The Critical Mass

The land of reality-show bottom feeders

A plate of white tuna arranged as hibiscus flowers.

A plate of white tuna arranged as hibiscus flowers.

I’m plunging into total news blackout for the next eight days. As is always the case with any detoxification program, there will be a period of decompression from the unrelenting media stimulus.

Like yesterday. We’re sitting with a handful of Boston firemen and cops in a tiki bar on a beach in Fort Lauderdale. It’s mostly a frat-boy scene, but I know how to behave in this environment. One of the Boston guys points out that Dennis Rodman is sitting in the bar. I look. Damn if it isn’t Rodman, surrounded by a small entourage of hangers-on. I know it’s Rodman because he has very strange, small, round ears. He looks pretty much like he did when he was making the rounds of celebrity rehab shows.

Someone asks me who’s gonna win the Super Bowl. I have to think for a moment, to remember who’s playing in it….

“Look, there’s Gary Busey,” I tell them. I give it maybe a 50/50 chance, but everyone looks over at another  table and nods and agrees, “Damn that guy does look like Gary Busey.” After a few minutes, a couple of the Boston guys are beered-up enough that they decide to go over and ask. It’s not Gary Busey. I say, “Did you at least apologize for confusing him with a brain-damaged, publicity-desperate, reality-show bottom feeder?”

But already, as the media blackout takes effect, moments of artistic clarity are emerging. At Tokyo Blue, our sushi chef was formerly of New York City’s somewhat legendary Nobu. In the midst of creating a handful of intriguing dishes (a conch roll called Mac and Cheese that looked, and tasted, like macaroni and cheese!), Chef Joe closed his eyes while wielding a very sharp knife and, for our amusement, sliced a cucumber into one long, shimmering sheet. No fingertips appeared in our white tuna sashimi, which he arranged to look like a hibiscus, complete with thinly sliced cucumber stamen. Chef Joe was so pleased, he took a photo of it as well.

I’m thinking I need more Chef Joe, less reality show. Down the street was a tavern called The Mental Ward, with a sign over the door proclaiming “We’re in here because we’re not all there.” That’s the place where everyone knows my name.

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