Pizza talk with SUPREME HEEMS.

Famous local rapper SUPREME HEEMS pointing at a framed picture of me in the pizzeria.
Himanshu Suri AKA Supreme Heems is one third of local awesome rap trio Das Racist and works with local awesome nonprofit SEVA NY. He is a nice guy and very smart and a fan of Slice Harvester so obviously he has good taste. We met at Carmine's Original on Norman Ave in Greenpoint to talk bullshit for a little while.

You wanna talk pizza?
I like that when you’re sick and you’re sweating and you don’t even have an appetite you can still eat pizza. Ginger ale and pizza. No matter how sick I am, if I need to eat just for sustenance, there’s pizza. Sometimes eating become just chewing and swallowing like breathing and sleeping. But pizza is somehow still enjoyable even when you’re just masticating to live.

You do the cheese slices, right? I used to get a chicken slice from this one place, and I’d walk in and the guy would make fun of me like, “waddayoo want, you wanna SUPREME, big man? You want a SUPREME?” which was like their big meat lovers slice. So then my friends started calling me Supreme for a while, but it never caught on. Now I wish it did.

Yeah, that’d be awesome. Supreme Heems.

And not cause of the clothing brand or because I’m cool, but cause I like eating heavy slices of pizza.

What’s your favorite pizza related memory?

Our Place 2. It’s a little arcade in Queens. In elementary school everyone would have their parties there. White, Indian, Black, Chinese. Queens. So we’d always go to Our Place 2. Drink soda, eat pizza, play video games. And I don’t know, I bet they closed down now, but if I could, man, I’d love to do a show there, and just have a pizza party for my friends there.

You know, as the drugs and shit became more common I really started missing the days of yore with pizza parties. I mean, obviously, pizza’s the greatest thing. If you could have a party with just pizza, no alcohol, even as a 26 year old I’d thoroughly enjoy a pizza party.

I don’t drink anymore and I have to find all kinds of new ways to be excited about being alive…

Pizza still does it?

Pizza still does it. Every time.

See that’s what I’m saying, man. That’s how you know it’s great.

You’ve toured all over the world. Have you eaten any weird pizza elsewhere?

Nah, not on tour. But I ate the pizza when I was a kid when I would go to India every now and then. It became more popular. But I mean, growing up in New York pizza and Chinese food were the two things I would eat if I wasn’t gonna eat Indian food. So when I went to Indian it was cool because as things changed I got pizza and Chinese food there.

I’ve been around the world, I’ve had pizza pretty much everywhere. Sometimes I’m like, “why am I even doing this? Why am I eating this?” Wherever I go I just miss the pizza and I miss the bagels.

This is a good segue, you talking about India. Let’s discuss Dosa Hunt! In a way I feel like it’s very similar to what I was trying to do with Slice Harvester.

In a way. But it was also just about bringing Brown people together to do something almost mundane. For me, a pizza-obsessed Indian musician, if I was like, fifteen and I saw that group of like, seven Brown dudes in a van going to eat pizza, dosas, whatever I would’ve been like, “this is cool!” It almost would’ve been funnier maybe if we’d have done a pizza hunt.

Where was the best dosa, though?

In my opinion, Dosa Hutt in Flushing next to the Temple Canteen. I think the Temple Canteen is just as good, but I get irked out there cause it’s in the temple and it’s weird. It’s a South Indian temple so I feel especially weird being there. If it was my temple I’d just be like, “get all these white people outta here.”

Pizza used to be a Weird Ethnic Food and now it is Death Culture Sustenance. Do you think when Indian Americans are ultimately absorbed into the amorphous Honky Culture Vacuum, dosas will be synonymous with the spectral remnants of your once vibrant culture?

Well see, that’s why I wanna get ahead of the curve for that. One of my things I’m saving up rap money for is like, a casual Indian dining restaurant. Something quick, like pizza. Dosas is one of the things. Indian pizza’s becoming a thing. In San Francisco there’s that place that does the pizza with all the Indian spices.

Zante's! That place is phenomenal! I don’t know why there’s none of that here.

In New York it’s different because we had Singas Famous Pizza, so all the Indians go to Singas because it was in Flushing, and all the Indians came to Jackson Heights or Flushing. Singas started in Elmhurst, it’s Queens pizza. But for some reason Indians always just stuck to that type of pizza here. 

One of those guys started Bellerose Famous Pizza in my neighborhood, in Bellerose. And at Bellerose they would have like, Chicken Tikka Paneer on a slice and stuff, but it never really caught on.

But at Zante’s in San Francisco they go all kinds of stuff…

Yeah, I mean, it’s good. It’s not bad. But when I want pizza I want tomato sauce. Or even just pesto or a white slice. I had pizza last night. I had one with ricotta, mozzarella, pesto, prosciutto crudo and some onions and garlic on top.

One of the challenges about Slice Harvester was how to stay interested, because I’m just talking about pizza all day long. And one of the things that I thought was kind of an interesting narrative about pizza in America was the story of immigrant communities and how they either establish a unique identity while still becoming part of the larger culture or just get totally assimilated.

