Monday, June 30, 2008


I don’t really have anything to say about Southern coleslaw. I just like the title: Southern Coleslaw from the Perspective of a Westside Jew. I’d like to contrast it with Jewish deli coleslaw, but there really is no difference, other than Jewish deli coleslaw is a bit more reliably yummy. However, while eating coleslaw in the South, I often recall my Jewish homeland of West L.A.: pickles in a small barrel on the table at Juniors, an obnoxious woman who is unable to choose her salad dressing, Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda, the man with the hearing aid and the chopped liver sandwich, the other man in the baseball cap coughing, the plastic surgery rendering an old lady into a very strange Narnia-looking creature, that universe of neurotic blabbing and delicious halvah that seems so distant from my Southern coleslaw.


In the South, no one talks about the Lakers, which may be the most common conversational topic in Los Angeles. Instead, folks are obsessed with college football and basketball, which I know nothing about (the same can be said of most of the subjects I will discuss on this site). That was the case when my wife and I arrived in Tuscaloosa, Alabama while driving out to Georgia when we first moved here. Flying cockroaches greeted us at the initial motel we stopped at. We didn’t stay there, but I had noticed several photos of a man in a suit wearing an odd hat on the wall of the reception area. In the next motel, I saw the same photo and a plaque of the man overlooking the reception. I had to ask “Who is he?” The motel receptionist looked somewhat stunned as if I had asked who that rotund fellow with the red suit and the white beard holding the presents was. “That’s Paul Bear Bryant,” she said, “the legendary football coach.” “Wow, legendary,” I thought, “I’ve never heard of him.” Well, I still don’t know fuck-all about Paul Bear Bryant or the Crimson Tide, other than that they are a real big ass deal in Alabama, with stores dedicated to their glory in woebegone Alabama malls and bumper stickers on the back of jalopies with Alabama plates.

But I believe my fascination with tough-as-nails college coaches who inspire troubled youngsters to win national championships began with Bear Bryant and continued when I read something about Bobby Knight, the emotional basketball coach who once got so peeved that he threw a chair onto the basketball court in the middle of a game. From there, I happened to catch both Coach Carter and Glory Road on television. Remarkably similar, both films focus on basketball coaches who won’t let their players have lives outside of practicing and winning. In Glory Road, the coach (played by the unfailingly awful Josh Lucas) forbids the players to hang around girls. Coach Carter (starring Samuel Jackson in a one-note performance) is such a dick he breaks into a party and drags his players out of the hot tub. After 5,000 push-ups and one million suicides, the players journey down that glorious road to triumph and national championships of some sort. The coaches, based on real life stubborn assholes, are celebrated for their totalitarian vision, tearing these troubled youths away from distractions like girls and having fun and teaching them the fundamentals of the game and how to win it to soaring violins at the end.

I think the idea of righteous asshole coach could be taken to even further extremes. Rather than not letting them touch the ball for the first few weeks, while they are learning defense (as is the case in one or both of these movies), I think the coach should not let them touch the ball in the first ten games, so they learn the fundamentals of how to defend and aren’t distracted by needless frivolities like scoring. I like the idea of a college coach who throttles his players when they dare smile at a girl after the game. (Though, isn’t getting laid supposed to be one of the key benefits of being a jock? Otherwise, why not join the Chess Club?)

The college coach who becomes “a legend” should be intense and unwavering, but also Hitleresque. The kids have it too easy nowadays with their iPods and their bling bling and their being allowed to associate with girls.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


For a long while, I thought maybe there weren’t any proper hipsters in Atlanta. I speak of the blasé, vintage-ruffled-shirt-wearing, retarded-rock & roll-haircut-sporting, kitsch-fixated, low-brow art and music connoisseurs one finds commonly at Echo Park house parties or Eagle Rock garage sales. Along with perhaps London, Tokyo, New York and San Francisco, L.A. is one of the capitals of hipsterdom.

But one evening, my wife and I went to a Planet of the Apes themed art opening at The Gallery in East Atlanta, which is attached to a tattoo parlor. As we looked for a parking space, I commented that this seemed like an event where we might encounter our first hipsters in Atlanta. To our infinite surprise, the place, which was packed with rockabilly tattooed lamesters and the usual Pabst beer six-pack drinking chubby blonde girls, was also awash with bonafide hipsters, gals with fashionably nerdy glasses and fellas sporting know-it-all grins. It reminded us of openings at La Luz de Jesus in Los Feliz. Mind you, people were not as old, wrinkled, and fuckin’ scary looking at this opening as they are under La Luz’s harsh lighting, but the art (humorous Planet of the Apes themed hipster art), the free cheap beer and wine and almost everything else was dead-on. There was even a burlesque act with gals dressed in banana outfits, which seemed La Luz, even if it wasn’t. So, there are hipsters in Atlanta we discovered, even if we were too shy to talk to anyone, and find out for sure about what sort of record collections they had. There must be anarchists, atheists, Cacophonists, Satanists, alterna-Jews, dachshund fanciers and other weirdos in Atlanta too. I will report so here when I next stumble upon them.


