Finally Amongst My Own Kind! My First Group Scooter Ride and an Ode to My Bajaj (San Gabriel Valley Vintage: Pasadena)

Ok, so this post isn’t either food, alcohol or music related but its just as cooool!

So as many of you know, I chose the two-wheeled way of life instead of the conventional safety cage when I graduated High School. Just like pretty much every other aspect of my life, I decided to go counter-culture in my way of transportation too! Haha. Yup, no used, 90’s Honda for me! Instead, my heart fell in love with the scooter way of life. I bought my baby back in 08′, a pitch-black 06 Bajaj Chetak, off a craigslist and that was it, scooters and motorcycles it would be for the rest of my life!


Maybe it was my endless fascination with motocross growing up or maybe it was the U.K mod influence listening to British Punk Rock, whatever it was…I’ve just always wanted a motor bike of any kind. So, when push came to throttle and it was time for my dad to HELP me pay for a vehicle (I worked hard for it and paid most of it myself man!) I went for the Bajaj baby!

my baby back from the shop
my baby
my baby's behind

Bajaj isn’t technically a “Vespa” but it looks a lot like a P-Series one and much of the same parts are used and its still vintage-scooter-clutch style, so, it still gets some respect from the sometimes-snooty vintage scooter crowd. Bajaj is an Indian, 4-stroke scooter (no pre-mixing gas and oil for me thank you very much!) and its built like a freaking tank! Not to mention it requires very little maintenance, which is highly ideal for one, extremely busy and lazy me!

Of course my parents warmed me about the consequences of riding beforehand: “Y que cuando llueve?” (How about when it rains?) Or even the motorcyclist essential…”te vas a matar menso!” (you are going to kill yourself!) But if you are of the two-wheeled way of life, people and parents can try to stop you all they want but it won’t mean anything after you go on your first ride…

Anyways, this last weekend I partook in my first “group ride” through the San Gabriel Valley Vintage Scooter Club . The ride was themed “Here comes the summer!” and it was one of the best experiences in my life. They get together and ride on the first Sunday of every other month – meet at 11, ride at noon. My hardcore hangover didn’t stand a chance against the combined positive energy formed by a bunch of loud, two-stroke beautiful scooters. We met at Lucky Baldwin’s in Pasadena and rode to the Rose Bowl, down Colorado…all thirty of us!

hang a left
fill her up
looking back
the last resort shirt wearing guy
I like your red vespa
scooters invade suburbia
posted on his lambaretta
photo opp!

By the end of the day, I realized I rode over 100 miles as I also use my scooter as my car, not just for leisure! My skin was left extra crispy by the sun and my left wrist hurt after holding the clutch all day. But I finally felt amongst my own kind. People that decide to ride a scooter in their life are unique individuals, in a geeky way but also a passionate way. Not really accepted by the majority of riders out there (Harley’s and Pocket Rockets) so to be amongst so many other like-minded people felt goooood.

There is a new awesome scooter exhibition and ride going on next weekend at the Petersen Auto Museum called “Scooters: Size Doesn’t Always Matter” on Wilshire and Fairfax. So check that out if you guys want to find out more about this powerful two-wheel phenomena.

Even if my bike wasn’t technically “vintage” or a Vespa, I didn’t really care. Like my very good friend from East LA Carlos “Pee-Wee” Escamilla–the only other guy amongst my group of friends who decided to buy a motorbike too (a sweet 250 Ninja) said, “It doesn’t really matter what you ride man….as long as you ride”

Me on My Bike the Very First Day I Bought It

How Low Can A [Food Writer] Get?: A Flustered Five-Year Blogiversary Post

I tend to dwell and dwell hard. Some things just really are a trip if you think about the many other ways you could had handled a certain situation, in particular, the ones that turned out for the bitter-ass worst. But see, the problem with me is that, well, I dwell until I hit something hard. And when you get to that point…there is no turning back. I have grown to accept this neurotic quality of mine but it still wrecks some emotional havoc sometimes.

