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Archive for September, 2008

Though the first presidential debate between McCain and Obama is still a few hours away, the Washington Post reports that as of this morning the McCain campaign was already declaring victory via this ad which appeared on the Wall Street Journal’s website(screenshot):

While I may frequently disagree with his politics, I have always regarded John McCain as an honorable man. As the McCain campaign has reminded us incessantly over the past year, John McCain refused an early release from the Hanoi Hilton, unwilling to leave his fellow POWs behind. You’ve no doubt also been assured that McCain is a man who will challenge his own party when partisan politics do not mesh with his sense of moral obligation to his constituency. These points have been hammered into our collective consciousness as exemplars of McCain’s fine public service record, and, especially, his honor.

This is part of the reason that McCain’s campaign has left such a sour taste in my mouth. In reversing or dramatically redefining his own, long-held positions on key issues such as abortion and the environment, and in his selection of a laughably underqualified Vice Presidential Nominee, McCain has called his honor into question. Perhaps, I’ve tried to tell myself, this is simply the high cost of running for President in a two-party system. But as the McCain camp pulls more ridiculous stunts (“suspending” his campaign and running this ad are prime examples), his image veers further from “maverick reformer” and more toward GOP lapdog. Where’s the honor in that?

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This, while by no means comprehensive, is a listing of some of the best burgers in LA, as well as a few spots with big local reputations that are ultimately underwhelming. Commonalities abound (including a special predilection for secret sauce — usually a minor variation on Thousand Island), but most of the joints have their own special flair and everyone has a personal favorite. In no particular order:

In N’ Out — This is obvious but bears mentioning for several reasons.

Fries, cooked to order: Utterly essential. Being able to ask for fries well-done eliminates any anxiety associated with fast food ordering. Well done fries are an essential component of Animal Style Fries. Covered with 2 slices of cheese, grilled onions, and special sauce, these are the Bounty of late night foodstuff, a quicker-picker-upper that absorbs excess alcohol and tacks on crucial hours of drinking to any bender. Well-done fries ensure fully melted cheese and prevent sogginess.

Cost: A full meal at In N’ Out will run you less than a value meal at most major national chains, and the quality is incomparable. For the price, this is probably the best burger around.

Cult of Personality: Why extol the virtues of this burger when former Heisman winner Troy Smith can do it for me. “For the folks back in Ohio, they need to understand first and foremost, it is a fresh burger,” Smith said. “The lettuce and tomatoes are extremely fresh. And they toast the buns. That’s huge. That’s key. They use a special kind of sauce, too. The sandwich is incredible after a long night.”

The fact that these comments were made in the lead-up to the 2007 BCS Championship Game — in which his OSU team got crushed 41-14 by Florida — suggests Troy’s focus was misplaced. Still, priorities are priorities, and I bet a few Double-Doubles helped to ease the pain.

The only downside here is the wait. Any time, day or night, expect a line.

Pie N’ Burger — This Pasadena establishment feels like a relic from a bygone era. From the wood-paneled walls to the antique cash register to the surly, white-haired waitresses whose dispositions betray the discontent of serving burgers every day since junior year of high-school, everything about this place says “classic.” The service is so poor — and the prices so outrageous — that it’s almost a shame the burgers are so good.

But they are good … really fucking good. The griddle, which looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in at least a few decades, seasons the 1/4 lb. patties perfectly, and the just-charred exterior gives way to tender, luscious beef. The grilled buns are smeared with PN’B’s special recipe Thousand Island and topped with cheese, hand-leafed lettuce, and thick sliced dills. The whole sandwich is wrapped in paper and delivered to your table — 45 minutes after you ordered.

It’s the definition of simple elegance. The crisp lettuce and pickles add just the right crunch to the sandwich, and the flavors intermingle without threatening to overwhelm each other. The burger is almost delicious enough to make the wait seem worthwhile, at least until the check comes. A burger and fries, with a drink and a slice of any of the immaculate pies will set you back $20.

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All Bark …

The attack dog has been loosed.  Anyone befuddled by John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate got a crystal clear view of his motivations last night.  Among the many questions swirling around the “VPILF” on both sides of the aisle, were doubts about her ability to speak effectively in front of the massive RNC crowd.  Despite a rough start, she quickly settled into her comfort zone and dispelled such concerns with her commanding presence and winning smile.  Sadly, that same winning smile belied the overarching tone of her speech — sarcastic, vitriolic, and outright mean.

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