This is petty compared to what they really do in this town

Review: Geno’s Sandwiches & Salads

Oh Goodness. This place is great.

Yesterday I woke up bright and early and had one thing on my mind. Geno’s. It was 11 a.m. and the midnight corn dogs I had the night before were still holding over. I figured I could wait a little while and get myself nice and hungry for the experience. 12:30 rolled around and and my stomach was starting to rumble, but I knew I had to wait because of their gnarly lunch rush. I wanted to be undisturbed (and not get in any parking battles) while enjoying my sandwich so I figured an extra half hour was worth the wait.

Oh man. It was worth it.

I got to Geno’s at about 1:10 and parking was swell. I opened the door and observed the environment. It was perfect. There were a couple of dudes to the left that looked like they were from Madera. There was Bruce the Lumberjack in a pair of overalls with a comatose look as he waited for his sandwich. And then there was a four top of young business men looking pretty stoked. 

I made my order, hot pastrami with swiss, got my soda and sat down. The dudes from Madera seemed slightly depressed (probably the economy or something), Bruce the Lumberjack didn’t budge, and the business men kept saying words like “pastrami” and “mortgage”. I’m pretty sure they would have chest-bumped if they didn’t have ties on.

Bruce’s sandwich came up and he bailed out of there fast — I don’t think he likes being around people. And then they called my name. God I was stoked. I got my sandwich, sat down, and observed the little beast for a moment. Then I went for it.

When people talk about the bread being amazing here, they aren’t lying. It is so soft and delicious. It is perfection. The amount of pastrami was liberal and all the other contents of the sandwich were put together nicely.

I finished that bad boy fast and wanted to celebrate. I thought maybe I could go pull off a high five with one of the business dudes, but really, I don’t have the balls to do that kind of thing.

I left and was satisfied. So satisfied that I forgot to eat the rest of the day until about 10 p.m. when I made a late night value menu hit at the Wendy’s. I really dig Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers.

I guarantee you’ll totally love Geno’s — and if you don’t, you’re not human or something.

Review: Red Robin Manchester Center

I gotta say man. I love me some Red Robin. Total date spot.

About a month ago this girl was totally beggin’ me to take her to the Red Robin. So I found some work, saved up some cash, and had her drive us over there. We were seated quickly near the carousel where children were having an awesome good time. They were having such a great time that we had to move tables because they were so loud. Now at this moment, some servers get that I-hate-my-life-and-want-to-kill-myself look on their face, but not the beautiful people at Red Robin. No, they just smiled and put us in a different booth.

We quickly placed our drink orders — Coke for me and water w/ lemon for her (Thank God, that would have been like an extra $2.50). The server had them back to us real quick. We told him we needed a few minutes to figure out what we wanted. 

I went straight to the burgers on the menu and started reading all of the amazing choices. And then I saw a picture (I prefer looking at pictures over reading). It was the Burnin’ Love burger and it looked delectable. I had to have it, even though I was a little iffy on the jalepeños (I had recently been introduced to them by my Uncle, but they were the tame kind). She settled on the Clucks and fries — she wouldn’t want me to tell you that — I do what I want.

Our food came out fast, like lightning fast, and I dove into that burger with the veracity of a wolf devouring a mouse (Read Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf). It was heavenly. Cooked perfectly with beautiful juices running down into my basket of bottomless steak fries. Bliss. She seemed pretty stoked with her clucks and fries I guess, but it was hard to tell because I was having an experience with my burger in some other realm of existence.

Refills were abundant on both drinks and fries and we were fully satisfied.

I’ve been back there twice since. Once after watching that Blind Side movie (fully excellent, bring some tissues) with the fam. My grandma was on some new meds and offered to pay for us all after the movie. I revisited the Burnin’ Love for round two on that trip. And once with that girl again, though we only got a milkshake and fries ’cause I had a couple of microwaveable burritos before we went.

Yeah its corporate, but you can’t deny the burgers. They are amazing, and so is the service. They deserve every single star.

Review: Teazer World Tea Market

As I sat on the beautiful patio of Teazers with my Uncle discussing bums, North Fresno, and Jesus, an emotionally charged and eloquent proclamation was made.

“You know what?” he said. “F*** Starbucks.”