And I’m not really familiar with the work you do with SEVA, necessarily, but I’m curious about that, because that’s been something that’s made me interested in you as an artist. I feel like you have this nihilist hipster vibe to a lot of what you do, and it’s juxtaposed with this totally genuine interest in your community that I think is absent from a lot of your peers.

So tell me about SEVA. What does SEVA do?

SEVA was started by two neighbors who lived on different sides of a block that was cut into two voting districts. One of the things that I started working with them on was just raising awareness about redistricting and gerrymandering in Richmond Hill. Our community was turned into seven different districts, when like, a large percentage of that community falls under the banner of “immigrant” which should make it a Community of Interest, a legal term which means it should be its own district.

And splitting the district essentially disempowers the whole community as a unified voting block?

Well, what happens is, let’s say you need enough people for your white district, so you’ll be like, “let’s cut a little of Richmond Hill. They’re immigrants, they don’t care who they vote for.” You need a little for your Black district, for your Jewish district, your Italian district… these districts are set up so that like, a certain amount of the district is a specific race that will vote for a certain type of candidate, and the rest just cuts out of Richmond Hill.

The fact is, they’re all immigrants, like my parents, who might vote in a national election and contribute largely to the taxes that the county, the city, the state make, but really have no voice in local politics. And it’s about time that these politicians just be like, “alright, these Indian people actually care and now we have to do shit for them or they won’t vote for us.”

And they need to be empowered as a community to have a say in local politics.

Yeah! If you’re an old white lady you can get on the phone and be like, “these kids are making a lot of noise outside and that traffic light means a lotta honking” and then your district person will be like, “listen Mrs. Williams, we’re gonna do what we can.” Old people vote.

But then some Indian person with an accent calls and says that the fire department is bothering their temple because they say that we’re over capacity, they’re not gonna know who to call to get a permit or nothing like that. And that’s what one of my good friends I grew up with, Ali Najmi, is doing. He works with SEVA. He called me and told me he was doing that shit and I was just like, “What the hell am I doing? Rapping about race in this vague way that still makes it comfortable enough for white people to laugh at.” I just felt like that was a contradiction. You know, I’m from New York, I’m not somebody that’s apathetic about shit.

I think it’s important, but it’s also incredibly rare to see someone that talks shit about something and then is also, in their free time, doing something about the problems they’re kvetching about on tape….

Yeah, thanks.

Okay, I have one more really ridiculous question. According to this book, Hot Rappers by B.S. Watson, in the chapter about MC Hammer, entitled “You Can’t Touch Him,” he says, “one of Hammer’s great contributions to rap was his use of dance. Until Hammer came onto the scene, dance was not a part of rap. When rap first started rappers would just pace back and forth across the stage as they talked to the audience.”

I wanna know, where do you think your microphone air-guitaring and Dap’s dancing fit into this lineage?

Well, I do glide across the stage like Usher. I do a little bit of a Usher type of... remember (sings) “you make me wanna leave the one I’m with…” or maybe it was “She Likes It My Way,” one of those joints he was doing some crazy foot shit where he was just sliding across a junkyard or something…

Do you deliberately create a theatrical element to your stage show?

Well, it’s on stage so there’s no deliberate attempt, it’s theatrical by nature. People are standing there looking at you and you’re gonna be like, “either stop looking at me or enjoy looking at me.” So you’re gonna do something. I mean I think a lot of rappers do kind of stand around and look fatigued and stoned and it’s like karaoke, but if you go to a rap show and it’s that type of rap show, that’s what you’re going to see.

We get up there and I air guitar and slide like Usher. And the air guitar, it has it’s place. I just think a lot of these rock guys think they’re cool cause they can shred and they sleep on us rappers but us rappers be shredding too, we just do it in our own way. You know punks think it’s cool to not even be good at their instrument or whatever. I don’t even have an instrument, b, how punk is that?

(laughter) Yeah. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about. I grew up kind of simultaneously heavily involved in the downtown punk scene and then kind of tangentially involved as a spectator in the like, Rawkus Records rap shit that was going on in the 90s/early-00s. And one thing that always struck me was how collaborative rap was in this way that punk never could be. Like it doesn’t matter if Dirk Dirt from Sick Society comes and plays guitar for one song on the Cop Stompers 7” because Sick Society and Cop Stompers probably sound exactly the same anyway and besides, bands are these units. Whereas rap is more a collection of loosely affiliated but still totally autonomous individuals.

Yeah, it’s mad collaborative. Not every rapper will work with only one producer on an album, so you’re already just a freelancing rapper who needs musicians that make beats. So I get seven songs and I need seven beats from seven of my friends and that’s collaboration right there. And then I get more of my friends to rap on the songs with me. But you know, at least two dudes in each rock band make beats on their laptop and just don’t know any rappers to rap on them.

I used to rap when I was a kid. I think everyone in New York used to rap when they were a kid.

Yeah, it’s just what you do. You’re already drinking forties and smoking blunts, it’s just the third thing to do. You need a third thing.

I feel like Thrasher Magazine right now.

First ever FAN ART! Huzzah! At the Brooklyn Zine Fest last weekend, this really nice dude came up to my table and we chatted a bit and made small talk that I don't remember and he bought a zine or two from me. A few hours later I was walking back into the fest with a box of extra zines I had forgotten to bring in and walked passed him, so I handed him a copy of the new one and he thanked me and told me he would "draw me some stained glass" which seemed rather inscrutable at the time. Anyway, I totally forgot about that and now there's this!

