Category Archives: General

Federroter Wine and a Brother Not Named Jim

Deutscher Federroter wine kisses my lips as it swifts past my tongue and heads on down my throat. Billie Holiday plays boldly in the foreground.

Albert at the local farmer’s market sold me this young red wine. He proclaims with the glee of a boy who’s just figured out how to use his pillow for the first time, “It’s only eight days old!”
A red wine that is only eight days old? I thought as I swigged his sampler out of a dirty, used glass. I wondered how many lips had suckled at the same rim–this act is the more natural, earthly variant of holy communion; holy communion that I snuck before I was ever twelve or thirteen.

My father thought it would be a good idea to ship my brother and me daily to a catholic school one summer. He had tried this before, tried to tame us boys at the peak of heat in the season, summer.  But our sentence to catholic school was only done once, we were banned after my brother was caught groping La Virgen and me with my hand in the alms box–that was after I had lied in order to take holy communion.  Yes, I said, Yes mother, I’ve already completed mí primera communion.

Summer: when the heat shows no mercy and everything is forgiven. Summer was the time I would cruelly torture my sister because, even though she cried and ran away, we both enjoyed the heady game of cat and mouse that came every summer. Came in with the warmth, then the heat.

For us, my brother and me, the garage would become a playground–a christened rumpus room full of metal baubles and flammable trifles. Often, with phone books set aflame in the center of the garage, we would jump over the fire, flames licking our payless sneakers; I would follow my brother into the flames in god’s own eyes if he asked me to. I idolized my brother in the same way that all younger brothers do their older brothers: with all the trust and vulnerability available to a boy of eight or nine or ten.

Summers were our season, our season to burn every barbie we could hunt down in our sister’s room; burn them after we styled their hair in  entire cans of Aquanet. Hairdo flambeé. Call me Jimmicio.

Summers were endless follow-the-leader games on bikes, the leader continually being outdone by someone more daring and stupid. Riding bikes off curbs, then walls, then roofs. Roofs never worked, though, and it was only Andy, from next next door, that ever tried it.  In his attempt, did he receive his first pain in the nuts.  But Andy always wanted to look like the boldest of us all.  As if his dirt blond hair didn’t make him stand out enough amongst us prietitos.  He was always willing to do what no one else dared, and for this we kept him around–he was the enabler in a group of boys looking for any sort of distraction.  I would later find out that Andy had a thing going with my sister.  That, for some reason, made me mad.

Firecrackers found their way into our crabby hands and we would throw them into the guayaba bushels, naïvely believing that we could explode the whole lot of it up.

We’d dig through our mother’s shoebox collection behind the mirrored wall, in the closet. They stood for different years or phases of her life. They were her archives, and we her secret archivologists.

My brother always looked for the one or two boxes that held her small pornographic collection: books that we would leaf through, never spending as much time on the text as on the steamy covers. (Text required reading, and reading is something only done during the school year.)  Other items were, of course, the VHS cassettes that were always met with curious wonder, this wonder always rapidly morphing into our state of agog anticipation. Sometimes so much so that we would somehow lose the cassette tape in the stalagmites of boxes. Later I would secretly believe that my brother would lose them on purpose so that he could later find them, alone. As we would make our way through the boxes to the few that were filled with porn, boxes that were, curiously, never in the same place twice, I would, with some frequency, stumble upon my mother’s wedding box.

Her wedding box was a faded-purple box with “Sears” (in cursive) written on the lid.  The corners were only slightly worn, and there was a small square black and white picture of some heels at one end of the box.  “Size 4,” the box declared with a degree of feminine modesty.  (Size 4 is the perfect size foot for a woman: it says, ‘I’m small and I need saving.’  My sister is a size 10.  [Blink, blink.])

‘Sears’ held her wedding picutres, her band, and other commemorative items from that joyous day that would ultimately be a painful memory. A joy turned old. I now wonder if she was registered at Sears, or perhaps if purple is her favorite color.  (…I don’t know my mother’s favorite color; sad.)  Her pictures, many of them torn in twos or threes, portrayed a young woman, too skinny for her own good, with a glorious smile, and glowing nicaraguan cheeks. She, in her airy blue dress donning an 8-month pregnant belly, seemed so happy there, so full of hope.

Hope: a belief in moments that have not yet come to pass. (And faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. Or at least that’s what I would have uttered, as a reflex of indoctrination, eight years ago.)

Shortly after my parents were married they separated, for the better (which, in their immaturity, did not play out so well–violence and screaming, like any other kid in eastlos, is what I fondly recall), and then for good. Some years after their marriage, I was born. By my lights all I can figure was that they found their way to each other one sordid and drunken New Year’s Eve. I was born nine months later. Born on their wedding anniversary.