You see, my Uncle is a contractor, 6′ 3″, and sports a goatee. He had tried Teazers the night before at ArtHop with his children and had to go back the next day for another taste. After interrogating the friendly person at the counter about her day, drugs, and favorite teas, he was offered a drink not available on the menu. He became giddy and even offered to pay for mine. This was the first part of a noticeable change in his worldview.

As we found our way out to the patio he was gushing over with praise about the place. He raved about the virtue of having to wait for a good product and the friendliness of the staff — something, he says, is difficult to find in a corporate drink place. 

Our teas arrived and I regret to inform you that I do not remember what they were. And I must tell you that him and I never drink tea. This is all new to us. I can tell you, though, that we never drink tea because we don’t like it. But this day was different. We were 100% satisfied with our selections. This is when he uttered those hateful words towards Starbucks.

He went on to talk about how much he loves areas like Tower, and how he absolutely despises all the ugly strip malls around town. It was a wonderful experience.

I have been back since and love the place. I usually shy away from consumables that don’t come from a cow, but I really do love the atmosphere and the beautiful bathroom here. 

Although Teazers may breed some kind of righteous hatred towards corporations, I do believe that the joy brought about in their drinks and service are a sufficient counterweight.

(I still frequent Starbucks, might as well be honest)

Broken down

The moon don’t shine, it’s broken down.
The clouds are crying, they’re broken down.
The car won’t start, it’s broken down.

-Eric Clapton

Soooo.

I get home and tell my momma that she is going to be needing to take me back to the parking lot to try and start the car. She agrees and we go after a while. It does not start. She brings me home.

I wake my dad. He tells me to call AAA. I do. They have great customer service. Tells me they will be out there at 12:08. I take my moms car back to the parking lot.

I get there. The car starts. I call AAA and tell them not to come. Hang up. Car turns off. Call back AAA. They’re back on their way.

I lonesomely sit and wait. I see the truck round the corner and get excited. He parks and jumps out of the car. Have you ever wondered what a midget looks like when full grown? Me neither. But I found out. He had the intoxicating smell of shit and whiskey.

He tries to start the car. “It won’t start,” he says.

No shit buddy, that’s why you’re here.

“We’ll have to tow it.”

Really dude? I just thought you were coming out here to hang out.

We push the car into position so that he can load it on the flatbed truck. He sat in the car while doing this. I got the pleasure of sitting in it after him. The stench was suffocating.

He calls his buddy. He thinks I can’t hear.

“Hey Mark, how do you hook up a Mercedes?”

Long pause. He fumbles around.

Longer pause.

“This thing is fuckin’ confusing me!”

Maybe if you didn’t drink a pint of Jack and shit yourself on the way here things would be easier.

He finally gets it hooked. He offers me this excuse.

“Oh, this isn’t my normal truck ’cause I was going to Mariposa and I didn’t want my brakes to go out.”

What the fuck? Touché? I didn’t ask you to defend yourself, but thanks for confusing the shit out of me.

He starts to pull the car up the bed. I try not to watch. The way he handles the controls reminds me of a two-year-old child trying to work a DVD player. I’m wondering if the car is going to make it to my parents’ house alive. I am comforted by the fact that tow truck companies probably have good insurance.

He gets it on the bed, sort of, but not all the way.

“That’s the bad thing about loading the things front…” He fizzles out.

Again, what are you saying? I thought this was simple. You put the car on the truck, drive it to my place, take it off the truck, and shake my hand- end of transaction. Apparently there is some sort of science involved in this shit.

He asks me where we’re going. I give him directions to my parents’ house. He tells me we are going to go real slow and that I should follow him. I comply.

We drive about 15 miles an hour all the way to the house. The car looks pretty unstable the whole time. Just as we turn onto Browning into the neighborhood he gives me a call. Because we’re like BFF now. It makes sense- he probably wants to get directions for the rest of the way. Wait, nope. He just wants to chat.

“So yeah, I try to go slow with these nice cars. There’s really not enough straps for the Mercedes…”

I cut into his psycho babble and tell him that I’m going to pull around to show him where to park. He parks and slowly slides the car back to earth- I feel whole again.

We start to talk some superficial bull shit and I say, “Watch, it’ll probably start now.”

It does. We laugh and I drive back to my dwelling place.

Sweet sweet irony. How I love thee.

