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Sunday, September 15, 2019

It's All Greek to Me

I consider myself a food purist. When I eat grape leaves I want them to be authentic Greek, when I eat shrimp and grits I want it to be Southern home cooking not served up at a Mexican restaurant, and when I eat pizza I expect it to be Italian. For years I fussed over traditional pizzerias around the metro Boston area becoming "Greek" pizza places. The crust is thicker and a little more greasy, the sauce has a sweet flavor to it, and the cheese gives me hives (at least it did when I was in the 7th grade.) I love Greek food but I want my pizza to be Italian.

Today we were in the city for a friends birthday party and Senia Mae was starving when we left. They served tapas at the party and she would rather go hungry than try something new. Two buildings away was Il Forno NY Pizza & Pasta, a place I had frequented years ago when I was in chiropractic school. Back in the day Il Forno was an authentic New York Pizzeria meaning: thin crust, large fold-able slices, and enough oil on top to drip down your arm while you're eating it. My mouth watered at the mere thought of what was to come.

We parked the car and rounded the corner of the old familiar building. Then I looked up at the sign:
The words New Mediterranean Menu should have been clear enough for me to know I'm going to be disappointed and should just turn around. My family was now laughing at me, nudging me through the door as I spotted another sure sign of non-Italian-ness: an ad to stop by the local Serb-fest gathering next week. We went inside and of course they were playing Greek music not Frank Sinatra and not the Three Tenors.

"Aww, come on," Kim says, "What's the big deal? Pizza is pizza, right?" Wrong... pizza is not pizza. I'm sure the gyros there are awesome, the baklava looked fresh and lovely, and I bet I would have loved the stuffed eggplant but their pizza was Greek not Italian. Maybe I'll have better luck next time!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Why I love XM Radio

Howard Jones belts out the words of New Song on XM channel 33, First Wave classic alternative. The awesome synthesizer melody plays as I turn onto Highway 400 in my mom car but my mind remembers riding my three speed purple Schwinn up and down California Road, butt always hovering a foot higher than the hard, cracked banana seat.

I'm messy haired and gangly dressed in my cousin's hand me down Jordache jeans rolled up at the leg because she was so much taller. That girl that is me belts out Don't Crack up, Bend Your Brain, See Both Sides, Throw Off Your Mental Chains as the wind blows through her hair. It's funny how one song can toss you back thirty five years in a blink.

I remember trying to learn that riff on my sister's Casio, wishing it had just one more octave so I could reach the highs, frustrated that Santa always chose to leave her instruments under the tree even though I was the musical one. Even with that frustration I can hear the message in those lyrics Don't Crack up, Bend Your Brain, See Both Sides, Throw Off Your Mental Chains and with those words of wisdom everything seems right in the world.

Are those words better than any self help book I've ever read? Maybe. Music has always helped me escape and unwind, what is your escape? I'd love to hear.