Looking at their torn up pictures and other wedding items I had no idea that this memorabilia betokened my own existence, my own birth. My mother never told me. It was not until I was thirteen and digging my way through her archives yet again–a practice I nurtured throughout my childhood, for which I became known as “El Ratón”)–did I discover her marriage license.

I stared at this document. I stared at both of their names. I looked for my name. Why isn’t my name on here? I thought, as I held the paper in my hands. Surely this was my birth certificate, it had my birth date on it.

I did not know it for they would tell me only two days before, but I was to move out about a week later. I was to move in with my father and his family. My brother was long gone by this point, shipped off, so the practice goes, to Mexico after various run-ins with the pigs, drug abuse, gang banging and failing ninth grade, and, soon thereafter, out of high school.

Shortly before he left I remember hearing him and his friend (female) next door in his room. I was mesmerized by the noises and what flashes of flesh I caught glimpses of through the TV cable outlet that had long been hallowed out–a way we could secretly talk to each other at night when we were supposed to both be asleep, or a way to pass candy to each other and other bullshit when we were both grounded, locked in our respective rooms.

He was gone now and soon I would be too.  As I went through the archives one last time I thought of my brother, our summers, those naughty boxes we would so gleefully hold up in triumph when they were finally found–his friend’s visit and their soft grunting came to mind just then.  I folded the certificate and placed it back in the drawer, under some junkmail, where I had found it. I turned toward the walled mirror and slid one door open.

I would handle the contents of the archives one last time, window-shopping through my mother’s personal herstory, perusing photos that manifested her relationships over the years, reading-through journals that would only be slightly used; she would write only in the first ten or fifteen pages in the countless journals I found, and handling small trinkets that must have carried some meaning but whose meaning was lost on me.

With tender but faded curiosity I took out boxes, one by one, careful to keep track of the order in which they were excavated. I knew, though, that at this point my mother, long keen on my practice, did not care much about what I did in her closet or drawers. The boxes were no longer her tetris-plaything. They stopped moving, and so my searching their contents became less and less exciting. Until everything would be just where I had left it the day or week before, save for two or three boxes of in-use shoes, which always seemed to rotate or be replaced by another new, crappy pair of Payless shoes. Her own cat and mouse game with us had reached its end; I would later believe that it ended when my brother was sent away. When he was lost to the autonomy and stupidity that comes with the masculine-machismo narrative. He was always her favorite. Since those days, when ever she says my name it is preceded by a pre-fix: the prefix is the first phoentic sound of my brother’s name.
As a result I respond to Dajaime.

Fast forward too many memories and I sit on a faux-wooden floor in Cologne, Germany. I drink Federroter sold to me by a very gleeful Albert from Koblenz, Germany, where the wine flows aplenty and for cheap too. Dinner consists of Raw Sheep’s Milk I acquired in southern Spain, and dried sausage (spicy paprika) from Slagteren ved Kultorvet squirreled all the way from Copenhagen. Holiday turns into Davis and leads into Gallo, forming a quilt of time, gender, and genre.

 

As I sip my eight day old wine I think on my brother and his life in Torrance and his dreams that he and the man busted open and left for dead. ‘Go ahead and call it what it is folks, white supremacy,’ flows into my mind as I search for someone to hold responsible for my brother failing second and ninth grades, high school, and then, somehow, life. The ‘white supremacy’ argot riffs off a passionate, giant-of-the-mind critical race theory professor at UC Irvine–I’ve never taken a class with him, but I’ve heard stories.

detox your mother; the brutal beating of jimmy-san

It’s some time in early January. In the past three weeks I’ve consumed enough drugs and alcohol to make dawkins believe in god. I convince myself that I need to detox and head to Mother’s Market in search of something good.

I end up with “Revital-X.” My colon and intestinal tract later thank me by beating me into submission.

DAY 1:
Turns out that I need a birth certificate in order to secure my position as a drone for the state of California. I don’t even try to look for my birth certificate. I know I lost it while moving 5 times in the last six years, starting various projects, or while taking trips to passport and dmv offices to replace lost identity materials.

I call my pops to ask how I can go about getting a new birth certificate. He tells me to go to the Federal Building in Norwalk and to take ten bucks in cash. I jump on the Metrolink link my Varsity Schwinn in tow. This is my first day of detoxing and all I’ve ingested is that weird Revital-X devil-yellow powder diluted in water. Surrounded by suits, the train takes me from SanTana to Norwalk in a flash. My boots, odd shorts, tattered t-shirt, and hipster mien give me away as an unemployed grad student. I feel the suits stare at me with both pity and envy. Their eyes alternate between saying, “You’re poor,” and “I’m poor too.” My Bose headphones pump sigur ros into my head like molasses into Biff’s unsuspecting gas tank. I get off the train, ride the short distance to the federal building, get shit about where to park my bike, fill in some online form, wait in line with the rest of the drones, approach the window, fork over the money, and before I can whisper, “Phuck the gov’ment,” I’m on my way. Before biking back to SanTana I decide to take a detour to the closest bike shop just to get a feel for the local bike scene. At some point I’m stopped by some cop who doesn’t like my smart mouth rhetoric and asks me if I “would like a ticket.” “Officer,” I say, “if you cite me for what you think was unsafe and illegal then I trust your discretion and judgment and will happily accept any citation you give me today.” Soon thereafter I point to another cyclist doing exactly what I was doing and asked, “Aren’t you going to stop that guy too?” I’m soon on my way, sans citation, and my nipples that much bigger. (Real men have nipples.)

