My favorite local burger joint, Christie’s in Cary, is on the way out apparently

November 22, 2005

I honestly never thought I’d have to say these words, but after the worst lunch I’ve had anywhere in the past couple of years and having it foisted upon me at my favorite local cafe’ and burger joint no less, Christies in Cary at the corner of Maynard and E. Chatham across from The Circus Barn ice cream shoppe, I’m afraid the recent change in day-to-day management (I’m not sure of actual ownership, none of my business) has marked the eventual deathknell for a place I’ve been to literally hundreds of times over the past ten going on almost fifteen years and brought at least 100+ eventual “new converts” to over that time as well.

A while back I discovered their incredible “Salisbury steak” which is nothing more than one of their (in the past) incredibly superb hamburgers cooked in a pressure cooker and the resulting brown gravy which was ambrosia to me atop perfect mashed potatoes and upon finding that off-menu item (though it was on their daily menu chalkboard) quit eating what I always told everyone was simply the best hamburger I’ve ever had and ate their Salisbury steak only after that first bite hit my palate, but today, what I had, what was served to me and what I managed somehow to eat was, well, terrible.

Instead of cooking their premium ground beef patty in a pressure cooker (along with lotsa other ground beef patties to be served fresh that day to eager customers) for hours until soft enough to cut with a sharp look, what I was served was an old hamburger at least two maybe three or more days old with some weak store-bought brown gravy from mix just splashed on it, and more than irritated I was just sorely disappointed, because I knew it marked the end of Christie’s era as reigning local burger and cafe champ.

The excuse for what was called a hamburger steak with gravy was so tough I almost sent it back but managed to get it down, it was literally like trying to eat a boilded leather bottom from an old shoe, and when I complained to the manager, not to complain as much as to offer constructive feedback so she/they could go back to the “old ways” of doing it right, she tried to blame the lack of their truck showing up (sorry, but a beef patty is a beef patty and there’s no excuse for serving old hamburger patties 2-3 days old which were NOT cooked in a pressure cooker, the way “The Christies” used to do it) but even she knew that wasn’t even a good attempt at a lie.

I told her I’d come back one more time, Maybe, this has been my lunch refuge forever it seems like after all, and if it was still like today’s Carnivorous Horriblous, then Christie’s will have lost me as a customer, for good, forever. I hope next visit is better, is like Christie’s of old, is all I can say.


Today is my birthday . . .

November 22, 2005


. . . and since I don’t acknowledge let alone celebrate birthdays, mine or anyone else’s, I’ll just let this one, my 49th for this time around, go quietly unnoticed . . .

My new/revised review of Hog Heaven Bar-B-Q in Durham, NC

November 19, 2005

After getting several outright hatemails and many disagreeing emails about my panning review of Hog Heaven Bar-B-Q in Durham this past February, I and frequent lunch dining companion Russell Smith who accompanied me to HH first time around went back for “seconds? today, and if you’d like to read what we found this time, please go to:

Watch out NBA, Duke just might apply for membership

November 18, 2005

Duke’s mugging of otherwise respectable Seton Hall the other night was one of those “wows”, Duke leading something like 33-5 before Coach K started subbing heavy and letting The Pirates claw their way back to a somewhat respectable, what, 30-some point loss instead of what could have easily been a 40 or 50 point one?

Duke’s good, VERY good, they were ranked #1 in all the pre-season polls but damn, folks, they could have beaten The NBA’s Lakers the other night, Wow.

Just don’t bet the farm on the first Duke-Carolina game.

Even though UNC is first defending national champion team not to be even ranked in the pre-season polls, ever, as any native knows when it comes to the Duke-Carolina game, all bets are off, all depth charts are off, all everything else is off except a knife fight in a telephone booth mentality on the parts of both respective squads.

Will the Dookies go undefeated this year? Nah, no way, there’s simply too much parody, well, I meant to actually say “parity” but “parody” works almost as well, in men’s college basketball for Duke to run the table, and it will be a mouse of a team who has 2-3 hot hands dropping 3-point shots and playing silly-great defense that will beat them, not an elephant of a team whom they match up more or less closer against.

But it finally is ACC basketball season and it will be a great, great season, even with the expansion of the league to 12 teams which will not dillutting the strength of the conference will make the games and the usual outcomes a little to a lot more unpredictable, more schizophrenic to say the least.

My dark horse pick this season: The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets . . . outmanned and outclassed by all but 2-3 of the ACC teams, they simply have the hottest and best X’s-and-O’s coach in Paul Hewitt and The Jackets will definitely pull a couple of world-class upsets this season, watch out for them.

Early on this frost morn . . .

November 18, 2005

. . . I took a few moments in the frozen chill of this morning as I waved good-bye to my wife as she went off to her hour-and-a-quarter-each-way-commute-job – my standing outside in our driveway amidst the lightly frozen chills atop anything that wasn’t moving, the few clouds above defining just enough the dawn’s rays to let the local world that indeed the first real day of winter had finally, finally arrived.

