I’m a fan of all-you-can-eat restaurants. Stuffing one’s gut with endless amounts of food is as American as fake boobs, bottled water and SUVs. When I was a kid, trips to Shakey’s Pizza for slice after slice of pepperoni, sausage and Canadian bacon were a special treat. As an adult, I find great joy visiting the finest buffets in Las Vegas. There’s something that feels so right about something as wrong as eating to the point of near illness—for one relatively low price.
Unfortunately, the all-you-can-eat concept is spinning out of control. The first sign came during spring training, when the Minnesota Twins began promoting an all-you-can-eat section at the Metrodome. For $33, baseball fans can enjoy as many hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, pretzels, sodas and bags of popcorn as they can stand. Although engaging in this gluttonous display may bring some joy to the act of watching Carlos Gomez strikeout three times in one game inside a stadium that feels more like a Home Depot than a ballpark, I object. If you’re a true sports fan, you should be drowning your sorrow in giant plastic cups of Budweiser—not eating a baker’s dozen of Dome Dogs.
Even dumber is the latest promotion at Baker’s Squareâ€”a Midwest chain of family diners with substandard food and even worse service. The only redeeming thing about these joints is the pie. And apparently the restaurant chain’s brain trusts realize this. Last month, several BS locations in the Twin Cities painted their front windows with giant ads promoting all-you-can-eat pie for $5.99. How much pie can one person eat? It’s pie. I can’t imagine any scenario where someone would be inclined to down more than two—maybe, just maybe, three—slices.
Somebody please stop this trend before people are lined up at McDonald’s for all-you-can-eat McRibs.
When I was a Prince fanboy in the mid-’90s, I sometimes amused myself by crank calling 800-NEW-FUNK, the Paisley Park phone line for ordering CDs, t-shirts and a wide variety of products prominently adorned with the symbol he was then using as his name. Not content to keep this amusing hobby to myself, I recorded the calls on my answering machine to share with friends. As luck would have it, I came across that old answering machine in my basement this afternoon. The tape containing a few of my masterpieces, although somewhat distorted with time, still played. Ten years later, I’m still amused.
Gem number one came shortly after Prince appeared on The Essence Awards, performing a bastardized version of his 1987 song, “The Cross.” Because he was going through one of his many religious awakenings, he changed the song to “The Christ” and preached during the song’s introduction about how Jesus didn’t die on a cross. According to Prince, he actually died on a stauros—a wooden stake used for torture or death. This seemed to me like a good time for a phone call.
The second of my legendary New Funk calls came about when Prince packaged New Power Generation, Chaka Kahn and Larry Graham CDs together as the “New Power Pack.”
Finally, my favorite New Funk call was inspired by Larry Graham, legendary bass player from Sly and the Family Stone and Graham Central Station. For some reason, his stage attire at the time was a ridiculous white suit and sailor hat. He was on the Paisley Park payroll at the time, frequently performing with Prince. It seemed to me that New Funk should be carrying a custom Larry Graham clothing line.
I once considered myself a writer. When asked what I did for a living, I had a nice, tidy response: “I am a writer.” Short, straightforward and simple. After a few years, my job changed. I still wrote, but my title became magazine editor. I liked this title. I felt as though I had accomplished something at the fairly young age of 25. Apparently I did a bang-up job as magazine editor too because after a few years my title changed again. I became communications director. I still put pen to paper on occasion and I still produced a monthly magazine. However, I began spending more time hiring and firing and worrying about countless other tasks that involved spreadsheets and reports and long meetings where little was accomplished.
That brings us to today. I recently received an impressive seven-word vice president title. I suspect the promotion will bring with it even more spreadsheets, reports and long meetings. And even less writing.
So, with that, I begin my quest to become a writer again—not for the title and certainly not for the $9.75 an hour I made when I started. This time it’s all about finding the right words, sharing my neurotic observations and getting some use out of this awesome domain I’ve been sitting on for the past six months. Let’s see where it takes me.