Wednesday, January 15, 2014

No. 141 – Won’t You Try / Saturday Afternoon

Performer: The Jefferson Airplane
Songwriter: Paul Kantner
Original Release: After Bathing at Baxter’s
Year: 1967
Definitive Version: Anything from Woodstock. Multiple recordings are out there. The one I have in my iTunes is from the Director’s Cut of the movie from 1994.

Awhile back, I mentioned my Sunday night routine post-breakup with Debbie, which consisted of making a big dinner, watching The Sopranos and Six Feet Under and then a few movies while killing a bottle of wine. One of the movies I went to a lot during this time was the Director’s Cut of Woodstock, specifically for this song, not only for the song itself but to watch Grace Slick in her amazing white-fringe top. Unfortunately, one tipsy night, I accidentally hit the record button on my VCR and put a nice big gap toward the end of Won’t You Try. D’OH!

My routine Saturday night was … well, pretty much the same, except my entertainment choices trended more to titillation—Skinemax at home or the Dockside for some ballet. Regardless of whether I’d go out or stay in, on Saturdays, I’d get carryout for dinner.

I had a couple of really good options in my neighborhood, and I eventually reviewed both of them for Carried Away. One was Weiland’s grocery store on nearby Indianola Avenue.

I call Weiland’s a grocery store, because that’s what it is, but it’s nothing like Kroger, where I typically shopped for foodstuffs. It’s like a Whole Foods for regular folks but with better brands and lower prices.

I can’t remember whether Laura told me about it, or I found it on my own after moving to Clintonville, but I know I started going there because of its small but impressive wine selection. I’d take my lists and stock up. After a while, I noticed they had full meals for carryout, and I’m talking really good stuff like veggie lasagna or turkey sandwiches with brie and cranberry sauce.

Weilands became a regular stop until I moved to Cleveland in 2003. I’m happy to report that, at least as of 2011, it still was there and still doing a solid business. I took Laurie, and I bought four bottles of an excellent shiraz that I was having trouble finding in Chicago. It was just like old times.

The other regular place was Michael’s Pizza. Michael’s was on the “wrong side” of I-71. Whereas Clintonville was well to do, the next neighborhood to the East, separated by I-71, was not. It wasn’t a terrible area, but you definitely noticed a difference in the quality of housing.

Close to the border was Michael’s. The Grump turned me on to the place, meeting me there for pizza one afternoon years before while he interviewed the owner, who wasn’t named Michael. (Michael had sold to this guy, whose name escapes me.) Part of the deal was that the new owner kept Michael’s grandmother employed as the sole doughmaker. It was her recipe, and it seemed she was the only one who could pull it off successfully. The pizza we had just onions, which was a bit too much for me.

In 2002, Michael’s won a pizza contest that gave it the right to claim “world’s greatest” status. Well, if the world’s best pizza was this close to home, didn’t I owe it to myself—let alone my readers—to give it another shot? I did—noting that grandma still was in the back, still mixing her dough—but this time I added sausage and mushrooms to the onions. That was the pick that clicked.

Soon after my Carried Away review appeared, I went back for Saturday night pizza and saw that the Michael’s owner proudly posted my review in his restaurant. I’d seen this elsehwere, and it was never not cool to see, but this one was a bit overblown.

I mean that literally. My review had been printed full size on poster board and put in the window of the pizzeria, so anyone driving by could read every word.
I never said a word about who I was—I believed in a reviewer being anonymous to experience a joint just like anyone else would. I’d just go and pick up my usual, note with some pleasure the words I’d produced and head home to see what was on Skinemax.

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