Not a Mount Carmel Apologist....?

You should apologize if you've ever made a Blues Hammer reference in reference to Columbus' Mount Carmel. I'm guilty, hope I am forgiven. Seems I've caught some flack for my Agit-Review of Real Women. But I really like it. And with temps in the 70s today, it's the perfect soundtrack. So I suppose I'm not going to apologize again. Maybe it's age. Guess I just have to recline and get used to the kids questioning my tastes. This one is pure rock though. Watch below, ignore the douche headbands.


Burger Tour 2012: The Hamburger Wagon

Steps from the banks of the Great Miami River sit a tiny beacon for all of humanity to sample. That the Hamburger Wagon --  which is just that, a mobile wagon with barely enough room for two burger chefs -- still survives, 7 days a week, rain or shine or freezing temperatures, is yet another testament to the quality that exists inside these little wonders. It began in 1913 after the great flood of the Great Miami and Miamisburg, as sustenance for a camp of survivors, and it remains, recipe untouched, in the small center of town. Quite easy to miss. They serve nothing else - just singles and doubles, save some bags of chips and cooler of soda. These are sliders in the best sense, served with nothing but pickles and onions, no slop of ketchup or mustard to get in the way of the taste. 

What is superior about the Hamburger Wagon's deliciousness is the absence of slop, and the fact that they are lightly fried in their a pan of grease that may or may not have been handed down for generations. It's a nice and easy assembly line from pan to bun, ready to go, even a handy chart pricing multiple burgers makes the transaction smooth, since you'll be needing to know how much 10 or so are. The fry gives it a crunchy texture unlike any other burger I've tried so far. It's a blissful little crust, lightly salted and peppered, with no indication these are overcooked. I might have trouble picking a champ were I to have Crabill's and HW in dueling hands, but for now, The Hamburger Wagon sits slightly below, if only for their lack of a counter to enjoy multiples. Hamburger Heaven.


Chi-Ali: The Native Tongue's Native Son

While I loved every minute of the Tribe Called Quest documentary, Beats, Rhymes and Life -- the best thing about the film was re-discovering the Native Tongue family, and the mini-revolution they started among late '80s/early '90s hip-hop. We've already talked about Monie Love -- an anomaly to the group, so next in line is the strange case of Chi Ali, or the Fabulous Chi-Ali. In the present, not that fab, as he admits in a recent mini-doc about his life, that 30 seconds and a gun charge changed everything. He's now in, or just recently released from, Sing Sing prison. But way back, with "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number," he was a young, budding, rapper with the instant cred of the Native Tongue in his arsenal. He couldn't have been a day over 13 when he debuted. By the time the record came out, he had aged, you can hear it in his voice going from "Roadrunner" and onto "Funky Lemonade." But to me, he was part of my crew -- as a tween mutant, I thought I was in my own rap crew (Teenage Soldiers, where's Shane Darner when you need his craps table).

In retrospect, besides the single, The Fabulous Chi-Ali is a highly inconsistent record. He started becoming more sophisto in aforementioned follow-ups on the album. Still, the Beatnuts produced, "Let the Horns Blow," is worth seeking out. It was the essential posse cut, involving Dove of the Jungle Bros., Phife of Tribe, and Dres from Black Sheep, and displays young Chi as a triumphant sixth man with the most inspired verse of his short career. Must'a been feeling the energy in the room that day, because after this, Chi had little to offer. A shame, a tragedy, at least he knows his faults. 

Burger Tour 2012: Crabill's Holds the Secret

For the time being, I think I’ve found Ohio’s best burger – trumping all burgers in all categories. And for that reason alone, I’ve decided to ditch the metric for which I was determining how I arrived at a certain (mostly arbitrary) number to rank these burgers. Logic should dictate that if the burger is good, so are the accompaniments, the setting, and need to travel wherever it is you need to go to experience said burger. Crabill’s is certainly off the beaten path, but extremely worth the time it takes to journey to Urbana. For generations, existing in one form or another since 1927, it has been the centerpiece of the small Ohio town. That’s not even including the Mumford Potato Chip Company, who have been making the most delectable kettle cooked chips in the country since 1932 – which by the way are the only extras you get at Crabill’s besides home-baked pie. Oh, and they’ve just added ketchup in 1990. Talk about traditions.

I’ve kept Crabill’s in my back pocket for a while now, and I feel I have to apologize. It’s the go-to for anyone who wants to know the secret to the best Ohio burger. Arguably, the Sidney Maid-Rite may have the taste – but it’s not really a burger. Crabill’s make sliders, but sliders only because they are small. Encountering Crabill’s came at the very end of our Western Ohio, and it was so beyond the competition of the day, I didn’t think it should be included. Plus, at that point we couldn’t truly indulge in Crabill’s earthly delights (the guy who came in directly after us, plopped down and ordered 12 doubles…to start). We were stuffed, in need of exercise and coffee, and about to end with what Matt claimed was the world’s smallest hot fudge sundae (which also exists on the outskirts of Urbana). But what we did indulge in was enough to rule this burger the supreme stop of our trip. It was simple – a eight seat counter, with a grill directly to the left of that, and barely enough room to order if the place was at capacity. No plates or cutlery, just a piece of wax paper and some napkins. You have your choice of single or double – with or without the customary onions and brown mustard. Bliss. Their secret, judging from the link above, is folklore – much like the Maid-Rite (though I’ve seen it duplicated quite well). But it’s the essence of a perfect burger – no frills and no gimmicks – and can challenge anything I’ve tried so far.

The Power of the Swailes' Road Floating Cube

What does it all mean? Can locals inform me if this spins at night, year-round, and not just during the holidays? I should know more about this strange, mysterious, Troy, Ohio, USA landmark. What does it all mean?