Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Picnic with the Devil (or his minions)

Bust out the popcorn, it's movie nite! In keeping with our running theme of picnics gone horribly wrong (and filmic depictions thereof) we are happy to offer you this tasty little silent film made by our dear friend and favorite imp Mr. Uncertain and his talented cohorts... Enchanted Picnic!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Solo picnics: the haunting

Every day here at EatOutMoreOften HQ we get piles of fan letters thanking us for our unique contribution to the world of outdoor dining, but asking us again and again, often in tones of desperation and woe, the same questions: Is it safe to picnic alone? What if I choke on the bitter flavor of Loneliness that resides permanently in my mouth? Surely, there will most certainly be other people in the park who could call an ambulance or pat me on the back until I regurgitate my aborted picnic onto the freshly mowed lawn, but who will be there to Heimlich my aching heart?

Having no shortage of friends begging to dine with us, we were of course curious about and moved by the plight of the solo diner. Considering our role as acknowledged experts on all things picnic, we took it on ourselves to answer our readers concerns. What follows is an experiment in solitude.

Trial #1: Fort Greene Park, a Thursday morning
So, attempting a solo picnic in Brooklyn's beautiful Fort Greene Park is a bit like cheating, because the park is actually teeming with ghosts eagerly waiting to be channeled by your unsuspecting mind. Deep inside this park's picturesque hill lies the crypt (or mass grave) of soldiers who died in captivity on prison ships during the American Revolutionary War. But what better place than a Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument to embark on an experiment that could very well prove deadly?

Moving on. For today's spread I stopped at a little French bistro near the park and picked up their "Parisian basket" consisting of baguette, croissant, muffin, and jam and butter. A little bread-heavy, but that's one of the advantages of solo picnicking--there's no one to tell you to lay off the baked goods. I also brought along a copy of one of my favorite comic book series, Cromartie High, which chronicles the exploits of a group of Japanese badasses who attend a super badass high school and hang out with a mysterious and hairy friend who bears a disturbing resemblance to the late great Freddie Mercury. I brought the book to stave off Loneliness, because it always makes me laugh out loud, much like the company of good friends. So far, so good!

Hold the phone! I've only got two hands! I can't butter and jam my baguette and read my book at the same time. But if I set down the book to prepare my meal, the American Revolutionary soldierghosts will surely possess my emptied mind and lead me to commit unspeakable acts of violence on the noisy teenagers who dance on their very grave. And if I become engrossed in my book to forestall such a disturbing fate, I won't eat my food at all, thereby disqualifying this excursion from picnichood completely. If only I had somebody to talk to, some charming conversation that could keep the ghosts at bay! Abort! Abort!

Trial #2: Central park,
a Friday afternoon
Whoa, that was close. I can't believe I was so smug as to think I could just enjoy my simple meal all alone whilst perched on a crypt for fallen so
ldiers without channeling their wrath, which has undoubtedly festered these past two centuries into a murderous bloodlust. I'm going to have to be more careful this time. Ah, what could be more innocent and free of bad vibes than New York's playground for the masses, Central Park? I found a site near the 72nd Street and Central Park West entrance, not so very far from the John Lennon monument, Strawberry Fields. I know what you're thinking--not another site of murder and haunting!--but don't worry. Mr. Lennon came to me in a dream and said he'd love to have me for over for a picnic and there would be no funny business like demonic possession.

Still, I'm wary. And how carefully I chew.

But the picnic goes off without a hitch!
I see cute dogs, eavesdrop on the cell phone conversations of passers-by, and toast to a warm glow in the summer sun.
I think the lesson learned here is that solo picnickers do need to be very careful. If the Loneliness doesn't drive you mad, the angry ghosts who inhabit the periphery of our mortal plane will! We have also learned that there is hope for the solo picnicker as long as he enlists the help of a friendly spirit from beyond the grave--a guardian angel, if you prefer--to simultaneously take the edge off the gnawing anguish of Loneliness and scare away marauding ghostly presences. Mr. Lennon was so kind as to accompany me that day (whispering encouragement and bits of lyric in my ear), but I'm sure he has many engagements on his social calendar; appearing in pot-induced trances, answering hippies' prayers, and the like. I think the prudent thing to do now is to pick a patron saint for the solo picnicker, someone who is preferably dead and just forgotten enough to have the free time to watch over those who dine alone. Any nominations?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Apple doesn't fall far from tree

Did you ever pack up your badminton set, picnic blanket, adult diapers and thermos of mojitos, and head out to a beautiful picnic site with the kind of view you usually only see on greeting cards of the "sorry about your grandma dying and all" variety, only to discover that you forgot the food? It happens, don't be embarrassed. Let's talk about it. Because your situation is not hopeless, not by a long shot. Not if you live in Los Angeles, thanks to an group of picnic visionaries called Fallen Fruit. These guys and gals make maps of public fruit trees in the LA area, so that when you're hungry and in a bind, you can just stroll right up and pluck yourself some nourishment. Fallen Fruit is looking to expand their free fruit revolution to cities all over the damn place, so if you've got a neighborhood with delectable edibles that are ripe for the picking, you can make your own map, send it in and contribute to the feast. With any luck, they're gonna turn this crummy parking lot nation into a veritable garden of Eden, only this time around, there's no penalty for eating the apples! Here's the map for the Silver Lake neighborhood, where we at Eat Out More Often hope to be scavenging for avocados, apples, figs, peaches, and bananas next weekend. Cool, huh?