For real! Teenage Mutant Ninja Angels! This dude twitters @TomGambinoArt and has a tumblr.

Speaking of tumbalers and art, my friend Fryd set up a website for my friend Yusuke who makes crazy, often beautiful, and often very upsetting paintings. Look at it.

Very soon I am finally going to post that Heems interview I was gonna post like two weeks ago. I'm a slowpoke. Sue me!

SLICE HARVESTER #6 out this Sunday!

Hi! I have spent the past two days at the photocopy store making Slice Harvester back issues and also making a brand new NEW ISSUE! It is three dollars and will be available for the first time ever at the BROOKLYN ZINE FEST, where I will be tabling at a table next to my best friend Caroline's awesome publishing venture Pegacorn Press.

The Zine Fest is going on at Public Assembly in Williamsburg which is at 70 N 6th St, which is where Galapagos used to be. It is from 11am to 6pm. I will be there for probably almost all of that time just chilling the fuck out and being weird and awkward to you because I do not do well in Social Situations! It will be awesome. You can buy a zine from me in person for Real American Dollars (or I guess you could paypal me money on your smart phone right while I am standing there if you are weird and want to buy zines on a credit card) and then I can hand it to you and make stilted small talk and then you can remark to your companion as you walk away, "boy, he is a lot more charming in print."

Oh, also there will be a raffle at the zine fest and I contributed a raffle prize to it which is: every issue of Slice Harvester so far plus the promise that I will mail you the final issue when it comes out this summer, as well as a gift certificate awarding the bearer a Pizza Dinner for Two at my favorite pizza place, Pizza Suprema on 31st St and 8th Ave.


There is an interview with me in the new MRR!

This is very exciting! Teenage dreams do come true. Buy it here (for $4.20, no less!) or just buy it at your local record store like a regular person. I haven't seen it yet, but it looks like this issue also has a Neon Piss interview, which is funny because the drummer from Neon Piss is a guy named Greg Harvester who writes a zine called Rice Harvester which I named my zine after as a joke when I thought that only punks would ever read it. Greg also does an awesome punk demos blog called Remote Outposts, where I recently had a sort of guest post talking about an old band of mine. Check all these things out! Right now! DO IT!


Sorry for the radio silence. I've been working on a lot of stuff and I needed to go on sabbatical from thinking about pizza for a bit. but I figured I should drop into the old internet and give my MILLIONS OF LOYAL FAN some news about what the future holds for Slice Harvester.

1. I've got some interviews planned, about pizza and New York City history, that I'll be posting on the blog pretty soon.

2. I'm gonna start doing the Street By Street Block By Block Pizza Storm To Purify in which I return to all the decent pizzerias in each neightborhood and find out if they are still decent and decide definitively which is the best. If you feel like your favorite slice in your neighborhood didn't get a fair shake, now is the time to let me know that I absolutely NEED to check it out again. Comment on this post or send me an email.

3. The penultimate issue of Slice Harvester Quarterly Magazine is almost done and will be officially released on April 15th at the Brooklyn Zine Fest. The folks over there also recently posted a pretty fun interview with me, so maybe read that if you feel like it. And come to the zine fest, hopefully I will be tabling right next to Pegacorn Press, so you can also pick up all of Caroline's awesome new forthcoming releases.

That's all for now, but that's also a lot. Starting in the next week or two I'll probably begin updating again with some frequency. I post weird links and short stuff on my facebook page and on twitter, so if you use those things and you feel like there's not enough Slice Harvester in your life, there's an easy fix.

Winking Redux

In a post I made a few weeks ago, I discussed a conversation I had with my family about men winking at women in public and the ways that sort of behavior bolsters the harmful and toxic environment the patriarchy creates for both men and women. My intent in discussing winking was to open up a broader conversation about the nature of personal space in public and what I've perceived as many men's feeling of entitlement to infringe on the personal space of women. My thinking was that this conversation might lead to another conversation about how these small, seemingly insignificant breaches of personal space are part and parcel of a cultural atmosphere that is generally hostile to women. I didn't expect my anecdote would lead to much more than some civil discourse, but I didn't think a small discussion was an unreasonable expectation.

However, what I ended up doing was opening up a conversation with a bunch of crybabies about whether or not it is okay to wink at people. Let me come clean: I winked at someone like two weeks ago, while I was waiting tables at the diner. I was bringing a couple of regulars their check when one of them said to me, "can you actually add two small coffees to go?" I said, "how about instead I just bring you some to go cups for the refills I was about to pour you?" Then I winked, and dropped the check on the table. Someone let Andrea Dworkin know that my feminist ally badge needs to be revoked.

(Trigger warning for discussion of rape below the break.)