As much as I love the five seasons of North Carolina (“Indian Summer” of 40 or even 50-degree swing-days with almost hot days and cool perfect sleeping nights between Labor Day and Halloween being an unofficial “fifth season”), love the rites of springs and the vigils of fall, winter has to be my favorite season, for it stokes the poet within me with its stark beauty, its unforgiving relentlessness of truth being told not lies being promised be damned of summer, the crystal-clear waves of raw emotion that its cleansing suffering brings.

 It is only now as an evolving adult that I am finally beginning to understand why November is the cruelest month. It’s not cruel from anger or spite, only because it simply has to be.

November, the gatekeeper of the next cycle of change, has to be cruel because only the strongest can be permitted to survive into the next-next and the weak must be used to feed the strong as the strong have nourished the weak during times just recent.

My feet, long promised to the soft floor of vanishing forests, ache to feel the bosom of earth caressing them as my eyes soak in God’s paintings in deep wood archetypes, my new Jack Russell doggie-wog by my side this winter as we explore the mysteries of the fullness of bareness of not cold but absence of heat, together.


Once again, “Medium” stikes a chord

November 16, 2005

As those of you know who’ve been following my blog for a while now, I’m a huge fan of the NBC show “Medium” which comes on Monday nights at 10PM because, well, I, uhhhmm, I geuss you could say I’m a “medium” too…I don’t see myself as that, I see myself as an “empath” (I HATE the term “psychic”), but the show is giving a common language and a common bond to all of us who are like or even somewhat like even a little the show’s main title character “Alison” as played by Patricia Arquette.

This season’s first 2-3 shows were so dumb, their scripts were, that they ventured into downright hokey territory and past the pale of even remote believability, but last night’s show was back on that dead-on mark that was hit almost every time last season (the series first season was last year) that it was like welcoming an old friend back home.

The show dealt with the day-to-day reality that as an empath, errrrr, “medium”, that when “Alison” or anyone with any empathetic ability gets a vision, in last night’s episode it was Alison being flashed by a vision from her husband and/or his old lover he hadn’t seen in 15 years as his old lover and her new husband accidentally met her and her husband at the movies and then from there the plot thickened, the very real hilarity and simultaneous poingnancy being when Alison saw the memory of her husband and his former (just a one-night stand, though!) lover in bed in the way back, yeah, she reacted very human and got very hurt and very angry at this high-amplitude vision was “broadcast” to her more or less against her will and definitely without her consent, and how she dealt with, how she dealt with that mental-psychic-based-DVD-loop of her husband jumping the bones of another woman albeit years ago before she and Joe – her husband – ever met made for a truly classic episode.

If you do or don’t believe in ESP and psychic powers or psychics or mediums or empaths or little green men from Mars (the show doesn’t deal with aliens and that sort of nonsensical stuff, thankfully, just issues of being a psychic in a world filled with 99.999% NON-psychics), it’s still a very well-written show with lots of human drama and interactions and always, always some interesting plot lines and plot twists, do give it a surf-in one Monday night, you’ll be glad you did.

Christie’s has undergone major management changes . . .

November 16, 2005

. . . and I mean the beyond-superb breakfast-and-burger cafe’ in Cary that I’ve been eating at – at lease once-twice a week for the past ten plus years, not the major auction house in New Yawk.

The owners, as much as I’ve been a regular I still don’t know their “real” names and have never pried, I go for their perfect Cuisine American’ food, not to socialize with them, I just have always called them “Mr. & Mrs. Christie”, have finally built up enough reputation to where they can semi-“retire” and devote more of their time to their other business interests, specifically the real estate holdings they’ve apparently amased since moving to Cary in the late 80’s/early 90’s and starting the restaurant.

I would geuss I’ve “turned on” at least a hundred, maybe two hundred different friends and business acquentences to Christie’s superb fare over these many years. The simply have THE BEST hamburger I’ve ever eaten, eaten anywhere anytime and it’s always stayed consistently THAT good, you would have to try one to experience it to actually believe, though truth be told I discovered an off-menu item, their version of Salisbury steak and gravy which is served weekdays lunch only after 11AM until they close at 2-ish, discovered it back a few months ago and it’s so beyond childhood-memory-of-my-mother’s-cooking-perfect that’s all I’ve had for lunch there since then, their Salisbury steak and double mashed potatoes and extra gravy on the side. Their breakfast menu is also excellent, and their large sausage patties come from a special wholesale source that Mr. Christie would never tell me where he buys them from but which are also the best sausage patties I’ve ever had.

If you local to the Cary area, you’d be amiss if you didn’t try them at least once. The new managers, “The Christies” still own the place but have turned management over to a new team, assured me that every single item on the menu will stay exactly the same as in years past. For me, it’s real simple: either the food stays consistently world-class as it’s been since way back when, or I find some other place to eat lunch at, there lots more choices in Cary for lunch than there were ten or even just five years ago. But for now, things, memories of some of most sensously-great tasting cafe food I’ve ever had or ever will have, things are the same, so please do check them out.

