MEYER LANSKY and WONDER WHEEL (of HORROR)
A damn near idyllic few days in South Beach for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, mostly holed up by the Raleigh pool with my family, venturing out only for the occasional meal. I worked as little as possible. Attended no parties. Swooped in to the Burger Bash early, scarfed up (in short order) an excellent, pleasingly funky tasting Ai Fiori burger from Michael White, an Umami Burger (about which I had been very curious), a Spike Mendelsohn burger, a Shake Shack burger (or two) and a Michael’s Genuine. All wonderful in different ways. Bolted soon after.
Dropped by to see master tattoo artist Chris Garver and my wife and I got our second set of matching tattoos. Yeah. I know it’s silly. I know it’s bad luck. And I know I’m too old. But on the other hand, it was silly fun. We’ve had other matching tattoos since before we got married–and Chris does really beautiful, beautiful work. I’m very pleased with the twisty little snake on my arm. (See here)
Showed up to my one festival gig barefoot and well lubricated with beer. They’d built my “Wonder Wheel of Death” to perfect specs–and I went out on stage, invited audience members up and urged them to spin the wheel containing every category of schtick I’ve been working for the last few years. It was a farewell of sorts–and the carnival sideshow theme, I thought, a perfect final resting place for old comedy material. One of the first spins landed on “Dick Joke/Poop Joke”–and I embarked on a familiar imagining of what it must be like to be Andrew Zimmern. To great hilarity and much mayhem, Andrew himself materialized behind me. You can see this historic bit of footage here. 45 minutes later, it was back to the pool. A nap. PowerPuff Girls on the TV and an excellent meal at Michael’s Genuine in Miami. Then back to New York and time to pack.
Tomorrow night (Friday) I have to meet Eric (The Ripper) Ripert in Boston for our “Good vs. Evil” Showdown at Symphony Hall. I plan to crack him under harsh interrogation in front of a large audience. Failing that, I’ll make fun of his accent. Or his hair. As much as I’d like to go immediately from that distinguished event to one of South Boston’s many fine drinking establishments ( imagining Eric mingling at Murphy’s Law or the Quencher is inspiring), many of which I’ve become recently all to familiar with during the filming of a recent Boston show, it looks like I’ll instead be rising at the ass crack of dawn and flying to Cuba. Apparently, we’re booked at the historic Nacional hotel, built, as I understand it, by the legendary Meyer Lansky and friends. So I got that going for me. Looking forward to seeing some Cuban baseball.
Cambodia show this Monday. And the crew did well. It’s beautiful. I’m glad we made it–as I was not proud of my first hideously naive trip there for A COOK’S TOUR, ten years ago. I hope we got the right mix of beauty and sadness there. It’s an extraordinary country. No place looks remotely like it. And if you want to see a rare “pinch me–this is awesome” moment–where I nearly forget I’m even making television (casue I’m so lost in the moment), check out the last scene, whipping across the rice paddies on the makeshift “train”. I’m listening to “Tuesday’s Gone” (live version) on the headphones. Though not ordinarily a Skynrd fan, it seemed just right for the occasion.