The Oinkster

I’d say it’s the power of television, but it’s more than that.

We have an idea that publicity will solve all our problems, if we can just get on TV we’ll be happy, our lives will open up like a river to the sea and from there on smiles will reign.

But we rarely focus on the work it takes to not only achieve happiness, but sustain it.

On an abnormally warm Saturday in January, when people outside of Southern California have no idea what they’re missing, because they cannot conceive of it, Felice and I took a road trip to Eagle Rock, one of the many burgs of Los Angeles that you know the name of but never visit.

Supposedly there’s an actual rock. I would have liked to have seen it. But our destination was somewhere different, a restaurant, a slow cooking fast food joint known as the Oinkster.

On a day this nice you cannot stay inside, so we hit the highway after doing some research, in search of something that would satisfy.

In a world overwhelmed with information, if you find something good, you stay, you soak it up, you never let it go.

Such is Guy Fieri and his television show Triple-D. I saw a tweet from David Dorn extolling the virtues of the #19 at Langer’s and with my taste buds titillated, I went online to find an exquisite culinary experience. Langer’s is top notch, but I was desirous of something new.

And that’s what led me to this video of Mr. Fieri talking about another pastrami joint in the aforementioned Eagle Rock.

And what I realized watching the clip was that Mr. Fieri was good at his job, damn good. We don’t see this often enough. Someone experiencing the joy of their work. It made me want to get a camera and start talking about what fascinated me, hoping the way it intrigued me could be captured on video.

And I’d like to tell you that the Oinkster was a ten, that you must leave your house right now and go there.

But it wasn’t quite that good.

The twice fried Belgian fries were not bad, but were not mouthwatering. The chipotle ketchup was savory, but not to die for.

The shake was damn good, as if made from Carvel.

But Felice’s hamburger was serviceable, it didn’t make you smile with one bite.

And my pastrami concoction had the exquisite flavor of caramelized onions and red cabbage slaw, but it was no match for Langer’s #19.

But what truly astounded me was how busy the place was. Overrun with people even though this was the middle of the afternoon.

And although the Triple-D exposure had definitely helped, these were not tourists, but locals. And other testimonials were tacked to the wall.

But none of them recent. All of them at least two years old.

The chef had given up the restaurant business to run a stand. And even though it did not require a drive cross-country, it set a high bar, it was just that good, and it was embraced by the public.

And that’s all there was. Not a chain. Not a cookbook. Just patrons. And plenty of money. And a lot of hard work.

And standing in line I could not help but think that this was just like the music business. Sure, a bit of publicity always helped. But it didn’t come first, but after you’d already been at it a while, when you least expected it, when it was based on your reputation.

And once you made it, you still had to work hard, it was all you could do.

But your audience supported you. Because it’s very hard to find something good. And when people do, they clamor for it.

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