Ultimately, whether or not it is okay to wink is not even negligibly important. What I am concerned with is a general reframing of how we look at and see some of these issues. I'm not even asking the herds of dudely dudes who populate the internet to AGREE with me. I am just asking that they (you?) genuinely consider someone else's perspective. That they take one moment off from the "wah wah wah girls don't like me" self-victimization bullshit, that they set aside some of the directionless rage that our culture nurtures in all of its men, and that they listen to another voice. I am just asking to be heard without defensiveness, without resorting to the emotional armor of irony and sarcasm. I am putting myself out here and making myself vulnerable. I am not weaker for that, I can bullshit and posture and walk the man walk with the best of them, but I am tired of that.

Basically, the way I see it, things like street harassment, stalking, rape are falsely considered to be "women's issues." I'm too lazy to look up statistics right now, but something like 99% of reported rapes are committed by men*. As far as I can tell, that makes rape a Men's Issue and I think it's time that men took responsibility for it. And the same goes for street harassment, although that is harder to quantify as a statistic. It's time for men to own up to their behavior, own up to their sense of entitlement and let go of the notion that things are okay the way they are.

Men's feeling of entitlement to the time, attention, generosity and kindness of women contributes to a general atmosphere in which women's inherent human resources (their time, their energy, their patience) are seen as less valuable than those of men and that is so fucked up! If I was constantly reminded of the fact that my humanity was less valuable than other people's because of some factor totally outside of my control I would be hella bummed.

I just think people need to start taking responsibility for themselves and for each other. If I have been too scattered to articulate any of this well, please forgive me. If I have been unclear about anything, please ask questions. If you wanna make fun of me, or brag about how you fuck all the girls and you're never gonna stop or whatever, you just do you, homie. But I have a feeling the compulsion to proclaim it from the mountaintops has more to do with deep-seated anxieties than it does with sexual prowess. If you want to discuss whether or not winking is okay ever (and if so WHEN?!!?!?!?!!) don't bother, though. That is a stupid conversation and I'm sorry I started it.

Here are some things to read:

Stop Telling Women Not To Get Raped from Ebony Magazine

I Want A Twenty-Four Hour Truce In Which There Is No Rape by Andrea Dworkin

Middle School Boys Learn That They Can Stop Rape from the Daily News

I'm More Of A Breast Man And Completely Worthless Human Being, Myself from the Onion

Some Notes On Rape Culture from Racialicious

* And 90% of the survivors are women, and 25% of women are raped or sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetimes. All these figures are approximate and from memory so please don't be mad if I am off by a few percentages.

BREAKING NEWS: Mediocre Pizza Parlor ROCKY'S II Is Still Mediocre.

I just want to remind everyone that Rocky's II, a pizza shop I reviewed in September of 2010, is probably still exactly the same as I said it was then. I wouldn't know because I haven't been back there because why would I go back to a place I didn't totally love? But the real question is this: why am I bothering to mention this right now? There are hundreds of mediocre pizzerias that are probably still mediocre, so why am I singling out Rocky's II?

It's because this weird thing happened the other day. I loaded up my email and it was mostly a handful of Slice Harvester comments. This is something I'm slowly growing accustomed to, but not that strange these days. This stack of comments were all Anonymous and were all for Rocky's II. The first one came in at 5:23 am and simply said "LOVE ROCKY'S PIZZA." That is innocuous enough, I guess. Some drunk dude got on the website and looked up his favorite place and felt compelled to let me know how he felt about it.

The next four of them were all posted between 5:42 and 5:46 am and were ostensibly from 4 different people. One of them, a charming story about a man visiting NYC from Lawrence, Kansas and taking his two sons to Rocky's, is word for word identical to a comment from November of last year that was posted on my Rocky's I review! Just now I googled a couple of the shorter comments and found them, word for word, on menupages.

So now I'm asking Rocky's II to cut it out. You want to try and deceive Yelp or whatever, fine. Go for it. Those website are run by robots, not yumans. But Slice Harvester is not run by a robot. Slice Harvester is run by one weird dude. And I do not let shit like this slip by me. My life up to this point has pretty much been the exercise montage from Wet Hot American Summer. Like, basically I have spent the past 29 years getting trained by Elliott Stabler to be tougher than you. I walk the streets at night. I go where eagles dare.

But there's definitely something I appreciate about the chutzpah of a guy posting the same exact verbatim reviews on multiple websites and expecting it will never catch up to him. This one time when I was 13 or 14 my mom drove me to Connecticut to hang out with this friend of mine from summer camp. We got stoned at her house and were just kind of sitting around wondering what to do and she was like, "have you ever been to Stew Leonard's?" and I was like, "huh?" and she was like, "it's this supermarket where they have all these animatronic vegetables and milk cartons and shit that dance around and it is so weird and come on, let's go." And she stole her mom's car and drove us to Stew Leonard's. Maybe she was older than me and had a learner's permit, but we can all agree that this story is cooler if we weren't allowed to drive at all.

When we got there it was so weird, and I was so stoned and such a little adolescent dude and I was wandering around looking at all this singing produce and I saw this package of fudge that looked delicious. And I picked it up, and I began to eat it. My friend and I continued to stroll and I continued to eat the fudge and eventually the fudge was done, and being a young tough, I surreptitiously stashed the package behind some packets of Stoned Wheat Thins which was really funny to me because I was stoned and so were the crackers. Wooooaaaaaahhh.

