-- and I don't know if you do this, but-- you could melt some cheese in between? Oh, you know what might go good with that? Do you have any avocados back there because I just had an idea..."

Now, I know what you're thinking: "When IS Cinqo de Mayo this year, anyway?" You're lucky I'm here, because TODAY is Cinqo de Mayo, which means it's time to throw a white sash over that green t-shirt you wore on St. Patty's Day, and get celebratin'. In honor of the day, here are five things that have been on my mind:

Uno) There have been dirty dishes and food in my kitchen since Sunday night, and something incredible just happened. I don't know if it's the heat or the humidity, or what, but the food has gone from smelling gross BACK to smelling good again. It smells like cooking. I'm not saying I'm going to eat any of it, but I definitely walked in and thought, "Something smells GOOD!" This is why we can't have nice things.

Dos) Two commercials have really bothered me over the last few months. The first is that taco bell commercial where the chick is talking about losing weight. Why would Taco Bell associate themselves with this woman? She's not a woman on a diet-- she's a fat woman who doesn't want to be fat, but isn't willing to stop eating fat food. And why do they show her "After" picture as her sitting in tall grass? Were the producers like, "Yeah, you look great now-- you know what would be good? A picture of you sitting in tall grass at, like, dusk." Are we even sure HOW she lost the weight?? "Thanks to taco bell...and lyme disease, I lost 56 pounds." Awful.

The other commercial that bothers me is on Hulu and is about one of the institutions that has plagued me most over the years: CAMP. It's not even for a specific camp, it's just for the institution OF camp, which is baffling. It's a bunch of b and c list celebrities/athletes saying that they went to camp and gained things like, "A personality" and, "best tarzan impression." The commercial ends menacingly, as one spokesperson I don't recognize says, "We went to camp...shouldn't YOU?" Um, I don't know, probably not, especially at this point in my life. But, thanks for getting all up in my shit Person I've Never Seen Before.

Tres) When are we going to stop acting surprised when someone sneezes twice in a row? Here's what always happens: SNEEZE. "God bless you." SNEEZE! "God BLESS you!" I've seen this happen a thousand times in my life, but I still have the same, "Oh my goodness, TWO sneezes?? Is your soul still in there or what??" reaction. Can't we just drop the charade now that we realize the soul is NOT trying ot escape our body? Why do I have to take part in a social ritual just because you got dust in your nose? And holy shit, heaven forbid someone sneezes three times, that's when people start going Mother Teresa: SNEEZE...SNEEZE...SNEEEEZE "Oh my! Are you ok?? Do you need to lie down or something? How's your healthcare? What is WRONG with you?? THREE SNEEZES?" Here's how I respond to sneezes:

1: God bless you
2: God BLESS you
3: Alright, now you're just asking for attention
4: Seriously, you look desperate
5: Fucking stop
6: is for chicks
7: heaven
8: pick a date
9: bust a rhyme
10: categories
Jack: --wait, sorry, I got distracted, what were we doing?

Quatro)I went to a Yankees game the other day and above everything else, one detail stood out as strange: Kikkoman is a sponsor and has a large banner on the infrastructure along with Budweiser and other major corporations. Kikkoman. Now...have you ever seen a Kikkoman commercial on tv? Heard one on the radio? Seen a billboard anywhere else, ever? I sure haven't. And...have you ever seen or heard any of their competitors advertising? Nobody is moving in on the soy sauce market. When I go to the store, I know I'm buying Kikkoman soy sauce. It's the one on the shelf, it's affordable, and it's probably going to fall out of my refrigerator door and shatter, but it's what I'm going to buy. So WHY IN THE HELL does Kikkoman need a banner at Yankee Stadium? It's ALMOST racist, now that I think about it. Did they get it solely for when Hideki Matsui was on the team? I guess they might have just thought it'd be pretty flagrant to get rid of it just because Matsui wasn't there anymore..."No, no, everyone knows that Robinson Cano LOVES Kikkoman soy sauce...seriously..."

Cinqo) As I was walking down the street yesterday, I passed a man walking a shaggy dog and then passed a group of teenagers. Here is the amazing conversation I came in on as they walked behind me:

Kid 1: Wait, what do you mean?
Kid 2: It looks like Beethoven.
Kid 1; What, like the composer?
Kid 2: The composer?! Nigga, why the fuck would I point to a dog and be talking about the composer?
Kid 1: Well, I don't know!
Kid 2: I said, "That dog looks like Beethoven. What kind of dog was Beethoven?"
Kid 1: Well, I just thought--
Kid 2: --the composer??
Kid 1: I--
Kid 2: The composer??
Kid 1: I just--
Kid 2: --goddamn, you dumb.

I had to take out my cell phone just to make it look like I was laughing at a text message and not at what I was hearing. Only, I started laughing way before I took my cell phone out, so it either looked like I remembered something funny that I had to text, or that I remembered that cell phones exist and that amused me to no end. Amazing conversation.

I Hope You're Not A Vegetarian, Because That Post Had a Lotta Meat,