By the time I’m riding back into SanTana I can feel the trek from Norwalk and the Revital-X devil-yellow powder begin to affect my body. My body-phenomenology-ears are pricked and I can sense even the slightest difference in my physical disposition.
Varsity Bell

DAY 2: Going into 24-plus hours without sugar or caffeine or substances. I’m a pill to be around.

DAY 3: The mucous is kicking in. I had heard about the mucous from the guy at Mother’s who had tried Revital-X. He said that I would feel like I’m coming down with the flu and that I would especially think this because of wealth of mucous my head will begin to produce. It flows out of my mouth and nose and I wonder why the phuck I’m detoxing anyways. “Give me my coke and whores and take your mucous and mochi,” I tell the Revital-X gods. I tempt myself and go to Lola Gaspar. Static before mine eyes is a bottle of Oban while Eddie paces back and forth in front of it, grabbing hold of this, and mixing that. The scene behind the bar beckons me. He asks me what I’ll have. “No booze tonight man,” I mutter disdainfully. He squints his eyes and, for a moment, does not recognize me…I don’t recognize myself. I order the roasted seasonal vegetables and relish in the dank flavors of slightly charred brussel sprouts in evoo and garlic.

DAY 4: There is no way I don’t have the flu. This is what happens when you rip the booze, meat, cheese, caffeine and sugar from your intestinal tract. Not only are my constitutionals mind blowingly weird, but I no longer remember what it’s like to be alive and human. I haven’t ran, ridden, or strength trained since Day 1; my body doesn’t know how to exert itself but instead dedicates itself to purging itself of the flesh and making me miserable.

DAY 5: Phuck the flesh.

DAY 6: Still gooey and fluy. And, I haven’t been able to get it up since that skanky dank cuppa cake at that shitty princess pit. My misery makes me a thorn in your brain.

DAY 7: The last day of hell and I’m still sick. The detox has done wonders for my spirit, but next time it’s shrooms in the desert.

The semester starts in a couple of weeks and whiskey calls, “Jimmy, Jimmy.” I’m no triple-fister so there is only one way to answer the call: cigarette in left hand, coffee in right hand, Lagavulin erect in my crotch.

der Feierabend in sanTana

Unique Cleaners

The Master of Mousse…

First date, blind date, lunch date, any date for that matter Anepalco’s Café is phucking spot on for those seeking good, inventive, and humbly-proud food.

It was several months ago when the nefariously salacious LGFats and I finally went into Anepalco’s Café on Main Street at Stewart.

It was probably a Saturday and LGFats and I were probably on our way to Hollingshead.  Such is the memory of a white-trash-high-priest-alkie: I’ll be the first to chirp up that Hollingshead calls last call when they call, that last call is usually around 7pm, and that they’re not open on Saturday or Sunday.

So when we rolled upon our shuttered watering hole I was at a loss and desultorily stared at their hours of op sign, wondering what to do next.  We may have decided to head back down South Main way, pick up a bottle of corner shop piss, and settle in for another evening of sordid but low-key debauchery at the five-oh-no-two, but (and here is another attempt for this white-trash-high-priest to recall something) memory and fate whisper otherwise.  We made it as far as Stewart and Main when I raised my finger and pointed diagonally across the street.  “Best coffee in town my ass.  Let’s try the place.”

Anepalco's Cafe

I had ridden past it several times before always sneering at the “Best Coffee in Town” claim plastered on their window.  I loathe such claims.

An overly smiley curly haired dude greets me.  I look at the hand-written menu and tell him we want to sit outside.  I don’t tell him that I can’t stand fluorescent lights (by which this fine little Café is, unfortunately, lit).  He says he’ll bring over some menus.

Anepalco Menu
Then I find out from the server that the owner and chef are the same person and that he makes everything himself and with great care—music to my salty-whore ears.  I say, “In that case, I’ll have whatever he recommends.”

I now can’t remember what that was exactly.  It might have been the enchiladas or one of the sandwiches.  I’ve been back many times since that first experience, I’ve tried different dishes (slowly working my way through the menu), and have not been disappointed…well ok, maybe only once.

