Eddie and Gwen

Eddie and Gwen
Standing Tall Among the Saguaros

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Daily Mantra: Cook and the People Will Come

Only those who are closest to me understand how stubborn and hard-headed I can be.  I’ve accepted that this is one of my flaws, and though it is difficult for me at times to recognize when I am being boneheaded, when I do realize it, I admit it.  So here we go; for the past three days, I’ve been tracking massive storm fronts going through California, often checking the NOAA (National weather site) for updates. My neighbor Jim keeps telling me “that SOB of a storm will come through here, you better prepare”. I just shrug it off, and respond, “Jim….the NOAA website is forecasting one tenth to one half inch of rain, what damage can that possibly do; wash my tent away with me and Gwen.”  Then to make my point further, I added, “don’t worry, you won’t see us on the local news”.  So Jim, being the fifteen year veteran that he is, just shakes his head, and as he turns to walk away he says, “You don’t understand, this is the desert, nothing is what it seems. I’m telling you this place could flood in a heartbeat. Don’t come running to me later and say that I didn’t warn you”. Later that day I see this ominous, really dark cloud coming right at us.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Christmas: A Time for Mercy and Tales of a Tornado

          I finally got a covered tent to serve as my dining area. I struck a deal with my neighbor, Jim.  He broke out an extra tent structure he had, said I could use it and in exchange, he gets a free lunch everyday.  I think it’s a great deal, he gets fed, and I get a 10x20 tent structure. No it’s not some easy up canopy. Out here, in Quartzsite,  the winds can reach up to 50-60 mph. So the tent must be strong, and structurally sound.  I keep hearing about the Tornado that blew the place apart last year.  The veterans call it a micro burst, but it evidently wrecked havoc, sending tents flying across Quartzsite. So far I’ve heard the event described as a tornado, 50 mph gust, 60 mph gust, 70, 80, 90 mph sustained wind. Each tale I hear the fish gets bigger, if ya know what I mean; they all say “it blew the place apart, tents everywhere, semi’s overturned on the freeway, palm tree branches lodged into solid brick walls, eyeballs blown out, a poodle blown clear across Arizona into New Mexico.” Okay I exaggerated the last three, I just want to make sure you’re paying attention.  Anyway, now I have shelter to offer people as they are feasting on my fine cuisine. The local workforce must have discovered that I make really good food, because I’ve seen a nice increase in local sales. You know that feeling when you were 13-14 years old and you dated the girl or guy of your dreams, all the pent up excitement, that’s actually how I feel about cooking Asian food. It’s a cultural food I’ve long desired to approach. I’ve had plenty of time to experiment and it’s all coming together. As one of my wait staff used to say….”Eddie, this is the shit!.” When I am busy banging out cooked to order food with fresh ingredients, that’s when I feel like I’m living my dream.  Call me a simple man, but I love it.  I’ve finally got the Thai element of my menu going.           I made a trip down to Yuma recently to stock up on hard to find Thai and Chinese ingredients. It seems every semi large town has a Chinese market where you can find the really exotic stuff like lemon grass, fish sauce, and frozen fish balls. (No fish don’t have balls, it’s a product that is actually like meat balls made out of ground fish) The menu is now complete.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

There's No Place Like Home - Shout Out to Pagosa Springs

Okay, call me a mama's boy, but I’m missing home big time.   I’ve been here for seven weeks, seven weeks can you believe it?  Yea, Yea I know I’ve said how good I feel here, it feels right and all … I’m on the fringe, I got the taste of freedom on my palate …. I’m running through the desert with coyotes on my ass chasing my dream … yada yada yada …. Freedom schmeedom, right now I’m missin home.  I miss my Wife, my family, my friends, my comfortable bed.  I miss Pagosa Springs.  Once you live in a small town like Pagosa Springs, it becomes a part of your soul forever. I mean the town has its good and bad, but like a hot divorced woman, you can’t leave her for long. (Did I just say that? Wow that was a really bad aphorism, sorry )   Let’s move on shall we?  Ya know, Pagosa Springs has a fringe element all its own.  Maybe that’s where it all started for me, this attraction to free spirited individuals.  The good Lord knows my eyes were opened to this “sub-culture” not long after settling in there;  I was like, “Oh crap, some of these people are bizarre”. Now I say this with Love in my heart, cause really, everyone is a little quirky. Case in point, upon arriving in Pagosa Springs, there was the guy I met who was upset that a particular property owner was going to bulldoze down an old house because he wanted to develop the property. Now this in its self isn’t odd, the weirdness came when he tried to convince me that the house was a living thing, and effectively became a living aspect of the community. “Okay,” I thought to myself, “just go with it and see where this goes..”  After we downed a few beers, he continued his rant getting all up in my face, as he pontificated from his soap box.  The longer he went on, finally I couldn’t take it anymore, I interrupted his diatribe with these philosophical words, “dude, what the F@&K are you talking about?” My comments either amazed him or stunned him, I’m not sure which, all I know is he broke out the brownies and said,  “awe F@&K me, lets just have a good time bro.” Only a town like Pagosa Springs could claim a character like Diamond Dave.  Now, Diamond Dave is well known throughout Pagosa Springs, you say Diamond Dave and everyone knows who you’re talking about.  He’s got style and character; sporting his big gold lion head medallion with the ruby eyes (those red eyes were designed to be hypnotic) he's also got the flashy bling-- bling on his fingers like a big city rap star. Even the name, Diamond Dave makes a statement.  Diamond Dave was a businessman, owning a gun store in town and a hot dog cart.  Diamond Dave always claimed that the hot dogs he sold were home made.  When I ignorantly inquired,  “well Dave, now what makes them homemade?”, he replied, in his strong raspy voice….”They’re made in Nebraska….I’m from Nebraska, I say their homemade, so their homemade, end of discussion…. You want to make something of it?”  I hit it off real well with Diamond Dave.  Many people thought I had cajones, when I approached Diamond Dave with a business proposition.  Turns out he became a great friend, and mentor to me. Pagosa Springs has a popular local band called Mind ur Head.  The first time I attended a Mind ur Head show, I met one of their local groupies named Randy. Randy follows the band everywhere they play, and he is usually the first to hit the dance floor when it’s time to start dancing.  I can’t put into words exactly what I witnessed the first time I saw him dance.  I thought he was having a medical emergency, like perhaps an epileptic seizure. I had to stop myself from dialing 9-1-1.  Randy was oblivious, he just kept right on groovin’ and movin’  his happy feet for the duration of the show. I think its Randy’s job that has given him such stamina, he delivers our local mail and does an amazing job.  Randy is a good conversationalist and a great guy who lovingly helps his disabled wife with their children. Great people, real people, no bullshit, true community exists there.  There’s no doubt in my mind, if Sheriff Taylor was looking to move away from Mayberry, Pagosa Springs is where he’d take up residence.  I’m certain that Aunt Bea and Opie would soon follow.  (Shout out to Pagosa Springs, I Love You man !)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wile E Coyote and The Back Story: Chapter 1

