Archive for September, 2016

Funny Graffiti

September 25, 2016

I’ve been meaning to post this photo for a long time.  Inside of a phone booth, on the walk from my house to our synagogue, is written an ad for a prostitute I have no doubt is very popular.  Who is she?  SLIGHTLY SAUCY SARA.  Because for obvious reasons, we like our whores only slightly saucy.


Essays No One Would Publish

September 21, 2016

Again, only tried once, but it was enough of a burn that I didn’t take it further.  But I’m definitely amused at myself upon re-read.  One of our dining companions from then (this was written a few years ago) was worried it would be too snarky about the group––sorry, JW!

Reviews of Restaurants Run by Cults

We’re pleased to present our first episode in “Mouthwashed!,” a series of reviews of cult-run restaurants. This week, the Spiritually Adventurous Eater visits the Yellow Deli in Rutland, Vermont, run by a group known as the Twelve Tribes.

“Would you guys like a table?”
“Yes, for four.”
“That’s so nice!”

As the Spiritually Adventurous Eater, I am accustomed to establishments

with creepily friendly staff members, but the Yellow Deli in Rutland, Vermont, manages to exceed even my expectations. The host, a middle-aged bespectacled man with a ponytail, is so enthusiastic about our arrival I momentarily worry he might throw out his back. But instead he snaps up a couple of menus (“We serve the fruit of the spirit!”) and leads our party of four (future-Jew, Jew, recovering Catholic and atheist) through a maze of woven textiles and repurposed tree branches to our booth, shaded from the low light of the main room by a faux-roof like a hobbit hovel. As you’ll probably have noticed by now, the most bizarre and fascinating thing about this place is the décor. The only way I can think to sum it up is this: if the set designer of Willow had a love child with sixties activist group Another Mother for Peace, it would look like the inside of the Yellow Deli. No wait, another way: if Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre ate a plate of Margaret and Walter Keane paintings and then took a shit in a twee forest, it would look like the inside of the Yellow Deli. Wait, sorry, just one more: if David the Gnome was on acid at a Phil Lesh and Friends concert, his hallucinations would look like the inside of the Yellow Deli.

All this is somewhat unnerving to me, as a person with a natural threshold for kitsch, but I am comforted to see little unfamiliar about the menu. The Yellow Deli––one of eleven in the United States, Canada and Australia––features typical American cafe fare like sandwiches, salads, chili and a small selection of breakfast items. There are a few nods to hippie Vermont in the form of maté blends, “green drink,” and the fact that one sandwich is named the “Deli Rose,” but other than that, an unassuming patron would be hard-pressed to recognize how seriously the proprietors take their peace-and-love ethos. Hard-pressed, that is, unless they were to take a quick jaunt to the bathroom, wherein they could partake of a variety of free “literature” while they waited to use the facilities. The newspapers and pamphlets available outline––however vaguely––the beliefs of the Twelve Tribes, known in some areas as the “Yashuas,” who run the chain of Yellow Delis in addition to a handful of coffee shops, hostels, tanneries and organic food markets throughout the United States and the world. The Twelve Tribes began somewhat organically (no pun intended) in Chattanooga, Tennessee in the early seventies, one of a few individual attempts within the “Jesus Movement” to blend hippie culture with Protestant ideals. The group has a long history in the food industry; its original members gathered at a coffee shop called The Lighthouse, run out of the home of longtime church leaders Gene and Marsha Spriggs, before founding the first Yellow Deli. Though they have recently branched out into real estate development and construction, the Delis have all but financially sustained the Twelve Tribes, who consider all possessions and earnings communal, for almost forty years.

On my walk back to the table, I pass by the counter, and watch as uncharacteristically mean-looking women, dressed in palazzo pants and dowdy Amish-esque tops, slap together cold cuts and bread for sandwiches. Our happy waiter is at our table when I return, ready to take our order, a giant red flower on the end of his pen shaking as he hastens to write down our requests. No beer on tap, of course––Twelve Tribers don’t drink alcohol, and they follow certain Levitical dietary laws, like eschewing pork and shellfish––but you can get a frosty mug of root beer if you’ve a hankering. We order sandwiches and veggie burgers, which a young smiling woman brings over to us within fifteen minutes. The presentation is crunchy-snack-bar––sandwiches in woven baskets, accompanied by the requisite piles of Lays chips and a pickle.

“Oh yes, table ‘iron,’ this is yours,” she says. “Where are you guys from?”

“Brooklyn,” I respond.

“We have a farmer’s market there, in Brooklyn. We sell green drink.” She seems to think that I might know it, but I explain to her that Brooklyn is quite large, and there are many, many farmer’s markets there.

“But I’ll look out for you guys… ?” I offer, and at this she seems calmed. Only after she’s gone do I realize there are tomatoes on my sandwich even though the menu had said there weren’t, but when I meekly get the host’s attention and he answers, “With all my heart?” I decide to just dump the slabs on my boyfriend’s plate. One member of our party insists his sandwich is “succulent,” though mine has much more in common with a packaged lunch you’d buy at an airport terminal than a prime rib. When I order banana bread for dessert and realize it’s almost certainly microwaved, I realize the crux of my disappointment: I had expected these happy little cult members were waking up early to bake bread––recipe calls for a dash of cardamom, a handful of walnuts and a pinch of love––but in fact, most of their fare tastes like it comes right off the shelf at the nearby Shaw’s. A follow-up call to the Twelve Tribes’s toll-free hotline confirms that while they do cook with goods from their farm when possible, more often than not, they buy commercial. All in all, I feel duped, just as I had when, at eight or nine, I realized that in fact David Bowie was not, in fact, king of the goblins.