Despite my own one disappointing experience, I am convinced that Anepalco’s Café is one of Main Street’s best establishments.

Up front I’ll put my cards right on the table:
1)    I tend to really dig owner-ops; nothing better than seeing the visionary scurry to and fro to keep the dream alive (as is the case at Anepalco’s Café, Lucca, or Lola Gaspar, for example)
2)    Having the chef and owner be one in the same, and having that owner-chef come out and talk to me every time I hit up said establishment really (really) gets my juices flowin’
3)    When the owner-chef explains in varying degree of detail what went into making the plate of madness I have before me I am, by this point, a hands down devotee
4)    And: When the owner-chef of said establishment says something like, “Yes, some have called the style of food we serve here Mexican…but it’s not Mexican, it is global.  I’ve worked in different kitchens and my menu reflects those influences,” I’m tickled absolutely pink.
My full deck: Danny, the chef and owner of Anepalco’s Café, is doing something really quite unique on Main Street and he doesn’t charge you all of your blow money to be a part of it.

Take for example the Enchiladas: A great representation of a classic dish with some inventive twists.  They come chicken and pork in a non-traditional “red sauce.”  The red sauce is actually a sun-dried tomato puree meant to accent the bed of flavors that lay atop it, not drown the rolled tortillas in some skanky and bland sauce that is “red.” The cotija cheese, pico de gallo, cabbage, sour cream, and avocado mousse are all piled high on the enchiladas in a marriage of supporting flavors and textures.  I cannot order this plate without not finishing it (even when my hunger has long been satisfied).

Consider any number of the sandwiches:
Colorado Chicken Sandwich that is a splendid and flavorful presentation of chicken breast, Danny’s red sauce, and chipotle aioli.  Yeah.
The Anepalco complete with slow-cooked pork, achiote, and cabbage relish.
The Tuna Sandwich made with handmade mayo, grapes, lime zest, and red onions all on hearty sourdough.  I’m really into Tuna.  ☺  Danny’s Tuna Sandwich is quite good.
The Cuban Sandwich is decadently, deliciously, and undoubtedly awesome: chicken, slow-cooked pork, ham, mozza cheese, cabbage, and chipotle aioli all on a ciabatta.  W.T.F.  For eight phreakin’ bucks this sandwich by others cannot be beat.  Punkt.

Or, the salads: Very soon I’ll try the Anepalco’s Spring Salad but I just had the “Main Street” Salad yesterday.  It is a mountain of spinach tossed in date dressing, sprinkled with dry-roasted peanuts, some cheese, and finely julienned apples.  (Go vegan and order it without the cheese.) The date dressing is an example of Danny’s creative hand.  After a three-hour process dates and balsamic vinegar are reduced down to a concentrated thick base; he then adds some evoo (and etc) and commences to puree.

Danny will happily admit that he has a problem: He loves to puree.

His red sauce, avocado mousse, date dressing, handmade mayo, pesto and chipotle aiolis, and his fantastic soups are all evidence of this deep-seated problem.  And I?  I am the drooling victim of this man’s delinquent behavior.  Even his pico de gallo is evidence of his puree fetish.  While the pico de gallo is not pureed it is some of the finest chopped de gallo I’ve ever put in my mug: the fineness of the chopping marries the flavors one to the other resulting in a beautifully blended cohesive palette experience reminiscent of coked-out hooker gnomes in a mossy forest.  (That’s a good thing.)  Danny points this out to me—not the gnome part, but the intentional fineness of chopping.

I’ve not tried Danny’s breakfasts, but after telling Memphis’ own Julio about Danny and Anepalco, Julio headed on over one morning and had the Chilaquiles then reported back: excellent.

And the coffee:  they serve up a pretty decent cup.  Just as quickly as it seems to have been written, yesterday I was able to blow through 20 or so pages of Butler’s GT because of it (the coffee).

Anepalco Coffee

At Anepalco’s Café I can hardly go wrong.  And the one time I was disappointed with a sandwich, it’s only because I’m an ass who was expecting the full-on heart-stoppingness of a Croque Monsieur, and got instead a subdued version of this Parisian decadent delight.

Place your trust in the Master of Mousse Danny over at Anepalco’s Café.  Then, if it’s not the weekend, head over to Hollingshead for some good beer.  Then, if you haven’t drunk yourself into too much of a stupor and if you’re anything like me, score some blow and gnomes with the money left over.

Danny from Anepalco

Anepalco’s Cafe, 415 South Main Street, Orange, CA. (714) 771-2333.  CC accepted.  No alcohol served.  Breakfast served all day.  Meet the man who makes your food, ask to thank Danny for whatever wonders you put in your mouth.  Oh yeah, and don’t subject yourself to those fluorescent lights either, sit outside.