It was yet another night of senseless partying, the fifth day in a row to be exact. I now knew why the “#partylikeajournalist” stupid twitter hashtag existed. Although, technically I wasn’t a “real” journalist (ie. not getting paid–or correctly paid–therefore, not “real”) it sure as hell felt like it with all this OC Weekly and Saveur stuff happening as of late.

It was Sunday, 1 AM, and I found myself fairly intoxicated with the two people who knew me best in my life for who I really was and not for who I was in my blog or twitter. Both…just friends. In our drunken reverie, they actually walked in to the Ralph’s on 9th and Flower and bought a copy of Saveur Magazine (Issue #138). The one that featured a cover story I produced entirely by myself. They asked me to “autograph” it. I did.

critical coleslaw
The Critical Coleslaw that Started it All

Several Mexican beers later, it was 4 AM and they found themselves hungry for the elusive “Fourth Meal” of the day. And in true “triiiiip-oooouut” fashion, we found ourselves in the birthing grounds of my entire “professional” food writing career: The Pantry in Downtown Los Angeles. “How does it feel man? To come full-circle?” my buzzed friends would ask me. And as I scooped The Pantry’s signature, soupy, slightly-sweet coleslaw on top of their thick-cut slices of grilled sourdough bread in their “Pantry Set-Up” menu option, I stared back and stayed quiet–I didn’t know how to respond.

Nighthawks at the Café was my first ever assignment from Saveur, it was published in issue #127, otherwise known as the “L.A issue” exactly two years ago. It was a 200-word assignment given to me by the editors of Saveur. I guess they must had liked me.

Exactly five years ago this day, I started “Teenage Glutster” as an alternative coming-of-aging distraction
. I fell in love with good food instead of a girlfriend, and I fell deeper in love with my old love…prose. Jonathan Gold became my weekly food sherpa and I did not want to end up venting away on snobby, message-board sites like chowhound and yelp. Foodblogging became my direct output for my unbalanced teenage emotional upbringing. My friends smoked lots of weed and drank 40 oz. to medicate themselves, I took one puff and drank one beer…and then left home early to write about it.

Now, I am twenty-two and find myself jobless, and staying home to write this post instead of going to a match class that I already failed three times. I remain stubborn on my passion of food writing and refuse to let go of my dream job of one day, making a living out of it. Hell, I already got a cover story on Saveur, right?

Well, not so much. For as far as neat and awesome that feature may have been, as much painstaking time and effort I may put into writing every single word and recipe, the ultimate question arises….now what? My great Zen teacher, Edward Espe Brown of San Francisco Zen Center, used to tell me “As a cook, you are only as good as you’re last dish”, so if you’re a writer…are you only as good as your last piece of published work?

I can’t, won’t will not be a one-hit food media wonder but as my inbox remains without reply of L.A Times, Saveur and other food powers and my bank account keeps on shrinking, as I continue to fuck-up in school and have problems taking it seriously, I ask myself….how much longer can I last?

How much longer can I last before I just give in, like a normal member of society? How much longer before I just get a job at a 9-5 to at least have some money to buy lunch with? In the brilliant words of the great 80’s Hardcore punk band Bad Brains in their song “How Low Can A Punk Get?”

I didn’t mean to rip off
I thought it was a get off of mine.
I tried to make the scence off.
The plan was doomed to set off on time
The time that I was wastin’
I spent chasin’ in the pits.
And now I pay the price
To make the sacrifice of a fool.

I was on me.
I choose not to be
Cheated on part of thrill.
Bargained was not fulfilled.
Lost in a crazy scheme
That got strapped up in my dream.
And now my time’s run out.
Oh, what’s it all about?

“Hopefully, this is the start of something special.”

–The Teenage Glutster on his post “Yay”, (published on May 13, 2006)

The “Glutster” Burger Now Available in New Menu at Biergarten Tonight! Eat Me Now!

menu shot
Outta Nowhere!!!!!