As we were leaving, a kindly older gentleman in a security uniform stopped us before the door and asked, "don't you kids have something to pay for?" and I was all, "whuh uh us who me no not me you must be thinking of some other kids who need to pay for stuff, we're just here to see the robots." And the guy was like, "listen son, not only do I have you on tape eating a package of fudge, but..." and he pointed down at my chest, and my eyes followed his finger, and there was fudge all over my Toy Dolls t-shirt.

I looked back up at the security guard, panic stricken, but his eyes were kind and he said, "listen son, you got caught. It's okay. I understand. I was young once. Go get the package of fudge and pay for it, and then leave and don't come back. I don't want to call your parents if I don't have to. I'm giving you a break here. Take it." And so I fetched the package and paid for my fudge and left and I've never been back in a Stew Leonard's since.

So Rocky's II Guy, I need to let you know you've got fudge on your shirt. But like the kindly supermarket security guard of my wayward youth, I understand. You're trying to boost your business and you don't really get how the internet works. It's okay. I'm giving you a chance to pay for your fudge and you don't even have to spend any money! I would just like you to apologize for trying to deceive me and my readership. It doesn't even have to be public, you can email it to me if you like. I don't really think that's too much to ask.

Postscript: Since I posted this yesterday two more fake comments showed up on that review, and no contact from Mr. Rocky's II.

Pizza talk from my kid sister.

I am in Miami partying with my awesome girlfriend's awesome family and didn't have anything prepared to post today, but then my sister sent me this email, so she'll be the guest contributor this week and then next week it'll be back to me, in New York, maybe talking about pizza but likely just complaining about something I saw on cable that made me hate men. Anyway, here is my sister:
So I was starving when I got off work today, really in the mood for pizza, and you have to remember that I work at the end of the world all the way in West Chelsea and there is literally nothing to eat near me. In fact I eat the same disappointing salad for lunch EVERY DAY.

Anyway, the other day I wanted to order a meatball parm for lunch and I was looking at menu pages and I said to my colleague, "what about 10th Avenue Pizza*? That any good?" and he was like, "absolutely not, that place is gross. Terrible. Really, really bad" and grant you, he's an Irishman and I don't necessarily trust his taste in food or pizza, but the man and I talk about food all day long and he has a real no-bullshit attitude toward it.

So anyway, I walk by this place on 9th ave on my way to the L everyday and it looks OKAY--I like the neon sign a lot--but as with all other food in this area, I don't have very high expectations.

So I go in and I order a slice and a small fountain soda because I'm a sucker for fountain soda. And I plan on drinking my soda by the time the pizza comes out because it's really tiny and that way I can walk with my pizza because I'm a busy damn woman and who has the time to stop smell the roses let alone eat a slice of pizza???

Anyway, I'm rambling, but really it's important because the pizza came out earlier than I expected. I figured it wasn't very hot, and I dressed it up in red pepper and oregano and I was ready to just eat my hunger away and not really take a moment to enjoy it because it's not gonna be good... but it kind looked good.  First bite in, I was like, "hot damn, that is one good slice." And then I thought, "what does brother think?" so I went to Slice Harvester and start looking for the review on my iPhone, and really you should have an app for that** because until I realized I could search "slice harvester stella's pizza" on the Internet I was really frustrated.

So anyway, I get to the review and lo and behold it says "Stella's Pizza: This place ain't bad"! And so I stood there, in Stella's pizza, savoring my supremely decent slice and sipping down my tiny fountain cola and read the whole review.***

It was spot on.  More spot on than I could even articulate at that moment. My slice was cooked perfectly and when I folded it had that nice crack down its spine! It was an above average, average slice... Does that even make sense? It was almost great.

But your post got me thinking. Because truth be told, before I read your opinion I was ready to sing Stella's Pizza's praises, jump on the counter and thank the pizza guys for crafting such a great slice just for my enjoyment. But really, the slice was just good, above average but nothing to go out of my way for. But because my expectations were in the toilet, and because I was so absolutely hungry I was ready to rate that slice a 10 and call it a day. So really,  I'm not sure what I'm getting at. I guess just that overall there seems to be two schools of pizza: the absolutely terrible (which I'll absolutely eat in a pinch and which seems to be the majority of the pizza here in our fine city) or the fantastically decent--which almost elevates itself to fantastic due to its rarity and my lack of mental preparation. I guess my question is this: does a truly perfect slice even exist in the five boroughs? Or is it only a myth? It must exist, right? Because how else do we know all the pizza that isn't it? There must be something that sets the standard...****

Oh brother, this has substantially occupied my train ride back to Brooklyn. I hope you have a great time in Miami and give Sampa my love--I called him today, I now have an alarm set to call him every Wednesday at 3. Do you think he'll catch on?*****
*She did not hyperlink that thing in her email, but I hyperlinked it here because I can.

**Does anyone want to help me make an iPhone app? Seriously, send me an email. Let's do it.

***The notion of my kid sister being in a pizza parlor, reading a review I wrote of that same pizza parlor, seems like a slight (and technologically advanced) variant on a common theme in mealtime conversation in my family, which is: talking about food from different restaurants that serves the same food as the restaurant we are at. For instance, we had weekly Sunday dinners growing up with my Aunt Sheryl and Uncle Barry at a Chinese Place called Szechuan Empire and we would spend the bulk of the conversation talking about other Chinese food. In this instance, instead of talking about a restaurant we are not at while eating food at a different place, my sister was talking about the restaurant she WAS at, but with someone that wasn't even there with her. Does this make sense to anyone but me (and undoubtedly her)?

