Spinach Artichoke Chicken
Lean Pockets (Nestlé)
You might know me from some your favorite music recommendation websites/mags, but chances are if you’re here, you might remember Sexy Results!, the go-to publication for hard-hitting coverage of Frozen Food Power Rankings, comparing college football programs to rappers and all manner of casual misogyny that predicted the creation of “tl;dr” with stunning clarity. Well, there have been accusations that I haven’t been as prolific as of late, and I’ll acknowledge them: if Sexy Results! taught us anything, it’s that if you play your cards right, law school can allow you a fuckload of free time. And while I’d like to think its decline was due entirely to the DipSet hiatus, there was the whole combination of me getting a job that at least required the appearance of full mental immersion and the fact that I can’t really write when drunk or hungover – and in large part due to said job, that was pretty much always.
At times, I found myself wondering about that discrepancy, since for reasons that I’m sure I’ll go further into detail at future points, the entertainment industry is pretty much grad school gone legit. It embodies the most appealing aspects of grad school- Jews, the debatable illusion of constant forward progress to a brighter, more lucrative future and the allowance to not have to give a shit about anything outside of your day-to-day circumstances- while paying you just as well and allowing more leeway for the misery of your cohorts and the development of substance abuse issues. But it’s the insularity, not the time investment that really made things frustrating for me- here I was, meeting industry titans like Joey Lawrence and Dane Cook, and yet, I had less to say about my life than the days when I’d just watch the MTV Jams channel for entire days.
Of course, that whole job shit is a thing of the past, so I guess you’ll have my full engagement during the hours that BevMo! isn’t open. Don’t pity me, though: on a surface level, you should be able to appreciate not having to work 50-60 hour weeks at a job that paid you shit and was based on the premise that selling comedy albums from mostly complete unknowns was a smart way to make fast money. I mean, pause and marinate on how deeply silly that shit is in a theoretical sense or just ask yourself when was the last year you bought more than one comedy album. But even in a larger scope, it’s not a bad thing: everyone’s got their stereotype of the welfare queen (why is it never welfare king? Das misogynist), but I wouldn’t knock it until you try it. There’s a decent shot some people reading this are those I’ve met since moving to California, and they’ll most likely agree that if you just got out of a “first real promotion” job in the entertainment business, it probably made you envy the dudes in Office Space and didn’t pay you a hell of a lot more than the state of California can, which by the way is more fucking broke than you are.
For example, I was politicking with this guy I know who’s a non-headlining comedian and does bartending on the side. He’s getting the same weekly unemployment award that I am. Now, if you’ve never worked in the entertainment industry, you’re probably thinking it’s ridiculous that someone who at least in a titular sense was an executive manages the same award as a guy working in the two of the most notorious hand-to-mouth affairs. If you have worked in the entertainment industry, you know damn well I’m the lucky one.
Despite my name, I’ll have you know that, yes, I do have Jewish parents, so obviously there’s daily pressure to not really ride this funemployment wave (via major Pitchfork $crilla). It’s not an easy thing to do when my last two bouts of joblessness have coincided with March Madness and the college bowl season, i.e., the two times per year that are most appealing to someone such as myself who likes to test the limits of what it might take for me not to watch damn near anything involving dudes in striped clothing chasing a ball around. But there is the understanding that I’m in a position to determine what it actually is I want to do, and I think I’ve done excellent work in determining what my dream job is, because I’m almost positive what falls under that umbrella are jobs that don’t exist in this waking life.
Fairly certain the artisans who determine the newest Lean Pockets flavors come from one proud generation after another who pass the family secrets down the line, but if there’s anyone from that fine corporation who knows it’s the opposite, holler- ay yo son, I had crazy visions. I’m even more sure that the dude who writes the Columbia House blurbs is also looking for work, and that’s even bigger shame because that’s the one job I’d totally do forever if given a livable wage: is there anything better one can do with his life than come up with endless variations on “hard-hitting pop-punk from the Bay Area veterans”? And of course, I don’t know if our current economic climate will support my case for being a psychiatrist who solely prescribes viewing of the “30 Thousand 100 Million” video. Frankly, it’s bullshit that I can’t, because I’ve tried some of the pills and they just made me gain weight and undergo serious constipation, which I found more depressing than the actual depression.
Well, I may not have a lot of “credentials” or “training,” but I tell you one thing: I’m a Ph.d. in pain.
