Something cray-cray just happened... Ben Connor Barrie, the esteemed (and at times full of steam…sorry, I couldn’t resist) editor of DamnArbor.com contacted the staff at A2Gastronoy.com to request an interview. In the process he called A2GastroBoy "the only significant anaoymous Internet personality in the area." Wha-WHAT? You heard me..."SIGNIFIGANT!" I’m SIGNIFNCANT! Now my mother can finally get over the fact that I never went to med school.
That event inspired this post. Enjoy.
WARNING: Let me save you the trouble and acknowledge that this is a total vanity piece; an egomaniacal masturbation. If you enjoy masturbation (and who doesn’t?!) read on. If you’re a frigid Protestant please click away.
“Anonymous?!” I know exactly who I am
It was bound to happen… in fact some may say this this issue's been a long time coming.
I've spent the last two years blogging, tweeting, checking in on Foursquare, iTapped, Instagram, yada, yada, yada...basically galavanting around the interwebs under the cloak of anonymity, free from recourse. Yes, my close frineds are in on the secret, but the majority of folks "liking" me and responding to my posts have no ideas who the hell I am.
So what gives? Who is A2GastroBoy? Why don't I use my real name? The long answer is complicated. The short answer is "nunya"...AKA "None Ya damn business" (not to be confused with "fumunda").
First of all, be careful of what you ask for…I’m 100% convinced that my alter-ego is ten-fold more interesting than my true identity. Appreciate what you’ve got.
What’s more selfishly relevant is that while the first amendment protects my right to post this drivel, it does not defend me against ridicule. I live in a glass house. I’m pretty darn sure that a few biographical facts about yours truly would become fodder for taunting derision. I deal with enough ass holes in my daily travails. I don’t need to invite more. And let’s face it, most of the folks who read and write blogs are ass holes, right? Obviously, present company excluded.
Sarcastic bullshit aside, it warms my cold heart that some of you folks want to know who the heck I am. I've come to relish my online peeps. I've made some genuine "e-friends" with folks like @DamnArbor. @A2serindipity is my ‘brother from another mother.’ The wife of @satchels shares my passion for helping our public schools. @A2Jess is my restaurant-choosing Bobbsey twin and @psa2 cracks me up with her genuine concern for lesser species.
I have, at times, had a desire to connect with these folks IRL (that’s ‘in real life’ folks). At the same time, I have also been creeped out by a stalker on Foursquare who tried to pick me out of a crowd. Ultimately this is a hobby and not a vocation so I’ve decided to remain hidden within the uncomplicated cloak of ananymity. My identity is a “need to know” fact…it’s just that most of all-y’all don’t need to know.
All that said, I thought it only civil to open the kimono a wee bit (not that there’s anything ‘wee’ behind the kimono). I thought I’d save @DamnArbor the effort of developing questions and conduct my own auto-biographical interview. For extra credit points I’m included a few candid photos from the A2GastroBoy archives. This is for Ben. Enjoy.
Twenty Questions With A2GastrBoy
(Please note, these are also fabulous conversation starters at your next dinner party)
Q1: Name 5 celebrities you’d most enjoy having to a dinner party
- Uncontested MC & Social Commentator: Jon Stewart. If you have to question this selection you are officially banished from this site.
- Comic Relief: Louie CK. Yes, he’s the man of the hour and I feel like a “me too” poser choosing him. Still, the man is genius. The fact that he’s cast Pamela Adlon as his love interest in two separate shows is just icing.
- Most Desirous Rich Friend (and Inspiring Entrepreneur): Sir Richard Branson
- Fiery Estrogen (and voted most likely to bring pot): Sandra Bernhard
- Token Person of Color: Baratunde Thurston (Look him up; I’m allowed to call him black because I bought his book)
- Cheating Extra Credit Invite: To skirt the limit of five invites I’d “hire” Mayor Hawthorne or Bruno Mars as a musical guest.
Q2: Same question, Dead People…
Q3: OK, no dead People. TV or Film Characters…
- The entire cast of Californication (Hank Moody if you force me to pick one)
- Tim Riggins (with Buddy Garrity as his designated driver)
- Larry David (his fictional persona)
- Eli Gold
- Warwick Davis (again, his TV persona)
Where would you host it?
The roof-top patio at Big Georges. It's Ann Arbor's best kept secret.
Who would cook?
Damn good question. I'd like to say [James Beard Foundation Award Winning Chef] Alex Young, but I'm sure to get called a faboy. If not Alex Chef Thad Gillies (Logan).
Q4: What’s your Favorite Nickname?
