Retro Relapse: Top 30 Manliest Sandwiches

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2015.

Men like sandwiches. We like meat. We like sandwiches with meat.

Lettuce wraps are for hippies and baby rabbits.

The other day, my ex-girlfriend’s uncle, a true manly man, and I were debating manly sandwiches. One thing led to another and now, I have a list!

There’s nothing open-faced on this list!

1. An American as fuck burger!
2. Muffuletta
3. Italian beef
4. Porchetta
5. BBQ pork sandwich
6. A very large B.L.T.
7. The Primanti
8. Chicken biscuit
9. Cheesesteak
10. Chili dog (fuck you, it counts because it’s my list!)
11. Croque monsieur
12. Lobster roll
13. Italian sub
14. Monte Cristo
15. Fried alligator sandwich
16. Sausage & peppers sub
17. Fried oyster po boy
18. Cuban
19. Meat loaf sandwich
20. Frisco melt
21. French dip
22. Meatball sub
23. Reuben
24. Grilled cheese with bacon
25. A Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich
26. Beer battered fish sandwich
27. Hot pastrami
28. Gyro
29. Fried balogna
30. Tuna melt

Retro Relapse: The Death of Chinese Food

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2015.

Chinese food is dying a slow and horrible death.

While it is probably still okay in bigger cities, real Chinese restaurants have been run out of most towns by massive buffets and the overabundance of Chinese take-out cubbyholes.

Sure, the Chinese cuisine in China still exists and always will but I am specifically talking about American Chinese food or New York style or whatever you want to officially label it.

If you don’t know, we don’t make the same stuff as China. America’s Chinese food is a Western bastardization of real Chinese cuisine but it fits our sweet-obsessed palates better and we probably wouldn’t be super keen on the authentic food. Besides, from what I hear from Westerners that have gone over there, it really isn’t something to write home about.

This shit is pretty tragic though.

When I was a kid, I had a few different Chinese restaurants near my home to choose from. They were nice sit-down establishments that served high quality cuisine. You got hot tea, those little fried strips of wonton, that spicy as hell hot mustard, some nice egg rolls, fried rice that was actually fried rice and a nice big meal of some crispy fried chicken bits covered in a stellar sauce – usually sweet with a touch of spice. Yes, there are several types of entrees but they are all just slight variations of a handful of dishes.

Somewhere along the line, corners started to be cut, ingredient quality went down the shitter and we were bombarded with Chinese buffets almost everywhere. Many were good in the beginning. Who could resist the allure of all-you-can-eat Chinese food? Plus you just walk up and make your own plate. No looking over menus, no ordering, no special requests, no waiting! Just straight up instantaneous Chinese food orgy for a few bucks! It was like getting a hand job while smoking a joint under the bleachers before fourth period algebra. To a Chinese cuisine connoisseur, such as my thirteen year-old self, we were able to try a little bit of everything, not break the bank and leave in an MSG-laced coma only to be hungry for more in two hours.

As time continued to pass, the quality kept dropping. In a few short years, we were all eating shit but we kept doing it. Truth is, many people still fall victim to the phantom pull of the Chinese buffet. Hell, it still grabs me sometimes when I’m hungry, lazy and just need a spontaneous romp through crappy food, overeating and hours worth of dehydration and self-hatred.

I convince myself it is good because I am nostalgic for what Chinese food used to be. It isn’t good and I’m an asshole lying to myself. The problem is, I have a need and that need can’t be fulfilled. So a craving that should be squashed in one meal becomes a craving that hasn’t been quenched in years. I really love Chinese food. Damn it, writing this fucking article is making me hungry.

Anyway, as these Chinese buffets took over American culture like some sort of edible Beanie Babies, they still felt the need to produce food cheaper and faster. As some Americans grew exhausted of the buffet experience, these Chinese take-out hole-in-the-wall joints started popping up in every suburban and rural strip mall. Now you could walk in and walk out in less than five minutes with a $6 dinner combo or a $4 lunch combo. And now, these places are everywhere.

The Chinese cubbyhole take-out takeover compounded with the buffets has pretty much changed the American Chinese food industry’s business model so much that the really good quality mom and pop restaurants got ran out of town. Where I live, the best of these restaurants shutdown a few years ago and my relationship with Chinese food has never been the same. It has dissolved into a horrible marriage full of drinking, heavy drugs, spousal abuse and absolutely no sex – the kids moved in with grandma.

Recently a restaurant that appeared to be a legit high quality Chinese joint opened near my house. I went in, I was disappointed. While it was better than a buffet or a cubbyhole, it was still pretty shitty and just a small step above its cheaper counterparts. I pretty much paid double the price for still crappy Chinese cuisine.

There is still one place that is okay in my town but it only exists because it is a “fusion” of all Asian styles and American as well. And that’s the thing, there is still a big market for Asian food but people now want sushi, hibachi, Thai and Vietnamese. The average American probably thinks all this shit is under the same umbrella but it isn’t. Traditional American Chinese food has become the bastard child of these multi-Asian eateries.

