Saturday, October 4, 2008

Consulting Spirits

Sometimes events in the universe seem to conspire. I got a message on my “My Space” from Sean Havey. Jim and Donna’s child on the photo from my “Breaking Up” post is an adult now. He invited us to meet up with him at the Venice Cafe.

I had my son Dylan. He’s a minor so we had to leave the bar before the band started. Dylan had been after me for a long time to take him inside. He’s heard a lot of stories. Uncle Bill would be working the door but hadn’t shown up yet. Bill’s wife Martha Rose was setting up her table out in the garden. She makes her living reading palms as Madame Rose. I told her I’d flash her card on my blog.

I was wondering what I’d write about this week. I was looking at the photo with my brother and me in the middle of the street in U. City. I was thinking about palmistry and it came to me.

I think it was 1973. I was 16 or 17 and still living with my mother. Pam, Dominic and I were working a Ouija board in my room.

We asked about Dominic at first. It kept telling us in different ways that Dom must never go to New Orleans. It said he would die at a Mardi Gras parade. It shook him up. He wouldn’t even go if the band had a gig there. He hasn’t been there to this day.

Pam was living with me at my mom’s but it was time to for us go. I had to get a job. I asked the board. It told us I had to go to Hi Fi Fo Fum immediately (a local high end stereo store). I blew it off. I’m not superstitious at all and figured we were subconsciously manipulating the board.

Later that afternoon I jumped into Wild Life, my Pontiac, and went out job hunting. I figured, what the hell, I’ll check out Hi Fi FO Fum. The manager told me he wished I’d been there a little earlier. He had a job I would’ve been perfect for but the position had just been filled.

Feeling a bit dejected I drove to U. City. There was a Chinese restaurant there call The Lantern House. I went in and was hired on the spot.

I ended up getting jobs there for my brother and my friend George. George said it was the worst job he ever had. They worked us to death. They had an incredible work ethic and no one spoke English.

I remember once they told me to go down to the basement and get a bag of rice. The bags were a hundred pounds. As I was struggling to drag it across the ground a small woman, maybe 4’2” and 80 years old named Miss Linn, told me to move over. She threw it over her shoulder and carried it upstairs for me.

We used to fill giant bowls with rice and water and skim floating weevils out. You’ve never lived until you’ve scoured the grease trap of an overhead industrial stove fan.

I was the only white person they let cook anything. I made the fried ice cream desserts.

The place was owned by 2 brothers named Ben Roth & Liong Q. Wong. They won several gold medals but they never cooked for the patrons. They would be so offended when someone ordered a hamburger that they would make me go across the street to DQ to buy one. Then they’d put it on their bread. It reminds me of when White Castle was built across the street from the Oyster Bar. Dennis would send me over to buy one of their burgers. He’d put an oyster in and sell it as “The Ultimate Slider”.

At the end of the night, when the Lantern House closed, the brothers would cook for us. The family and employees surrounded several huge round tables. Once they prepared carp someone caught. They loved it but I had trouble keeping it down. It was like overcooked eggplant that smelled like cat food. The building is now owned by the Fritz Root Beer company.

Anyway back to the cosmic events that would unfold leading me back to the Venice Cafe. I never did see Sean but I was able to give my son Dylan a tour. He’s 14 and after introducing him to everyone it occurred to me that we’d come full circle. The reason I left the bar 14 years ago was that I would come home drunk at 3:00am and stare with wonder at my new baby in his crib. It was time to move on.

Photo is Dom and Ben from the Ouija board era. Dom is doing his best Ian Anderson. This was in his mom’s basement where we learned how to be a band. Dominic shares Ian Anderson's birthday.


dominic said...

hoo buddy!

yeah i thought the question to the ouiji board was "who in the band will be the first to die?" the answer was, of course me- in New Orleans in 19--... we could never remember the exact year so i planned on staying out of there 'til the 21st century.

seriously, i had planned on going down there at some time but when Katrina hit it changed my mind- not because of fear of another hurricane but because all the poor families that can never return... the ones that made the culture what it was... now it's gentrified and all Nawlins Disney.

maybe i'm wrong...

Doggie said...

A friend of mine still goes all the time. The last Jazz Festival was very intimate. My favorite bar "The Maple Leaf" is still there.

...Sharon said...

Hey. There's a really good Chinese restaurant in Clayton called the House of Wong. Could this be your Wongs?

I'm sure you enjoyed their food with us when we lived in Clayton. That's when they were cheaper. They're so good, they went upscale & opened a second place in Creve Couer. They do a lot of amazing and different veggie dishes.

Doggie said...

I do remember that place. The food was great. I wonder.

Anonymous said...

patrick used to tell me about the lantern. he said every dishwashing job he ever had after that was like a holiday; he told me an old lady there would smack him in the head when he made a mistake and say" youa stoopa!" i still think of that to this day, he used to say it all the time. rico

Doggie said...

Man do I remember, " Youa Stoopa!"

Anonymous said...

April 8th, 2011

I ask any of you who read this, any of you who care about the Soulard code of honor, confront this “Doggie” David Udell. Tell him to change his post or take it down. Bob and Ollie should be remembered but not this way, falsely accused by some nobody named “Doggie”. Believe me he is living vicariously through dead men who are more exciting dead than he ever will be alive. I can guarantee that no one found this article by googling Doggie” David Udell. They Googled Ollie Matheus and Bob Burkhardt. I miss Ollie so much, say what you want he was magical. He was my guru, my shamen and he was my blood! Who was you’re hero Doggie?

sunbabe said...

The Lantern House was my most favorite chinese restaurant. Loved their shrimp in white sauce!