I’ve always lamented that the simpler URL“GastroBoy.com” was taken (don’t bother checking it out, some lame squatter is sitting on it). As much as I cherish and identify with my geographic community, adding “A2” to the front of GastrBoy creates and awkward mouthful. I’ve been playing around with a few ways to abbreviate my nom de plume. After a particularly aggressive craft beer tasting some folks started calling me “Gassy.” I’m officially voting against to G-Boy. I’m open to suggestions. Just don’t call me late to dinner.
Q5: Are you secretly a chick posing as a dude?
HA! I laugh in your general direction. While I’ve been accused of blood-letting on a moon cycle, you can rest assured that I am ALL BOY. If you really have to ask you’re clearly not a qualified A2GastroBoy reader. Move on.
Q6: You’ve been accused of being well written. You’ve also been accused of being a Snarky Douche Bag. What’s your opinion?
I enjoy writing. I have a sister who’s a writer by vocation. She inspires me to pursue the craft. Ironically, I also have a sister who’s an English teacher. You’d think I’d be a better speller and grammerist. To be considered well-written is a massive compliment.
Douche bag? Well I don’t mind if I do. I prefer the term satirist, albeit I’m still learning to navigate the fine line between satire and sarcasm. Do I at times offend? Perhaps. Is it malicious? No. In the immortal words of Sergeant Hulka, “Lighten Up Francis.”
Q7: Who’s your favorite Author?
SNARKY ANSWER: I came of age in a cohort that judged others entirely based on the contents of their bookshelf and album collection. I refuse to willingly expose myself to such scrutiny.
A: TRUE ANSWER: I have horrible ADD. I can’t concentrate long enough to read fiction. 99% of my reading happens in Flipboard. That said, I try to get through almost everything published by Douglas Coupland, Nick Hornby, David Sedaris….And my sister. I also just bought the new book by local boy Dave Rothbart. Four pages in and I’ve already laughed out loud. I’m looking forward to finishing it over the holidays.
Q8: What’s the most embarrassing Fact about A2GastroBoy
I've never enjoyed Bob Dylan OR Neil Young. Also, despite the stern counsel of my sisters I still wear [Dansko] man clogs in public.
Q9: Do you secretly work at, or own a local restaurant?
If you consider pretending to enjoy myself work, than yes, I work at many local eateries. If you’re referring to the header on my W-2 I’ll disclose that I derive my income in a much less scrupulous pursuit…I’m a marketer. To lend credential to my critiquing qualifications, you should also know that I HAVE worked in MANY restaurants. Young GastroBoy had delusions of gradeur as a rock star. At that time I paid the bills working both front and back-of the house resturant gigs. I even went so far as to consider attending the CIA. In the end, I choose dining over cooking, sold-out and went to B-School.
Q10: Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is (RE: open a restaurant)?
Frankly, I’m too damn lazy. It’s a long, hard, thankless job. Add to that the fact that I have a low tolerance for assholes and you’ll come to appreciate that I am not very well suited for the service industry. Finally, I like money too much. While I have endless gratitude for those who do, given the current status of my financial portfolio, owning a restaurant is not a prudent investment.
Q11: If you DID own a restaurant, what would it be?
Lately I've been crushing on Vinsetta Garage in Royal Oak. I grew-up "Motor City" and that building has forever been a favorite visual icon. I'm in love with the aesthetic. When I heard it was being converted to a restaurant I was overcome with equal parts excitement ad jealously. I've heard it's wonderful. Unforturantely it takes a hell of a lot to make me willingly venture all the way to Oakland County. I've also become obeseed with a group in Madison, WI called the Underground Food Collective. Imagine Selma meets the Grange and they birthed a 'joint" called the Fore1/4 (forequater). I love the idea of a supper club that has the culinary grace of Alice Waters and the social sensibilities of a VFW hall.
Q12: What’s a random fact about you that readers would find interesting?
“I can eat 50 eggs.”
I’m not sure it’s interesting, but I’ve collecting wine corks and beer caps since 1995. I literally have bags of them in my basement awaiting a yet-to-be-determined art project. Perhaps when I retire I’ll sell bottle-cap checker-board sets at Art Fair. I also aspire to collect silver spoons from travel gift shops.
Q13: You obsess on food. Why don’t you consider yourself a Foodie or Culinarian?
If you pay attention to my writing you’ll come to appreciate that I don’t really obsess on food. Food is just a sub-set of my OCD. Let me explain it like this… last weekend I had to tell my nine-year old nephew why I don’t keep Kosher. While I hadn’t previously articulated it as such, my response was that “I can’t keep Kosher because I keep Sicilian.”
Huh? Like Judaism, food is an integral part of my cultural heritage. That said, it’s not the critical attribute. Put another way, it’s a vehicle, not a destination. Yes I love food, but more than food I love dining. I love breaking bread. I love the experience of sharing that experience with others. That’s why I don’t consider myself a foodie. It’s not really about the food. And frankly, the propensity of any fanatic, be it “Foodies” or sports junkies, to engage in an endless esoteric debate over nuance is utterly exhausting. I don’t have the time of day to learn the name of the cheese maker’s dog. Just pass me the formage!