   When I decided to do this blog, I made a promise to myself that I would  keep it real, good or bad, I would be honest and write what was happening in my world.  I have to admit that I have to swallow my pride as I write this.  It isn’t easy for me to admit that things are going south for me right now financially.  I said I was going keep it real… so here it goes.  Most of the vendors here are starting to freak out, including me.  Where are all the people?  Apparently business is slower than normal for this time of year.  Even the old timers who have been coming to the Rock and Gem show in Quartzsite for the past 10 years are worried.   It wasn’t an exaggeration when I said that the majority of us vendors made it here on gas fumes, so every day that goes by without customers, means I sink deeper and deeper in the red.  Originally I was attracted to this venue because I was told that it would be crawling with people.  Well, it ain’t happening.  This being my first Rock and Gem show, I’ve been hanging on to every word the old timers share, and there seems to be cause for alarm.  Seeing anxiety on the faces of my fellow vendors is concerning, but for me, it’s frustrating for a number of reasons. When I left Pagosa Springs and hit the road with my trailer, I was still hanging on to my dream that I would be able to revive my food career and get back on my feet financially.  After hearing about the huge influx of people to Quartzsite, I chose this venue figuring this was my chance to make some serious cash.  Obviously, the economy is contributing to a poor early turnout, but another factor seems to be the increased bureaucracy.  By that I mean fees, taxes, permits, licenses etc.. and it’s killing the little guy out here.  Nowadays everybody wants a piece of the pie.  Let me give you a glimpse inside my trailer concessionaire world.  Over the summer I took the trailer out on the event circuit.  With each new event I learned more and more.  Normally, I fork out about $80.00 for permits, license, and inspection fees for an average event.  In comparison, here in Quartzsite it cost me close to $600.  In addition to those fees, here in Quartzsite I had to pay what they call a “standard vendor fee”, which set me back an additional $1600.  So basically, before I sold any food at all, I was already in the hole  $2200.  Okay so there, I’ve bared my soul, so why don’t I feel any better L .  The collective opinion around here is that all these fees, this bureaucracy, is killing business.  In addition to the increased permit fees, most of the R.V. campgrounds have also implemented price increases due to, again bureaucratic increases. So for those of you who think, and there are many of you………., “don’t you just pull up to a spot, open the window and start making money” no bubba Jay, it ain’t that easy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blowing in the Wind

It’s freakin' cold here. I came to Southwestern Arizona to escape the bitter cold of Colorado. We’ve had three consecutive mornings of 31 degree weather, what the hell? Okay, so it’s only a small cold front that appears to already be moving out, but if this continues I may just have to go further South into Mexico. Hey, I wonder if the Cartel is hiring ? Hmmm.. Hey…maybe I could be the personal chef of some drug king pin. I’m sure they offer great benefits and being a personal chef would give me one of the more secure positions within the Cartel, as long as El Hefe' doesn’t get food poisoning. Yikes …

Monday, November 29, 2010

Talking To Myself

Every morning I awake with a fresh spirit of hope. Being alone out here is an emotional roller coaster ride. As things begin to slowly ramp up, one moment I’m bored; the next I’m inspired; and then concerned. Round and round it goes etc.. etc… I feel like one of those refrigerator magnets that display’s various moods, just pick the appropriate emotion for the moment. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve also begun talking to myself as a form of entertainment. It’s not a schizophrenic thing, it’s more rhetorical like; “does this guy know he’s got way too much hair growing out of his ears…. he probably knows, but he just doesn’t care.” Actually, I see this activity as a mental exercise; more as an observation of my current environment, rather than being judgmental. Mostly, I do it for my own entertainment, just to crack myself up. Not a whole lot to do out here in Quartzsite, Arizona. Perhaps that is why I find myself taking on the role of observer and social analyst. I’ve begun to open myself up to this world, this “life on the fringe of society”, I have become a sponge, soaking up all that it is has to teach me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Back from the dead in Quartzsite, Arizona

It has been said that most people perceive themselves with higher regard than what others may perceive them. Meaning,  I may think my IQ is higher than what an IQ test may actually reveal, or I may believe that my hair line is not reseeding when, let's face it... it most certainly is. Well, I am here to confess today that I am, in fact, a bigger idiot than I ever realized. I’ve come to the  realization  that  I  have  been  arrogant, an over  confident,obnoxious fool.
After losing everything that I worked so very hard for, I have been forced to take a long, hard look at myself, and folks I must say, the picture isn’t pretty.