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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
   authentic San Fernando Valley cuisine
Tuesday, June 13 2006

setting: Woodland Hills, California

I took a morning stroll as far north as Vanowen Street in hopes of encountering an alternative to Starbucks, but I guess I just didn't go far enough. Some may ask why I don't just drive when I go on these exploratory outings, but that's just not the way I roll. The only way to notice what needs to be noticed in an urban setting is to move through it slowly and be able to stop immediately. This is possible on bicycle or on foot, but not in a car. I don't care if we're talking about Manhattan, Woodstock, NY, or Los Angeles. The rules don't suddenly change just because you're in a strange land where people only walk great distances on treadmills.
When I got to a stopping place in my work this afternoon I headed out again, this time across the empty parking lot that lies in the center of the Fallbrook Mall. Here's where walking slowly on foot through places people don't often drive greatly increases the range of things one sees, yes, even in Southern California. I came upon a car parked beside a dumpster and could clearly see a raccoon trying to escape through its driver-side window, which had been rolled down two inches or so. Had this raccoon snuck into the car in hopes of stealing food, or perhaps driving it away? But then I saw that there was a human woman at the dumpster recovering what looked to be large pieces of copper cookware (dumpsters in Los Angeles are legendary for the quality of their perfectly-good contents). She was in her thirties, blond, and perhaps a little trashy, but in that way that one can get away with in Los Angeles. The woman returned to the car and ordered the raccoon into the backseat. By now I was close enough to see that the car contained a cat carrier cage. Had the raccoon escaped from that? Had the woman let him out? What exactly was the relationship between this woman and this raccoon?
Further on I passed a cluster of firefighters and their red-painted vehicles extinguishing a fire in the back of one of the businesses. I could see smoke wafting from one of the truck loading bays, but nobody seemed to be in much of a panic so I had to surmise no virgins or kittens were at risk.

In the evening I went out with Luc and Vikki to the local Chili's for dinner. Chili's is authentic San Fernando Valley cuisine, widely imitated throughout the motor miles of America. I'd never actually eaten at a Chili's before, though I think I've been to a TGI Fridays. (For me, today was a lot like Friday because tomorrow I'd be flying home in a jet airplane.)
We were seated next to a bunch of drunk tequila drinkers who could be relied upon to make a loud sequence of primitive primate utterances whenever a certain team did a certain thing in the post-season men's basketball game playing on Chili's television. I overheard two different Chili's employees gingerly approach that table to inform its diners that they could have no more tequila.
There are only a few things people ever eat at a Chilis, and our table had two thirds of them: baby back ribs for Vikki and Luc and chicken fajitas for me. Had I wanted to live like my life was made of Mountain Dew I could have ordered the blooming onion.

Just for fun, do a Google search for the phrase "authentic San Fernando Valley cuisine."

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