Kind of unwittingly, I was thinking about vampires—not because Halloween has been extended to cover the entire month of October (or more accurately, Labor Day to Thanksgiving)—but because I was thinking about that movie, Blood for Dracula (1974), also known as Andy Warhol's Dracula, and how I've been feeling like Udo Kier, constantly sick. The joke is, as Dracula, he must find virgin blood to survive, and each of his victims, purportedly a virgin, turns out not to be. It's a terrible joke, but what I like is the image of him, disappointed and sick. I thought of this in relation to me trying to find gluten-free dining options; it seems like the more awareness there is of celiac disease, and the more so-called options there are, the more I seem to be getting accidentally poisoned with wheat. I've gotten sick more times this year than the previous 25 since I found out I was gluten-intolerant, or so it feels.
The sad thing is, just after I decided to take on the dining, coffee, taco, and dessert reviews, to fill in for my somewhat lazy cohorts, Speen and Skiller, I had another experience of getting sick. The worst part is that it's almost impossible to track down the reason, and you can't in any fairness blame a restaurant when you don't know if it's something you ate earlier, or some other reason. Restaurants have a hard enough time existing without unfair negative press. It might make sense for me to just focus on only gluten-free dining, at places where that is the feature, and thus most likely to be safe—but that just sounds so lifeless to me. Plus, I'm not good about being thorough, and I'm a crappy scientist and a worse detective.
More and more, food in general has gotten to be a problem. Besides having to absolutely avoid gluten, I have been increasingly sensitive to dairy products, or at least some. Also, there are many things I avoid as possible migraine triggers. Even worse, in the 25 years since I quit drinking, I feel like sugar has increasingly affected the same part of my brain as alcohol used to—it's almost like my body immediately transforms any sugar I eat into alcohol. Which coincides with, or possibly explains, an increasing, maddening craving for sugar. It also doesn't help that as time goes on I feel worse and worse about eating meat, not for health reasons, but just because I love animals. In some ways I feel like death is looking more and more like a relief just for the reason that you don't have to eat. On the other hand, who knows? Maybe you endlessly stalk the shadows for virginal blood or the fresh brains of the hapless.
That time will come soon enough, but in the meantime I've got to find some solution, and I'm not talking about Shakey's Buffet. One idea is to concentrate on places rather than food. As much as food is an interest of mine, it's impossible for me to ever write even close to a comprehensive, fair assessment of any restaurant—and also, even more than food, I've always first been interested in the atmosphere, the feeling, the look of a place—the personality. Which is one reason I've always been a huge fan of diners—I've loved places where the food (and particularly coffee) quality was sometimes lacking. So maybe that is a good way to approach writing about restaurants—since I don't want to totally give it up—even if I have to give up eating! The other possibility is to find a good collaborator or two, to help pick up the slack created by my worthless colleagues.
Another thing that has been bothering me lately is the feeling that I'm doing nothing but making words on a word processor, published on this website, which, in the end, isn't much, really, but chicken scratch in the ether, pissing in the rain, farting on the afterdeck of the SS Whogivesafuck, or what have you. I try to do so many different things that I don't give the proper time and care to any of them. I suppose one solution is that I could just give it all up, get a second job, and then save more (any at all) money. And with that money I could buy what? Oh, yeah, happiness. But happiness is overrated, and maybe I'd be better off trying to make something that is good. But what? The general consensus is that if you haven't figured this shit out by the time you're 30, you're sunk, and I'm almost twice that age—so where does that leave me? A shipwreck—but not even that—just a shadow that resembles one, when the light shines on the lake a certain way.
Randy Russell, 14 October 2018