Clumpies Ice Cream is'n Gud (Chattanooga, TN)

Far Wood Fer Sale (Abilene, TX)

Not so many choices

No longer the Hot Dog King

Now, that was a real twister (Tennessee)

Ice Cream for Pets? Whole Pork Boston Butt? (Greenville, S.C.)

Breakfast Special $3.00

Food is Cheap in the South

Smoky Mountain Indian Exploitation

Jesus commands you to kick him in duh gut (Murphy, N.C.)


I like grits. Grits are good. Not thrilling or anything. I prefer the more froufrou cheese grits or jalapeno cheese grits or any of the types that are eaten by faggy Jews from the Westside.


Jews come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but there are three main types: L.A. Jew, NY Jew and Israeli Jew. These are the three homelands of Judaism. Jews feel slightly less comfortable in other places like the South (Jesus is a big deal in the South and the Jews may or may not have killed him) or Europe (Holocaust). Though there are a few Jews living just about everywhere.

An L.A. Jew might drive a hybrid vehicle, worry about getting too much sun exposure, eat burritos, buy into certain new age hokum smokum, go to a wide range of chiropractors and control the world via Hollywood, banking or mutual funds.

A NY Jew may be slightly more neurotic, have some vague belief in socialism, eat hot dogs and have strong opinions about them, punch some guy in the face or more likely threaten to, not believe you can find a proper pastrami sandwich or a decent bagel in L.A., say what’s on his or her mind and root for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

A whole other breed of Jew from a world away, an Israeli Jew might have experience in handling automatic weapons, be big and furry, not care much for the Arabs, have dark skin and sort of resemble an Arab, speak English with a pervasive, spitting accent, have a large family of hardscrabble peoples, know a thing or two about planting stuff and wear an eye patch.

Any of these three types of Jews might wear a yarmulke, observe the Sabbath, eat Hebrew National hot dogs or believe themselves to be the chosen people (though more so the Israeli Jews than the other two types).

Or any of these three types of Jews might be an atheist, go to temple on Yom Kippur because they feel compelled or never go at all, believe in some sort of vague Buddhist bullshit or consider the religious aspect of Judaism to be nearly as silly and outright obnoxious as Christianity or Islam.

All of these types of Jews complain about lack of parking spaces (less so the NY Jew who may rely on public transportation). These are the main types of Jews and none of them really belong in the South.


We stumbled into the Twinkie-munching town of Walhalla, South Carolina while searching for roadside attractions in the area. The Osama Bin Muffler Man in nearby Seneca had been replaced by a muffler family. That was disappointing. Walhalla is near Clemson, the conservative football school, but is otherwise in the middle of nowhere on the Georgia/South Carolina border. Our first stop was an antique market that appeared to be open later than it should be. “There’s a big redneck, who really is red, sitting outside,” I commented. The store was actually closed and some sort of auction was about to begin. It was an auction of weird metal things. Gazing at the portly, overall-wearing crowd, I assumed these items had something to do with farms. I had seen them before at a swap meet, but had not inquired what they were. We were a bit out of place in this environment and my wife wouldn’t let me use the bathroom because she was afraid of the amiable, thick-accented country folk milling about. So, we skipped out without ever finding out what them metal things were.

Muffler Family (Seneca, S.C)

I insisted that we walk around Walhalla’s main street, which was fairly lively for late in a weekday when most of the stores were closed. There was the redneck store that featured a confederate flag bikini in the window. Hidden Treasures looked like an amazing junk store with Slim Jims and old stuffed animals in the window display. It was hard to imagine what sort of treasures this store could possibly contain. Another place that had been closed down had a nutty rendering of a very gay-looking sailor/pirate painted on the glass door. It was all that remained of this mysterious store. What had been sold there (parrots, nautical junk, submarine sandwiches)?

Confederate Redneck Store (Walhalla, S.C.)

Hidden Treasures (Walhalla, S.C)

Walhalla has a unique split store (don’t know if there’s a proper term for places that are laundromat/pool halls or bookstore/ice cream stands). This one is a barren salon for hair or nails containing basically a chair and a sink and in the front of the store they sell the front bumpers of cars with headlights. It must be a couple that owns this store. He sells the bumper things and she does the hair or whatever.

There are some Latinos living in Walhalla (how did they ever find Walhalla?), such as the owners of the salon/car bumper store, but much of the town is pasty albino white of the sort you find in certain far-flung corners of the Appalachians. I’m not sure if I can recommend going there, as it’s pretty much out of the way of everything, but I would go back for sure. Though, I’m really not able to do justice to this town’s dead-raccoon-in-the-middle-of-Main-Street, tobacco-spittin’, odor-intensive ambience.


If you are writing a novel about the South, you may go ahead and use the title “Boiled Peanuts,” if it hasn’t already been used. Otherwise, I can’t say I have a whole lot of boiled peanuts related material, though, I guess they are sort of tasty, a little more distinctive with Cajun seasoning. When you drive by, there is never anybody working at the boiled peanuts stand, which is ubiquitous in all corners of Georgia. You have to holler off into the nearby woods to fetch the boiled peanuts boy, who is hardly enthusiastic about his profession. It may be more the concept that’s neater than the actual thing.