If the brakeman turns my way

When panic grips your body and your heart’s a hummingbird
Raven thoughts blacken your mind until you’re breathing in reverse
All your friends and sedatives mean well but make it worse
Every reassurance just magnifies the doubt
Better find yourself a place to level out.

– Bright Eyes

My brakes started sounding, and feeling real weird the other day. Usually when my car makes some kind of out-of-tune noise, I add some air to the tires and a bit of oil to the engine and call it a day. But a sense of responsibility has crept into my life recently which I believe may be a good thing. So I told my older brother about the noise and he said that all we needed to do is replace the brake pads. Simple enough right?

Wrong.

First obstacle: Purchasing brake pads. Since I am currently unemployed, money is a factor in most decisions that I make because I have very little of it. So little that I may have to quit smoking soon simply because I cannot afford it.

Solution: My mom purchased an air filter for her car at Autozone last month that she does not really need. So I rode my bike to their house, got the air filter, and exchanged it for some mediocre brake pads. Total cost -$20. The air filter was more expensive than the pads, so I now have an Autozone card with 20 bucks on it. Talk about turning water into wine. Oh yeah.

Second obstacle: I’m not mechanically inclined. I have done a minor repair on a car once and as far as I can tell, it still works.

Solution: With this false sense of confidence, I decide that I do not need help in this adventure even though I have an older brother that has done this repair many times before. “There’s a Jeep book in the garage,” I tell myself. “I’ll just look at the pictures and do what it says.” This, my friend, is easier said than done. They have some crazy diagrams in that book and use unfamiliar terms like “piston” and “caliper.”

My dad never liked instruction manuals, still doesn’t. I remember trying to put things together with him as a kid and sometimes begging him to use the manual. He was always too stubborn and had to figure it out for himself. I decided long ago that I would not live like that. The manuals are there for a reason.

But this manual I could not understand and I was forced to try and figure things out on my own. As if taking off the tire and putting the car up on a jack wasn’t hard enough, I was now going to figure out the inner-workings of the brake and make it good as new.

Third obstacle: Admitting defeat.

Solution: Text my brother, “I give up. Can’t get the calipers off.”

Lessons learned: A) I’m still not a mechanic. B) I now know what a caliper looks like and that you have to loosen the nuts on the tire before putting the car on the jack. C) I still don’t like getting dirty. D) I am terrified that the car will fall on me while working on it. E) Cars look really funny without their front tires.

Ahhh, I just heard my brother pull into the driveway. Now all I have to do is put up with some verbal abuse and I’ll have new brakes.

Hey, hey what can I do?

On sunday mornin’ when we go down to church
See the menfolk standing in line.
Don’t say they come to pray to the lord
But when my little girl looks so fine.
And in the evening when the sun is sinking low
Everybody’s with the one they love.
I walk the town, keep-a searchin all around,
Lookin’ for my street corner girl.

-Led Zeppelin

I went to church today. I’ll say it again- I went to church. My older brother and his wife volunteer there on Sunday mornings and they needed some extra help. So it goes.

Generally, while attending a church service, I awkwardly sit through the worship portion and then try to pick apart everything that is wrong with the message. I know, it’s a tough way to live. But today I decided that I would give it a good listen and see what I could possibly take away from it. The pastor (who has a smokin’ hot wife, by the way) delivered a message on how not to worry in times of stress. I can honestly say that I enjoyed it and his message aligned with the sort of spirituality that I strive for.

To put it clearly, “When you become stressed out it is important not to let worry take over your life,” he said. “Just leave your worry at the feet of Jesus and he’ll take care of you.”

Aside from the use of the word Jesus (which I believe was a guy who did some good things and then died, and stayed dead), I could fully dig what he was saying. There is no sense in letting worry consume me in a stressful time- it just causes anxiety and heartache. So instead, I just try to give up that worry to something greater than me and I am given peace over the whole situation.

Over the last year I have allowed worry to slowly eat away at my soul given the tumultuous relationship that I was in. I sometimes regret not being able to grasp this sort of message sooner- I think it would have saved a lot of heartache.

The song continues.

I guess there’s just one thing then left for me to do:
Gonna pack my bags an move on my way
A-cause I got a worried mind sharing what I thought was mine.
Gonna leave her where the guitars play.


And that is what I did. I sincerely hope I learned something from it.

Oh and. I took the plunge and switched my bike to a fixed gear yesterday. Done about 30 miles in the last two days and it feels so good.