NEVER MIND THE PARSNIPS, IT’S THE CARROTS
Like the best bands, carrots grow underground—and they’re not quiet about it. Living in dirt is hard, having bright green fringe that attracts rabbits is arduous, getting paid in nickels and beer is insulting—but carrots never dial it back. They put on that bright orange unitard every day, they come out on stage, and they play the dive-iest dive bars like they’re packed stadiums.
They combine this zeal for health, vision, and pageantry with a primordial crunch, one powerful note, like a bass guitar or a bass drum, a kind of a drone or thrum that’s part of the earliest music. See also Lemmy’s bass in Motorhead, the post-hardcore guitar majesty of Unwound, or the riptide rumblings of Thee Oh Sees, yourself at 6 months when you discovered how to bang a wooden block on the floor—you were a regular Meg White.
Despite all these grittiness, the boldest thing about carrots is their underling sweetness, their affection for this ugly, happy world. Which is like the Ramones, if the Ramones could reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and improve your vision. Actually, you know what? They do.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich
SLICED BREAD MAKES ITS TRIUMPHANT RETURN
Back in 1983, I had the privilege of seeing this trio in my lunchbox, in a small multi-purpose room that always smelled like feta cheese, no matter how many potatoes and pizzas were being fried against their will.
Even during a crowded lunch hour with people throwing french fries at each other, and with Tim Simmons blathering in my ear about hovercrafts, the PB&J gave an arena-rock performance to an indifferent audience, while I just nodded and swayed magic crunchyness, which is still how I dance to bands today. That’s the only show PB&J knows how to do. That’s the only dance I know how to do.
This sandwich rocked then, and it is still after decades on the road, which sounds gross, like my Perfecto leather jacket that was signed by Richard Hell, and then was eventually spat on by Mike Patton. What were we talking about? Oh, had to use wheat bread. Sorry about about that. Think of it as like listening to PJ Harvey’s 8-track demos instead of her later work—it’s good for you, it builds character.
Actually, uh, now that I think of it, don’t listen to PJ Harvey just yet. That’s kind of a deep dive. Back to lunch:
There was this place in Bushwick, a former gas station near the Utz Potato Chip plant that hosted outdoor gigs by upcoming acts, and I would remember, while pedaling back home to my fourth-flour apartment on my fixed-gear bicycle, studiously nodding to the footnotes that were amassing in my head, and smelling this amazing redolence in the air, threatening the permeability of those notes. I had to pull over and talk into my pocket recorder about everything just so that I didn’t lose focus. Seeing Indian Jewelry perform in such a small venue—that left a big impression on me, but in that audio recording, I just keep saying, “Salty, ridged” which is nothing like how they sound. But that’s why potato chips are great. They are an immersive treat like nothing else.
Don’t tell Mom I packed these.
Cranberry Juice Box Drink
BLOOD IN THE WATER:
“THE RED DRINK HOLDS SWAY OVER ALL”
Sharp and sour tasting, but with a sweet finish, like Steve Albini playing guitar in a sugar silo, or Corin Tucker’s voice on Call the Doctor — not that you’ll be calling the doctor after this dose of vitamin C.
Cranberries are harvested in bogs that get flooded, the same way rock critics like your old man would wade through NYC club The Wetlands to hear the latest up and coming acts before it closed in 2010.
There is a documentary about it on Netflix that we could watch on Friday, it’s great. I just wish you could have been born just a few days earlier so you could have seen Ween perform this legendary acoustic set there— although you probably would have needed to hear their prior stuff to really appreciate it.
Cranberry juice is so good, no foil-lined box can fully contain its sugary majesty. And that reminds me, don’t squeeze the sides of the box too hard, because these things can really propel juice and straws very, very far, which is awesome, but not in a school setting.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
“C” IS FOR COOKIE: GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME
Elvis Presley’s first recorded hit, “That’s all right momma” was a cover of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup song from almost a decade prior. The contrasts between these two recordings go beyond just black and white, or blues and rock’n roll. Crudup’s tune is raucus and jubilant, like drunken fireworks, Presley’s version is more like a bubbling pot of coffee—and just as addictive.These chocolate chip cookies are a cover of the Nestle Toll House recipe. They might not be as good as the original, or even the batch I made two weeks ago. But I insist, like all music, that you share them. Preferably not with your friend Felix “Big Boy” Melkinson because he can’t have sugar. Or nuts. Or Crudup. Or Presley.That’s it for lunch. For dinner, the Fishsticks are playing an extended set because Mom has yoga tonight.
Evan Johnston is a book designer, writer, and illustrator whose work has appeared on The Toast, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and other parts of your internet. www.neverquestionmymthods.com