****This is the eternal question. I recently revisited the pizza shop on Broadway in Brooklyn around the corner from the Bent Haus (House?) that I have this one really fond memory of eating this perfect slice at. It was Halloween, two-thousand-something and I was wearing this Hulk Hogan costume where the body was for a child and I cut it up and re-assembled it over a pair of long johns and then made this blonde mustache by painting a mustache yellow and gluing it to my face with rubber cement, which meant I was basically huffing paint all night, which was not as insane as the night Sweet Tooth dipped that fake mustache in ether and let me wear it for a while, but it was totally dumb and awesome and I was so young and invincible walking around under the J Train dressed like Hulk Hogan. If I remember right, Kever was dressed like Osama Bin Laden and me and him had this fake wrestling duel where I was defending America. I think Crybaby McArthur played.

Anyway, walking there I was so excited to go to this house show and hang out with all these awesome new punk kids I had met who were all so cool and many of whom were at least moderately friendly and I was just wearing long johns and this stupid polyester children's costume and it was October back when the seasons were how they used to be, so it was COLD. And I walked by this pizza shop and turned around and got a slice from the window. I was slurping down a Ballantine tall can while I ate it and I just remember loving it so much and feeling like life was so full of endless possibilities and that the slice of pizza was just so good and perfect and fuck! Pizza!

Since then at least one of my friends from that night is dead and a lot of the rest of them have drifted out of my life, (or more honestly I've drifted out of their's), and while I feel more like myself than I ever have, more mentally and physically healthy than I ever was when I was slamming a million King Cobra's on my stoop every night, and while I even feel like there is more potential for me to accomplish totally awesome and tangible Specific Actual Goals, I do not have that same boundless, swelling sense of marvel and appreciation for the world that I did back when my eyes were big with wonder at every new sight and sensation, and frankly, I think I have a slightly harsher palate, because the pizza at that place on Broadway where I ate the other day, and where I had that perfect slice, it just wasn't very good. Same pizza man as back then, too.

And the thing is, I have a feeling it was never very good. But that slice in my memory is still perfect and that slice in that moment was still perfect! It was an 8 slice out of 8 slice slice, even though it's actually a 4 slice out of 8 slice slice. You feel me here? I'm talking about what Larry Screamin' Jesus said to me when I was in the park with Kevin Morby two years ago and he was walking around hollering and I waved hi and he came over giddy as a child and said, "Hey Colin! I don't know if you realize this, but every moment we have is a moment that's already passed us by. They're so quick and fleeting we can't even hold them and that might make you feel lost but it's actually beautiful. You and I just had millions of moments together, Colin. Millions of moments in a span of seconds." And he walked off and started berating some guy for sun-bathing.

I guess what I'm saying is that things change from moment to moment and people change and pizza changes, and we probably won't know our perfect slice until we're almost done eating it.

*****Sampa is what we call my Grandpa Sam. He doesn't know how to use the internet so he will never find out that my sister has a weekly alarm to call him unless one of you tells him, so if that happens I'ma bust someone's ass for snitching, aight?

******This is really how she signs her emails to me, I am not even trying to protect her identity.

Still not talking about pizza!

Who cares? I was never really talking about pizza in the first place, that was just how I tricked all of you into caring what I had to say about other stuff, like Wyclef and making music. Today I want to address all the straight men in the audience. To my other readers, read this over and see if it's worth passing on to a straight man in your life. I am not trying to exclude any of you, but I think we need to have a collective "Dude, seriously."

Recently my father and I went to go see his father and take him to a doctor's appointment, take him out out to lunch, get him some groceries, etc. (Status report: the old man is doing just fine.) We went to Whole Foods to buy him some cheese blintzes and ruggelah, and in the car driving over to his house, my dad said, "if I was a single guy I would go to Whole Foods to meet women."
"And why is that?"
"Didn't you notice," he said, "the place was full of single women. Well, maybe not single women, but it was full of women. Some of them had to be single." I hadn't noticed.
"Okay, so, how would you go about meeting these single women, or determining if they're single?" I was only half involved in the conversation because I was reading a NY Times article on my phone.
He shrugged. "I dunno... I would bump carts by accidentally or something." As you can tell, it's been a long time since my dad's been single.
"Don't you think they'd see right through that?" I asked.
"Sure, but if they were interested they'd see through it and know that I was interested and if not they would go about their day and I would go about mine and nothing would really be that different."
 "You don't think or care that they might be annoyed by the intrusion?"
"What are you supposed to do, never talk to a stranger because they might be annoyed by the intrusion? I am intruded upon 500 times a day, it happens. We live in a world with other people. Sometimes we have to interact with them."
And so on.

