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It's Not Valentine's - Let's Grab A Burger

This glass mosaic creation via a class at Franklinton's Glass Axis has
been one of the more fun St. Valentine's Day excursions in Columbus
Out of the major non-vacation holidays, St. Valentine’s Day initially came to rank lower on the likability scale. From the handing out of mini-cards to mostly strangers in elementary school (not a fun task for introverts like me) to the annual reminder it provided as a “yep, you’re still single - you suck” for many years afterward, endearment for the day proved difficult.

There was one small benefit in that I avoided the crass commercialism that this day has gained over the years, but even then that would occasionally rear its unpleasant head. Perhaps the nadir of my feelings for the day arose when, not too far after a tough breakup, I caught wind of a billboard in San Francisco's South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood. A jewelry store ad featuring a woman’s hand and a big shiny sparkly on the ring finger, the company's slogan taunted, "Have your friends live vicariously through you.”

(That might be the only time in my life I seriously considered arson as an option, but I digress...)

My feelings toward the day have mellowed some; with my spouse not being the biggest fan of the day through the years either, we've come to recognize the day in a somewhat sideways manner. We'll do things for and with each other (dine out, send flowers, participate in special couples events, etc.) but not generally on Valentine's Day itself. And in a nod to this tradition, I purposely kept this post separated from this year's festivities by a couple of weeks.

We're Going To Give It 101%

The Meat Cut chart at Columbus's The Pearl Restaurant that
started the whole 101% Cow Conundrum
In the big-wide world of sports cliches, the phrase "He/she gave 110 percent" is both overused and rather nonsensical from a mathematical standpoint. I imagine most would feel the same if the cliche used 101% instead.

However, would you look more quizzically at me if I said that it was a cow that was giving you that 101%?

Our encounter with the 101% cow conundrum came, at all places, The Pearl Restaurant. One of several Cameron Mitchell concepts which occupy the southern section of the city’s Short North neighborhood, The Pearl is touted as a seafood-oriented gastropub supplemented with fancy cocktails and a international beer list.

During our meal, my spouse was drawn to a chalkboard drawing of a cow which outlined the traditional primal butcher cuts (round, chuck, sirloin, etc.) and the corresponding percentages. After a long glance, she motioned over my shoulder. “Look behind you...does that all add up to 101%?”

I turned, spotted the cow diagram, and mentally added the numbers. “Yep, that’s 101%. Those are some pretty productive cows,” I chuckled.  Of course, I knew the diagram was wrong, but that brought me to thinking: was there such a thing as a definitive meat cut by percentage chart out there?

Well, I decided to look into that topic and came up with a few surprises.

You Can't Spell Nostalgia without L-A-G

Just one of the numerous albums put out by Jandek, perhaps the most
cultiest of cult artists in the music world today
Does owning one album from a cult artist count as nostalgia?

Back in college, my favorite place on campus was not the outdoors and most definitely not the classroom, but rather either of the two listening rooms deep inside the bowels of the college radio station. I couldn't imagine much better than cozying up by my lonesome a couple hours with a few dozen vinyl albums, both new and the previously unexplored, prepping for the week's show.

One day, a colleague of mine asked me if I had heard of Jandek.  The Jam, John Lydon and Jesse Johnson, sure. The Jesus and Mary Chain? Joy Division? Yep. But Jandek? I shook my head no.

My colleague's eyes rounded like large saucers. He touted his love of Jandek (almost certainly one Sterling R. Smith), his reclusive nature, and his rambling, weirdly bluesy compositions. In fact, Jandek, who sports Texas roots, might be the cultiest of all cult artists; through his Corwood Industries label, over 100 albums have been produced since the first LP was released in 1978.

An inquiry from an interested party might be reciprocated with a bundle of copies of his latest work, and generally his work can be obtained at relatively low prices. Before I knew it, a copy of his latest album, "You Walk Alone" (the album pictured above) was in my hands.  He looked a bit like Beck, though I would not reach this conclusion until several years later when Beck released his 1994 debut "Mellow Gold." Best of all, the album was free: for a broke-ass college student like me, anything free was indeed gold.  And now for nearly three decades, I've owned a piece of Jandek.