Then there is PF Chang’s but they mix up their cultural selections too and although I really like their Mongolian beef, Mongolia isn’t China and they are essentially the Asian Olive Garden. I hate Olive Garden, minus the bread sticks and high caloric salad – high caloric because I eat a shit ton.

I guess I’m going to just have to book a flight to New York or San Francisco. I’m certainly not going to stop this hunger outside of a major city with a large Chinese population.

Well, off to Panda Express at the mall, because it is now the best Chinese food in town.

Book Review: ‘Tiki Pop: America Imagines Its Own Polynesian Paradise’ by Sven A. Kirsten

There are books on Tiki culture and then there’s Tiki Pop: America Imagines Its Own Polynesian Paradise by Sven A. Kirsten and publisher TASCHEN.

What I mean by that is that this book is the bible on Tiki history in the United States, as it covers its genesis, all of its key elements, how it expanded into everything in pop culture and ultimately, how it faded away and then saw a bit of a revival.

Like all books I own by TASCHEN, this is image heavy and presented on premium paper stock. It’s a legitimate art book that truly delves into Tiki history and displays everything that one could imagine from that pocket of Americana.

This book is a very thick hardcover that covers so much territory, even for being chock full of hundreds of images and also being translated into three languages.

I found every single chapter intriguing and well researched. My only real gripe about the book is that the written part of each chapter is kind of short and I felt like it all could’ve been greatly expanded on. Maybe the author can do that in the future, as this has so many great entry points to different parts of Tiki pop that can be expanded upon in many books.

Regardless of that, this is still the greatest book I have ever come across on the subject. Plus, it’s beautifully and immaculately presented. For lovers of Tiki culture, this is absolutely a must own and it’s also really inexpensive for its size and quality.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: other books on Tiki culture and pop culture from bygone eras.

Retro Relapse: 25 Things Guys Do That Make Them Pussies

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

*This is sort of a sequel to the post I did called 25 Things Manly Men Should Do On a Daily Basis. That post was well-received, so I figured that I should follow-up with the other side of the spectrum.

There are a lot of guys out there. In fact, like fifty percent of the population is guys. I’m not going to check the math on that because math is a waste of time and I’d rather allot more time to cooking bacon-wrapped bacon and getting hammered on brewery tours after chopping enough wood to build a town with a moderately sized zoo to house my Kodiak bear army.

Most men do things that make them pussies. I’ve slipped up once or twice in my life, as I am not perfect. Part of being a man is recognizing your faults, conquering them and never doing them again.

It is also a man’s duty to point out to other men when they are not living up to the essence of their testosterone-fueled birthright.

With that, I am going to list twenty-five things that make guys look like pussies and thus, not like men.

1. They would rather look like Jared Leto than a lumberjack with a dead moose over their shoulder.

2. They are a vegetarian or worse yet, a vegan.

3. They drive a Prius or another car manufacturer’s equivalent. A Smart car is a death sentence.

4. Whenever handed a beer by another man, it must be drank. Even if it is a bad beer. Unless of course you have a better beer on hand to share, in an effort to educate your friend’s palate. You should always have a good beer on hand: always.

5. They can’t pitch a tent: an actual tent. There are pills to help with boners and no man should shame another man who suffers from erectile dysfunction.

6. They fold their thumb under their fingers when making a fist.

7. When given the choice of bacon, they say “no”.

8. They watched Twilight with their significant other and then sat through one of the sequels as well.

9. They wear skinny jeans.

10. They use social media as a call for help or pity party or worse yet, they post song lyrics to convey their emotions.

11. They’ve actually voted on an American Idol contestant.

12. They eat their steak (or any meat, really) well-done or worse yet, with ketchup.

13. They refer to Jack Daniels as “bourbon”.

14. They don’t finish a beer. If you order it or it is given to you and you start drinking it, you must finish it.

15. They use the word “cute” to describe anything other than a female.

16. They consider Lil Wayne to be music.

17. They knock someone for drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon but they are holding either a Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Light, Mic Ultra or anything else in this category.

18. They sneer at cigars or pipes but fill their lungs with cigarette smoke or worse yet, menthols.

19. They carry purses or worse yet, they actually call them “man bags”.

20. They offer you a scotch, in attempt to appear manly, and they pull out a bottle of Cutty Sark or Dewar’s.

21. They use umbrellas on themselves.

22. They are too afraid of bugs to kill them or catch and release them.

23. They own a Fall Out Boy record or worse yet, they paid for it.

24. They have more beauty/hygiene products than deodorant, soap and beard oil.

25. They are offended by this post or they are hurt and offended by words in general. Grow up, man up, nut up and develop a sense of humor that doesn’t need to be approved by the girl who keeps you in the “friend zone”.