1. Have a burger named after me.

Well, I can now scratch “having a burger named after me” off my bucket list. Yup, I can pretty much die a–very satiated–happy man now. There is now A BURGER NAMED AFTER ME at Biergartenahhhhhhh raaaaaza!

I’ve met some pretty awesome people along this long and winding journey of food writing self-discovery I took up back when I was 16. Although, I have learned–the hard way–that this industry thrives on fake and thirsty personalities, I have made some genuine lifelong friends that have all taught me so much. Eddie Hah is one of those homies.

Some of you may remember him from the post I did on him last year, hyping up his very own special burger at 8 oz Burger on Melrose. He comes from the lineage of the late Korean restaurant Sa Rit Gol, what many touted to be the best Korean place in L.A. And well, thanks to him, what started out as jocular late night texting is now…a full-fledged, meaty and balanced reality.

the glutster money shot
The Glutster Burger: Pickled Oregano-Onions, Epazote Aioli, Fried Green Tomato, Guacamole, Chipotle-Black Beans with an ALL-PORK Patty.

I present to you The Glutster: Eight juicy ounces of 100% pure charred ground pork loin, stratified with oregano-spiked, crisp-pickled onions, a thick and creamy Epazote-scented Aioli, a spread of Chipotle-laced black beans, two slices of fried green seasoned tomato and to finish the 2nd generation Mexification of it–a scoop of chunky, fresh Guacamole. All sandwiched between two toasted, soft, sweet and King’s Hawaiian burger buns.

For those of you that know me, you all may be smiling right now because you know that this is indeed a DIRECT homage to the way I eat. I didn’t call myself the GLUT-ster for nothing eyyy. I found out of my freakishly fast metabolism at an early age in life so basically, everything I cook for myself at home usually ends up being something stupidly ginormous like this, haha. Yes, with a giant mishmash of flavor-intensive simple ingredients like this as well.

And the bottom line? Well, bomb of course! I thought up of it! (burgers named after you do wonders for your low self-esteem apparently). Think of a glorified torta, one made with perfectly-balanced quality ingredients. In true nostalgic fashion, this burger reminds me of my fast-food driven childhood. I was skeptical at first, but the sweet buns really work awesomely with the burger. It reminds me of that flavor when the sweet ketchup adhered to the bread, remember?

My immortalization between two buns–along with many other interesting German-Korean bites–is part of the revamped new menu at Biergarten launching tonight (soft opening). Its a collaborative burger-fueled effort between Eddie Hah and Jacob Wildman (equally-abled burger bad ass formerly of 8 oz as well, Spago). Other chingon dishes include “German Fried Rice” (Kolbasa Sausage, Sauerkraut, Fried Egg, Dunkel Gravy; $9), “Pig Frites” (Korean Marinated Pork Loin, Fries, Celery Root Slaw; $14), grilled-chilled shrimp in Remoulade sauce, a new spin on the Korean classic Gol-bang-ee Muchim (Snail-Rice Noodle Salad with Chili but with fried snails instead!) and yes of course, the return of Eddie’s own “Chosun One” tasty Korean-fangled burger.

So come by and eat me tonight!

206 N Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Neighborhood: Wilshire Center
(323) 466-4860

New burgers all available starting at 5 PM tonight for $10-$11 each.

Disclaimer: Money cant buy you real burger love! I DID NOT PAY Eddie Hah, Biergarten or any one to make this happen!

Childhood Chips and Sour Cream: New Nifty Fritos Animations

Corn based chips and the smallest sour cream container of Knudsen Sour Cream (all mine; that way, my mom wouldn’t get mad for leaving deep orange smears along the container) was a staple in my childhood. Every Monday night, as I watched Raw is War (WWF Wrestling back when it was still decent), it was a ritual.

Love the art direction of this new ad campaign for Fritos

Two Hearts Are Better Than One

Love & Sockets

Now, to find my own correct output socket or polar opposite in time for Hallmark Day…