Q14: What’s your Biggest Regret?
That I can’t skateboard. I have the balance of a defective weeble-wobble. Still I support the Ann Arbor Skate Park. I even bought a brick. I can’t wait to hang out and watch the cool kids tear it up.
Q15: What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Frankly, getting through undergrad without a DUI. Though, the fact that gets the most mileage is when I admit that there’s a Zingerman’s sandwich named after me.
Q16: Explain your Blog’s design. Why is ‘Dog Love’ such a stagnant hole?
Here’s the good news, my site is open to the public. Here’s the bad news, my site is open to the public. When I first designed the site I had visions of grandeur. I wanted separate sections for different categories of content. I also wanted to create a gallery for art and photography. Unfortunately my ideas often exceed my capacity to execute or maintain. Today the front page [blog] is the only section that gets regular attention. Every blue moon I find time and motivation to update photos or links.
Q17: Why don’t you post more often? And what happened to your “small plates” posts?
This is a tough question because it incited personal angst. While I LOVE the idea of sharing more, I simply don’t have the time to be consistent. Earlier this year I experimented with posting interesting content form the interwebs on the off-weeks. I called them “small plates.” My self-imposed rules for such content made it more work than pleasure so I’ve done away with it. I’m playing around with an idea for next year that will allow me to do both long-form feature articles and short-form blurbs. In the mean time you can follow my twitter feed for a few amuse bouche.
Q18: What’s your favorite restaurant in Ann Arbor?
For the record – I HATE this question. I liken it to asking a parent which child is their favorite. In every case there’s an answer, but it’s entirely uncouth to admit it. My “polished” answer is simply to say, “there’s many fine restaurants in Ann Arbor, each with its own niche in my heart.” The easier questions are what’s your favorite Brunch, quick lunch, celebratory meal, or guilty pleasure. I have much faster responses to those queries.
Q19: If you HAD to choose, would you rather be blind, deaf or dwarf? (for the record, I had already drafted my response to question 20 when my brother-in-law posed this question on Thanksgiving).
DEAF! My grandfather wore hearing aids. Whenever he got sick of listening to my grandmother he’d turn down the volume. I’ve been jealous ever since.
Q20: FINAL QUESTION…What’s your biggest fear or phobia?
The return of Squares restaurant. Beyond that, midgets. DON’T LAUGH PEOPLE – I’M BEARING MY SOLE HERE. (And yes, I now know that the socially correct term is “little people.”)
Let me first of all publically thank the producers at TLC. Due to their show “Little People, Big World” I’ve learned to confront my fear and be a stronger person. As proof, let me explain that I’ve since watched Warwick Davis’s show on HBO without obsessing on his stature. I simply saw him for what he is…an Ewok.
I can’t explain why, but since childhood something about the labored gate and unique proportions of little people has filled me with paralyzing fright. That fear was further nurtured as an undergrad. One of the sororities on campus had a “little person” member. You can imagine the drunken debauchery when she attended parties. Rather than taking it in stride and being the bigger person (oh, yes I did just type that!) she would intimidate and bully anyone naïve enough to look her way. This behavior earned her the knick-name “Gidget the Mean Midget.” I’m a sloppy drunk. I was absolutely terrified that she’d catch me looking her way and then pounce on me like a ferocious Honey Badger. Again I say, DON’T LAUGH PEOPLE – I’M BEARING MY SOLE HERE.
In 2006 I stumbled upon the most curious of all reality TV shows. It was called “Little People, Big World.” It showcased the trials and tribulations of Oregon’s Rolloff family – a married couple of “little people” who were raising three biological children; two “regular” sized and one “little.” It was an instant addiction. I couldn’t stop watching it. And thanks to the power of “Video-on-Demand” I didn’t have to. I think I watched an entire season during a single weekend caring for my infant daughter.
Psychology has a term called “Flooding,” a form of behavior therapy based on the principles of respondent conditioning. Unknowingly I was conducting a self-guided treatment program. The more I watched the more my opinions changing. What started as juvenile intrigue became genuine human-interest. These were hard-working Americans dealing with the same issues of parenting and household finance that I encountered. I came to respect and admire their fortitude. I genuinely have a new-found respect for the plight of little people and the importance of ADA building codes. Thanks TLC.
(OK – you can laugh now. As long as you laugh “with me” and not “at me” it’s ok to make light of awkward social interactions).
EDITED 11/26 10:00 PM: ...When I orignally listed my "twenty questions" this was in the top 3. I deleted it because I thought it too crass. After careful consideration I decided it would be out of character NOT to include it. Here's your moment of Zen...Turns out it was too crass. Mea Culpa