Of All the Gin Joints in All the World…

Or in this case, with apologies to Rick in the movie Casablanca: Of all the bookstores in all the towns in all the world, the book walks into mine…

From the First-Time-For-Everything department: among the used books that came in with inventory-adds was a copy of my own book. As it turns out, it is somewhat of a scarce item, these days.

Nils Thor Granlund: The Swedish Showman Who Invented American Entertainment had a tiny press run ten years ago before the title was acquired by McFarland Publishing, which changed the name, among other things. It is still a biography of NTG, an enterprising showman who was once described as the “highest paid entertainer” in the US. He died virtually penniless, despite having discovered and brought to the bright lights some of the top show business people of his time.

Knowing how few copies of the Inlandia Press version exist, it is almost astonishing to have a pristine copy brought into the shop – almost undoubtedly returning to the place where it was purchased (although ten years ago we were in a different location on Main St.). The McFarland publishing contract required the earlier version be pulled from the market, so it is out-of-print, although the McFarland version is still out there.

It’s a bittersweet reunion. The book is an unread copy, without question, which is a little deflating to the old ego. The flip-side is – it is such a nice copy of such a scarce thing, that I’m happy to have it back without it ever having been cracked open!

I glanced inside to remind myself what year it was published (2008), and it surprised me that it was a decade ago. How time flies, these days.

The kicker?

It’s an autographed copy… which certainly devalues an otherwise perfectly-acceptable book.

We’re still serving lunches daily (except Sunday) from 11am to 2pm. Come by and let us serve YOU!

Dashboard Drumming & other Reminiscences.

I was nineteen and an evangelist for Billy Joel, certain that I was the only person in the world who had ever heard of him. I was determined to change that.

Freshly settled into my garage apartment, there was a plant on the windowsill and a chair in the corner. The primary décor though, was that blaster of a stereo. On my own, livin’ large, no Dad-man to TID me. (Turn-it-Down: that was a time before earbuds, you know.)

I suppose Billy Joel’s music must have come to me through the ionosphere or through some cosmic wave-bounces. I don’t know how else I would have heard of him. Oh sure, there was that Piano Man thing on the radio, but had anyone really listened to him? Really Listened? I’d ask, Have you heard of this guy named Billy Joel? Nah. Everyone had heard of Billy Jack, and Billy Bob, and Billy – our local home-town guitar-slinger.

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Billy Joel, not so much.

In our small town, you could count the number of young singles with their own apartments. I imagine somebody probably did. Like I said. Small town. I had my share of visitors, and – they paid the proselytizer’s price: I was going to make believers out of them with a fairly loud dose of Billy Joel’s album “Streetlife Serenade.”

You gotta hear this! I’d say, lowering the needle onto the record. And the piano started. There weren’t any more new Beatles records, but what came out of the speakers on this album had the Fab-Four’s mix of ballads and rockers and thought-provokers and tear-jerkers. Vocals and instrumentals. Harmonies. Lead guitar solos. Oh, yeah. Piano, too.

Wait, wait, I’d plead, when my guest would begin to fidget. This one other song… you’ve GOT to hear this one! I guess I figured to wear them down into liking it.

And so, that’s how I became the young single guy with his own apartment that no one visited anymore. (Kidding. It was a small town, after all. They just started bringing their own music with them.)

I subsequently ended my career as a Billy Joel Preacher. In truth, either BJ changed, or I did, because none of his later works seemed to knock me back in the way of Streetlife Serenade. He had plenty of big hits in the years to come, but – alas – he was forced to promote them on his own.

I was out on dragging friends in front of my stereo to hear him.

Put the album on this evening (I say that as though I placed a platter on a turntable. Nah. Streamed it. My old vinyl was pretty well worn.)

Turned it up. Then tweaked it up just a little big more, just in time for my air-drumsticks to knock down that roll before the third chorus with the perfect-piercing falsetto from a young Billy Joel.

That probably wasn’t my Dad telling me to turn it down, but I did anyway.

Once that last song was over.

(In case you’d like to hear it:

Ahhh, heck. There I go, getting all Billy Joel evangelistic…)

We’re on his list. A good one, thankfully.

A magazine mention!

It used to be the case that I would agree with that old axiom – all publicity is good publicity, as long as they spell the name right. In the post-H. Weinstein era that we live in, I’m not sure that adage is still on the mark.

But – as it is press coverage of a positive sort, and puts us in slightly exclusive company, I’m quite pleased to see us included in Scott Cherry’s list of the Tulsa area’s “Hidden Gems.”

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In the Tulsa World Magazine, Issue 13 – just out – Mr Cherry says “In a metro area the size of Tulsa, most everyone likes to frequent what could be described as hidden gems – restaurants with loyal followings that largely go unnoticed by the majority of diners.”

While I hate to think of our place as “unnoticed,” I recognize that we don’t have a large following like the big-boy restaurants. Give that we have only two employees – Dustin and me – it’s probably a good thing we don’t have a hundreds of folks lining up at lunchtime.

Even I had to admit that many of the other restaurants named in the article were previously unknown to me. (Although it isn’t surprising, given that I don’t get out all that often…)

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It was nice of Mr Cherry to include us in his list, and I’m proud to be among his ten favorite “hidden gems” in the Tulsa area. If you missed his list, here is a link to the slideshow.

Hidden Gems:
Tulsa World

It should be said that Scott’s columns have quite a following and even the mention in his list has resulted in several phone calls and lunchtime first-timers.

Judging from the photographs that were included in the article, there are some some pretty dishes being prepared out there, and – obviously – some pretty tasting offerings that are under-the-radar. And – like our lunchtime service – it appears many on the list are the product of owner-chefs and relatively small staffs.

Knowing what a tough business the food industry is, I’m was pleased to see that there are some real veterans out there, like LaRoma on South Sheridan in Tulsa. Thirty-plus years!

We’re in our twelfth year on Main Street in Broken Arrow, offering lunches for about half that time. I’ve worked some really, really busy places, cranking out food – and I have to say there are some positive aspects of being a “hidden gem.”

Particularly at washing dishes time.

Come visit!