I don’t know the exact address, but their in the small strip shopping center on East Chathan Street, I want to say 700 block but that’s probably wrong, right across the street from “The Circus Barn” ice cream shop (everyone who’s lived in Cary longer than a week has been to and knows where The Circus Barn is, Circus’ having THE best milkshakes within a hundred miles), between Vanya’s Arts and Accessories and some little tienda-place, it’s actually pretty easy to find.

Actually, it’s about ACC Men’s Soccer, but…

November 14, 2005

…but, they had the ACC Men’s Championship game on Fox Sports Net (local cable channel 50 in Apex) which was also being held at the SAS Soccer Park in Cary so you know I had to watch it.

While I never played any organized team sports growing up as a kid, not with the crippling rheumatoid arthritis I was born with, I did play some sandlot soccer as a kid in the 60’s when Pele’ was king and have been more than a casual fan of “real football” ever since.

The championship game today was between Duke and Carolina and when it’s the two of them, they could be playing tiddleywinks for all they care and there still would be blood on the floor afterwards.

I don’t know what it was today, but both teams seemed to languish on the field, to only half-jog instead of use their young-leg team speed to run around like the field like madman as they (and most college-level teams) are want to do, like they both had ankled weights around their collective leggings that never came off, so of course at the end of regulation it was a Zero-Zero tie and after two overtime periods also produced nada, it came down to that invention of modern attention span requirements, “the shootout”.

I’m of mixed feeling regarding the shootout, where each team takes five turns in turn shooting the ball one-on-one, five different players taking a shot each against their opposing team’s goalie and whoever leads at the end of five frames wins the shootout and therefor the game, but of course since it was Duke and Carolina playing it was 4-4 at the end of the regulation shootout and went into true sudden death at that point, Duke ultimately winning.

For purists of which I consider myself a half of one, soccer purist that is, the shootout is abombination of the true spirit of soccer, which is the greater wave of combined team effort over a longggggg game time should win and usually does.

However, all but purists love the shootout, since it takes the usual number of realistic scoring chances, say, uuyyhhhh, five per game during the course of sixty or ninety or however many minutes depending, and compresses those scoring chances into a head-on mano-el’-mano contest, okay, manio-el’-mano (pardon if my Espanol is rusty) for-all-the-marbles contest that takes less than 5 minutes as opposed to more or less two hours to complete. 99% of the fans love it, the TV production people love it, it is exciting to watch even if you are a purist, and for someone who’s never seen soccer in their life watching an exciting shootout for a championship just might spark the interest in watching the sport the rest of the world loves best, which is a good thing, never a ban thing.

The stupidness of the hotel bombings in Jordon, or why Al-Queda just doesn’t get it

November 13, 2005

One of the first things modern organized crime learned when they set up shop in America in the late 19th Century, and this is common sense when you think about but still, is that you don’t kill your customers.

Sure, you might bluff that you’ll kill them if they don’t pay your loaned-shark money back on time, you might even break their knees if they’re really late paying off a bet made to one of your bookies, and you might roll them outside in an alley when they get blind drunk at one of your illegal “liquoir houses” and houses of prostitution, but when you kill them then they aren’t income producers for you any longer and the name of the game for “The Mob” is always money, is always profit.

In Al-Queda’s case, what they’re selling isn’t whores or gambling or liquor, it’s ideology, and they just don’t get it apparently that even though they’re selling an intangible they’re still trying to sell something and if you go out and kill your customers just because they’re wearing the wrong kind of necktie or go to a church which is a little different from your own, then not only are you killing your best advertisements, your customer base that would otherwise be loyal to you, but you’re killing scaring the fool out of other potential customers and they’ll start avoiding all contact with you at all costs even though they might really want to down deep inside want to buy what you’re selling.

The current troubles in the Sudan . . .

November 13, 2005

. . . reflect the past and current and highly probably future troubles in Africa in general…root-generational tribal warfare, religious hatred, intolerance of all but one’s clan, a poropensity towards indiscriminate genocide, etc.

If you remember the so-called “famine” in the Sudan that killed tens of thousands of innocents, it was no more an actual “famine” than a group of thugs hijacking a truckload of wholesale groceries bound for a Safeway supermarket, because that’s essentially what happened, a group of militarized mlitants/thugs/killers simply denied the free-flow of food in and out regions where their enemies were concentrated in and they had basically surrounded but couldn’t mount enough of a military offense to go in and finish wiping them out, so they engaged in what amounted to a “state of siege” just like they used to do to castles in the Middles Ages and waited and waited to starve them or starve them out so they could then murder them.

Africa, with its huge stockpile on natural and human resources, has the potential to become the greatest continent on Earth, has the potential to become the greatest concentration of the wealthiest confederation of nations on Earth, easily surpassing our own United States Of America or the EU or the Chinese Conferderations, BUT they’re going to somehow re-radicalize their mindsets and politics and quit living in the mindset of pre-Colonial times and get on with the business of business, get on with the cold hard fact that if they soon learn to at least try to live together that between increasing tribal warfare and AIDS and a multitude of other harshset problem they’re not going to be living much of any if at all much longer, not as recognizable independent nation-states at least.