I don't recall exactly how it happened, but somehow we got onto the subject of winking. More specifically whether or not it is inappropriate for a man who is shopping at Whole Foods to wink at a woman he has never met who is shopping at Whole Foods. I posited that yes, it is categorically inappropriate. My father was outraged. "So you're saying that winking at a woman is an aggressive, inappropriate act? You're over-reacting. You're so concerned about fighting sexism that you see it in places where it isn't even there. Winking is benign and if you put it on the same category as saying 'hey baby, nice gams' and whistling like a Looney Tunes wolf, it diminishes the seriousness of those acts by comparing them to something relatively innocuous."
"Look," I began, at this point my phone was away and I was totally paying attention, "I just don't think it's innocuous. Everything has a context, and your hypothetical wink at Whole Foods falls squarely into a continuum of shitty behavior perpetrated by men towards women from the time they reach puberty. It may not be the same thing but it is all interrelated."
"That's ridiculous and you're inventing context that isn't there. A wink is just a wink."
"I just disagree with you there. And I might as well tell you now, you're never going to convince me. I don't think you are a bad person or have any malicious intent, and I appreciate that this conversation is all hypothetical and we're not discussing the fact that you DID wink at a woman in Whole Foods because I don't think you would do that. But the fact of the matter is, I have had conversations with many of the women in my life about being winked at and I know how they feel about it, so no matter how compelling an argument you craft in defense of men's Right to Wink, I am not going to be swayed because it is just conjecture by a man and is meaningless compared to the shared experience and testimony of the countless women I have talked to about this." I should note that I've been paraphrasing this whole time and I most assuredly was NOT that articulate in real life. Luckily, I'm the one recounting the discussion.
"That is crazy." He was shaking his head. "So you're saying that men aren't allowed to have opinions?"
"Of course not! I'm just saying that in this instance we're discussing something that affects women more than men and I'm going to side with the opinion of the people that are affected over someone on the outside conjecturing. Look, I know this isn't an issue because you don't actually go around winking at ladies, but have you ever had a discussion with any women in your life about how they feel when men wink at them?"
He shook his head no. I dialed my mom on speakerphone.

Ring ring ring ring ring "Hello?"
"Hey Ma, I got a a hypothetical situation for you. You're in a Whole Foods shopping for groceries..."
"What am I doing in a Whole Foods, I hate Whole Foods!"
"Ma, come on, lemme finish. You're in a Whole Foods shopping for groceries and you're walking down an aisle and a guy you've never seen before is walking the other way down the aisle and as you pass by he winks at you. How does that make you feel?"
"I would shout 'FUCK YOU!' at the guy" she said, without missing a beat. "I would yell, 'WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE WINKING AT?'"
I looked over and my dad was chuckling. I asked my mom, "Why?"
And she said, "Because a wink is too intimate a gesture to share with a stranger and the implications of a stranger winking at me in a Whole Foods are totally pervy. You wink at your friends. You wink when you're sharing a confidence, when you're both in on a secret. It's just not appropriate to wink at a stranger."

I texted my kid sister the same question. I said, "if you are in a Whole Foods and a man you don't know winks at you, how does that make you feel?"
"Gross," she wrote back almost immediately, followed a few moments later by, "and disgusting."
I showed the texts to my dad and he said, "well I guess I have to reconsider."

The point of all this is not that my dad is some skeezy jerkoff. He's a really nice and respectful guy and I think I got a lot of pretty awesome traits from him. But he is a Male Dude who was raised in America and he had a Male Dude for a father and his brother was a Male Dude and all his friends growing up were other Male Dudes and they were predominantly, maybe almost entirely Straight Male Dudes and they weren't scumbags or anything any more or any less than all Male Dudes in the world are trained to be scumbags from like, the second they hit puberty, a process which is possibly equally (but definitely differently) traumatic to being sexually objectified from the moment one hits puberty, although we'll never really know conclusively since part of that training is to cut ourselves off from our emotions and NEVER EVER EVER NEVER NERVER admit that anything could possibly be traumatizing to us.

The night before going to visit my grandfather I spent the night at my folks' house and I was sitting around eating defrosted pizza and watching cable on their TV at like, 2am, and I saw this show on MTV called "Guy Code" or something which was like, all these shitty comedians talking about why it is imperative that men fuck all the women. Here are some real quotes. I wish I could attribute them to the actual dudes that said them and then we could all get together and crush their nuts with a big piece of wood like Charlotte Gainsbourg does to Willem Defoe in Anti-Christ. (For all the defensive babies out there, I am joking around and I don't actually advocate crushing men's nutsacks because they say idiot shit.) This is on the subject of having friendships with women:
"The only time I'll keep a girl as a friend is if she has a lot of hot friends for me to hook up with."
"You're giving her all the things she's used to giving sex to get, so what the fuck is she gonna fuck you for?"
This is fucked, right? This is on MTV, which is like, the channel that is supposed to be for teenagers. I don't think MTV is actually teaching kids anything substantial or is to blame for shitty Dude Behavior, but I do think that it is certainly reflective of where we are at as a culture, and if nothing else, serves to reinforce shithead belief systems that are learned and taught everywhere else in the culture.

