Thursday, May 24, 2012
Loving the Schmaltz!
Great day yesterday-- a couple in Bastrop wanted to do a quick, private wedding, so Warren and I used it as an excuse for one of our beloved day trips. I suggested we swing by DOMY Books on the way out of town, because I knew they just (FINALLY) got in copies of Vivian Maier: Street Photographer, a book I've been trying to get my hands on since last December. I know they've been trying to get it, too-- but damn, the book has sold out like crazy every time they print a new edition.
Russell had a stack of the books on the counter and we got to chatting as we always do-- Russell is a book genius and man-in-the-know regarding photos and art. This time, though, the topic turned to food. Russell called our attention to, SCHMALTZ, the new trailer deli out behind the store. Russell's friend Julia runs it. Even though Warren and I had just had lunch, Russell's description proved irresistible, so we agreed to split a sandwich.
We introduced ourselves to Julia, perused the chalkboard menu and ordered a veggie reuben. Then I noted, with great happiness, that she was playing Big Star on her boombox. When Thirteen came on, I said, "Oh this is such a great song... now watch me ruin it by talking over it." At that point, I really meant to be quiet and listen because honestly, you can't listen to it often enough. But Julia got all excited and said that, being a Tennessee girl born and raised, she had a super special place in her heart for the band. And then I said, "Tennessee? Where in Tennessee?" because I love Tennessee. And Julia said, "Knoxville," and so we did, in fact, wind up talking over Thirteen and all the rest of the songs because I HEART KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE!!
I quizzed Julia about who and what remained alive and standing in that town where I spent my early twenties, having my own sort of Just Kids experience. She told me Harold had died (I knew he must've, else he'd be around 200 years old), but that Harold's Deli had been taken over, re-named Harry's, and now features Jewish and Italian food. (Oh god, I loved Harold's egg sandwiches on bagels, especially when very hungover.) Pete's was still there (I ate an egg sandwich at Pete's every day for the first few months of my pregnancy). Despite our vast age difference, Julia and I discovered a fairly large overlap in our Venn Diagram.
When she said her parents used to take her to Ella Guru's, I about spit out my teeth and nearly broke my hands clapping with excitement. Ella Guru's! This legendary basement music club, named after a Captain Beefheart song, was open for about five seconds in the late eighties in Knoxville. I was a waitress there, and it is most certainly-- in a lifetime packed with music experiences-- the place where I learned the most about music, met and waited on some true legends like Sun Ra and Richard Thompson and Lyle Lovett and Livingston Taylor and John Hartman and had the stunningly great luck to have the director of this education be Ashley Capps, who managed the club and went on to create Bonnaroo.
I'll never forget Ashley taking me in his office-- this was probably '88 or '89-- and saying, "Listen to this," and playing Tower of Song for me, my very first time to hear Leonard Cohen.
Okay okay, hold on, let's get back to SCHMALTZ here. So despite the fact I talked her head off, Julia managed to get the sandwich made and OMG!! The veggie pastrami! The marbled rye! And oh, the chipotle kraut-- what a nice bite that added. Plus, bonus points for naming a veggie joint SCHMALTZ. Hilarious.
Congratulations on your new deli, Julia! We loved, loved, loved our sandwich and we will be back. I promise I'll try my best not to start singing Rocky Top every time we meet.
Posted by Spike Gillespie at 12:48 PM