Last week I was in Oakland hanging out with a baby. Nate, my best friend from high school, and his awesome partner, Meredith, had a kid. Nate called me up all awkward like, "listen you know I don't believe in God and stuff but will you like, be my kid's godparent? Like, I want you in charge of the intellectual and ethical growth of my daughter." So I said yes, of course, because I'm a narcissist. So last week I went to Oakland to hang out with her for the first time and begin her lifelong misandry training.
Here are some things I did for her intellectual and ethical development:
- Introduced her to Jimmy Shotwell.
- Played her Shock Troops like 40 times.
- Took her to that cave at the Sutro Baths.
The day we brought her to the baths was the five year anniversary of my friend Jamie dying and that's why I had to wake up at 6am and bring a baby to the ocean. We were heading home, Nate was driving home and I was sitting in the the back with the Cave Baby and I was thinking about Jamie and I was thinking about my life these past five years, and Slice Harvester and New York City and the Bay Area, and I was thinking about my friend Sweet Tooth and how I love him and miss him and I hoped I would see him. And it was EARLY. Cause we woke up at 6 to take the baby to the beach, so it was like 9 or something.
ANYWAY: we were going to go eat at this diner in the Sunset that Matt Birdflu told me about but then Matt didn't text me back about where it was and then Nate took us to this different diner called Eddy's on Divisidero that was cheap and had really bland grits but was otherwise wonderful. And I was sitting there talking to Nate and playing with the baby and then I felt a hand on my shoulder and it was Tooth! He had decided to wake up early and go into the city to get a new ID at the DMV and happened to walk by the diner! And he hung out for a few minutes and we talked and I stopped freaking out and then I decided I didn't need to write about Jamie this year even though he's all I'd been thinking about for two weeks.
BUT THEN my mom's cousin Johnny died and I was at his funeral last night and I was wearing Jamie's shoes again, because they're my only nice shoes so I wear them to every funeral which I guess is pretty morbid or maybe it's respectful? I don't even know anymore. One of cousin Johnny's friends from the airforce gave a eulogy for him that was like, "Looks like we got ourselves another reason to hate Joe Girardi. Cause the Yanks blew it this year and now Johnny's dead."
He also talked a lot about music and how if you looked at his ipod 90% of the songs on there were by bands that Johnny had introduced him to. And I thought about my dad standing in front of the casket at his best friend Eddie's funeral last year and saying that Eddie introduced him to so much music. And I thought about my dad's other best friend Tonse, who died a few years ago and how the last time I'd seen him was in Seattle at the Squid and Ink and he told me that when he left Queens and went to Berkley his first job was giving guitar lessons to a 13 year old Bruce Loose! And how that made me feel this intense intergenerational connection to punk--more than my mom seeing the Clash and the Specials while she was pregnant with me, more than my uncles lying about selling Joey Ramone bags of oregano in high school. My dad's best friend growing up gave Bruce Loose guitar lessons and they had remained friends into adulthood.
And then of course I thought about Jamie and I thought about an email I had written explaining some of it to someone (because the thing is that the longer he's been dead the more I remember and the more I think and the more meaning there is):
"He played in a band called Bent Outta Shape (among MANY other bands) who, I think for a lot of folks involved with being Punk in Their Twenties in the early-2000s, are synonymous with New York City and with Brooklyn in particular. They toured constantly, they all lived in a house on Bartlett Street and had shows in their living room all the time. Their touring and those shows connected those of us from New York who weren't traveling with the rest of the country. I knew people in Chattanooga and San Francisco, Milwaukee and Tokyo, before I had ever really left New York because of Jamie touring all the time and bringing back friends. He put in the work for a lot of us. And his music was beautiful and desperate and you could tell he was hurting and he knew you were hurting too but he made you feel like maybe we were all fuckups but we could find some beauty in this terrible world."
So there's that. I promised myself I wouldn't write about this but what kind of promise is that anyway? Clearly this email I'm quoting proves that I already HAD written about it.
In New York City having a big family can seem like being on an ongoing tour of outer borough funeral homes. Last night's stop was Sheepshead Bay. My family can really pack a memorial service. I don't mean that the place was full of family members, I mean that anytime someone related to me is headlining the funeral hella people come out and hang. When my uncle Mark died last year there were people spilling out into the streets. Last night too. There was tons of people. I don't know what that says, but nothing bad.
Anyway, like half the people at the place were talking about pizza. Specifically, they were talking about this place Delmar Pizza on Sheepshead Bay Blvd. Everyone agreed that the slice was excellent except for one lady who I'd never met who said "I don't like the sauce" very authoritatively.
My family always eats after funerals. After we buried my grandfather last summer we went to the same diner in Long Island that we went to after we buried my grandmother over a decade prior. The Death Diner. After uncle Mark's memorial we went to the Georgia diner on Queens Blvd. My girlfriend's grandmother just passed away and immediately after the service we got cheeseburgers and onion rings from the Red Robin across the street. Mortality makes people hungry.
So last night when we were leaving my parents and I decided to stop for a slice at Delmar, the place everyone at the funeral had been talking about. I know you're thinking, "is he really gonna follow up all this stuff about death and family with a pizza review?" And the answer is yes. Yes I am.
I got two slices right away because they smelled so good. My parents each got one. While I was still applying my red pepper flakes my dad took his first bite. I heard it crunch and then he said, "I'm getting another one." He turned to my mom, "You want another one?"
She was eating and said it was good, but she would only have one slice. I just ate while they had this conversation, because this pizza WAS good. Perfect crunch. Absolutely impeccable ratios. The cheese was decent quality but not too fancy. There was ample grease. This is good pizza.
There WAS something slightly off about the sauce, though I couldn't tell you what it was. Ma Harvester says it didn't taste enough like tomatoes. I'm a little off my game so I'll defer to her judgment.
As my dad finished his slice he started to get up and order our next round. Ma was eating the crust of her slice, I was halfway through my second. My mom shouted "GET ME ONE TOO" across the restaurant as my dad got to the counter. I looked at the two of them and screamed "GEH MEH A PEPPAHWONIE" which my dad knew meant "get me a pepperoni" because he's been listening to me talk with a mouthful of food my whole life.
The pepperoni slice was insane. SO MANY pepperonis and they were all shriveled up and well done and everything else was so perfect and "ohmyfuckinggod please let this moment last forever" with every bite.
Here's my mom and dad posing with their pizza. I took some action shots but I kept catching my dad's tongue out and my mom apparently bugs her eyes out like Quasimodo when she bites good pizza so I won't post any of those. I guess my thought process in sharing this picture is that I spend a lot of time on here talking about stuff that sucks and remembering dead people that I care about and that's all important but there's also stuff that rules and living people that I care about! I am really lucky that I have two kind, smart, Good Guys for parents who didn't fuck me up too much. Thank you mom and dad. Please click that link. It's like, my favorite thing on the whole internet. And please eat at Delmar because it's really good.
1668 Sheepshead Bay Blvd (btw Voorhies & Jerome)
Brooklyn, NY 11235