But the point is this: it is really easy for those of us who identify as Male Dudes to sit around and conjecture all day long about what it's like to be a lady and what behavior is appropriate and what behavior isn't but the only way to really figure that out is to just talk to women we know. And that part is easy, but here is the hard part: listen to what they have to say non-judgmentally and internalize it and think about it. Ask your moms and sisters how they feel. Ask your girlfriends or friends, because despite what "the Guy Code" says, I'm am pretty sure most straight dudes still have at least one female friend. And then do some research on your own. The internet is huge! Read a few things on Shakesville or Tiger Beatdown. And when you feel attacked or defensive, instead of getting your back up, take a step back and thinking about what it is you are feeling attacked by? What is it you are defending? Is winking at ladies an integral part of your personality, a kernel of truth at the very core of your being, that you could never give up? Is it your right to continue to be unaware of the weight of the patriarchy on the women in your life and the ways that you are complicit? Just be thoughtful and be open-minded. These are hard things to do, and the ladies in your life may not want to hold your hand all the time, but if you are actually a caring person and you actually want to know, you can educate yourself and these things and people will be willing to talk to you.

And now I have to go because I'm going to be late for work.

Let me tell you about awesome stuff my friends are doing.

So, since I've gotten all this wild attention from various news media publications and such, I've been slammed with orders to fill and emails to respond to and still working my job and living my life and I haven't done or thought anything about pizza, really. But I promised weekly posts and so this week I'm going to post about awesome things my friends do that some of you, my readers, might be interested in.

Pegacorn Press
Longtime Slice Harvester Pal and Generally Rad Lady, Caroline Paquita has started a small publishing venture called Pegacorn Press, with the help of good old-fashioned gumption and a couple of antiquated printing machines. So far she has put out a couple of issues of her own awesome comic, Womanimalistic, a compilation of apocalyptic visions, Future Tense, and a fucking AWESOME calendar. There's a package deal where you can get all three of these wonderful publications for a mere $18.00! What a bargain! Seriously, this shit is so rad. This is the third year she has made her calendar and it gets better and better. No home is complete without one.

Buy some comics.

Imaginary Space
My longtime friend Noah Apple Mayers has started a SCHOOL. That's right! A school for teaching children. He and I performed puppet shows together with our performance troupe, Puppet State Players. Once an eight-year-old was being a jerk and trying to snatch my puppets while I was performing and I told him he could play with them if he would quit acting like a little dickhead and he started crying. Noah didn't get mad at me, but he did comfort the kid because he could see that little homie was just acting out because he was sad and all he needed was some positive reinforcement and attention. Noah's school seems really incredible. The class schedule seems amazing, with an "Explorer's Club" for visiting exotic locales right here in NYC, a tinkering class, and a cooking class on the roster so far. I don't know if many SH readers have children who homeschool, but this seems like a really great opportunity to provide your brat with enriching experiences, socializing with other brats, and awesome EDUTAINMENT for ROCK BOTTOM PRICES.

Enroll your kid.

Awesome local rockers Shellshag have a NEW RECORD coming out and it is a record I have been dreaming of for years. FUCK SOCIETY, Vol. 1 is their first collection of covers, and it is out next month. One of the most charming things about Shellshag, arguably the most charming band, is the totally inclusive party atmosphere they create at their shows, and an integral part of that atmosphere is their huge repertoire of awesome covers, most of which are collected here. Honestly, this record is worth the twelve bucks JUST for the cover of Fuck and Run, which you can file along with the Raincoats' Lola as a coveted Cover That is Better Than the Original. Liz Phair aside, these rad dudes also cover a bunch of 80s pop (INXS, When In Rome), a bunch of punk bands half of you have never heard of (Shotwell, Hickey), and a slew of other awesome shit. The final song (and title track) on the LP is an original recording of a song Shellshag has been covering for awhile now, Fuck Society, by Chattanooga's infamous AK77, a project spearheaded by a guy named Andy who I wish I had known better when he was around. The last time I saw him was a few years ago in Chattanooga when my friend Marcia and I pulled up outside Tom Foote's house looking to see if anyone I knew was on the porch. Andy came screaming out the backyard "YOU HAVE A CAR?! NOT VERY PUNK TO HAVE A CAR, BUT YOU MUST TAKE ME TO SUPERMARKET." And we spent the next hour digging through dumpsters behind the Food Lion trying to find flowers to pretty up the house. Andy was a strange and enigmatic dude and this record is a fitting tribute.

Preorder the record.

Dave Hill
I said on twitter that Dave Hill was a better writer than I'll ever be, and I don't know if that's true, but that's how I feel whenever I read his amazing columns. I do not gamble or even really follow sports, but Dave's insightful, emotionally honest prose resonates with me so hard. I think at least three out of the four columns thus far have brought me to tears. This dude is for real.

Read the columns.

Vin Diesel
Vin Diesel's facebook page is my favorite thing on the internet. He posts pictures of himself with these totally vague "inspirational messages" and it they are so awesome! Like, when the earthquake hit Japan last year, he posted a picture of himself with no shirt on staring wistfully towards the sea! I don't know what trajectory takes you from weird experimental theater in New York City to Too Fast Too Furious, but I wanna jump on that train ASAP. Next stop, a Guy Ritchie directed Slice Harvester Movie starring me as Me and Ricky Gervais as the Pizza. Vin Diesel will be my mentor/trainer. Anyway, dude has the awesomest facebook page I've ever seen.

Feel the hope.