But this past Sunday, I had a revelation that was somewhat frightening in that not only did I find a new dream job but it’s one I could probably get by the time you finish reading this. You know how people like to rhetorically ask, “who am I to judge?” My answer to that is always, “I’m fucking ME, that’s who!” I’m all about that- word to that shorty with the thickness in Sleigh Bells. I mean, I can understand why my old boss thinks Bush is the best band of all time (true story, no “word around town, I spent three million on my wrist”) or why my old neighbors felt it necessary to stay up til 4 AM drinking wine and playing guitar while also thinking that’s some seriously pitiable bullshit.
And yet, as someone who’s worked in the field of law and currently determines numbers that tell you whether you should listen to an album or not (which is really what music criticism should aspire to), I’ve found something that would allow me to engage in mythic levels of judgment on my day-to-day basis. In a completely reasonable move, I’m going to ask that you withhold your judgment of me when I begin this story by telling you it was inspired by going to Rite Aid at midnight last Sunday: just do a mental inventory of the sort of things that would compel you to leave your residence after 12 AM because it simply could not wait until the morning and consider yourself properly briefed.
Anyways, as everybody who’s been to Rite Aid at Fountain and Fairfax (no Afghan Whigs) knows, it’s been designed by MC Escher most likely in an attempt to confuse the people who generally find themselves in that area, i.e., alcoholics, hobos and alcoholic hobos. Of course, it’s just as confusing to me and I find myself walking around completely baffled to the point where the other customers thought I was casing the joint to steal baseball cards (not for nothing are they the only thing behind the counter besides the liquor and cigarettes).
And then I hear someone yell out to one of the clerks, “HEY, WHERE CAN I FIND THE SEX STUFF!” Now, as everyone knows, you find sex stuff in the “Family Care” aisle, and which is understandably counterintuitive to a good portion of West Hollywood’s populace. Anyways, I’m behind the guy in line and rather than acknowledging the inherent hilariousness of the situation or even high-fiving him (this should be required for condom purchases), the clerk is ice-grilling this dude on some Vegas blackjack shit. And then it dawned on me, who gets to be more scornfully judgmental than the person working the graveyard shift at Rite Aid? Sure, it’s not the sort of job that you can successfully namdedrop at bars unless it’s those ones that cater to said alcoholic hobos and pour up nothing but Christian Brothers, but I’d trade that for the fascinating and possibly exclusive stalemate of a buyer/seller dynamic where each fully believes they’re superior to the other and both are sorta right.
I don’t need your pussy, bitch- I’m on my own dick
That sort of dynamic kinda plays out in the Chicken Spinach Artichoke Lean Pocket (see what I did there? Get used to it). I think that Lean Pockets, to a certain degree, should acknowledge their inherent hilariousness. And if you’ve familiarized yourself with frozen food, you know that certain vegetables pop up more frequently than other, starting at the bottom with the basic elements of a mixed veggie bag- carrots, peas, green beans and corn (what the fuck, when did lima beans get too bougie without me knowing?). But the inclusion of artichoke is full proof that the “Culinary Creations” line of Lean Pockets is no idle boasting, and it’s a strange class-conscious tension at play here. Because the artichoke is the vegetable of mystery and intrigue: it’s nearly impossible to prepare in its natural state and the canned version is amongst the most expensive available at most chain supermarkets. Despite what this blog would suggest, I actually do a metric shit tonne of cooking and most of it involves vegetables, but if I’m swaggin’ heavy on the artichoke, it’s probably because I’m exerting the sort of effort one can only conjure when the possibility of sex hangs in the balance. As a matter of fact, the first time I tried that stuff is when I was out on a quasi-date that I was trying to bump up to “date”-level gravitas by having it on a pizza.
Cause I walk like a peeeeimp, talk like The Mack
And really, that’s ultimately what this particular jump off provides: it’s like a somewhat upscale slice of white pizza. How does it fare? I sorta wish I knew. You get a hint of tang in the creamy white sauce in your mouth that’s a bit surprising, but otherwise, its presence isn’t really felt. And by the way, we won’t be saying “no homo” here at Icy On Purpose: part of our social contract is based on your acknowledgement of the inherent sexuality of Lean Pockets, as described in that Skull Gang mixtape that I reviewed at Pitchfork and stands as my proudest achievement.
I don’t question Lean Pockets’ trends or what they brought the table, but the best of the best tend to provide some sort crunch counterpoint to the filling.
And as we all know, artichoke and spinach are the most bitchmade of the vegetable family. Artichoke and its wack mans fold like bad hands. The seasoning on the crust does seem to be somewhat inspired, and it’s savory enough that you’d be proud to call it a “meal” Lean Pocket rather than simply a hangover/sloth Lean Pocket, but for the most part, I’ll acknowledge it more as an iconoclast than a true transcendental experience.