Our check comes out. It’s yellow, of course, and embellished with little smiley faces and a big thought bubble emblazoned with the words, “We are here for you!” But the fruit of the spirit? Ain’t that tasty.



Décor:                         8 out of 10
Cuisine                       4 out of 10

Service:                       6 out of 10
Proselytizing:             2 out of 10 (they didn’t try nearly hared enough to win us over, in my view)

Future columns will be the same form, reviewing the following:

The Merry Wives Café, in Hildale, Utah

The Scientology Celebrity Centre Sunday brunch, in Los Angeles, California

Golden Era in San Francisco, California

Der Dutchman Café in Holmes County, Ohio

Celebrity Week

September 20, 2016

I guess it’s celebrity week over here at Itinerant Daughter, which means today I’ll re-publish a poem written by a ten or eleven-year-old Monica Lewinsky.  I first heard of the poem “I Am Pizza” while reading an old New York Magazine article about Robert Bingham, editor of now-defunct journal Open City and publishing wunderkind who died of a heroin overdose.  Good piece, good poem, good pizza.

I Am A Pizza

I am a pizza
I can be a delicious lunch, dinner
or breakfast, if you’re weird.
I have a great deal of toppings on me
I am a round and flat piece of dough
with lots of toppings.
I make your mouth water.
I’m very good to eat, but I’m
I am a mouth’s best friend.
I make you say, “Yum, Yum”.
I am a pizza.

Rob Lowe’s Exploits

September 19, 2016

Husband and I caught a few minutes of Rob Lowe’s roast on Comedy Central recently (I have never been more uncomfortable than I was seeing Anne Coulter’s zombie-face reactions to various jokes about her) and I recalled a few years ago, when I worked for a very famous actor named [redacted], who regaled me and the fellow assistants with various stories about Rob Lowe’s insane romantic past.  At the time, I Googled him, and found on his Wikipedia page a harrowing story about his relationship with Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert, and we (the other assistants and [redacted]) all gasped at it.  Then, post-roast, during which they made endless fun of Lowe’s Lothario (to put it gently) past, I went to look at the Wikipedia again, and the anecdote wasn’t there!  It wasn’t that it was so fascinating, but just that it clearly had been edited out by someone’s PR lackey that annoyed me.  Anyway, I tracked it down on Reddit, so you’re welcome:

“Lowe, a little-known actor at the time, and Little House on the Prairie actress Melissa Gilbert briefly met at age 14 in 1978 in the halls of CBS Television Studios.  In 1981, when both were 17, Gilbert spotted Lowe stopped at the red light next to her car and the two began dating.  During the filming of The Hotel New Hampshire (1984), Lowe began an affair with Nastassja Kinski.  According to Gilbert, she caught Lowe in Kinski’s hotel room and then slept with Lowe’s then-best friend, John Cusack, out of revenge.  Lowe broke up with Gilbert in 1986 when he began dating Princess Stephanie of Monaco, but when the relationship with the Princess ended, Gilbert and Lowe reunited. The two quickly got engaged and were to be married in the summer of 1987.  But when Gilbert informed Lowe she was pregnant, he broke up with her for good.  Gilbert claims she miscarried several days later.”

This isn’t the half of his sordid back story, this one still on Wikipedia: In 1988, Lowe was involved in a sex scandal over a videotape of him having sex with a 16-year-old girl he met in a nightclub. They were videotaped the night before the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. As the age of consent is 16 in Georgia, both were of legal age to engage in sexual activity, although not to be recorded. At the time, Lowe was campaigning for Michael Dukakis.

Someone get this guy a Lifetime biopic!

Tolstoy’s Kitten!

September 8, 2016

This is a kitten at Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy’s country estate.

PS Yasnaya Polyana has an Instagram feed!



Me, Be Social?

September 6, 2016

This is totally against my anti-social media stance, but things can get a little desperate when you live in a foreign country and you only have four friends and one of them is moving back to the States in just a few months.  So I was browsing through Meet-Up, which is kinda like social media but also ideally an IRL thing, and I found this hilarious group called Anti-Social London, which is hosted, among other things, a funny event called “The I’m Not Racist, But… Debating Society.”  I’d totally go if it weren’t on a Friday.  Herewith, the description:

The “I’m not racist, but…” debating society
Friday, September 30, 2016
7:00 PM

Windsor Race Course
Windsor Race Course, Windsor

The “I’m not racist, but…” debating society is as old as time itself and has played host to many, many factless, emotive and, above all, ignorant motions ever put forward.

Past topics have included:

• I’m not racist, but it’s true that there are no more school places because of immigrants

• I’m not racist, but isn’t it funny how I am getting more angry and there are immigrants? Coincidence?

• I’m not racist, but you can’t walk down the streets these days without having a huge variety of shops, products and choices available to me – which I hate. Give me pie and betting shops. That’s all I want.

• I’m not racist, but I remember a time when I didn’t have to be racist, but now it’s the most convenient way of disregarding my problems by blaming other people who don’t really have a voice (yet)

• I’m not racist, but I blame all of the problems I face in my daily life on people of a foreign nationality or colour of skin.

As you can see, it’s a blast with proper conversations for proper Bri’ish people, with proper Bri’ish sentiments and proper Bri’ish jobs. So come on, join in the debate and let’s have a good old fashion chin wag.


September 4, 2016

On a tour of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms, the audio tour narrator says, “This is the theater for the pageantry of monarchy.”  I didn’t know you guys were so self aware!

Evil Amish Chic

September 2, 2016

Hat tip: a band called Crystal Castles.  They might be famous, but I’m woefully under-informed…


Missing caps but still good…