Vids I Dig 404: Defunctland: The Failure of Disney’s Chuck E. Cheese Ripoff, Club Disney

From Defunctland’s YouTube description: The last stop in a long journey to Disney Quest, Defunctland takes a look at Disney Regional Entertainment’s first venture, Club Disney. Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theater, McDonald’s Playplaces and Leaps and Bounds, Discovery Zone, Showbiz Pizza, and more are discussed in this little-known part of Disney history.

Vids I Dig 210: The Attic Dwellers: Eating Fries at 10 Fast Food Places!

From The Attic Dwellers’ YouTube description: The attic is too hot, so we decided to venture out and stop at 10 fast food chains and get some fries. Top 10 fast food fries! Some fries are great. Some fries, not so much. Wendys Fries – Burger King Fries – McDonalds Fries – Checkers / Rallys Fries – Taco Bell Fries! – Roy Rogers Fries! – Popeye Fries! – White Castle Fries – KFC Fries – Chik Fil A and More!

Documentary Review: Pepsi Vs. Cola: The Marketing Battle of the Century (2014)

Also known as: Pepsi Vs. Coca: The Marketing Battle of the Century (title card)
Release Date: 2014
Directed by: Nicolas Glimois, Thomas Risch, Christophe Weber

Indigenius, 53 Minutes

Review:

I have no idea where this documentary first appeared, as there isn’t a whole lot of information on it, even though it is streaming for free on Prime Video for Amazon Prime members.

However, I like documentaries on business history, especially in regards to iconic companies and industry feuds.

I’m pretty sure this was an episode of a TV series that was repackaged, as it plays like that. But even so, this is a thorough and highly informational piece about the rivalry between Pepsi and Coca-Cola, which also delves into the history of each company.

I learned a lot watching this but it wasn’t an exciting documentary. It was mostly interviews with some experts in this realm, as they walked the viewer through both companies marketing strategies over their many decades in business.

This also clears up a lot of the theories surrounding New Coke and whether or not it was real or an elaborate marketing hoax. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t a hoax.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other business history documentaries.

Retro Relapse: National Food Days or National Fat Craze?

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

Today is National Doughnut Day. Which got me thinking about other foods that now have national days maybe not recognized by the United States government but recognized by billion dollar marketing firms. The United States alone currently has 172 nationally recognized food dates, be they days or weeks. The problem is, for every National Doughnut Day or National Pizza Day, there is a National Vinegar Day or a National Anisette Day. What the fuck are we doing to ourselves?

Some foods are iconic and a big part of our culture. I get why doughnuts and pizza have a special day once a year for their industries to celebrate and give out good deals: making boatloads of cash for the business. But why does everything deserve a special day? There are 172 in the calendar year of 365! I guess in America we don’t believe in moderation. I guess our not believing in moderation is probably why we need holidays to use as an excuse to gorge on high caloric and fatty foods. We can’t control ourselves.

Yes, I eat a lot of these things but I don’t need a special day for them and I can’t eat them all the time. Also, the vast majority of these things that have a special day, really don’t deserve them. Do we need days for mustard, spinach, zucchini, zucchini bread, trail mix, chocolate covered cherries, peanut clusters, blueberry popovers, oatmeal nut waffles, coconut tortes, chips and dip, clams on a half shell, cheese balls, pigs in a blanket, pretzels, shrimp scampi, candied orange peels, taffy, escargot, corn on the cob, yogurt, catfish, creative ice cream flavors, gingersnaps, beans, chocolate wafers, apple turnovers, bittersweet chocolate with almonds, sugar cookies, pina coladas, Grand Marnier, tapioca, gummy worms, corn fritters, peach ice cream, caviar, daiquiris, lollipops, penuche fudge, lasagna, raspberry cakes, watermelons, s’mores, spumoni, sponge cakes, popsicles, crackers, herbs, toasted marshmallows, macadamias, cheese pizza, acorn squash, hoagies, linguine, guacamole, apple dumplings, hot mulled cider, brandied fruits, bologna, candy corn, candy apples, caramel apples, fried clams, deviled eggs, nachos, Harvey Wallbanger, scrapples, vanilla cupcakes, sundaes, chicken soup, Indian pudding, spicy hermit cookies, baklava, breads, vichyssoise, carbonated beverages with caffeine, peanut butter fudge, stuffing, cranberry relish, cashews, cranberries, espresso, parfait, Bavarian cream pies, French toast, leftovers, mousse, red apples, ham salad, fruitcake, soda and champagne?

You see how ridiculous this has gotten? Those food and beverage items I just listed out aren’t even half of them. Hell, I don’t even know what some of them are. Many are even repeated multiple times throughout the year. There are multiple days for peanut butter, pizza, puddings and other stuff. Some of these “holidays” are also so specific. What’s next, a National Deep Fried Cajun Chitterlings Stuffed with Pickled Pigs Feet and Okra Day?

We’ve gotten way out of hand here, America.

Do I really need to say more on the subject?