Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
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dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

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Backwoods Home
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Like my brownhouse:
   Staunton's pizza by the slice
Saturday, December 3 2011

location: "Creekside Doublewide," Stingy Hollow Road, south of Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia

I did it to myself again last night, and so today I suffered for most of the day with stomach complaints that kept me taking either naps or showers for most of the precious hours of sunlight. At some point I helped my mother (Hoagie) set up a fancy Dewalt abrasion chop saw in the garage across the creek. She'd bought it yesterday along with other welding supplies and materials. I'm a little concerned about how carried away her retail therapy will get and whether or not she will use any of this stuff she is buying. But at least it's a cheerful common subject for us to discuss when we're together.

This evening Hoagie and I went out to eat at Aoli, a new Mediterranean restaurant on Augusta Street just north of Beverly Street. It's a place that, as Hoagie had already told me many times on this trip, she had discovered while walking the streets of Staunton judging holiday decorations. Aoli was a surprisingly fancy place, with a full bar, a clever iron-paneled ceiling decoration scheme, and maître d' with nothing to do but stand at a podium by the door (though there were only one or two occupied tables). To my continual mortification, my mother is chatty about absolutely everything, and when the bread and olive oil came to our table, I half-expected her to ask what it was (olive oil being a rare table condiment in Staunton). The menu items were a challenge for a vegan like me; the dishes were a pan-Mediterranean mix ranging from Morocco through Spain, Italy and Greece to Turkey. Everything of any substance contained feta cheese, lamb, or some sort of sea food. So ordered three tapas: hummus with pita, baba ghanoush with pita, and crimini mushrooms (hopefully not sauteed in butter). The baba ghanoush was barely edible, but everything else I ordered was good (including my glass of red wine, supposedly from Montepulciano). All day I'd been feeling discomfort in my gut, but at the moment I took my first bite into a piece of bread, it turned out that by that point (at least) all I'd been feeling was hunger. For her part, Hoagie ordered something that looked like a random dump from a deep sea trawler. It contained shrimp, two kinds of bivalve, and chunks of salmon. The waitress kept trying to take the plate from Hoagie before she finished, which is something you definitely don't want to be doing with my mother. While it's kind of hard to find in Staunton's downtown, Aoli might be in a good place to cater to Mary Baldwin College (whose students tend to have rich parents). But it's going to take more than commencement to keep it alive.

My brother still needed to be fed, though anything from Aoli was going to be wasted on his undeveloped palate. So we went around the corner to a newish pizza place called Shenandoah Pizza. In contrast to Aoli, that place was jumping. There was a band playing at the front, and nearly all the tables were full of happy pizza eaters. Some of the booths weren't actually booths but little private alcoves, which is kind of what you want when you're trying to eat pizza. There was even a stairway to a second level, and people were eating pizza up there as well. It was the fun kind of restaurant Staunton never has; it was so joyful and pleasant in there it actually reminded me of the effortless comfort of Portland, Oregon.
Shenandoah Pizza offers pizza by the slice (something I never saw outside of New York City before I move to Charlottesville), though, unlike a more traditional place, you have to go about halfway back into the restaurant to get to the pizza display. Evidently Hoagie and the owner go way back, because they were acting like old friends. He didn't yet know that my father had died, and since Hoagie didn't want to talk about it, he still doesn't know. I looked at the pizza display and pointed to some meatlovers' slices and said, "That's what my brother wants." Then I pointed to the veggie slices that Shenandoah Pizza has dubbed "the Stuart Hall" (after a local private girls' school) and said, "But that's what he's going to get." My mother heartily agreed. It's still kind of sad when a cheese-drenched slice of veggie pizza is considered the healthy option.

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