Tuesday, September 23, 2014

You Oughta Know

The universe as we know it is a joint product of the observer and the observed, or so said a French philosopher.

I began the evening being the observed.

That meant a first stop at Lakeside Tavern where a half dozen seasoned-looking regulars (I'm guessing anyway) turn and gawk on arrival.

Sipping my 1800, ignoring the TVs, I see no one at the pool table, a steady succession of wizened old men going outside for a smoke barely outside the front door and the most magnificent dive bar chandelier I've ever laid eyes on.

Racks intended for wine glasses have instead been intermittently filled with empty beer bottles - Schlitz, Miller Lite, Yuengling - and strung through with tiny, blinking Christmas lights for a one of a kind redneck light fixture.

It alone was worth the visit before moving on to do some observing at the new Southern Season, the specialty grocer on Staples Mill.

Despite the crammed parking lot with the likes of Lexus, BMW and other high end cars, I quickly observe that no amount of tinned foodstuffs and artisan cheese straws is going to make this place a regular stop for me.

Besides the obvious - a far higher employee to customer ratio than seems prudent to stay in the black - I am struck by the array of high-priced items I can't afford.

Jose Andres brand tinned seafood. $149.99 per pound Iberian ham. Esoteric counter appliances I neither need nor want.

What I did like: Sprite in individual green glass bottles (99 cents) and "try me!" sample size pieces of expensive cheese, wrapped up in pieces that cost a couple of bucks. Long-stemmed yellow roses that still have a scent.

Will I be back? Probably for research only. As an observer.

My final point of observation was as one of three attendees at the Criterion Theater to see "My Trip to Italy."

The film used two British TV actors and the premise that the London Observer sent them to Italy to review restaurants, drive the scenic coast and stay at boutique hotels with rooms named after American movie stars.

If only I could figure out how to get that job for myself.

Like several movies I've seen lately - "Chef" and "One Hundred Foot Journey" immediately come to mind- food and food prep are lovingly shot to the point they become characters in the film. Not a complaint, mind you.

Within the first five minutes, I was laughing out loud so hard at the duo's verbal interplay that I was missing the next line, always a good sign.

Setting off in a Mini convertible with only a soundtrack of Alanis Morrisette's 1995 classic, "Jagged Little Pill" provided stunning scenery and hilarious music discussion as they retrace the long-ago journey of Romantic poets Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

While I've done the Naples, the Amalfi Coast and Rome portions of that journey, I've yet to take in the entire swath they did, ranging from the Piedmont to Capri.

Fingers crossed, before I die.

As they cruise from hill town to ancient city, they try to out-do each other with put-downs, film trivia and impersonations of famous actors.

Some are quite good and after a bit, I had to marvel at the ability to do impressions of everyone from Dustin Hoffman to Clint Eastwood to Marlon Brando, complete with pieces of bread stuck in his cheeks.

They even did a bit on how only one actor who played James Bond was actually English (Roger Smith), doing spot-on impressions of each along the way.

And the pithy one-liners!

"Where do you stand on Michael Buble?"
"On his windpipe."

Hysterical, right?

Using "Roman Holiday" and "Notting Hill" as contrasting examples of how love works out in films, it winds down with a poignant discussion of how there is no unrequited love in the world anymore, a point I would argue.

But not tonight. Plenty of requited observation and droll conversation was had.

Here's where the story ends.


  1. suspect Lakeside might be outta your comfort zone...juz an observation...suspect they're not accustomed to your species of urban animal...always interesting how we come across to others who don't know us. ..sorry 'bout the droll part but that happens now & then doesn't it.


  2. Roman Holiday was an enjoyable movie. though maybe dated..people of a certain age need to see a movie like that every now & then...concerning your comment on unrequited love... yes that can be a sad thing..and it happens all the time.. however life must go on regardless.


  3. Ah, but I enjoy a good dive bar, cw! I'm not sure people of a certain age would appreciate a film such as "Roman Holiday," do you think? It represents such a different world.

  4. any world that the late Audrey Hepburn helped portray I'm game.


  5. kinda thought so.