After me and Lew ate at Portabello's, we went over to City Hall Park to look at those wretched new Sol DeWitt sculptures, not smoke, and wait for our friend Justin Sullivan. Justin is someone whom I like a lot and respect immensely, and I have been wracked by a strong sense of trepidation in preparing to finally write about him. Sometimes when I hang out with Justin, I feel like I am a freshman and he is like, the cool senior who sees something in me that I don't even see and invites me out with the older kids. There's never anything condescending about it, he just exudes a certain amount of comfort with himself and comfort with his place in the world that I aspire to but will never achieve because of the constant Woody Allen narrative in my head. I have had a few Justin Sullivans in my life, he is not the first, but he is definitely the most relevant right now.
I was telling Lew as we sat on a bench and I kept rolling cigarettes and then realizing I wasn't allowed to smoke them and then sticking them in my hat, that sometimes, if I find myself in a sticky situation or trying to navigate awkward terrain, I'll think to myself, "what would Justin Sullivan do?" And the answer I always come up with is "Justin Sullivan wouldn't even be in this situation in the first place!" It's like that song Geoffrey Ingram by the Television Personalities, (which is kinda like that song David Watts by the Kinks minus the class critique and sardonic tone), which is basically Dan Treacy ruminating about his cool friend, for whom everything seems to work out. The refrain ends with the line, "Geoffrey always gets in as it starts to rain." Are you guys following me here?
The thing about Justin Sullivans is that they don't know they're Justin Sullivans, or else they wouldn't be a Justin Sullivan, they'd be a Justin Timberlake, and that guy is a dick! And like, I don't think that my friend is some total superman or anything, I know he has his own insecuritites, I've seen him make missteps. But he still seems like he's got his shit so together, and it's nice to see and it inspires me to be better myself.
And the thing about life is that everyone is someone's Justin Sullivan. I'm sure even I could be somebody's Justin Sullivan. I mean, if one didn't have access to my constant inner monologue, a position which I make difficult by publishing it in fanzines and all over the internet, one might take me for a cool and confident character. For fuck's sake, somebody out there is Justin Sullivan's Justin Sullivan. But the thing to really remember, if you want to keep a healthy perspective, is that Justin Sullivan may well be somebody's Phil Chapman! It's the circle of life, dog.
Our first stop was Caruso's Pizza & Pasta, on shitty old Fulton St. Caruso's is huge and was pretty empty when we went in. I walked up to the counter to order our slice while Lew and Justin just lurked behind me like the creeps that they are. The pizzaman, who was a potential John Turtorro, gestured to them and said, in his ambiguous Mediterraneanish accent, "what about them? What are they having?"
I looked over my shoulder and furrowed my brow, "them, nothin'."
"Nothin'?! Why nothin'?! Tell 'sgood pizza!"
"Nah, those guys, they're a couple a jerks. A couple of losers. Look at the long hair. They're deadbeats."
"Aaaaye! They seem like nice enough guys. And whatchoo sayin' about long hair?" he lifted his hat to reveal the makings of a ponytail tucked within. "I love long hair, I'm from the 60s!" He looked at my greasy punk vest and stupid tattoos. "You, when're you from?"
I told him I was from the future and then he handed me my slice and we both laughed.
I wanted to love this slice, because I love the guy who sold it to me, but I just didn't. It wasn't bad (!!), but it wasn't really too great, either. It had good grease, and excellent ratios. And the sauce was okay. But it was too floppy and undercooked and there was something wrong with the cheese. "I don't know what the quality is," Lew muttered, looking thoughtfully skyward, "but it's hard to chew. It's like bubblegum." And the dough tasted like a soft pretzel, which I kind of like. I've always thought pizza dough, bagels and soft pretzels belonged to the same family of bread. Same genus, different species. Like Wonderbread and Twinkies.
Justin said, "if I was just eating this slice and not analyzing it, I'd be happy." And he has a point, because it's not bad, but it definitely falls short. I don't know how they could remedy the cheese situation, but the dough would be helped immensely if they'd just cook the fucking thing a little more.
Caruso's Pizza & Pasta - $2.50
140 Fulton St (Nassau & Broadway)
New York, NY 10038