By the time I edit this first chapter, I will do so from “the land of leaf blowers and bake ziti.” That’s known to you as “Long Island,” known to rappers as “Strong Island” (Chuck D. comes from Roosevelt Field, yo) known to my in-laws as “Lon-guh I-lan-duh.” I call it “the land of leaf blowers” because regardless of the season, someone, somewhere in every township, has a leaf blower going. Never mind the fact that it isn’t fall or there isn’t enough clipped grass to justify the two gallons of diesel or the cumulative loss of hearing that these contraptions cause, run it for half an hour more.Oops, I missed a flower petal, looks like I’ll have to make another trip down to the gas station.
Maybe there’s a state-wide ordinance banning rakes, what do I know? Then, if it’s snowing? It becomes a “snow-blower.”No it won’t take the place of a real snow blower and it won’t be effective, but it makes this really cool sound.
I don’t think it’s a question of trying to compensate for shortcomings like buying a Corvette, they just like the terrific racket that the things put up and (cue Robert Duvall) “the smell of diesel in the morning.” Don’t mind me, I’m just jet-lagged. No worries, go ahead and run it for another four consecutive hours, I’ll just sleep when I die.It is also “the land of baked ziti” because that is what everybody feeds me, regardless of their ethnicity. With Italians, I can understand this. The Irish and Polish in-laws? They go to a particular place, because they don’t want to cook for the score of people that come to pay their respects to the Missus and Procrastinator Jr. where ever we go on the Island.But my Korean sister in-law? I guess she got that from the family. I imagine if I were to visit some Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Chinese, or Kenyans, they would give me baked ziti, too. My fear is that this will spread westward to the five boroughs of New York City. If I venture to the Village for Jamaican food…Waiter: What will you be ‘avin’ dis time, Mistah Procrassteenator?
Me: Um, jerk chicken, please?
Waiter: No, mon.
Me: Escoviche and bammy?
Waiter: Not ay chance, mon.
Me: Peas and rice?
Waiter: Not ‘appenin’.
Me: Meat pies?
Waiter: No, mon.
Me: Jeez, well, give me whatever today’s special is, then.
Waiter: All right mon, baked ziti it is.
Me: You’re kidding, right?
Waiter: No mon, ‘tis da latest t’ing.
Me: What’s so Jamaican about baked ziti?
Waiter: Instead ‘a oregano, we put soma-da ganja, mon.
Is there a farm somewhere just west of the Hamptons that has baked ziti trees? Is there some secret tax break for restaurants that serve the stuff? Why is that from Queens, to all the way out to Shoreham, that there is this abundance of ziti?When it’s not fresh made, pasta, more or less is pasta. Only with the cooking times and dishes require certain ingredients will pastas really vary, but what the hell is wrong with lasagna? Or baked spaghetti? Why not baked penne or macaroni?The plane take-off from SFO was okay, Bob and Doug McKenzie. And by the time we were over the Fed Ex hanger, the fog had thickened. By the time we were over Brisbane, all we could see was the 101. There was just a trace of street lights poking through the fog when we flew over Procrastinator Jr.’s best friends house just north of Candlestick Park and by the time we got over San Francisco, it was just one big, illuminated blanket of cotton. Only the lights of the television tower on Mt. Sutro were visible.The fog was gone just as we banked right, a few thousand feet past the Bay Bridge. I had my bearings pretty well until we got over the Central Valley. Procrastinator Jr. mentioned that lights below looked “just like a computer chip or something.” The Fresno and Stockton areas are like irregularly spaced lighted grids at night, or perhaps excess special effects footage from “Tron” or “Hackers.”Nary a cloud was to be found once we got past the Bay Area and when we got past the Central Valley, there were hardly any lights at all. A light here and there from the house or farm out in the middle of nowhere. I could liken it to a fringe constellation in a pool of infinite darkness. Once you finally see a town or city after you’ve been in the black, Neil Young, you see that city planners have an odd sense of humor.There, the central streets laid out in a grid pattern and the grid is occasionally broken up by the topography and/or rivers. Once you get out of the middle part of the town or city, you have streets that look like glowing intestines and lighted fish droppings that descend from one of those florescent fish from the deep. Then, both in the middle and outskirts of town, you have these streets that cut at such sharp angles that they both defy logic and hurt the eyes.The city planners of America have also made sure that each town has at least one airport with landing lights that have to run on different patterns and sequences than the last town, as well as a baseball park that can be seen from 18,000 feet up.My size forty-eight shoulders in the seats of the 757, gave Houdini and all contortionists a run for their money. At some point soon, I want to make enough money that I can fly the family first class for all the trips of two or more hours. Yet the one consolation that I could take was that on this crate of an airplane, the first class has one only restroom and that there had to be that one person that fouls up the toilet (so badly that even flies have to flip a coin as to whether they want to land on it or not) had polluted the single toilet beyond recognition.This four-cell battery for this laptop ain’t cutting it. I wanted to spontaneously buy a twelve-cell at the same chain that the Missus bought my laptop at, but they don’t stock it in any of their stores, except online. So all the writing and movie watching that I wanted to do for this flight got sidetracked. Here’s a toast of Amaretto and orange juice to hindsight, salute!
The clouds were with us with a vengeance over Ohio and Pennsylvania, dark gray uncombed cotton blankets. Some of the formations looked like gigantic versions of the world’s hardest golf courses. All rough and no green, with a par three-hundred hole way down on the other end. The landing into JFK was a little stressful with the left and right wheel rear wheels alternately bouncing, like some drunk trying to find his footing when getting up from a bus bench.The Parent In-laws live in Plan-hassett-dome-ashington. You’ve all seen it (them) in most of the exterior and car shots in “Meet The Parents,” which I did in real life way back in 1991, sans lie-detector tests. We even had our East Coast reception at the same restaurant that was in an establishing shot in the film, “Louie’s.” I call it “Plan-hassett-dome-ashington” because even though I’ve been here over ten times, I still can’t tell where one town begins and the other ends when I go through the main thoroughfares. What doesn’t help is that I haven’t driven since September of 1991, as well as the fact that no one ever takes the same route going anywhere. Whether it’s the Mother-in-law, the Sibs-in-laws, the livery driver, or the taxis. Then compound that with the sameness of the North Shore Long Island and the fact that unlike California, there isn’t one mountain or a decent sized hill where you can get your bearings.I do know that none of my in-laws will fulfill one of my main ambitions of the past ten years, which is to be driven to Hicksville where I will serenade the denizens of the unfortunately named town with a bullhorn amplified rendition of “Turkey In The Straw,” ala Mel Blanc imitating a buck-toothed derf.Residents of Hicksville, you’ve had fair warning! En garde!
Labels: Food, The In-laws, Travel, Travelogue