Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pranzo Pizza: "Swing and a miss."

Pranzo Pizza is a nice little place. When I got there, they were in the midst of their Wall Street Automoton Lunch Rush Spectacular and it reminded me of my life a few years ago. When I was in my early 20s and first making my decision to No Retreat/No Surrender/No Gods/No Masters the square world and never work in an office in my life, I would sometimes have moments of doubt, sitting in my dingy apartment eating dumpstered bagels for the third day in a row because I didn't know where to dumpster any good produce yet and I refused to work more than four or five days a month because, well, because CrimethINC. And when I had those doubts, I had a simple solution: I'd go to Grand Central Station at 4:30 or so, and sit on a bench there until 6:30 or so, and watch dudes in suits that cost four times my rent frantically run to catch trains and it would make me feel better about my own decision, because I could position myself in a position of superiority to those clowns. The frantic hustle of the Pranzo lunch rush brought back memories of dudes with briefcases hauling ass down marble corridors to get home to Briarcliff Manor or wherever.

But don't worry! I'm a grownup now, and I have a much more nuanced perspective on the world. My friend Kimya Dawson, who has been a Slice Harvester supporter since, literally, day one, has a song on her new record where she articulates this sentiment quite succinctly: "Just because someone does not look like me / doesn't mean they are a clone or a sheep. / Maybe they like their job and they're living their dream,  / and they love their friends and their family. / Some people thrive between nine and five,  / and feel like they're choking if their neck's not tied. / .... / Some people feel enslaved when they have a boss, / some people without one feel totally lost."

I think one huge drawback to the Culture of Opposition that is so compelling to so many alienated teenagers is that we feel turned away and excluded from the culture at large and so try and create our own culture that ends up parroting the lack of inclusivity and dogma of the culture we are fighting against. At this point in my life, I have friends that work in offices and friends that are working artists, friends that are FDNY and friends that are itinerant farm workers. Some of the people that work in offices are kinder, gentler, more compassionate people than some of the artists! Shit, I don't even hate ALL COPS anymore! Like, capitalism as it exists in the West today is incredibly alienating, and I've felt alienated by the priorities and values of our culture since as long as I can remember. I feel like it robs us of our personhood and asks us to dehumanize each other and that is what I'm fighting against. But in fighting so hard against a culture that wanted to dehumanize me and wanted me to dehumanize other people, I ended up losing sight of the humanity of over half the population! Like, honestly, on 9/11 I felt a mixture of grief and triumph. Real talk. And I am still processing about that. But those towers were a symbol of a culture I despised and I would be lying if I said part of me didn't feel a sense of glib satisfaction that some of the wind had been taken out of the American Empire's sails. I thought, perhaps naively, that the experience, though terribly tragic, might at least teach us some collective humility.

But even though I felt that way, when I went to a Leftover Crack show a few weeks later and Sturgeon was making jokes about the people that died, I was appalled. Because whoever those people were, whatever heinous shit they might have been up to, their deaths are a tragedy. Murder is never something to celebrate. We are fighting against people that celebrate death, and part of the struggle is not to become them. (At heart, our battle is like that Tales from Earthsea anime movie, but without dragons.) And then the war started, and people started shit-talking all soldiers. And I thought about my friends growing up who had enlisted in like, '98 or '99 as a way to go to college hopefully, or to get out of their neighborhoods, and how it looked like there was no chance of a war ever again. And suddenly they would come home on leave and just sit at the bar slamming shots and not talking, biding their time until they could get back to war, because they had become so unaccustomed to civilian life, and I didn't want to say "fuck all soldiers" because I wanted to help my friends and the people like them.

I will wrap up all this shortly, but let me just say clearly, I am not espousing some totally unrealistic hippy dippy doctrine of Loving Everybody. I am not telling protestors to humanize cops who are beating them up. If a cop is shooting tear gas at you, smash his fucking face in with a fire extinguisher if that's what you need to do. Seriously. But I also know and have known some really decent cops (none of whom are NYPD, unless you count Benson and Stabler, but I don't technically KNOW them even if it feels like I do), who are generally interested in harm reduction and maintaining people's comfort and safety. I think the point I'm making will sort of be lost on most of my non-punk readers because perhaps they don't automatically hate cops. I guess all I'm really saying is that people are people and some people do shitty stuff and are still good people and some people are shitty people but they do good stuff. I don't know, this isn't even about pizza anymore and I feel like I've probably alienated half my readership. Ce la vie. I just want to have a dialogue.

This slice was a bummer and a disappointment. The ingredients were decent enough quality, but the construction and preparation of the slice seemed so hasty it was all lost. The middle of the slice had like, a sinkhole in it that just drooped and fell out from under me when I picked it up and folded it. And the slice was already too thin to begin with. I couldn't really make out any sauce flavor, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, because it was weighed down with so much cheese. And the cheese didn't taste bad, in didn't taste like anything in fact, but there was too much of it. If there had been less cheese and the same amount or slightly more sauce, the sauce could've provided the flavor the cheese lacked. And if the crust had been prepared properly and didn't fall to shreds when I lifted it, there might have been a sound foundation up which to rest a decent slice. To top all of it off, this slice was thrown in the oven and removed so quickly, the crust never even browned. Nothing on this slice crunched. And the whole pizza parlor smelled like butter. Ultimately though, while this slice had flaws, it wasn't inedible and was certainly passable. In an ideal world, this slice would be the worst pizza gets, but in the world we live in, it probably falls dead center on the Spectrum of Pizza Awesomeness.


Pranzo Pizza - $2.30
34 Water St (Coenties Slip & Broad St)
New York, NY 10004


  1. I definitely agree that some people probably need more control/less risk in their life...but I'd guess that most people working in offices do so because they don't see any real other options.

  2. You articulate my feelings so absurdly well sometimes that it makes me feel like maybe I need to change my lifestyle because I am surrounding myself with like-minded people. But then I remember we don't hang out so it's cool. Let's keep not hanging out then.

  3. maybe people would dialogue more with you if you listed your email address.

    For example, I really like the post about punk scenes requiring an outside force of oppression.

    I totally believe you! I am in a scene where punks have the run of the town and it kind of rules and it kind of blows! Garage rock as far as the eye can see! Punks everywhere but none of them actually have to do anything to feel at home!

  4. It's unfortunate that american culture celebrates violence and death. The media is a big part of it.

  5. I wanted to write a witty comment about the stuff you wrote, about how much I agree with you etcetera, but I noticed that my English isn't good enough to articulate a decently-smart-and-understandable period.

    So I'll just tell you that reading your blog makes me feel kinda proud of being Italian because, despite all Berlusconi and Church shit, at least here you can't find that pineapple-and-meat kind of pizza, which is a thing I'm quite grateful for.

    Anyway, I like your blog!

  6. Your thoughts on growing up punk and coming to terms with the visceral hatred of society that accompanies self-realization were both astute and articulate. I agree with and respect meny of the points you made, but I still hate cops. All of them. Ever. Including the ones who did not take a career in law enforcement.
    And since this is a blog about pizza, I wish I could've been there for the last slice ever!

  7. Mr. Harvester,

    I know you are almost at the end of the journey as far as pizza reviews. I am hoping you will continue to post/blog. Your reviews are so much more than just pizza talk. I am sure others feel the same. Don't stop.

  8. Great write up in the WSJ, pizza punk. Keep up the dialogue. Refreshing to hear honesty in post-punk hate.