It’s Sunday as I write this. I don’t feel great.
I went out for late Jew food at Canters after the show last night with my pal Jerry. I know that in every young Jew there’s an old one waiting to come out. I think that’s how we ripen and come to full fruition. You see moments of it throughout your life, indicators, but eventually it will be how you fill your skin. There is nowhere it becomes more apparent than in a food ordering situation and the subsequent reaction to the food when it is served. Granted, I am picky and specific because of my culture but maybe also because of my upbringing.
My mother is relatively anorexic, so as a kid, being in a restaurant with her and having to sit there while she found something on the menu that she could deconstruct and special-order into nothing was always an embarrassing situation. To sit there while she made the server request something that always became basically just vegetables with no oil, garlic or spice that may have started out as pizza. Then she would pull her own concocted dressing out her bag and sit there happy and I was just filled with shame. A good restaurant for her was one that would accommodate her eating disorder. That was my childhood. I grew to learn to just look down at the table and go to another place when she worked joy-reductive food mathematics with unsuspecting servers who usually count on the menu to protect them from patron’s crazy.
In a deli, you want your thing the way you want it but that is understood. I worked in a deli after college in West Roxbury, MA and the type of special ordering was appropriate to the menu but each Jew had their way—fatty, lean, heel of the bread, pancake style, onions grilled well, no onions, burnt, browned, fresh, from the middle, toasted twice, etc. The deli was the one place they went to get exactly what they wanted; even if it makes the counter guy crazy. I was a counter guy. You learn how to navigate the requests and negotiate the desire. It’s a Talmudic discussion getting to the truth of the meal for that person.
I know my deli meal truths. I’ve become a little more suicidal with my food choices. Since the election, a futility has descended with the darkness that makes eating what you want at the cost of time off the backend a priority and a true pleasure and comfort. Like a cancer-riddled Warren Zevon said to David Letterman when asked if his condition had taught him anything about life and death: “How much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich.”
I made the mistake of not requesting the waiter I like. I don’t usually do that because I trust most of the crusty servers at Canters. My guy isn’t crusty but he knows me. This is a big right of passage for an aging Jew, realizing you need to ask for your guy at the restaurant. Noted. I got a new guy. I ordered a cup of chicken soup with just broth and chicken meat, a LEO (lox, eggs and onions) with well-grilled onions, a plate of pickles, rye toast, cream cheese and a diet Dr. Browns Black Cherry soda. That is what I wanted. That was my truth and I wanted it delivered. When he showed up with a LEO with spinach scrambled and no toast, I lost my shit a bit. I don’t mind spinach but it was not in the Jew food aesthetic that I was looking forward to. It did not fit tradition. It was not my truth. I could’ve eaten it but I am an old Jew and I looked at him and said, “What is that? There’s spinach in there. I don’t want that.” He took it back and then it came back out correct, still no toast. I was losing. I went over to my regular guy to step in and he was busy. I looked around angrily and by the time I got everything I ordered there were at least three people involved in the process of getting me what I needed and my friend Jerry took on my panic. I think he would’ve stormed the kitchen if I hadn’t told him not to.
All said and done, it was a great LEO. The truth will set you free. It’s the age old struggle for it that can be daunting.
On today’s show I talk to Casey Affleck about growing up in Cambridge, MA, maturing as an actor, having kids, dealing with an alcoholic dad, and his performance in ‘Manchester by the Sea.’ I know there's been renewed attention on Casey being accused of sexual harassment in the past, which resulted in a lawsuit that was settled by both parties. And there are questions about why more outlets aren't asking Casey about these allegations, particularly in the current cultural climate.
Well, I can't speak for anyone but us, but I can tell you why it doesn't come up in my conversation with Casey: Because it's a violation of the terms of the settlement for Casey to talk about it. I was not told I couldn't ask about it. There were no questions that were said to be off-limits for this conversation. But Casey is not going to address the details of the case because of the terms of the settlement.
For a lawsuit that was settled out of court by both parties, there's not much I can ask if the settlement means Casey can't talk about it. There have been other guests who were unable to discuss incidents due to lawsuit settlements, and when they tell us that, there's not much point in me pressing them to talk about something they say they're legally prevented from getting into. I have to take that at face value.
Now, if you want to view this conversation through the prism of that lawsuit settlement, you can. The facts of that case are available.
On Thursday I talk to Billy West. He’s one of the most prolific and talented voice over actors in the biz. He was both Ren and Stimpy at one point. I remember him when he was on the radio in Boston back in the day. Great talks!