The South is trying to kill me with food.
As heavy as last week was, I have to say I am glad I had the interview I did with Robin Williams to put out in the world again after his death. I hope it helped ease some of the shock and pain of the loss.
I'm flying back from Charlotte, NC. It was my second time there inside a week. I went there for the Oddball Fest and then came back less than a week later to do The Comedy Zone. I had never done shows there before. It is an institution. A great old comedy room. I had no idea how I would do there in terms of people coming out but the turn out was great.
I honestly love the South these days. Every time I go back there, almost anywhere, I find myself more enchanted with it. It seems to be one of the only regions in the country that has not been totally plowed over by corporate interests and annihilating mall culture. Maybe I’m romanticizing but it just seem sincerely closer to the roots of what this country comes from, both the people and the landscape. Whatever once slowed the South down in terms of cultural progress is certainly changing but the good stuff that defines its cultural personality is still intact and charming. I really like going down there.
The one thing that I know is that the South is trying to kill me with food. I know I have a part in it but how can you go to NC and not cobbler yourself into a coma? How can you not eat grits everyday? How can you not eat at least three biscuits a day with or without gravy? Greens are good for you even if they are cooked with a hunk of pig, right? It cancels itself out, right?
I actually had a new food experience, which isn’t unusual if you don’t spend too much time down there. I was about to order my eggs and grits and biscuits and I noticed on the menu one of the meat sides was Livermush. What the fuck? I had never heard of it before and, quite honestly, I had never seen those two words together before. Not appetizing, but unashamed. I thought it is clearly a regional dish that didn’t need to seem appealing. It is what it is and I had no idea what that was. I asked the waitress and she said, “I don’t know if you’d like it if you didn’t grow up with it.” I thought that explains a lot of the Southern experience but I wanted to try it. I didn’t that morning but I went back to my room and did some research.
Livermush was thought to derive from the influence of German settlers in Appalachia before the Civil War. It’s not quite a sausage. It’s basically all the parts of the pig that you would maybe toss but when times are tough or if you just want to use every part of the animal there’s nothing odd about taking the liver and head meat and grinding them down and pressing them into a sliceable brick of meat. It’s one of those things that the modern brain thinks. ‘Why would I eat that if I could afford not to?" But most Southerners eat it because, “My grandma used to eat it and she made it for us.” Nostalgia is sometimes triggered by an acquired taste. I ate it the next morning. Loved it. Not everyday loved it, but maybe again when I’m down there. It's like the region: Interesting, rich, practical and slightly disturbing.
This week I talk to Family Guy writer Alec Sulkin about TV writing and language and stuff. Good guy. I liked talking to him. On Thursday I talk to Ty Segall who is this incredible prolific 27 year old musician whose music I happen to love. There’s no deep dark tales of struggle but if you want to listen to me fanboy the fuck out and hear a great song it’s a fun talk.