Tuesday, June 22, 2010 

Never Piss Off The Chef!

After being away for at least a year or more (?), I dropped into my fave Italian restaurant in Chicago last Saturday - Buona Terra in Logan Square. I've been going there for years, back when that little area on California was pretty damn seedy, before the Starbuck's and sushi restaurant and gourmet food shop, etc. 

The chef/owner is Chepe Garcia, a very talented chef & savvy businessman - and also a Mexican. Chepe has a TON of fans, including Mayor Daley (they got their liquor license faster than ANY restaurant I've ever heard of, approx. 30 days), and many many many well-connected, wealthy people who have the resources to eat anywhere they'd like... and still go there as regulars. He's also one of my favorite bartenders (when the mood suits him), but that's a different conversation.

It was a little slow, so Chepe was bartending and had time to chat, and I saw a side of him I'd never seen before; luckily, that previously unseen street edge was directed at one of his regulars who lacked the common sense to know when to shut up, and also broke the main rule of any restaurant: Don't piss off the chef.

This regular was sitting next to me at the bar, and said he was a retired TV & film producer, blah blah blah. I found out later his $ came from his daddy, plus him selling some property he inherited from his daddy when the market was strong. Yeah. 

I was probably responsible for kicking off the topic: Mexican head chefs who work in high-end European restaurants and hotels, very common in the U.S.
At that moment, this "producer" decided to share his politics on illegal immigrants, especially Mexicans. I'm pretty sure he'd never seen Chepe get it going like that, either. 

Chepe pretty much gave a clinic on the perspective of illegal immigrant Mexicans, a lot of which I'd never considered. He pointed out that Mexicans come to America for one reason: They get hired by thousands of businesses all over the country, and would never come here if there was no work. He pointed out that you don't really see any Mexicans going to Guatamala, or other depressed locations. They do jobs a lot of people here won't - he said he'd NEVER had any caucasians apply for a cooking job at his restaurant. He also pointed out that, while many illegals were Mexican, the same was also true for people from Ireland, England, Australia, Brazil, etc. 

Regarding illegals using fake social security numbers: He says taxes are nonetheless taken out of their paychecks, and paid into the system regardless, which the illegals will never see a dime of on the back end. In fact, Chepe believes that this is well-known by politicians, who are happy to see BILLIONS of dollars coming into the system, which never needs to be paid back to anyone.

And what about all the drug cartels in Mexico, says the producer? Chef: If nobody bought their drugs in the U.S., how long do you think they would stay in business? And if you were a cop and someone offered you a million dollars or more to look the other way, what would YOU do? Or what if someone threatened to kill not only you, but your whole family, if you didn't cooperate? What then?

As Chepe hit his stride and refused to be interrupted, a light bulb went off somewhere, and the "producer" started to realize he was THISCLOSE to getting his ass 86'd from place, shut up, paid his bill and hit the road. After he left, Chepe shared some other thoughts and facts about this guy, which revealed and confirmed the "producer's" status as more knucklehead/poseur than producer/director.

I personally was glad to witness this side of chef, glad to get a different perspective on this very contentious issue, and mostly glad it wasn't me who pissed him off.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010 

Ground-Level Mile High Club (or) FU American Airlines!

Here's one for everyone who is SICK of these airlines squeezing money wherever they can from their customers - ESPECIALLY after the always irritating, borderline humiliating, 99.9% needless/pointless "security" measures we go through on every flight from these jackasses who probably aren't even qualified to cook fries at McDonald's.

We were flying back to Chicago from a show in Tuscon last Sunday, where I had repacked my stuff TWICE outside the skycap station to avoid paying $100 for an "overweight" suitcase. And WTF - you can't pay cash with that anymore OR use cash to buy booze & food onboard?!?!? 

While boarding, we witnessed some American Airlines manager bullying some girl about having to check (i.e., pay $25) for some thin, lightweight tube because it was her 3rd carry-on piece. Our singer Rich Perez (left) also had 3 pieces: guitar, laptop bag and backpack.

Luckily, her dispute served as a nice diversion, and Rich made it on the plane no problem but... weather was bad in Chicago, they delayed the flight, and they made everyone deplane with all their stuff.

After a couple of hours, we got the green light board again, but we weren't feeling so fortunate about a handy diversion this time, so... we put a denim shirt over Rich's backpack. DISCLOSURE. Half the reason we did it was just to get a laugh at his expense, but there was a legitimate reason, too. 

WE ALMOST GAVE OURSELVES AWAY by laughing so hard, and getting some looks; and the plane boarding clone did give Rich a funny look, but... it did indeed work. The only thing we might have done differently: Put the backpack on the front, making Rich look like he had a HUGE beer belly. BOO-YAH!!!!

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Sunday, June 06, 2010 

Steven Adler's REAL Appetite

As I've discussed with Mister Adler and his manager more than once... adding some food product(s) to his merch line seems like a no-brainer to me - especially with the name of his band: Adler's Appetite. Here's an unfinished comp for the label I knocked out last month (left), which is meant to go on a round spice tin. FYI, the tin is large enough to include a CD and/or DVD inside - thereby increasing the asking price for one piece and making it one cool/tasty collectible piece.

Having a line of food products would also open up the number and varieties of retail locations for him to book autograph signing appearances (I've heard a celeb at his level can make as much as $5k per appearance - pretty sweet). 

This week, I got a quick & solid affirmation that I'm not the only one who thinks this is a good idea: an email from a producer at WGN Television on doing exactly this thing on his show - he was ALL over it, said he would love to have Adler book an appearance w/ this format.

But hey, it's always the same with musicians, regardless of how much money or fame they may or may not have: You can lead 'em to water, but after that...

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