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Monday, January 16, 2006

Cowboys, Again

Saturday, Bruce and I woke up in the Cowboy Capital of the World.

To the rest of you pavement pounders, that would be Oakdale, California. To be precise, we woke up at Karen's Bed, Breakfast, and Beyond, which not only is a swell crash pad, but also offers dirt cheap accomodations, a friendly hostess, and always more than enough food.

I'm not totally sure I know what makes Oakdale the cowboy capital. I think I heard once they have the largest number of rodeo contestants that live within the town's limits, and there are a lot of ranches outside of the town. There is a rodeo that happens in town every April. Or maybe it's just because they say so. One thing I do know, there's a town in Texas calling itself the same and only a duel to the death will settle the issue for me.

I'm no expert or anything, but since when did professional bullriders and ropers become cowboys? I hate to be technical and all, but don't you actually have to do something, you know, like rustle up a herd of cattle to be called a cowboy, cowgirl, or the politically correct cowperson?

And for some reason, while in Oakdale, I never see anyone who looks "cowboyish". Sure, I see a lot of pickup trucks and such. I see a lot of guys who look like they spend a lot of time outdoors. But cowboy?

I'm just sayin'. How many of these cowpokes are really all hat and no cattle?

A plaque outside of the Oakdale Cowboy Museum. If yesterday is tomorrow, wouldn't that be today?

I mean, I see more folks (mostly younger) in Oakdale who look more "urban" than I do, and trust me, I live, eat, and breathe hardcore, concentrated urbanism 24-7. Of course, with the internet, "cool hunters", and television blasting into the farthest corners of the planet, authentic culture is pretty much dead, but I'll rant about that some other time.

After we got up, showered, and got dressed, we decided to grab a bite to eat while Karen went to her sewing class.

Our first choice was the Filipino place that never seems to be open, which wasn't.

A Filipino restaurant out in the middle of the Central Valley shouldn't surprise me since many Manongs were and still are farmworkers. But nevertheless, it does. If only because the actual presence of Filipino restaurants in the Pinoy/Pinay heaven that is San Francisco is so few and far between, that for one to be in the middle of Oakdale just seems bizarre.

Instead, we settle for Medlen's House of Beef.

First of all, just the concept of a "house of beef" appeals to me on so many levels it's just sick. Bruce and I like to joke around by calling it "La Maison du Boeuf", because anything plain and ordinary in English sounds so fun, self-important, and silly in French.

Second, this seems like the place for tri-tip, and during the summer months my mouth has unleashed a flood of drool everytime we've passed House of Beef and they've had the barbecue going. The HOB is a small restaurant with a meat shop attached, so after you've pigged out on the tri-tip plate or sandwiches, you can walk on over and buy more to take home. The marinated tri-tip at HOB was $4.90 a pound, which isn't a bad deal.

The restaurant is pretty much an overeater's paradise and the dining tables reflect that. Each table is 6 feet in length, yet set for 2 diners on each side. The chairs...what chairs? You sit on benches that pull out. The space between each table is large enough so that someone of a larger size can easily fit in.

Lucky for me.

Lunch not only comes with what you order, but feel free to help yourself to soup and salad at the bar in the back. Thirsty? Have some Ice Tea.

If you eat too much, not a problem. Because if your heart stops and you begin that long journey through that dark tunnel or across the River Styx or wherever the hell you go when you croak, we can wheel you and your family next door to the House of Prayer.

Yessiree, House of Prayer and House of Beef, side by side, knocking em out for the big J.

Besides the XXL tables, HOB is tastefully decorated with various rusty instruments of meat preparation hanging on the walls, in case you forget where you are. And what else besides good ol' country music playing through the restaurant speakers. If you're gonna have a tear in your beer, you better at least have a big ass piece of barbecued meat to go with it.

Since tri-tip is what HOB does best, I decided to have the tri-tip platter for $6.95. The tri-tip came sliced and served with fries (which were actually pretty good), a roll with half a stick of garlic butter poured over it, and a peas/carrots/lima beans medley overly cooked to perfection.

Bruce ordered the chicken strips (XXL) and onion rings (XXL).

You know, in all seriousness, I don't think HOB actually believes they are Super-Sizing their portions. I think this is what their customers expect. Because hey, they can always drive down a block to eat at the China Pearl restaurant.

The name China Pearl holds for me the same sort of allure as the name House of Beef. Even though I'm not brave enough to go to the China Pearl, or any other Oakdale Chinese restaurant, I fondly like to believe that a "Chinese Pearl" is the nickname for a loogy. As in "the ol' Chinese Pearl in the pizza" technique for disgruntled delivery drivers. No doubt many white trash asshole hicks have gotten the Chinese Pearl in their moo goo gai pan at China Pearl.

That puts smile on my face.

Back to House of Beef: The tri-tip was good, but failed to send me over the edge. I truly believe this is because we were there at the wrong time. A good motto for anyone who lives in the Central Valley or visiting there should be "if the smoker's cold, the beef is old". Because as the barbecue was good, it tasted not so fresh and a little bit bland.

The barbecue sauce that came on the side was way too ketchupy and way too garlicky. I would have to bring in my own sauce to be truly happy.

I'll return to the House of Beef, but not until I see that smoker smoking, and then I'll order whatever comes off of it.

By the way, I did buy me a House of Beef t-shirt to wear. After I get my grocery list together, I'm showing it off here.



After filling up, Bruce and I met Karen at the theatre in downtown Modesto to see Brokeback Mountain. It was the second day it was open in Modesto and Karen wanted to see it.

We tagged along because we wanted to see it in a Red State, to see what the crowd's reaction would be compared to that of San Francisco.

This crowd was distinctly different than the San Francisco one. For instance, there were no sophisticated, black turtlenecked, middle-aged lesbians drinking Cabernet and sharing a club sandwich they had sneaked in, nor was the crowd mostly chatty and loud gay men. There were a few, but for the most part, there were a LOT of women with their husbands. I would venture to say women outnumbered men. The showing we went to at 2:50 PM wasn't sold out, but the theatre was double the size as the one at the Embarcadero and it was 90 percent full.

Surprisingly, the reaction was virtually the same. A lot of laughing and gasping in the same places. Bruce and I expected some folks to walk out at the sex scenes or make vomiting noises. But we didn't hear or see anything like that.

Instead, at the end of the movie I saw a lot of teary-eyed husbands, and the lady seated in the row in front of me was sobbing so hard I thought her husband was going to have to administer a morphine shot to her, only he was crying too!

I cried too, like I did the first time. That movie is painful. And frankly, I was somewhat reluctant to go since it would be refreshening the sadness I felt after the movie was over. It did, but seeing it a second time helped me catch a few parts I didn't understand or missed the first time.

"I wish I could quit you!"

Karen was pissed off at the end, since she likes her "gay boys to be happy and together".

The Golden Globes comes on tonight and hopefully Brokeback Mountain will kick ass and take names.



Anonymous Mark H said...

I was REALLY glad to hear about the size of the audience in Oakdale. I had been wondering just how the movie would fare once it spread out of the blue cities. It's already been banned by Utah Jazz Owner Larry Miller in Salt Lake at his movie chain. SO GREAT read about your venture to Maison de Beuf (IF you take the leftovers home in a box and open it five hours later is it solid fat?)..it looks like the place to go if you might have a hangover or you have finished creating your huge Mormon family.

9:42 AM  

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